Monday, June 13, 2011

PLANET TERROR


Robert Rodriguez, 2007
Starring: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Josh Brolin, Marley Shelton, Jeff Fahey, Michael Biehn, Bruce Willis

"Gonna eat your brains and steal your knowledge..."

Written, directed and scored by Robert Rodriguez, Planet Terror really is a ton of fun. Chock-a-block with genre actors including Tom Savini, the film is a throw back to great '70s zombie films where there was an equal emphasis on horror, gore, and action. Released theatrically in the U.S. as a double bill with Tarantino's Death Proof, Planet Terror actually makes for a perfect match with its slower, more exploitation-focused cousin.

Though it initially has about 400 side plots, the film is about a chemical weapon released accidentally/on purpose that turns the Texas countryside into flesh-tearing zombie-like creatures. Only a small group of people are not affected by the gas and they eventually band together and attempt to destroy the evil mutant military guys addicted to the zombie gas and the undead hordes trying to eat their brains. Some of the amazingly over the top side characters include Cherry (Rose McGowan), a stripper with a lot of useless talents who goes on to lose her leg and have it replaced with an M16, El Wray, a special agent/world renowned gun fighter turned mechanic, a maniacal doctor, his abused anesthesiologist wife, a restaurant owner trying to perfect the best barbecue sauce in Texas, and none other than everyone's favorite Sheriff McGraw (the wonderful Michael Parks, who has donned his hat to play the Sheriff in several of Rodriguez and Tarantino's films).

There are some great one liners, fun action scenes, and some truly gross out gore moments. Overall, I would say that Planet Terror is a lot of fun, but not much else. I respect Rodriguez as a director because his sheer willpower and budget-related creativity have propelled him all the way from film school to Hollywood stardom, but this can't quite be described as a classic.

With that said, Planet Terror is still worth a watch. I'm reviewing the extended and unrated 2 disc edition and the special features are amazing. With all of his DVD releases, Rodriguez takes the time and personal care to do special effects features and an extensive commentary track in order to give you, gentle viewer, the knowledge of how he made the film and how you can do the same thing. And I think that has a lot to do with why I respect him as a director. He has a genuine love for horror filmmaking and he comes across as a person who wants to share that love and knowledge. Finally, make sure you watch the Machete trailer, which is amazing. Supposedly, it is going to be made into a feature film one of these days.

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