I've had multiple emails from younger Flesh Farm fans asking what a "grindhouse" is all about. Well, here is your answer:
A grindhouse is an American term for a theater that mainly showed exploitation films. It is also a term used to describe the genre of films that played in such theatres. Grindhouses were known for continuous programs of B movies, usually consisting of a double feature where two (and very often three) films were shown consecutively. Most of these films were made for Drive-in theaters as second and third features. Since most large urban areas did not have drive-ins, these movies were shown in older theaters that formerly featured burlesque shows which included "bump and grind" dancing, leading to the term "grindhouse." On the other hand, the producers, distributors, and exhibitors of the films were required to provide a large amount of low budget films for double features so would "grind"' them out like mincemeat. Beginning in the late 1960s and especially during the 1970s, the subject matter of grindhouse films was dominated by explicit sex, violence, bizarre or perverse plot points, and other taboo content.
A grindhouse seems like a place where I would've spent my nights and weekends. I can guarantee I would've spent my weekend nights drunk out of my fuckin' gourd, flinging blood covered popcorn at the screen and screaming incoherent nonsense like, "Eat her dickfuckcuntlicking bag of freetos!!!!... ?" Ahhh. I can see it now. Yes..... yes I can.
There remains much affection for the grindhouse era amongst some cinephiles. An example is this 2007 release of Grindhouse
, a double feature consisting of our film Planet Terror
and Death Proof
, directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, respectively. Both films contain elements found in many grindhouse films, and are bridged by trailers for fictitious films that also fit into the grindhouse genre (sexploitation, slasher films, etc.). Grindhouse also features simulated film scratches, splices and some clipped dialogue, to recreate the feeling that the print of the film is a worn and battered copy, which was often true of the prints of many films grindhouse theaters showed in their heyday.
The idea to bring the spirit of the grindhouse back to life in the new millennium was pure genius. Well, it was genius to us who appreciated the project for what it was. Unfortunately, Grindhouse was a box office failure, surprising box office analysts and fans alike given the strong reviews and favorable media buzz. Costing $53 million to produce, Grindhouse opened poorly with a disappointing $11.5 million in the United States, making only a per-theater average of $4,417; box office analysts originally predicted an opening weekend total of at least $20-$30 million.
Regardless of it's less-than-stellar performance at the box office, Grindhouse has firmly secured it's place on the IMDB Top 250. As of Jan. 25th 2008, Grindhouse holds position at #185 between Groundhog Day
and Toy Story
. I would call that impressive.
After seeing the double feature, I found Planet Terror
to be far more satisfying that Death Proof
. It might be because I'm an uber zombie fan but I think it's more because the concept of Death Proof
seems unoriginal. A madman hunting you down and killing you with his vehicle has been done many
times. Don't get me wrong, Death Proof
has it's own special unique aspects to it, but I don't feel it was a grindhouse style film.
takes off the gloves and smears your ass all the way up the wall. There is very little anyone could complain about! Some have mentioned it has it's fair share major cheese throughout (ex: the head explosion near the end) but these are all part of what made the early grindhouse experience so unique! These elements of over-the-top sequences were ways of making you feel as if you were watching a low budget b-film. As was the intent with the scratchy film and the jittery reel changes, which I thought were the greatest effects of the whole film. Making the film seem old and worn made it feel twice as creepy. Almost like the footage had been lost for years, buried in mud after falling out of the back of an army vehicle. (Picture Return of the Living Dead: Part 2
The acting is 100%. I was thrilled to see Tam Savini kicking ass and taking names. I kept having flashbacks to his role as "Blades" in 1978's Dawn of the Dead
. Go Tom! I was also pleasantly surprised with Michael Biehn's portrayal of Sheriff Hague. When I originally heard Biehn had a role I was extremely skeptical. I loved his work in The Terminator
and The Abyss
but I questioned if he could pull off a role in a balls-to-the-wall horror flick. He did. There are plenty of other fantastic actors through the film (Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodríguez, Josh Brolin, and even a small role by Bruce Willis) but we'd be here forever if we talked about them all.
= fantastic. If you like zombie films which are covered in gore, feature weapons connected to amputated stubs and bring you back to the heyday of exploitation cinema, Planet Terror is an absolute must have!