Robert Rodriguez´ Planet Terror, the weaker half of the Grindhouse double-feature, has been ripped from its loins and is now presented to international audiences devoid of its original drive-in goodness.
Which isn´t all that bad; unlike Quentin Tarantino´s Death Proof, Rodriguez´ film wasn´t much of a drive-in homage, instead mimicking 80´s splatter features like Night of the Creeps or Peter Jackson´s early work.
Also unlike Death Proof, this is virtually the same film as we saw before – though film grain has been removed and a (very) short scene has been tacked on at the end.
An experimental biological weapon has been released, creating a zombie epidemic; a ragtag group of survivors including stripper Cherry (Rose McGowan), Nurse Dakota Block (Marley Shelton), ex-con El Wray (Freddy Rodriguez) and Sheriff Hague (Michael Biehn) must combat the menacing creatures to survive.
If this sounds familiar, well, yeah, it is, referencing every zombie film in recent memory (particularly Romero´s Living Dead trilogy), with that same tried-and-true plot that each of these films seems to contain.
It´s the small details that make the film work: the inventive violence, the hammy acting, a nostalgic score – everything over the top, but just enough that the film never veers into distracting self-parody.
The director even displays a keen sense of suspense in some scenes that´s mostly missing from his previous work.
This is most certainly not a film for everybody; you´ll need to enjoy the endless bloodletting and be able to laugh at rape, child killing, and (shudder) Quentin Tarantino´s atrocious acting abilities.
But while never exceptional, Planet Terror is good enough on its own splatter-movie accord to merit a viewing for those with bad taste. Still, wait for the Grindhouse DVD for the real drive-in experience.