Tom Savini

Planet Terror

Year: 2007
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez
Written By: Robert Rodriguez

RYAN’S REVIEW

When this movie came out on DVD I bought it on the spot having not yet seen it. I watched it frequently after getting it and often fell asleep with it on. This movie goes back to menu when it’s over and that song plays over and over again if you don’t turn off your television. I have slept many a night with that song playing nonstop like a personal soundtrack through my dreams. It has been burned into a brain in such a way that when I am old and everything else is gone I will probably hum the tune from this film. I love the song and every single time I pop in the DVD I get this funny feeling from that music. It sucks me in and pulls something inside of me to the surface. That score, as much as anything else, is what makes this an awesome movie for me.

Another obvious thing that makes this movie awesome is the intro. Let me pose a question for anybody reading this now. Is there anything hotter than Rose McGowan in the opening scene of this movie? She is as sexy as any woman I have ever seen, barring my wife of course, dancing on stage to the music by Robert Rodriguez. I don’t understand why she has had such a limited career in acting over the years. I can’t really find any flaw in her talent and she is hot enough to pull off plenty of roles but for some reason she has been limited to films, more or less like this one. This was an intentional B movie and it was fitting for her being cast as she is mainly a B actress. I don’t understand why though. I think she is awesome in this movie and she portrays one of my favorite heroines of all time.

You can say whatever you want about Rose McGowan, but she is a badass as Cherry Darling. Not only is her opening dance scene smoking hot but when she gets her new leg she is an utter badass. I love when she launches herself over the wall and starts mowing down the infected soldiers while utilizing her dance moves. In a movie like this is doesn’t really matter how reasonable it is for a go-go dancer to suddenly become such a badass.  All that matters is what is and this just so happens to be really freakin cool.

I have written many times throughout this blog that when Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino collaborated on these Grindhouse films that Rodriguez proved to be the better filmmaker. Tarantino made what amounted to a 2 hour chick flick with a thrill ride at the end in his half of the collaboration, Death Proof. With this film Rodriguez not only made an awesome film, he did it all himself. He wrote this film, directed it, produced it, edited it, and even wrote the music for the film. It may have been an intentionally campy B movie but with this film he showcased a hell of a lot of talent. It’s one of the reasons I consider him such an incredible filmmaker. One thing Rodriguez never forgets as a filmmaker is the cool factor. I’ve always been a proponent of the cool factor in any movie. If it’s not cool then what good is it? You can just about guarantee that when Rodriguez gets behind camera what he produces will look cool. It may come out as overkill and sometimes even silly but it will be cool and you can take that to the bank.

This movie, if nothing else, is cool and that all starts with the cast. Rodriguez always gets a good group of latino actors into all his films but acting side by side with them are always A list actors. In the part of his misunderstood Latino badass he cast Freddy Rodriguez, no relation. He may have looked silly riding that tiny motorcycle at one point in the film but he fought with the ferocity of a samurai when wielding his butterfly knives in the hospital on his way to save Cherry. In the bad guy roles he has A list actors Bruce Willis and Josh Brolin. Now I have mentioned before I didn’t understand what rock Josh Brolin suddenly crawled out from under but it was right around the time this movie came out he did so. After doing nothing really noteworthy since 1985 in The Goonies he burst onto the map in 2007 with five films, this among them. Bruce Willis is an actor welcome in just about anything. I remember when I saw him in the G.I. JOE sequel I felt like these days he would do just about anything for the paycheck but movies since have proved he’s still got it. I hate what he continues to do with the Die Hard franchise but I could never honestly criticize Willis. He has been an awesome actor as long as I have been alive.

I love that Michael Biehn is in this movie. It’s one of the reasons it stands out to me. I have always been a fan of the original Kyle Reese and I have never understood why his career didn’t take off in other ways. He is part of one of my favorite parts in this movie. When the surviving group arrives at the BBQ joint his deputy, played by cult icon Tom Savini, asks him if he’s sure about this. In his hand Savini shakes a box label “All or Nothing Box.” When Biehn confirms Savini dumps the box full of badges on the hood of the car while Biehn tells everyone they have now been deputized. I love the concept of the “all or nothing box” and how obvious it is utilized in this movie. After arming all of them he walks up the hill and tells them, “don’t shoot each other, don’t shoot yourselves, and most importantly (he turns to face them) don’t shoot me!” Such an awesome actor how is it that Michael Biehn didn’t do more with his career? I don’t know the answer to that so if anybody does know please enlighten me, and I will not accept that he just isn’t a good actor when so many others made it and he didn’t.

I’m unfamiliar with Marley Shelton, and still haven’t seen her in anything else since this movie, but she is great as the nurse with her three little friends. I used to have a poster hanging in my home of her character Dr. Block holding up a syringe, mascara running down from her wild looking eyes, with the tag line “just a little prick.” I loved that poster but Amber won’t let me display it in our home anymore and I to agree it’s probably a bit much for our young children. I still have it though and one way or another it will one day have its place on display again.

I love how aggressive this movie is. It’s aggressive in so many ways. It is aggressively exaggerated and aggressively obvious at times. I think it is interesting to look back at a movie like this in 2007 and hear the big bad guy, Bruce Willis, claim to have been the soldier who killed Osama Bin Laden. Of course we know now that not only was he not dead in 2007 but he somehow continued to live his lavish lifestyle while alluding capture for more than a decade. My main point is that this movie now stands in an interesting place historically as it represents a time when we had no idea what had become of the world’s greatest enemy. The number one villain in American history had been unaccounted for for so long that a movie like this aggressively puts forth one of the many theories to what had to have happened. It represents American thinking in such an interesting way. The idea that he had simply gotten away wasn’t considered or accepted by the public as the great almighty United States would never allow such a man to escape punishment. We know now that not only did he do just that but he lived unencumbered for longer than anyone thought was possible.

I feel compelled to wrap this up now but I could never say enough about this movie. I’m not even satisfied with everything I have covered so far but have let it sit to long. It’s time to release it into the world. There is more to say about this movie though, and I encourage any film fan out there to see it. See it to compare the styles and abilities of Tarantino vs. Rodriguez. See it to learn the kind of thing the American public had about Osama Bin Laden 6 years after 9/11. See it because it is a cool movie that is fun to sit back and enjoy. It would be easy to pass of the Grindhouse films as a camp and nothing significant but that would be wrong. These movies are special because there is so much to get out of them. So much to enjoy about them. This is one of my favorite movies ever and I suggest it to all but the faint of heart that I simply don’t think could handle it.

One more thing because I can’t deal with the fact that I didn’t fit it in. Naveen Andrews is awesome in this movie and Hollywood needs more of this guy. I liked what he brought to the role and he has one of the coolest deaths in the film. Bound to spark argument, I am no a fan of Lost. I think J.J. Abrams is a terrific filmmaker but also a wizard when it comes to duping people into watching something like mindless zombies. Lost equals the carrot on a stick Abrams held in front of the American public for years before he could get his hands onto bigger and better things. I watched three seasons of it and to this day consider every hour of every episode I watch wasted and spitefully hold a grudge for the time I lost. I have had people argue with me about the show till they were blue in the face but as I am to understand the ending was just as vague as everything else on the show. You don’t put f-ing polar bears in the jungle and make the audience wonder why for years with no reason why, motherf-ing YEARS! My question to anybody is, “how is that good enough for you?” To this day I am still puzzled by the people who talk about how great it was. Nevertheless I consider J.J. Abrams to be quite capable and look forward to what he does with Star Wars.

NEXT MOVIE: Platoon (1986)

Machete

Year: 2010
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez
Written By: Robert Rodriguez

RYAN’S REVIEW

This film has lost its appeal on me.  I am a big fan of Robert Rodriguez and everything he does but I have to admit this one doesn’t seem as awesome to me as it did three years ago.  I thought Rodriguez’s half of the Grindhouse films was far and away superior in every way to the half that Tarantino did and three years ago I loved that he was taking it a step further.  His fake Machete trailer was really cool and I thought he did a great job carrying that style and intentional exaggeration into a full feature length film.  My problem now is that Rodriguez simply hasn’t done enough in the years since.  I thought this movie was great three years ago but for it to be all this talented filmmaker has worked on since has simply disappointed me.  

I thought that Sin City was incredible and loved what Robert Rodriguez did with it, but after eight years of waiting for the sequel my patience is running thin.  For me, it has created a bit of resentment towards this franchise because this franchise has continued while that one has done nothing.  I have yet to see Machete Kills but haven’t really felt compelled to either because I think this film was enough.  I love Danny Trejo and like him getting the opportunity to be an even bigger badass than he already is but I have just wanted more from Rodriguez over the years and haven’t gotten it.  The sequel to Sin City has finally been made and is set to come out next year but that will be a nine year gap between movies.  I think it’s been too long but I still look forward to it and hope it is worth the wait.

This film was an idea first conceived in 1993 when Rodriguez was making Desperado in Mexico.  When he was shooting the movie the locals had no idea what the movie was actually about or who was in it but they all gravitated toward Trejo when he was on set thinking he was the star of the film.  Rodriguez told Trejo then that he needed to start working with blades and eventually they would collaborate on this.  For the next 15 years Trejo stayed on Rodriguez about the idea to the point that Rodriguez told him he didn’t have to call about it all the time and could simply text him about it.  To this Trejo said “Machete don’t text,” a line Rodriguez thought was funny and eventually put into the film.  Robert Rodriguez has done many great things throughout his career but something I have always liked specifically about him was his propensity to use Trejo in all his films.  Danny Trejo is a badass, and I have loved him in everything from the Johnny 23 to voicing Octavio on King of the HillBeing credited with over 260 roles the man is a relentless worker and there is really no end to naming the great roles he has played either in bit parts or in larger roles.  I do really like him finally getting to play the lead and loved this film at first because it put him in the spotlight.  Having lost its appeal on me though I’ll admit he overdoes it quite a bit in this movie.  Of course that is the point of the movie, but it doesn’t do anything to make the film endearing when there are now reasons to be frustrated with it. If nothing else there is one thing I do want to mention before I move on from Trejo.  He has certainly gotten an awful lot out of one of the coolest tattoos of all time.  If you know Danny Trejo at all then you know exactly what I am talking about but if you somehow missed it here is an image:

Trejo is getting older now, approaching the age of 70 if you can believe it.  The fact that he is just now getting the spotlight and taking hold of it like a man half his age says a lot about the kind of person he is.  This guy never stops working, and while he may make more B-movies than anything else he has still made such a significant impact.  Granted this movie and its sequel technically should count as B-movies they were made like that intentionally and both received worldwide distribution like any other big budget movie.

This movie, like most of Rodriguez’s films, has a lengthy and impressive cast.  The flawlessly beautiful Jessica Alba has a large part and actually appears naked at one point in the movie.  Don’t be fooled however because she has a no nude clause in her acting contract. Rodriguez is a whiz with making movies simple using his computer to do things digitally.  In the shower scene where we see a nearly naked Jessica Alba she was covered while shooting and it was digitally removed later.  Michelle Rodriguez, no relation to the film’s director, is an actress I usually cannot stand.  For years she was constantly playing the exact same role over and over again but of late she has started to impress me.  I actually thought she looked smoking hot in this movie and I have never thought so before.  I haven’t really seen her play different roles of late but somehow she seems better in them.  I’m thinking specifically of this film and of Avatar when I thought she gave a great performance.

I think this was possibly one of the coolest things Steven Seagal has ever done.  I have always regarded Steven Seagal as silly and never taken him serious as an actor.  I do not think his performance in this movie, while awesome, did anything to change that perception. When Seagal comes up I don’t think of his film career first but of that show I never watched where for some reason he tagged along with police and went on busts.  I thought the concept of that show was so bizarre.  What the hell is this guy doing right? Who is Steven Seagal to ride around with police and be involved with busts?  Did the heart to heart convos he had with perps after they were busted change any of their lives? Did I miss out by not watching this show? If anybody out there watched it I would really like to know about it, leave us a comment and tell us something about it.  Somebody out there really must love Seagal and I am always curious why.  He regularly gets a specific week dedicated to him and his movies on AMC.  I’ll admit I haven’t seen enough of his films but I had seen enough as far as I was concerned. Seagal fans tell me I am wrong.  Have I just been missed out all these years and is Seagal really something special? If I have missed something that is worth my time leave me a comment and let know what I should check out.

Chris Cooper was originally offered the part of the corrupt senator but he refused the part because he thought the script was bizarre. When Robert De Niro took the part it suddenly became much easier for Rodriguez to get any other star he wanted in the film.  We see a couple of his regulars as well.  Cheech Marin reprised his role from the original trailer.  Marin appears in most of Rodriguez’s films but has really put together an impressive body of work since simply being half of a popular pothead duo.  Tom Savini is also here as an assassin and for the first time in a Rodriguez film he doesn’t die.  You can also see Rodriguez’s sisters playing two nurses who are part of “The Network.”

When we sat down to watch this movie last night I was really looking forward to it.  It had been a while since we had seen it and I loved it when it came out.  To be honest I really just couldn’t get into it and found the whole experience really disappointing. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood, I don’t know but for whatever reason I just didn’t love or really even like this movie when I watched it last night.  I think the action and choreography of the fights are great, both of which are specific talents of Rodriguez.  I like most of the actors and still like the campy style of the film but the endearing quality was just lost on me this time.  I don’t want to go into the film too much because I can’t bring myself to criticize Rodriguez or Trejo.  There is still plenty to like about this movie but when you watch it you just need to understand that it does some things on purpose and take it for what it is worth. It’s meant to be over the top and when that is done on purpose it’s altogether different than the stupid films that do it honestly. This movie didn’t do it for me last night and I don’t think it’s going to be one I regularly revisit but I still think it is worth your time to see at least once.

AMBER’S REVIEW

macheteThis movie is okay. I remember really liking it the first time I watched it, but having watched it again, I just don’t know. There are some parts I love and parts I loathe.

This poster kills me. Rodriguez kills me too. He and Tarantino both think they have found this awesome way to stand out-by making their signature that looks like its straight out of the 70s era. This can be fun and a really good idea, but it only works when the movie is set in the same era. I mean seriously guys; move on with the design inspiration. The title sequences included. Their movie ideas are incredible, but the graphic design that goes into their ideas is horrible.

This poster is a montage of the characters. You all should know by now how much that kills me. At least there is a big cheesy explosion in the background. In this case cheesy works, since the whole movie is in fact very cheesy. I don’t like this poster at all. I don’t even like the typography. I have never been a fan of anything looking too much like a WordArt image. I think there was room to make this better and the opportunity was missed here.

NEXT MOVIE: Magnolia (1999)

Django Unchained

RYAN’S REVIEW

We finally made it out to see this film yesterday.  I had been anticipating the film for some time and went in with really high hopes.  I can thankfully report that I walked away more than satisfied and if I had the opportunity to do so would have turned around and went right back in to see it again.  This movie was so satisfyingly violent and savage throughout and I couldn’t have loved that more about it.  I think the script was clever and well written, probably one of the best Tarantino has written but that is hard to say.  What surprised me the most is how funny it all was. His movies have always had an element of wit to them that could make you laugh but this one was all out funny.  The humor seemed to balance out all of the obscenity and ferocity of the situation in my opinion.

I have heard much said about the controversial nature of the film both with how slavery is so brutally covered and how the “N-word” is so pervasive in the film.  Why though? What so many have seen as offensive I have only seen as necessary to the film he was trying to make.  I despise all racial slurs, and the people that make them but this was a movie set in 1858.  That word was used then with a frequency that not even modern rappers could keep up with today.  I don’t see a problem with how Tarantino used it, or how he didn’t make any effort to sugarcoat slavery.  Slavery was awful and brutal in this country and there is no way to truly make a film about it without getting your hands dirty. I studied history in college and my senior seminar class was specifically about slavery.  Slavery happened all over the world and every race was enslaved at one point or another.  The difference here is that it developed in this new country as the rest of the world was giving up on an outdated practice.  Not only that but the most significant difference in this country is how it became a specifically racial issue with one specific race being subjugated into the role of slave.  It was awful and unfair but it was done and what is done is done and can’t be changed.  All we can do now is to learn from it, prevent it from being that way now or in the future but that has never happened.  There are too many conflicting feelings from people in regards to the topic.  The memory of slavery invokes anger, disappointment, shame, rage, pity, and unfortunately there are always going to be those awful people out there that get satisfaction out of it. Most of the feelings invoked by that memory are understandable but still lead to deepening the divide among us all. As for the movie I will admit I don’t think it is entirely appropriate for a white man to be the one behind camera doing all of this, but I don’t think he did anything disrespectful or outlandish.

I think the cast of this film did an excellent job.  I think Christoph Waltz may have been a bit better in Inglourious Basterds but only because his performance as Colonel Hans Landa was so good I don’t think it can be topped.  I think he was great in this movie and I think he has so much to offer us in the future, he is an outstanding actor.  I think Jamie Foxx was great in the lead role.  Leonardo DiCaprio was awesome as the vile and violently unpredictable Calvin Candie. Samuel L. Jackson was really good, as always, but I really didn’t like the role that he played despite how well he did it.  Walton Goggins fits these kinds of roles a bit too well but I am a big fan of his work on The Shield and Justified.  There are great cameos from Jonah Hill, Don Johnson, Tom Savini, and probably a few others I am forgetting.  The one awful decision Tarantino made in this film was inserting himself into it.  I think he is a great filmmaker but leaves far too much to be desired as an actor.  I liked his part in Reservoir Dogs but it should have ended there.  I don’t know why he is still doing this but he shouldn’t. This time around he reaches far too much and goes for an Australian accent; I shook my head at that point.  He had a perfect movie in the works progressing right before my eyes and he stumbled there for a moment.

I thought this movie was absolutely incredible and I can’t wait to buy it and watch it again down the road. I’ll say the only thing that I didn’t like about the movie was the experience we had watching it in the theater.  The movie has been out for a while now but there was still a good crowd for the first showing on a Saturday afternoon.  However the audience was so unique.  It was practically a split between African-Americans and full blown rednecks garbed in overalls, hunting camo, and aggressive beards.  That kind of division really gave off an awkward vibe that we may have felt more because we somehow ended up literally sitting on a row with differing groups sitting in the opposite rows before and after us.  The Rednecks made me uncomfortable, specifically because I assume they took very different things from this movie than I did.  Wrong to assume I know, but those people were more like the white people in the movie and that’s unfortunate.  It will better to watch the movie in the privacy of my own home or with whoever I choose to watch it with.

If you are on the fence about this one I obviously strongly recommend it. However if you aren’t cool with violence in movies or profanity this is not the movie for you. To say the very least it is about ten steps past extremely graphic and it is not for the tender-hearted.  The violence is part of what make this movie great though, and in so many ways it is practically Tarantino’s calling card.  This movie is long as hell with a running time of 2 hours and 45 minutes but I can say with certainty that it is well worth that time.