I’ve just noticed that each Tarantino film has exactly two words to its title. Coincidence or a stylistic thing? You tell me. Anyway, next up is Death Proof.
An interesting story behind Death Proof, it was originally released in cinemas as a double-feature alongside Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, under the title Grindhouse. However, while Planet Terror is hilariously over the top and extreme in nature, Tarantino plays a more subtle game, making the audience wait for the carnage they so desire.
This is a film in two halves really, with a repeated story where a group of girls are stalked and targeted by a psychopath Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) who wishes for nothing more than to terrorise people with his ‘death proof’ stunt car. However, before the action begins, we are allowed to get to know each of our female characters, and find out just who they are.
It’s a rather disjointed story, and the first car crash makes the film (as well as the car) lose momentum. If you don’t like Tarantino’s long conversation scenes, then you’ll hate this. However, I found myself getting to like the female characters for their personalities, rather than simply seeing them as pretty stunt car fodder. Of course, when the time has come for the exciting finale, I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happens. The car chase is excellent, and is rivalled only by the Mad Max films.
A nice touch is the change of colour style throughout the film, made to mimic a low budget slasher film of the 70s. At first, the image is grainy, with dirt all over the image. Another scene appears entirely in black and white, with a jolt bringing it back to high-def colour. Quite why the scene is in black-and-white is only for dear Quentin to speculate, but I’m sure fans who care more can argue amongst themselves. Understandably, the stand-alone version of the movie is greatly different from the Grindhouse version, with much of the talking cut out.
This film really defies expectations, in that it is actually rather restrained for the most part, with the action rather tacked on in the middle and near the end. Nevertheless, Tarantino’s characters make the film fairly satisfying, and the wait isn’t so bad. Definitely a film to be patient with.