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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Planet Terror (2007)


Muscle cars > zombie apocalypse.

Not all small towns get along, but especially this one that seems to be located somewhere in the heart of Texas. And just to make matters worse, they’re thrown up against the wall and supposed to fight off a ward of zombies after an odd, toxic biochemical is released onto them. Why? They don’t quite know yet, except for maybe the government may be involved. However, they can’t, and they won’t worry too much about it because they have bigger fish to fry. Or should I just say: Bigger “zombies” to fry? Yeah, it’s corny, but that’s what I’m going for!

The idea of having a chick having an M4 carbine assault-rifle for a leg is probably one of the dumber one’s out there, even as cool as it may sound. That is, unless, you’re a character in a Robert Rodriguez movie, then it makes it perfect sense because you’re just another part of his crazy, insane puzzle that never seems to end inside that guy’s head. And that’s not a complaint at all. I like what Rodriguez brings to the table, whether it be weird, straight-laced, or something new he’s trying out. However, when he’s supposed to be back in his “original form” and is going up against non other than Mr. Quentin Tarantino himself; he can’t help but feel tame in comparison.

Its just what happens when you go toe-to-toe with an even bigger nut, if that’s even imaginable.

"Walking Dead who?"

Walking Dead who?”

But, despite whoever you put Rodriguez up against in a movie, no matter what: The guy always knows how to have fun with his stories and direction, and it is no different here. It’s obvious that this is a mesh between the George A. Romero zombie-flicks, and the eerie, horror movies from John Carpenter, but it seems like Rodriguez is doing more than just an homage, and actually expanding on his own story, with his own quirks and trademarks thrown in there for a great deal as well. The guy lets loose on what we all know and love about him; people get shot-up to oblivion, body-parts come flying out of nowhere, corny-lines are exchanged, and distorted colors seem to make everything on-display trippier. Basically, everything you expect to see from a “Robert Rodriguez zombie flick” happens and is seen here. For that reason, it’s very fun and will keep your eyes alive on the screen for quite some time, even when it seems like Rodriguez is maybe going a little too “nutso” with his own material. Then again, he’s a film maker and he’s allowed to, so who the hell am I to judge?

But what I think ruins Rodriguez and his flick as a whole, is that when it’s stacked-up to Tarantino’s Death Proof, it really pales in comparison. Now, in a way, Death Proof and Planet Terror are both different from one another. Death Proof is a bit serious with its subtle-approach and as a result, feels very down-played, whereas Planet Terror goes absolutely gung-ho with it’s story and never loses it’s pace; Proof is very dialogue-heavy, with lines that are as witty as you’re going to get, whereas Terror has some of the cheesiest lines you’re ever going to hear, but it’s on-purpose; Proof is more about the tension, dialogue, and characters, whereas Terror is all about the action, blood, and violence. See, as much as the two stories may have in common with one another, you can’t help but notice how different they are as well. Whether or not that was deliberate on both of these guy’s parts is totally left up in the air, but I think that’s where this flick hits a hard-place. Or at least Rodriguez does, anyway.

Maybe because I’m speaking from my own point-of-view, my problems with this flick may be a bit biased, but when it comes right down to it: Tarantino is just more talented than Rodriguez in the long-run. Some may call that a no-brainer and some may not, but what I do know is that I feel like Tarantino has a lot more resilience when it comes to the movies that he wants to do and why, where as Rodriguez is a little too random and sporadic. Also, Tarantino has never done a Spy Kids movie so maybe that’s where the sake of the argument lies as well. But I digress.

So yes, both sort of have the same styles in how they let their movies play-out and even tell their own stories as well, but in the end, Tarantino just has something more to him that’s attention-grabbing and as interesting, as anything that Rodriguez has ever really done. Now, I’m not saying that anything Rodriguez has done in his career isn’t good by any means necessary, but Tarantino just has something about him and his movies that make you want to go out there, start writing on a piece of paper, and start making your own movies. In a way, Rodriguez’s films can do that as well, but Tarantino is the automatically first guy I think about when it comes to inspirations/favorite directors.

Fairly uncomfortable I'd suppose, considering he "assault-rifle-instead-of-actual-leg" situation.

Fairly uncomfortable I’d suppose, considering he “assault-rifle-instead-of-actual-leg” situation.

Aside from that whole “Rodriguez vs. Tarantino” rant, the reason why Planet Terror just isn’t as good as I would have liked for it to have been was because it’s stacked-up against something that Tarantino did, and that movie’s name is Death Proof. Granted, Proof was no masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it kept me alive, intrigued, and best of all, entertained the whole time; whereas with this flick, I felt myself, as well as itself, just meander along and didn’t really offer me anything new that I haven’t already seen done 100 times before in other, and sometimes, “better” zombie movies. That’s not to say that this flick isn’t any fun at all, because trust me: It is. Its just is a time-burner for the sake of being a time-burner and there’s nothing else to it other than that. Kind of disappointing when you think how this is by the same guy who did From Dusk Till Dawn, among many others, but I guess that’s what happens when you go up against a guy who’s won Best Original Screenplay more than once.

Where this film does feel a lot like a Tarantino movie, is in it’s characters that are goofy, wild, and fun as hell to watch. Rose McGowan fits perfectly as Cherry, the ex-stripper/wanna-be comedienne, because of her physical presence (her early strip-scene is one of the hottest openings I’ve seen in a long, long time), and her comedic-timing is actually pretty good which makes the whole idea of her being a “stand-up comedienne” seem pretty convincing. Freddy Rodríguez is alright as Wray, Cherry’s bad-boy, and does what he can but comes off as a bit of a stiff dude, without any real presence on-screen. Most of that screen-presence is used very well by steadied-pros like Michael Biehn, Josh Brolin, and even a short, but lovable cameo from Bruce Willis. A pretty stacked-cast and everybody kicks it pretty hard here, but its a real surprise to me that the only one who really comes out on-top is Kurt Russell. And hell, that guys from a whole other movie!

Consensus: Robert Rodriguez injects Planet Terror with his signature style of goofy, over-the-top, wild fun that we all like to see in all of his movies, but can’t really stand-up against Tarantino’s far better, more interesting piece of work known as Death Proof. Sorry Robert. Quentin’s just more of a crazier son of a bitch than you are when it comes right down to it.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Don't worry, I got enough money to work for 5 seconds."

“Don’t worry, I got enough money to work for 5 seconds.”

To check out my buddy Brandon’s review of the other part of Grindhouse, Death Proof, go on over to http://bkstareviews.blogspot.com/2013/08/death-proof-movie-review.html and let him know what you think! You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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23 responses to “Planet Terror (2007)

  1. Wendell August 12, 2013 at 4:49 am

    I have to disagree with you on this one. I much prefer “Planet Terror” to “Deathproof” and I am a big Tarantino fan. “PT” was not just a balls to the wall zombie movie, but a brilliant dark comedy. I did enjoy “Deathproof,” but it too often felt talky simply for the sake of cramming in as many pop-culture references as possible so it could seem clever rather than being a part of cohesive and forward moving narrative the way it is in his other movies. For me, it’s pretty easily QT’s weakest effort to date.

  2. Chris August 12, 2013 at 5:05 am

    I actually thought Planet Terror was by far and away the better of the two movies. Death Proof is not only Tarantino’s worst by a large margin (and he even agrees), but I have a hard time even counting it as a movie at all, especially when removed from the “Grindhouse” package. But Planet Terror was fairly enjoyable I thought, lol.

    Either way, though, I’m still annoyed that Grindhouse never got a full DVD release in the US. Now THAT’s bullshit. :P

  3. Tom August 12, 2013 at 6:47 am

    You know, I can’t believe I have still never seen this double-feature! I don’t know why. But I’d be more in it for Death Proof for sure, just because of Tarantino, so I’m with you on that! lol. I’ve heard Planet Terror is pretty good as well, but I’m wondering how the two go together as a whole. Even IF Tarantino’s is the superior bit, how does the whole thing fit together? Like, why would they be released as one. . ? I need to see this!

  4. theipc August 12, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Nice write up. I actually liked this one better than Death Proof. Too much talking in Proof.

  5. Whit's Movie Reviews August 12, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Great review! I’ve been wanting to see this for a while but I’ve never gotten the chance. Rodriguez never blew me away with anything really besides Sin City. You should review Death Proof next which I’ve also never seen, but I’d really like to.

  6. Daniel August 12, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    I enjoyed this film and still do but you are spot on about Tarantino being more talented than Rodriguez. I was surprised when other folks would tell me they were let down by QT’s half of Grindhouse. Rodriguez’s half is fun but Death Proof displays the massive talent gap between the two.

  7. Evan Crean August 12, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    I love Tarantino and Rodriguez each in their own right. Although they work together a lot and compliment each other, I don’t think that one is better than the other. Both are good at what they do. Tarantino is great at making talky, gritty action flicks that play homage to specific genres he’s passionate about (kung fu, westerns, war movies, etc.). He is normally much more serious in the tone and content of his films. Rodriguez on the other hand is more about taking things to extremes for the purpose of lighthearted entertainment. He pays homage as well to slightly different genres ( action, horror, and exploitation) and is more concerned about being over the top with everything: gore, dialogue, action.

    The first time I watched Grindhouse, I liked Planet Terror a lot more because I dig zombie movies and I enjoyed its non-stop action and humor. By comparison I found Deathproof very boring and hard to get into. The second time I saw Grindhouse, I thought Deathproof was much better because I had an audience that got into the humor more and had lots of fun during the epic car chase. Deathproof has continued to improve in my mind with each viewing. That said, now I now pretty much appreciate them both in equal measure for the talents that each director brings to his respective film.

    • CMrok93 August 14, 2013 at 3:59 am

      I liked both parts, but I feel like Rodriguez’s doesn’t quite do much. It’s fun, yes, but it doesn’t leave a lasting impact like Tarantino’s did.

  8. Andrew August 12, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    The biggest difference between Planet Terror and Death Proof is that Rodriguez made a goofy action movie with occasional grindhouse aesthetics and Tarantino actually made a grindhouse movie. On those terms, Tarantino definitely succeeded in making the “better” movie since he approached the source material like he usually does, with an overabundance of respect and enthusiasm, and went from there.

    I’m with most of the crowd here in that I still love the hell out of Planet Terror and was almost put to sleep by Death Proof. It doesn’t help that I saw the uncut version of Death Proof where those first act conversations go on for so long that it seemed Tarantino got the performers stoned, turned the camera on, and then forgot to cut anything. There’s some interesting stuff going on, especially with the way the second group of girls is effectively an inversion of the first, but with the climax still being dull as hell and stretched out to an intolerable length I’m hesitant to go back and watch the cut version.

    Great that you got something out of both of them though, you’re one of the lucky few.

  9. jklmd2002 August 13, 2013 at 2:43 am

    I loved “Planet Terror.” I agree with Chris as “Death Proof” is easily the one Tarantino movie I have no desire to ever watch again it’s so dull and uneventful. “PT” is a over-the-top, crazy zombie film and I loved every bit of it and featuring Michael Biehn is an easy way to get me to like pretty much anything.

  10. Pingback: » Movie Review – The Grindhouse Features Fernby Films

  11. Dan (Top 10 Films) August 19, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Planet Terror is far the better of the two Gridnhouse movies for a number of reasons, not least, it is actually a feature length movie (as opposed to Tarantino’s prolonged short). Rodriguez really grasped the concept and went all out to produce a terrific b-movie worthy of a place among the genre’s greatest zombie movies. Funny, gory, tongue firmly in cheek, I was really impressed with this.

  12. SundayDumbDay August 26, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    I was torn on this one. I really loved both. Deathproof was more realistic and Planet Terror was just plain fiction. Though Tarantino was going for both aspects it’s hard to favorite one over the other. Great review!

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