Death Proof (2007)

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6.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Good cast, some good moments

Loses the spirit of the grindhouse in comparison to Planet Terror

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Death Proof

Studio:  Troublemaker Studios

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  April 6, 2007

MPAA Rating:  R

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You’re going to need a new paint job…

Stuntman Mike McKay (Kurt Russell) likes a good time…but for Stuntman Mike, a good time involves chasing women in his death-proof stunt car.  Stuntman Mike likes danger and action and killing is how he gets his kicks.  Unfortunately for Stuntman Mike, he’s about to meet his match in Kim Mathis (Tracie Thoms), Abernathy Ross (Rosario Dawson), and Zoë Bell who aren’t the helpless little women that Stuntman Mike is used to and payback is a bitch!

Directed by Quentin Tarantino, Death Proof was the second half of the double release Grindhouse which also featured Robert Rodriguez’s Planet TerrorFollowing Kill Bill—Volume 2 in 2004, The movie received moderate to positive reviews but Grindhouse was considered a box office failure.  Both Death Proof and Planet Terror were released as individual movies.

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Who’s up for some revenge?

My friends and I went and saw Grindhouse in the theater.  The first movie Planet Terror was a lot of fun and an homage to horror action films.  It was dirty, gritty, and rough.  Death Proof was the second feature of this experiment by Rodriguez and Tarantino, but I found Death Proof the disappointing film of the two.

Death Proof is an homage to driving films like Vanishing Point (as brought up by the characters), but also features nods to films like Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! which had strong powerful sexualized women.  I don’t dislike this idea (and the idea of having two different style of Grindhouse films), but it really feels like Tarantino couldn’t stick to the idea that he and Rodriguez came up with.

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I want my machine gun leg back!

The movie starts out very rough.  The title changes (something not uncommon for these type of films) and there are bad edits.  As the film progresses, the quality increases and gets better.  The movie is filled with great camera work and discussions by the characters that never would have been in a grindhouse film which are faster and harder (like the falling in the ditch story).  Tarantino is a skilled filmmaker, so this undoubtedly is intentional (possibly to legitimize the genre), and in turn makes Rodriguez look like a worse director.

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Yeah…it’s over!

I can say that I like the cast.  The movie also does a jump halfway through the movie to bring in a whole new cast.  Kurt Russell is great as Stuntman Mike, but his victims played by Vanessa Ferlito, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, and Jordan Ladd and later his tormentors played by real stuntwoman Zoë Bell, Rosario Dawson, and Tracie Thoms  (with Mary Elizabeth Winstead along for part of the ride).  Tarantino cameos as a bartender in Austin and Rose McGowan is recast as another victim from her machine gun toting Cherry in Planet TerrorPlanet Terror’s Dr. Dakota Block (Marley Shelton) and Rodriguez/Tarantino regular Texas Ranger Earl McGraw (Michael Parks) also appear here as their Planet Terror characters.

Quentin Tarantino has even admitted that Death Proof is his worst film.  The movie just doesn’t have the magic that some of Tarantino’s other films have.  As a stand-alone film, Death Proof is slightly better than when it is tied to Grindhouse.  I wish the experiment had worked and that Grindhouse had been a continuing event with different directors, and genres but I can’t stand behind Death Proof.  Tarantino followed Death Proof with Inglourious Basterds in 2009.

Related Links:

Planet Terror (2007)

Machete (2010)

Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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