You know what you don't see a lot of these days? A would-be stand-up comic mowing down flesh-eating zombies with her machine gun leg.
Yes, I just saw "Planet Terror," the Robert Rodriguez-helmed half of "Grindhouse," the double feature project he did with Quentin Tarantino. Now before I delve too deep into this freaky movie, I should just 'fess up and tell you that I slept through Tarantino's half, "Death Proof," although my husband assures me it was really good, with "lots of good Tarantino dialogue and an awesome car chase at the end."
I knew going into "Planet Terror" that, being a Rodriguez/Tarantino production, I should psychologically prepare myself for geisers of blood and bursts of exploding pustules, much the way the people in the front row of a Gallagher concert wear plastic bags to protect themselves from exploding melons and the shame of actually being at a Gallagher concert. So basically, I was okay with the severed limbs, the exploding chest cavities, the melting flesh, the gun shot wounds and the impalements - mostly because they were done in such an outrageously cartoonish fashion that even I, the gore coward, could handle them. Trust me, they were so outlandish that even Sam Peckinpah, master of violence, would have just shaken his head and pointed a finger at Rodriguez and Tarantino and said, "Aw, you kids with your squibs!"
Beyond the gore, "Planet Terror" was pretty damn funny with that gallows humor that makes any Tarantino or Rodriguez production simultaneously entertaining and uncomfortable. Our main female character, Cherry Darling, played by "Charmed"'s Rose McGowan, is wonderfully over the top. The exotic dancer has dreams of becoming a stand-up comic...until her leg gets ripped off, thereby setting up the lame (if you'll pardon the pun) running joke of the stand-up comedian who can't stand. "Cripple jokes are funny," her boyfriend tells her. Did I mention this is a Tarantino production?
The fun thing about this movie is its utter ridiculousness. It's pacing is frantic and bang-bang-bang. You can almost hear the maniacal laughter of the director as he zooms through the script, skittering around corners and bumping into walls on his way to a whiz-bang finale that just makes you sit there and go, "Wow." The visuals are terrific, too, done in the over-saturated color palette of those 1970s low budget flicks that we all run into on a Saturday afternoon from time to time.
So if you like big action, uncomfortable humor and don't mind seeing Quentin Tarantino's extremities melt in front of your eyes, then this is the movie for you. I know I'm still laughing....