Originally DEATH PROOF was the second feature of a movie called GRINDHOUSE which came out in 2007. It was a double feature that showcased two movies, PLANET TERROR and DEATH PROOF. Robert Rodriguez directed the PLANET TERROR. The film was an ode to the glory days of exploitation cinema and the double feature, which was pretty standard back in the 60's and 70's.
Today's modern audiences didn't really “get” GRINDHOUSE so the movie flopped big time. It wasn't until DVD that people saw these films, which were released separately to recover lost expenses the best they could. PLANET TERROR suffers the most by being released separately. It feels incomplete compared to DEATH PROOF which is an extended cut on DVD. The full GRINDHOUSE experience is now available on Blu-Ray and I highly recommend checking it out!
DEATH PROOF is about a killer named Stuntman Mike, who goes around stalking women. Instead of a knife he uses his car. Things start off in Texas where we meet Julia, Shanna, and Arlene. Arlene is a friend visiting from out of town. The three girls are planning to hang out at Shanna's lake house for the weekend. But first meet up with some boys at a bar to start the weekend off right.
While hanging out at the bar and having a good time one of the girls, Arlene notices someone with a scary looking car has been following them all night. And it's none other than Stuntman Mike. A old fossil who's done some stunt work in television that nobody remembers. He's a likable guy but awkward as well. Arlene is frightened by his car, but after the old pervert gets a lap dance out of her, all seems well. Or so that's what her and her friends thought! 14 months pass and Stuntman Mike is now in Tennessee stalking a new group of girls. But what Stuntman Mike doesn't know is that these women fight back!
That's the gist of the plot.
So why or how does Stuntman Mike use a car and not a knife like a normal killer? Stuntman Mike's instrument of death is his car, a stunt car made up with reinforced steel, role bars, and the whole nine yards. You could drive straight into a brick wall going 200mph just for the experience. Why not just use a knife? Probably because Stuntman Mike gets no excitement from using a knife.
This weapon of choice is one of the films many reinventions in Tarantino's take on the slasher sub genre of horror. Another major reinvention is Stuntman Mike. Most horror movie killers sneak up on their victims. Not Stuntman Mike, he's a socialite to his prey. Flirting with young women at the bar. Come on, we've all seen this guy at the bar a time or two.
It's really not a reinvention but Tarantino does something else with DEATH PROOF that is quite unique. He makes the audience forget they are watching a slasher movie. The film starts off like a slasher flick with girls talking about girl stuff and boys. We see Stuntman Mike follow them. But once the girls get the the Texas Chili Parlor something cool happens.
During the time at the bar our slasher film takes a break and becomes a 'hang-out' film. It almost becomes a Richard Linklater movie. The audience spends a lot of time with these characters having a good time at the Texas Chili Parlor. But remember, Stuntman Mike is setting up his prey And moments before last call is when he makes his move. I won't spoil it but Stuntman Mike gets a lap dance! Tell me. How many slasher flicks are there that have one of it's characters give the 'killer' a lap dance? Sorry, but I must have missed that Friday The 13th where a camp counselor gave Jason a lap dance. That's right folks, Stuntman Mike gets a lap dance! It's a cool scene but odd as well. I have never been quite sure what Tarantino is trying to tell us here? I've had several ideas in the past but now I'm pretty sure the only point to the scene is to tell the audience that Stuntman Mike is basically 'marking' his hunt.
The next and final reinvention of the slasher genre comes in the second half of the movie. 14 months later and Stuntman Mike is after a new set of girls. Now that the audience knows how Stuntman Mike operates, Tarantino chooses to have his 'killer' in the background this time around. After what happened in Texas, ole Stuntman Mike might be playing it safe?
So we have a new set of women all of which who work in the movie industry. Two of them are stunt actors. Some of the girls go for a joy ride in a 1970 Dodge Challenger. They are having a blast. But these thrill seekers get a little more than they bargained for when Stuntman Mike joins in on the fun. Now it is around this time that DEATH PROOF becomes the coolest thing ever. Tarantino switches gears (no pun intended) and the film becomes a full blown car chase movie! And let me tell you, it is the greatest car chase scene in the history of cinema!
Now if you've had the pleasure of experiencing DEATH PROOF as a part of GRINDHOUSE your double feature just turned into a triple threat! A true blue grindhouse theater experience!
There you have it! Quentin Tarantino's slasher movie with a twist of kick ass! I cannot recommend this movie enough. This Halloween do yourself a favor and watch GRINDHOUSE!
Only 4 more days left till Halloween! Happy October,