Grindhouse: Death Proof-2007
Director Quentin Tarantino
Starring Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Zoe Bell
Scott’s Review #1,344
Reviewed February 13, 2023
It’s tough to go wrong with a Quentin Tarantino film recognizing that one needs to be a Tarantino fan. His films are for specific tastes that indulge in stylized violence, dark humor, and cartoonish characters.
Grindhouse: Death Proof (2007) is an easy victory for the director and incorporates his trademark qualities with beautiful female race car drivers and a sadistic stuntman.
As usual, revenge is the name of the game and results in a satisfying ending. The thrill is in the chase that occurs mainly midway through and plenty of B movie references and old songs are on display.
The experience is a pure pleasure for any cinema lover that appreciates aspects of the film like editing that too often falls beneath the surface. The scratchy film texture and retro title sequence all help to encompass another Tarantino opus.
The film is part of a double feature along with Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror and includes a series of mock exploitive trailers.
Both, specifically Tarantino’s, harken back to when exploitative films were shown in dusty movie houses with grainy video and a stale popcorn stench. The mood was immediately set for me while watching the film which enhanced my enjoyment tremendously.
Psychotic stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) is a professional body double who likes to meet unsuspecting women at bars and take them for deadly drives for fun. He has a specially made car which he calls ‘Death Proof’ but only for the driver and not the passenger.
The first half of the film involves a group of girls out for a good time in a dive bar. Abbie (Rosario Dawson), Pam (Rose McGowan), and others ultimately fall victim to his shenanigans during a dastardly head-on collision exceptionally filmed.
Later, he meets a tough group of female race car drivers led by real-life stuntwoman Zoe Bell who vows to make him pay for causing them trouble. Their hell-bent vengeance just may be what the doctor ordered to cause Mike’s downfall.
Death Proof is often overlooked by fans of Tarantino and it might be because it’s paired with another film. But, it’s not half a movie either and at one hour and fifty-four minutes, it’s got legs. The film flies under the radar for me too but it’s a high-octane mile-minute experience.
One great part of Death Proof is the throwback to cult films of the 1960s and 1970s, especially Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, a 1965 exploitative masterpiece by Russ Meyer.
These girls are no shrinking violets or damsels in distress who need a man to save the day. Quite the contrary. They kick ass and take names, especially in the flawless second half. Out for blood, the girls assuredly put Mike firmly in his place.
Juxtapositioned with the first half which has a dire ending for the group of girls, the second half is more upbeat and satisfactory. The lighting is also different in the two halves. The first takes place well beyond midnight while the second is in the bright afternoon.
Tarantino produces a brilliant piece of feminist progressivism with nasty muscle and female characters not to be messed with. Death Proof (2007) shows badass characters with hints of humor and discussions about men.
The girlie action flick blends perfectly with the 1970s race cars and the sexploitation theme Tarantino is recreating while still making the film feel modern and relevant.