Death Proof (2007) (part 5 of 5)

There’s some tiresome stuff with Abernathy feeling left out until they let her come along, and at last, we’re on the road. I should note that we don’t see Lee for the rest of the movie. I’ll get to that at the end though, because I do have an idea for something that would improve this film somewhat.

Kim drives the car onto a long stretch of road, and after a powwow with Zoe, she borrows Abernathy’s belt and ties it to one door, fastening Zoe’s belt to the other. They drive off, and Zoe ends up climbing onto the hood of the car while Kim drives like a lunatic. It’s a really impressive stunt, made even more so by the fact that Zoe Bell actually is on the hood.

Caption contributed by Ed

You know, it’s a nice hood ornament, but it does sort of obscure my view!

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Ed Harris

A fan of less than great cinema since childhood, Ed divides his time between writing scripts, working an actual paying job and subjecting himself willingly to some of the worst films society has produced.

Multi-Part Article: Death Proof (2007)
Tag: Grindhouse (2007)

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  • Monterey Jack

    The rapist guy wasn’t played by Michael Bowen, Bowen played “Buck” in Kill Bill. Rapist was the guy who Buck offered a $75 fuck-fest with the comatose Bride.

    And this ranks with Scott Pilgrim as one of the few Agony Booth recaps for a film I’ve genuinely LOVED. I honestly had no problems with the dialogue, the characters, or any of it…I think it’s the most underrated film Tarantino has ever made.

    • Ed

      I had a feeling I got the guy’s name wrong but I totally forgot to tell Al. Thanks for the correction.

    • Michael MADSEN played “Buck”. I’ve no idea who Michael Bowen is.

      • Tad Whatever

        Are you an idiot, or just a troll?

      • Ed

        Actually, he played Bud, man. Just fyi.

  • Monterey Jack

    Also, weird coincidence, but I just happened to be listening to the Death Proof soundtrack before I logged on here and saw this recap…

  • Divinla

    I friend of mine had an idea for what I think is also a clever ending. The girls return with the Challenger and apologize for it not being in the same condition. The redneck then shows them the remains of their cheerleader friend and apologizes for same.

    • Ed

      That’s not bad, given how downbeat the endings for some of those flicks tended to be, it would fit.

    • Jerry_Fritschle

      Cute, but the cheerleader could also apologize for the condition of the redneck, given that part two of “Death Proof” features damsels in distress who are greatly underestimated. :-)

  • Michael

    I thought “Planet Terror,” despite its hot babes, was even more ridiculous than “Death Proof.” For instance, the zombie makeup was unbelievably hokey (the original “Dawn of the Dead” has the best zombie makeup) and having hottie Rose McGowan shooting people & launching herself in the air with her leg is even worse than that ‘nuking the fridge’ thing in Indy IV

    • Cristiona

      Um… it was supposed to be hokey. That’s why the zombies blew up like water balloons.

      • Angelbest27

        Um…where did you hear that it was supposed to be hokey?

        • Albert Giesbrecht

          That was the whole concept of the movie project. It was a homage to the exploitation films of the 1970’s.

          • tony

            The who launching in the air with a stupid gun for a leg would’ve been too dumb for even those films, though.

  • dangerine

    Totally agree with this review. I found the entire section with the first group of girls excruciating. Like being the only sober person when everyone’s high and stupid. I have no idea what Tarantino was going for – it’s like he didn’t know what a grindhouse movie was. It should have been brief introduction to girls, girls get menaced, attempt at escape that fails, showdown, end. Like a slasher movie. Or more like a girl gang movie – the girls-are-psychos idea’s pretty good.

    I’ve hear other film snobs say it’s a deconstruction or some other pretentious nonsense. If it was directed by anyone else, they’d hate it. It reminds me of all the shitty film school projects I sat through after Reservoir Dogs came out, where everyone rambled about pop culture in an ultra-stylized way. It’s like a Tarantino parody!

    And then the last 20 minutes are so awesome I can’t say I actually hate the movie. Damn it!

  • Cristiona

    Grindhouse was a titanic flop, but it was one of the best movie going experiences of my life. I caught a matinee showing before work on one of the last days it was still in the theater. There were about eight of us in the theater and we were hooting and howling throughout the whole thing. We never actually talked to each other, but we experienced the movie as a group. Kind of like when everyone in the theater realizes they’re watching a piece of crap and start with cat calls, except this was a feeling of pure joy.

    I haven’t watched either movie since then, because I just know they’ll be a horrible let-down without the big screen, the strangers, and the cheering.

    • Ed

      I had a great audience when I saw it too. Weird to think I saw that in a theater with an actual janitorial staff.

      • Joel Kazoo

        My experience was similar. About a dozen people in the theater, and we all had a wonderful time.

  • Three big reasons to see this movie:

    1) Kurt Russell. Brings the awesome.
    2) Vanessa Ferlito’s unbelievable lap dance. Even tops Selma Hayek in “From Dusk ’til Dawn.”
    3) The last 20 minutes or so is one of the best car chases I’ve ever seen.

    Three things I didn’t notice the first time:

    1) Eli Roth’s character is such an asshole to Stuntman Mike that you don’t realize until later that Eli and Omar Doom only wanted to have sex with some of the girls, not murder all of them. I loved how Tarantino gets you rooting for totally the wrong guy.
    2) When Zoe and the rest of the second set of girls are talking in the restaurant about “Vanishing Point” blah blah blah, the camera pans around and around for this eight-minute or so unbroken shot. Take a look in the background. Every time it gets to the bar, Stuntman Mike is watching them. Big time.
    3) With the shift in tone, different acting styles and WAY different ending between Part I and Part II, this movie is basically its own bigger-budget sequel. Neat.

    One other observation that Ed totally nailed:

    I didn’t think about it until I read this article, but Jungle Julia and Shanna-Banana really did bring the bitchy, didn’t they? Ugh.

    • Monterey Jack

      Also, the Crazy Babysitter Twins from Planet Terror make an appearance in the bar (most easilly seen in the lap dance scene).

  • kennzeichen1d

    Seeing that woman riding the hood I thought:
    “Wouldn´t it be nice if she just would die doing that stupid stunt?
    A gruesome, violent, bloody death, beheading and all?”
    But does that movie deliver? Nooo.
    Can´t have nice things. Just can´t have them.

  • Richardpd

    I also found the first segement a bit over long, mostly when I watched it for the first time.

    When watching it again on DVD it didn’t seem so bad. Once Stuntman Mike is introduced it gets more interesting.

    Did anyone notice the “Cash Only” poster in the bar?

    Once it got going the 2nd segment was more gripping, it was a little talky at first.

  • Rorschach

    When I first watched this movie (in theatres), I thought it was incredibly boring, and would have to agree with every single thing in this recap. I’ve seen it twice since then, and with each subsequent viewing I’ve enjoyed it more, with the most recent keeping me fairly engaged the entire way through. I’m not really sure why, because the pacing in this movie is terrible, but it kept me interested.

    I suspect part of the problem was such a slow-moving, methodical movie really had no business following the much crazier, balls-to-the-wall action that was Planet Terror.

    Either way, excellent recap.

  • Albert Giesbrecht

    The animated restricted cartoon mentioned in the review, is in fact an actual restricted warning used in British Columbia. It used to run in XXX movie theaters, before the movies ran.
    Unfortunately, they are not used anymore, as the last 35mm XXX theater in Vancouver switched to showing video porn, a few years ago

  • Adrian Tullberg

    The inconsistency of how Stuntman Mike was portrayed was what annoyed me.
    In the first half, he is a calculating predator, who not only kills five women in a gruesome manner, but also devises a method in which he gets away with the crime scot free.
    The second? An opportunistic character who’s content to just smash a car around before running off.

    • Ed

      He’s fairly calculating in the second part and most of the chase takes place in a fairly isolated area, it’s just that he runs into a few women who don’t take that sort of thing lying down.

  • Scott

    When I saw the movie at the cinema, I liked it. It was super cool, full of great dialogue and was just fun all around. However that was the Grindhouse cut.

    When I saw the extended cut… Wow, that was awful and boring.

    Sure the grind house cut had some problems but it did keep you entertained but everything about the extended cut was just… Either wrong or needed to be fixed.

    The biggest error with the standalone movie edition is that they try too hard to explain Mike’s motives, and it ends up ruining The character (and the movie as a whole). The best thing about the grindhouse cut was that we didn’t know very much about Mike. Which made him altogether scarier.

    In addition an extra twenty minutes of excruciatingly boring dialogue, which made it seem as long As the whole Grindhouse movie itself.

    • Scott

      And on that note, you should recap Drive, which suffers exactly the same issues as this movie. (By the way we’re barely ten minutes into the movie, and already, the driver has a love interest. Very subtle, mr. Refn, you may as well smack me in the face with a brick and call it even.)

  • Voyager 6

    Zoe Bell doing her own stunts? You betcha arse she did…she being a professional stuntwoman and all. Death Proof was supposed to be the plucky Kiwi’s break into proper acting, but…well, Death Proof was smug self-indulgent shit, so it didn’t work out. Ironically, her brief part in Lost (she played Regina – no, I don’t remember her either) may remain her main claim to fame. I don’t know why that’s ironic, but it is.

  • Jerry_Fritschle

    I am in the group that greatly enjoyed “Grindhouse” as a whole, when it was released in the theater. Having said that, I came out thinking that Tarantino cheated on Rodriguez, as this review indicates. “Planet Terror” was more in the spirit of exploitation schlock; beyond stuff like the missing-reel gags, it showed more deliberately crude technique (which nevertheless worked as skilled spoofing of hack work, and didn’t look like hack work in itself.) Tarantino couldn’t bring himself to dumb himself down. His contribution was too slick, right down to the rightly-praised car chase. I even remember “Death Proof” as going lighter on the fake film scratches. I enjoyed it anyway. I have not seen the extended standalone cut, so I’m supposing that what I did see benefitted from some “less is more.”