Planet Terror is damn near perfect. I loved it from start to finish and was only upset with it when I thought it was closing in on an ending. Thankfully it goes on for the appropriate length.
When I say that its "damn near perfect" you have to remember that because of the nature of the kind of movie experience they're trying to create, things like plot holes and bad acting only make the movie better. Had some over-the-top line deliveries or fuzzy 911 back story been part of a "real" movie, the movie would not have hit the same note. But because its part of the Grindhouse, I openly welcome machine gun legs, needle launchers and the next generations Snake Pliskin on a mini bike, It actually makes the movie better.
Death Proof... I don' know… is it even safe to compare it to Planet Terror? It's more of a character movie but less of a complete story from start to finish than Planet Terror is. And I'm not saying that's a bad thing necessarily. Death Proof is disjointed and incomplete but that lends itself very well to the Grindhouse atmosphere. And part of me expected this deep characterization but as it is - you're waiting for the car. You're waiting for Russell. And all the hot girls in the world talking candidly about sex, cars, and old movies in Tarantino wip-smart speak isn't going to cover up the fact that you've been sitting in a theater for an hour and 45 minutes waiting for this, and it just doesn't deliver.
Without being part of the Grindhouse I don't think Death Proof holds on its own as a complete movie experience. It has plenty of great things going on, but after all that time in the theater, it's damn near impossible to sit through without wondering when they're going to get to. And I counted 7 people that decided walking out was more important than waiting around to find out what a maniac and his car were going to do next.
For me the most disappointing thing about Death Proof is how they built up a character only to knock him down. In the first half of this segment Stuntman Mike is established as an evil badass in every sense of the word. What he does to those 5 girls is sick and twisted and an iconic character is created the second he flips those headlights back on.
In part two Stuntman Mike becomes a weepy bitch when the tables are turned on him. Like a bully that gets a taste of his own medicine we see this potentially great, legendary movie villain erased before our eyes as girl power wins out. To be fair, the audience ate it up. Cheering and applauding as Russell has his break down and the girls show him what true terror is. And I applauded right along with them. It was entertaining, but in the back of my head I knew that this was the beginning and end of a character that could have been recognized for years as one our greatest heavies ever. Grand opening, grand closing. Down goes Stuntman Mike.
It just hurts after the similar characters Tarantino created in Mr. Blonde or Vincent Vega who managed to get taken out with a little dignity. Ok, Vincent hit the floor before his toilet completely flushed, but he was still a bad ass mother fucker.
I actually look forward to the DVD release where I'll be able to enjoy the two halves of Grindhouse separately. Planet Terror one day, Death Proof another. Together they're definitely an experience, but I think apart, the movies will be able to shine and stand on their own and I’ll be able to enjoy them in a whole new way.
Grindhouse: 8 out of 10
Planet Terror 9.5 out of 10
Death Proof 6 out of 10