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heroes line-up for Planet Terror

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Planet Terror
cast: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Josh Brolin, Marley Shelton, and Jeff Fahey

director: Robert Rodriguez

101 minutes (18) 2007
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Momentum DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 9/10
reviewed by Gary McMahon
I think we're all aware at this point that Planet Terror was originally half of the Tarantino and Rodriguez Grindhouse project, and the two films were subsequently lengthened and split apart for a DVD release, thus rendering the initial fun concept of a sleazy double bill, including faux trailers, rather pointless.

That aside, Planet Terror is a total blast from start to finish: it's so entertaining I watched it three times over the course of a single weekend. It comes on like a 1980s' Euro-splatter fest, something that might have been directed by Luigi Cozzi, Lucio Fulci, or Umberto Lenzi (indeed, the film it most fondly reminds of is Lenzi's absurd and entertaining Nightmare City), but with much better actors. The special effects are amazing (particularly those used to age and deteriorate the film, so it resembles a third-generation video recording), the gore suitably tasteless, and the countless visual references to the films that spawned the project are a joy to behold.

I could go on for hours about the almost Proustian rush of memories of questionable direct-to-video titles this film evoked, but I'll spare you the trouble as it's all been covered elsewhere and at greater length. Instead, let's focus on this release's swathe of DVD extras.

'10-minute' film school is a lively short that shows Rodriguez's guerrilla approach to filmmaking. The Badass Babes Of Planet Terror focuses on the female characters, mainly Rose McGowan's feisty amputee Cherry, and Dakota the anaesthetist lumbered with two dead hands - played brilliantly by the beautiful Marley Shelton. The Guys Of Planet Terror is a similar sort documentary essaying the roles of Freddy Rodriguez, Bruce Willis and Josh Brolin, among others.

Casting Rebel features the story behind why Rodriguez cast his own son in the film, and his decision to kill the character off. This was fascinating, and offered a genuine glimpse into the artistic mind of the man. Sickos, Bullets, And Explosions: The Stunts Of Planet Terror does exactly what it says on the tin, and breaks down some of the spectacular stunt and effects sequences, giving the viewer a better understanding of the amazing work that went into giving the film its unique look.

The Friend, The Doctor, And The Real Estate Agent spends more time with some of the other characters, and could easily have been tacked onto the end of one of the other documentary pieces. The director's commentary is as entertaining as one would expect from a character like Rodriguez.

Finally, I must mention the fictional trailer for a film called 'Machete', starring the inimitable Danny Trejo as a grizzled Mexican hitman who uses, yes, a machete, to despatch his victims. And big guns... And a motorcycle with a machine-gun mounted on the front. God, how I wish this were actually a real film... the fake trailer alone is better than most of the exploitation films released today.

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