Grindhouse – the HD experience

So how do you tell if a movie has a good HD image if it has been intentionally made to look like a torn up, degraded old piece of 35mm that’s been lying on a projection room floor for a decade?

Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez’ throwback to the drive-in z-grade movie double features of the seventies, was subsequently re-released as two separate movies after the 3hr epic bombed at the box office.  What the two hot-shot director’s failed to anticipate is that cinema going audiences had changed since the crowd they had mingled with in their youth.  So not until now have the home-viewers crowd been able to replicate what a small number of people saw in theatres – the whole experience.  The whole Grindhouse.

Presented here as one mammoth double feature, albeit in the slightly shorter cuts to keep the whole running time to 3 hours, we are treated to some dodgy opening and in between trailers, made by the likes of Rob Zombie and Eli Roth, meaning that as a viewer we’re in for something low budget and fun as hell.  The image quality, despite the fake wear and tear, is packed with detail – free of any artificial sharpenning or noise reduction.  Both movies have a great art style, with Planet Terror more John Carpenter meets George Romero, and Death Proof going for a Roger Corman vibe.  Both movies feel very different, but also the right side of non-mainstream and shlock the directors were going for.  Both are presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital, which although disappointing for a HD release, still packs a punch with the rocking soundtracks on both movies impressing.  As for the movies, I greatly prefer Planet Terror as it’s just much more entertaining and has some great ideas (and babes!).  Tarantino’s Death Proof, bar a great turn by Kurt Russell falls into the same trappings as the rest of the director’s output post Pulp Fiction, of being a very talky, wink at the screen look how clever I am, but lacking any real personality to hold its head above a wealth of movie references.  Yet few could argue just how kick-ass the car chases and stunt work are.

Extras are plenty full, as on the first disk, we get a commentary for Planet Terror (but not for Death Proof) and a laughter / audience reaction track for Planet Terror.  On the second disk there are a wealth of behind the scenes featurettes for both movies, Roberts Rodriguez’ 10 minute film school, poster art work and interviews – all of which are well worth checking out.

It’s great to finally have the whole GRINDHOUSE thing presented as it was originally intended, the viewing experience certainly something to behold, and both movies have enough personality and sheer skill put into them to make this an essential purchase.

For my individual opinion on both movies, check out my earlier reviews here:

Planet Terror

Death Proof

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