Machete Kills

Viewed – 06 August 2014  Netflix

I’m a little concerned.  Robert Rodriguez, that indie wonder kid, best buds with Quentin Tarantino and director of such classics as Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn and Sin City, has been making more of a name for himself lately as the poster boy for the grindhouse genre.  Tarantino was wise to just dip his toe in it before delivering the double whammy of Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained.  Yet the imminent arrival of the hotly anticipated Sin City: A Dame To Kill For has been slightly wilted by Rodriguez’s z-grade obsession … which going by the reviews, got old very quickly.


This follow-up to the movie inspired by a trailer in the middle of that Grindhouse double feature calamity, finds hulking Mexican for hire Danny Trejo as bounty hunter and former marshal ‘Machete’ who gets hired by the President of the United States (Charlie Sheen … er, yes) to bring down a crime lord who is threatening to send a missile to nuke Washington.  Yeah it’s stupid and it’s the sort of plot you’d find in an 80’s TV show or some movie in a flea pit of a cinema that had run out of porn … but it’s a concept, played fully tongue-in-cheek that makes for highly entertaining tosh.

Rodriguez clearly loves the material and although it lacks some of the sucker-punch moments of the previous one it still had enough comical ideas (the speeder from Star Wars, ‘Machete don’t tweet’…) that bored is not something I could be.  Co-starring a cast you almost have to read twice to believe, yes Sheen as well as Cuba Gooding Jnr, Michelle Rodriguez, Lady GaGa (!) and even Mel Gibson – this could have been a riot.  Yet due to that intentional grindhouse style, its all done badly; the acting is only passable (although Gibson is great) and the effects, stunts and even the gore are amateurish (with a surprising lack of nudity).  Yeah I get it, it’s all part of the joke … but does detract from some of the movie’s bigger moments. 

One to watch with beer, friends and your brain on auto-pilot.  Is it wrong I actually want to see ‘Machete Kills again – in space’ ??

Verdict:  3 /5


Viewed – 13 October 2011  Blu-ray

Like Hobo With A Shotgun, this movie is going for that low-budget exploitation feel.  Made infamous by the fake trailer showcased in the Planet Terror / Death Proof double-feature known as Grindhouse, this was probably the only trailer featured in that failed ‘experiment’ that could be turned into a full feature, and so the question remains, what’s it like?

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Death Proof

Viewed – 27 March 2008  DVD

Quentin Tarantino will always be fairly high in my books, as he made my favourite film of all time, Pulp Fiction, yet that doesn’t mean he’s even come close to that brilliance since, and with this, his half of the much maligned Grindhouse venture he collaborated on with Robert Rodriguez, that magic still seems to avade him.

Don’t get me wrong though, there is much to like in this road movie / slasher flick with its grainy, damaged look and a 70s car chase movie atmosphere.  Mainly Kurt Russell as maniac ex stunt man ‘stuntman mike’ who’s one purpose in life is to stalk beautiful girls out on the road, then run them down. An interesting concept is peppered throughout with various (lengthy) talking scenes that have some good banter even if everyone still talks Tarantino-speak in Tarantino-land.  Realistic, convincing dialogue still seems Tarantino’s Achilles heal.  That said it does get you interested in the characters and their world, and adds greatly to their peril once Stuntman Mike is prowling.  Add to the mix some top-notch car chase action, impressive stunt sequences (especially one nasty car crash), and overall this is enjoyable stuff.  The first half builds to what I began to think could be quite a disturbing horror movie, but then things change dramatically when tables are turned in the second half – and all that initial promise slowly fades away to a ludicrous and very hard to believe conclusion.

So overall the Grindhouse thing pressed my buttons – two very enjoyable movies, but both only hint at each director’s talents, but individually they are still worth checking out – even if this isn’t quite the Tarantino I once thought I knew.  Perhaps he should stop wallowing in his boyhood fantasies, and start making real movies.

Verdict: 3 /5

Planet Terror

Viewed – 14 March 2008  DVD

I have to admit, director Robert Rodriguez (From Dusk Till Dawn, Sin City) plays to the little boy in me and the movies that I would make if I had a hotshot Hollywood career – I mean hey, I’ve written stories that would so suit his sensibilities – that of throw it all at the screen and hope that something sticks, whilst adding lashings of babes, guns and gore. 

Planet Terror formed one half of the disbanded ‘grindhouse’ project that bombed in America, not because the two films weren’t good – they certainly boast plenty of energy and ideas – but as a double feature, such energy was obviously too much for a modern movie lover’s taste not brought up on exploitation films that formed much of Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s miss-spent youth.

Here we get a solute to those 70s cheap thrill vehicles (complete with grainy image quality) with a virus outbreak turning the population of a small town into flesh eating zombies and a band of desperate survivors team up to battle the hoards.  To explain the story beyond it being your usual zombie apocalypse bullshit, would be pointless because there’s so many nutty ideas and over-the-top mad action here that often you forget what the plot is and just sit back and enjoy the ride!  We get a girl with a machine gun for a leg!  (the mouth watering Rose McGowan), a lone drifter who just happens to be bad-ass with guns & knives (Freddy Rodriguez – no relation), a hate-filled husband & wife doctors (Josh Brolin on menacing form, and Heather Graham look-a-like Marley Shelton playing every guys idea of a hot momma) and tons of gore, ripped apart bodies, nudity, explosions and a brilliant guitar theme playing throughout.

So really its as simple as this – if you like your movies to hit you smack in the face but also make you laugh and cheer – this is going to make your day. 

Verdict:  4 /5