Director: Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodríguez, Marley Shelton, and Naveen Andrews
Runtime: 105 min.
by Brian Eggert
Original Release Date:
There’s a suggested social commentary, which I won’t bother arguing here, since it’s not fully described in the movie. Planet Terror isn’t smart enough to reflect anything but bullets and blood; but, I suppose, that’s the point. Bruce Willis plays a disgruntled military man leading a group of chemical weapons-poisoned soldiers hell-bent on survival. Being poisoned, they’re required to inhale a toxic gas to survive or they’ll become slimy, decaying sickos (Rodriquez’s version of zombies). Then again, if those people not infected are exposed, they suffer the same fate. Trouble arises when the rogue scientist and inventor of the toxic gas (Naveen Andrews) accidentally releases it on a small, unsuspecting Texas town. Sicko hell breaks out, recalling zombie terror, only gooier and grosser in every sense.
Heading over to the local hospital, husband Dr. Block (Josh Brolin) and his wife Nurse Dakota Block (Marley Shelton) begin to see the first signs of a sicko outbreak. They have their own marital faithlessness troubles; Dr. Block discovers his wife’s lesbian lover dead from a “car accident” and realizes her infidelity. He plans to kill her for it, but not before the sickos overrun everything, bringing with them endless carnage. We see gunshot wounds that spray out and seem to gush gallons of oozing blood, boils squeezed until they burst, a sicko victim whose brain was eaten referred to as a “no-brainer”, Naveen Andrew’s mad scientist obsess over testicles, Cherry Darling’s leg removed and replaced with a gun, a child shoot himself in the face, Quentin Tarantino’s sicko genitalia schlup off, and more. But it’s all in good fun.
Despite internet rumors, the “missing reel” from the theatrical version is not replaced for this “Extended Edition” DVD. Frankly, the film is more interesting without it. We are given around 10-minutes of new footage, mostly elongated conversations drizzled here and there. It’s certainly nothing substantial as with the Death Proof home video release. The new DVD of Planet Terror is problematic. Watching a movie with film stock burns and imperfections on a plasma television seems awkward, despite being entertaining, so home video viewings are less than ideal. Grindhouse and its children, specifically Rodriguez’s movie, were meant for theatrical viewing. But what’s the solution? Should Rodriguez have cleaned away the audio pops and intentional blemishes as Tarantino did for his wide, solo Death Proof release shown at Cannes? That would sacrifice much of the film’s deliberate abuse of the cinematic apparatus, as well as the blatancy of the campy plot. For Death Proof, a film less grounded in shoddy production, its separation from the Grindhouse double-feature worked. For Planet Terror, we feel strangely out of place watching in our comfy abode. Ignore these inconsistencies, however, and Planet Terror stands up as a juicy, gritty, funny piece of horror.