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DVD Reviews

HTF DVD Review: Planet Terror - Extended & Unrated



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#1 of 38 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted October 09 2007 - 03:44 PM

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Planet Terror - Extended and Unrated





Studio: The Weinstein Company
Year: 2007
US Rating: Unrated
Film Length: 105 Mins
Aspect Ratio: 1:78.1
Audio: English and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: Optional Spanish and English SDH



US Release Date: October 9, 2007

The Film - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

“I’ve seen me a lot of weird s*#t in my day, but I ain’t never seen a one-legged stripper. I seen me a stripper with one breast. And I seen me a stripper with twelve toes. I’ve seen me a stripper with no brains at all, but I ain’t never seen a one-legged stripper. And I’ve been to Morocco!”



Along with his good friend Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez has taken cinema back to the gritty, visceral and exploitative days of the 70’s. These two wildly inventive filmmakers have been responsible for a number of films that have paid homage to the cinema of that decade in ways great and small. The closest relative to their Grindhouse feature pairing, a double feature that began with Tarantino’s ‘Death Proof” and closed with Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, is From Dusk ‘til Dawn. Rodriguez created a quirky, bloody and immensely enjoyable horror flick that was equal parts violent, bloody and cool. With Planet Terror, much of the grimy energy on display in From Dusk ‘til Dawn is back.

Planet Terror follows the same plotting rulebook that Death Proof used. The plot can be summed up in a single sentence – Toxic gas turns people in a small town into Zombies and the survivors must battle their way out of town to safety. Not original at all, but if it was, it would not be the caliber or substance of story that you would expect to see in cheap theater double-feature experiences.

Robert Rodriquez is a director of considerable drive and skill. His films always blend stylized action with subtle sensibilities and hints of outrageousness. For his part of the Grindhouse project, he has taken all of his storytelling skills and thrown them into overdrive. Every element or signature of his has been upped beyond normality and by doing so, he has brought to the world a pitch-perfect ‘nod of the hat’ to the exploitation cinema of days long ago. Pulling out all the stops, this Zombie tale goes for the jugular with delightful persistence. The familiar setting of a small town and a rogue military group (led by Bruce Willis in a superb cameo), doing dealings with a ruthless businessman/scientist (LOST’s Naveen Andrews) is ripe low-budget fodder. When the deal goes sour and the toxic gas is released into the air, the town folk start to become ill and eventually turn into the hideously ugly undead, stammering awkwardly toward the living and devouring their flesh and brains.

The story of course has its heroes. Rose McGowan plays Cherry, a go-go dancer who has decided to quit that profession. She meets up with an old boyfriend this night, El Wray (played by Freddy Rodriquez), who happens to be a remarkably skilled fighter. The rest of the cast is filled with Jeff Fahey (JT) as the BBQ joint owner relentlessly searching for the perfect BBQ sauce recipe, Michael Biehn as the town sheriff, Josh Brolin as a hospital doctor and abusive husband to Marley Shelton, a fellow doctor. Ensemble casts always seem to provide the necessary bunch of heroes and losers, some of which prove just as dangerous to the group as the outside threat.

The imagination in play here is worthy of smiles and applause. The absurdity of Rose McGowan, who loses a leg to the Zombies, but later is able to attach a machine gun to her stump and dispatch with incredible precision, hordes of advancing undead, is a joy to watch. The bloody disgusting prosthetic effects and explosions of blood and limbs are in such grand quantities, that the envelope has been pushed so far, it is no longer in sight. As with Tarantino’s Death Proof, Planet Terror is filled with directorial indulgence as Rodriguez acts with the abandon of a 14 year old and has what is obviously a magnificent time.

This half of the Grindhouse double feature is definitely the more entertaining. Everything from the odd character obsession during the gas outbreak scene to Josh Brolin’s stalker-husband-zombie creep-fest and the hard to forget machine gun leg, are more playful, outlandish and amusing. This film also uses the fake film degradation effects to a greater extent and the mock trailer for ‘Machete’ before the real feature begins and the ‘Missing Reel’ (complete with apologies from the theater owner card), all help make this a truly unique movie watching experience.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this fascinating experiment that is Grindhouse, and as much as I felt that Death Proof was a wickedly cool and amusing film, its partner has managed to come out on top as the true gem in the double-feature experience.






The Video - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Planet Terror is presented with in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The film was shown in theaters framed at 2.35:1 to match that of Death Proof and has been restored to its original ratio for this release. As with Death Proof, even though the film was shot on HD, the image has been affected in post production to recapture the look and feel of well worn prints from the Seventies. The reproduction of film damage, heavy lines and popping ranges from light to heavy and suits this film very well. The image, through the distortions is clearly sharp and although the colors have been deliberately drained at times, they shine when they are supposed to. For the production and the artistic intent, the video quality fits the film to a T.





The Sound - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

With a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, Planet Terror has numerous times to show off the audio goodies. There are multiple explosions, a massive amount of gun shots and all sorts of engine growls through the film that show off a good level of bass, meaningful LFE and active ambience. I enjoyed the crackles present in the center channel as another way of augmenting the low-budget feel of this cinematic throwback fun.




The Extra's - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Disc One :
Feature Commentary by Writer/Director Robert Rodriguez: - This is a good commentary track, lively and informative. The director points out many of the scenes added to the cut for this home video release and how conscientiously he worked to stay loyal to the Grindhouse ideal with this project. He describes a process he uses of taking still photography of natural settings that he sees and likes, then using those images to set up and shoot scenes in his films. It is interesting to hear him describe the process of building the characters in this film, how he wrote at least one complete scene for each character, found the actor or actress he wanted for that role and then completed the writing for that character based on the character and style of the person cast.

Audience Reaction Track: - This is one of those special features that is intriguing in concept and a fun idea, however, in practicality, there really is no good reason to watch the film the whole way through while an audience reacts unnecessarily loudly to gross out scenes and the many giggle moments the film is riddled with. Once you have heard them gasp at goo and reel at a shock once or twice, you have pretty much gotten all you can out of the idea.

International Poster Gallery:

International Trailer:

Sneak Peaks: Trailers for Death Proof, 1408, Halloween and Black Sheep

Disc Two :
10 Minute Film School: - (11:50) - Writer/Director Rodriguez pulls back the curtain on the visual and special effects employed in some key scenes from the movie. Very revealing for such a short special feature.

The Badass Babes of Planet Terror: - (11:48) - Rodriguez discuss the process for creating and casting the ‘babes’ that populate Planet Terror.

The Guys of Planet Terror: - (16:30) - Rodriguez discuss the process for creating and casting the ‘guys in Planet Terror. Where Tarantino’s Death Proof was filled with an abundance of female characters, Planet Terror is, in balance, full of guys.

Casting Rebel: - (5:32) - Rodriguez spends a little time talking about the casting of his son, Rebel, in the film. Rebel is young and fearless and looked exactly right for this role.

Sicko’s, Bullets and Explosions: The Stunts of Planet Terror: - (13:16) - This feature covers the people behind the many stunts in the film. In these 13 minutes, you really do get a real sense of both the craft and danger of stunt work.

The Friend, The Doctor and the Real Estate Agent: - (6:41) - The director shares how three smaller roles in the film was filled by his friend, his actual doctor and his real estate agent. Very interesting as each one of these did a fine job in the film.





Final Thoughts

The Grindhouse idea may not have caught on quite as Tarantino and Rodriguez had hoped, but their adventure in the throwback entertainment of low-budget, damaged print ridden schlock-horror and exploitation filmmaking has been an utter success. Planet Terror, in this extended version, shows off its influences from the likes of John Carpenter, in the framing of shots, the brooding score and many of the creature effects that are clearly homage to 1981’s The Thing. Everything is a blast in Planet Terror. It is excessively gory, deliciously ill-behaved and entirely faithful to the experience of cheap movie going. I loved it.




Overall Score - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image



Neil Middlemiss
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#2 of 38 OFFLINE   Drew Reiber

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Posted October 09 2007 - 05:11 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil Middlemiss
The director points out many of the scenes added to the cut for this home video release and how conscientiously he worked to stay loyal to the Grindhouse ideal with this project.

And what were those scenes? Did he say what happened to the mini-bike sequence that was cut from the final act? Is there any hint whatsoever as to why the early press releases said the missing reel was restored, but that it never existed?

#3 of 38 OFFLINE   Frank@N

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Posted October 10 2007 - 03:23 AM

Where's the requisite RR cooking tutorial?!?

#4 of 38 OFFLINE   DexterPQ

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Posted October 10 2007 - 06:12 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank@N
Where's the requisite RR cooking tutorial?!?

On the upcoming Grindhouse Double DVD Posted Image

#5 of 38 OFFLINE   Lord Dalek

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Posted October 10 2007 - 09:21 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil Middlemiss
Even though the film was shot in 2.35:1
As I mentioned in the other thread about the aspect ratio controversy, this film was shot 1.78:1 and then matted later in the DI stage (Death Proof was done the same way). The transfer demonstrates this by showing a lot more info on the top and bottom while occassionaly (it doesn't effect the whole film) sacrificing some minor picture info on the left and right which I think was done for maintaining artistic choices.

#6 of 38 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted October 10 2007 - 09:31 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Dalek
As I mentioned in the other thread about the aspect ratio controversy, this film was shot 1.78:1 and then matted later in the DI stage (Death Proof was done the same way). The transfer demonstrates this by showing a lot more info on the top and bottom while occassionaly (it doesn't effect the whole film) sacrificing some minor picture info on the left and right which I think was done for maintaining artistic choices.

Thanks. I found so many conflicting reports on that matter. I researched further today and found the same information that you have given - I have updated my Video portion of the review accordingly.

Thanks!
Neil
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#7 of 38 OFFLINE   stephen^wilson

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Posted October 10 2007 - 09:54 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank@N
Where's the requisite RR cooking tutorial?!?

Yeah,Robert Rodriguez mentions at the end of the 10min film school that the 10min cooking school will be on the Grindhouse 2 disc special edition dvd Posted Image

#8 of 38 OFFLINE   Stephen_J_H

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Posted October 10 2007 - 10:11 AM

Another minor correction you might want to make. Death Proof was shot on 3 perf Super 35 and matted down to 2.35:1 which is QT's preferred AR.
"My opinion is that (a) anyone who actually works in a video store and does not understand letterboxing has given up on life, and (b) any customer who prefers to have the sides of a movie hacked off should not be licensed to operate a video player."-- Roger Ebert

#9 of 38 OFFLINE   Frank@N

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Posted October 10 2007 - 03:50 PM

No 10 min. cooking school = No sale!

#10 of 38 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted October 10 2007 - 04:22 PM

well.

i cant say how much i hated this film.
hmm, actually i can.

it wasnt funny it wasnt interesting.
i didnt like anyone in the film.

i found myself creating my own missing reels.

the leg with a gun was dumb. did she use her mind to make it fire.

it was everything that those old movies from the 70's were and thats why i never wanted to watch any of them either.

what was inventive or creative about this movie.

it isnt any different then any other bad zombie movie.

i didnt think of "The Thing" one second.
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#11 of 38 OFFLINE   Drew Reiber

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Posted October 10 2007 - 05:12 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyD
it was everything that those old movies from the 70's were and thats why i never wanted to watch any of them either.

Why do you post here?

#12 of 38 OFFLINE   Xenia Stathakopoulou

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Posted October 11 2007 - 01:21 AM

I have to agree with Drew, no offense to you, but why would you view these movies , if you hate grindhouse films of the 70s?After all, this is an homage to them.
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#13 of 38 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted October 11 2007 - 02:39 AM

i dont know.
i guess becAuse its a movie.

i have to watch movies before i can have an opinion on them.

i thought there was a chance i could like it.

what was i going to do start a new topic for those who dont like the movie.

really can anyone have an opinion that says you dont like a film without being asked "why do you post here?"

is this supposed to be a one sided discusion on this dvd?

how about instead of everyone asking were is the 10 minute cooking school and what the aspect ratio is, we talk about the content of the film and why you like the movie itself.

i told you what i didnt like about it.
why did you like the film.
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#14 of 38 OFFLINE   Don Solosan

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Posted October 11 2007 - 03:23 AM

Well, TonyD, because this is the DVD forum. This is where we discuss the details of the DVDs. If you want to talk about the movie itself, go over to the movies section. There's already a thread going on Grindhouse; no need to make up a new one.

#15 of 38 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted October 11 2007 - 04:23 AM

I'll take a negative opinion about the movie over the posts that will just repeat the "I won't buy until the theatrical version of Grindhouse is available" complaints. While I find it a valid complaint, it became tedious and boring to constantly read even before the Death Proof DVD came out.

#16 of 38 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted October 11 2007 - 05:37 AM

ok the dvd was fine.

looked as i expected it to look.
fake film scratches and missing frames.
missing reels also.
kinda neat, but only for about a half hour. then the novelty of "grindhouse" wears off.

the sound was good, plenty of kabooms and guns coming from the surrounds.

i only had the one disc bbv version so not much on special features.
tried to listen to the audience reaction track, but that too was only good for about 10 minutes.

as for the moive itself, which also happens to be on the disc, i hated it.

with apology to travis, i'll wait for a full double feature theatrical release then watch again, hoping for the same fun experience that others here have been able to find.
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#17 of 38 OFFLINE   JeffMc

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Posted October 11 2007 - 07:05 AM

I wouldn't expect everyone to like PLANET TERROR just like any other film - not everyone likes everything. But if you clearly despise grindhouse films of the 70's which this film is clearly a homage to, why would you even bother trying to like the film? I despise romantic comedies so I don't watch them. Why torture myself? Do I need to watch each romantic comedy just so I can say I saw it and form my opinion that I hated it? I also don't go into threads about romantic comedies and threadcrap on them just because I hate the genre.

Clearly, PLANET TERROR was not your thing from the start. If I were you, I would skip the theatrical GRINDHOUSE cut. If you thought 90 minutes was awful, you'll be pulling your hair out trying to sit through 3+ hours.

#18 of 38 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted October 11 2007 - 08:42 AM

so if i dont come in here and say how much i loved the dvd its a thread crap?

i didnt come in and say it stinks and not offer why i thought that.

people have to be allowed to say they dont like a dvd without being harassed about it.
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#19 of 38 OFFLINE   JeffMc

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Posted October 11 2007 - 09:51 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyD
so if i dont come in here and say how much i loved the dvd its a thread crap?

i didnt come in and say it stinks and not offer why i thought that.

people have to be allowed to say they dont like a dvd without being harassed about it.

It may not be a 'threadcrap', but when your comments are based on...

"it was everything that those old movies from the 70's were and thats why i never wanted to watch any of them either."

... then your critcisms can't be taken very seriously. Not trying to harass you - just curious why you would even watch it in the first place.

You are damning a film just because you don't like that type of film, not because it didn't successfully capture what it set out to do. Sure, PT is full of dumb dialog, over-the-top action, one-dimensional characters, etc. - just like a lot of 70's grindhouse films. You hate 70's grindhouse films - therefore, you hate a modern film that pays tribute to and recreates that type of film. That's a valid opinion to have, of course, but not much of a level-headed review of the film at hand. That's all.

#20 of 38 OFFLINE   Jack Johnson

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Posted October 11 2007 - 10:11 AM

I'm glad Rodriguez opened up the matte a little bit for this dvd. I think a number of films shot in Super35 lend themselves well to this treatment, even many rendered in 1.33:1. And the lurid, pulp nature of this one seems better suited to this "in your face" aspect...

I've often wondered whether Planet Terror would've been received differently--more enthusiastically--if they hadn't gone so literal mindedly for the look of Grindhouse. Maybe Grindhouse "in spirit" was the way to go, with diminished print trauma...it would've been more accessible to those who didn't quite get the concept.

I agree that, as it stands, the print damage is used carefully, strategically and seems intrinsically part of the sensibility of this film...but I'd like to see how that footage plays without it, just for purposes of comparison and to study the overall impact of the effect.

By the way, any advance word on whether Rodriguez will re-instate the 2.35:1 aspect for the rumored theatrical edition of Grindhouse (slated to include "Death Proof)?



--Jack





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