Thursday, January 10, 2013
Cool Ass Cinema Presents: A Screenplay Not By Quentin Tarantino Part 5
LET'S ALL GO TO THE GRINDHOUSE...NAH, LET'S JUST STAY HOME INSTEAD
"I knew I wanted to do a 70s style horror thriller, specifically a slasher because I especially like that genre. So the challenge is to see if I could do for the slasher picture what I did with the heist movie in RESERVOIR DOGS..."-- If DEATH POOP is your version of a slasher flick, than Jason, Michael Myers and others have absolutely nothing to worry about.
The Fifth Article By Cool Ass Cinema on Quentin Tarantino covers the Alpha-Omega Bomb of his cinematic career. Only unlike the one that destroyed the Earth in BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES (1970), Q Baby pulled an ESCAPE traveling back to Earth's past to salvage his career by clouding the failure of GRINDHOUSE (the last time you'll see this irritating word spelled out in full in this article) with any number of excuses; excluding the main one being that he simply made a crummy movie.
Mind you, he wasn't the only one trying to find ANYTHING to lay blame onto. Nowadays, he (kind of) admits it's his worst movie, but also manages to defend it all at the same time.
It's time to put things into Bachman Turner Overdrive as CAC goes to the G****HOUSE! We gonna celebrate QT's high octane and action packed car-mash'em-up road rage spectacular said no one ever. There's also gonna be a lot of other shit thrown at the screen, too. And like that monumental misfire, this article is a double feature and might seem a little segmented at times. There seems to be some reels missing!
DR. QUENTIN STRANGELOVE, OR: HOW HE NEVER WORRIED ABOUT HIS LOVE FOR HIS BOX OFFICE BOMB
"If you ask me, the answer is none. I'm sure somebody else might find weaknesses, but I can't. If there's a weakness, I don't do it -- you'd never see the scene."-- QT when asked if he'd ever point out deficiencies in his own movies. However, history has shown his half of G****HOUSE wasn't DEATH PROOF after all, harharhar.
How the mighty hath fallen in 2007. I remember the nauseating level of hype surrounding that years G****HOUSE oozing from the mouths of a sort of bastardized version of 70s Hong Kong's fabled Iron Triangle (director Chang Cheh, actors David Chiang and Ti Lung) -- directors Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and moneybags producer Harvey Weinstein. Admittedly, I was actually moderately intrigued to see how this was going to turn out. Ultimately, it was this movie that solidified my disdain for QT. That's not to say there aren't some things I actually like in his films, I just find him the most gloriously overrated director in modern cinema history.
T's half of G****HOUSE is this two hour yapper entitled DEATH PROOF. It's described on rotten tomatoes as QT's "take on such peddle[sic]-to-the-metal shockers as WHITE LINE FEVER...". That's QT-Kool and all, but WHITE LINE FEVER (1975) isn't a shocker. It's a trucker revenge movie along the lines of WALKING TALL (1974).
"Oh, it was disappointing...it was disappointing, yeah. But the movie worked with the audience...I'm proud of my flop."-- It flopped, but it worked. Again, Tarantino continued to show signs of denial that his biggest egocentric movie of his career bombed mightily.
"Haha, machine gun leg! I gotta get her a machine gun leg!" I remember seeing more than a few intimate sit-downs with both Q and R where Rodriguez kept on and on about how a girl with a machine gun leg was gonna "put asses in seats". How ironic that it had the opposite effect. Both men were proudly shouting "It's alive!" till their patchwork monster destroyed their box office aspirations; not just here, but abroad, too.
"DEATH PROOF is a film [Tarantino] simply cannot stop talking about..." -- Damon Wise simply cannot stop stroking Q's ego in an effort to deter from the fact that G****HOUSE had already sank as quickly as the Titanic on American movie screens.
I remember when this production was first announced, I admit I was intrigued by it, but mostly because Robert Rodriguez was involved. I'm not a great fan of his work either, but he has a far better grasp on capturing the essence of this sort of movie than Tarantino has. This was proven with PLANET TERROR, his half of G****HOUSE.
Regarding QT, there was a sliver of Skywalkerian hope he would finally embrace the Force and deliver an intentionally shitty movie that was the polar opposite of the massive tonal shifts and bizarro shenanigans seen in the perplexing KILL BILL movies (bewilderingly, the first KB was more exploitable than anything in DP). But no, QT remained with the Dark Side under the aegis of his need for tediously verbose stretches of dialog. The result ended up being an UNintentionally shitty movie that has so far been the most self-oriented movie of his career yet -- self-obsessed, self-absorbed, self-infatuated, etc.
There's a diabolical amount of yapping in this thing -- a QT stamp. People just will not shut up, and there's very little being said here that's engaging. It's almost like T-Bone was trying to cram as many film and TV references into each and every conversation as possible. Strangely, his love of the word 'nigger' never makes its presence known at any given time. However, there's a fascinating number of references to Q's other movies. So, not only is he littering his movie with homage-n-ized dialog, he's referencing himself as well!
DP is little more than a babblicious vanity project. For example, during the excruciatingly overlong bar scene (nearly 40 minutes!), Eli Roth crams nods to BJ AND THE BEAR, SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT and STROKER ACE all in a single fucking sentence! Nearly the entire movie is like this.
How ironic in that DEATH PROOF ultimately proved to be the exact antithesis of the type of film style he sought out to replicate. Even more ironic is that this is the one film of his that isn't a rip off or clone of anything in particular, yet it is as far removed from a traditional exploitation movie as you can get.
If anything, this two hour snoozer is a fine example of the Feetsploitation genre; a style of film uniquely Quentin's. There's feet all over the place. Feet in your face, feet getting multiple close-ups, feet in the rain, and feet dangling out of car windows.
Exactly how many exploitation movies cost $67 million dollars anyways?! How many of them are two hours long exactly?! How many of them feature 80 minutes of non-stop talking?! You could make a couple hundred exploitation movies for $67 million, none last two hours and the average running time for them is 80 minutes.
"I was going to play him. I’d trained to do the fights and everything, but it was such a big-deal movie that it needed all my attention directing."--QT stating he had originally planned to play Pai Mei in his KILL BILL slop-opus. This has nothing to do with DEATH CRAP. Apparently the wrong reel got slipped in here by mistake. -- The Management.
I also had a feeling this thing was gonna bomb. When I sat in the theater watching the KILL BILLs, for every bleeped out character name, B/W film stock, or bewildering musical choices, you got multiple outbursts of WTF? from people in the audience. At the time, Tarantino (like Rodriguez) said there's gonna be scratches all over his new flick, "missing reels" and whatnot. There's only so much vain winks of stupidity an audience can stand. Not everybody will be in on your joke. But then, that was one of the reasons given that this 3+ hour bowel movement came out soft instead of solid -- that folks were confused and uneducated.
DEATH POOP is also supposed to be some sort of ode to car crash-a-rama movies that featured lots of twisted metal and screaming tires. Only in Quentin's world (apparently is a place where logic doesn't exist and people do nothing but sit at tables, in bars, in cars and talk incessantly while their feet get lots of close ups), there's far more lips flappin' than rubber burnin'.
The T-man (as well as authors of various online articles on the picture) have also described this as a slasher movie. Whatever. So what we got is STEEL MAGNOLIAS meets THE CENTERFOLD GIRLS meets VANISHING POINT. So you got Quentin's chick flick, his "slasher", and the car crash-a-rama. Unfortunately, this self-indulgent mush fails at all three.
Hyped to high heaven, the 67 million flick (not counting $30 million in advertising) only managed to scrounge up a little over $25 million dollars. Add in a whopping $384,191 for the foreign take (where's the Italians and the Japanese when ya' need'em!), and you get a final tally of $25,422,088.
Probably in Tarantino's mind, had he released DEATH PHLEGM as a stand-alone feature in America, it would have fared much better. In interviews, he let it be known he was always making DEATH PROOF and not G****HOUSE, anyway. In the end it didn't matter what he was making as nobody went to see it overseas, either.
"When DEATH PROOF was released in the US last month, it turned out that the American public weren't used to getting so much of a good time. The double bill format confused them as did the fake trailers for non-existent films and the missing reels and scratchy celluloid." -- Damon Wise desperately trying to keep from saying just how badly this two fer' one twaddle bombed all on its own simply because it was a big mango-sized tank of exploitative shit.
The above quote is from this hilarious article in the UK's The Guardian from May, 2007 (chunks of which will be peppered throughout). In it, Damon Wise, along with the T-meister himself, toss around various explanations as to why his "first chick flick", his first "real life" movie ever, tanked like Sherman in US theaters. Nervous that their expensive investment might vanish without a trace on foreign screens, too, it was decided the film(s) -- PLANET TERROR and DEATH PROOF -- would be split into their respective halves without the accompanying fake trailers.
"Even in the US, it satisfied enough cinemagoers to enter the Internet Movie Database's Top 250 of all time, with 26,000 thumbs up....70s double bills often featured movies that were misunderstood, unappreciated and ignored on their release."-- You gotta be fuckin' kiddin' me, alright? The movie did the worst in the UK as a solo! Damon Wise yet again rubbing QT's head letting him know it's gonna be alright, alright?
"I understand why things change, and I put the reason for them changing precisely on the price of a ticket. It was different when everything cost $3, or $3.50, or at the most $5. You could pay to see a cheap Jaws ripoff and pay the same money to see A Star Is Born, no worries. But now you're talking about $10, $12, it doesn't make sense."-- WTF, QT?! You made a hootin' stinkeroo, dude!!!
Damage control was put into action since the Great Gazoo Tarantino can't be seen in a weakened state. One of the excuses was that ticket prices were too high(?!). So, you make TWO movies for the price of ONE and you blame the miserable performance of said masterPiece(OS) on the rising price of a movie ticket?! And it gets better.
In exploring further where Damon Wise proclaimed that American audiences were confused by this gruesome twosome, the Weinstein's themselves got in on the act in an even more insulting way that was widely published in the media at the time.
"Our research showed the length kept people away....it was 3 hours and 12 minutes long. We originally intended to get it all in 2 hours, 30 minutes. The movies marketing didn't adequately prepare audiences...We didn't educate the South or the Midwest. In the West and the East, it played well in strong urban settings..."
Somewhere in deepest, darkest America, thousands of trailer parkers likely responded with something like this...
...So it's the fault of all the intellectually barren Southerners and Midwesterners that this $50-$80 million mistake failed to click with filmgoers... because we didn't know what a dubba feetcha was. Actually, I thought they did educate us stoopid people. Numerous websites posted veritable graphs and expository garbage informing the uninformed, or what they deemed the ignorant; or, in the South and Midwest's case, the ignoramus. But then, you have to also take in consideration just how many of us idiots may or may not own computers, much less read.
I guess I just imagined all those double and triple features I caught as a little kid at two different drive-in's in town when we moved here from New Port News, VA in the late 1970s. Never once do I recall my parents getting all "Duuuuuhhhhh" when the second or third movie started. "Oh, shit. Another movie?! What the fuck is this? I am so confused right now. You're puttin' me on. Six bucks for three movies?! Get out!"
If we ever left before a second or third feature started, or the first one finished, it was because the goddamn thing SUCKED! And that's why patrons were exiting the theater during G****HOUSE, because the goddamn thing sucked ginormous monkey balls. Not because we didn't know what a dubba feetcha was, not because ticket prices were getting too fucking high, but because you made an infantile, vapid, self-absorbed, boring ass piece of shit.
You also can't expect to shoot a movie in a style imitating an antiquated art form and expect it to go over, or get through to a mainstream audience weaned on CGI infested action flicks and Harry Potter.
"That shit was raw...The shit was off the hook..." -- QT predicting his undercooked ode to 70s cinema stinking up the place.
Outside of being about little more than people talking about dicks, asses and movies and Tarantino basically insulting everybody who hasn't sat in front of a TV their entire lives, Here's the Venoms5 Notes for DEATH PROOF:
*Three uninteresting, obnoxious, pot smoking women sit around in a bar for over 40 minutes where they constantly talk about guys, fat asses, be obnoxious, smoke pot and give a guy a lap dance.
*Having spent nearly an hour with these girls and still not feeling any sympathy for them, they all get killed around the 45 minute mark by the guy they gave the lap dance to when he crashes into them with his '71 Chevy Nova.
*14 months pass and we meet four new girls who are even more boring than the ones before. Basically, the movie starts all over again for another hour of talking and shots of feet.
*30 minutes later we discover the road rage killer is still a part of the movie when he engages the new girls in the films lone action sequence.
*The girls end up being more crazy than he is. THE END.
The second half of this double feature with more DEATH PROOF, QT pissin' off Euro filmmakers and more of me being obnoxious continues in Part MUTHAFUCKIN' SIX.