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Friday, January 11, 2013

Cool Ass Cinema Presents: A Screenplay Not By Quentin Tarantino Part 6


"I still love DEATH PROOF. It is still the lesser of my movies though, and I don't ever want to make anything lesser than that."-- December 19th, 2012 interview with the NY Times. I'm curious if QT underwent therapy for his DEATH PROOF disaster as per his refusal to admit he made a high-octane piece of shit.

DEATH SPOOF has everything but the exploitation it promises. It's supposedly a tribute to car chase flicks of the 70s, yet there's only one car chase. It's supposed to be a slasher movie (don't laugh), yet there's no body count style death scenes. You're left with sight gags, lots of conversations referencing various pictures and famous movie characters, QT referencing himself, and even Kurt Russell doing a pretty good impression of John Wayne. 

It's quite possibly the lousiest exploitation movie ever made just because it's bereft of everything it promises. I recall QT stating that the REAL trash pictures often never delivered what their trailers and posters promised. How ironic that his doesn't, either. To be totally honest, there are some things I liked about it, though. Below is that list...

What I Liked...

1. The opening credits, especially the cute panther that turns into the 'restricted' logo. I love that!

2. Two dialog exchanges during the painfully overlong bar sequence that beautifully reflect the mainstream audiences obliviousness to pop culture's past and indoctrination of CGI technology.

3. The way the first car crash was shot and edited was quality.

4. The car chase at the end was likewise nicely accomplished, although I wouldn't say it was one of the greatest car chases ever.

5. The score for this movie actually fits as opposed to QT's previous examples of mix n' match musical choices.

What I Didn't Like...

1. The mercilessly incessant, unending jabbering.

2. The self-indulgent, over the top ramblin' of QT's 'Look what I can do' attitude towards his writing ability.   

3. Most exploitation movies begin with a scene that sets up the rest of the movie. This one just has shots of feet and lots of talking.

4. Most exploitation movies exaggerate or exploit sex and violence to grab an audience. This $67 million yawner exploits nothing but yappin'...and feet.

5. For a movie that spends 3/4 of its running time babblin', none of the characters are memorable except for Stuntman Mike, and he's almost forgotten about once the second set of girls are introduced in an hour into this picture. 

6. In QT's movie world, there are no cops around when people are speeding or trying to run folks off the road.

7. Somehow or other, Stuntman Mike manages to evade arrest following what has be the most incompetent police investigation ever. The two cops in the ten gallon hats can't get a murder charge on a guy responsible for four deaths while going "200mph"? Not to mention the other dead girl in his car inside a separate compartment from the drivers seat.

"I like everything to take place in my own Quentin universe."-- and what a boring place the 'Neighborhood of Make-Believe' turned out to be. 


More so than ever before, the characters of DP all talk like Tarantino. It's like Quentin wanted to play everybody, but since he couldn't, he'd turn them all into male and female Quentin's and psycho whack-job Quentin's. Kurt Russell is the most interesting of these, but he's not given much to do except talk about movies and TV shows his character has worked on. Also, the level of chatter is so high in this thing, you forget that his character is even in the movie during the second hour; at least I did.


Read more here:  
"Tarantino said that Rob Zombie shot enough footage of his trailer, 'Werewolf Women of the SS' to have enough to make a full length feature. We may in fact see another Grindhouse on the way very soon.....GRINDHOUSE 2 coming soon, alright!" -- Two hosts on scaring the shit out of everybody at the mere thought of another Rob Zombie movie, much less a sequel to the turd that is the subject of this article.

After the release of G****HOUSE, there was an abnormal amount of movies that attempted to recreate the 70s style. These films weren't just indigenous to America, either. They were aborted in other countries, too, at a rate akin to the mutant babies that were poppin' out with rapidity in Larry Cohen's IT'S ALIVE (1974). And of course those who loved G****HOUSE loved these pseudo spin offs. Rob Zombie was among these, although we've yet to see his TYRANNOSAURUS REX, but if his other horror-ible movies are anything to go by, hopefully we won't see it.

These include such future classics as HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, MACHETE, CHILLERAMA and Japanese fluff like MACHINE GIRL. These and others like them range from moderately entertaining to gobsmackingly atrocious. The future of horror... a scary thought. 



"I really loved the Italian films of the 60s and 70s. But what happened? It's a real tragedy. The Italian films I’ve seen over the past few years all seem the same. All they talk about is boys growing up, girls growing up, couples in crisis and holidays for the mentally disabled."--QT discussing the alleged inferiority of the Italian cinema of today in 2007.

Around the time G****HOUSE came out and bombed, Q-baby made some strong remarks towards modern Italian cinema at the Cannes Film Festival that year -- an outlet through which he was heavily hyping his massive solo stink bomb.

Tarantino has long been a champion for European movies particularly of the more vigorous, less artistic variety. This is fairly well known now and it's obviously appreciated by those filmmakers as the name 'Tarantino' is tossed about with reckless, yet appreciative abandon in interviews with most all of Italy's cult genre directors. It's nigh impossible not to hear his name in the words of guys like Castellari (whom QT called a hack, by the way), Lenzi, Martino, Deodato and Margheriti to name a few.

I think it's obvious they are/were genuinely appreciative that an American filmmaker remembers them and their work, especially considering he's pretty much the sole director naming them in interviews and referencing them in movies. Nothing at all wrong with that. Some other European actors and filmmakers outside of QT's spectrum have also had some interesting, and enlightening things to say about Quentin's pontifications...

"Quentin is a good director, a passionate cinema enthusiast and great expert on all the world's trash. But you shouldn't take his comments too seriously because he suffers from a form of verbal incontinence and he is nostalgic for the Italian cinema of  Lenzi, Bava and Fulci. I don't think he was comparing the best auteur cinema of yesterday and today. I doubt he had the cinema of Luchino Visconti, Pietro Germi and Pier Paolo Pasolini in mind. And I don't think he knows Italy's auteur filmmakers of today." -- Pedro Almodovar

"How dare he talk about Italian cinema when he doesn't know anything about American cinema?" -- Sophia Loren

"Tarantino is a good director, but in no position to give us lessons. In saying these things he has shown himself up as a jerk who doesn’t understand anything." -- Marco Bellochio

"If Nanni Moretti had made that declaration, we could discuss it. But it came from Tarantino, who was a fan of Italian B movies. Evidently, now that we make A movies, we don’t please him anymore. Who knows, maybe he was drunk when he made that statement." -- Fernan Ozpetek

"DEATH PROOF has got to be the worst movie I ever make. And for a left-handed movie, that's not so bad, alright? So if that's the worst I ever get, I'm good." -- QT in November of 2012 dissing his movie, then defending it again in the same sentence. The following month, he'd settle for it being the "lesser" of his filmography.

Now allow me to re-release this little nugget he spit out in 2004... "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." Only this was more than just a scene. This was over two hours worth of weaknesses.

And here's some bonus moments of enlightenment from some additional filmmakers (one of special significance) regarding T-Bone's muthafuckin' brilliance...

"It's like watching a schoolboy's fantasy of violence and sex, which normally Quentin would be wanking alone to in his bedroom while his mother is making his baked beans downstairs. Only this time he's got Harvey Weinstein behind him and it's on at a million screens." -- documentary filmmaker, Nick Broomfield

"Tarantino named his production company after one of my films. He'd of done better to give me some money." -- Jean-Luc Godard




"I do like how he rambles on about how 2019: AFTER THE FALL OF NEW YORK (1983) is his favorite Italian post apoc flick, but can't remember Michael Sopkiw's name, and refers to him as an "Italian William Smith"; which is funny considering Sopkiw isn't Italian and William Smith has been in literally hundreds of movies and TV shows while Sopkiw's film appearances can be counted on one hand." -- Venoms5 babbling about QT lousily babbling about numerous cult film actors and directors most likely because he knows relatively few will notice, or even know better.

The Chosen One has referred to himself as 'Great' for a great many years; at least as far back as his very first flick, 1992's RESERVOIR DOGS ON FIRE. Not only that, but critics and audiences that are in love with his movies think he's pretty great, too. Hell, I thought he was great once upon a time. One thing I think we all can agree on is that Tarantino loves movies. He loves them so much he sometimes gets his influences mixed up, whimsically changes his mind about cinema personalities he likes, or just gives an obscure actor some random name because the embarrassment of him having to utter, "I don't know who that is" could cause irreparable damage. I am curious if Tarantino uses Ric Meyers as a film reference coach?

"Quentin Tarantino, one of the most imitated directors of this generation..."--The opening sentence from a May, 2012 website article titled, 'Amazing Fan Theory of Quentin Tarantino'. I just face palmed my keyboard. 


I think one of my big problems with Tarantino is a certain contingent of his mainstream fans. They spout off about how Kool he is and how he's inspired by these vintage, obscure movies, but if you try to get one of these individuals to actually watch one of them, it's like offering garlic to Dracula. 

Then the typical response is that Q Baby does them better. While that's a matter of opinion, it should be noted that -- now pay attention those of you on certain websites and Facebook pages that said I, and others like me are missing the point -- without those old movies, without those inspirations, there would be no Quentin Tarantino. There would be no overly excited guy with a huge chin that waves his hands around a lot and often jumbles his words together. Put simply, QT would not exist; at least in the filmmaker sense of the word. 

"15 million dollars on a movie starring Pam Grier and Robert Forster, that's pretty good. If I'm enough of a name that people will go see my movie, then I don't have to cast an actor who can open the film."-- Tarantino from a Dec. 2012 NYT interview talking about the lukewarm reception to JACKIE BROWN. Despite saying both actors were fantastic (they were), QT sort of condescends to them by proclaiming himself as the star of the show. 


Most directors derive their strength from themes, novels and ideologies. Tarantino derives his strength from other peoples movies. Yes, he writes Kool dialog about nothing, but then so did the writers of SEINFELD. And by my own admission regarding filmmakers and novels, I guess that would explain why I feel JACKIE BROWN (1997) is his best film since it's based on Elmore Leonard's novel 'Rum Punch' as opposed to a Long Island Iced Tea of shit thrown together from any number of cinematic sources.

 "You can't really do a spaghetti western anymore. Spaghetti westerns were a thing of their time."-- Substitute '70s style exploitation' for spaghetti western and we wouldn't be discussing this blight spot on QTs career right now.

Some folks that worship at the alter of QT have also said that had it not been for G****HOUSE, than all those trashy 70s style movies wouldn't have gotten released on DVD. Well, it certainly wasn't because of its box office success, because there was none. A lot of those movies were already out, or coming out in anticipation that G****HOUSE would be a hit. In the early 2000s, QT had his own DVD label which failed to find a renewed audience for those movies. As he stated about spaghetti westerns, those films are a product of their time period, and no amount of 'dressing up something new as something old' is going to jumpstart the magic of that era all over again in a big way.

The word G****house itself had, or has become so annoying that I can't stand to even hear it anymore. Leading up to this movie coming out, everywhere you looked, whether online or in public, people were jovially throwing the word around like an adjective. Clueless of any of the actual films associated with the word, people were still saying what did or did not constitute a G****house movie. This of course, was only because of Tarantino's affiliation with the film itself. Once it came and bombed, the discussion of these kinds of movies more or less ceased.

Tarantino's name (both before and especially after G****HOUSE's release) was often used to sell any sort of obscure, yet potentially hip flick known but to the dedicated cult film circles. Tarantino had already tried this with his Rolling Thunder DVD label which failed to catch on; and those discs had his face on the covers!

After the unexpected success of CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (a 2000 film that made over 128 million at the US box office and was also released subtitled as opposed to dubbed), another Chinese Wuxia film, HERO (2002), was similarly released, but with QT's name splattered across the top. That film ended up with a $53.7 million gross domestically. Good thing his name was on there. No telling how much money it would have made were it not on there for everybody to see. Whew!

"Quentin Tarantino...he's the John Ford of this era."-- Stuntman legend Terry Leonard giving QT an incredible comment. How ironic that QT recently came out stating his hatred for the revered director. It's even more bewildering in that QT has compared the trendsetting HK director Chang Cheh as the John Ford of Asia; the quote of which can be found elsewhere in this series.


I wonder just how many butts were put in seats with the words, "Quentin Tarantino Presents" slapped onto a theatrical movie poster. Or how many units of a particular title were sold just because his name was featured somewhere on the DVD cover. I've seen his name on both the front and the back of some DVDs! Some movies he had nothing to do with aside from lending his name as a presenter have often been referred to as a Quentin Tarantino movie! Check the cover to the right insert about Cung Le in "Quentin Tarantino's new kung fu movie." First off, it's directed by RZA, not QT; the film being the awful THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS (2012).

So long as a certain level of his fanbase follow along like the bubblewrap faced zombies in PLANET TERROR, Tarantino can do no wrong and will continue to be praised for things that would get other directors labeled as hacks. He will continue to sample bits and pieces from other sources, take credit for doing them better, all the while being hailed as an original. While DEATH PROOF proved to be an exploitation movie without any exploitation, his next flick would prove to be a war movie without a war.

Continued in Part MUTHAFUCKIN' SEVEN...      


Franco Macabro said...

Whoa, so you know how much of a Tarantino fan I am so of course I have to step in and comment here!

Deathproof might not have had a slew of car chases, but it had one well planned out and exhilirating car chase sequence! That whole thing with Stunt Man Mike following the stunt girls around, I mean that was something and it's an extended sequence, I actually prefer one long drawn out car chase, it's an awesome one in my book.

I do think that Deathproof is a bit like a slasher film because Rusell follows women so he can kill them with his car, he does this on two ocassions in the film and in pretty morbid ways if I remember correctly. That scene where the four girls are slaughtered inside of their car in that purposely orchestrated car crash was pretty graphic, almost like a kill from a slasher.

Yeah there's close up of female feet and lots of jabbering, but this is a Tarantino film were talking about here, not seeing these elements in a Tarantino film is like not seeing the inner machinations of a clock or bodies wrapped in plastic bags in a Guillermo del Toro film. Or a Tim Burton film without Daddy issues.

Come on, you know Deathproof has exploitation elements to it! This is a film with girls in hot pants for 90% of the flick, sexy girls driving cool cars...and a killer on the loose, graphic death sequences..thats exploitation. Okay, maybe it needed some nudity in it to be more exploitative of women, but the exploitative element is there.

Yet, I find it interesting that Tarantino managed to make a film that's inspired by exploitation films, yet Deathproof ends up exhaulting women and displaying women who can stand up for themselves.

Are you really complaining that there are no cops in a lonely country road man? There's tons of lonely roads like these in the U.S., this is not as far fetched as you might think.

The budget for Grindhouse was 53 million for the whole film (according to Wikipedia and IMDB) this was including Planet Terror, Deathproof and the faux trailers altogether.

True Tarantino's name is part of what gets audiences to see his movies, but this only happens when audiences have already loved a directors previous movies. If that initial appreciation doesn't occur, they wont return. And usually, for a director to get this kind of recognition he has to make various quality films that struck a cord and made an impression with audiences. This is the case with Spielberg, Burton, Carpenter...they function the same way. Tarantion knows this, there's nothing wrong with admitting something that is a fact. Hell, I'd be proud of it if I ever achieved that level of recognition. I say he's earned the right to flaunt his talent as a director.

I do agree with you, Tarantion is a film lover through and through, I think its what makes his movies richer, he takes from the old and gives it a new twist.

I've enjoyed this series of articles man, looking forward to your next one!

venoms5 said...

I don't use wikipedia as they're not always accurate. This box office results site and magazine articles said it was $67 million.

I've heard the $53 also. I think they were embarrassed that it bombed so badly and tried to lessen the blow by being vague with the amount of money spent on it.

Yes, the final car chase was good, but I wouldn't say it was the best ever. I never felt I was watching a slasher movie. He just rams into the car is all.

There were no exploitation elements in this. Girls dancing, smoking weed and endlessly talking about movies does not constitute exploitation to me. It's exploitation of nothing going on at all, I guess. Lol.

Even QT admits this is his worst movie... even though he then back pedals and takes up for it.

I also was insulted by the way they blamed the uneducated South and Midwest because nobody wanted to see their crappy movie. I know full well what a double feature is as I went to a lot of them as a kid; and triple bills, too.

I can definitely tell you're a QT fan, Fran! Lol.

It's just two more to go so you and me will likely be Siskel & Ebert on those as well!

Thank you for the comments, my friend. It's always a pleasure bantering with you on things. Especially those we don't agree on. It makes the conversation even more interesting, I think.

Tommy Ross said...

Just chiming in here for a minute, I happen to LOVE Deathproof, one of my favorite QT's...sure it has it's flaws like anything else, but I think what we also should remember is the typical 70's grindhouse movie is for the most part boring and shallow. It's usually the locations and skin candy that makes them enjoyable, So seeing people's feet and their mindless talking is very much part of it, I think the whole film is a winner.

venoms5 said...

I just don't like it. I found it boring and shallow, actually. RR has a better grasp of exploitation movies than QT, and I don't care for his movies, either.

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