Planet Terror is this juicy, gripping and atmospheric horror comedy definitely worth watching again and again. When I first saw this movie back in 2008, it really blew me away. At that time, I had no idea that this is a double feature (the second movie is Death Proof). Or that this has something to do with Grindhouse. I didn’t even know what Grindhouse is for fucks sake. I was too into zombie movies, riding that on that big wave that hit us at the turn of the century.
And while Death Proof is your classic slasher movie, Planet Terror is a fast-moving zombie extravaganza with excellent production values and a thick atmosphere. It has everything a zombie movie fan would want. And as such it reminds me of the eighties masterpiece The Return of The Living Dead. It opens with a series of fake trailers that have all been made into feature films by now. This gets you in the right mood for a treat like this.
Just imagine that it’s the seventies and you just drove your Chevy Nova to a local drive-in theater. So, you’ve got your six-pack ready and your weed all rolled up into fat joints. It’s time for the party to begin. We will be following events taking place in a small town after a zombie outbreak. Planet Terror is full of cool characters with interesting sub-plots all coming together into one giant story. A story that’s sleazy, sexy, and gory all at the same time. Something Rodriguez already tried with From Dusk Till Dawn.
Under the cover of darkness, a shady deal is happening in one army base located in Texas. Evil engineer Abby is trying to sell large quantities of DC2, a lethal bioweapon, but as soon as the other party finds out that he’s hiding more of the DC2, everything goes to hell.
Who knew that you could make such a refreshing zombie movie using all these relatively old ideas? What makes Planet Terror stand out is the execution. The pacing is ferocious and once the shit hits the fan it goes fucking everywhere. The story unfolds almost in real time giving the movie an incredible sense of urgency. Add to this the iconic setting of a sleepy rural town and you’ve got yourself a masterpiece. A masterpiece that seemingly exists in its own universe.
It’s at the same time both old-school and modern, using the best aspects of both worlds. The cast is absolutely phenomenal, full of familiar faces but also new favorites. I guess Marley Shelton as Dr. Dakota Block stood out the most with her syringes. She reminded me of Barbara Crampton star of such eighties classics as Re-Animator and From Beyond. Who could also forget Josh Brolin, Jeff Fahey and Michael motherfucking Biehn! Everyone was simply terrific.
The special effects were excellent with minimal CGI and reminiscent of the eighties splatter hits. We will have blood, puss, guts, and everything else pouring from every fucking scene creating this gloriously gory mess. When the bullets hit someone blood squirts out like from a fucking fountain. And the boils, wounds, and other nasty shit looks realistic as fuck.
Even the soundtrack is excellent with one of the best striptease numbers I have ever heard. Rodriguez sure knows how to pick them. Finally, if you’re looking for movies like Planet Terror you should check out Feast Trilogy, Slither, and Wyrmwood. You also should not forget about Machete and Hobo with a Shotgun, all made after the success of the Grindhouse package.
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Writer: Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodríguez, Josh Brolin, Bruce Willis, Michael Biehn, Stacy Ferguson
Fun Facts: Felix Sabates, who plays Dr. Felix, is in fact a real doctor. He’s actually director Robert Rodriguez’s personal physician.