A zombie double bill right here, right now ... although "zombie" being loosely employed, as Greg Nicotero points out in the 'making of' book for "Grindhouse", most of the gloopy hellions in "Planet Terror" don't actually die...they're more a different road, a departure in terms of zombie theming...
Anyway, first up - the good: "Planet Terror"...
Still waiting for word of a proper "Grindhouse" DVD release with both versions of each film (including "as intended") and all the trimmings, but I digress, I recently got to revist Rodriguez's "Planet Terror", and it's still excellent fun - really digustingly gory, but a hell of a lot of fun - although my earlier thoughts of it being not that true to grindhouse conventions (i.e. shoot fast and free, as well as the sheer scale of "PT" itself), and being less well-rounded than Tarantino's "Death Proof" remain. By this I mean that "PT" was an idea RR had long before "Grindhouse" came to being, and as a result it somewhat of a square peg that's been mashed about a bit to fit into a round hole, whereas "DP" was specifically intended for "Grindhouse" from the off (as well as being released in two versions from the off).
"PT" takes the vibe of grindhouse films - i.e. the rampant sexuality and violence - and updates them to a modern day film, whereas "DP" attempts to recreate a grindhouse film as strictly as possible (within certain parameters of course, such as names like Rosario Dawson and the mighty Kurt Russell being involved). But my point with "DP" is that it feels the most like a true grindhouse experience, even down to the advertising which focusses on the exploitative elements and leads you away from the sheer amount of dialogue there is in the film, I maintain that "Death Proof" is quite a clever recreation of grindhouse cinema, albeit not 100% there (it had an epic budget by comparison and featured stars, was directed by a famous director and so on)...the true days of grindhouse are long gone (I wish it would come back, we could do with it ... mind you, the indie scene is the modern day equivalent...different, but in the same sort of ball park).
Anyway, I digress on a rant once more..."PT" is a hell of a lot of fun, and it's simply awesome to see Michael Biehn back on the big screen in something properly worthwhile (the likes of "Cherry Falls" and that film about stopping time don't really cut the mustard against a career that's includes the balls-out heroes of Kyle Reese and Dwayne Hicks - so fingers crossed for MB's involvement in Cameron's next flick!).
SHIT-FUCK-BASTERDISATION! I've digressed once more - AGAIN...in terms of "Grindhouse", I also still think that perhaps "PT" would have been better suited to taking second billing, scenes as the majority of it acts better as the third act of "Grindhouse", than "DP" did. "PT" is a joy to watch, it's sheer Rodriguez and it's one of those films that will hang around in the back of your mind for some time, the gore and John Carpenter vibes that run throughout are just balls-out-and-swinging-in-the-gentle-breeze-of-late-summer awesome.
...and now the bad, as well as the downright fugly...
"Resident Evil: Extinction" - or in the nicest possible way - the *least shit* of all three films. The first was utter pish-tosh-tosh-pish, the second was pish-tosh, the third is just pish. I did like the idea of "Mad Max meets the original Day of the Dead script", but for the most part that vibe just comes across as more plagiarism than proper entertainment, at the very least for me, the mega-zombie-nerd Romero-fan. Yes, Jovovich is fit, and whats'ername from "Heroes/Jay & Bob Strike Back/Final Destination" ... Ali Larter, that's 'ername ... yes, some parts are visually interesting, like the idea of Vegas being swamped in an extraordinary amount of sand ... even thought the money shot is blown wide open via a shaking-injection of ineptitude/tired out pandering to idiots who still watch "Newlyweds" years after they were even Newly-divorced's...so, on with a list of griping:
1) RE2 - Racoon City has gone to sh*t, it was even at the end of RE1 for Mila's sake! Now all of a sudden the ENTIRE PLANET IS SHIT-TOSSED, and for some reason the earth is covered in sand...okay Mila, we'll just blindly accept this A) Huge leap forward in the 'story' and B) rather "eh?" plot point of Sand World ... be careful, "Water World" ... you know ... yeah ... nyah...see...
2) Convoy of vagabond drifters - cool yes - but the bulk of said drifters are either idiots, have barely any purpose or dialogue, or are linked into unused 'love stories' that are chucked in as aimlessly as a 'fraidy-cat should be shooting at a hoarde of zombies in a PROPER zombie film.
3) Umbrella's underground complex - how on earth is that even possible, just flat out - HOW?
4) Pishy explanation of why these zombies will drag around for DECADES in a scene that completely rapes a similar scene in Romero's far superior "Day of the Dead", which predates it by 22 friggin' years!
5) Yes, the shots of LOADS of zeds around that fenced off complex-type-area are cool, but again - rip off of "Day of the Dead" and the original script of said zombie masterpiece.
6) The key advertising point of 'IT'S VEGAS UNDER LOADS OF SAND, HOW COOL IS THAT, KIDS?!' is washed over too quickly, and nor is it examined in any kind of depth, because they're too busy having knife-fights with Jump-Suit-Judo-Zombies.
7) Unashamedly wide open for a sequel, thus making the 'stuff that happened' in this film near pointless, or rather, just 'stuff that happens so we can hurry up and get to make another sequel'.
8) The audio is completely obnoxious - the dialogue, despite being near-unnecessary, is too quiet - and then just as you're straining to hear what's being said, SMASH-RARGH-YA-BASTARD-BOO!!!, something really loud explodes your ear drums and you have to go to the doctor's - the odd 'scary noise' is okay in a horror film (even though this is an action-horror), but dispensing with any sense of atmosphere, suspense or tension in favour of just a bunch of easy-as-pie, moron-loving bangs is just wrong ... it's wrooooooooong...
9) Am I surprised by the film or by anything I've said? Nope.
10) It's still pish, the genre deserves better, but no studio nob'eds are willing to stump up the cash to do the genre justice ... perhaps "World War Z" will give us this Holy Grail - a truly global zombie war.
Harsh on "RE3"? Maybe ... but I was kind at the start - least pish of them all, remember? For this flick, that's a pretty nice thing to say!