Planet Terror: in which Robert Rodriguez makes a presentation of an assault rifle that fits onto a stumped leg, and a sharing of a secret Texas barbecue recipe, surprisingly touching. To say that this is unexpected would be an understatement, as the preceding hour of the film seems intentionally unsentimental, with crude profanity and even cruder characters stomping about in the midst of an apocalyptic zombie horror/action gore fest. All of this B-rate, indeed “grindhouse,” insanity centers around Cherry Darling (a superb Rose McGowan), a go-go dancer aspiring to bigger and better things (stand-up comedy), with a slew of outrageous B-rate goons in tow.
Many of Rodriguez’s films already pay tribute to the exploitation movies of decades past, often choosing to mold the content and invest enough dedication to elevate his work far above that which he homages, similar to Quentin Tarantino. However, while Tarantino’s own quirks and indulgences forced him to repeat the process with Death Proof, producing a second half of “elevated” cinema to his knowingly grindhouse opening, Rodriguez focuses his efforts entirely on “doing what it says on the tin.” Planet Terror‘s tin promises an attractive woman sporting a high powered rifle as a left leg, and all that that entails. Every gunshot features gratuitous amounts of gooey blood and “marrow,” with every character written and acted appropriately. Fergie makes an extended appearance, and we are witness to Josh Brolin in a subtly amazing role. Planet Terror delivers on its promises, and looks damn good doing it.