Grindhouse: Death Proof (2007)

When it came time to create his part of Grindhouse, Quentin Tarantino had to figure out a genre. He said, “I realized I couldn’t do a straight slasher film, because with the exception of women-in-prison films, there is no other genre quite as rigid.” What he ended up with is a movie about a killer who uses his death proof stunt car — another obsession of his — to kill beautiful women.

I love that the movie starts with a title card calling the movie Quentin Tarantino’s Thunderbolt before the Death Proof name is quickly inserted over that. The film was purposefully edited down for Grindhouse, as if it was bought by a distributor and hacked to bits so it could play shorter running times in drive-ins and rough theater houses on 42nd Street. However, an extended, 127-minute version of Death Proof was screened in competition for the Palme d’Or at the 60th Cannes Film Festival.

Arlene, Shanna and radio DJ “Jungle” Julia Lucai (Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd — who appeared in Embrace of the Vampire, a 1990’s video favorite — and Sydney Poitier) are on their way to the bar to celebrate Julie’s birthday. Julie had mentioned that Arlene would give a lap dance to anyone who finds her, calls her by the name Butterfly and reads a poem to her — the same poem that alerts the sleeper agents in Telefon. Stuntman Mike McKay (Kurt Russell) takes her up on this dare, getting one hell of a dance before everyone leaves the bar.

Stuntman Mike gives Pam (Rose McGowan) a ride, but soon reveals his sinister nature, murdering her inside his car by smashing her head against the windshield. He then hunts down the other women and kills them too, but since it looks like the girls were driving drunk, he gets away. Texas Rangers Earl and Edgar McGraw (Michael and James Parks) tell him to get the hell out of Texas.

One year later and Mike is hunting a whole new set of girls n Tennessee — Abernathy Ross, Kim Mathis, Lee Montgomery and Zoe Bell (Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thoms, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and, yes, Zoe Bell). This time, it doesn’t go so well for Mike, who gets obliterated by the women.

Marley Shelton shows up as Dr. Dakota Block, reprising her role from the Planet Terror section of Grindhouse, plus Tarantino and Eli Roth show up at the bar as love interests for the first set of women. There’s also plenty of bare feet — of course — and way too much talking.

Taratino’s own jukebox — AMI — was used here, with the list of songs written out in his own hand. Thanks to IMDB, those songs are:

  1. Isaac Hayes – “Theme from Shaft” / “Ellie’s Love Theme”
  2. Barry White – “You’re My First, My Last, My Everything” / “Can’t Get Enough”
  3. Bob Dylan – “George Jackson (Acoustic)” / “George Jackson (Big Band)
  4. Stevie Wonder – “Lately” / “If It’s Magic”
  5. The Chi-Lites – “Have You Seen Her” / “Oh Girl”
  6. The THP Orchestra – “Theme from S.W.A.T., Pt. 1″ / “Oh Girl”
  7. Stevie Wonder – “I Ain’t Gonna Stand for It” / “Knocks Me off My Feet”
  8. Bloodstone – “Natural High” / “This Thing is Heavy”
  9. Don McLean – “American Pie, Pt. 1” / “American Pie, Pt. 2”
  10. Sweet – “Little Willy” / “Man from Mecca”
  11. The Isley Brothers – “Take Me to the Next Phase, Pt. 1” / “Take Me to the Next Phase, Pt. 2”
  12. The Miracles – “Love Machine, Pt. 1” / “Love Machine, Pt. 2”
  13. Bob Dylan – “Subterranean Homesick Blues” / “She Belongs to Me”
  14. Honey Cone – “Stick Up” / “V.I.P.”
  15. Earth Wind & Fire – “Shining Star” / “Yearning, Learning”
  16. Amii Stewart – “Knock on Wood” / “When You Are Beautiful”
  17. Honey Cone – “Want Ads” / “We Belong Together”
  18. Kool & The Gang – “Hollywood Swinging” / “Jungle Boogie”
  19. Bob Dylan – “Band of the Hand” / “Theme from Joe’s Death”
  20. Sweet – “Wig-Wam-Bam” / “New York Connection”
  21. Friends of Distinction – “Grazing in the Grass” / “I Really Hope You Do”
  22. Marvin Gaye – “:Trouble Man” / “Don’t Mess With Mr. T
  23. Bob Dylan – “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” / “Rita May”
  24. Pacific Gas & Electric – “Are You Ready?” / “Staggolee”
  25. Donna Summer – “Love to Love you Baby” / “Need-A-Man Blues”
  26. Michael Zager Band – “Let’s All Chant” / “Love Express”
  27. Santa Esmeralda – “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” / “You’re My Everything”
  28. Jigsaw – “Sky High” / “Brand New Love Affair”
  29. George Baker Selection – “Little Green Bag” / “Pretty Little Dreamer”
  30. Sweet – “Blockbuster” / “Need a Lot of Lovin'”
  31. Eddie Floyd – “Good Love, Bad Love” / “Things Get Better”
  32. Joe Tex – “The Love You Save” / “If Sugar Was as Sweet as You”
  33. Bob Dylan – “Gotta Serve Somebody (Long Version)” / “Gotta Serve Somebody (Short Version)”
  34. Dick Dale – “Misirlou” / “Eight Till Midnight”
  35. Lee Williams – “They Told a Lie” / “I’m Tore Up”
  36. William Bell – “Formula of Love” / “You Don’t Miss Your Water”
  37. Dinah Washington – “Mad About the Boy” / “Stormy Weather”
  38. The Box Tops – “Cry Like a Baby” / “The Door You Closed to Me”
  39. The Checkmates Ltd. – “Black Pearl” / “Lazy Susan”
  40. Sweet – “Fox on the Run” / “Miss Demeanor”
  41. The Delfonics – “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” / “La-La Means I Love You”
  42. Brothers Johnson – “Get the Funk Outta Ma Face” / “Tomorrow”
  43. Bob Dylan – “Hurricane, Pt. 1” / “Hurricane, Pt. 2”
  44. ABBA – “Waterloo” / “Watch Out”;
  45. T. Rex – “Jeepster” / “Life’s a Gas”
  46. Melanie – “What Have They Done to My Song Ma?” / “Ruby Tuesday”
  47. George Frayne – “Hot Rod Lincoln” / “Beat Me Daddy Eight to the Bar”
  48. Robert Mitchum – “The Ballad of Thunder Road” / “The Tip of My Fingers”
  49. Dean Martin – “Rio Bravo” / “My Rifle My Pony and Me”
  50. Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick and Tich – “Hold Tight” / “You Know What I Want”

That jukebox list is more interesting to me than this film. I’ve tried several times to enjoy it and get into it — the grindhouse nature of it being so talky isn’t lost on me. It just never really goes anywhere, no matter how many times I watch it.

This led to a period of time where I was worried that I’d never like a Tarantino film again. I’m happy to report that that time has passed.

3 thoughts on “Grindhouse: Death Proof (2007)

  1. Pingback: Exploring: Movies that influenced Quentin Tarantino – B&S About Movies

  2. Pingback: The Hateful Eight (2015) – B&S About Movies

  3. Pingback: Once Upon a Time In…Hollywood (2019) – B&S About Movies

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