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Monday, January 19, 2015

Few contemporary movie makers understand the drive-in audience quite like Quentin Tarantino. The only other movie maker who understands drive-in movie audiences is Robert Rodriguez. So when the two of these contemporary movie makers team up to make a modern drive-in double feature, the result is nothing short of classic. This double feature even comes complete with its own fake trailers and one real trailer for Rodriguez’s movie Machete. This is something every drive-in fan has to see at least once.

Death Proof (directed by Quentin Tarantino)

Death Proof is the perfect drive-in movie about a guy named Stuntman Mike who is a not-so-clandestine serial killer who has a very unique weapon of choice – his muscle car. From the moment we see the hot chicks on the side of the road to start the movie until the completely grotesque and graphic ending; this is the perfect drive-in movie.

No matter how many times I watch this movie, I am always amazed at how nostalgic the effects look. The effects are just real-looking enough to be disgusting, but not so real that you have to look away. Both movies also have that grainy 1970’s look to them, which just makes the whole thing awesome.

Planet Terror (directed by Robert Rodriguez)

No drive-in double feature is complete without a zombie apocalypse flick and Planet Terror delivers. I often wondered if Tarantino was more interested in telling the story or just grossing people out because some of the effects in this second feature are downright despicable.

Planet Terror is actually a really fun story to watch, if you can watch it for more than five minutes at a time. Where Death Proof succeeds at letting us off the hook with gory effects that are relatively easy to watch, Planet Terror goes to the other extreme that drive-in enthusiasts are familiar with by using disgusting effects that look a little too real.

During the exploitation movie days of the drive-in, there were weekly stories in the media claiming that cheesy drive-in movie makers were actually dismembering people on camera and putting those scenes in their movies. We now know that none of that was true, but some of the gross stuff did look that realistic. That is the exact effect Rodriguez gets in Planet Terror and it can be fun to watch when you can stomach to watch it for more than a few minutes.

Drive-in movie fans knew about Robert Rodriguez since his days of directing From Dusk Till Dawn. Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Sin City were the two movies that really put Rodriguez over the top for drive-in fans and now we all wait to see what he is going to do next with extreme anticipation.

With movies such as the Kill Bill films and Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino showed that he has a healthy appreciation of the place that the drive-in has in American movie history. Grindhouse is Tarantino’s ode to the drive-in and it was the perfect fit for Robert Rodriguez.

I saw Grindhouse at the drive-in (of course) because I don’t remember it playing in very many hard top theaters. This is a movie that is just for us drive-in fans and it even includes one of those awesome drive-in type “feature presentation” scenes that we just do not see anymore.

If you want a drive-in movie experience without having to leave your home, then rent Grindhouse and be prepared for what the drive-in looked like right when it was descending to the single worst period in its history. The grindhouse movies (the title of Tarantino’s movie was lifted from the unofficial genre that these 1970’s drive-in sexploitation movies were given) showed how the drive-in movie industry reacted to the stunning effect of losing audiences to VCRs and television. It should be remembered as a horrible time in drive-in movie history but, in reality, it is a time in history that drive-in fans remember fondly and are always eager to relive.

The 1970’s were a time when the drive-ins belonged to just the fans of the ozoner movie experience and not necessarily people looking for a state-of-the-art place to see a movie. But the 1970’s were also a time when we almost lost the drive-ins for good. It is fun to look back on that period now with a movie like Grindhouse, but it was a pretty painful period to live through if you love the drive-in.

Tarantino and Rodriguez capture the essence of the 1970’s drive-in movies perfectly in Grindhouse. It is a classic that every drive-in movie fan should see, or any movie fan for that matter.

Rating: 3 ½ out of 5

George N Root III is a drive-in movie fanatic and is impatiently waiting for the drive-in to reopen. For now, we can all sit back and enjoy the movies that remind us of the drive-in and remember why the drive-in is the perfect movie experience.

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