Monday, July 11, 2011

Hobos in a Grindhouse

Hobo with a Shotgun... For all the talk about the glory and niche of "grindhouse" movies, every time one comes around that is supposed to be an homage to grindhouse, it typically is a pile of crap.  Not every grindhouse style movie is a pile of crap...

...let's discuss "Grindhouse", first.  What does that mean, to the common moviegoer?  In the early part of last century, the 50s and 60s, maybe even the 30s and 40s, a "Grind House" was considered a theater that showed "exploitation films", and named for an actual theater located in New York City on 42nd Street where people would "bump and grind" while dancing.  A grindhouse theater would many times show B-movies and double features.  The term eventually evolved from meaning the theaters that showed such movies to the actual movies themselves, a'la "a grindhouse movie", and its typically a movie that contains sex, tons of ridiculous violence and usually a bizarre premise, it was always filmed on very lowgrade film with lots of scratches and cuts, and mostly were movies that were blasted by critics as horrible films.
Another great thing about Grindhouse movies
are the movie posters.  They are silly, corny and
completely over the top.  This one is a great
homage to those films.

...anyway, when Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez did "Grindhouse" a few years ago, it was your typical grindhouse-like double feature... Rodriguez's part of the film, "Planet Terror", was awesome.  It was funny, it was ridiculous, and it was a great tribute to those old kind of movies.   Even right in the middle of it, there is a "missing" scene that, one the front end had two characters at odds, and when the film cut out and came back, those two characters were discussing how they were father and son.  Plus, there is Rose McGowen who has a machine gun for a leg.  Bizarre premise, like I said.
Tarantino's part, "Death Proof", was less than so.  It was long winded, it was trying to do too much, trying to be too much, and except for an awesome use of Kurt Russell, it was a disappointment after watching "Planet Terror".  The main character introductory scene right in the middle of the film, using an old style camera shot of just going around the table, seamlessly, from person to person, was enjoyable for, oh, the first ten minutes, but it just kept going on and on and on until it was just completely boring.   Even the last scene was a total letdown, save for a car chase that was sorta, kinda fun for again, the first ten minutes.  Eh.

There are hundreds of grindhouse movies out there--this Top 10 list alone has titles like "Faster, Pussycat!  Kill!  Kill!" and "Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS" and "Please Don't Eat My Mother" and one of my favorite movie titles ever, "Sweet Sweetback's Badasssss Song"--and includes one that I actually have seen, that being "Vanishing Point".

SIDEBAR... Speaking of "Sweet Sweetback's Badasssss Song", when Wookiee and I went to see the Troy Trojans play football, we made sure we stuck around for the band, the Sound of the South.  Best band in the South, and that includes you, The Million Dollar Band of Alabama.  Anyway, when the Colorguard came out, we noticed someone of color with a flag.  Not unusual, right?  Well, this someone was a guy.  And he pranced, and twirled and did his thing better than most of them.  We immediately dubbed him "Sweet Sweetback".  He was there the next two games we went to, but not the last time we went.  We miss Sweet Sweetback. 

"Vanishing Point" really is nothing but a 90 minute car chase and features lots of gunfire and explosions and a blind DJ named Super Soul and an awesome white 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T with a 440/375 horsepower engine.  Not a whole lot of plot, but I liked it because it was so ridiculously simple, yet cool.

Another film that came out in 2010 was the Robert Rodriguez/Ethan Maniquis film "Machete", which was just about the ultimate "grindhouse" film.  It was absolutely stunning in how ridiculous, over the top yet tongue-in-cheek it was, and yet, the main character, Machete (played by Danny Trejo, who, along with Luiz Guzman, is part of a Mexican That Guy Mafia), is still hilarious.  Honestly, this movie has no social redeeming value, has no purpose on this earth and this is so far removed from being Emmy Turnbow Safe, it makes "The Hangover" look like a Pixar movie.  As a Christ Follower, I cannot in good faith, along with a desire to be encouraging and not a stumbling block, recommend you see this movie.  That being said, its a hoot. 

Here's Rutger Hauer.  He plays a Hobo.  And that Hobo has
a shotgun.   It doesn't get much deeper than that.
The whole point of this blog, though, was to discuss "Hobo With a Shotgun", a movie I saw recently on cable.  Starring Rutger Hauer, the film stems from a contest winner--the contest asked participants to submit trailers, with the winning trailer getting a chance to be made into a film.  The contest was held during a recent South by Southwest festival, and was held by none other than the aformentioned Robert Rodriguez.  

Rutger plays The Hobo, who wanders into Hope Town, which has been taken over and is being run by a mean guy named The Drake, along with his sons Ivan and Slick, and all The Hobo wants to do is save up some money and open up a lawnmower shop, and he ends up meeting and caring for a young girl named Abby--he protects her, not chases her, by the way--and she wants to help him with his business when things go horribly awry and The Drake gets involved and then things get violent with The Hobo and then and so on and... well, you get it.

This movie was pretty terrible all the way around.  I mean, I tried to watch it tongue-in-cheek, tried to appreciate why it was made, and how intentional the crap was supposed to be, and still, it was a pretty crappy movie, 

So, there's your look at recent grindhouse.  I'd recommend "Planet Terror", and possibly "Vanishing Point", and if you can handle the long conversation, "Death Proof".   "Machete" is likable, but its really bad, and "Hobo with a Shotgun" is just bad all the way around.  

The Summer of Blogging Day Thirty Five

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