Deathproof is half of the Rodriguez/ Tarantino exploitation homage to Grindhouse. Whilst the whole project suffered quite badly in terms of box office sales, resulting in each film being shown separately with extended cuts in the UK, I actually rated Rodriguez’s effort, with its attention to detail and some really excellent little cliché low budget homage’s. Sadly, Deathproof, of which I had reasonably high hopes for is just plain shit, with the only resemblance to old exploitation movies is that some of them are proper shit too.
The plot is loosely centred on a stuntman, played by Kurt Russell, who appears to have taken more than a few blows to the head. The stuntman drives in his ‘Deathproof’ car (a car kitted out with extra safety to survive non-CGI stunts) picking up young girls and killing them in automobile accidents of which he survives. The movie is sort of divided into 2 halves, each half focusing on his preying on different sets of girls. The first set, some foul mouthed tarts heading towards a festival, and the second a daredevil, a stunt driver and couple of miss innocents who encounter the madman whilst test-driving a classic car. Sadly, whilst there seems to be a lot of scope for some pretty dodgy shit, with some gruesome killings, the movie fails to deliver.
Talking, a lot of talking occupies a good 80% of the movie. In the past Tarantino has delivered some excellent dialogue in his movies, capturing pedantic banter in a way unique to him, I mean let’s be honest, it’s not possible to forget the ‘Royalle with cheese’ conversation in Pulp Fiction, however its becoming a little old. It felt old in Kill Bill but in Deathproof it not only feels redundant, but fuck me, the pace drags. 3 sittings it took me to get through the movie, and I swear I could have had no picture, only sound, and I wouldn’t have missed anything. There are only a couple of quirky moments but they do little to mask the fact that, despite the mass amount of script, nothing is actually happening.
The violence is condensed into about 10 minutes of footage with only one scene offering anything in the way of gore. In its defence it is a pretty gory scene where the first group of girls are absolutely decimated in the vehicle collision. Arms are removed and one girls face is literally smeared along the top of the car. It’s an excellent scene, and pretty much the only decent thing about this movie.
Before, and after this the pace is dire, the acting is ok but the characters just get irritating after a while. One final thing which disappoints is the after production effects, which, when used effectively (like in Planet Terror) would make the film feel like an authentic Grindhouse production. Grainy shots, varied lighting effects, little filming discrepancies and damaged/missing reels, all those little things which show real thought and attention to detail. However, like everything else in this movie this too is not up to standard, the odd little effect in this movie stands out a mile making it really obvious it was deliberately put there.
If anybody had suggested that Tarantino has lost his touch, Deathproof is the evidence. His early movies, and movie scripts, were refreshingly well crafted with some superb dialogue, quirky situations and a raw touch often bordering controversial. However, what was once refreshing quickly turned cliché with every movie becoming more and more formulaic, relying on the gullible to sell it due to its ‘cool’ factor. Deathproof plays the most frustrating homage to this, much more than to ‘Grindhouse horror’. Its one dimensional, poorly paced, but most of all, fucking boring.