Seven Things You Didn’t Know About Grindhouse

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In 2007, cult directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino surprised us with Grindhouse. This is a double feature film in the tradition of seventies B-movies, think exploitation and stalker films. The concept of grindhouse movies was usually a subordinate narrative containing plot holes, vicious killers running around with chainsaws whilst hunting scantily dressed cheerleaders and much blood dripping from the horrible actors.

Just a girl shooting zombies with her leg in Planet Terror
Just a girl shooting zombies with her leg in Planet Terror

Grindhouse not only glues Rodriguez‘ film Planet Terror together with Tarantino‘s Death Proof but also contains fake movie trailers and commercials by fellow directors Rob Zombie, Eli Roth and Edgar Wright.

We suggest you watch both movies back to back in the correct order with the fake movie trailers in between for the best movie experience of Grindhouse. Whether you’ve seen the film or not, we’d like to tell you seven things you might not know about Grindhouse. This information may contain some spoilers but I can guarantee you it is 100% gluten-free.

1) Robert Rodriguez Helped Josh Brolin Audition for the Coen Brothers

For some strange reason, Ethan and Joel Coen weren’t interested in Josh Brolin‘s services for their Oscar winning film No Country for Old Men back in 2007. Brolin who was desperate to work with the famous fraternal directors asked Robert Rodriguez on the set of Planet Terror, where he plays Doctor William Block, to assist him with his audition tape.

Josh Brolin plays a zombie doctor in Planet Terror
Josh Brolin plays a zombie doctor in Planet Terror

Always eager to help, Quentin Tarantino directed the audition reel which Rodriguez shot with a million dollar camera, edited and even scored the music to. Actress Mary Shelton who’s in both Planet Terror and Death Proof played the part of his wife.

No wonder the Coen brothers were impressed and offered Brolin the part of Llewelyn. Shelton however didn’t audition for the part and the wife is played by Kelly Macdonald from Trainspotting fame.

2) Zoë Bell is Actually a Real Stunt Woman

Actress Zoë Bell, who plays a daredevil in the segment Death Proof is actually a full time stunt woman by day and a part time actress by night. It goes without saying that she does all her own stunts in the movie, like chilling on the hood of a speeding 1970 Dodge Challenger.

Stuntwoman Zoë Bell performing her own stuns in Death Proof
Stuntwoman Zoë Bell performing her own stuns in Death Proof

Bell is known as the stunt double for Uma Thurman in Kill Bill volumes one and two. Although Thurman plays a woman with super powers in the Ivan Reitman film My Super Ex-Girlfriend she prefers Zoë Bell to perform her back breaking stunts. Bell also appears as a six horse riding kiwi in Tarantino’s western The Hateful Eight.

3) Not all Grindhouse Trailers Were Equally Fake

As mentioned in the brief introduction to this article, Grindhouse consists of two feature films and several fake trailers by different directors. Although these trailers promote fictional films, two movies were later on produced based on these trailers.

In 2010, Robert Rodriguez released Machete, starring pretty boy Danny Trejo. The character of Machete was introduced in Spy Kids a couple of years prior. One of his famous catchphrases is his reply Machete don’t text when people ask him why he always interrupts them by calling them on the phone.

Rutger Hauer in the never should have been made film Hobo With a Shotgun
Rutger Hauer in the never should have been made film Hobo With a Shotgun

The other film that was green lit is Hobo With a Shotgun where our favorite Übermensch Rutger Hauer plays a homeless vigilante armed with, who would have guessed, nothing less than a shotgun. Although we love Hauer in Blade Runner, Sin City and The Hitcher, the movie can’t compete with the trailer which won the South by Southwest trailers contest.

4) Tarantino Uses his own Favorite Music

Not only does Tarantino use existing pop, rock and surf music in his movies, he actually picks songs from his own private record collection. The jukebox featured in Death Proof is his own precious AMI which he lovingly calls Amy. The same jukebox is used in Natural Born Killers, the Oliver Stone film written by Tarantino.

Tarantino's Jukebox Amy can be seen in the diner in Death Proof
Tarantino’s Jukebox Amy can be seen in the diner in Death Proof

Several songs in the AMI are used in his other films like Jungle Boogie by Kool & The Gang, You Never Can Tell by Chuck Berry and Misirlou by Dick Dale which can all be heard in Tarantino’s masterpiece Pulp Fiction.

Other songs on the jukebox are the great seventies song and opening theme from Reservoir Dogs, Little Green Bag by George Baker Selection and some funky soul songs from Jackie Brown. Also the epic flamenco/disco cover Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood by Santa Esmeralda which is featured in the final confrontation in the snow in Kill Bill: Vol 1 is in the jukebox.

5) Michael Parks’ Recurring Role

Michael Parks as Sheriff Earl McGraw in several Tarantino Movies
Michael Parks as Sheriff Earl McGraw in several Tarantino Movies

The late and great Michael Parks, who plays Deputy Sheriff Earl McGraw in both Grindhouse films Planet Terror and Death Proof, reprises his role from Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and From Dusk Till Dawn although he is shot and killed in that last vampire movie.

He refers to his son as son number one, just like in Kill Bill where his son is played by his real life son James Parks. In Kill Bill Vol: 2 Parks also shines as the Mexican retired pimp Esteban Vihaio, Bill’s the adoption father.

6) The Director and Composer can be the Same Person

John Carpenter, the Master of Horror is known for composing the scores to his own films like Halloween, The Fog and They Live. For his brilliant remake of The Thing however, he relied on the services of some upcoming talent named Ennio Morricone.

Directors and composers John Carpenter and Robert Rodriguez
Directors and composers John Carpenter and Robert Rodriguez

All right with me but what does this have to do with Grindhouse? Well, Rodriguez asked Carpenter to compose the score for Planet Terror but ended up taking over the job as composer himself. As an hommage, some excerpts from John Carpenter’s Escape from New York are used in the film.

7) Tarantino was a Frog in a Previous Life

In most of Quentin Tarantino’s movies, he uses a specific frog perspective from the trunk of a car. It’s so distinctive you could call it a director trademark. It started in Reservoir Dogs where Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) surprises his partners with a hostage cop, locked in his trunk. In Pulp Fiction we see Jules and Vincent as they pick up their Beretta’s from their trunk, complaining that they should have been given shotguns for this kind of job.

The stuntwomen looking under the hood of a Death Proof car
The stuntwomen looking under the hood of a Death Proof car

In Kill Bill: Vol. 2 Michael Madsen repeats his trick as he reveals his catch of the day to his accomplice. Upon laying eyes on the tied up Uma Thurman, his short trailer park pal brags that he’s seen a lot better and is not impressed.

The same viewpoint is used in several movies directed or written by Tarantino including From Dusk Till Dawn, Inglourious Basterds, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and of course Death Proof where we see the stunt girls looking under the hood of a Pontiac.

So Why Should I Watch Grindhouse?

All of the above is useless to know if you want to enjoy the movie. Just gather some friends around you, grab yourselves some popcorn and a few drinks and enjoy this brainless double feature by two of the most talented directors of the nillies, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. Honestly, where else are you going to see a girl with a gun for a leg shooting at will during a zombie apocalypse? Check out the trailer if you’re still not convinced.

Original Trailer for Grindhouse (2007)