DVD Review: Planet Terror (Unrated and extended edition)

Planet Terror is Robert Rodriguez’ half of Grindhouse. GH was a concept dreamed up by RR and Quentin Tarantino. They each filmed a film that was an homage to the old 70s exploitation flicks. These two films, along with a handful of trailers (for movies that don’t exist), were released as one film.

Grindhouse failed to deliver at the box office, likely at least in part because of the length. That is a real shame because both films are quite enjoyable and clearly are labors of love.
Robert Rodriguez offers up Planet Terror. Here we have your basic Living Dead-on-the-loose flick. Some questionable activities by officials (led by Bruce Willis) at a local military base has resulted the nearby residents wandering around, oozing pus and craving the kind of meal that just is not acceptable in modern society. Actually, I think munching on your neighbor’s brains was frowned upon in throughout most of our history.

So we have our nasties, now we need our folks in peril. For them, we have a fun bunch of lowlifes, including Cherry (Rose McGowan) a saucy go-go dancer/aspiring stand-up comic that ends up with a machine gun in place of a leg, her ex Wray (Freddie Rodriguez), bickering married doctors (Delightfully played by Josh Brolin and Marley Shelton) that you likely don’t want working on you, a pair of identical twin babysitters that you likely don’t want watching your kid, the owner of a local BBQ shack and the local law enforcement (led by a sheriff that covets his brother’s BBQ recipe).

While most of the cast do a good job, McGowan and, to a lesser degree, Freddie Rodriguez really shine. I don’t dislike Rose, but have never been enthralled by here. This time around, she does an excellent job of playing the character as being tough yet vulnerable. She also proves to be more than capable of handling her action scenes.

My only other real knowledge of Freddie Rodriguez was in the first season of Six Feet Under (I lost interest in the show when it became more soapy). He pleasantly surprised me here. His performance as El Wray, scruffy, shady fellow with a mysterious past, may have just opened up a new career for himself as an action hero.

Watching this film is an interesting experience because it has (the intentional) look of an old worn out print that has been run way too many times. I honestly think this really adds to Planet Terror, it gives it a creepier, sleazier feel. There is a “missing” reel that comes at a point that will almost surely leave every red-blooded male howling in frustration, but even that actually adds to the film. When it starts back up, we have just missed some revelations about Wray’s past. Not knowing what exactly was said is honestly a little better as it makes him all the more mysterious.
This is the “un-rated and extended” version of the film. So what has been added? Not too much really. There is more gore and some extended action scenes, but nothing too earth shattering. While the additional bits don’t detract from the film, I don’t know that they add a whole lot either.
Most of the bonus features are pretty standard and, surprisingly for RR, nothing too extraordinary. The director’s commentary track is very good, being both fun as well as informative. This is no surprise since not only did RR direct the film, he wrote, produced, scored and edited the thing!
The 10 Minute Film School With Robert Rodriguez segment (Which actually runs just under 12 minutes.) is very cool. RR talks about the tricks involved in keep the costs down as well as how they shot the machine gun leg of Miz McGowen. We learn that many of the scratches and jumps in the film were intentionally placed.
Keep in mind there is going to be a forthcoming Grindhouse release that will feature both movies, so die-hard fans that do buy should almost certainly expect to be buying another release of this within the next year.Mr. Rodriguez delivers gore by the bucketful. He also gives us some sick humor and a trashy film that will draw you in while making you ill. Fans of old Zombie flicks and other B films will almost certainly be delighted with this fun-filled gory rollercoaster ride.

Not quite as impressive a package as Tarantino’s Death Proof, Planet Terror is still enjoyable and the commentary track makes up for the ho-humness of the rest of the bonus features.
Jeremy Lynch
For more reviews from myself, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.