(Image from IMP Awards)
Planet Terror (2007)
'Planet Terror' is director Robert Rodriguez's half of the 'Grindhouse' double bill, with the other half, 'Death Proof', being directed by Quentin Tarantino.
'Grindhouse' is meant to be a homage to the type of films shown as grindhouse features. From Wikipedia:
The film's name originates from the American term for theaters that played "all the exploitation genres: kung fu, horror, Giallo, sexploitation, the "good old boy" redneck car-chase movies, blaxploitation, spaghetti Westerns—all those risible genres that were released in the 70s." According to Rodriguez, "The posters were much better than the movies, but we're actually making something that lives up to the posters."
This film is certainly not as low budget as those it seeks to pay tribute to, but it's made to look like a trashy exploitation flick complete with dodgy effects and poor quality, degraded 'film' reels. The story is about a chemical weapon being unleashed on a small town that turns people into zombies. A small group of people band together to try and survive, while an elite military unit gets up to no good behind the scenes.
Rodriguez is right in that his film really does live up to the posters! I haven't actually watched any real grindhouse flicks, but I'm fairly certain that they are a lot crappier than the faux crappiness on display here. The film is outrageous - gory, over the top, and very funny, and the wacky atmosphere and artificially cheap looking visuals add to the film's entertainment value. It's a tad too long (though, I did watch the extended standalone version of the film), but still makes for a thrilling ride.
And although it's all meant to look cheap, the effects and production values are surprisingly impressive in their own kitschy way. There are some fun performances in there as well, especially from Naveen Andrews (Sayid from Lost!), Rose McGowan, and Michael (where has he been?) Biehn.
I'm not sure if I can really recommend 'Planet Terror' to a casual movie fan, as it's definitely out there and a little bit absurd. But if you can embrace its intentional cheapness, there's a lot of fun to be had.