Ten Contemporary Incarnations of the Grindhouse Genre
Classic grindhouse movies from the 70s were very cheaply made so, not very surprisingly, they often descended into porn. This made them perfect for the rundown local XXX theatre and that’s where they lived for many years. That is until some fans of the excess violence and perverse plots grew up to become film makers and what do filmmakers do with their influences? That’s right; they use them to their advantage.
Due to the recent spike in interest, grindhouse movies have lifted themselves (slightly) out of the gutter. Now they still contain all the comic book violence and bizarre plot lines but they are better made, usually with proper film budgets, and are no longer (entirely) riddled with porn. In light of this we have compiled, for your reading pleasure, a list of ten films influenced by the grindhouse genre released since the turn of the century. Enjoy!
Battle Royale (2000)
Battle Royale has altered the amount of violence we will readily accept from our entertainment. Its insanity and gore are unparalleled; therefore I believe it deserves a mention.
What do you do with an overpopulated country that loves good entertainment? Send a randomly selected group to an island give every individual a weapon, force them to kill each other and broadcast it so the lucky ones around the country can indulge in some coliseum style fun. If the run: kill them. If they won’t kill: kill them. If the accidently wander into a closed area: kill them. You get the idea.
This is our future people! Stop watching The Only Way In Essex and we may be able to avoid it!
Kill Bill Vol. I and II (2003/4)
Tarantino has never tried to hide his love of grindhouse; all our suspicions were confirmed with the release of Deathproof. Previous to this he always used influences from the genre and one movie that was not only influenced but affected the way that grindhouse movies were developing was Kill Bill.
A pregnant woman, (Uma Thurman), is hunted down on her wedding day and left for dead by the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. She comes out of a coma to a world without her baby or husband and is more than a little pissed. Revenge will be had! Samurai swords, child assassins, one-eyed temptresses, the ever present foot fetish and, of course, buckets of blood. Our interest has been sparked.
Featuring scenes of comic book style violence and a (more than) slightly absurd storyline the contemporary incarnation of the grindhouse is born.
House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
This is one of those you-think-it’s-not-as-bad-as-you-remember-so-you-decide-to-watch-it-again-only-to-discover-it’s-worse movies. The most bizarre films of modern times; it’ll make you sick but that’s the objective.
A group of young people taking a trip across America decide to take a detour in order to follow up on the urban legend of Dr Satan. Their car (inevitably) breaks down so they call into a house to find help. Little do they know they have stumbled upon a family of psychotic serial killers. Then the fun begins! Ghouls, freaks and monsters litter every scene. It definitely subscribes to the grindhouse idea of dealing with taboo subjects.
Rob Zombie has always had a taste for the macabre and House of 1000 Corpses is definitely well up there on the list of the insane.
Dubbed as “gorn” when it was first released, Hostel is another that certainly deals with taboo subjects and inflicts a little sickly feeling on all viewers. The excessive violence is becoming more common as the resurgence of the grindhouse develops, wonderful if you’re into that sort of thing, not so much if you’re into butterflies and unicorns.
Death to the unicorns; let’s see some innards!
Another group of travelling youngsters are faced with a brutal demise. There’s a lesson in there somewhere but I can’t seem to decipher it… Backpacking across Europe three American guys get locked out of their hostel only to be told of the best frickin’ place on Earth! The women are hot and have a penchant for American guys, it’s cheap and close. Where is it? Slovakia. Eh… OK! The three guys turn up and are greeted with porn star women; everything is how they were told. They did leave out one teeny weeny detail though; you go there you’re most likely going to be kidnapped and murdered in the most brutal fashion possible. But the hot women?! They’re in on it too; the entire bloody country seems to be out to get these guys!
So much torture…
Death Proof (2007)
Probably a bit of a cheat as it is part of the Grindhouse double bill but that just backs up my claim… I’m including it anyway.
Tarantino is really pushing this grindhouse thing but we don’t have a problem because he’s doing it well. This homage to the era follows a former Hollywood stuntman, Mike, and his “death-proof” stunt car. Mike likes to take pretty girls out in his car and then kill them. It’s a good relationship.
We follow him while he stalks a group of voluptuous young women from Austin, Texas then disappearing into the night after he lures away his victim. He turns up again in Labanon, Tennessee only to come up against a group of women that can hold their own. Amazing stunt scenes throughout and a completely unrealistic story line; this is grindhouse.
Planet Terror (2007)
Utterly ridiculous, brilliantly stupid and bone chillingly graphic (the wrist in the car door… ugh, sends shivers down my spine every time). An offering to the gods of the grindhouse if I ever saw one.
People start to turn into mutant flesh-eating zombies after the release of an experimental bio-nerve gas from a remote military base in Texas. Those left unaffected form groups in order to survive; one such group is home to stripper Cherry, (Rose McGowan); a nobody in her former life but an ass-kicking Madonna in these post-apocalyptic times. She loses her leg only to have it replaced with an automatic machine gun; genius! Rodriguez goes all the way on this one; his personal passion for the genre shining through.
Black Dynamite (2009)
The grindhouse genre certainly included Blaxploitation flicks and there is none better than the hilarious Black Dynamite. Ex-CIA agent and full time ladies-man, Black Dynamite, (Michael Jai White), is out to avenge his brother’s death against Kung Fu masters and THE MAN. Yeah bitches! That’s what I call funky fresh.
This is a bad ass, tough as nails action hero that takes no prisoners whether he’s chatting up foxy mommas or taking down the man, Black Dynamite knows where it’s at! You have to talk like that when you watch it. It’s just so infectious!
The first film to be adapted into a feature from the fake trailers that were made for in between Tarantino and Rodriguez’ Grindhouse double bill. Made by Rodriguez, he just keeps setting the stakes higher, and featuring an all-star cast, (Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Steven Segal to name just a few), with some of the most memorable quotes in modern cinema, “you just fucked with the wrong Mexican” and “We didn’t cross the border; the border crossed us!”
Setup and betrayed, ex-Federale Machete will have nothing get in his way as he seeks his brutal revenge on his former boss. He shows no emotion and can crush your head with one hand; you do not mess with Machete.
Piranha 3D (2010)
A remake of the 1978 original by Rodger Corma, Piranha ticks all the right boxes; dancing girls in bikinis, carnivorous fish and Christopher Lloyd! After an earthquake a massive cavern is opened up on the bottom of a lake releasing swarms of prehistoric piranhas into the bathing area. To make matters worse Spring break has arrived and the lake is filled with drunken students. The waters will run red with their blood!
Bodies being ripped apart in mind blowing 3D; the up side of the modern incarnation; no grainy footage, we want to see every detail of the gore!
Hobo With a Shotgun (2011)
Following in Machete’s footsteps, the idea for this film was also born of the grindhouse trailer competition. Not to be overshadowed Hobo with a Shotgun is an entirely different animal.
He, (Rutger Hauer), is landed in a new city where chaos reigns but all he wants is a lawnmower. Instead he decides to make the world a better place, the only way he knows how; by picking up a 20-gauge shot gun. The police are useless so justice will reign down in the most unlikely form. As loyal to the original form as it possibly could be, this signals the full return of the grindhouse genre!
The most recent instalments seem to be a sign of things to come, with the on-going grindhouse competition and a huge resurgence of interest we will not seen the end of this gritty, gory genre for a long time.