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In Robert Rodríguez's "Planet Terror," two doctors find their graveyard shift inundated with townspeople ravaged by sores. Among the wounded is Cherry, a dancer whose leg was ripped from her body. As the invalids quickly become enraged aggressors, Cherry and her ex- boyfriend Wray lead a team of accidental warriors into the night.
For more about Planet Terror and the Planet Terror Blu-ray release, see the Planet Terror Blu-ray Review
Starring: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Josh Brolin, Marley Shelton, Jeff Fahey, Michael Biehn
Director: Robert Rodriguez
» See full cast & crew
Planet Terror Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Ben Williams, December 11, 2008
When Directors and best friends Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino teamed up in 2007 to spoof their favorite low-budget action flicks in Grindhouse, little did they know that the project would become something of a pariah with audiences. The original concept was to combine separate directorial efforts, Planet Terror from Rodriguez and Death Proof from Tarantino, along with a slew of fake trailers from other directors, and to deliver a unique experience to film lovers everywhere. Unfortunately, the project was greeted by audiences with ambivalence, trashed by critics and the film ultimately floundered at the box office. Months were spent speculating on the reasons for the massive failure of Grindhouse. Pundits weighed in with their opinions and even Harvey Weinstein opined that the two films should have never been released on the same bill. The films were released separately in Europe and now, on Blu-ray. Planet Terror was the first film in the Grindhouse experience and it showcases Mr. Rodriguez's love of campy humor and over the top gore. Be warned, Planet Terror is not for the squeamish!
Planet Terror opens with the film's heroine, Cherry (Rose McGowan), lifelessly fulfilling the basic duties of her job as a stripper, while a series of strange events begin to occur all over her backwoods home town. A mysterious man named El Wray (Freddy Rodriguez) makes his arrival into town just as nefarious military agents release a slew of flesh-eating zombies out into the night. Dr. Block (Josh Brolin) and his wife Dakota (Marley Shelton) take their strained relationship into the hospital where they both work, as legions of afflicted locals begin to pour in with strange flesh-altering illnesses. Curiosity over this mystery illness turns to panic as patients suddenly develop cannibalistic tendencies and turn on the doctors who are furiously trying to cure them. Before too long, all hell has broken loose in the small town and it's up to Cherry, El Wray and a host of locals to battle the rapidly multiplying hordes of flesh eating mutants.
Planet Terror is ridiculously over the top, campy, astoundingly gory and a hell of a lot of fun. Those with an aversion to blood and guts will likely find themselves extremely uncomfortable while watching the film. The movie is a direct homage to the low budget science fiction and gross out horror of the early 1980s. As such, you'll find plenty of references to The Terminator, The Thing and Escape from New York. Did I mention how over the top Planet Terror is? Every actor is in full on melodrama mode, every effects shot is on the verge of being asinine and the film's pace is so relentless that one barely has time to breathe. Take for example the scenes that take place in the local hospital involving Dr. Block and Dakota. As they go about treating the strange illnesses that are flooding their clinic, Mr. Rodriguez makes a point of lingering on every diseased body part while using actual photographs of horribly infected appendages to further reinforce the gore. The fact that he manages to turn these disgusting scenes into some of the most hilarious material in the movie should serve as proof that Mr. Rodriguez approaches even his campiest work with a skill level that is hard to ignore.
As the story progresses, we are introduced to a bevy of colorful characters who make the film a blast to experience. Michael Biehn shows up as a local sheriff with a vendetta against El Wray and manages to out-cheese just about everyone in the cast. He's terrific and it's great seeing one of the true icons of 80s action back on screen. Even Jeff Fahey of Lawnmower Man and, now, "Lost" fame makes an inspired and hilarious turn as a lunatic barbeque restaurant owner with an itchy trigger finger and an obsession with his special BBQ sauce. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for a number of fantastic cameos that crop up throughout the course of the movie. Fans of Mr. Rodriguez's films will encounter a number of familiar faces. Planet Terror is insanely enjoyable and is highly recommended!
Planet Terror Blu-ray, Video Quality
Planet Terror arrives on Blu-ray sporting a beat up, dirty and generally terrible looking 1080P transfer. Framed in its original theatrical aspect ration of 1.85:1 and encoded with AVC Mpeg-4, it's the perfect representation of how the film looked theatrically. Mr. Rodriguez, acting as both director and cinematographer, has given the film an intentional digital scrubbing to give the movie the appearance of having been badly treated over the course of many years. There's a ton of noise, loads of scratches, discolored frames, missing scenes and even burned out frames in the movie. It's all done for effect and comes across perfectly on Blu-ray. It would be pointless to dive into any real study of the quality of Planet Terror on Blu-ray as the movie looks intentionally bad. The most important aspect of this is that the film looks exactly like Mr. Rodriguez wants for it to look. What more can you ask for?
Planet Terror Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Unlike the intentionally bad video of Planet Terror, the movie's audio is truly outstanding. Utilizing Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless encoding, the soundtrack manages to be aurally exciting while delivering a nice sphere of distinct atmosphere. There is a ton of surround activity and deep bass in the movie and it is all faithfully represented. I was particularly impressed with the many panning and rear directional effects used throughout the film. In addition, every gunshot is amped up for maximum gut wrenching effect while the most subtle sounds of dripping gore shine through. Rodriguez has included plenty of pops and hisses throughout the film to remind viewers that they are supposed to be watching a bad print of the film, so don't adjust your audio equipment when these intentional anomalies are heard. Fear not, though, as it all adds to the experience of watching a unique and entertaining film.
Planet Terror Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Planet Terror arrives on Blu-ray with a bevy of special features. As is normally the case with Robert Rodriguez's films, he was personally involved in the creation of the set's extras and you'll find him featured in just about every one.
Here's what's included:
-Scratch-Free Version of Planet Terror
-Feature commentary with Robert Rodriguez
-Audience reaction track
-10 minute film school: Planet Terror: hosted by Robert Rodriguez
-"The Badass Babes of Planet Terror"
-"The Guys of Planet Terror"
-"Sickos, Bullets, and Explosions: The Stunts of Planet Terror"
-"The Friend, the Doctor, and the Real Estate Agent "
Spread out over 2 full discs, Planet Terror's extensive supplements highlight many aspects of the film's production. One oddity included is the "Scratch-free" version of the film that showcases how the movie looked before heavy digital manipulation was performed to achieve the aged look that the final product includes. It's a nice addition, but cements how the beat up look of the film adds character to the completed movie. Rodriguez also includes his standard "!0 Minute Film School" segment where he goes into great detail on how he chose to create a specific scene. We're also treated to several behind the scenes featurettes and cast collections that round out the material. Last but not least, the "Machete" trailer that was shown theatrically before the film is also included. It provides some of the biggest laughs in the whole package and is almost worth the price of admission, alone. All told, this isn't the finest extras package ever assembled, but the "Scratch-Free" element is a nice touch and "Machete"is good for countless replays.
Planet Terror Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Planet Terror is an action packed, laugh a minute gore fest that harkens back to the low budget action and science fiction flicks of the late seventies and early eighties. As the first half of the Grindhouse feature, the film succeeds in being endlessly entertaining while showing off Robert Rodriguez's advanced filmmaking talents. Video is presented just as Mr. Rodriguez intended, with ample scratches, grain and blown out scenes. Audio is extremely impressive with an abundance of surround activity and deep bass. Supplements are ample, but beyond the "Scratch-Free" version of the film and the "Machete" trailer, there isn't much to write home about. Ultimately, Planet Terror makes for a light-weight and thoroughly enjoyable piece of entertainment with plenty of thrills and chills to go around. Recommended!
Planet Terror Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - December 16th - December 16, 2008
Since the days of Laserdisc, the Criterion Collection has dedicated their efforts to collecting the greatest classic and contemporary films from around the world, and make them available to the general public at the highest quality possible. Today, they release ...
• Death Proof Coming to Blu-ray; Planet Terror Too (Updated) - September 24, 2008
In an early announcement to retailers, The Weinstein Company has revealed that they will bring 'Death Proof' and its Grindhouse partner 'Planet Terror' to Blu-ray on December 16th. As this is an unofficially announcement, no technical specs or special features ...
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