Tarantino, Rodriguez met at Toronto film fest
associated press file
Fans of the B-movie genre can thank the 1992 Toronto International Film Festival for introducing two of the industry’s hottest young directors, igniting a lasting friendship that would later culminate in the zombie-slasher-horror double bill that is Grindhouse.
It was there that Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill) and Robert Rodriguez (Sin City) first met and eventually launched into a collaboration to produce an homage to the grindhouse film genre, which saw its heyday in the drive-in theatres and all-night movies houses of the ‘70s.
“They’re just different enough,” Rodriguez says of Grindhouse’s double bill of Planet Terror (his zombie film) and Death Proof (Tarantino’s slasher flick) “that it creates the exact kind of experience you would have had going into these double features when the movies are made both in the horror genre, but they’re completely different beasts.”
For those unfamiliar with grindhouse, the genre earned its moniker from the way films that were explicitly violent, sexual or plain outrageous, were produced on tiny budgets with B-actors before literally being ground through projectors and replayed so many times that the film would often break. The reels were then usually repaired, packaged and sent — imperfections and all — to another movie house.
Grindhouse, true to form, comes complete with fake trailers, missing reels and two directors eccentric and creative enough to pull off what can at times only be described as an outrageous ode to the movies which shaped their early cinematic sensibilities.
During this interview in a Beverly Hills hotel, for example, Tarantino, 44, is sitting in green hospital scrubs and Rodriguez, 38, sports his trademark cowboy-hat-over-bandana-covered-head look.
While the grindhouse genre is largely the domain of dedicated cinephiles these days, the directors decided that Hollywood needed a film that could restore the sense of event that at one time defined the movie-going experience.
“Back in the ‘70s when they were doing these drive-ins and grindhouses, there was more involved in theatrical exhibition,” Tarantino says.
“It was a whole presentation, there was ballyhoo involved,” Tarantino is even more excited at this point, arms flailing and words spitting like lightning bolts. As in many Tarantino films, both Planet Terror and Death Proof feature actors long since past their prime — even Death Proof lead and 40-year Hollywood veteran Kurt Russell no longer has the box office clout that he did as an A-list name in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
“Here’s the deal, most casting directors are all going to come up the same list of actors,” Tarantino explains. “There will be a few that are a little different and my list of actors goes a lot longer.”
- Grindhouse is now playing in theatres.