Plays woman with machine-gun for a leg in Grindhouse
Some would consider it a rather dubious honour to be regarded as the sexiest amputee in film history.
Rose McGowan is not one of those people.
The actress, best known for her role as Paige Matthews on the hit WB series Charmed — a part she took after former Beverly Hills 90210 star Shannen Doherty departed the show — plays Cherry Darling in director Robert Rodriguez’s (Sin City) Planet Terror half of the B-movie double bill that is Grindhouse.
And she gladly accepts the alluring amputee label.
In the second half of the film, Death Proof, directed by Quentin Tarantino, McGowan takes on the role of Pam, a quiet bargoer who falls prey to the lures of a sadistic killer played by Kurt Russell (Poseidon).
As Cherry, McGowan— the former long-time girlfriend of shock-rocker Marilyn Manson — has her right leg eaten off by zombies and replaces it with a machine gun.
Sound slightly grotesque and bizarre? That’s because Grindhouse is a tongue-in-cheek homage to slasher and horror movies pumped through “grindhouse” theatres in the ‘60s and ‘70s, where almost any scene, no matter how outrageous, was considered acceptable.
Hence the flesh-eating zombies and gun-leg, to which McGowan acknowledges there may be some attention paid by cinephile amputee fetishists.
“If I can do anything for any one group in America,” she says wryly before adding, “but somebody asked me something funny slash interesting about the Iraq vets and how so many of them are coming home now as amputees and he asked me how I thought they would like it.
“Actually, I thought they would think it’s kick ass ... I think in a sense it would be empowering for them.”
Speak with McGowan for a short while and it becomes evident she takes a no-nonsense, somewhat alternative approach to life. Perhaps that’s a product of formative years growing up in Italy — she only learned English upon arriving to the U.S. at age 6 — with her parents who were members of the Children Of God religious sect.
Or it could be that five-year relationship with the notably bizarre Manson.
But McGowan has used her determined demeanor to carve out a solid acting career in an industry typically unfriendly to female leads. Her part as Cherry, the focal character in Planet Terror alongside Freddy Rodriguez’s El Wray, is one of the stronger female leads in recent film history — and definitely the one with the most interesting prosthetic limb.
- Grindhouse opens in theatres this Friday.