Many attempts to capture past glories of horror era style often times feel like cheap copies or just fall flat. Planet Terror isn’t one of those movies. It is clearly a love letter to the grindhouse era, they don’t hide it. In fact, they revel in it.
Like many of those movies, the story feels a little disjointed. Basically, the story follows two characters; Cherry, a down on her luck Go-Go dancer that feels that she is living below her capabilities, and Dr. Dakota Block, a wife and a mother pushed to the edge by an abusive husband. Soon after the movie starts our heroines and their supporting cast find themselves being attacked by some zombie-like creatures that attack to kill. Although more of a side story, there is also heavy hints that the military has something to do with the outbreaks and isn’t as worried about that as they are about acquiring the substance that created it.
I am not going to dig into all the great subplots this movie has to offer, this is more my take on this movie than a full blown review.
I think the casting was dead on. There isn’t anyone that I would replace, it feels like many of these characters had stories that were lost on the cutting room floor, but considering the time that they were paying a homage to, it may have been intentional. McGown as Cherry played a great apathetic slacker trying to find her place in the world. In many ways she reminded me of the character she played in Doom Generation in which she is more being pulled along instead of willingly participating in the carnage that surrounds her. Her love interest nails it as well. He plays exactly the type of over-skilled character that you would expect to be paired with Cherry. The Cherry storyline overpowers Dr. Block’s, in my eyes, but she does an equally great job fighting against her ex-husband and trying to make it in a world gone mad. Side note – her car door scene is one of the few scenes that have ever made me wince.
On the movie itself, I love the fake grindhouse feel, the stuttering film, the lost footage, the trailers, the clearly fake kill scenes, I could go on, it was just a fun ride from beginning to finish. I think that is what I take away from this movie the most It was a very solid horror genre movie, but it was fun and had a lot of soul to it. If you are looking for a good, enjoyable horror movie, check it out. If you are looking for a double feature, couple it with Death Proof, preferably in the grindhouse double feature format with all the extras in the right places.