Film: I’m sure in and about this website I have expressed my ‘Stephen King thing’: I love his stories but don’t enjoy his writing. This means two things, of course: first, I’m some kind of literary heathan of whom shall forever be looked down upon by the book-loving majority, and two, I can watch any film based on a King novel without getting all ‘the book was better’ about it.
This film is an exception to any horror snobbery that may exist though as this film has pedigree in the form of a man known an John Carpenter, who both directed this film and composed the score (along with Alan Howarth, who has a decent horror pedigree himself). Not sure who John Caroenter is? Well, I suggest you sit yourself down and watch John Carpenter’s The Thing, Prince of Darkness, The Fog and Halloween.
Christine tells of Arnie (Keith Gordon), a nerd who is regularly beaten up and picked on by… well, by absolutely everyone except for his mate, Dennis (John Stockwell), who buys a beautiful 5os classic car who has the name ‘Christine’ from an old weirdo named LeBay (Roberts Blossom).
Unfortunately for Arnie, Christine has a secret. Slowly but surely, Arnie changes… he becomes cool and aloof, and those who have ever ill-treated him start either disappearing and/or winding up dead.
Dennis does some research about the car and discovers that LeBay’s brother and his family all died as a result of the actions of the car, and along with Annie’s on again/ off again girlfriend, Leigh (Alexandra Paul) try to find out what effect the car has over Arnie…
Christine is certainly a film of its time. The whole ‘nerd gets picked on but gets revenge due to supernatural means’ was done to death and we’ve moved on from it, and also we tend not to get men who are clearly in thirties to play teenagers any more. The thing is thoigh, I still don’t mind seeing that nerd get the hot girl and get his revenge on the jerks.
The film is entertaining throughout and some of the effects of the car self-repairing are surprisingly good considering their age.
There’s a commentary with director John Carpenter and actor Keith Gordon where they talk about their careers and the time on the set of the film.
There’s about 20-odd Deleted Scenes on this disc, some of which I, for the first time ever, do wish we’re in the film. The Bullies Trashing Christine is a particular fun one, imagine Greased Lightening from Grease, but in reverse.
The featurettes Christine: Fast and Furious, Finish Line and Ignition all look at the making of the film, from the deal made with King and how this is essentially a monster movie. They are each about ten minute and honestly I don’t know why they didn’t just make a 30 minute doco about the film. Seems like they went to the ‘quantity’ column of extras to add value to the disc.
WISIA: John Carpenter films are always worth multi-views so I’ve of course watched this several times.
Film: The idea of Grindhouse, the double feature cinema experience conceived by Robert Rodriguez and supported by Quentin Tarantino, Rob Zombie, Eli Roth and Edgar Wright was an excellent one. Make two movies in a mock double feature, with trailers for either never or yet to be made films in between, with devalued image and sound so that people today could feel like it felt back in the day of the 42nd St Grind house cinemas. Those cinemas named so because they showed badly re-cut horror, sci fi, exploitation and blaxploitation flicks one after another in a constant grind.
What a shame no-one else thought so…
It would seem the general public didn’t have the idea promoted to them well enough, or the promoters just didn’t get it. After the opening weekend of Grindhouse, which was a poor one, the distributors, the Weinstein Brothers, decided to pull the film so they could re-think the promotional release. Now, there are dvd and Bluray releases that come as ‘Uncut and Extended’ editions of Rodriguez’s zombie blood fest PlanetTerror, and this one, Quentin Tarantino’s 70s styled car chase extravaganza Death Proof.
Death Proof starts in Texas with three friends Arlene (Vanessa Ferlito), DJ Jungle Julia (Sydney Tamiia Poitier) and Shanna (Jordan Ladd) having a few drinks and enjoying each others company when they meet a stalker, Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell). Stuntman Mike is a man stuck in the past dwelling on his past conquests in Hollywood, and can be as charming as a snake. He worms his way into their good graces and offers a member of their extended group Pam (Rose McGowan), a lift home in his car which he claims to be ‘death proof’. Soon after, a dreadful automobile accident happens and only Stuntman Mike survives. The police suspect foul play, but Stuntman Mike is a teetotaler, whilst the others were all drunk or stoned. Flash forward 14 months later and a new set of girls are being stalked. Actress Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) make up artist Abernathy (Rosario Dawson) and stuntwomen Kim (Tracie Thoms doing her very BEST Pam Grier impression) and Zoë (played by Zoë Bell, New Zealand stuntwoman), but what Stuntman Mike doesn’t realise is….these girls fight back!!!
This film is made perfectly for Quentin Tarantino fans. The cool music, hip characters, smartarse dialogue and the references to other Tarantino films (and this film is loaded with them!!!). Funnily enough, Tarantino used to riff on other great films, but now he also does it to his own, which at times felt a little masturbatory.
I saw this cut of this film before the version as a part of the Grindhouse experience, which was about 45 minutes shorter, and I must say I am glad, as I don’t think I would have liked to have missed out on any small part of this film. The action scenes are few and far between, but you are lulled into such a false sense of security with the ‘talky’ bits that when they do hit…. you stand up and shout ‘HOLY SHIT!!!!’ Tarantino has been criticised for this film being far too talky, but for me it works really well and I enjoyed watching the performances of the female cast members all spouting Tarantino-isms.
The female characters and the actresses that play them are great, and I couldn’t decide which one of them I liked the most…. Although I suspect Tarantino liked Zoe Bell the best, but with a special mention to the feet of Dawson and Poitier, which get some pretty full screen exposure!!
Car lovers will dig this flick as well. Stuntman Mike’s 1970 Chevy Nova is truly a site to behold, not to mention his 1970 Charger, Kim’s 1972 Ford Mustang nicknamed L’il Pussy Wagon aka ‘Brand X’ and the white 1970 Dodge Challenger that Zoe Bell spends a lot of the film on top of are nothing short of pure sex. The engines on these suckers make having surround sound a worthwhile investment.
This is certainly not Tarantino’s best film, but it clearly looks through the crowd for the fattest ass – and kicks it! While this film is a definite essential pick up for any Tarantino fan and certainly a must have for lovers of the unsuccessful Grindhouse experiment, it probably doesn’t need to sit in everybody’s DVD collection. Although if you like the 60s misspent youth and the 70s carsploitation flicks, you will probably dig it.
Extras: Disc 1 has an international poster gallery, mainly featuring the ‘lobby cards’, and with a few ‘international’ posters, and trailers for Death Proof, Planet Terror, 1408, Black Sheep and Feast… no sign of the ‘fake’ trailers from the original Grindhouse film unfortunately!
Disc 2 has some really awesome extras.
Stunts on Wheels: The Legendary Drivers of Death Proof is a documentary focusing on the film, but with much love and respect given to some of the great stunt drivers, both old and new. Featured here are stunt co-coordinator for Death Proof Jeff Dashnaw, and his team Buddy Joe Hooker, Steve Davidson, Tracy Dashnaw, Chrissy Weathersby and Terry Leonard. Much love of their abilities is provided by Tarantino, Russell and Tracie Thoms.
Introducing Zoe Bell is a short piece about stuntwoman, and in this film, actress, Zoe Bell, who was Tarantino’s stunt woman on Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Kill Bill Vol. 2, and how she ended up being a major character in Death Proof.
Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike is a small piece about how COOL everybody thinks Kurt Russell is!
Finding Quentin’s Gals has Tarantino discussing his female casting choices, and has additional comments from Vanessa Ferlito, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Jordan Ladd, Rose McGowan, Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thoms, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Zoe Bell, with Russell providing some additional input.
The Uncut Version of ‘Baby It’s you’ Performed by Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a short piece showing Winstead uncut performance of Burt Bacharach’s song for Smith.
The Guys of Death Proof has Tarantino again discussing his casting choices, this time with comments from the guys: Eli Roth, Omar Doom, Michael and James Parks, Michael Bacall and himself, this time with comments from Jordan Ladd and Sydney Tamiia Poitier.
Quentin’s Greatest Collaborator: Editor Sally Menke is an interesting look at the unsung heroes of filmmaking: the editors, and in this case, Tarantino’s editor since Reservoir Dogs, Sally Menke. This is a nice tribute to Menke, and ends with some great ‘Hi Sally’ messages/outtakes from the cast.
There is also the trailer for the documentary Double Dare, which is about female stuntwomen, but specifically about stunt legend Jeannie Epper and young stuntwoman/future legendary stuntwoman Zoe Bell.
WISIA: Death Proof is such an unusual thing that it deserves to be watched a couple of times, I reckon.
Special thanks to Simon from Explosive Action for the help with this review!
Film: Not every character can just have a new person put into the suit and just take over the role. Sure, Batman and Spiderman and James Bond and Superman have had many bodies in their respective suits, but there are some characters that are almost defined by the person who portrays them.
Jackie Earl Haley had immense boots to fill when he took on the role of Freddy Krueger in 2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, and even though he is an accomplished actor, having him take a role that is defined by Robert England’s performance was probably unfair, and doomed. I remember clearly hearing about Tom Hardy taking over the role of Mad Max’s Max Rockatansky from Mel Gibson and wondered if he had enjoyed his acting career to date, because the fans of the Three Mad Max films are… well, rabid.
… but something weird happened, and at the risk of burying the lead, this new Mad Max film, Mad Max Fury Road, was an amazing thing.
Written and directed by George Miller (written with Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris), Miller came up with the concept of only using illustrations to write the script, which is very much a ‘Marvel method’ thing to do. The Marvel method was the writer would come up with a plot, give it to an artist to draw the comics, and then the script was filled in later. This made the production of the early days of Marvel quite quick so they could publish more titles. Miller did a similar thing with having the storyboards drawn first, and the dialogue, of which there is very little, was done later.
Mad Max Fury Road is a continuation of the saga of the Road Warrior himself, Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) who has found himself captured, and used as a blood transfusion device by the horrifying War Boys, the followers of the war boss, a god-like leader, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne).
Meanwhile, Furiosa (Charlize Theron) is on he way to other communities to trade for ammunition and fuel, but what Immortan Joe doesn’t realise is that she has kidnapped his five perfect wives (Zoe Kravitz, Riley Keough, Abby Lee, Rosie Huntington-Whitely and Courtney Eaton) to save them from being farms on his quest for a perfect son.
As one would expect, a despot never likes his stuff taken from him, so a massive motorised war band is formed, full of mutated and drugged up War Boys, and even more mutated automobiles, including the injured Nux (Nicholas Hoult) who is the recipient of Max’s blood.
Eventually, through more action that most movies have in total, Max ends up free from his bondage and becomes Furiosa’s ally, but in a post apocalyptic wasteland, where does one go?
Truly, this film is nothing short of magnificent. Miller is on top of his game with what is basically a 2 hour violent action sequence with a story cleverly weaved in between the scenes of utter carnage. Occasionally these sorts of films, the story gets lost, but in this the whole time you are thrilled by everything.
There isn’t a moment of breathing space.
Miller has also created this series of landscapes that are an absolute feast for the eye. Considering mostly in ‘wasteland’ films, the brown dusty desert is the general visual tone, but here the wasteland changes as the journey is taken, and the images of fire and explosions are so bright that they are almost cartoonish.
The cast is one of the most surprising things about this film. To have Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult are an amazing coup for such a film, especially when they are juxtaposed with Australian talent like Hugh Keays-Byrne, John Howard (The Club), Josh Helman (Jack Reacher), Richard Carter (Two Hands), Angus Sampson (Insidious), Megan Gale (Stealth), Melissa Jaffer (Brides of Christ)… even wrestler Nathan Jones, and A Current Affair darling Quentin Kenihan show up!!!
It would be remiss of me to not mention how amazing the soundtrack is as well! I am a soundtrack collector and Junkie XL features quite heavily amongst it, with his contributions to Deadpool, Batman VS Superman, Alita, Zach Snyder’s Justice League and Army of the Dead. I always find his scores to really add to the action and this is definitely no exception!
This film is just amazing. I rally can’t talk it up enough! I love every minute of it! The only thing wrong with this film is it didn’t spawn 100 Italian knock offs… 2099: The Bronx Warriors anyone?
Extras: The disc opens with trailers for San Andreas, Entourage and Tracers, before we get to the menu. I should point out that with this steelbook edition, it comes with a 3D version, but I don’t waste my time with watching movies in 3D. The extras are all on the 2D disc.
Maximum Fury: Filming Fury Road looks at the making of the film, from storyboards, to the car stunts and on to the actual on set filming.
Mad Max: Fury on Four Wheels shows off the absolutely ridiculous and over the top designs of the vehicles in the film. (NB: ‘ridiculous’ and ‘over the top’ clearly equals ‘freaking awesome’) The best part is learning that the cars all had names like Cranky Frank, Elvis, Doof Wagon and Buzzard… that’s not true, the best part is EVERYTHING about these damned cars. There’s a few nice tributes to the VW from The Cars that Ate Paris in here too.
The Road Warriors: Max and Furiosa had Thomas Hardy and Charlize Theron talk about the unique way that the story was designed, and the lack of actual words to say.
The Tools of the Wasteland looks at the entire design of the world, which looks like a mix of so many things (I got a huge Gorkamorka/ Necromunda vibe from it all… though the influences are probably the other way around, with the games being influenced by the older Mad Max films)
The Five Wives: So Shiny, So Chrome interviews the actors who play the Fives Wives, and their costume design and history.
Fury Road: Crash and Smash is about 4 minutes of raw footage, stunt tests and exploding cars. What a rush!
There’s three Deleted Scenes that for one of the first times ever, I wish had stayed in. Two of them really look at the apocalypse society and the love for Immortan Joe.
WISIA: I forgot how much I loved this film. And now it’s rocketed back up to the top of my regular rewatch list!
Film: Here at the To Watch Pile, we love ourselves some Nicolas Cage; heck, last October we dedicated a whole month to his manic acting and freaky-deakiness! What a guy!
Add to this is my secret affection for car movies, which I guess is less secret now, which is weird considering I don’t like driving and don’t own a car. I’ve always been interested in car culture, not so much racing and that sort of thing, but car-related art, documentaries, even pinstriping and TV shows like Pimp My Ride. This of course means that movies that have cars as a part of their aesthetic appeal to me, then add Mr. Cage into the mix… I’m excited!
Gone in Sixty Seconds is the remake of the 1974 film, Gone in 60 Seconds, written and directed (and starring) H. B. Halicki, modernised by scriptwriter Scott Rosenberg, and directed by Dominic Sena, who directed the Hugh Jackman/ John Travolta thriller, Swordfish, and the comic adaptation of Whiteout, starring Kate Beckinsale.
Gone in Sixty Seconds tells the story of Kip Raines (Giovanni Ribisi) who has gone foul of the crime boss Raymond Calitri (Christopher Eccleston) and is going to kill him unless his brother, retired car booster Memphis (Nicolas Cage) can steal 50 cars, of Calitri’s choosing, in a single night, and have them delivered to the docks for export.
Memphis gets in touch with his old crew, featuring Sway (Angelina Jolie), Sphinx (Vinnie Jones), Donny (Chi McBride), Otto (Robert Duvall), Tumbler (Scott Caan) and Kip’s new younger crew, Mirror Man (T. J. Cross), Freb (James Duval) and Toby (William Lee Scott) and they come up with an elaborate plan to execute the mission, but there is two things standing in their way.
The first is the interest they have sparked in their reuniting from the police, particularly Detectives Castlebeck (Delroy Lindo) and Drycoff (Timothy Olyphant), and the second is Eleanor (an exquisite Shelby Mustang GT500), a car that Memphis has never been able to successfully steal!
Will they get all the cars to the docks or will Calitri have Kip killed? Who cares, just show us more and more sexy cars!
This is a weird movie for what’s essentially car porn. Sena’s direction is more about the micro looks at the cars, and even though you do get to see most of the cars, it’s prominently at night, so they are shown with a lot of reflection and instead the director has gone with close up of the interiors and the drivers. I guess in a movie that is quite heavily character driven and with so many personalities, that is just as important.
The story is actually a lot of fun and holds up, and I was so surprised to find that it was over 20 years old, well, until I saw how young everyone in it looks! There’s some clunky dialogue but it really adds to the cartoony feel of the whole thing. Even as a movie about crime, this doesn’t have the weight of a serious crime movie that shows that crime doesn’t always pay, but tries to give a warning about crime with an unexpected serious moral quote towards the end, which is like those awful pieces of moralising found at the end of a Masters of the Universe cartoon.
The performances are uneven, which is to be expected when three generations of actors ply their trade together, and it makes for some really silly moments, especially when you combine it with the already clunky dialogue, and I guess that’s where the charm of this lies.
One thing that does really irritate me about this film is the whole film builds up to this one amazing car stunt, that for some reason isn’t wholly a real stunt but instead appears to be a pretty average act of CGI shenanigans. When you consider car porn films lead up to ‘The Big Stunt’, this was a bit of a slap in the face.
Over and above that, cars and Cage: what a double! For me, even though I know it’s pretty bad, but it’s the most guiltiest of pleasures.
Extras: All that car porn and so few extras! This is a fairly early disc in the Bluray format that was released for the film, so it weirdly goes straight to the movie and you have to access the extras via your pop-up menu. Even then, all that effort doesn’t result in a very interesting watch.
First we have some film highlights which are just a few of the more unbelievable scenes from the film, and the other is titled The Big Jump, which is a three minute making-of but about the really epic car stunt that occurs towards the end of the film.
WISIA: This film weirdly has a special place in my heart. It’s so stupid that I can just watch it again and again.