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VANESSA FERLITO ENHANCES QT'S EXPLOITATION 'DEATH PROOF'

Foreboding perspective of Tarantino's DEATH PROOF Year: 2005
Like there are two movies in GRINDHOUSE, there are also two in the second feature, written, directed and photographed by Quentin Tarantino titled DEATH PROOF: story one is eerie, torturous, dark, bizarre, perverse, shoddy and dodgy-looking while the second looks far more professionally filmed but is overall, unbearably awful...

The device of DEATH PROOF and Robert Rodriquez's co-feature, PLANET TERROR, are an abundance of deliberate aesthetic flaws: a tribute to b-movies that played so many times in low-rent "grindhouse" theaters, they wound up tarnished and with entire reels missing. In the two-parts of DEATH PROOF it's one man, Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike, who connects each...

DVD artwork's better than the movie
As does Quentin Tarantino's dialogue, spoken by the two groups of pretty young girls: the first with local billboard-famous leader, Sydney Poitier as the Austin, Texas morning disc jockey, Jungle Julia...

And while Tarantino's no stranger at placing characters inside a contained, often claustrophobic setting, from RESERVOIR DOGS to FROM DUSK TILL DAWN to THE HATEFUL EIGHT, there were reasons to be there, and basically, no way out as opposed to merely harboring spontaneous, incessant chatter. Meanwhile, the buried lead and most interesting overall, is sexy, full-lipped Vanessa Ferlito as Butterfly, who Jungle Julia sets up on what can only be described as a "blind date lap-dance..."

The usual Tarantino cult pop culture product placement
Which is just about the only thing resembling an actual plot-point or plot-driven device, and the significance involves who eventually gets that dance...

Enter Kurt Russell's weathered and leathery, facially-scarred stalker, who's somehow intriguing to these hot young girls, especially lone "skinny hippie" fox Rose McGowan, who fatefully needs a ride home. The fact she'd trust an old man with a DEATH PROOF vehicle that includes a working driver's side while the passenger area, separated by Plexiglas, has only a removable metallic bicycle seat, is farfetched and ludicrous...

Vanessa Ferlito as Arlene aka Butterfly
But horror/slasher victims are usually way too gullible; here resulting in the only truly nightmarish death as the following "four birds with one stone" slaying occurs much too quick, and after the amount of time spent with these girls, is downright anti-climatic...

Leading to the second story headed by real life Uma Thurman KILL BILL stand-in Zoë Bell, who, while doing her own stunts, isn't very interesting, attractive or talented as an actress/character. Then again, her more legitimately trained on-screen cohorts, including Rosario Dawson, are equally dull and forgettable...

So to really get off on what's intended as a b-movie exploitation tour-de-force, the first story is terribly flawed but after several viewings can be extremely addictive, and effective...

 Vanessa Ferlito as Butterly
With layers thinly disguised and partially revealed at the primary rainy-night location: a BBQ tavern where Tarantino himself plays Warren, a movie-geek owner and bartender: as director and especially as cinematographer, some of the best shots are of what's actually his own jukebox that, as usual in QT cinema, plays awesomely obscure, vintage tracks...

As other subtle and ultimately futile plot-points include Julia's desperate and lonely attempts to connect with a famous filmmaker on her cell phone, when she's not trying to score pot with a dealer/friend as the otherwise annoying, parenthetical stoner chick camaraderie becomes more worthwhile and edgy once Kurt Russell is introduced, in the flesh and outside his formidably foreboding car: an example of Alfred Hitchcock's theory of how an otherwise mundane, superfluous dinner conversation becomes genuinely suspenseful when a time bomb's revealed under the table: shown only to the audience. And this guy's definitely ticking...

Deathproof P1: *** Deathproof P2: *1/2 Overall Movie Score: **1/2
Alas, while Russell's potentially iconic Stuntman Mike becomes one of cinema's most pathetic horror movie antagonists by the atrociously obvious, politically-correct "Girl Power" finale, he starts out an effectively mysterious, Neo Western loner... a hybrid of Burt Reynolds (including a 4th wall-breaking grin) and Norman Bates... and he may or may not even be an actual stuntman... 

A Smokin (Hot)' Butterfly
Strangely enough, an 11th hour rural Daylight car chase (with a strap-grabbing roof-ride ala TEEN WOLF) pales to the Nighttime group of empty souls drinking, smoking pot and otherwise doing and discussing absolutely nothing. As if Quentin Tarantino's meantime vices/hobbies were put on camera but with girls: Along with the usual pop culture references, he's writing what he knows, and in other films is beyond capable of writing females...

But in the beginning of part two, a girl talks about how she loves when a dude kisses with "mushy lips." Ugh!!! Whether that's a chick thing or not, it's downright banal and embarrassing dialogue, intentional or otherwise...

Thankfully, Quentin didn't give that line to movie-stealer Vanessa Ferlito (who reluctantly allowed her own kisses to one of several barroom losers, all the while seeming to harbor an interest/attraction for Rose McGowan's Pam). Arlene aka Butterfly was the one and only girl who really called the shots. Unfortunately, her only mistake was simply going along for the ride.
Kurt Russell takes a close look at Jungle Julia's (Sydney Poitier) billboard in DEATH PROOF
Sydney Poitier, Vanessa Ferlito & Monica Staggs with a red line "film stock flaw" ain't DEATH PROOF
Vanessa Ferlito's Butterfly's the character who's "got a bad feeling about this" in DEATH PROOF
The killer car is a CHEVY NOVA in Quentin Tarantino's dastardly abysmal DEATH PROOF
Kurt Russell doing a Burt Reynolds homage 4th wall grin before Rose McGowan buys the farm
Driveful of Exposition with Vanessa Ferlito and Sydney Poitier in DEATH PROOF
Connecting Deathproof with Planet Terror: Michael Parks, son James and Marley Shelton
Death Proof spoofs b-movies with original titles renamed in post-prod: so Thunder Bolt is the original title
A decade after suing Harvey Weinstein for sexual assault, Rose McGowan worked for him in both Grindhouse features
Kurt Russell's Stuntman Bob points out his Chevy Nova Skullbolt to soon victim Rose McGowan Death Proof
Butterfly's butt to the groove of Joe Tex in DEATH PROOF
PULP FICTION easter egg has that movie's theme by Dick Dale scrolling before Bob Dylan's Gospel Funk
Also owned by QT is Joe Tex's single The Love You Save (May Be Your Own) in DEATH PROOF
The Swan Song Moment of Story One w/ Vanessa Ferlito, Kurt Russell and Rose McGowan
The opening shot while The Last Race by Jack Nitzsche plays, and the hood ornament up front is...
Kris Kristofferson's truck mast-head in Sam Peckinpah's CONVOY
Both cars meeting face to face, head to head in the first of two climaxes in DEATH PROOF
Wider shot of what Quentin Tarantino's proud of not being CGI in DEATH PROOF
Vanessa Ferlito is the only cast member as part of the subliminal end credit images of DEATH PROOF
And we've missed the only actress doing a Texas accent, Cheryl's daughter, Jordan Ladd as Shanna in DEATH PROOF
DEATH PROOF by Quentin Tarantino starring Vanessa Ferlito reviewed by James M. Tate
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