Death Proof (2007)
April 4, 2016 4:42 AM - Subscribe

Two separate sets of voluptuous women are stalked at different times by a scarred stuntman who uses his "death proof" cars to execute his murderous plans.

Death Proof is a 2007 American action–exploitation horror film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. The film centers on a psychopathic stunt man, played by Kurt Russell, who stalks young women before murdering them in staged car accidents using his "death-proof" stunt car.

The film pays homage to the exploitation and muscle cars genres of the 1970s, and also stars Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd, Rose McGowan, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Tracie Thoms and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, with Zoë Bell as herself. (wikipedia)

67% on Rotten Tomatoes - 72% Audience Score

Death Proof marked Tarantino's first credit as a cinematographer.

• Zoë Bell does all her own stunts

• Stuntman Mike's two "death proof" cars are a 1970 Chevy Nova and a 1969 Dodge Charger.

• The 1970 Dodge Challenger driven by the girls has door frames. The original 1970 model Challenger did not have door frames. The crew most likely added the door frames for the "ship's mast" stunt to be possible.

• The only Quentin Tarantino movie that takes place completely in chronological order and without flash-backs.

• The license plate on Stuntman Mike's '69 Dodge Charger is the same as the '69 Dodge Charger in Dirty Mary Crazy Larry driven by Peter Fonda (938DAN).

• The front plate on Stuntman Mike's '70 Nova has the same characters as the 68 Fastback Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in Bullitt (JJZ109) as a Texas plate rather than a California one. The wheels on Stuntman Mike's '69 Charger are the same American Racing vectors used on the General Lee; also a '69 Charger.

• The two waitresses that do shots with the group in The Texas Chili Parlor are Lonestar Roller Derby girls "Venis Envy" from the Putas del Fuego, and "Punky Bruiser" from the Holy Rollers.

• Tarantino attempted to cast John Travolta, Willem Dafoe, John Malkovich, Mickey Rourke, Ron Perlman, Bruce Willis, Kal Penn and Sylvester Stallone in Death Proof, but none were able to work due to prior commitments.

• WILHELM SCREAM: Heard right after the car runs over Arlene's face.

• The final scene takes place on Figueroa Mountain Road near the entrance to Midland School, and near the Neverland Ranch.

Original trailer on Youtube.

Quentin Tarantino’s least-seen flick delivers one of his best music choices (av club)

This movie is a selection of the Shut Up And Drive! club.
posted by valkane (38 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Shut Up And Drive! will be screening this feature tonight, April 4, @ 9:00 pm ET. Click here to watch.
posted by valkane at 4:44 AM on April 4, 2016


Is it me or is this a completely pointless and dull film redeemed solely by an awesome third act that honestly could have been bolted on to the end of pretty much anything or simply presented as a standalone piece, and, obviously, the fact that Zoë Bell is just adorable?
posted by Naberius at 6:36 AM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Death Proof, it seems to me, is basically a film about Tarantino's own desires: the 1970s, exploitation cinema, violence, talking, and, of course, women's feet. It's everything Tarantino-esque compressed into 90 minutes. And, concentrating on what he himself enjoys, he turns very little attention to the possible audience of the film. He just lets the characters talk, with their feet sticking out the car windows, seemingly totally at ease. It's quite compelling to think that Kurt Russell's Stuntman Mike is a sort of an alter ego for Tarantino himself: Tarantino captures and renders women as his playthings using his scripts and camera, Mike uses his death proof car. Both of them stay safely distanced from the dangers caused by them. Letting the characters talk, Tarantino tells them: you're safe, don't worry, while capturing their beautiful bodies and feet on film for his enjoyment. He traps them, same as Mike traps them in his car, telling them that the car is totally death proof, leaving out the tiny detail of it being death proof only for the driver, until the last minute. It's basically an extremely self-conscious and exploitative movie at one and the same time.
posted by sapagan at 8:05 AM on April 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


I like this movie. Even the comparatively boring first two acts.

I couldn't tell you why I liked this movie, though. Maybe because I first saw it as part of Grindhouse, where it was an absolute breath of fresh air after Planet Terror's nonsense. (Sorry, Robert Rodriguez.)
posted by tobascodagama at 8:11 AM on April 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've said something similar here before here that if your goal is to pay homage to a B movie, you run the risk of actually making a B movie. Which is okay if you're a B movie level director with a B movie level cast and B movie level resources.

So maybe I'll get to really like this movie in a few decades, but my sense with Deathproof is that it lacks all of the rough, imperfect charm that are inherent in B movies and instead is a crass, thin A movie flop.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:17 AM on April 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


I didn't care for Death Proof at all. But, I also didn't buy into the whole Grindhouse conceit. You want audiences to share your love for these films? Make an actual documentary using clips from real films. I didn't see any point to it other than one man's obsession with his youth. The whole mess strikes me as the point at which Tarantino finally dropped the pretenses and finally revealed himself as a glorified stylist who is highly fixated on ultra-violence.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:27 AM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


This movie is junk, except for when it isn't:

* The lapdance scene (amusingly but probably unwisely cut from the theatrical version) is pretty intense, managing to hit a sexy/scary balance that is unique in Tarantino and really illustrates his often cited love of Brian De Palma

* Stuntman Mike's speech about "his book" is worthy of Night of the Hunter, and may be the best scene Kurt Russell was ever given

* The last twenty minutes (duh)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:41 AM on April 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


Sadly the best part of Grindhouse were the "fake" ads (which led to the creation of the Machete franchise).
posted by miss-lapin at 9:06 AM on April 4, 2016 [6 favorites]


The theatre cut is much better than the DVD cut. The DVD cut puts in extra dialogue to fill in time which makes the movie seem slow and drawn out. In the theatre cut, the pacing was totally different.
posted by I-baLL at 10:59 AM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I only ever saw this in the theater. I wasn't aware there was a different cut.

I seem to be in the minority in that I enjoyed the Planet Terror half of the pairing at the time. The conventional wisdom then was a lot of "nobody told Rodriguez to make a serious effort of it and Tarantino's entry was amazeballs."
posted by phearlez at 11:11 AM on April 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


which led to the creation of the Machete franchise

And, through a more circuitous route, Hobo With a Shotgun.
posted by maxsparber at 11:34 AM on April 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


I also liked Planet Terror a lot more, but not because the movie itself was good. For me, it was all about the meta-ness of it. (If you sent Grindhouse back in time and showed it to a real grindhouse audience in like 1973, I don't think they'd like it.)

For me, what worked about Planet Terror, and didn't about Death Proof, was the in jokes where Rodriguez is winking at us and there's that shared acceptance between filmmaker and audience that we all know those movies were terrible, but we love them anyway. Things like the supporting character, a female sheriff's deputy, who starts out in a perfectly ordinary deputy sheriff's uniform, but then every time she appears on screen her outfit gets steadily sexier for no obvious reason. Exploitative, sure, but that's kind of the point - and it's really funny the way he keeps calling back to that gag.

But the best one, coming from my days working on the edges of the film industry and recognizing that the hardest part of a script to write, the part where you're going to get bogged down, is invariably the back half of act two. I totally loved it when Rodriguez went, "fuck it," and literally just skipped it.

Death Proof, I thought, was just so inappropriately self-important and utterly unfunny. Sort of the way The Abyss was a fantastic movie brought down by a lame ending, I think Death Proof is a pretty bad movie saved by an awesome action sequence at the end.
posted by Naberius at 1:08 PM on April 4, 2016 [12 favorites]


I wondered, at the time, whether you were meant to be bored out of your skull and utterly loathing every single person on screen by the time the actual kills begin, in order to put you in a position where you're thinking "god I wish these people would just die already" and then having to feel guilty and responsible when they do. Because I couldn't think of any other explanation for why we watched these women just chit-chat for approximately seventy hours before being killed.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:24 PM on April 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Earlier MetaFilter post linking to a 3-part analysis of Death Proof. I didn't catch 1/100th of what Todd Alcott saw in the film, but I do agree with most of it, and had to rethink everything I'd just seen.

I need to watch it again.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:08 PM on April 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


Naberius, I totally agree with your analysis. I thought Planet Terror was a lot more fun and also worked better with the fake ads. I understand what Tarantino was trying to do with Death Proof, but if you look at revenge exploitation movies from around that time period this comes off as WAAAAAAAYYYY too fun and light. I mean yes the action sequence at the end is fun, but if you've watched revenge exploitation fun isn't a word I usually use to describe it.
posted by miss-lapin at 2:53 PM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Okay, well, I got nothing better to do, so as a pre-roll, I'm gonna go ahead and put on Vanishing Point, which we watched last week. It's of note because the car that Kowalski drives is the car that kinda stars in Death Proof.

We'll still be watching Death Proof at 9:00, tho, so, you know, you're welcome to join us then.

Here's where you can watch: https://cytu.be/r/ShutUpAndDrive
posted by valkane at 3:45 PM on April 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


I seem to be in the minority in that I enjoyed the Planet Terror half of the pairing at the time.

You weren't alone. Rodriguez was trying to entertain, but Tarantino was self-indulgent. It's the difference between "Heyyy, I'm gonna do a grindhouse flick!" and "No, seriously, I'm going to do a grindhouse flick."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:19 PM on April 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


The thing that astonished me about this movie was Tarantino displaying, again, his ability to draw a sensitive, nuanced performance out of actors who thus far have run the whole gamut of emotions from A to B. In this case, Russell, who thus far in his career had never even made it to B.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:38 PM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


He was great in both the Elvis TV movie and in the film where he played the Texas clock tower sniper. He's always been capable of great performances. He was superb recently in Bone Tomahawk.
posted by maxsparber at 7:29 PM on April 4, 2016


I'm sorry but I refuse to believe that last one isn't a porno.

Guess I've just never seen Russell be able to act his way out of a ripped paper bag, let alone a wet one.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:36 PM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I liked him in that sort of cheesy hockey movie Miracle too. And I thought he was super sold in The Thing. Agree about Bone Tomahawk.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:44 PM on April 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry but I refuse to believe that last one isn't a porno.

What, Bone Tomahawk? It's sort of the opposite of a porno, actually, in that a certain scene may cause your junk to recede so far into your body that it is never seen again.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:45 PM on April 4, 2016 [4 favorites]




I totally loved it when Rodriguez went, "fuck it," and literally just skipped it.

Yeah and then Tarantino does a less funny version of the same joke. (you can tell whose side I'm on here)
posted by atoxyl at 10:44 PM on April 4, 2016


My impressions is that Rodriguez is a funner person to invite to a party than Tarantino.
posted by rhizome at 10:49 PM on April 4, 2016 [6 favorites]


The thing that astonished me about this movie was Tarantino displaying, again, his ability to draw a sensitive, nuanced performance out of actors who thus far have run the whole gamut of emotions from A to B. In this case, Russell, who thus far in his career had never even made it to B.

How dare you.
posted by phearlez at 7:11 AM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


My impressions is that Rodriguez is a funner person to invite to a party than Tarantino.

My impression is both are irritating blow hards.
posted by maxsparber at 11:24 AM on April 5, 2016


We'll be watching The Cannonball Run this Friday. I know all you smart motherfuckers will avoid that like the plague. So, for me, that's good news. I won't have to listen to you tell me how my taste is shit. So. Shut up and drive!
posted by valkane at 1:02 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Russell, who thus far in his career had never even made it to B.

There's a guy named Opie outside with a copy of something he's calling Backdraft and he's very angry with you.
posted by aureliobuendia at 1:08 PM on April 5, 2016


Technically Cannonball Run is my fault. Sorry about that.
posted by miss-lapin at 2:35 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


My impression is both are irritating blow hards.

I don't know them personally, but I think there's a distinct difference (bonus "Vanishing Point" reference!) between them. Rodriguez talks about other people and Tarantino talks about himself.
posted by rhizome at 2:52 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


My impression is both are irritating blow hards.

I got to tell you, their movies have brought me a lot more pleasure than yours.
posted by valkane at 4:34 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


You know, when you open a thread about a movie, it's possible not everything that everybody says about it and its creators is going to be what you would like to hear. It's happened to me, and the odds are good it'll happen again, and getting angry at folks about it is not a good look.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:20 PM on April 5, 2016


I got to tell you, their movies have brought me a lot more pleasure than yours.

I'm going to assume you never saw the porn film I wrote.
posted by maxsparber at 7:39 PM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


I enjoyed Death Proof, even though it was a very slow burn. I would say Planet Terror seemed lik it was more of an ode to the mid to late 80s B films and Death Proof pulled from a larger swath of time.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:16 AM on April 7, 2016


I think my favorite part of both Grindhouse pictures is in Planet Terror, when the doctor gives her kid a gun for protection, and like the moment her back is turned the kid shoots himself accidentally.

Death Proof has two good lines and one okay action sequence. That's not totally shabby!—but Jungle Julia is like a ringing telephone that goes on so long it knocks you out of the scene and makes you want to shove the director down some stairs and into a pool, or a branch thresher, whatever.
posted by nom de poop at 4:37 AM on April 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't know if you're counting From Dusk to Dawn as a Tarantino film, but I think it was told completely chronologically. Tarantino wrote the screenplay but Rodriguez directed.

Also, while not a very good documentary overall, it was interesting to see Tarantino and Rodriguez interact with the cast and crew in Full-Tilt Boogie. You can read it a lot of different ways (they are performing for the documentary crew's camera after all), but Tarantino is very personable, engaged, joking around, goes out drinking with the crew, etc. while Rodriguez is aloof, off to the side playing guitar, letting the assistant directors and everyone else make the movie. He looked very approachable but I certainly wondered why no one ever seemed to approach him. It is entirely possible that everyone on set perceived Tarantino to be hamming it up for the camera and an obnoxious gadfly and Rodriguez to be down-to-earth and too engaged in his craft to make a big show out of yukking it up and being everyone's pal. What do I know?
posted by nequalsone at 11:23 AM on April 13, 2016


This is the best Tarantino movie and one of the best movies about movies ever made.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:22 AM on April 15, 2016


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