year: 2007
cast: Rose McGowan, Josh Brolin, Rose McGowan, Nicky Katt
writer/director: Robert Rodriguez
rating: ***1/2

The first (and only good) segment of the theatrical film GRINDHOUSE teaming Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino doing their own "cheap" horror films. Plot centers on a group of survivors during an outbreak brought back from Iraq. The military is at fault (like most "outbreak" films) not for preachy reasons but because it's a sendup of the zombie genre... yet it also stands on its own merits. The characters are fantastic; standouts being Josh Brolin as an evil doctor turned "sicko" and his beautiful, beaten, closet-lesbian doctor wife (Marley Shelton). You'll see a lot in the promotion with Rose McGowan as a stripper with a machine gun leg, but this happens in the last five minutes. Jeff Fahey is also quite good as a sloppy, tough cafe owner: a cross between Vic Tayback and Clint Eastwood; as is Michael Biehn as his sheriff brother. And Bruce Willis, Naveen Andrews ("Lost") and Quentin Tarantino make effective cameos. Writer/Director Rodriguez never lets up with action but still finds time for story, and the character-development is placed perfectly within all the running around, gun-fights, car chases, and killings. Bad sound, screen blotches, and missing reels are purposely added to cement the GRINDHOUSE experience (theaters that'd play several B movies in a row using cheap projectors). This makes little-to-no sense since it's a big budget CGI film, but the flaws, contrived or otherwise, don't hinder this rollercoaster ride one bit. Oh and Freddy Rodriguez (no relation to Robert) does well in the lead male role despite his semi-wimpy appearance (which takes a few minutes to get used to). Overall THIS IS the good child of "Grindhouse"... the second segment, Tarantino's "Deathproof", should be put in time-out... FOREVER!

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