Thursday, 6 May 2010

Exploitation for the nation...

With the new trailer release from upcoming Grindhouse feature Machete as well as the new exploitation flick Hobo With a Shotgun being eagerly anticipated I must ask....

Should we prepare ourselves for a new-wave of exploitation films in mainstream cinema?

Back in 2007 Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino released the well intentioned but doomed Grindhouse. The pair wanted to recreate the double billing exploitation shenanigans from the 70's and show audiences that it can still be done.
The idea was that they would both write and shoot their own exploitation film and have fake trailers made by other filmmakers sandwiched inbetween. Rodriguez's segment was the 'zombie splatter-fest' Planet Terror and Tarantino's last half was the 'stalk, smash, and crash' car chasing Death Proof. The fake trailers were made by friends Eli Roth, Rob Zombie, and Edgar Wright.
Rodriguez also shot a trailer Machete which opens up Grindhouse, the trailers proved to be the most entertaining part of the project which probably isn't a good thing!

Unfortunately despite their passion and dedication to the idea of recreating the cinema that they love and miss they forgot that their core audiences wouldn't share the same nostalgia.

It seemed like Rodriguez and Tarantino were on to a winner at first, both coming off of the biggest successes in their careers, Sin City and Kill Bill. Both films even shared elements of the exploitation films they planned to homage in their next project.
Couple this with the "you get to see two movies for the price of one" aspect and it seemed the project would sell itself...this wasn't the case as we know.

It would appear that audiences didn't want two films for the price of one and those that might have just didn't understand the premise of the Grindhouse project. Reports quickly came in that people were leaving after Planet Terror's credits rolled, people were also leaving the screening to complain about the scratches and bad continuity which were obviously deliberate to make the film's look trashy, cheap, and used.

I can sympathise with the audience to an extent on this, the film's heart is in the right place but it's too self indulgent on the filmmaker's part. It felt more for Rodriguez and Tarantino's enjoyment than the audience's, after all not many people going into see the film were cinephiles like them and wouldn't understand the concept.

What really confused the directors and producers was that even thought the project had officially bombed at the box office, it would seem that Rodriguez and Tarantino's core fanbase had also stayed away.

The two films were immediately split into individual releases in Europe which didn't help much either. The two best friend directors commented on Grindhouse in retrospect saying along the lines of, 'We got a bit ahead of ourselves on this one, our recent successes had made us overly confident'.

The failure of Grindhouse shocked the directors who had both come to know success over the years, they had collaborated before in the heist-road movie-horror film From Dusk Till Dawn and Sin City with great results. It seems as though Grindhouse was just doomed from the start.

My point for bringing the troubled release of Grindhouse back up is that despite the film's failure financially and failure to work as a seamless double-bill i don't think the project's impact is over.

Machete has been turned into a full feature by Rodriguez which is set to be released over summer, also a competition set up by Rodriguez before the release of Grindhouse offered the chance to the best home-made grindhouse trailer to be shown in selected screenings. The winner was of course Hobo With A Shotgun which has also been turned into a full feature starring Rutger Hauer as the homeless avenger.

Could this be the second chance of Grindhouse? Can these two follow up films do what the previous two couldn't?...I cant wait to find out.
If these two features do well they could open the flood gates to all sorts of exploitation hilarity...fingers crossed on that one!

1 comment:

  1. Wicked stuff Joe. Definitely agree, hope it works out! :) xxx