Thursday, December 1, 2016

Hang Up the Chick Habit, or Thoughts on Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof

Audiences have been aware of Quentin Tarantino’s infamous foot fetish ever since Tony Rocky Horror got thrown off a balcony, but in Death Proof (2007) the director fully indulges his fondness for finely formed feminine feet and makes the fetish critical to the plot.  The second half of his Grindhouse double feature with Robert Rodriguez’ Planet Terror (2007), the film spends a good 20 minutes establishing its Austin hipster indie street cred while celebrating the barefoot lower limbs of his female cast before introducing the legendary Kurt Russell noisily eating nachos at a dive bar.  Kurt Russell, or Snake Plissken, RJ MacReady, Jack Burton, Captain Ron, John The Hangman Ruth,   and Elvis, plays Stuntman Mike McKay, a stunt car driver serial killer and foot fetishist with an armored matte black 1971 Chevy Nova.
The first half of the movie is all buildup, spending time with Jungle Julia, the six-foot baby giraffe/talk radio show personality portrayed by Sydney Tamiia Poitier (yes, that Poitier, Sidney’s daughter, which makes her Hollywood Royalty) and her equally Amazon girlfriends.  They are all likeable and it’s easy for the audience to get involved and invested before the film pulls the greatest switcheroo since Marion Crane in Psycho (1960).
The second half of the movie moves to Lebanon, Tennessee and follows Stuntman Mike as he stalks another set of Amazonians, now in a matte black 1969 Dodge Charger.  Featuring Zoe Bell playing a version of herself, it’s as if the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad from Kill Bill (2003) went on a road trip in a bright yellow 1972 Mustang with a black rally stripe reminiscent of Beatrix Kiddo at the House of Blue Leaves (which in itself is a reference to Bruce Lee’s jumpsuit in Game of Death 1978).
A lateral sequel/remake/homage to Russ Meyer’s Faster Pussycat! Kill!  Kill! (1965), Stuntman Mike offers more of a challenge to these two sets of women, especially Zoe Bell in her first starring role.   Zoe rides on the hood of a 1970 Dodge Challenger, in case you care, and I know you do.
Featuring Jordan Ladd, Cheryl's daughter in a nice 70's meta-reference as Shanna (rhymes with banana), Death Proof reproduces that grindhouse experience with over saturated colors and hacked and disjointed scenes complete with missing reels but with the addition glorious Tarantino dialogue and yeah, lots of feet.
Also with Rosario Dawson from Daredevil and Luke Cage, and cameos by Eli Roth and the director, who does shots with the cast and quotes Pulp Fiction.  Rose McGowan is in a platinum blonde wig as Pam and look out for Michael Parks as Texas Ranger Earl McGraw, and Marley Shelton as Dr. Dakota Block from Planet Terror (2007) at the same hospital.
Additionally, watch out for a new cigarette brand; they don’t smoke Red Apples in Austin, the ladies prefer Capitol W Lights.  It’s those little details that make this underrated movie so watchable.



my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).