It’s been half-a-decade since Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez unleashed Grindhouse, their festering love letter to no-budget drive-in B-Movies. Sitting in that empty theatre on opening weekend, Easter 2007, I never imagined we were perched on the rusty razor’s edge of a new era in Exploitation cinema. The movie paired Rodriguez’s Planet Terror with Tarantino’s Death Proof. Sandwiched between the John Carpenter-inspired zombie flick and the country-fried killer car movie was a trio of hilarious fake trailers directed by genre acolytes Edgar Wright, Eli Roth and Rob Zombie. But this three-hour magnum-opus of oozing viscera, perky tits, big guns and twisted metal unceremoniously bombed at the box-office. While guys like Ti West (House Of The Devil) and actor-turned-director Michael Biehn (The Terminator, Aliens) have done their best to perpetuate retro-cool in the intervening years, hope is stirring on the horizon.
Rodriquez and Danny Trejo are gearing up for Machete Kills, a sequel to their 2010 grinder about a Mexican migrant-worker turned assassin. Mel Gibson has been recruited to play the heavy, while fellow train-wreck Charlie Sheen joins the cast as the President of the United States. Immediately after wrapping, Rodriguez will jump into production on the long-awaited sequel to Sin City.
After months of relative radio-silence, The Man With The Iron Fists has finally laid its cards on the table. An action-packed trailer for the Kung-Fu epic debuted last week. Directed by Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA and co-written by Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel), the flick appears to be wallowing in the same cinematic gene pool as Kill Bill. In addition to shepherding The RZA’s directorial debut, Roth is currently prepping The Green Inferno, his ode to the long-dormant Cannibal sub-genre.
This weekend The Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim banner will debut an animated spin-off of Scott Sanders and Michael Jai White’s Blaxploitation spoof, Black Dynamite. White starred in the original film, and will return as the titular soul-brother. While he’s best known for playing the live-action version of Spawn, I prefer to remember him from this stellar sword-fight cut from Kill Bill: Vol 2.
These are all fairly mainstream offerings, inspired by the shitty Chop-Socky Horror Western Slashers of yesteryear. You know the stars, and by now you know the score. These flicks are made to entertain, salacious tongue planted firmly in cankerous cheek. The production values are robust, even when they're made to look like they aren't. But if you're looking for the real deal, Mondo Exploito and Revok are great places to start delving deeper into the Grindhouse cesspool. Just remember, there are some things that can't bee unseen.