Death Proof - revisited

As already occurred to me yesterday, Crash and Death Proof would make a nice double feature: Crash is about people turned on by car crashes, and Death Proof is about one man for whom car crashes are a form of sexual aggression. He's a rapist, in a way: in the first part he his successful, and in the second, the girls take back the night.

I already discussed Death Proof at length before. This post is merely to contemplate the differences between the version I saw as part of Grindhouse a month ago, and the longer, stand-alone version I saw tonight.

To be honest, I'm not quite sure which I prefer. I do know I'm happy I saw both.

The main advantage of seeing Death Proof in it's originally intended form is that a) it doesn't really need to be longer than 1.5 hours, b) the fake trailers rule and c) Planet Terror is a lot of fun, and puts you in precisely the appropriate mood to be able to appreciate Death Proof.

However, there are things to be said for the longer version, too, and luckily, in the arthouse theater I went to see it, it was preceded by the trailer for Planet Terror, and that one only. The lenthening of the dialogues is not really necessary, and makes some drag on a bit too long, in fact, and the many more shots of feet and legs are somewhat superfluous, but two of the three extra scenes are definitely worthwhile. The first one is, of course, the "missing reel": Vanessa Ferlito's lapdance, which is all you'd expect it to be, and set to music worthy of Tarantino. But the second one, which was a surprise to me, is a long, mostly black and white, opening scene to the second half. It features something creepier even than the lapdance, and it also makes for a wonderful little moment when the color gets "switched on": the colors jump out at you, the yellow of the car, the pink of Rosario Dawson's shirt. It signals that this half is going to be different. That these girls are different.

Aside from that, the films are very similar: you still get the scary/funny moment when Kurt Russell's Stuntman Mike suddenly looks into the camera and grins, telling you that now the action's going to start, the brilliant moment with the beat-up Dodges spilling out into our world is still there, and at the end, you still walk out feeling like kicking the air, humming "Laisse Tomber Les Filles" and yelling yeah.

I wonder though: the triumphant feeling I got again tonight walking out of this film, do guys have it too? Is it gender-dependent that this fighting back feels to empowering? There's often criticism about films, for example about this new "torture porn" genre, that act like they "deserve" to degrade and abuse women as long as the women get the upper hand in the end, but truthfully, is that really so bad an attitude? As long as I get to be in the second batch of women, I'm not sure I think it is.

I'm still pissed Grindhouse was split up. I still think it's underestimating the viewer, and ripping off film lovers. But the longer version definitely has some things to recommend it.


cjKennedy said...

We never got the longer version of Death Proof as far as I know maybe we did and I blinked and missed it. I guess I'll have to wait for the DVD.

I did sneak in to a theater just to catch the Death Proof half of Grindhouse after watching the whole thing originally. The truth is, I enjoyed Planet Terror well enough but it really kind of got in the way of DP for me and it made the alread slow start to DP seem even slower.

The thing is, while I think seeing it apart made DP a better movie on its own, the whole experience is lessened by not seeing them together along with the funny trailers and ads.

I guess I decided that even though I like DP better than PT, I think they're both better together.

Ok, at what point exactly did this comment stop making sense...?

Hedwig said...

Glad you're back from your vacation! And well, as for the longer version, it's the consolation prize every country but the US and the UK got instead of Grindhouse. I do agree that DP gains from being preceded by PT, which is why I still think it's ridiculous that they split it up here. The excuse was that we never had the grindhouse experience here, so the whole concept was pointless, but I disagree: I mean, how much of the US audience has ever been to a Grindhouse?

cjKennedy said...

Judging by the frosty reception of Grindhouse at the box office here in the US, I'd say the answer to your last question is approximately 6 people. Sad.

I've personally never been to a grindhouse but when I was a kid we used to go to the drive-in which was a pretty similar phenomenon.

And thanks for the welcome back. It was strange not writing for almost 2 weeks. I feel rusty, but it's good to be back.

Marc said...

I finally saw the US version of Death Proof the other day (on youtube, shame on me!) and I liked it a lot better than the 2 hour stand-alone version we got over here. Still, the film tends to drag - some directors are their own worst critic and will mercilessly cut out scenes they loved to improve their films' focus and pacing. Tarantino, on the other hand, seems to be his own number one fan, thinking 'the longer the better' and unwilling to kill any of his darlings. Every film he made since Pulp Fiction (Jackie Brown, Kill Bill, Death Proof) all have serious pacing problems and feature characters who just won't shut up. It's a shame.