Director(s): Robert Rodriguez
Writer(s): Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Josh Brolin
Robert Rodriguez, I’m PLEADING with you to start making more horror movies.
I humbly take the knee, head down in awe of your writing and directing magic with a heartfelt request that you garner enough interest and effort to make more movies of the macabre because my friend, you are one of the most talented directors that I’ve followed since my adolescence, and you are SO DAMN GOOD when you take on the horror genre. Having said that, it’s just been a while my friend.
My respect and love for Robert Rodriguez started more in the action flick realm and I was drawn to his style of filmmaking which always had a chaotic and rebellious vibe but was disciplined in its execution. I remember reading his book that described his experience making his breakout action/revenge film, El Mariachi (which garnered subsequent sequels, Desperado and Once Upon a Time in Mexico) and it made me respect his career that much more since his drive and creativity made the movie happen. He was definitely in that group of directors in my head that were simultaneously defining their distinct styles while also paving the way for the future of cinema (e.g., Tarantino, Kevin Smith, etc.). Having said that, I had no expectations that one of my favorite directors would dip his toe into the underbelly of horror.
Enter From Dusk Till Dawn. The man (and his buddy Tarantino) managed to turn a cool and stylistic heist/action flick and catapulted it into a LEGIT vampire movie! The gore, the practical effects, the makeup, the one-liners, just…everything made this flick one of my favorites in the entire genre. A couple years later and Rodriguez presents us with The Faculty which is his version of Sci-Fi horror where Body Snatchers meets Dawson’s Creek and hell yeah, it worked! Then…nothing. The man decided he had done good with the macabre and moved on to adventure flicks for kids that were also WILDLY successful. It’s like seeing an actor who made their name playing a character and moves on to other roles; you’re happy for the actor because they are broadening their horizons and perfecting their craft…but damn, the selfish part of you wants them to dip into the well of the past that made them so loveable in the first place! Watching Rodriguez dominate Hollywood was quite the treat and made me proud to be that guy who knew him before the insane success, but my need for entertaining macabre always had him in a more nostalgic lens.
ALMOST TEN YEARS LATER, Rodriguez finally gives us another treat into the horror realm with Planet Terror. This was part one of a two-part series of movies in collaboration with another visionary, Quentin Tarantino of their love letter to 70s style exploitation flicks called Grindhouse. Each director gave an entry in the pulp style of Americana filmmaking and Rodriguez went the route of blending Horror/Sci-Fi/Action into what became an entertaining knockout of a movie! The style is signature Rodriguez with a chaotic plot line that feeds well with the visually aggressive action scenes. The movie is set in a world where zombie-like creatures (on meth) have taken over a military base and a random group of folks have to stop them before the infection spreads to the rest of the Earth. The cast of characters in this flick lend to the chaotic plotline where you have a nice mix of anti-heroes and villains all fueled by copious amounts of action, gore and sexiness that embraces that exploitation feel of campy yet entertaining storytelling.
Like his other efforts into the macabre genre, Rodriguez does an excellent job in creating an ensemble of rebels that are trying to survive an unfortunate event (which is a fancy way of saying a F*CKED UP situation lol). The story follows a deal going wrong between government renegades and a scientist that has a chemical weapon known as “Project Terror,” the name of the weapon alone already makes this plot great, right? Of course, things go wrong and the gas becomes airborne creating manic zombie/mutant-like creatures and it’ll take the likes of some gritty individuals like a gruff ex-mechanic and an ex-stripper to save the world.
Everything about this flick just screams COOL. The actual zombie/mutant monsters that are a result of the Project Terror gas are just physically grotesque as they are entertaining. The cast of misfits that are the only line of defense between humanity and the monsters have their individual “BAD-ASS” moments that usually result in a bloody good action scene and/or have you cheering for them on the screen. Stylistically, Rodriguez can teach a master class on how to take on a genre but keep your signature style of filmmaking because this flick feels very much like a Bitchin’ action movie that happens to have all the wonderful horror elements that make it VERY much a strong entry into the genre. It even created an iconic horror character in Rose McGowan’s Cherry Darling character who sports a ridiculously cool firearm as one of her legs! Everything about this flick is just entertaining chaos and Rodriguez is a master of making all of that work for his audience no matter the genre.
So I say this proudly, for his efforts in making stylistically B*TICHIN’ action/horror flicks, Robert Rodriguez is the latest inductee into the FEARTASTIC LEGENDS VAULT 2023!
With this prestigious award, comes a friendly and loving request to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE…PLEASE give us another horror treat in the future!
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.