Saturday, November 28

Robert Rodriguez's Forays into Horror (excluding The Faculty)

What I'm about to say may spur some troubling stares and even I'm a little shocked by my conclusion. After catching From Dusk till Dawn again recently and watching Planet Terror last night; Robert Rodriguez's walks into the horror genre are nothing more than little hollow one-offs with multi-million dollar budgets. I haven't seen The Faculty in years so I'm conveniently pushing it aside for the sake of my argument. Though I don't believe it's too hard to accept that slick teen horror/sci-fi concoction as one of his minors and like the Spy Kids trilogy on its own island from the norms of his filmography.

Strange thing is these two films were in good standing with yours truly before last night. Somewhere amidst watching Rose McGowan blast slings of Spaghetti-Os forth from Nightmare City-like ghouls I had this epiphany and the realization I really don't care for either Dusk or Planet anymore. With both features housed within the Grindhouse, this isn't a new criticism with others pointing out Rodriguez contribution feeling overproduced while Tarantino's Death Proof almost being too accurate with its plodding and talky roll out. The point can also be made that Rodriguez hasn't made anything of genuine substantive quality since his debut with El mariachi (along with chunks of Sin City), but I don't want to climb upon a high horse. Rodriguez is unquestionably talented and his work generally entertaining, but in the broad scope Dusk and Planet are condescendingly detached from the horror genre.

From Dusk till Dawn is a product of the goodwill incurred from the success of Desperado and Tarantino's even (vastly) more successful Pulp Fiction. The same deal with Grindhouse being a near last ditch appeal by The Weinstein Company to their two most prominent directorial badboys to create a box office spectacular. Neither of the films were exactly money-makers and the assertions above aren't new, but that doesn't pardon them from feeling like self-congratulatory fuck-arounds by a director just a having a good time with friends and soon-to-be-wives.

At this point, you could say I'm being a hypocrite. Why how dare I shout the virtues of all the crap cinema I find qualities in, yet lambaste these two mindless endeavors. The difference is each lack the "true grit" of a director(s) working with obviously limited funds digging deep to find it in himself and everyone around him to get something in the can. Sure, both are featherweight fun and exploding with shades of horror fandom, but now I see validity in similar arguments to this one levied against Rodriguez. Dusk and Planet are devoid of any purpose acting more as time capsules and Rolodex-expanders for those involved enveloped in bloody husks for the off-chance the masses decide to grant a horror flick blockbuster revenue. So where's the beefy, gore-laded heart behind the Titty Twister's emaciated vamps and Project Terror's incredible melting men? I'd contend there isn't one.


Bill said...

I've been puzzling lately over what it was about PLANET TERROR that leaves me so underwhelmed. I think you've hit the nail on the head.

Jenn said...

I wouldn't push aside the Faculty so much so, Jay. I mean, yeah, it was pretty mediocre and there was so much left at the end - why didn't the monster come back for just one last scare - the scene was begging for it, at least to the best of my recollection and considering the selectivity of my memory, we'll leave it at that. I do remember actually enjoying it for what it was worth, but I do get what you're saying.

Jayson Kennedy said...

Well, I'm not excluding The Faculty on the film's quality. It's just to me that Rodriguez-directed movie is like Mimic, it's not bad, but not reflective of Guillermo del Toro's style at all feeling like a piece of work that proves the director can play nice with "outside" material.

Franco Macabro said...

Im actually a fan of these two movies, to me they are fun watches.

I do agree that Rodriguez can be a bit of a hack sometimes, producing certain movies simply to make cash (Spy Kids, Shark Boy and Lave Girl and the most recent one called Shorts) and I absolutely loath Once Upon a Time in Mexico.

But I love Sin City, Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn and Planet Terror. Im hoping he has something awesome planned in the near future. Im sure he does. He just needs to recuperate the losses he had with Planet Terror.

KFelon said...

I guess you won't be watching his upcoming over the top film Machete?

Personally I like From Dusk Til Dawn and Planet Terror quite a bit. Sure they're not great films, but they are fun to watch and to me when you've got the itch to watch a movie sometimes that is all that matters. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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