Death Proof

Dom Robinson reviews

Death Proof
Distributed by
Momentum PicturesCoverDeath Proof:
Planet Terror:

  • Cert:
  • MP740D
  • Running time: 109 minutes
  • Year: 2007
  • Pressing: 2008
  • Region(s): 2, PAL
  • Chapters: 21 plus extras
  • Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Languages: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Widescreen: 2.35:1
  • 16:9-Enhanced: Yes
  • Macrovision: Yes
  • Disc Format: DVD 9
  • Price: £17.99
  • Extras: The Hot Rods of Death Proof, International trailer, Poster Gallery, Stunts on Wheels: The Legendary Driversof Death Proof, Introducing Zoe Bell, Finding Quentin’s Gals, The Uncut version of ‘Baby It’s You’,The Guys of Death Proof, Quentin’s Greatest Collaborator: Editor Sally Menke, Double Dare, UK trailer


      Quentin Tarantino

    (Death Proof, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill Vols 1 & 2, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs)


    Elizabeth Avellán, Robert Rodriguez, Erica Steinberg and Quentin Tarantino


    Quentin Tarantino


    Stuntman Mike: Kurt Russell
    Herself: Zoë Bell
    Abernathy: Rosario Dawson
    Arlene: Vanessa Ferlito
    Jungle Julia: Sydney Poitier
    Kim: Tracie Thoms
    Pam: Rose McGowan
    Shanna: Jordan Ladd
    Lee: Mary Elizabeth Winstead
    Warren: Quentin Tarantino
    Marcy: Marcy Harriell
    Dov: Eli Roth
    Omar: Michael Bacall
    Lanna Frank: Monica Staggs
    Jasper: Jonathan Loughran
    Punky Bruiser: Marta Mendoza
    Venus Envy: Melissa Arcaro
    Earl McGraw: Michael Parks
    Edgar McGraw: James Parks
    Dr Dakota Block: Marley Shelton
    Counter Guy: Nicky Katt

CoverDeath Proofwas planned to be released as part of the Grindhouse double feature with Robert Rodriguez’s PlanetTerror, but while it worked in the US, in the UK they just released Tarantino’s effort and the otheris out on DVD in March this year. In fact, cinemas here wouldn’t have liked having two films for the price of oneas it means less money in their coffers due to less screenings and you won’t get people buying two buckets ofoverpriced popcorn.

So, what’s it all about? Well, in a film that’s basically split in two, there’s a bunch of girls in each andStuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) will be the death of them… possibly. The name of the film refers to hisstunt car that’s protected to the hilt such that he could slam it into a brick wall at 125mph and survive unscathed,and we first see him in a bar frequented by radio DJ ‘Jungle Julia’ (Sydney Poitier), Shanna (JordanLadd), Arlene (Vanessa Ferlito) and, separately, barfly Pam (Rose McGowan, right, with Russell), while later hemeets Abernathy (Rosario Dawson), Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Kim (Tracie Thoms)and stuntwoman, appearing as herself, Zoe Bell (below-right).

So, that doesn’t really tell you a lot… but then there’s not a lot to tell. Apart from a great scene about40 minutes in, which has replay value, plus a long car chase as part of the last 25 minutes, which has beenslammed for being boring but I actually really enjoyed that part. However, the rest of it is rather self-indulgentand gets quite boring at times. I’m all for long-winded conversations in films, even if they don’t really goanywhere. This was fine inReservoir DogsReservoirDogs, Jackie Brown and Pulp Fiction. However, it went off the boil in Kill Bill and it’s fallen apart here tothe point where they’re just not interesting.

CoverAlso, we get the idea already that this is a ’70s-style movie (despite some characters using a mobile phone) and we don’tneed the scratchy-film effect to prove this. It’s got the “Our Feature Presentation” and the old “Restricted” certificatelogo do that already, so to continue it beyond this just gets in the way of the film proper, especially when it makesthe film ‘jump’ while it’s playing, thus interrupting the flow of the content and disrupting dialogue, so put thesubtitles on. And just to be even more weird, this happens a lot more in the first half of the film than the second.

The return of Michael Parks as Earl McGraw from From Dusk Till Dawn andKill Bill was welcome at first,although whereas his latter appearance was a nice return from his brief time in the former, his appearance herecomes across as just a parody of the former. Tarantino throws himself in front of the camera again, this timeas barman Warren, but whereas in other films he’s seemed relatively natural, here it’s all rather forced. There’salso a scene where Arlene gives a lapdance, but like the other girls she’s with, she looks a bit chavvy and itdoesn’t come across as sexy at all.

So, overall, if you’re a fan of Quentin Tarantino’s films you’ll definitely want to see this, but if you’re likeme you’ll be wondering if his next outing will be as inadvisably self-indulgent or if he’ll pull the reigns backin. I hope the latter.

CoverThe 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen print is difficult to quantify as even if there were any accidental flecks onthe print then they’re masked by the absurd aforementioned effect. Sound comes in Dolby Digital 5.1 and is perfectlyfine for the scenes that are worth watching, songs come across well, while dialogue is only interrupted on occasionas previously described.

The extras are as follows, the first three items coming on disc one and the rest on disc two:

  • The Hot Rods of Death Proof (11:41):A look at the cars in the film, as the title of the piece suggests. Quentin tells us why he wanted to do carstunts, which is largely why he’s wanted to have samurai sword fights and kung fu in previous films – he’sobsessed with recreating yesteryear. To his credit, it is nice to see a proper car chase rather than relying onCGI all the time thesedays.

    Presented in anamorphic 16:9, as are all others except where stated, this also includes chat from various cast and crew members.

  • International trailer (1:38):Presented in letterbox 2.35:1 and includes a split-second take of a car jump shot from the second half of thepiece that’s not in the finished film.
  • Poster Gallery:Lots of them.
  • Stunts on Wheels: The Legendary Drivers of Death Proof (20:37):Following on from the earlier featurette, this is largely the same and also well worth a look. Even if mostof the film was not of great interest, this concentrates on one of the best aspects of it.
  • Introducing Zoe Bell (8:56):Being the girl second from left in the second picture above, she’s a stuntwoman who Tarantino also used inKill Bill. She tells us how she thought she’d endup as an extra who’d get the occasional line, but he confirms that she became a main character and also playingherself.
  • Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike (9:30):Tarantino says that Planet Terror was like the kind of film that John Carpenter should’ve made inbetweenEscape From New York and The Thingand, as well as film clips, late into this segment we also hear from the man himself.
  • Finding Quentin’s Gals (21:12):A round-up of the other leads in the movie, this containing plenty of chat from them as well.
  • The Uncut version of ‘Baby It’s You’ (1:44):Mary Elizabeth Winstead in a longer version of a scene early on in the second half of the film.
  • The Guys of Death Proof (8:12):Ah, still a few more of the cast unaccounted for, so here we have info on Michael Parks, there’s chatfrom director Eli Roth who has a cameo as Shanna’s boyfriend, as well as screenwriter Michael Bacall asOmar, another bit-part boyfriend.
  • Quentin’s Greatest Collaborator: Editor Sally Menke (4:36):Tarantino enthuses about the woman who’s edited all his films and for which he’s truly grateful. Everyone sayshi to Sally, too, which is appears has become an in-joke to the lady who’ll be stuck on her own in an LA editingstudio.
  • Double Dare trailer (2:32):A trailer for the documentary which brought Zoe Bell to Tarantino’s attention. I didn’t know until I saw thisthat she also did stunts for Lucy Lawless as Xena: Warrior Princess.
  • UK trailer (1:01):This is also availableon Youtube.

In addition, there’s pre-DVD trailers for Planet Terror (which I am looking forward to despite the waythis entry turned out), Control (the biopic of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis which I really want to see)and The Hunting Party (a war zone drama with Richard Gere which looks very interesting), but theseshould be in the main menu, not before the film, even if it is coming out in the cinema shortly rather thanbeing out on DVD. This is not the age of the rental video(!)

The disc comes with English subtitles and there are 21 chapters to the film (plus the ability to go straight to themusic moments). The main menu contains the end credit music, Chick Habit by April March, along with clipsof the film, whereas disc 2’s has footage of the jukebox in the bar scene which, according to theIMDB’s trivia page for this filmis Quentin Tarantino’s own. It was trucked to Austin to be used in the film in its very own rig. The list ofsongs on it was also hand-written by Tarantino.


Review copyright © Dominic Robinson, 2008.