Death Proof is one half of the double feature Grindhouse, released in 2007. It’s grown on me a fair bit me over the years and though it’s not one of Tarantino’s most popular films – even by his own admission – I like it an awful lot. I love the music (which is helpful), the dialogue (which is exceptionally funny) and both groups of girls the story follows.
It sounds weird but I find it more relatable than his other movies (yep, more relatable than Kill Bill even – I’m sorry to say but my samurai sword days are long gone). It’s mainly the first half of the movie that does it, it’s almost like those girls could be my friends (though with far better taste in music it has to be said). And it’s the bar they drink in and the whole ‘small town’ feel. The people they remember from school and the way they take the piss out of each other. It feels familiar.
But obviously that’s where the similarities end. I’ve never been pursued by a crazed stunt man thank fuck or laid precariously over the bonnet of a car doing 80 miles an hour. And whilst I’m being honest with you – I could never get away with wearing those shorts.
But anyway, onto the soundtrack itself which is definitely one of the most hugely awesome things about Death Proof and as it features very prominently in the film, it is impossible to miss.
Some of the tracks are played IN the film, if you know what I mean. They’re not played over the top for the benefit of the viewer, they are actually within the story itself mainly courtesy of Tarantino’s own personal Jukebox christened ‘Ami’ (for Ami’s full track listing see here). And because the songs play in the movie, it means there’s some really fun dance scenes too:
Jungle Julia giving herself a headache to ‘Baby It’s You’ sung by Smith (sounds a lot like The Chiffons though). Her hair is incredible!
Arlene giving a happy Stuntman Mike his lapdance. The song she puts on the jukebox is ‘Down in Mexico’ by The Coasters and my favourite track on the soundtrack. I’ve posted this (quite remarkable) scene in its entirety, further down.
And, one of my favourite scenes (until they all get brutally murdered). The group of cute friends are in the car, tipsy and being silly, dancing and singing to music. This is the kind of thing that feels familiar to me and I GENUINELY feel sad knowing what’s about to happen with the fearsome Stuntman Mike. The song playing on the radio is ‘Hold Tight’ by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich.
So as you probably already guessed, the soundtrack has more of an ‘old school’ Tarantino feel – full of 60s pop and rock music (there’s even a T-Rex song!) though there’s a sneaky Morricone piece tucked in there too. There’s a slight emphasis on girl groups as well, which is fitting given the ‘girl power’ nature of the story. The song ‘Chick Habit’, sung at the end by April March (don’t think she was born with that name) is perfect for the grindhouse-style movie.
And there’s also some cool, funny bits of dialogue which aren’t too long and don’t feel intrusive to the music if you’re listening from start to finish. There’s Eli Roth propping up the bar and discussing the best way to get the girls in bed (“they’re not gonna drink fucking Jager shots!” and an amusing conversation between Quentin Tarantino and Rose McGowen. But it’s potty mouthed Kim (Tracie Thoms) who has the funniest segment. She cracks me up the whole way through the film to be honest, she is SO foul mouthed – every other word is ‘fuck’ or ‘motherfucker’ and she isn’t shy of letting her opinions known.
I bought this CD a few years ago when I also bought the Planet Terror soundtrack. I actually preferred Planet Terror out of the two movies when I first watched Grindhouse and though that was the soundtrack I particularly wanted (mainly for Cherry’s Dance of Death which I still think is an incredible score) it seemed silly not to get them both and Tarantino soundtracks are generally pretty special.
I’m glad because now if you asked me which film I preferred (and indeed which soundtrack) I would probably say Death Proof….but it is very hard to compare. Both films and OSTs are completely different. Whereas the Death Proof soundtrack is mainly a collection of pop songs, Planet Terror is a collection of scores (written by Robert Rodriguez himself and performed by his band Chingon). And it goes without saying that both films should be watched as the ONE Grindhouse feature anyway, as it was intended. I don’t get snobby about films very often but it really bugged me how the DVDs were sold separately. The fake trailers are damn good too – best thing I ever watched by Rob Zombie that’s for sure.
Anyway, as a treat and grand finale, here is Arlene in her lapdance entirety. In terms of ‘sexy’ I really think this is on a par with – if not better than – Cherry’s Dance of Death at the beginning of Planet Terror (and I know A LOT of people like that…) but for some wacko reason it was cut from the DVD. So if you’ve never seen it make sure you do now. And ask yourself the amusing question – what the hell was going through Kurt Russell’s head at the time?!