Back to the Grindhouse – Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino gush about their ode to low-budget double features


Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino are best known for pushing the boundaries when it comes to filmmaking. Now the men behind Sin City and Pulp Fiction have joined forces to create two 60-minute horror movies under the title Grindhouse. Planet Terror (written/directed by Rodriguez) is a freaky zombie tale; while Death Proof (written/directed by Tarantino), is a rip-roaring slasher flick where the killer pursues his victims with a car rather than a knife. Tribute’s Bonnie Laufer-Krebs interviewed the director pals in Los Angeles.

I understand that we have the Toronto Film Festival to thank for your union.

Q.T. Oh absolutely! R.R. You bet ya, 100 per cent. Q.T. We met each other in 1992 in Toronto at the festival. Robert had already seen Reservoir Dogs in Telluride and I had heard about him and El Mariachi and we just bumped into each other in one of the big lobbies of some hotel in Toronto. Our respective handlers were practically turning a hose on us to separate us (from talking). It was insane, but since that day we have remained close friends.

How great is it that you two can feed of each other?

Q.T. I can honestly say that before I knew any filmmakers, this was like my dream that I would have other like-minded artists who I could be friends with, and share the experiences with. I thought I had that at the beginning of my career but then they all got jealous then it just went bad.

R.R. Poor Quentin, here he was all by himself in Hollywood and I was in Texas, feeling sorry for him. But seriously, whenever we did hang around we had such a great time together. I remember reading somewhere that Quentin said, “Oh Robert’s my best friend.” I went, “jeez, we only see each other once every six months or so,” but I guess that is best friends in our world because we are so far apart physically.

Robert, the image of that machine gun leg that Rose McGowan sports is going to go down in cinematic history. It might be the hot new costume for Halloween.

R.R. That’s what Rose was saying, it should totally be a Halloween costume. Girls will be showing up in droves with that. I have it all worked out, you put a black stocking so you don’t see their real leg with a gun in front of it and a fake stub hanging out. Who is more sick and twisted between the two of you?

R.R. He’s sick, I’m twisted so together we are sick and twisted.

Q.T. Yeah!

Do you guys have a threshold for gore and violence on film?

R.R. With this type of movie it’s all called for. We try to figure out the line that when an audience expects something, we want to make sure we are going to give them that cathartic experience and freak them out. So I am constantly thinking, what I can do to get my audience in the place they are supposed to be in.

Q.T. The thing you are dealing with is a genre that calls for blood, guts, gore, the whole works. Part of the appeal of grindhouse movies, forget about their quality for a minute, is that they were made by rules from outside of Hollywood. If you had a chance to see something that would actually drop your jaw and make you say, “am I really seeing what I am seeing?” then you knew it was a true, authentic grindhouse movie. Not only that, you saw what you saw and then they were gone in a week. So as the years went on you were like, did I really see that? Did that actually happen? So that is exactly what we were trying to do with this. We want the audience to sit there and say, “is this even happening?”

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