One of the many, many odd things about Planet Terror is that despite the numerous hot chicks in the movie, there’s no nudity anywhere in the film. Instead, there’s maybe three seconds of topless chicks in the Machete preview.
Then again, it’s not odd, considering that many grindhouse features promised more girly action than they delivered. So when Tarantino and Mr. Zombie conceived the details, they pretty much managed to fill in every single trashy movie cliche they could, right down to the blue balls effect in the beginning, during Rose McGowan’s Go-Go/Cry-Cry dance.
One of the best grindhouse genres alive, and still kicking, is the zombie movie. Zombie movies, unlike mainstream horror, never managed to shake their trash film stigma. One reason, is because it doesn’t take much money to make zombies; it only takes some volunteers, and a few raw materials. There’s no major effects or monster building. There are tons of low budget zombie flicks out there, some being made right now. Obviously the effects in Planet Horror are quite a bit more sophisticated than what we’re used to seeing in grindhouse zombie flicks, so there’s really no comparison there.
One of my personal favorite genre references in Planet Terror is the hero’s chronic Shatner-pause. In fact, it turns out to be terminal. And since it’s set in Texas, there’s also some extra-fun Mexploitation; naturally, from the ‘Crazy Babysitter Twins.’ We can’t tell them apart, but they’re both pretty hot. There are plenty of hot chicks, one might call that a similarity to Death Proof ‘femsploitation’ in the first half of the film. The female exploitation element is one we’re all familiar with; women acting like morons in a setting where common sense could have easily saved the day. The women of Planet Terror instead, are an homage to retro dyxploitation; it’s a tiny homage. Throw in a couple lesbians, kill one, watch the other one react.
There’s also a shoddy military conspiracy, army men doing questionable things, doctors that don’t care, and characters that can’t run. All in all, it was a movie built to be hilarious, maybe slightly scary, but mostly nostalgic. Normally, creating a movie and making it deliberately silly would seem like a plan doomed to backfire, but Planet Terror is also extremely entertaining, –like its companion, Death Proof.