DEATH PROOF (2007)
In Death Proof — director Tarantino’s take on such peddle-to-the-metal shockers as White Line Fever — Kurt Russell stars as an engine-revving psychopath who prefers to take out his beautiful victims at 200 mph. Originally released into theaters on a double bill with Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror under the Grindhouse banner, Death Proof finds a group of ladies out on the town pitted against a mysterious figured named Stuntman Mike (Russell), whose vintage automobile has been partially modified to withstand even the most extreme auto collision. Death Proof takes viewers on an adrenaline-infused drive that’s as sexy as it is shocking. The original name for this film, which pops up for about a frame, is “Quentin Tarantino’s Thunder Bolt”. Zoe Bell does all her own stunts (she was the stunt double for Uma Thurman in the “Kill Bill” series, which was also directed by Quentin Tarantino). The jukebox (named AMi, pronounced “Amy”), is Quentin Tarantino’s own. It was trucked to Austin to be used in the film in its very own rig. The list of songs on it was also hand-written by Tarantino. When Kim, Zoe and Abby are in the Challenger, ready to go on their “test drive”, they pull up by Lee and Kim says, “Hey good looking, we’ll be back to pick YOU up later!” This was a line in a commercial for a cheesy Ronco product, Mr. Microphone, in the ’70s. It was used again in a 1990’s episode of The Simpsons. The two waitresses that do shots with the group in The Texas Chili Parlor are Lonestar Roller Derby girls “Venis Envy” from the “Putas del Fuego”, and “Punky Bruiser” from the “Holy Rollers”. In an interview with Newsweek, Quentin Tarantino stated he came up with the idea of “Death Proof” when he was talking to a friend about buying a car. Tarantino wanted to buy a Volvo because he “didn’t want to die in some auto accident like the one in Pulp Fiction”. In regards to the safety of the car, his friend had said, “Well, you could take any car and give it to a stunt team, and for $10,000 or $15,000, they can death-proof it for you.” The “death proof” phrase had stuck to Tarantino after that. The film was physically scratched to achieve its dirty look, rather than digitally scratch the film footage. A conversation takes place among Abby, Zoe, Kim and Lee in which it’s revealed that Abby’s last boyfriend, a film director, cheated on her with a stunt double for Daryl Hannah. Monica Staggs, who plays Lanna Frank in the first half of Death Proof, was the stunt double for Hannah in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and Kill Bill: Vol. 2. The poster of Brigitte Bardot in Jungle Julia’s house above the sofa was made especially for the movie. The only Quentin Tarantino movie that takes place completely in chronological order.