‘Planet Terror’: first portion of double feature lacks direction

Film Industry rule #39: Just because you fail in your intent to make a bad movie does not mean you succeeded in making a good movie.

Beginning the double feature is Robert Rodriguez’s “Planet Terror.”

Planet Terror is a film that uncomfortably mixes many film genres with current social commentary.

Set in a small town in Texas, the film examines the effects of a zombie outbreak caused by biochemical weapons on American citizens. Subplots of personal grudges and relationships are constant throughout the film.

For example, there’s the Block family, a husband and wife team of doctors played by Josh Brolin and Mary Shelton. The husband, Dr. William Block, is shown early on to have trust issues with his bisexual wife, Dr. Dakota Block.

The movie goes riotous when it attempts to showcase their relationship in the afterlife, featuring the husband as a talking zombie with his eyes solely on killing his wife.

When did flesh-eating zombies develop personal vendettas?

For fans of Rodriguez, his typical Mexican super-gunslinger is featured as Wray played by Freddy Rodriguez. His love interest, Cherry Darling, played by Rose McGowan, is a go-go dancer-turned-amputee by flesh-eating zombies. She is the woman who totes an assault rifle as an artificial limb in the previews.

What is difficult to understand is that although zombies bit Cherry’s leg off, she goes unaffected throughout the rest of the film, whereas everyone else slowly becomes infected once exposed to the virus.

Even though the movie is generally bad, it had moments of promise. Visually, the movie is a successful update of the films it mimics. Containing everything from scratched negatives to nostalgic cars, the film was a visual “throwback.”

In a creative attempt to speed the film’s progression, a sex scene was interrupted by burning negatives and a “missing reel” sign. When the film began again, previously unlinked characters were mysteriously together in a burning building being attacked by zombies. This was perhaps the highlight of the film.

Stepping away from the grind house genre and into comedy, there is a scene in which the survivors of the zombie outbreak must choose vehicles. Wray, the most masculine of all the characters, chooses a miniature motorcycle on which to escape.

“Planet Terror” as a whole was a creative film, and at seldom times fun, but it lacked an overall direction. One is led to believe director Rodriguez overworked himself. He is credited as director, writer, rerecording mixer, director of photography and a host of other positions.