June 3, 2012
The Real Ending to Tarantino's "Death Proof"
Yesterday when I was flipping through the channels, I came across the Quentin Tarantino movie "Death Proof." I'd seen it before, and, as usual, when I got to the movie's end, I found myself picturing the real ending of the movie.
If you're not familiar with it, "Death Proof" is one half of Tarantino's "Grindhouse" double feature. The other half is the movie "Planet Terror." Now "Planet Terror" is a zombie movie and about as set in the real world as the flying kung fu masters of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." But "Death Proof" is set in the real world, the world of 21st century America where women text message boyfriends who stand them up.
"Death Proof" is about a serial killer who calls himself Stuntman Mike (but I'll call him Psycho Mike). He gets off hunting attractive women, who he then photographs, follows and finally kills with his stunt car which he's reinforced until he claims it's death proof.
Psycho Mike kills one group of lovely ladies in the first half of the movie. We know that "Death Proof" is set in the real world because the police even figure out what he's doing but can't arrest Psycho Mike because, without proof, the DA says there's no case. We also know the movie is set in the real world because, in true Tarantino style, we're forced to listen to endless inane, boring conversations (usually while the characters are sitting at tables). Real life is made up of inane, boring conversations --- god knows I do my share of them. Anyone listening in on a random conversation of mine who thinks they're going to hear deep discussions about philosophy and the nature of life is going to be sadly disappointed. (My only conversation this morning, prior to sitting down to write this, was about the lawn and how quickly the mushrooms grew in some neighboring yards. Both boring and inane though at least it was brief.)
In the second half of the movie, Psycho Mike targets a second group of lovely ladies who are in "Tennessee" on a movie shoot. (A Tennessee that looks exactly like Southern California and nothing like Tennessee.) We learn in one of those endless table conversations that one of the women always carries a gun. We also learn that one of the women can't act. It's ZoŽ Bell, a stuntwoman from New Zealand who is playing a stuntwoman from New Zealand named ZoŽ Bell. It's her first acting role, and she should stick to stunt work because Stuntwoman ZoŽ Bell playing Stuntwoman ZoŽ Bell shouldn't be difficult. Yet, with a performance that makes Pia Zadora's acting look Oscar worthy, it's painfully obvious that she's not an actress while the other women in the scene are.
Stuntwoman ZoŽ has seen a newspaper ad for her dream car, a white 1970 Dodge Challenger with a 440 engine. She and two of her friends take the dream car for a test drive. This is when we learn that the women have no common sense because, as part of the test drive, ZoŽ wants to play a game called "Ship's Mast" where she rides on the hood of the car using leather belts to hold on while her gun-wielding friend drives the car at full speed, and the women actually agree to do this.
Of course, this is when Psycho Mike shows up. He rear ends the women's car. Now anyone with common sense who is carrying a gun and has a friend on the hood of the car would pull over, shoot at the psycho and let the friend get off the hood. But common sense not an attribute any of these women have as that whole "Ship's Mast" thing already proved. Instead they get into a car chase. Even when they temporarily lose Psycho Mike, they still don't pull the car over and let the friend off the hood. No, they keep driving until Psycho Mike finally crashes the car, they spin out and the friend goes flying off.
Then and only then does the driver get out and shoot Psycho Mike wounding him in the shoulder. It turns out the car-hood-riding ZoŽ is all right and ---- rather than call the police ---- the women decide to go after Psycho Mike and kill him.
In the ensuing chase we learn that Psycho Mike isn't the only psycho. Because the women engage in a high speed chase on populated roads that starts out probably killing a motorcyclist and then goes on to involve crashing into other vehicles driven by bystanders without a moment of concern for all the innocents being hurt. Anyone who would do that qualifies as my definition of "psycho."
After a prolonged chase, the Psycho Women succeed in wrecking Psycho Mike's car along with the car they're driving (which, remember, isn't even theirs --- they were only taking it for a test drive).
Psycho Women drag a helpless Psycho Mike out of his car. He had been shot in shoulder rendering his left arm useless and now his right arm is broken. The three Psycho Women proceed to beat the helpless Psycho Mike to death, bravely delivering the coup de gr‚ce while he's lying unconscious on the ground.
The movie credits finish after the coup de gr‚ce blow. But I always picture what happens next..............
The sound of sirens as multiple state troopers and sheriff's vehicles pull up ---- all called by the innocent bystanders wrecked in the high speed chase. The three Psycho Women are dragged off to jail. Cut into the credits I can see their mug shots with subtitles stating how they're doing between 15 and 60 years in a Tennessee correctional facility. Say goodbye to New Zealand, Hollywood and whatever glamor there is in movie making (I suspect not much), and say hello to the real Tennessee for the next 15 years.
And that's if the prosecutor is feeling generous. Once that high speed chase caused the death of the motorcyclist and then went on to crash into other bystanders even a local wouldn't have gotten away with that crime spree much less three crazy outsiders, one of whom was a foreigner from Down Under but says she's not an Aussie and the other two were minorities from that even stranger land called Hollywood.
So if the prosecutor is very kindly inclined, he'll go for second degree murder --- 15 to 60. If he's not being generous, it's first degree murder --- life in prison without parole, maybe even the death penalty for the Psycho Woman who delivered the coup de gr‚ce to an unconscious man. Oh, the defense attorney will try for a lesser homicide charge based on the emotions of the situation and call it a crime of passion: voluntary manslaughter for the death of Psycho Mike, vehicular or reckless homicide for the bystander(s) ---- but their failure to call 9-1-1, the length of the chase, Psycho Mike's helpless condition and the three Psycho Women's complete indifference to other people's lives (never stopping when someone was hit during the chase) will negate that defense. What you'll have is a local jury looking at three outsiders who thought they could do anything they wanted to and they wanted to kill Psycho Mike and didn't care who else they hurt or even killed in the process. A case of road rage gone way out of control.
And the three ladies, lovely or not, will have their attractive asses locked up until they're not so attractive anymore. The real ending to "Death Proof" was written in the cards, not Tarantino's movie title cards, but in Monopoly's game cards............
"GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL. DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200."
For more on my take on movies, read "Immortal Death Wish," "Star Wars, Einstein and When Lucas Got It Right," "Hollywood's Bizarre Take on Rape," "4 Classic Novels that Are Way More Depressing than You Think They Are Based on the Movies," "The Old Yeller Abyss," "Hollywood Romance: Fiction Versus Fact" and "The (Not So) Great Zombie Apocalypse."
Or check out my handful of movie reviews on IMDb.
For non-movie articles, take a look through the Archive where you'll see this site covers a variety of topics.
Pensacola Highlights --- Summer Salute V at NAS Pensacola
Friday, June 1, 2012
On a day when we finally got a break from the upper 90s heatwave we've been having, Summer Salute, the annual country music concert was held at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The gates opened at 4:30 with the opening act scheduled to start at 5:30 and it did start close to on time. Summer Salute always has three acts: one local, one regional and then the national headliner.
For more details on the Summer Salute concert, read my original piece.
It was an enjoyable day, with three good performances. And, at the end of the night, it was nice to see that the general public didn't leave the field looking quite so much like a trash dump as they had in previous years.
The opening act is always local talent. In this case, Brooke Woods.
Brooke is a singer I've watched since she was part of the Sawmill Band and whom I covered in Summer Country Jam when she started her solo career.
Unlike many female singers, Brooke actually plays an instrument. She's a fiddle player.
There seems to be an unwritten rule that any young woman who performs country music at a military base must wear Daisy Dukes.
Brooke did a set a mostly modern country music with one old-school song by Loretta Lynn
The regional act was Jason Sturgeon who grew up in a small town in Indiana.
Which just makes me ask the question, "Where'd the Southern accent come from?" Because people in Indiana don't have Southern accents.
He did a high energy set of country mixed with a lot of rock.
I was pleased to note that his band also included a fiddle player. That's getting to be a rarity in country music today.
Diamond Rio was the headliner.
As befits a band that's been together for 20 years, they played music from throughout those two decades.
They didn't have a fiddle player, but they did have a banjo.
I thought the most interesting song was "Layla" arranged as bluegrass --- something I can quite honestly say I've never heard before.
For more about the Pensacola music scene, look in the Archive for "The Sounds of Pensacola" series including:
"Summer Salute IV"
"Bands on the Beach"
"Sunsets at Plaza de Luna"
"Sounds of Summer"
"Summer Country Jam"
To read more about NAS Pensacola there's "Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show."