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Soundtrack review: Grindhouse: Planet terror (Robert Rodriguez, Graeme Revell and Carl Thiel – 2007)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Grindhouse: Planet terror (Robert Rodriguez, Graeme Revell and Carl Thiel – 2007)

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“Grindhouse” is a 2007 American horror film double feature co-written, produced, and directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. The double feature consists of two feature-length segments, Rodriguez’s Planet Terror and Tarantino’s Death Proof, and is bookended by fictional trailers for upcoming attractions (though two of the trailers, Machete and Hobo with a Shotgun, have since been made into movies), advertisements, and in-theater announcements. Rodriguez’s segment, Planet Terror, revolves around an outfit of rebels attempting to survive an onslaught of zombie-like creatures as they feud with a rogue military unit. Rodriguez himself wrote the score, helped by Graeme Revell and Carl Thiel.

Robert Rodriguez has been part of scores and soundtracks before, both for his movies, and with his band Chingon and for Tarantino movies like Kill Bill well he wrote a few quite appreciable cues for volume 2. This Varese release for Record store day 2018 also features Rose McGowan songs. The score opens with Rodriguez’ “Main titles” and I just love the grungy, 70s like sound of the electric guitar. This is such a familiar sound for me, from Tarantino movies, as he usually uses similar music collected from the classics. I remember how I noticed this particular piece as I was watching the movie.

The verve of the main titles has little to do with the atmosphere of the rest of the score. “Doc Block” for example, written with Carl Thiel, brings a full dose of “Terminator” nostalgia for me. A cue like “The sickos”, written with Graeme Revell, makes more sense in the context of the movie than as a standalone listen. Just as the wonderfully chaotic and neurotic movie the score is a mixed affair, aggressive and grungy, and every now and then with sounds that might not please the casual listener. But it’s worth it for retro gems like “His prescription…pain” which captures perfectly the 80s synth sound or for moody, jazzy trumpet and guitar driven pieces like “The grindhouse blues” which is simply delightful in its Santana like vibe.

For me this is a solid score that could have been written by a seasoned film music composer instead of a writer / director; the dark mood, the electronic strength and the little unexpected nuggets make it an enjoyable listening experience even on its own. More than once I got “Terminator” flashbacks from the dark metallic texture and the Latin guitar pieces were also easy to remember. All in all “Planet terror” is worth a listen.

Cue rating: 72 / 100

Highlights:
His Prescription… Pain (Robert Rodriguez & Carl Thiel)
The Grindhouse Blues (Robert Rodriguez)

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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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