Grindhouse, for the lack of an appropriate phrase to describe it completely, kicks ass, splits that ass open, parades the entrails around with a swagger, and then steps over those entrails with endearing sadism. Tarantino and Rodriguez's tribute to the exploitation genre is hilarious right from the word go. And each and every one of the tiny tributelets, from the fake previews... or should I say prevues.. to the missing reels to the campy ad for tex-mex cuisine hit the mark.
I agree with my girlfriend that Death Proof, the slasher feature directed by Tarantino, is better (incidentally the only two movies she and I have seen together so far are 300 and Grind House.... I guess in some relationships, a movie just has to spill a cargo-ship-full of blood for it to be romantic). The plotline is tauter, the performances are more powerful, and there is just something so intensely erotic about hot women ruthlessly wreaking vengeance on a certified asshole. If you loved what Beatrix Kiddo did to Buck in Kill Bill, then you will cheer deliriously as Zoe Bell, Rosario Dawson and (forget the third woman's name) pound mercilessly into Kurt Russell's car.
But the Rodriguez-directed zombie segment Planet Terror, though slightly weaker, is at the heart of the exploitation tribute. Very few films manage to be this grotesque and this hilarious at the same time. Be warned, this segment is not for the weak-stomached. The blood, gore, rotting flesh, and sadism makes Kill Bill Vol 1 look like The Sound of Music. If you thought stepping on an eyeball was gross, you should avoid Naveen Andrews step on a pair of severed testicles.
The faux trailers are classics in their own right, among other things featuring Nicholas Cage as Fu Manchu in "Werewolf Women of the SS". My favorite was the trailer "Don't". Embedding it here from youtube.
Grindhouse is probably the niche-iest of all Tarantino and Rodriguez movies, and I wouldn't bet on it being a commercial success. But if you belong to that niche, like me, then you have to watch it in theatre a few times, buy its eclectic soundtrack, and then buy the director's cut DVD when it comes out. This one's a keeper.