Even if a Quentin Tarantino film falls by the wayside at first glance, nothing the guy does ever fades from the airwaves. Jackie Brown was originally viewed as a descent from Pulp Fiction, and today many consider it his finest film. “The Hateful Eight” wasn’t that hot at the box office, but it played a big part in the debate about film formats. When Tarantino’s Death Proof was released on its own, more and more people became interested in his car-based horror film and realized that there was far more artistry in it than the package originally presented. From stunt work to Tarantino’s talent for suspense building to finding a new acting partner Kurt RussellDeath Proof shows why Minor Tarantino is still better than most other directors’ best films.
“Death Proof” is split into two segments, both centering around the character of stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) and how he terrorizes a group of young women with his so-called “deathproof” stunt car. The first segment sees him at a bar in Austin watching a local DJ (Sydney Poitier) and her two girlfriends (Vanessa Ferlito and Jordan Ladd) along with another single woman at the bar (Rose McGowan). In the second he notices a group of four women (Rosario Dawson, Maria Elizabeth Winstead, Tracie Thoms and Zoë Bell) in town working on a film and stop at a supermarket. In both he wants to destroy these women with his car. In one he succeeds in doing so in a brutal manner. On the other hand, he very much doesn’t. While this all sounds very action-packed, “Death Proof” sings because, above all, it’s what Tarantino does best: A very talkative hangout film.
Especially in the first half, these circles of friends spend a lot of time just sitting around and talking about music, movies, and anything that comes to mind. We know stuntman Mike is sneaking around ready to do some horrible things. So if we’re just sitting with these friends having nice conversations with each other, it’ll make us feel all the worse when they come to a horrible end. Conversely, if they get the upper hand on Mike, we’ll be even more excited. Tarantino gives us time to learn more about these women and to like them. In so many other horror films, they would just be there as blood fodder, but not here. In “Death Proof,” they’re humans — maybe not the most sophisticated humans Tarantino has ever given an audience, but humans nonetheless.