- Rose McGowan as Cherry Darling
- Freddy Rodriguez as El Wray
- Josh Brolin as Block
- Jeff Fahey as J T Hague
- Michael Biehn as Sheriff Hague
- Marley Shelton as Dakota Block
- Naveen Andrews as Abby
Robert Rodriguez’s homage to cheap horror movies of the 70’s comes in the form of Planet Terror, which was released as part of Grindhouse, a collaboration between Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. If it’s substance you’re looking for, turn away now. But if it’s zombie horror, a killer soundtrack and action gore galore, Planet Terror is certainly worth sticking around for.
Cherry Darling is a go-go dancer, sick and tired of her job as she dreams of being a comedienne. She quits her job and finds herself one night in the local diner, where she encounters the enigmatic El Wray. He used to be her lover, but their relationship has cooled. Meanwhile in the rural Texas town, a toxin has been released into the air from a military base nearby. At first nothing happens, but then many of the residents begin developing various side effects and subsequently morph into ravenous zombies. The zombies begin to attack the living causing chaos and a fight for survival. Joining forces with El Wray, the local diner owner, the sheriff, a chemical engineer and a doctor, Cherry leads the fight against the infected, even after she has a leg eaten and replaced with a machine gun. Prepare for kick ass action, copious amounts of blood and grainy visuals as Planet Terror emerges as over the top action in the style of B-movies.
From the opening frames, you know what you’re going to get from Rodriguez. He nails the grainy abrasions that popularised the films of his childhood and adds them to this film in homages which come off rather well, especially in the opening scenes of Cherry’s sexy dance. He even throws in a missing reel with apologies and some sleazy trailers for good measure. The soundtrack is killer, from the grungy guitars to the smoking saxophone, it makes for a rocking listen. Rodriguez directs some pretty great scenes of action as the survivors fight back against the encroaching zombie threat. Gore hounds will lap up the various scenes of zombie hunger and believe me there is a lot of bloodshed in Planet Terror. Where Planet Terror falters is the pacing and some of the humour that doesn’t come off to good. Yet, many watching will barely notice these flaws because of the visuals and kick ass action/horror.
Rose McGowan makes for a fierce, sexy heroine as Cherry Darling and delivers an impressive performance of sassy, kick ass attitude and some great comic timing. Freddy Rodriguez makes for an enigmatic presence as the bad boy, gunslinger El Wray. For the rest of the cast, including Josh Brolin, Jeff Fahey and Marley Shelton, they really have fun with their roles in this action/zombie horror. The real star of the show is Rodriguez himself, firmly creating a tongue in cheek horror homage that is for the most part entertaining.
Short on substance but high on octane and visual techniques, whilst also boasting some great action, Planet Terror won’t be to everyone’s taste. But its a good way to spend a couple of hours without having to think a lot.