Grim Pilgrimage

Our Review

On April 6th 2007, a cinematic experience was released (sheesh, unleashed!), making the term 'grindhouse' as close to a household name as Quintin Tarantino.

Some people got really excited about Woodstock. Some people get all giddy about the World Series, I Love Lucy marathons, or all-you-can-eat shrimp specials at participating Red Lobster restaurants.

For movie geeks with a penchant for horror and deranged sleaze cinema there is Grindhouse.

Grindhouse opens with a trailer (like any satisfying grindhouse adventure should) for a Mexploitation shoot-em up called Machete, thus creating a new form of instant gratification for the nervous system. The mock trailer acts as a catalyst for synapses to transmit an imagined nostalgia for a movie that does not exist (a metaphysical conundrum colliding with an existential impossibility) combined with a yearning for potential suit-up scenes that would possibly be peppered into the bloody revenge story of a Mexican day-laborer hired to assassinate a Senator, who's strict stance on border patrolling is unacceptable, only to be double crossed, left for dead, and framed for murder by his employer. This occurs within the first three of one hundred ninety one minutes...

After the first feature, the delightful Planet Terror (with one missing reel that may have had a suit-up scene), a second round of mock trailers marks the intermission before the second and final feature, the slasher-esqe Deathproof. It is during the third and final trailer, Eli Roth's Thanksgiving, that the only actual suit-up scene occurs...and it's another meta-film phenomenon.

It breaks down like this: while watching a film called Grindhouse, consisting of two feature length films both, alas, suit-up-sceneless, a trailer for a movie within the movie about movies has one. It is rare, indeed, that trailers have suit-up scenes - even trailers for movies that don't exist in movies that do...

The story is simple: Plymouth, MA takes Thanksgiving very seriously, being the alleged landing site of the Pilgrims' first voyage to the New World. A demented killer, fashioning himself as a pilgrim, terrorizes the festivities.

In the opening sequence of the trailer, a man is helped into a large turkey mascot suit for the annual parade. The Pilgrim Killer is also seen suiting up.

Taken from the trailer-screenplay by Eli Roth and Jeff Rendell (who stars as the Pilgrim Killer):
Quick cuts: A killer wearing a Pilgrim hat zips up a black jumpsuit, slips on black 'Torso'-style fingerless driving gloves, and flips up an axe.

This serves as insightful look into the film making process of a suit-up scene; a comparison from script to screen. The screenplay coveys that the killer is already wearing the Pilgrim hat as the scene begins. But in the actual movie, the mock-trailer that promotes a mock-movie shows the killer first zipping up a Pilgrim-style coat (which may in fact be the 'black jumpsuit' described by the authors, but is too dark to tell), then fitting on the Pilgrim hat and hoisting up an ax. The bit with the gloves is omitted altogether.

We see that the collaborative creative choices by the director, lighting, and costume department caused the finished product to vary slightly from what the screenplay intended while weakening the suit-up scene by cutting out more moments of action.

With regards to content, the scene is powerful. The visual irony of the Pilgrim Killer lopping off the head of a man wearing a turkey mascot suit is staggering. Two suited-up, diametrically opposed forces confronting each other face to face. Bravo.

All things considered, a grandiose meta-cinematic suit-up.