Why did Bruce Willis agree to cameo as a mutating, pustule-covered soldier in Planet Terror? According to director Robert Rodriguez’s commentary, Willis so enjoyed appearing in Rodriguez’s 2005 hardboiled portmanteau Sin City that the actor told him, ”I’ll come make anything with you.” So, when it was time to cast Terror — half of the Grindhouse double bill he codirected with Quentin Tarantino — Rodriguez placed the call. He also called his son, ex-roommate, doctor, and Realtor, all of whom appear in bit parts. Hopefully next time around they — and/or the director’s dog-sitter — will get to appear in a better film.
Certainly, this splatterific tale of zombie types running amok in a rural Texas town is a long way from the precise, stylish Sin City. Rodriguez characterizes his tongue-in-cheek film as an homage to the works of John Carpenter. But Carpenter movies such as Assault on Precinct 13 and Escape From New York are not only more thrilling but also funnier. Here, no amount of gunfire or evisceration can hide the sound of a project falling — and landing hard — in a gore-encrusted forest. True, Rodriguez’s fake opening trailer for the ”Mexploitation” epic Machete is chucklesome, while Josh Brolin is deliciously sinister as a homicidal doctor. And the bonus docs, which cover ”stunts,” ”sickos,” and ”badass babes,” are agreeable enough. In fact, everything about this two-disc set suggests that Planet Terror was far more fun to construct than it is to watch. B-