Death Proof  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Death Proof is a 2007 film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. The film centers around a psychopathic stunt man who stalks young women before murdering them in staged car accidents using his "death proof" stunt car. The film is a tribute to muscle car, exploitation, and slasher film genres of the 1970s. The film stars Kurt Russell, Zoë Bell, Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd, Sydney Poitier, Tracie Thoms, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Rose McGowan.

Death Proof was released theatrically in the United States as part of a double feature with Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror under the collective title Grindhouse in order to replicate the experience of viewing exploitation film double features in a "grindhouse" theater. The films were released separately on DVD, with Death Proof going on sale in the United States on September 18, 2007.



Three friends – Arlene (Vanessa Ferlito), Shanna (Jordan Ladd) and radio disc jockey "Jungle Julia" Lucai (Sydney Tamiia Poitier) – are driving down Colorado Street in Austin, Texas to celebrate Jungle Julia's birthday, unknowingly followed by a man in a souped-up 1970 Chevy Nova. While drinking at Güero's Taco Bar, Jungle Julia reveals that she made a radio announcement earlier that morning, offering a free lap dance from Arlene in return for calling her Butterfly, buying her a drink and reciting a segment of the poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening". As the night goes on, the girls run into Pam (Rose McGowan), a childhood adversary of Jungle Julia's, who is being studied by Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell), a stunt double for Hollywood action films. He spends the night flirting with the women, working his way up to Arlene, who realizes that he's been following them all day but accepts his excuse because of his charm. After giving Mike the lap dance, Arlene finally leaves with Jungle Julia, Shanna, and their marijuana dealer, Lanna Frank (Monica Staggs).

Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) agrees to give Pam (Rose McGowan) a ride home in his car and stays sober all night. Up to this point Stuntman Mike seems to be a normal guy, and when Pam is presented with a plexi-glass sealed passenger seat with no seatbelt, he simply explains that the camera is sometimes set up in that area and assures her that his car is "death proof". It's at this moment, Stuntman Mike looks directly into the camera, and grins from ear to ear, foreshadowing the mayhem to come. In the car, he asks for directions, and when Pam says right he sighs and says they're going left, and he wished she had said left so she wouldn't get scared right away. He reveals himself to be a sadist, and begins to ride at extreme speeds and swerve the car around, thrashing Pam around the box. She pleads with Mike to let her out of the car, but Mike ignores her and informs her that the car is only death proof for the driver "to get the benefit of it honey, you really need to be sittin in my seat". He then slams on the brake, causing her to smash her face on the dashboard, killing her. Then it's "time to find me my other girlfriends", and he tosses his voyeur photographs of the girls out the window so the police don't find evidence of premeditation. Mike then chases after the other four girls. Finding their car on an empty road, he speeds past them and spins his car around. He proceeds to race at the girls' car head-on at full speed with his headlights off, and turns them back on at the last moment. Mike crashes into them, killing them. This scene is notable due to the numerous camera angles and retakes needed for successful filming. The scene was repeated four times, each time depicting the coup de grace for each of the girls involved. Jungle Julia leg is torn off during the impact , Shanna is blown out the the front window lack of her wearing a seatbelt, their driver Lanna is crushed between the steering wheel, and the last and certifiably most gruesome being Arlene's face being shred off by Stuntman Mike's back tire.

At the hospital, it is revealed that Mike suffered only minor injuries. Because the girls were driving while intoxicated and Mike had not consumed any alcohol or marijuana, he is cleared of all criminal charges (Pam's death is likely attributed to the collision), angering Texas Ranger Earl McGraw (Michael Parks), who knows the stuntman is guilty, but decides not to investigate due to the lack of evidence and energy he thinks could be better spent elsewhere, such as following the Nascar circuit. He vows to bring him down next time he does it in Texas, however due to barriers in cross state Police communication, Mike is soon in Tennessee looking for victims again without fear of being caught.

Fourteen months later, Lee Montgomery (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Abernathy Ross (Rosario Dawson), and Kim Mathis (Tracie Thoms) are traveling through Lebanon, Tennessee and stop at a convenience store where Mike has stationed himself. When Kim goes inside, Lee moves into the driver's seat and starts listening to her iPod with Abernathy still trying to sleep in the backseat. Mike then gets out of his car and begins playing with Abernathy's bare feet which are hanging out of the car window. When she wakes up, Mike pretends he bumped into her while looking for his car keys. He gets into his car and takes off. Abernathy catches one last glimpse of Mike's car speeding off, which the other two don't notice, before the three depart. The trio pick up their friend, stuntwoman Zoë Bell (playing herself), at the airport, who informs them she wants to test-drive a classic white 1970 Dodge Challenger. Later, she reveals her true motives: she wants to play a game called "Ship's Mast," in which she will hang onto the car's hood with two belts while someone else drives at high speeds. When the girls reach the barn where the Dodge is being sold Kim reluctantly agrees to help with the stunt and Abernathy tags along, while Lee finds herself left behind to placate the car's owner, Jasper (Jonathan Loughran).

During this game, Mike arrives suddenly, and targets them with his 1969 Dodge Charger, repeatedly crashing into them, and eventually Zoë is thrown from the hood. Kim, who carries a gun for protection, shoots Mike in the left arm, causing him to flee. Zoë, due to her training and agility, is unharmed except for a "bruise on her bum." The three girls decide to take revenge against their attacker. At this point the character roles abruptly switch, as Stuntman Mike becomes hysterical. His intended victims, on the other hand, become enraged in their pursuit, jeering and laughing at their foe's efforts. Stuntman Mike's injury forces him to stop and attempt to tend to his wound. In doing so, he releases his safety harness. Kim crashes into the back of his Charger and Zoë attacks him with a pipe, but Mike flees again without refastening his harness, thus nullifying much of the "death proof" aspect of his car. An extended chase scene follows; just when he thinks he has escaped, the pursuing vehicle blindsides him and he crashes to a stop, breaking his right arm. Screaming in pain, he is hauled out of the car and the three women administer a vicious beating. Stuntman Mike is knocked to the ground, and the women leap in celebration, caught in a midair freeze-frame as the film ends. After some of the credits, the film returns to show Abernathy delivering an axe-kick to Mike's head with her boot.

The Death Proof OST is the soundtrack to Death Proof, Quentin Tarantino's segment of Grindhouse. It includes trademark audio snippets from various scenes in the film.

Track listing

  1. "The Last Race" — Jack Nitzsche
  2. "Baby, It's You" — Smith
  3. "Paranoia Prima" — Ennio Morricone
  4. "Planning & Scheming" — Eli Roth & Michael Bacall (dialogue)
  5. "Jeepster" — T. Rex
  6. "Stuntman Mike" — Rose McGowan & Kurt Russell (dialogue)
  7. "Staggolee" — Pacific Gas & Electric
  8. "The Love You Save (May Be Your Own)" — Joe Tex
  9. "Good Love, Bad Love" — Eddie Floyd
  10. "Down In Mexico" — The Coasters
  11. "Hold Tight!" - Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich
  12. "Sally and Jack (From the Motion Picture Blow Out)" — Pino Donaggio
  13. "It's So Easy" — Willy DeVille
  14. "Whatever-However" — Tracie Thoms & Zoë Bell (dialogue)
  15. "Riot In Thunder Alley" — Eddie Beram
  16. "Chick Habit" - April March

Extra tracks not in the Soundtrack

  1. "Violenza Inattesa" — Ennio Morricone
  2. "Gangster Story" — Guido & Maurizio De Angelis
  3. "Italia a Mano Armata (main theme)" — Franco Micalizzi
  4. "La polizia sta a guardare (main theme)" — Stelvio Cipriani
  5. "Laisse Tomber Les Filles" — April March
  6. "Funky Fanfare" — Keith Mansfield
  7. "Twisted Nerve" — Bernard Hermann

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Death Proof" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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