Monday, April 16, 2007


“Why is it called Grindhouse?” The question came from the back of the room during a panel discussion at Austin’s SXSW Film Festival last month. Robert Rodriguez peaked out from behind his Mexican fedora and didn’t hesitate. “Grindhouse confused people at first,” he replied. “They thought, ‘Well, it’s a horror movie called Grindhouse, so there must be a house where they grind people up.’ It’s called that because of grindhouse cinemas. They were called that—I think that the reference was that they would show double or triple features that were just grinded together.”

Rodriguez—who collaborated with noted cinephile Quentin Tarantino to create a retro double bill—nailed the salient answer, minus the gritty details. The micro-budgeted productions of grindhouse yore didn’t have the strength of affluent distribution companies to bring them wide audiences, partly explaining why they ended up in places like the trashy theaters sprinkled throughout Times Square. There they were ground together with pornography and primarily watched by lewd characters in search of dark rooms to indulge their hedonism. If the recent box office disappointment of Grindhouse itself recalls the miniscule awareness of original grindhouse movies, then the movie has managed a brilliant bout of performance art. It helps define the B-movie appeal: Devout audiences are willing to sit through anything thrown their way, as long as it gives them a good time. The people who choose to see Grindhouse—and stick around—prove their dedication. In that sense, grindhouse refers to a state of mind—sort of like New York, where the theaters left an indelible imprint on the Deuce.

Read the rest of the article in the New York Press...


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