Starring: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Bruce Willis, Josh Brolin, and Jeff Fahey
Director: Robert Rodriquez
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars
"Planet Terror" is a sci-fi/horror flick starring Rose McGowan as a tragic stripper, Freddy Rodriguez as a bad-boy tow-truck driver with a mysterious past, and Bruce Willis as a Army lieutenant with a dark addiction that results in a chemical that transforms those exposed into flesh-eating, pusstule-festooned zombies. McGowan and Rodriquez join with other survivors in fighting their way to safety.
The best part of "Planet Terror" is its very John Carpenter-esque musical score and its subplots involving a psychotic doctor (chillingly portrayed by Josh Brolin) and his unfaithful wife, and that surrounding the town sheriff and his BBQ-cooking brother. Unfortunately, these subplots swirl around in the general chaos that is the flow (or rather complete lack thereof) that makes up "Planet Terror" and just as they get going, we go back to the main story of puss-filled zombie fights. The film also serves nicely as a send-up of over-the-top action movies, but it drives this aspect so far into the ground and is so heavy-handed about it that the hilarity gives way to tedium by the time the film is over. It's a nice effort, but it barely clears that bar of average. (And it doesn't help matters that the director chose to intentionally leave out a chunk of the movie to recreate the atmosphere of a cheap movie theater.)
The actors are good all around, with Rodriquez, Willis, Brolin, and Jeff Fahey (as J.T., master Texas BBQ chef and zombie killer) being particularly noteworthy. The true star of this film, though, is the Carpenter-pastiche soundtrack. It is what truly gives the film its 1980s horror flick air.