Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Up Close And Personal With Death Proof - Part One

There's been a couple of Death Proof reviews online, but none of them have been too heavy on the details. Let's change that, shall we? I'll review the script, sure, but I think you're probably less interested in what I have to say than getting delivered a nice, healthy pile of excerpts. Coming up, then, are some of the Best Bits of Death Proof - a script with plenty of Best Bits indeed. This might take more than one post - it's a long script with a lot of Best Bits - but I'll get you right up to the first massive twist this time around. And rest assured that there's plenty I'm passing over that is every bit as good.

So... first of all, the dedication page at the front:

This script is dedicated to the poet laureate of the Drive-In, Charles B. Griffith. Your work has always "Rocked All Night", daddy-o. Respect, Quentin Tarantino.

We begin on:

POV OF A CAR WINDSHIELD - DAY

The car is driving fast down the road. A pair of female bare feet with a gold ankle bracelet lie propped up on the dashboard emanating from the passenger seat.

A Good God Almighty rockabilly tune beats out of the car stereo, the feet tap to the beat.

The opening credits play over this image.

So - no surprises there. The foot fetish, the Good God Almighty soundtracking, the formal precision in the scripting - it would be pretty obvious to me who wrote this if, somehow, I didn't know.

What is less obvious is the clever, Hitchcockian manipulation. This isn't the last time we'll see this pair of feet propped up like this, nor is it the last pair of feet to be propped up this way; the anklet is a gorgeous technique to draw the eye definitively. Nothing here is accidental - every bit is delicious set up for later.

Next, a brief bit of postmodern jiggery pokery: we cut to a new location, where we meet jungle Julia Lucai. She's paddding barefoot through her appartment, in time to 'the cool rockabilly beat' - though, of course, we just established the source of the music is the car in the previous shot.

Julia is meeting up with Shanna and Arlene - Shanna was driving, Arlene is the feet - and the three of them are headed off on a '3 Girl 3 adventure', just as soon as Arlene pops up to Julia's appartment to pee (tick off bathroom scene on the pseduo-auterist Tarantino checklist).

SHANNA
So what's the plan, man?

JUNGLE JULIA
Margaritas and Mexican food at Guero's - did you call Rafael, tell him we're comin'?

The conversation goes on for pages and pages, as the girls drive along through Austin, Texas. At one point, Richard Linklater appears to be evoked - and the implication isn't necessarily a nice one.

ARLENE
Jessie Leadbetter, the Austin director who did "Potheads"?

JUNGLE JULIA
He's a good friend.

ARLENE
Remember freshman year, getting stoned and going to "The Dobie" to see "Potheads"?

JUNGLE JULIA
Just think, play your cards right, you'll be sucking his dick within hours.

The girls laugh and make gross noises.

SHANNA
Hey, jessie's got a big dick.

ARLENE
You went down on him?

JUNGLE JULIA
Half the girls in Austin have sucked Jessie's dick.

On page 13, the girls' car is passing down a Texas road at Dusk. This is when we are first introduced to Stuntman Mike, driver of the Death Proof muscle car. I'd expect this to be six or seven minutes into the film.

INT - MUSCLE CAR (MOVING) - DUSK

Out of the windshield of the powerful scary muscle car. trailing the girls from way far back.

The unseen DRIVER, eyes hidden behind dark glasses, glances up at Jungle Julia's billboard as he passes it.

A bluesy early seventies rock tune plays out of his thumping speakers.

All we can see of the DRIVER is he wears a Silver Satin Jacket with an embroidered "ICY HOT" patch on the back, wears his hair in a greasy half-assed pompadour, and he smokes Chesterfields like a chimney, indicated by the flowing ashtray.

As the music plays we see various INSERTS of the dash of this mechanical monster. Including one of the car keys in the ignition with a sparkplug keychain.

His hood ornament is a muscle bound duck flexing.

Before long, we get some important info on this man and his following of the girls:

We see rubber banded to the sun visor a Polaroid of Jungle Julia, Shanna and Arlene, wearing different clothes. this stalking is not random. He didn't just find them today. This is one part of a longer process.

Just as the music reaches a crescendo, we cut to a tight Sergio Leone CU of the Driver, smiling... then...

...the badass vehicle speeds off, making a thunderous racket.

After a few drinks at Guero's, the girls head off to Huck's, to hook up with their pot dealer and some boys - Omar, Pete and Nate. Nate will be played by Eli Roth, I believe.

Jungle Julia is performing a 'very sexy dance' to a 'bluesy rock classic'. When it ends, the barman Warren has something to say to her:

WARREN
Now, Julia, if you wanna carry on like the main attraction at a cathouse with four floors of wh*res, carry on - but if I gotta tell you one more goamn time to put out that f*cking cigarette, I'm gonna treat you just like any other beligierent drunk, and climb across this bar and hit ya upside the head with a horse c*ck.

Not everybody can write lines like that, now, can they? Or stage directions like these, that come directly afterwards:

Everyone in the place laughs.

Julia rolls her eyes to heaven, blows out a dramatic stream of smoke (ala Joan Crawford) and bitchily grinds out her cigarette on the table top (ala Bette Davis).

JUNGLE JULIA
Happy?

WARREN
As a clam. You may continue your one-ho show.

Shanna is later heard schooling Omar:

SHANNA
Now, there's one thing that every girl in the whole world whose name is Shanna has inc ommon with each other. We all hate the name Shauna. And we really hate it when people call us Shauna.

OMAR
So that was a bad move on my part?

SHANNA
Oh yeah. Your f*ck*bility stock is plummeting. Just remember: it's Shanna Banana, not Shauna Banauna.

Very soon, a young lady called Pam is ditched by her 'soft c*ck' boyfriend. She's the one played by Rose McGowan. Sitting at the bar, she gets rather well acquainted with Stuntman Mike after a creepy case of eavesdropping.

PAM
You've been eavesdropping on me?

STUNTMAN MIKE
Well, there's eavesdropping and there's can't help[ but hear. I think I belong in the later category.

PAM
You offering me a ride home, Icy Hot?

STUNTMAN MIKE
I'm offering you a lift if when I'm ready to leave, you are too.

PAM
When you are thinking about leaving?

STUNTMAN MIKE
Truthfully, I'm not thinking about it. But when I do, you'll be the first to know.

PAM
Will you be able to drive later?

STUNTMAN MIKE
I know looks can be deceiving but I'm a teetotaller. I've been drinking club soda and lime all night. I'm building up to my big drink.

PAM
What's that?

STUNTMAN MIKE
Virgin Pina Colada.

He soon explains his take on booze:

STUNTMAN MIKE
The alcohol is just a lubricant for the individual encounters that a barroom offers.

PAM
Is that cowboy wisom?

STUNTMAN MIKE
I'm not a cowboy, I'm a stuntman. Very easy mistake to make, Pam.

PAM
How do you know my name?

STUNTMAN MIKE
When you were talking to Warren, I couldn't help but hear.

PAM
Fair enough. What's your name, Icy?

STUNTMAN MIKE
Stuntman Mike.

PAM
Stuntman Mike's your name?

STUNTMAN MIKE
Ask anybody.

Pam turns to Warren.

PAM
Hey, Warren, who is this guy?

WARREN
That's Stuntman Mike.

PAM
And who the hell's Stuntman Mike?

WARREN
He's a stuntman.

More intorductions later. Stuntman Mike and Jungle Julia:

STUNTMAN MIKE
Wait a minute, you got a billboard by Big Kahuna Burger, don'tcha?

JUNGLE JULIA (to LANNA-FRANK, her pot dealer)
See, I told you, I'm not that famous, I'm just that recognisable. If you know what I look like, you'll know when you see me. (Holding out hand). Jungle Julia Lucai.

STUNTMAN MIKE
Stuntman Mike Mikki.

Namedropping of a different kind shortly after, as Stuntman Mike explains to Pam that he double for Gary Clarke on The Virginian. She has no idea who or what either of those things are.

WARREN
I hate to tell you this, Mike, but dropping Gary Clarke's name don't get Gary Clarke p*ssy no more.

Pam asks:

How exactly does one become a stuntman?

STUNTMAN MIKE
Well, in Hollywood anybody fool enough to throw themselves down a flight of stairs can usually find somebody to pay ya' fer it. But, really, I got into the business the way most people get into the stunt business.

PAM
And how's that?

STUNTMAN MIKE
My brother got me into it.

PAM
Who's your brother?

STUNTMAN MIKE
Stuntman Bob.

We're now 60 pages into the script, and according to conventional wisdom, we'd be an hour into the film. In this case, however, it is going to be more like 20 minutes, 30 on the outside.

Some creepy interactions between Mike, Julia, Shanna and Arlene later (I'll let you wintess them for yourself) and everybody is ready to leave. The girls are arguing about who is the most capable to drive - Lanna-Frank wins on the grounds that she is the most-stoned but least-drunk and gets behind the wheel - while Mike shows Pam his Death Proof car:

Pam is taken by the sight of the badass black muscle car.

PAM
Wow. That's f*ckin' scary.

STUNTMAN MIKE
Well, I wated it to be impressive, and scary tends to impress.

PAM
Is it safe?

STUNTMAN MIKE
It's better'n safe. It's Death Proof.

He later adds:

Don't worry, Pam, you'd hafta choke to death on a ham sandwich to die behind the wheel of this baby.

Mike is boxed in behind the driver's wheel, surrounded by caging and toughened plexiglass. You can get a good look at this in the trailers. Unbeknownst to Pam, Mike is following the other girls with something nasty in mind. Pretty soon, the Death Proof car comes to a junction.

STUNTMAN MIKE
Which way you goin', left or right?

PAM
Right.

STUNTMAN MIKE
Oh, that's too bad.

PAM
Why is that too bad?

STUNTMAN MIKE
Because it was a fifty fifty shot on whether you'd be goin' left or right. You see, we're both goin' left and you could of just as easily been goin' left too, and if that was the case, then it would of been a while before you would of started getting scared. But since you're goin' the other way, I'm afraid you're gonna hafta get scared immediately.

Shortly after:

STUNTMAN MIKE
'member when I said this car was death proof? Well, that isn't a lie. This car is 100 percent death proof. Only, to get the benefit of it... you really hafta be sitting in my seat.

And what Mike does right now beggars belief. The next scene or two are truly astonishing. Shocking even. If you think you know what's coming, you might be close but you won't be close enough. Honestly, you have no idea of the impact these events have just on the printed page.

On the cinema screen, they're going to be heartstopping.

More soon...

2 comments:

Peter said...

Why are you spoiling the movie 1 month before its out in the USA? Whats the point? I think its really lame to do that on your part. I have the script too, but Im not posting it online.

Brendon said...

I'm not posting the script, am I? I mean - I could, very easily.

See this as an extended trailer. I have left out far, far, far, far more than I have included.

And people want to read this. And those that do not, will not.

Those that do will be there on the first night, excited, dizzy with anticipation.