We left Stuntman Mike at a very exciting juncture last time round. What would you say if I told you now that, in fact, we're going to skip forward a few pages?
The contents of pages 71 to 74 are so incredibly impressive I thought I'd simply pass over them, let you experience them fresh on the cinema screen, and now we'd pick up the thread on page 75, at the beginning of a new chapter...
Everything you are about to read is VERY strong spoiler material. The VERY VERY strong spoiler material might have been excised, but don't be fooled, I promise you, within a couple of words from here, you'll be into stuff that hasn't even been hinted at in the trailers, posters or interviews. I might even reccomend you don't read on at all.
Okay... still here? I thought you would be.
Page 75. Stuntman Mike is in a hospital bed. He's speaking to a couple of Texas Rangers, Earl McGraw and his son Edger. You'll recognise these guys when you see them, even if their names mean nothing to you, I promise.
The Rangers leave Mike behind, and discuss him as they walk away.
So Pop, what'dya think?
What do I think? Well Son, number one, what I think is so ghoulish I hesitate to speak it out loud.
Give it a shot.
Well Son, what we have here is a case of vehicular homicide. I think that ol' boy in there murdered them pretty little gals. He used a car not a hatchet, but they dead just the same.
What are you gonna do?
Not a damn thing. DA says aint no crime here. Every damn one of them girls was swimming in alcohol and floatin' on weed! Hooper in there was as clean as a whistle.
You actually think he premiditatedly murdered those girls?
I can't prove it, but since thinkin' don't cost nothin', I can think it. And I do.
After they discuss just what Earl is going to do, we fade to black.... then fade up on a Highway sign. It reads "Welcome to Lebanon, Tenessee". A subtitle appears on the screen... 14 Months Later.
See what I mean about spoiler material? Everything we've seen in the trailers, just about everything we know from the posters, has now been swept away in a wave of crazy car carnage. The film is about to begin again.
We look at the sign for a moment...
from off screen a new badass muscle car makes a jump and CRASHES through the sign. The car lands on the highway and just keeps on going.
Mike is 'back in ship shape'. He parks outside a Circle A convenience store, just in time for another car to pull up next to him.
...a yellow 2006 Mustang with black trim (Kill Bill colours) with three girls in their twenties...
Behind the wheel is a pretty black girl with a solid athletic build, dressed in jeans and a tight green camouflage t-shirt, named KIM.
Beside her in the passenger seat is a young pretty starlet, LEE, who by the way just happens to be dressed in a cheerleader uniform.
And laying down in the backseat with her bare geet out of the car door window is the sleeping ABERNATHY.
There's a creepy scene here in the parking lot which leaves us in no doubt: these girls are Mike's next targets. Brrrrrrr.
Shortly, the girls are at the airport meeting a friend. This friend turns out to be Zoe Bell. Now, if you didn't know, Zoe Bell is a stuntwoman. In real life. She was Uma Thurman's double in Kill Bill, and here in Death Proof, she is playing herself.
Though it is never stated outright, it becomes clear that some of these girls met one another while working on Kill Bill - which is a film within this film, observing the much discussed Quentin Tarantino 'universes within universes' rules for where his movies belong. Death Proof, we can infer, takes place in the same universe as Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and even True Romance. Kill Bill is, to the people in the Death Proof diegesis, only a movie.
One of the Kill Bill clues is the car colouring, another is a ringtone, Zoe Bell herself is the biggest clue of all, but there's more to keep an eye out for.
As the girls meet and greet at the airport, we cut back to a long shot from far away: surprise, surprise - it's Stuntman Mike.
We SNAP ZOOM to a medium of Zoe, then a CLICK SOUND off screen and the image of ZOE freezes.
Sergio Leone CU of Stuntman Mike observing the girls through the shutter of his camera.
SNAP ZOOM and FREEZE FRAME to each girl in turn.
Stuntman Mike lowers the camera from in fron of his face, smiles a sh*t eating grin. He's back in business.
STUNTMAN MIKE (to himself)
Hello Ladies. We're gonna have a good time.
From here on out, there's plenty of girl talk and the threat of an ever-nearing Mike. Here's a particularly fun snippet of dialogue:
You're havin' one off with The Rock?
Not the real Rock. He's an electrician named Bruce. But Kim calls him The Rock 'cause he looks like him and now we all just call him The Rock.
Yeah, this is an all star crew. We got a guy who looks like Nic Cage and a guy who looks like Pee Wee Herman too.
LEE (to Abernathy)
Did you know Kim carries a gun?
Yes. Do I approve, no. Do I know, yes.
Look, I don't know what futuristic utopia you live in, but the world I live in, a b*tch needs a gun.
You can't get around the fact that people who carry guns tend to get shot more than people who don't.
And you can't get around the fact that if I go down to the laundry room in my building at midnight enough times, I might get my ass raped.
Don't do your laundry at midnight.
F*ck that! I wann do my laundry whenever the f*ck I wanna do my laundry.
There's other things you can carry other than a gun. Pepper Spray.
Motherf*cker try to rape me, I don't wanna give him as kin rash. I wanna shut that n*gga down.
How 'bout a knife at least?
You know what happens to motherf*ckers who carry knives? They get shot.
Most of the pieces are in place now for the big climax. The last piece to come into play? Zoe wants to play a little... and the game she wants to play is a very, very odd one indeed. And to play it, she wants a particular car.
The girls hunt down a White 1970 Dodge Charger with a 358 Engine - as seen in Vanishing Point. A Country Cuzzins outcast called Jasper is selling it, and the girls want to convince him to let them take it out for a test drive alone and unchaperoned.
Jasper... we were wondering if my friends and I could take the car out for a little test drive on our own; you know, just to see if we're comfortable in it.
Why would I do somethin' stupid like that?
To better sell your automobile.
How do I know y'all aint just gonna steal it?
Four reasons, actually. One - we're not thieves. Two - that would be rude. Three- we're staying in town at the Days Inn in town and you can call the hotel and check with the management we're registered for the next month. Actually, Zoe's not, but Kim and I are, so we're totally trackdownable...
...and reason number four - and the most important - while we're out taking the car for a little spon, that'll give you better opportunity to get acquainted with our other friend, Lee.
She does some kind of ta-da presentation of the sleeping Lee.
Why does she look kinda familiar?
That would be because she's a famous actress.
She holds up the copy of Allure Magazine, opened to Lee's article. Jasper takes it, looks at it, then at Lee, then to Abernathy.
Why is she dressed like that? [in a cheerleader costume]
Well, you see, we're making a Hollywood movie in town, and it's a cheerleader movie, and she's one of the cheerleaders.
What's a cheerleader movie?
A movie about cheerleaders.
Is it a porno movie?
Abernathy starts to say no, then changes it to:
Yes it is. But don't mention it - she's shy.
So, Lee is left behind with Jasper while the Vanishing Point car hits the road... and don't forget, Stuntman Mike isn't far behind.
Shall I go on? Okay, I will. But not today.
The final part of this 'up close and personal' look at Death Proof will be coming soon. Stay tuned.