UPDATE: The official press release hit today announcing the Death Proof casting, and in addition to Kurt Russell and everyone else listed below, Tarantino will also have actresses Vanessa Ferlito (24) and Jordan Ladd (Cabin Fever, Club Dread) on Stuntman Mike’s hitlist, as well as the previously named Tracie Thoms (Rent). So the body count will not only be pretty high, but pretty good looking.

Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez were in
San Diego for Comic Con this past weekend to give some goodies on their upcoming exploitation combo platter Grind House, and since I’ve been actively following the project with great anticipation, you bet your non-Con-going ass I was at their presentation.

First off, the big news. Tarantino (wearing a custom QT/RR Back to Back T-shirt emulating the AC/DC logo) gave a major casting announcement for the lead role of Stuntman Mike, the murderer in his “slasher” movie Death Proof (and a role previously linked to Mickey Rourke). But rather than just say the actor’s name, he decided to simply blurt out the name of one of the iconic characters he’s played and let the audience figure it out: “Snake Plissken!” Needless to say, the audience went suitably insane.

Yep, Kurt Russell is heading to the dark side for Tarantino’s half of the double feature, playing a murderous and misogynistic muscle-car enthusiast with a major mad-on for a bunch of hot babes. Most of the actresses were also on hand for the panel, and the list of lovely casualties includes Rosario Dawson, Sydney Poitier (daughter of Sidney), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (of Sky High and Final Destination 3), and Marley Shelton and Rose McGowan, both of whom also appear in Rodriguez’s movie. In addition, stunt gal Zoë Bell (who doubled for Uma Thurman in Kill Bill) will portray herself in a major role, and will as expected perform her own stunts.

Tarantino doesn’t start shooting his movie for a few weeks, but Rodriguez is nearly done with his zombie flick Planet Terror, and he brought along an exclusive clip to showcase the vibe they’re aiming for.  And hoo boy… talk about excess and lunacy. The footage began with deputy Tom Savini complaining to sheriff Michael Biehn that the suspect in his cruiser bit his finger clean off. Naturally when they go outside the station to check, the car window is smashed and the perpetrator is nowhere to be found. Handcuffed criminal Freddy Rodriguez stands in the door watching the proceedings.

From there we got a hint of the “fake trailer” for Machete, featuring Danny Trejo as an assassin and ladies man (yes, Danny Trejo) who wears a leather trenchcoat that holds about a hundred machetes, and drives a massive street hog motorcycle with a chaingun mounted on the front. Then another montage of scenes from Planet Terror, including actor introductions (verifying the previous casting you heard about first on CHUD!), and Freddy hacking through a hospital of “sickos” (aka zombies, aka infected humans) and supplying a ballistic appendage to newly de-legged stripper Cherry (McGowan). Buckets of wonderfully gratuitous mayhem and splatter, all set to a dated-sounding Carpenter-esque score.

As we’d previously heard, the footage has dropped frames and print grain and scratches applied in post-production to further simulate the grind house experience, which both filmmakers seemed almost overly confident they can and will provide (a claim with which I’ll now wholeheartedly agree). The appearance of the movie is one of the things I maintain could’ve improved Sin City – that film desperately needed to be similarly scuffed up with some digitally added post-production grime.

A few other tidbits from the panel: Tarantino is planning two animated prequels of Kill Bill, one focusing on Bill’s origin and another on The Bride; Rodriguez shot his Grind House segment on digital but Tarantino is shooting on film; the whole shoot will be in Austin, a town that Tarantino has fell in love with; "shared" character Texas Ranger Earl McGraw, played by Michael Parks and previously seen in From Dusk Til Dawn and Kill Bill, will make dual appearances again; the final release is due next Easter and will be two full length movies back-to-back – not the truncated flicks we’d originally heard, but two films of at least 90 minutes and four or more fake trailers sandwiched between them. Tarantino implied (only half jokingly) that moviegoers will not only get their ten bucks worth, but feel gypped afterward by everything else.