Quentin Tarantino’s grindhouse throwback, Death Proof, turns fifteen this month, after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 22, 2007. Let’s celebrate with ten fun facts about the film.
Two separate sets of voluptuous women—Rose McGowan, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Tracie Thoms, Rosario Dawson, and Zoë Bell—are stalked at different times by a scarred stuntman (Kurt Russell) who uses his “death proof” cars to execute his murderous plans.
Ten Fun Facts:
1) Tarantino came up with the idea of Death Proof during a drunken night at a hotel with his friend, Sean Penn. The filmmaker wanted to buy a Volvo because he didn’t want to die in some auto accident like the one in Pulp Fiction (1994). Penn said, “Well, you could take any car and give it to a stunt team, and for $10,000 or $15,000, they can death-proof it for you.” The “death proof” phrase had stuck to Tarantino after that.
2) Zoe Bell did all of her own stunts.
3) The film was physically scratched to achieve its dirty look rather than have it digitally scratched in post.
4) Death Proof is the only Quentin Tarantino movie that takes place in chronological order and without flashbacks.
5) Jack Burton’s shirt, a white tank top with a Japanese Rising Sun and a Samurai, from Big Trouble in Little China (1986 – our retro review) can be seen hung up on the wall of the bar where the first segment of the film takes place. It is right above Jungle Julia, slightly to the right of the AMi Jukebox.
6) Kurt Russell offered high praise to Rosario Dawson’s character, Abernathy, saying as a pure passenger, she was one of the bravest of all as she had no control over the situation at all.
7) The 1970 Dodge Challenger driven by the girls had door frames. The original did not have door frames. The crew most likely added them for the Ship’s Mast stunt to be possible.
8) Mickey Rourke, Sylvester Stallone, Ving Rhames, Kurt Russell, and Australian actor John Jarratt were all considered for the role of Stuntman Mike. Upon the urging of Grindhouse (2007) co-director Robert Rodriguez, Tarantino finally settling with Russell.
9) When Stuntman Mike looks into the camera with a smile before getting into his Chevy Nova, it’s an homage to what Burt Reynolds would do in several movies involving fast cars.
10) The poem that Jungle Julia has her listeners recite to Butterfly is an excerpt from “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost. It’s also a reference to the ’70s thriller, Telefon (1977), where the poem was used as a posthypnotic signal to activate Russian sleeper agents.