‘Grindhouse’ shows off a new Freddy Rodriguez 

Freddy Rodriguez played a loyal undertaker’s assistant in the cable hit "Six Feet Under," a memorable role, but it didn’t necessarily turn heads.

That’s about to change.

After watching "Grindhouse," the cinematic double feature from directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, audiences are bound to remember him.

"My special power [in the film] is the power to be a badass, you know?" the actor says. "Wray is just a bare-knuckle badass."

Wray, his character, is also surrounded by sexy women and a swarm of post-humans; quite a change for an actor last seen playing a compassionate busboy in the critical hit "Bobby."

"I play an action hero here and I’ve never done that before in my life," Freddy says. "In ‘Bobby,’ it was kind of a subtle character, with a lot of heart. In ‘Grindhouse,’ the characters are badass. You know I had months of training for it — with guns, knives and fight choreography and physical training — soit was just a completely opposite experience."

The famed directors collaborated before in "From Dusk Till Dawn," "Four Room" and "Sin City." ("Sin City 2" is in pre-production). Here, they tag-team a crafty cinematic

ziggurat. Raw and edgy, "Grindhouse" bows before the films of the ’60s and ’70s that sat on the periphery of the mainstream — "The Piranhas," "Last House on the Left" or "Dirty Mary Crazy Larry" of the day — and baptizes itself in their unconventional waters.

In other words, the second coming of grindhouse cinema.

The term "grindhouse" can be a bit of a head-scratcher. Some believe it was born of the actual name of a theater in which the curious celluloid creatures lived. Others point to the films’ look, which were "grinded out" in defunct projectors. Whatever the case, these movies were lumped in bizarre subgenres and often viewed with graphic trailers.

Tarantino writes and directs "Death Proof" in the double bill, a nod to all the rambunctious car chase movies of yore with a bit of slasher film tossed in for good measure. Robert Rodriguez is at the helm of "Planet Terror" — think of it as the lovechild of "Escape From New York" and "Dawn of the Dead."

Freddy Rodriguez morphs into the leading man in "Death Proof," playing opposite an unforgettable Rose McGowan as a femme fatale amputee sporting a machine gun as one of her legs.

Inventive? Yes. It’s one of the reasons the actor wanted to work with the iconic directors.

"They’re so egoless with each other and it’s also kind of this fantastic cross pollination," Freddy says of the duo. "Robert is much more of a visualist and he’s obviously extremely cutting edge in terms of his technology. He likes to create at the speed of thought. So, as an actor, you sort of have to get over yourself in any sort of self-consciousness pretty quickly, which I really enjoyed."

As for possibly being upstaged by a heavy dose of estrogen shooting from the hip — literally — Freddy says, "Who wouldn’t be jealous of that leg, man? I think that’s the one cool thing about Robert and Quentin’s films. They always have really strong female characters."

But how does one fire a machine-gun leg?

Rodriguez is to the point: "It’s ‘Grindhouse,’ man, you know?"

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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