Starring Nicolas Cage as Fu Manchu!
Ten years ago, on this very day, something magical happened. Something that will never happen again, as long as I live. On April 6th, 2007, the double feature film Grindhouse was released into theaters nationwide. To this day, it’s the most fun experience I’ve ever had at the movies.
A big budget love letter to low budget exploitation, Grindhouse was the fitting name given to the double feature of Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof and Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror. It was a passion project for both filmmakers, and they went all out to ensure it wasn’t merely a movie but rather a communal experience that would evoke the spirit of, well, grindhouse cinema.
And oh boy did they nail it.
In between the two films, a series of faux trailers promised four movies we were pretty sure we’d never see: Rodriguez’s Machete, Edgar Wright’s Don’t, Rob Zombie’s Werewolf Women of the SS, and Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving. Of course, Rodriguez did end up making Machete a few years later. Ironically, the once-fake film became way more successful at the box office than Grindhouse itself (the double feature experience was a massive flop), soon leading to a sequel.
As for the other three films, they seem destined to forever remain as fake as they were originally conceived to be. My personal favorite of the fictitious trailers? Werewolf Women of the SS, Rob Zombie’s loving homage to Nazisploitation cinema – namely, 1975’s Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS. Zombie put together a fun cast including Bill Moseley, wife Sheri Moon, Tom Towles, Udo Kier, Sybil Danning and even Nicolas Cage for his contribution to Grindhouse, humorously advertised as “the true story about Hitler’s diabolical plans to create a race of superwomen.”
Different than the trailers Wright, Roth and Rodriguez put together, Zombie damn near made a film out of his wacky concept. As he explained to the LA Times shortly before the release of Grindhouse, Zombie shot enough footage to make a half-hour Werewolf Women of the SS movie, which he was pained to have to cut down for a trailer that ran less than two-minutes.
To date, most of the cut footage has never been released – though an extended, 5-minute version of the trailer can be found on Blu-ray. But like the other filmmakers who took part in the once-in-a-lifetime project, Zombie has toyed with the idea of turning Werewolf Women of the SS into a feature over the years. Unfortunately, the box office failure of Grindhouse, along with related rights issues, may prevent it from ever happening. He told SciFiNow back in 2013:
[A feature] was originally the plan and we certainly spoke about the spin-off movies at the time. Of course, they ended up doing Machete, but the others fell to the side. I would still love to make it but it is probably never going to happen because I do not own the rights. The whole Grindhouse thing is owned by Dimension. It is a shame because it would have been a great movie – but when Grindhouse did not pan out to be the success that Dimension were hoping for that was pretty much the end of it.
Never say never, I suppose. You can revisit Zombie’s Werewolf Women of the SS trailer below. Underneath you’ll find a 9-minute featurette about the making of the fake trailer.
Happy 10th, Grindhouse!