Back in 2007, Tarantino and his friend, fellow director, and frequent collaborator Robert Rodriguez decided to try a cinema experiment based on an obsession the two shared with grindhouse movies of the 1970s.
The term is one for a theater that mostly showed low-budget exploitation films that were full of over-the-top dialogue, violence, and sex—and usually some pretty outlandish plots, special effects, and characters. The name comes from a theater practice known as the "grind policy," a film-programming strategy dating back to the early 1920s which continuously showed movies at cut-rate ticket prices that typically rose over the course of the day.
Tarantino and Rodriguez grew up in these theaters, absorbing thousands of hours of blacksploitation, horror, women-in-prison, martial arts, spaghetti westerns, samurai, and revenge flicks—an influence that can be seen in early movies from both of their films.
For the Grindhouse double-feature, they simply leaned into it...hard.
It was shown in theaters as a complete double feature with two feature-length segments: Rodriguez's zombie horror flick Planet Terror and Tarantino's Death Proof. Both movies are bookended for fictional movie previews in the grindhouse tradition. Oddly enough, two of those fake movies turned into actual movies in the following years, Machete starring Danny Trejo and Hobo With a Shotgun starring Rutger Hauer.
Death Proof was the story of a retired movie stuntman, who goes by the moniker of Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell). He's not quite right in the head and gets his jollies by finding groups of young women, following them for a while, and then killing them on the highway in a suped up muscle car that has been "death proofed" with a roll cage and other modifications typically made by stunt drivers for cars that are intended to crash on screen.
He gets away with it because he has a knack for making the crashes look like accidents.
It's a women's power movie and it's also a tribute to classic car chase movies like Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, Gone in 60 Seconds, and Vanishing Point (1971).