Cinematic Music Videos: Howlin' For You/Grindhouse

Using his vast knowledge of obscure cinema, Tarantino managed to introduce us all to the exploitation films he grew up with. And to one degree or another we've seen him use these aesthetics in pretty much all of his films. However, Kill Bill was the first time I'd ever heard the word "grindhouse" mentioned. I think it's fair to say that most people in the current 30 and under age group hadn't heard of grindhouse prior to that film. However in 2007, exploitation cinema would become part of mainstream consciousness with the release of the Tarantino/Rodriguez co-production (aptly named) Grindhouse.

Grindhouse was a film made up of two films, with trailers to non existent films in between. This project was meant to recreate the grindhouse movie going experience for a new generation of film goers. When I saw the film in the theater, I was blown away. It remains one of the best movie going experiences I've ever had. The entire audience was in on it. They understood and took pleasure in the melodramatic acting, the action scenes and the gore. It was wonderful. Unfortunately, the film didn't do the kind of numbers that the studio would have liked and remains a dip in Tarantino's career (on par with Jackie Brown). It's a shame too, because what audiences missed out on by not seeing the film was a singular, almost interactive cinematic experience that happens only once in a while. It was a worthy experiment and not only brought the grindhouse "look" to many other media (video games, commercials and films) it also gave an opportunity to Jason Eisener to expand is trailer Hobo with a Shotgun into a feature film.

With the grindhouse aesthetic so popular nowadays, thanks to Tarantino, it's no surprise to see it wind up in the fabric of music videos.

The Black Key's music video Howlin' for You, is a full-on movie trailer to a film that doesn't exist, but should. The video features Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) on a path of revenge to find the man that killed her father. Along the way she beds and kills several men before finding and becoming romantically entangled with her father's murderer, played by Sean Patrick Flanery (Boondock Saints). With violence, action and sex (staples of exploitation cinema) as well as short turns from Corben Bernsen and Todd Bridges, this video is a perfect homage/parody of exploitation films from the 70s. The video's director, Chris Marrs Piliero knew exactly what he was doing. From the off beat casting to the voice over actor (I think it's the same guy), everything about this video is fun.

As a music video, Howlin' for You gets extraordinarily high marks. It homages grindhouse cinema without referencing anything in particular. It's familiar yet fresh and as a follow up to The Black Keys hilarious video for Tighten Up, it gives me hope for the future of music videos.

-Rob Out.