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Tarantino Filming in Santa Ynez Valley


Figueroa Mountain’s Winding Roads Will Star in Grind House

It’s been the talk of the Santa Ynez Valley for the past two weeks: Quentin Tarantino, along with Kurt Russell and other movie stars, have been calling northen Santa Barbara County home — and they aren’t just on a Sideways-inspired wine-guzzling binge. Grindhouse.jpg Rather, the director of Pulp Fiction and other pop culture-shaping hits has been using the roads of Figueroa Mountain as fodder for the upcoming film Grind House, which is slated for an April 6 release. (For photos of the film, click here.)

According to numerous reports, Grind House, a word that refers to rundown theaters which play B-movies non-stop, is a double-feature. Tarantino’s part of the film will be called Death Proof, a tale of a murderer named Stuntman Mike, played by Kurt Russell, who hunts down his hot lady victims in a bad-ass car. (One website says that Mickey Rourke was slated to play the role before Russell lept in.) The A&E Blog heard through the Buellton grapevine that the oak forests of the Los Padres National Forest are playing the backwoods of Virginia.

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Meanwhile, Tarantino’s friend and colleague Robert Rodriguez (of Sin City fame, among other great flicks) will be directing the second part of the double-feech, a zombie-like film called Planet Terror where small town deputies played by Rose McGowan and Freddy Rodriguez must take on the invading “sickos.” That film has been shooting in Austin, Texas.

During the Santa Barbara County filming, Tarantino and crew have been spotted shooting pool at the basement bar of the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott in Buellton, where they’re reportedly staying; sipping coffee at numerous cafes around Buellton and Solvang; and chowing down and holding court at Cold Spring Tavern. We’d like to think that they’re doing a fair share of wine tasting too, maybe doing a bit of slots and blackjack at the Chumash Casino, and hopefully trying some more historic eateries like Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos or the Hitching Post, if they could get a seat.

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According to Hollywood insiders, Grind House, which is being produced by The Weinstein Company, is laying the groundwork for a future series of exploitation films. Director Rodriguez has been quoted saying how easily this whole double-feature thing could be turned into a franchise and how every sort of exploitation film, from blakploitation to kung fu, could be reexamined through this modern lens. As such, the double features supposedly will be book-ended by fake trailers for spaghetti westerns, sexploitation movies, and others in the genre that was popularized during the 1970s, an era in which Tarantino finds utmost interest and satisfaction.

Other names associated with the films include Rosario Dawson, Tom Savini, Naveen Andrews, Michael Biehn, and Marley Shelton. One related article notes that Dawson plays Lindsay Lohan’s hair-dresser in the film, though Lohan does not actually show up on screen. And even the fake trailers will have stars and famous directors, so they’re also to be taken seriously. Well, at least as seriously as these sorts of films are intended to be taken.

So if you see Quentin or Kurt or Rosario walking around the Santa Ynez Valley this week, make sure to be cordial, hold your jaw in place, and don’t do anything stupid. Remember, stars are people too, a motto that’s made this county a haven for such big names since before our red-tiled roof fetish even began. And so long as they’re out and about supporting our homegrown restaurants and cafes, we’re happy to have them here. Just don’t run over any California condor while you’re at it.

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