Death Proof is an American thriller film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Released in 2007, Death Proof is one half of the Grindhouse double feature. The other half is the American action horror film Planet Terror, written and directed by Robert Rodriguez. Outside of the United States, these two were released individually due to Tarantino’s understanding that the double feature is a cinematic concept known only within the United States.
The movie follows Stuntman Mike, a psychopathic murderer and former Hollywood stunt car driver, as he stalks and kills young women from behind the wheel of his modified “death-proof” stunt cars. This method allows him to stage their deaths as lethal car accidents. Though he succeeds in slaughtering the first group of ladies in Austin, Texas, the second group in Lebanon, Tennessee proves to be too much for him to handle.
- Kurt Russell - Stuntman Mike: A former stuntman with a scarred face who stalks and kills women. His first car in the film is a 1970 Chevy Nova, and his second car is a 1969 Dodge Charger. He acts as the film's antagonist.
- Sydney Tamiia Poitier - Jungle Julia Lucai: An outgoing radio DJ and fashion model who meets up with her old friends from school to celebrate her birthday. She is made out to be a "bully" by Pam when she talks to Mike about their run-ins back when they attended school.
- Vanessa Ferlito - Arlene: A model. She is the one who notices Mike following the group. She accepts a dare from Julia to give him a lap dance.
- Jordan Ladd - Shanna: Her father owns a lake house they intend to use for celebrating Julia's birthday.
- Monica Staggs - Lena Frank: A drug-dealing friend of Julia, Shanna, and Arlene.
- Rose McGowan - Pam: A customer at Warren's bar who accepts Mike's offer to give her a ride home. She is also an old schoolmate of Julia's.
- Michael Parks - Earl McGraw: A Texas sheriff. He believes that Mike caused the fatal car accident on purpose. He also appears in From Dusk till Dawn, Kill Bill, and Planet Terror.
- James Parks - Edgar McGraw: Earl's son who is also a Texas Ranger.
- Marley Shelton - Dakota Block: Earl's anesthesiologist daughter with whom he seems to have a conflicted relationship. She is a main character in Planet Terror.
- Zoe Bell - Zoe: A stuntwoman from New Zealand who visits Abernathy, Kim and Lee on their time off from filming. She plays "Ship's Mast" on the hood of the 1970 Dodge Challenger. She acts as the film's main protagonist.
- Rosario Dawson - Abernathy Ross: A make-up artist.
- Tracie Thoms - Kim Mathis: A stuntwoman. She is persuaded by Zoe to play "Ship's Mast," and drives the Dodge Challenger.
- Mary Elizabeth Winstead - Lee Montgomery: An upcoming actress who picks up Zoe from the airport with Abernathy and Kim. She wears a cheerleader outfit. She stays with Jasper as a form of collateral for the Dodge Challenger.
- Jonathan Loughran - Jasper: The redneck owner of the Dodge Challenger. He also appears in Kill Bill: Volume One.
Mike’s use of a stunt car as a weapon was the result of Tarantino’s fascination with the death-defying stunts drivers do for movies, and how they customize their cars to keep themselves from sustaining fatal injuries. It was also the ingredient he needed to keep his movie from being a “straight slasher film,” but maintain the structure of a slasher film. Death Proof is homage to muscle cars as well as the exploitation and slasher flicks of the 1970s. Quentin’s film was nominated for three awards, including the 2008 Empire Award in the Best Horror category.