That Quentin Tarantino is quite the unique film maker no? With a filmography spanning more than two decades, the 52 year old continues to make entertaining films that are nothing like anything else being made. One of these reasons may very well be his unflinching penchant for violence and its ability not only to progress a story or outline a character, but the incomparable way in which it serves as an attraction.
His eighth film, The Hateful Eight is still playing at cinemas and the formula has certainly not been tempered. Today, we’re taking a look at QT’s most violent scenes in all of his films (I’m splitting Kill Bill up since they were released two years apart).
Oh and this is written with the intention of taking a trip down memory lane, so if you haven’t seen these films, be warned, it’s spoiler heavy.
Reservoir Dogs (1992): Stuck in the Middle With Mr. Blonde
Quentin kicked off his career with his 1992 crime flick that dealt with the aftermath of a bungled jewelry store heist. Laying low in an abandoned warehouse, paranoia starts to set in and the robbers surmise that there must be a cop in their midst. Well it just so happens that Mr. Blonde, the crew’s resident psychopath has a boy in blue in his trunk and intends to get some information.
Tied down to a chair and bloody from being beaten, the cop, Marvin Nash is left alone with Mr. Blonde and a near dead Mr. Orange who is bleeding out on the floor from a gunshot wound. This is where Mr. Blonde turns on K-Billy’s Super Sounds of the 70s’, which starts blaring Steelers Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle With You”.
Not concerned with information, but rather just itching to fulfill his blood lust, Mr. Blonde takes out a razor and starts dancing to the funky rock song. He then proceeds to viciously hack off Nash’s right ear as the camera pans away and leaves the audience with nothing their own grotesque visions and Nash’s agonising screams. This would be the beginning of an effective technique for Tarantino. Despite his films packing in a tonne of violence, he often utilises off screen violence too, in the hope that what the viewers conjure up during this omission is far worse.
Pulp Fiction (1994): “Oh man I shot Marvin in the face”
That’s putting it mildly to be honest.
Tarantino’s sophomore effort was and always will be his masterpiece and while it broke new ground for the way in which narratives were delivered, it also succeeded in catching viewers off guard.
Returning from a routine job, hitmen Jules Winfield and Vincent Vega drive their inside man through the valley. As they wax philosophical on religion and miracles, Vincent turns to Marvin to ask his opinion, his gun positioned in a very precarious position. Halfway through his line of questioning, his gun fires and blows Marvins head and everything that was neatly tucked inside it, all over the rear window of the car, in broad daylight.
Vincent turns and calmly exclaims “Oh man, I shot Marvin in the face”, while Jules becomes hysterical. The two are literally covered in brain matter as they argue about how they’re going to get out of this situation.
It is simultaneously shocking, hilarious and fitting for a film that hinges on things going bad at all the wrong times.
Jackie Brown (1997): Parking lot execution
This one is tough. Regarded as Tarantino’s maturest film, Jackie Brown is based on Elmore Leanord’s novel Rum Punch. Tarantino’s version however, pays homage to the blaxplotation genre, bolstered by the casting of Coffee and Foxy Brown star Pam Grier.
The reason this is tough is because it is the only film in Tarantino’s catalog that contains no more than one scene containing blood, and it’s tame by QT standards. But it isn’t the most violent part of the movie. Every time I watch Jackie Brown, I never cease to be shocked by how brutal and and abrupt it is when Louis shoots Melanie in the parking lot.
As the two exit the mall where they have just played their part in a bit of money laundering, Louis is at breaking point, as Melanie continues to berate and laugh at him. When Louis realises that he can’t find the car, he loses it, warns Melanie to shut up and when she doesn’t, he whips out his gun and puts one in her chest. We never see her get shot, the camera stays fixed on Louis’ enraged face as he shoots her again while she is down. The visual of an ex-con being pushed over the line and shooting a defenseless woman in the middle of the day, in a public place has always stuck with me.
Kill Bill – Vol. 1 (2003): Showdown at the House of Blue Leaves
Tarantino took 6 years to release a film after Jackie Brown and when he came back, he blew the budget on make up and blood.
Focusing on yet another genre film, QT tackled his own Hong Kong Samurai film with Kill Bill.
As The Bride embarks on a road to hunting down those who attempted to murder her at her wedding, the climax of Vol.1 sees her catch up with O-Ren Ishii. But before she can get that sliver of revenge, she must dispatch every member of The Crazy 88, O-Ren’s clan of fighters. And with a quick switch to black and white (presumably to keep censors at bay), the Bride literally cuts her way through each member. I’m talking decapitations, dismembered limbs, a break dance where she cuts everyone off at their ankles and more arterial spray than you can shake a Hattori Hanzo sword at. When its snaps back to colour, the floor is red with blood and Crazy 88 members crawl away with missing appendages. It’s freakin beautiful.
Kill Bill – Vol. 2 (2004): Caravan Reunion
Originally pitched as one complete film, Kill Bill was split up due to its running time. Its funny though because after watching them, you can’t really see them existing as the same product. Vol. 1 is colourful, extravagant and action packed, whereas Vol.2 relies on drawn out dialogue, emotional punches and drab (by comparison) cinematography.
So much so that there is really only one notable fight in Vol. 2. When Elle and The Bride finally meet, it’s in a trailer and what follows is a close quarters scrap that sees Elle get her other eye ripped out and stepped on. Left squirming and writhing in pain, The Bride leaves the caravan with Elles torturous screams filling the air.
Death Proof (2007): Vehicular Woman Slaughter
Ah Grindhouse. The movie that no one understood and thus, led to its downfall.
Quentin Tarantino and fellow filmmaker Robert Rodriguez (From Dusk till Dawn which was written by Tarantino) teamed up to pay yet another homage, but this time to something a little more obscure. ‘Grindhouse’ refers to cinemas in the 70s’ that would play low budget exploitation films, usually in double bills. Rodriguez’s zombie flick Planet Terror plays first while Tarantino’s Death Proof closes it. Death Proof is basically a “slasher flick with a car acting as the machete” as Stuntman Mike stalks young women and murders them on the road. The film is more or less split up into two parts – the first acting as a horror film and the second, a back to basics car chase movie.
Our gore, if you haven’t guessed, shows its face at the end of the first half. After acquiring his four targets, Stuntman Mike accelerates head on into the clueless victims, cuts on his light just before he hits and crashes spectacularly. We then get four shots of what happened to each victim: One is hurled out of the car and hits the road; the driver receives a face full of glass; another has her leg ripped clean off and propelled into the air and our last poor girl has a tire rearrange her face.
Inglourious Basterds (2009): Hitlers Alternate Death
Right. So a Quentin Tarantino WWII film with a fictional story. How do I pinpoint this? Is it it the bar scene where a group of American and British soldiers are discovered and the ensuing shootout leaves virtually no survivors? Nope, too quick. How a bout the Bear Jew cracking open a German soldiers head with a baseball bat. Na, not gory enough. The scalpings? The Swastika carvings?
No friends, despite Inglourious Basterds containing an onslaught of blood and viscera, there is nothing as downright crazy as two American/Jewish soldiers reigning machine gun fire from a balcony, upon a theater full of patriotic Germans. And then, as a final act of satisfaction, drilling Hitlers face with bullets. Revenge fantasy’s don’t come much ballsier.
Django Unchained (2012) Carnage at Candy Land
Continuing his work with alternate histories, Tarantino concocted what is essentially another fantasy revenge flick. This time it’s in the form of a slave who takes on a plantation owner in order to win back his love.
Django Unchained is pretty damn violent, and horrific in some parts – the Mandingo fight is so vivid and sickeningly audible. Some scenes present violence in such an over the top manner that they wouldn’t come close to being on this list – QT’s “dynamite” cameo appearance for instance.
But I have to give it to the shootout in Candy’s mansion after Dr. Shultz loses his life. It may be over the top but it borders on making you feel nauseous. The walls are soaked in blood and Django uses a downed enemy as cover, which continually gets him shot and opened up. The splattering of blood doesn’t help either.
The Hateful Eight (2015): Someone dun poisoned the coffee
Well I really buried myself here. Tarantino truly left no stone unturned, as his latest just gets bloodier as it goes on. But sometimes you just have to look at it from a different point of view. Sure, Jody getting his head blown off and it splattering all over his sister daisy al a Pulp Fiction was gruesome but Samuel L. Jackson made it funny. Yes, Bob “The Mexican” having his head evaporated courtesy of dual pistols was gory but it was over the top.
Which leaves me to two scenes and I have decided not to use the massacre at Minnie’s Haberdashery, even though we’re witnessing a group of innocent civilians gets murdered in cold blood.
Instead, how can we deny that vomiting scene of the credit it so sorely deserves? When the haberdasheries coffee pot gets poisoned, it leaves two of its occupants severely sick and by that I mean ready to blow projectile chunks of blood from their mouths. Hell, Daisy even cops a fresh batch of it all over her face, right after John “The Hangman” punches one of her teeth out. Then, she puts him out of his misery with a bullet through his back, so you see, this is why I came to this decision.