Which cult classic tops the list?
Cowboys? Occasionally. A plethora of A-List actors? Always. Romance? Sometimes. Blood? Absolutely.
Tarantino’s films are infamous. Whether we’re following a regiment of Nazi hunters or a revenge fuelled kung-fu heroine in her search for an evil villain named Bill, the eccentric American has produced some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. From oscar winning performances to journalists criticising Tarantino supposed glamourising of violence, the director certainly attracts a lot of attention for his films.
QT’s talents are undeniable, he is a director unlike many, capable of producing some of cinema’s most iconic on screen moments. However, one thing isn’t quite so clear amongst fans, critics and viewers from across the globe…
Which cult classic tops the list?
9. Death Proof (2007) IMDB Rating: 7.1 / 10
PLOT: ’Two separate sets of voluptuous women are stalked at different times by a scarred stuntman who uses his “death proof” cars to execute his murderous plans.’
The lowest of the nine on IMDB and personally my least favourite Tarantino film in the list. Death Proof is widely regarded as a ‘low point’ in Tarantino’s career. The plot proposes an exciting adrenaline joy ride of terror. The reality; dialogue that drags the film along, forgettable characters and an abrupt ending, even the exhilarating final car chase scene can’t save this film from sitting at the bottom of the pile.
8. Kill Bill Volume 2 (2004) IMDB Rating 8.0 / 10
PLOT: ‘The Bride continues her quest of vengeance against her former boss and lover Bill, the reclusive bouncer Budd and the treacherous, one-eyed Elle.’
After the impressive prequel ‘Kill Bill Volume 1’ in 2003, the release of the second instalment of the Kung Fu action thriller was eagerly anticipated. In a film stretching over two hours of blood spilling assassination, the second volume unfortunately doesn’t quite reach the heights of the first flick. However, the good thing about Tarantino is that for every scene that strikes a bum note, there’s at least four or five that hit the mark exceptionally. Some of the showdowns in the sequel better those shown in the first, especially The Bride’s (Uma Thurman) clash with Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) in Budd’s trailer.
7. Jackie Brown (1997) : IMDB rating 7.5/10
PLOT: ‘A middle-aged woman finds herself in the middle of a huge conflict that will either make her a profit or cost her life.’
As one of Tarantino’s earlier releases, Jackie Brown became somewhat of a victim of the director’s previous successes. Many people were disappointed with the film when it was first release as it didn’t live up to the hype caused by Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. However, I consider Jackie Brown to be Tarantino’s most underrated movie. The big names in the cast like Robert De Niro, Jane Fonda and of course Samuel L Jackson, all deliver strong performances in a film that sways away from the routine violent self-consciously hip crime films that normally fit the Tarantino mould and instead portrays an inter-racial romance of two middle aged characters. Jackie Brown is a fine movie, and arguably Tarantino’s most mature film, that often misses out on credit due to the success of other Tarantino blockbusters.
6. The Hateful Eight (2015) IMDB Rating 7.9 / 10
PLOT: ‘In the dead of a Wyoming winter, a bounty hunter and his prisoner find shelter in a cabin currently inhabited by a collection of nefarious characters.’
In a somewhat stage play of a ‘who done it’ murder mystery, The Hateful Eight is Tarantino’s most recent and longest film to date. With an Academy Award for ‘Best Original Score’, the film looks and sounds exceptional. In true Tarantino fashion, the film will leave you laughing, scratching your head in mystery and more often then not taking sharp intakes of breath as one of the film’s protagonist’s loses their head (quite literally). I alongside many did feel that the film was perhaps too long at 3 hours 7 minutes, however, if you are willing to fully divulge into what is a fantastic murder mystery with a cast packed to the brim of Hollywood A – Listers then The Hateful Eight certainly won’t disappoint.
5. Kill Bill Volume 1 (2003) IMDB Rating 8.1 / 10
PLOT: ‘The Bride wakens from a four-year coma. The child she carried in her womb is gone. Now she must wreak vengeance on the team of assassins who betrayed her – a team she was once part of.’
In a medley of blood, sweat and tears, the first instalment of the Kung Fu thriller is an instant classic, but needless to say it certainly isn’t suitable for all audiences. Admittedly, the film isn’t always coherent, and there are a number of scenes that leave the viewer wondering what on earth is going on, however, it is an extremely intoxicating picture. We follow The Bride (Uma Thurman) through her quest for answers and in due course vengeance against those who betrayed her in what is a bold and brash cinematic experience. After after a six-year absence from film, Kill Bill Volume 1 depicts the infamous Tarantino genre.
4. Django Unchained (2009) IMDB Rating 8.5 / 10
PLOT: ‘With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.’
Tarantino’s highest grossing film, Django Unchained, is a brutally hilarious film littered with stellar performances from a star studded cast. With Jamie Foxx, Samuel L Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio all making appearances, the film is as thrilling and smart mouthed and inventively bloody as all true Tarantino fans lusted for. DiCaprio is gleefully sadistic, Waltz is at his scheming best and Foxx’s performance as a revenge seeking gun slinger once again highlights Tarantino’s exceptional casting qualities. The only thing that stops the film reaching my coveted top spot is the fact is does drag a little, especially in the final chapter, but don’t get me wrong, this wild west thrill ride will keep you glued to your sofa.
3. Pulp Fiction (1994) IMDB Rating 8.9 / 10
PLOT: ‘The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.’
A film that almost optimises great cinema. Regardless of whether you have even seen the film, Pulp Fiction is simply impossible to avoid. Whether it be a poster displayed in a student’s bedroom, or one of Jules’ (Samuel L Jackson) defining quotes from the movie featuring on the latest hip hop track, even after it’s release 22 years ago, Pulp Fiction is still a household classic. It is regarded as Tarantino’s most famous film, weaving together a series of events through an ingenious non-linear plot, revealing key moments of the film throughout a rollercoaster of action. Tarantino’s ability to kill off main characters in such a nonchalant manner, gives Pulp Fiction an unpredictable tension that keeps the viewer guessing throughout two and a half hours of cinematic perfection.
2. Reservoir Dogs (1992) IMDB Rating 8.4 / 10
PLOT: ‘After a simple jewellery heist goes terribly wrong, the surviving criminals begin to suspect that one of them is a police informant.’
Many 21st century Tarantino fans, see his Django Unchained/ Hateful Eight shoot-em-up blood fuelled thriller style to be his defining style, and in turn, his most successful work. However, in my opinion, Tarantino is at his best when utilising the less is more strategy that works so well in Pulp Fiction for example. Sure, Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs have their fair share of bloodshed, but it’s when Tarantino focuses solely on the story and the characters, as opposed to making a three hour ‘epic’, that Tarantino’s directing expertise shine through.
Reservoir Dogs is a 99 minute spectacle of flawless storytelling. The bare-bones set alongside the character driven structure really demonstrates the success of ‘less is more.’ Reservoir Dogs reminds you of the best cinema of that decade – perhaps the Last Great Decade of Cinema – when film could still be raw, exciting and deliciously different. Reservoir Dogs announced the arrival of one of modern cinema’s hottest talents, and he arrived all guns blazing.
1. Inglorious Basterds (2009) IMDB Rating 8.3 / 10
PLOT: ‘In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a plan to assassinate Nazi leaders by a group of Jewish U.S. soldiers coincides with a theatre owner’s vengeful plans for the same.’
Whether it’s my interest in the Second World War, Brad Pitt’s bizarre yet hilarious performance, or Michael Fassbender’s German accent, Inglorious Basterds is a brutal WWII fantasy that blends all of Tarantino’s finest qualities into two and a half hours of mayhem.
With a number of potential chart toppers in this list, there is one thing that separates Inglorious from the rest of Tarantino’s resume; Christoph Waltz. His chilling Oscar winning turn as ruthless Colonel Hans Landa aka ‘Jew Hunter’ is truly exceptional, and left me fearing for my own wellbeing, never mind heroine Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent), who on a number of occasions finds herself on the receiving end of the Colonel’s cunning capabilities. He creates a character unlike any Nazi I’ve seen depicted in film, an evil, sardonic, mannered and absurdly infectious to watch, Waltz is the perfect villain.
The film echoes similarities to Tarantino’s previous work, the narrative jumps of Pulp Fiction, the sadistic savagery of Django Unchained and the unrivalled violence of Reservoir Dogs. A rich dialogue, perfectly timed comedy with a dash of brutal assassination, Inglorious Basterds rewrites the course of history in true Tarantino fashion.