It is very common for filmmakers to reference films they admire. Quentin Tarantino is one filmmaker who has never been secretive about his influences. He grew up adoring cinema and gained a vast knowledge of movies from around the world when he worked at Video Archives in the 1980s.
Quentin Tarantino has been very open about the fact that he borrows elements of films he admires and uses them in his own film. Whether he is paying homage or ripping them off is up to interpretation.
In a 1994 interview, in regards to accusations that “Reservoir Dogs” completely copied the 1987 Hong Kong film “City on Fire,” Tarantino said, “I steal from every movie ever made… Great artists steal; they don’t do homages.” In any case, his admiration for older films and their techniques is very clear.
Many of the films that inspired Tarantino to be a filmmaker were made between the 1950s and 1970s, and upon reading what movies he lists as influential, there are many movies that you would not expect to see. This just goes to show that although Tarantino’s movies tend to be very violent, that does not necessarily mean all of his influences are violent as well.
15. Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955)
“Kiss Me Deadly” is a pulp fiction story typical of 1950s film noir, full of tough guys, damsels in distress, and the ensuing violence. This was a popular film upon its release, and was a huge influence on the feel of “Pulp Fiction,” a film whose title even comes from the popular cheap and sleazy novels.
In fact, “Kiss Me Deadly” was based on a novel by Mickey Spillane, one of the most well-known pulp fiction novelists of the time. The main character’s name is Mike Hammer, a tough-sounding name you could imagine hearing in a Tarantino film.
Mike Hammer was played by Ralph Meeker, and his performance in this film was the inspiration for Bruce Willis’ character Butch Coolidge in “Pulp Fiction” in that he is also a tough looking guy who has been around the block and knows how to take care of himself when people are after him.
14. The Dirty Dozen (Robert Aldrich, 1967)
“The Dirty Dozen” is another film directed by Robert Aldrich that inspired Quentin Tarantino, but in a completely different way. This film was a huge influence on Tarantino’s World War II action bonanza “Inglourious Basterds,” which Tarantino called “my ‘Dirty Dozen’ or ‘Where Eagles Dare’ or ‘Guns of Navarone’ kind of thing” about a group of men on a mission.
Audiences have seen many war films about gung-ho American troops who go out of their way to cause carnage while fighting the evil Nazis, but not with a Tarantino spin on it. There is a lot of Tarantino-esque dialogue on the Nazis’ propaganda films in “Inglourious Basterds,” namely “Pride of the Nation,” but once the violence starts, it is pure warfare.
13. Lady Snowblood (Toshiya Fujita, 1973)
“Lady Snowblood” is a Japanese action film that tells the tale of a scorned woman seeking revenge against those who harmed her family. It will come as no surprise that this was a huge inspiration for the “Kill Bill” movies, as the plots are basically identical.
This is especially obvious in “Kill Bill: Volume I” during the fight between The Bride (Uma Thurman) and O-Ren (Lucy Liu) in the snowy garden above the House of Blue Leaves. O-Ren is wearing a very similar white outfit to what the protagonist in “Lady Snowblood” wore, and the fighting choreography is as majestic and brutal as it is in “Lady Snowblood.” Even a song from the “Lady Snowblood” soundtrack, “The Flower of Carnage,” plays after The Bride defeats O-Ren in combat.
In the anime sequence, O-Ren is twisting her sword into a Yukuza boss’s body and says, “Does my face look familiar to you?” Kaji’s character in “Lady Snowblood” asks her mother’s rapist, “Does this face not remind you of a woman that you raped?” before killing him.
12. Game of Death (Robert Clouse, 1978)
The infamous martial arts film star Bruce Lee was in the process of filming “Game of Death” when he died. This film became notorious for using body doubles in Lee’s place to complete the film five years after his death.
Tarantino performed a great homage to Bruce Lee in “Kill Bill: Volume I.” Bruce Lee wore a yellow and black jumpsuit, and The Bride wears a female version of this outfit. There are many similar camera shots were used during the fight scenes of each film, mainly close ups of The Bride and her opponents during the showdown at the House of Blue Leaves.
11. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
“The Searchers” is one of the great Hollywood Westerns made when the genre was at its peak in the 1950s. Many have said that “Kill Bill: Volume II” is more like a Western than a martial arts film, and its homage to “The Searchers” really makes that point.
During The Bride’s wedding rehearsal, she walks to in front of the chapel, and the shot shows her walking towards a door showing with an empty desert in the background, exactly like a shot of John Wayne’s character in “The Searchers.” This same shot was used again in “Inglourious Basterds” when you see Shosana running away in the field from the door in the house.
In the scenes in both of these films, there is a slow-burning tension building up in each of them and the protagonist heads out into the great unknown and the uncertainly of what is out there.
10. The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982)
While Tarantino has never made a science fiction or a horror film, the influence of John Carpenter’s alien horror classic “The Thing” is obvious in “The Hateful Eight,” a mystery western. While the two films couldn’t be any more different genre-wise, the quiet, brooding tension in each film keeps their audience guessing who will die next.
Both films use the sounds of fierce wind and snow, and the quietness and isolation of the films’ locations to great effect to create a great sense of tension. None of the characters are to be trusted, and people die one by one. It cannot be a coincidence that Kurt Russell stars in both films.
9. Foxy Brown (Jack Hill, 1974)
Tarantino has always had a soft spot for the blaxpoitation cinema of the 1970s. Actress Pam Grier is known for her acting in these films, and her reputation is used to great effect in “Jackie Brown,” Tarantino’s homage to the genre.
“Foxy Brown” is Grier’s most well-known film, and “Jackie Brown” showcases Grier’s ability to play a hardened woman who does not let others push her around, especially the men in either the police force or the criminal world. She conducts a scheme to avoid going to jail and get rich at the same time. The protagonist of each film has the surname Brown, and the title of each film is the full name of the protagonist.