8 Scenes Quentin Tarantino Stole From Other Movies
Quentin Tarantino is almost undoubtedly one of the most influential directors working today. His movies inform so many other films, which is funny because his movies are informed so heavily by other films as well. Avowed film nerd Tarantino frequently lifts his films from other sources, and he makes no secret of his indirect plagiarism. “I steal from every single movie ever made,” Tarantino said once in an interview with Empire. “If my work has anything, it’s that I’m taking this from this and that from that and mixing them together.” But what, specifically, has Tarantino stolen from other films? We’ve compiled some of his most egregious examples of “borrowing” scenes from other films for his own movies.
1. Black Sunday; Kill Bill: Vol. 1
In one of the most thrilling and striking scenes of the first volume in his Kill Bill two-parter, Tarantino divides the screen in two to show Uma Thurman’s The Bride lying in a hospital bed while a nurse skulks to her room with a syringe, prepared to poison her as she sleeps. The striking visual motif and the individual shots mirror almost exactly a scene from the trailer of the 1977 thriller film Black Sunday, shown above. You can view Tarantino’s version of the scene here, and be amazed that Tarantino is film-savvy enough to lift a sequence off a movie trailer.
2. A Professional Gun; Django Unchained
In the “Spaghetti Southern” Django Unchained, Tarantino pays direct tribute to the spaghetti Westerns of the ’60s and ’70s, as in this climactic scene wherein Christoph Waltz shoots the villainous Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) point blank (at about 1:55 in the above clip). Surprised, Candie looks down at a spot of blood on his boutineer before looking back up towards his shooter. This visually striking death mirrors almost exactly the death scene from the 1968 spaghetti Western A Professional Gun, when Franco Nero’s character spots blood on his boutineer before looking up at his shooter with surprise.
3. City of the Living Dead; Kill Bill, Vol. 1
And here’s another striking death scene lifted from elsewhere. During the extended climactic final battle in Japan, Uma Thurman dispenses with one of Lucy Liu’s most skilled thugs by driving a board with several nails stuck into it through her skull. The schoolgirl assassin stands for a moment before crumbling to the ground, her eyes leaking tears of blood as she realizes that death is upon her. The scene explicitly recalls an infamous scene from the 1980 Italian horror City of the Living Dead, wherein Daniela Doria dies slowly, hypnotically as her eyes bleed before she begins regurgitating intestines. Thankfully Tarantino didn’t go that far with his recreation.
4. Karate Kiba; Pulp Fiction
Everyone remembers the bible quote from Pulp Fiction, uttered twice by Samuel L. Jackson’s badass hitman Jules throughout the course of the film. The intimidating passage he recites to his victims isn’t actually a bible quote from Ezekiel 25:17, as he says — the final two lines of the speech are similar but the rest paraphrases bible passages from various books. Tarantino didn’t do the research himself to come up with the iconic quote, but instead used almost the exact text that is recited at the beginning of the 1973 Japanese martial arts film Karate Kiba, released as The Bodyguard in the U.S. Tarantino may not read the bible, but he sure watches a lot of movies.
5. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; Django Unchained
It should come as no surprise that Tarantino often pays homage to one of his favorite films from one of his favorite directors, Sergio Leone. There are visual cues alluding to his famous spaghetti Westerns throughout his filmography, but he recalls the film through dialogue and editing in this scene, at the very end of Django Unchained. Samuel L. Jackson’s villainous Uncle Tom yells out at Django, calling him an “uppity son of a”– right until he’s cut off by a massive explosion, leaving Django to revel in his victory and ride off. Compare that with the end of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, when Eli Wallach’s ugly Tuco calls out to Clint Eastwood’s unnamed Good, “You know what you are! Just a dirty son of a” — before the soundtrack cuts him off, leaving Eastwood to revel in his victory and ride off.
6. City on Fire; Reservoir Dogs
Most of these are simple scenes, but the plot and many of the visuals of Tarantino’s 1992 debut film Reservoir Dogs are lifted wholesale from the Hong Kong crime film City on Fire, released five years earlier. Cracked.com aptly describes the similarities in plotting, saying that both films feature a gang of jewel thieves conducting a heist on orders from an older crime boss. Things go wrong during the heist, and one of the thieves snaps and kills every stranger in the store. Eventually the tension surrounding the botched heist culminates in a Mexican standoff wherein next to no one survives. Tarantino has acknowledged his considerable love for City on Fire and even dedicated the script for Reservoir Dogs to City on Fire‘s star Chow Yun-Fat. The above video chronicles the many similarities, visual and plot-based, between the two films.
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