How Quentin Tarantino Once Reacted to Stephen King Criticizing ‘Kill Bill’

Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 1 once received a personal critique from Stephen King where the author expressed his dislike for the film. Later on, Tarantino took the time to respond to King’s complaints in an old interview.

What Stephen King had to say about ‘Kill Bill’

Quentin Tarantino posing while holding a glass.
Quentin Tarantino | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Best-selling author Stephen King didn’t hold back any punches when it came to his critique of the Kill Bill film. In a review that he wrote for Entertainment Weekly, the author spoke about his love for cinema. But that love wasn’t nurtured by Kill Bill Vol. 1, which King found underwhelming and narcissistic.

“The blah movie was Kill Bill. You probably saw some good reviews of it, possibly even in this magazine,” King wrote. “Steve says don’t you believe it. Steve says you should remember that movie critics see movies free. Also, they don’t have to pay the babysitter or spring 10 bucks for the parking. They’re thus apt to rhapsodize over narcissistic stuff like Kill Bill, which announces itself as Quentin Tarantino’s Fourth Film, ain’t we la-di-da.”

Some of King’s points of criticism for the movie were its use of violence and his belief that the story wasn’t captivating.

“Uma Thurman tries hard, and she’s the best thing in the movie, but in the end she’s stuck playing a woman who’s a label instead of a human being: She is, God save us, the Bride,” he continued. “The violence is choreographed like an Esther Williams swim routine. When the Bride dispatches at least 70 kung-fu goons in one scene, blood spurts from amputated limbs, often in pretty spirals. And the movie’s litany of in-jokes is so tiresome.”

How Quentin Tarantino responded to Stephen King’s criticism

In a printed 2004 edition of Entertainment Weekly (via New Beverly Cinema), Tarantino had a lot to say about critics of Kill Bill Vol. 1. One of the common criticisms that Tarantino focused on was how Vol. 1 was a huge departure from Jackie Brown. Because of this, some found Vol. 1 a bit of a step down from his previous movie.

“But one thing that was semi-annoying to me in reading reviews for Vol. 1 was oh, this is very wild and stylish, but it’s a clear retreat from Jackie Brown,” Tarantino said. “’Clear Reatreat’ says I’m running away from what I did in Jackie Brown. But I’ve done that. I don’t have to prove I can do it, all right?”

He also mentioned King’s review of Vol. 1, understanding where the author was coming from at certain points.

“Stephen King took a dig at me for starting off Kill Bill with ‘Quentin Tarantino’s fourth film‘ – you know, la-di-da! I can imagine someone taking a cynical view like that. But to me, I mean it, and not in some airy-fairy way. This is my fourth movie and I haven’t done anything in a long time. It’s telling you who I am today, and the fifth will tell you something else. They’re all different places,” he added.

Quentin Tarantino ranked a Stephen King film adaptation high on his list of favorite films

Despite King criticizing Kill Bill Vol. 1, the IT writer has been a longtime fan of some of Tarantino’s other works. Likewise, Tarantino has also often spoken highly of the prolific author. Tarantino once showed his admiration for King’s work in a handwritten list of his favorite films of all time. On this list, which he gave to Empire(via IMDb) in 2008, he ranked the 1978 adaptation of King’s debut novel Carrie as number eight.

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