What Terrified ‘Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood’ Director Quentin Tarantino as a Child

Quentin Tarantino is a celebrated writer, actor, and director known for his ensemble casts, nonlinear storytelling, and violent aesthetic. Ironically, the Pulp Fiction director’s childhood fears weren’t all that typical. In fact, something unique terrified Tarantino as a kid. 

Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Quentin Tarantino loved ‘ Abbott and Costello’ in his youth 

Tarantino’s films are a blend of comedy, violence, and drama. That’s likely because Tarantino is a fan of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

The violent scene wherein Frankenstein’s monster interrupts a comedic moment by throwing a nurse out of a window and killing her resonated with Tarantino when he was little. He was blown away by the seamless blend of violence and comedy. As detailed in the book Quentin Tarantino: The Man, The Myths and The Movies, the contrast in tone made him aware of “genre distinction in films.”

Other childhood favorite’s of Tarantino’s include Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy, according to the book Quentin Tarantino Interviews. “You get a great comedy and a great horror movie — all together,” he said. That blend is evident in most, if not all, of Tarantino’s films. 

Quentin Tarantino was terrified of the nightly news as a child 

During a Paleyfest NY panel discussing Eli Roth’s History of Horror, Tarantino revealed what scared him as a child. 

“I remember exactly the first thing that frightened me,” Tarantino shared. “It terrified me, actually. Whenever it would come on, I would turn the TV off because I didn’t want to watch it. It wasn’t some horror movie. It wasn’t some dramatic thing.” 

Instead of the typical things a child fears, Tarantino was afraid of the criminals that were highlighted on the “Police News Watch” shown in his California hometown.

Quentin Tarantino feared wanted criminals throughout his childhood

Growing up in Los Angeles, Tarantino recalled the late-night news programs blaring warnings about wanted criminals.

“It was a ‘Police News Watch’ where it would say, ‘Police News Watch. These wanted criminals are loose in our city. Have you seen them?'” he recalled, adding:

And then it would show some criminal. And then they would describe his horrible crimes [and say,] ‘He is out and about so if you see him, do not try to apprehend him. Do not go by him. Call your local authorities.’

Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino | Christopher Jue/Getty Images

RELATED: ‘Dexter’: This Villain Was Inspired by a Real Serial Killer

More than anything else, Tarantino feared these wanted criminals. “For the rest of the night, that guy was bursting into my house and killing my entire family,” he said of his childhood imagination. “There was nothing that terrified me more than that.” 

For Tarantino, any news headline that detailed a criminal’s heinous crimes would keep him up at night. “Just before the Manson Family started happening, there was a serial killer running around Los Angeles killing people with a hammer,” Tarantino added. “That guy was terrifying me.” 

Inspired by these nightly news stories and, of course, the Manson Family, Tarantino would go on to create movies like Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood. Of course, Tarantino’s love of blended comedy and violence a la Abbott and Costello has also inspired many of his movies too.