What Were Quentin Tarantino’s Favorite Childhood Films?

Violence is a major motif in Quentin Tarantino’s movies and his interest in movie violence stems back to his childhood. When he was a kid, he was blown away by a violent scene from a comedy movie he saw on television. In addition, this film showed Tarantino it was possible to mix and match movie genres.

Quentin Tarantino near a Pulp Fiction poster
Quentin Tarantino | Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images

A classic horror-comedy

First, a little background. In the 1930s, Universal Pictures began a number of Gothic horror movie franchises. Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Invisible Man are the most famous. By the late 1940s, these franchises had gotten stale. It was the right time to shake up the formula. The studio took things in a different direction by creating crossover comedy films.

In these films, monsters crossed paths with comedy duo Abbott and Costello. The first and most acclaimed of these films was Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Subsequently, Universal released films where Abbott and Costello met the Invisible Man and the Mummy. While the premises of these films are odd, critics and fans enjoy them. These Abbott and Costello monster movies are clear predecessors to Scooby-Doo.

Why Quentin Tarantino loved ‘Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein’

The trailer for Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

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In Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s monster interrupts a comedy scene by throwing a helpless nurse out of a window, killing her. According to the book Quentin Tarantino: The Man, The Myths and The Movies, this contrast in tones and genres stayed with a young Tarantino. His viewing of the film made him aware of “genre distinction in films” for the first time.

According to the book Quentin Tarantino Interviews, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy were Tarantino’s favorite films as a child. In his words, “You get a great comedy and a great horror movie — all together.” Tarantino’s favorite genres as a child were classic comedies and horror films, so he was very taken by those films. He felt no movie would ever top Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

Some horror-comedies include funny villains. Some of the Child’s Play sequels are good examples of that trope. Tarantino was struck by the fact that the villains and horror sequences from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein were played seriously.

How the film influenced Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino discussing Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

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It’s easy to draw a parallel between Abbott and Costello’s monster movies and Tarantino’s movies. Both combine different genres, violence, and a sense of humor. Tarantino has said Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein affected him as a filmmaker. However, Tarantino draws a distinction between his work and Abbott and Costello’s. “I don’t do it like Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein where you’re at the funny part, then you’re at the scary part, then you’re at the funny part again,” he said, according to Quentin Tarantino Interviews. “To me, all my stuff is the funny part.”

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is a classic horror-comedy. It influenced Tarantino in a major way. It’s certainly worth seeing, for movie fans of all kinds.

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