Quentin Tarantino, the mastermind behind some of the most iconic films of our time, shared the three films that have significantly influenced his unique style of directing.
These films, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” “Black Sabbath,” and “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein,” have not only shaped his cinematic approach but also his understanding of genre and storytelling.
“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” directed by Sergio Leone, is a classic spaghetti western that has left an indelible mark on Tarantino’s work. The film’s narrative structure, stylistic elements, and character development have all found their way into Tarantino’s oeuvre. The influence is particularly evident in his own westerns, such as “Django Unchained” and “The Hateful Eight,” where he employs similar stylistic elements and narrative structures.
“Black Sabbath,” directed by Mario Bava, is another film that has significantly influenced Tarantino. He mentions that he became aware of Bava’s work after watching “Black Sabbath” on late-night television, and he began to notice other movies in the TV guide that had Bava’s name attached to them. He describes Bava’s style as having a “big cool operatic quality,” which he found appealing.
Importantly, Tarantino notes that it was the work of these directors that got him thinking in terms of shots and recognizing a cinematic style and a signature in movies. This was a shift from simply liking a movie to understanding and appreciating the director’s unique style and the quality in the movies that was beyond just a good movie versus another good movie.
Even when he would see a Mario Bava movie he didn’t like, he still recognized the style and the same operatic quality. This understanding of a director’s style has been influential in Tarantino’s own approach to filmmaking and is evident in all of Tarantino’s films, which are known for their distinct visual style and narrative flair.
Lastly, “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” had a profound impact on Tarantino’s understanding of genre. As a young boy, Tarantino’s favorite types of movies were monster movies, particularly the Universal monster movies from the 1930s and 1940s, and physical comedies, with a particular fondness for Abbott and Costello.
“Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” was a revelation for the young Tarantino because it combined his two favorite genres – horror and comedy – into one film. He describes this realization as bending his mind, as he hadn’t previously understood that two distinct genres could coexist in a single movie. He compares this blending of genres to the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, expressing surprise and delight at the result.
Tarantino recalls that even as a young boy, he was making genre distinctions, despite not knowing the term ‘genre.’ He thought of “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” as the greatest movie ever because it combined his two favorite types of movies. He appreciated that when the movie was scary, it was genuinely scary, and when it was funny, it was genuinely funny.
The realization that “you could do that” was a revelation for the young Tarantino and had a profound impact on his approach to filmmaking. This blending of genres has become a hallmark of Tarantino’s work, with films like “From Dusk Till Dawn” and “Kill Bill” seamlessly combining elements of horror, comedy, action, and more.
These three films helped shape Tarantino’s understanding of cinema, teaching him the importance of a director’s unique style, the power of genre blending, and the impact of narrative structure. They have influenced his approach to filmmaking, leading him to create some of the most iconic and influential films of the past few decades.