Ever since Reservoir Dogs ignited the film world in 1992, Quentin Tarantino has carved his name into the annals of cinema with the precision and depth of a Hattori Hanzō samurai sword. Borrowing liberally and shamelessly from film classics and obscure B-movie gems of a bygone era, as well as embellishing with his own distinct brand of post-modern storytelling, the auteur has forged such a singular brand of filmmaking that Tarantino-esque is an actual entry in the dictionary.
What makes a Tarantino film so… well, Tarantino-esque? Exquisite cinematography, beautiful costumes and period-authentic production design captured on glorious and luminescent 35mm celluloid film. Sensational, career-best performances from a mix of Tarantino regulars and the occasional turn from some of Hollywood’s biggest and brightest stars. Quick, snappy, pop-culture-laden dialogue that jumps off the screen and can be quoted at parties, in university dormitories and by the office water cooler. And last, but certainly not least, death.
Yes, death. Bloody, gory, spectacular death — and tons of it, too. Perhaps more than any other component of his writing/directing style, the movies of Tarantino are characterised by their violence and death — so much so that a cursory glance on YouTube will expose your average layman to infinite video interviews of the prodigal director defending his choices for depicting so much violence. Bullet wounds, car crashes, decapitations or a flying hatchet to the face; name a way of murder, and chances are Tarantino’s prepared it for you.
Now, while death isn’t the only defining part of the maestro’s oeuvre, it certainly plays a prevalent role, whether the director cares to admit it or not. Even Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, his latest feature, which nearly lulled us into thinking he’d made a gore-free film, ended up giving us one of the most graphic and gruesome sequences to date. Regardless, it’s come to be one of the things we love about Tarantino best. Unless he truly does decide to make a filmmaking departure with his upcoming swan song, The Movie Critic, audiences will once again sink into their theatre seats and gleefully await the tsunami of blood to wash over them. In the meantime, let’s celebrate.
The 10 best Quentin Tarantino death scenes:
10. The Nazi massacre – Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Tarantino has long been interested in re-writing history to give power to the persecuted and switch power roles. Such is evident in 2012’s Django Unchained, 2019’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and particularly 2009’s Inglourious Basterds, a story which follows a group of Jewish US soldiers and a vindictive theatre owner who swears revenge on the Nazis in France during World War II.
The entire film leads up to a climactic Nazi massacre in which Tarantino revels in showing the death of Adolf Hitler on screen alongside countless other evil officers, supporters and more. It’s a fantastically cathartic scene of spectacular overindulgence.