10 Tarantino favorites on BluRay & DVD [Vol. 2]
We have published lists of Quentin Tarantino‘s favorites before, and the following list is inspired by the lists of favorite films he handed us for the SWDb and the GCDb. Some time has passed, and as I looked at his movies and their availability for a German article on Nischenkino.de (now also in a follow-up), I took the liberty of compiling ten more Tarantino favorites that stood out and are available in good quality by US-based or international publishers for a list that, yes, is a bit US-centric, but with a region-free player you might find this valuable nonetheless. Plus, I added UK/Europe availability info to the entries where I could so there. Well, all that aside, here are ten movies more that are available on great BluRays, that are among Tarantino’s favorite movies or have been important influences. Also have a look at the first volume of this article, and we welcome your comments. We’ll revisit these articles are availabilities change or new editions are being released.
One of the major influences on Kill Bill, and not just in terms of the re-used music, Lady Snowblood epitomizes the artful, violent but poetic Japanese film-making that Tarantino loves and that has conquered the harts of so many cinephiles around the globe. The combination of stylized violence, melancholic drama and pop cultural energy made these films the cult classics they are today.
Toshiya Fujita the director of the Alleycat Rock series, ventured into terrain not originally familiar to him. The mixture of revenge film and Samurai period piece spoke to an audience that liked their cinema a tad more artsy than the Lone Wolf and Cub Series for example, but tapped into the same genre all the same. Lady Snowblood is still highly relevant today and hasn’t lost its appeal. Click here to learn more about the movie on the GCDb.
The Complete Lady Snowblood Criterion Collection edition is a must own for cineastes. It not only includes the remastered first film, but also its sequel Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance. There are a number of great bonus features on there, including new interviews with the author of the original manga, Kazuo Koike, plus one with the screenwriter Norio Osada, some trailers and a critical essay. Both films are presented in Japanese with English subtitles.
Dario Argento is a wunderkind director in his own right. Not only is he one of the masterminds behind the birth of the Giallo genre, he’s also a masterful horror director, prolific screenwriter (with co-writing credits on such movies as Once Upon a Time in the West) and is still active in the movie business. More and more of his earlier and later works are currently being rediscovered, restored and re-issued around the world, as the director gains the fame and recognition that he didn’t quite have back then.
Suspiria is not only a scary and atmospheric goth-horror picture, but most of all a showcase of the mad skills Argento employed. The colors are just amazing, the frames are masterful compositions, the sound design is impeccable. Suspiria will fuck with your head, it will dazzle you and move you. It’s regaining fandom at such a pace, that a remake is currently in the works as well.
Update: With last year’s 4K restoration of this classic, in which a number of high profile directors and industry people were involved in (such as Guillermo del Toro), the movie is now being re-released on BluRay and even 4K Ultra-HD BluRay, ripe to be rediscovered by the masses. As it should be. Early reviews and screenshot comparisons show not only what an amazing job was performed restoring this classic, but also what a breathtaking masterpiece Suspiria has always been.
Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry
In Death Proof, the protagonists are reminiscing about the good old days, the Vanishing Point days, the Dirty Mary Crazy Larry days, the White Line Fever days. No idea what they’re talking about? High time you locked yourself in a room and caught up with your cineast material. This is one of those quintessential (dare I say Quent-essential?) movies of its time. It embodies the political spirit, the joy of life and also the sociopolitical undertones – and a sombre aftertaste similar to the one left by Easy Rider.
Don’t just watch it because of the cool cars, the bell bottom denims, the sun glasses, the sassy dialogue between Fonda and George. Watch it because it’s one hell of a ride, a movie that spawned a cult, that created characters so vivid. In the US, this comes in a double feature with Race with the Devil, a movie with Fond and Warren Oates that I have never seen, so not a bad deal. In Germany, there’s an amazing new special edition (English-friendly) that also packs all the extras from the old Region 1 DVD super-charger edition, plus more.
Speaking of the good old days. If there is another movie you intend to pair it up with for your own special grindhouse night, why not pick Vanishing Point? As with the former, this movie is a hallmark cinematic entry so full with contemporary elements it almost soaks you into the counterculture era. You got an ice cold driver that doesn’t speak much, just drives, a man chasing something, but ends up being chased. A country full of opposites, racism, drugs, police, beautiful landscapes, great music. And high speed car chases. Click here to learn more about the movie on the GCDb.
If Vanishing Point doesn’t do the trick, then maybe you’re just immune to the roaring muscle car sounds. Next time you watch Death Proof after this, you’ll have a much better idea of what these gals were harking back to. There’s a decent quality major label BluRay out there with few but informative extras, including an audio commentary. Not the most fancypants release but it will do the trick.
Now let’s get to the more intimate stuff. Quentin is a huge Jack Hill fan, and Hill’s work is of course something cineastes have to look into (if you haven’t already). There’s the amazing Spider Baby, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Switchblade Sisters is classic exploitation girl gang urban terror action. Guns, revolution, jealousy, sex, violence, racism… it’s all there and it’s a load of fun to watch with all these super crazy characters and the amazing ideas Hill put into bringing this material to life, super low budget style.
There’s still no decent BluRay of this in the US, but if you’re really into it you might want to import the really amazing German BluRay edition which sports all the extras thinkable, plus a new remastered transfer. The alternative is the still available DVD that was released by Quentin’s short-lived Rolling Thunder Pictures, its extras however are also on the German BluRay!
Unfortunately, this movie is a bit hard to get a hold of. The Psychic aka The Seven Notes in Black is one of the best, but also one of the least known (among the wider cineast public, due to its limited availability mostly) gialli in Fulci’s canon. Click here to learn more about the movie on the GCDb.
“One reason for The Psychic‘s reputation is Quentin Tarantino. He tried to buy the rights to it when he was doing Rolling Thunder Pictures, but had trouble and sprung for The Beyond instead. He showed it at one of his film festivals and supposedly said he was gonna remake it with Bridget Fonda.” (Source)
This one is tricky and still quite hard to get. There is a really solid German BluRay by ’84 Entertainment but it’s expensive and out of print. A re-issue is likely, as the label regularly re-releases some of their catalog titles in other limited editions (this one came out in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and those are still available on Amazon Germany) or sometimes even affordable Amaray single-disc releases. We need to stay tuned whether there’ll be a release in other countries soon, as well. The movie is definitely worth watching.
You can see why Quentin always liked this one. As opposed to the original by Jean-Luc Godard, which is a timeless French New Wave classic, Jim McBride‘s remake is a whirlwind of pop cultural references, 80s sensibilities and aspirations that must’ve spoken to a young Tarantino. It’s almost a re-imagining of the original material, with an eye for its contemporary setting and an audience hungry for unlikely heroes to identify themselves with. It’s colorful, it’s quicker, it’s full of angst and full of popular culture.
Quentin once called it one of the coolest movies, yet he is of course also an admirer of Godard as well (here is an audio clip of him talking about Godard), he named is erstwhile production company Band Apart after Godard’s Band of Outsides (Un Bande Apart). Jim McBride interestingly didn’t really make much of a career afterwards, at least not to my knowledge.
King Boxer aka Five Fingers of Death
King Boxer (aka 5 Fingers of Death) is a Shaw Brothers kung fu movie from 1972. Click here to learn more about the movie on the GCDb.
“Five Fingers of Death is one of the top kung fu films ever made. It’s a very special film that was one of the biggest international hits. It has everything you want in a great kung fu film: lots of excellent kung fu fighting, great characters (Lo Lieh rules in this!), supercool sound FX (that awesome Ironside theme!) and great direction by Cheng Chang Ho. Every kung fu film fan should have a copy of this film!! It’s a true Grindhouse classic! ” as Peter Roberts puts it.
Trivia: The English-dubbed version of the film, which was distributed by Warner Brothers, is often credited as the movie that launched the Kung Fu craze in the United States.
The special thing about this DVD from Dragon Dynasty – unfortunately no BluRay equivalent yet exists – is that it includes an audio commentary with Quentin Tarantino himself. So if you have never heard of this release, what the hell are you waiting for? Tarantino isn’t in the habit of providing commentary to his own movies, so there’s just a small number of movies out there at all, that can claim this honor at all (True Romance, From Dusk Till Dawn, an episode of Spaced… are among them). It’s a great kung fu flick, the quality of this release is stellar and there’s a great set of special features. A must-own for a fan, really.
Death Rides a Horse
Death Rides a Horse (also known as From Man to Man) is another of those spaghetti western titles you’ve probably read about a number of times. Whether it’s because the music features prominently in Kill Bill or because it’s a quintessential movie for Lee van Cleef fans, take your pick. Among fans of the genre it ranks fairly high, it’s got that memorable soundtrack, a great actor duo, a cool yet standard revenge story and excellent execution by one of the genre’s better directors. Click here to learn more about the movie on the SWDb.
“Like Tonino Valerii’s Day of Anger, Giulio Petroni’s Death Rides a Horse adopts the master/pupil plot from Sergio Leone‘s For a Few Dollars More. But while in Valerii’s movie friendship eventually turned into rivalry and hatred, in Death Rides a Horse, quite on the contrary, feelings of rage and vengeance eventually turn into friendship and mutual understanding….” (read the rest of the film review)
For quite some time, there was no BluRay available in the United States, but most European BluRay imports were and stilla re region-free and will thus play on your equipment, so importing from Germany for example is also worth the investment for a fan. The DVD, should you be satisfied with that, is alright however (the Wild East disc would be our recommendation).
- Click here to view the entire Wild East Spaghetti Western Collection at the SWDb.
- Click here to review the entire Kino Lorber Studio Classics lineup of Spaghetti Western releases at the SWDb.
Update: Kino Lorber Studio Classics released this classic on Region A BluRay on November 7. This is a must-own for US-based fans of the movie and the genre. It’s the first time it’s available on a restored HD transfer in the US, and it also comes with an audio commentary. Get it!
Abbot & Costello meet Frankenstein
Here’s a movie I’ve never seen, and I have little knowledge of – or of the genre in general. But each list of his, the movie comes up (in this video he explains why it’s one of the movies that influenced him the most). Hugely influential and successful, this Abbott and Costello instance is a true cult classic in its own right.
“The Abbott and Costello stuff was funny, but when they were out of the room and monsters would come on, they’d kill people! When was the last time you saw anybody in a horror-comedy actually kill somebody? You didn’t see that. I took it in, seeing that movie.” – Quentin Tarantino
Now available as a decent BluRay with a digital copy, for those like myself or for veteran fans of the classic, time to upgrade it to HD. For young folks like me, this is an opportunity to finally fill one of those gaps. Next to Jerry Lewis movies and the odd screwball comedy, the Abbott and Costello flicks are probably one of those cult classics that a lot of movie geek newcomers skip, because they’re not “cool” movies to geek out on, but I think it’s time to appreciate these studio classics, that have made millions laugh.
We saved the best for last. The other spaghetti western that’s always been a Tarantino favorite (and one of my own personal all time favorites as well) is The Mercenary aka A Professional Gun. Ever since Kill Bill came out, Ennio Morricone‘s gripping score for this has seen a revival, and when you watch this epic revolutionary tale, which is part buddy adventure, part socialist critique, part western, you’ll see why it’s such a cult classic. It’s a movie so epic it’ll put tears into your eyes – tears of joy – and it boasts not one, not two, but three endings in a row. It’s a movie so ambitious it couldn’t quite decide when to cue the curtain. Oh what a delight. Click here to learn more about the movie on the SWDb.
A Professional Gun has been available on BluRay for a while, especially in Germany, with an impeccable disc from Koch Media. Now, finally, after decades of inavailability, Kino Lorber Studio classics is finally fixing the dire situation in the USA and releasing this classic on Region A disc. Unfortunately without any language options, so it’ll only be English. If you have other language needs you’d still have to import from Europe. But it comes with an audio commentary by Alex Cox (author of the book Ten Thousand Ways to Die). The street date was November 7, grab it while it’s hot!
So all in all, there is plenty of inspiration for aspiring cinephiles, and we aim to continue this series with a follow-up at some point. In the mean time, leave your comments and if you are an Amazon shopper, do use our links to support us. Many thanks.