Quentin Tarantino’s Descent Into Sadism

Quentin Tarantino’s newest feature, The Hateful Eight (“The 8th Film From Quentin Tarantino,” as the opening credits remind viewers), is his most violent film ever. Every act of violence is similar to something from his previous films, but never has Tarantino devoted so much of a single film to non-stop carnage. It wasn’t always like that. His first three films, Reservoir Dogs (1992), Pulp Fiction (1994), and Jackie Brown (1997) now seem positively chaste compared to his films in the wake of Kill Bill (2003/2004). Tarantino’s work from the last decade and a half has increasingly moved away from depictions of crime-related violence to gore more firmly rooted in the horror genre.

Viewers who discover Tarantino through his first three films are usually drawn in by his skill as a writer of dialogue. The opening diner scene in Reservoir Dogs, where the characters analyze “Like a Virgin” with previously unthinkable seriousness, is the first clue that the film is attempting to do something new and exciting in the crime film genre. The dialogue, not essential at all to the plot, still manages to be witty and fascinating, despite that fact that most filmmakers would have omitted it from a final cut. Pulp Fiction one-ups that scene when two of its protagonists arrive too early to a hit they’re supposed to be committing and decide to step aside to chat and compare their foot massage techniques while they wait. It’s a gutsy scene and one of the first indications that the film would be something new and special. All of Tarantino’s films feature similarly long scenes where the characters step away from their duty to advance the plot and just say whatever is on their mind. However, Tarantino’s films sinceKill Bill have downplayed these instances and given much more screen time to violence and gore.

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