Fearless and brilliant, Quentin Tarantino is one of those filmmakers who's is not afraid to "borrow" from other great works of cinema to make his movies stand out. In fact, his work displays a clear dedication to pay homage to, and re-introduce, legendary and influential cinema scenes and themes in a way only he knows how.
With inspirations ranging from science-fiction to westerns, dramas, and horror movies, Quentin does not discriminate based on genre and knows how to recognize quality cinematography when he sees it. And his status as one of the most celebrated and popular modern filmmakers proves this. Today, we're counting down a list of the top 10 titles, without which, the entire works and career of this visionary producer would undoubtedly not be the same.
10 Django (1966)
Tarantino's 2012 reboot of the classic "spaghetti western" movie was obviously inspired by its predecessor. The renowned producer even went as far as borrowing the original's title song to be featured in the new movie.
Although the plot itself couldn't be much more different from the 1966 classic, what Tarantino borrows from the original Django are the brutally-violent fight scenes and racism characteristic for the time. The new film even includes an interesting cameo from the lead actor of Django (1966), Franco Nero — playing a minor character of an old man whom we're sure every true fan recognized.
9 Lady Snowblood (1973)
A Toshiya Fujita-directed Japanese cult masterpiece, Lady Snowblood follows a woman's vengeful resolve to track down and kill the group of bandits that murdered her loved ones. Eerily reminiscent of Fujita's protagonist, Uma Thurman shares Lady Snowblood's passion for revenge in Tarantino's legendary Kill Bill. No single inspiration could be pinned to this Tarantino movie. Yet, The Bride resolves to avenge her betrayal and the bloody sword fight in the snow that followed leave no doubt that Tarantino admired Mr. Fujita's work and borrowed more than a few cues from his movie.
8 Game of Death (1978)
Where have we seen that Yellow Jumpsuit that Uma Thurman sports in the deadly Kill Bill series? Oh, that's right, on Bruce Lee. Unfortunately, this is the same movie the martial arts legend was filming when he died. His death actually prompted the production team to find body doubles in order to be able to finalize the film and release it five years after Lee's death. Today, it's one of the all-time-favorite Bruce Lee movies and a massive and iconic influence as on Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, so too on the majority of other modern martial arts movies.
7 Carrie (1976)
The first Stephen King movie to bless the screens, Carrie holds its viewers in increasing suspense throughout her misery and plight until the demonstrates one of the best and most memorable (albeit shockingly grisly) main acts in cinema. Tarantino admitted that Carrie is one of his favorites, and we can easily assume that the movie's bloodshed, brought forward by a silent and calm yet underestimated woman, helped pave the way for the eventual creation of Kill Bill.
6 The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966)
Out of all the movies on this list, this 1966 cult classic has probably had the biggest influence on Tarantino as a filmmaker. A wrap-up to the Dollars trilogy, Sergio Leone's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly redefined the "spaghetti western" genre and cemented itself among the greatest movies ever filmed.
The movie avoids any attempt to sugarcoat the image of the harsh old west and instead puts its characters amidst a dangerous and unforgiving land where violence and death lurk at every corner. We see a similar unpredictability and penchant for violence decorate a multitude of Tarantino's films, and occasionally observe a close resemblance to the iconic "spaghetti western" in the scenes of Inglorious Basterds.
5 City on Fire (1987)
Directed by Ringo Lam, City on Fire is a well-known Hong Kong action flick starring Yun-Fat Chow that faired extremely well with audiences both in and out of China. The plot depicts a young undercover cop infiltrating a band of jewelry thieves, who finds himself wounded, while the increasing suspicion among the criminals serves as fuel to the constant slow-burning tension.
Today, City on Fire is widely regarded as the movie that allegedly inspired (and provided material for) Tarantino's 1992 film Reservoir Dogs. Despite this, Tarantino's manages to distinguish his movie, as always, with his forward-looking style, action sequences, and a new plot setting, making it brilliant and unique in its own right.
4 Rio Bravo (1959)
A most notable influence on Tarantino's 1997 crime thriller Jackie Brown, Rio Bravo was an early (and one of the best) examples of movies that take its time in introducing the character's and their backstories before finally throwing them into the action-packed final act.
Starring legendary John Wayne as a long-serving Sheriff, Rio Bravo follows unfoldings of a saloon killing as the killer's brother arrives prepared to fight for his freedom. The movie sets a tone of subtle tension as the Sheriff and a group of likable misfits slowly develop an endearing and quirky relationship as they take a stand against the murderer's brother to prevent a breakout and diffuse the situation.
In Jackie Brown, Tarantino uses the same technique of slowly bringing the characters of Jackie (Pam Grier) and Max Cherry (Robert Forster) closer to the audience and, meanwhile, to each other.
3 Foxy Brown (1974)
Tarantino's Jackie Brown builds on the image created by Foxy Brown, featuring Pam Grier once again in the main role. Obviously highly influenced by the early '70s classic, Tarantino's movie assumes a strikingly similar style and theme across the plot, and even goes as far to express the influence Foxy Brown had on him by opting for a similar movie title. Foxy Brown's theme of a woman seeking vengeance for the murder of her loved one also appears and is brought to a whole new level in one of Tarantino's most popular titles — Kill Bill, starring Uma Thurman.
2 The Thing (1982)
Set in the cold, harsh snows of Antartica, with protagonists placed far away in the solitude of an unfamiliar place, The Thing achieves an ever-growing suspense by relying on auditive stimuli paired with a constant fear of the unknown. Sound like any Tarantino movie? How about if we add that the protagonist (who happens to be Kurt Russel in both movies) has to remain in constant suspicion about his counterparts, only learning who the culprit is at the very climax of the plot?
Now, it's obvious. But despite the Hateful Eight and The Thing belonging to entirely different genres, pulling strong parallels between them is an extremely easy task. And while he has obviously gained much inspiration from Carpenter's sci-fi masterpiece, Tarantino has still not made a science-fiction movie. We really hope this changes one day.
1 Band of Outsiders (1964)
Perhaps more influential on Tarantino than a large portion of the films on this list, A Band of Outsiders (originally Bande à Part) is a move that perfectly showcases what Tarantino supposedly aspires all of his movies to become poetic, powerful, and genre-redefining.
To back this claim up, we know Tarantino even named his (now closed) production company "A Band Apart" after this movie. Not only that, but we can also observe parallels between A Band of Outsiders and Pulp Fiction, which likely came to fruition because of this very movie, most obvious from the mesmerizingly ridiculous dance scene between Travolta and Thurman.