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The Most Shocking Tarantino Scenes


Even a full 21 years after Reservoir Dogs burst onto screens and prompted a thousand letters to the Daily Mail, Quentin Tarantino is showing no signs of calming down.

Still, as our wait for his first sensitive romcom looks likely to continue, we can now look back on two decades and eight films that, let's say, you may not want to watch with your nan. Join us, then, as we run through the most shocking moments in his films. Let's just say we weren't spoilt for choice...

(Images: Allstar)

The ear-cutting scene, Reservoir Dogs

Let's start where it all began, shall we? Reservoir Dogs is an accepted classic of modern cinema these days, so much so it's easy to forget the controversy this scene caused on release. By today's standards, it's not especially graphic, but it was full-on enough for the BBFC to deny the film a video release until 1995. Still, it shows Tarantino's signature mix of finger-clickin' good tunes and ultraviolence was there from the start - but this scene's real power still lies in how Mr Blonde calmly tells the cop he's not torturing him for information, or for punishment - but just for fun.


Shooting Marvin, Pulp Fiction

Shocking not just in its gore but in its totally out-of-the-blue unexpectedness, this is probably the funniest moment on this list. Says a lot that the funniest moment in this list is an innocent man getting shot in the face, doesn't it? And forget the Bible-quoting - Samuel L. Jackson's hilarious indignation at having a man's brain matter sprayed over him is the exact moment he became a movie star.


Bring out the gimp, Pulp Fiction

As we've seen, Pulp Fiction is a movie that takes palpable delight in shocking the audience with the unexpected. Still, with John Travolta waving a gun around so casually, some audience members could have guess poor Marvin's fate. But if anybody was able to call the turns Bruce Willis's storyline would take - from a boilerplate boxer-meets-mob story to something far darker, and impossible to predict.


Who's coming out of the bathroom?, Pulp Fiction

Our second unexpected death (and far from our last) comes again from Pulp Fiction. After masterfully building tension with a looooooong sequence of Bruce Willis sneaking into his own apartment, then smelling a rat when he notices an Uzi on his kitchen counter, Tarantino brings the audience to near-snapping point. Then casually blows away his leading man. Picture yourself in the cinema in 1994. You've heard there's this new film from the Reservoir Dogs guy, and he's rekindled the career of that nice guy from Grease. Come this scene, 'shocking' doesn't even cover it.


De Niro shuts Bridget Fonda up, Jackie Brown

Our third darkly funny surprise death is again all about the buildup. After half a film of Bridget Fonda's California airhead and her alternating between stoned droning and irritating nagging, we're half rooting for De Niro's ex-con Louis to do her in. Still, it comes so abruptly and harshly that, in true Tarantino style, we're not sure whether to laugh or gag.


O-Ren's origins, Kill Bill Vol. 1

Amongst the Kill Bill diptych's many tangents, this is perhaps the most radical - and the most shocking. A full-blown foray into take-no-prisoners Japanese anime, this wasn't just a director known for people cracking wise to one another taking a plunge into a primarily visual style, this was many Western audience's first introduction to anime. The fact that, if anything, Tarantino cranked up the genre's traditional extravagance with gore tested many, and even ten years later it's impressive how far QT managed to take it.


The bar scene, Inglorious Basterds

Shockingly enough, we have another unexpected death on our hands. Except this time, it's several dozen unexpected deaths, but still. Michael Fassbender's Lieutenant Hicox is on a mission behind enemy lines with the rest of the Basterds, and the tension increases agonizingly as a bar-room rendezvous turns out to be full of German soldiers. Even after establishing the heroic smarts of Hicox, the badassness of his compadres, and the fact that one of the Germans has just had a son, sure Tarantino will find a way to let at least some of them live?



Killing Hitler, Inglourious Basterds

Tarantino isn't exactly known for his reverence for this historical record or his quiet restraint, but surely nobody anticipated that Basterds would end with Adolf Hitler being machine-gunned in the face. By Eli Roth, of all people.


Death by dog, Django Unchained

In a shock move away from surprise deaths, Tarantino here displays the sickening cruelty at the heart of slavery. Tasteless? Sure, but for a film that got a knocking in a few quarters for a glib attitude toward its subjact matter, there's nothing hip about this horrifying death.


Say goodbye, Miss Laura, Django Unchained

Still, vicious demonstration of the inhumanity of slavery aside, the climax of Django Unchained finds Tarantino back in his shock death comfort zone. We know she's the snobbish sister of an evil slave owner, but even for Tarantino, this is cold.



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