Quentin Tarantino is one of modern cinema’s most established directors. Since his debut film Reservoir Dogs, released in 1992, the filmmaker, writer, and actor has released a total of ten films, including Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Beginning his career as an independent filmmaker, largely funding Reservoir Dogs with money made from selling his screenplay True Romance, Tarantino’s love for movies has always been evident.
Citing some of his biggest influences as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Taxi Driver, Blow Out, and Rio Bravo, just to name a few, the director has managed to combine his influences into a unique style characterised by distinctive dialogue, stylised violence, and non-linearity.
Thus, Tarantino is partial to slipping obscure movie references into his films, from replicating his favourite movie shots, to paying homage to famous actors that have greatly influenced him. Check out ten Easter eggs below that you may not have spotted in Tarantino’s films before…
10 Easter eggs only true Quentin Tarantino fans would spot:
Vincent Vega and Vic Vega are brothers
Although the shared last names may give this one away, many casual viewers of Tarantino’s films may not have picked up on the fact that John Travolta’s Vincent from Pulp Fiction, and Michael Madsen’s Vic from the director’s debut feature Reservoir Dogs are actually siblings. After Madsen portrayed Vic, otherwise known as ‘Mr. Blonde’ and ‘Toothpick Vic,’ whose most iconic scene involves him dancing to ‘Stuck in the Middle with You’ whilst torturing Nash, Tarantino was so impressed that he wanted him to play Vincent in his upcoming film, Pulp Fiction.
However, the director ended up casting John Travolta in the infamous role, instead deciding that the two would be brothers. He even planned a film following the siblings in leading roles called The Vega Brothers, that would involve the two working as managers in a dodgy Amsterdam club. Unfortunately, Tarantino couldn’t think of a good plotline for the movie and the plan was discarded.
Kill Bill is alluded to in Pulp Fiction… 9 years before its release
Evidently, Kill Bill was in the works for a long time, because in Tarantino’s second feature Pulp Fiction, released in 1994, Uma Thurman’s character Mia Wallace describes the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad to Vincent Vega. Tarantino knew he wanted Thurman to play the lead role in the Kill Bill franchise, so he cleverly used her Pulp Fiction character to hint at his future project.
In the diner scene, Mia explains that “There was a blonde one, she was the leader. The Japanese fox a Kung Fu master. The Black girl was a demolition expert… The character I played, was the deadliest woman in the world with a knife.” Mia is referring to a television episode she starred in that never progressed past its pilot, however, she cites it as giving her “15 minutes of fame.”
The iconic Kill Bill yellow outfit was inspired by Bruce Lee
When Tarantino released his latest film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood he was met with much backlash for his portrayal of the legendary martial artist and actor/filmmaker Bruce Lee, who he depicted as extremely arrogant. He asserted that his depiction of Lee was accurate, claiming “the way he was talking, I didn’t just make a lot of that up,” despite Lee’s daughter Shannon stating that Tarantino treated the depiction of her father “the way white Hollywood [did] when he was alive”.
However, despite Tarantino’s seeming distaste for Lee, he actually paid homage to him in Kill Bill, basing Beatrix’s iconic yellow and black outfit on a one-piece that Lee wore in his 1978 film Game of Death. It is clear that Tarantino took direct influence from the outfit since they are practically identical, suggesting that martial arts films, such as ones starring Lee, were hugely influential to the creation of Kill Bill.
Big Kahuna Burgers
Tarantino effortlessly creates his own recognisable worlds within his films, however, one of the subtle ways he is able to achieve this is through using reoccurring symbols that don’t exist anywhere other than in his films. One of these is the fast-food franchise Big Kahuna Burger, which appears in countless Tarantino flicks. From Pulp Fiction to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the burgers often appear at important moments in the films.
In Pulp Fiction, Samuel L. Jackson’s character Jules eats a Big Kahuna Burger before shooting Brett, one of gangster Marsellus Wallace’s business associates. The scene demonstrates the power of Jules over Brett, biting into the latter’s burger and remarking “Mhmm that is a tasty burger!” before killing him. Furthermore, in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Rick Dalton is seen starring in a commercial for the Hawaiian-themed burger joint.
Red Apple Cigarettes
Similarly, Big Kahuna Burgers aren’t the only reoccurring brand to appear in the Tarantino cinematic universe. Another frequently appearing symbol is Red Apple cigarettes, seen on a billboard advert in Kill Bill, purchased by Butch Coolidge in Pulp Fiction, and even advertised by Rick Dalton in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in an extra scene during the credits, where he states that he hates the taste of the cigarettes as soon as the ad stops filming.
The packaging showcases a shiny, healthy-looking red apple with an anthropomorphic caterpillar crawling out of the middle, suggesting that the cigarettes cause lung cancer. There also seems to be a biblical reference alluding to the temptation of man through the symbol of an apple. In The Hateful Eight, Senor Bob refers to the cigarettes as “Manzana Roja” – Spanish for Red Apple.
O-Ren Ishii foreshadowed her own death in Kill Bill
Near the end of Kill Bill, Lucy Liu’s character O-Ren Ishii engages in an iconic fight scene with Beatrix that culminates in the top of her head being sliced right off to reveal her brains. However, before the two begin their duel, O-Ren Ishii says, “you might not last five minutes.” Unsurprisingly, Tarantino turns the tables with haunting irony.
The fight scenes ends up running for exactly four minutes and fifty-nine seconds, instead, leaving Beatrix unscathed. Tarantino demonstrated his attention to detail by meticulously planning the scene so that O-Ren’s scathing words come straight back to bite her.
John Shaft is a descendant of Django
John Shaft, a character portrayed by Richard Roundtree in the Shaft franchise, beginning in 1971, and spawning four sequels and seven television films, was the inspiration for Tarantino when naming Kerry Washington’s character in his film Django Unchained. Her role as Broomhilda Von Shaft, the wife of Jamie Foxx’s Django, bears the same last name as the ’70s Blaxploitation detective.
In a panel interview, Tarantino said that “Her and Django will eventually have a baby, and then that baby will have a baby, and that baby will have a baby, and that baby will have a baby, and that baby will have a baby […] and one of these days, John Shaft will be born.”
Tarantino replicated one of his favourite movie scenes of all time
If you are a die-hard Tarantino fan, you may be aware that the filmmaker’s favourite film of all time is Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. He has also claimed that one of his favourite shots in cinematic history is the Mexican stand-off scene at the end of the film. Thus, it is no surprise that Tarantino directly borrowed this shot in Reservoir Dogs to pay homage to one of his biggest inspirations.
Three of the criminals in Reservoir Dogs end up in a Mexican stand-off, just like Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach in the classic Spaghetti Western. This is just one instance of Tarantino paying homage to the films that inspired him to become a director, and largely influenced his now distinctive style.
The Hateful Eight and Inglorious Basterds connection
Yet another family connection can be made in Tarantino’s films, however, this one is a little more unexpected. Tim Roth’s character in The Hateful Eight, Pete Hicox, also known as Oswaldo Mobray, is a travelling executioner and hangman, part of the ruthless Domergue Gang. Yet according to Tarantino, Michael Fassbender’s character Lieutenant Archie Hicox in Inglorious Basterds is a descendent of the murderous Mobray.
Despite the characters being complete opposite to one another, what with Fassbender’s character being a British Royal Marine who helps the Basterds attack the Nazis, the two share their ability to go undercover with each other.
The original Django makes an appearance in Django Unchained
Tarantino’s love for Spaghetti Westerns is no surprise to even the most casual fan of his films. The 1966 Spaghetti Western Django, directed by Sergio Corbucci served as a major inspiration for Tarantino’s 2012 film that even borrowed its namesake. However, Tarantino took his admiration for the film one step further by employing the original Django, played by Franco Nero, to cameo in his film.
During a scene that takes place where Django is sat at a bar, a man shows interest in the protagonist and asks him his name. When Django replies, he states “the D is silent” to which Nero replies “I know.” Before events begin to take place, the characters give each other knowing glances, a little nod to the film that greatly inspired Tarantino’s Oscar-winning film.