Quentin Tarantino, the purveyor of movies and fan-favourite filmmaker is fond of an intricate easter egg reference throughout his projects, with each of his films even linking together to create an enigmatic singular universe.
Recalling the fighting style and fashion of martial arts icon Bruce Lee in Kill Bill whilst referencing a whole host of Blaxploitation movies in the 2012 western Django Unchained, Tarantino is fond of showing off his movie knowledge. Having worked in a video store for a considerable stretch of his early life, this mastery of movies comes from hours of consuming a wide range of eclectic world cinema.
His 2007 film Death Proof may be his most obvious ode to the history of cinema, with the film coming as a nostalgic double bill with Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, packaged as one big Grindhouse experience. Featuring faux-trailers interspersed between the films, Grindhouse was made as a nostalgia package, making several references back to the history of horror cinema in particular.
Starring Kurt Russell in the lead role, Tarantino’s Death Proof makes multiple call-backs to the filmography of the classic actor in one particular scene that takes place in Warren’s Texas Chili Parlor in Austin, Texas. Playing a womanising stunt driver in the film, Russell’s character sits at the bar in one particular scene when Pam (Rose McGowan) approaches him and asks what films and TV shows he’s worked on throughout his career.
Mentioning a 1967 TV series called The High Chaparral, it turns out that in real life Russell appeared in episode 18, season three of a show of the same name, appearing as a clean-faced teenager at the time. Furthermore, on the wall directly above where Jungle Julia (Sydney Poitier) is sitting at the table, the tank-top worn by Kurt Russell in Big Trouble in Little China can be seen prominently pinned to the wall.
It’s an easy reference to miss, particularly as John Carpenter’s Big Trouble In Little China no longer carries the cult popularity that it once did, with the easter egg only being caught by keen-eyed cinephiles.
Revealing recently, “Death Proof has got to be the worst movie I ever make,” Tarantino explained his dislike of his own film, adding, “for a left-handed movie, that wasn’t so bad, all right? So if that’s the worst I ever get, I’m good. But I do think one of those out-of-touch, old, limp, flaccid-dick movies costs you three good movies as far as your rating is concerned”.
Whilst it is certainly not celebrated as one of the director’s many classics, Death Proof is no failure, with its Death Proof identity helping it to become an eccentric outlier in a contemporary industry that often prefers creative safety.