First, I let their filthy clothes - stinky old underwear and socks included- soak up a ton of 'Hollywood Babylon'-style raunchiness. I also throw in a generous amount of genuine quotes straight from the mouths of ego-maniac movie directors, along with many of their real-life, and occasionally bloody, experiences. Finally, I add some tragicomic psycho-sexual bleach to the load and let the whole stinkin’ pile wash and rinse. Still, that sordid smell doesn’t come off all that easily.
Once it’s in the dryer, that load gets burning hot. But if you think the heat can kill off the nasty creepy-crawly bed bugs which infest the underbelly of the movie industry, you’re badly mistaken. Nope, those nasty little buggers can make your mind itch all over with delirious, sulfuric facts which are incredible, but true! And I don’t even use fabric softener. Fabric hardener is more like it!
Let me now have the pleasure of giving you the first of many sneak-peaks at this basket of selected filmmakers’ dirty rags. Some of these are expensive brands, but like they say in the fashion biz: “One day you’re in, the next day you’re out!” The cruelty of fame, fortune, and self-destruction knows no bounds, and neither do I. So, take a deep whiff and enjoy the aroma of Sinemania! (Metaphorically speaking, of course; unfortunately, there’s no “scratch’n’sniff” program on computers yet…)
(By the way, you’ll be able to take in all of Sinemania! at once when my 184 page book comes out in September. It’s being published by Toronto’s ECW Press (http://www.ecwpress.com/) and will feature my stories on the twisted lives and crazed careers of twenty-three of my favorite directors from the silent film era to nowadays, including Alfred Hitchcock, Roman Polanski, Orson Welles, and the fellow I wanna kick off this blog with today…)
Being a little kid in the ‘60s must have been a blast! “Helicopter” parenting didn’t yet exist, you didn’t have to eat any of that healthy nutritious crap for breakfast, and TV cartoons didn’t bother to educate, just entertain. You could simply binge away to your heart’s content on fun shows all day long.
Another panel from ‘Mondo Tarantino’: a depiction of Eli Wallach in Sergio Leone’s ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’. That 1966 Spaghetti Western was just one of the gazillion films that seared young Quentin’s eyeballs after he graduated from kiddie cartoons to drive-in movies.
But the drive-in flicks Tarantino loved the most were the highly entertaining over-the-top exploitation pictures made by Jack Hill.
Jack Hill was one of low-budget king Roger Corman’s protégés and his cash cow at the box office. Sadistic sexploitation fests at their best, Hill’s two major hits were ‘The Big Doll House’ (1971) and its wilder 1972 follow-up ‘The Big Bird Cage’, both starring Blaxploitation queen Pam Grier and the inimitable Sid Haig.
If you want the detailed, fun, and raunchy lowdown on the filming of both movies in the Philippines, I highly recommend these two books: Pam Grier’s autobiography, ‘Foxy’, and ‘Jack Hill: The Exploitation and Blaxpoitation Master, Film by Film’ by Calum Waddell.
Tarantino is such a fan of Jack’s work that he featured both Pam Grier and Sid Haig in his own 1997 Blaxploitation tribute, ‘Jackie Brown’. But his best homage to Hill came ten years later with ‘Death Proof’ in which his mashing up of Jack’s ‘Switchblade Sisters’ with Russ Meyer’s ‘Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!’ is pretty blatant! Throw in Tarantino’s own foot fetishism and you’ve got a great pastiche of the bad girl gang gone wild genre.
And yet I have to admit that I wasn’t exactly blown away by ‘Death Proof’ when I first saw it. I got into it a whole lot more the second time around after I had happily sat through a Jack Hill marathon, and I came to understand where Quentin was coming from with his story-telling, camera angles, and most importantly, crotch shots.
For more on the wild, wild world of Jack Hill, I suggest that you check out ‘The Real Godfather’ Roger Corman’s new YouTube channel, ‘Corman’s Drive-In’. Read all about it here:
Corman’s a cheap, penny-pinching filmmaker and damn proud of it. But he’s certainly proven that you can make a good movie on a very small budget!
But, back to Tarantino, because he’s under Harvey Weinstein’s wing, and not Roger Corman’s, his movies are blessed with big budgets and mind blowing casts. He’s also a good mentor to fellow filmmakers who share his demented vision, including his most notorious sidekicks, Robert Rodriguez and Eli Roth. Two directors who also love blood and guts splashed upon celluloid and who have themselves become mentors for new movie makers coming out of the woodwork. (No goody two-shoes allowed!)
So, if you see any one of the names of this ‘TNT Trio’ on the marquee of your local Bijou or multiplex, run, don’t walk, into the theater to catch one of their films. You’ll be in for a mad roller coaster ride with plenty of cinematic carnage on the side!
Please stay tooned for another entry featuring another one of the nutty filmmakers I’ve had the pleasure of roasting in Sinemania!