Quentin Tarantino is not shy about his lifelong, nerd-level love of cinema, especially B-movies and exploitation flicks. In fact, most of Tarantino’s films readily steal characterizations, styles, and themes from low-budget films made in the 1960s and 1970s.
In interviews, Tarantino enjoys listing off his favorite movies. The director’s encyclopedic knowledge of cinema knows no bounds, and he uses his platform to promote older films that fell through the cracks. Not all of the lurid and gritty exploitation flicks on this list have gone into obscurity, but they all surely inspired Tarantino to pick up a camera and make movies.
One of the first films to become a commercial success for New Line Cinema, The Street Fighter is a martial arts classic starring Sonny China. Known for its violence, the film initially received an X-rating, which was reduced to an R-rating after 16 minutes of carnage were cut from the film.
Tarantino has referenced China’s The Street Fighter trilogy numerous times in interviews. In 1993’s True Romance, which Tarantino penned the script for, Christian Slater’s character Clarence goes to a Sonny Chiba movie marathon on his birthday.
Over the decades, Tarantino has often labeled Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre one of the best horror movies of all time. The low-budget film about a cannibal family in East Texas unfolds on the screen like a gritty, unrelenting documentary.
The evolution of Leatherface and the rest of the Sawyer clan into some of horror’s most iconic monsters isn’t an accident. Their story taps into the darkest crevices of the American psyche, where people resort to acting on their worst impulses in order to survive.
Tarantino cites Coffy as one of the best films of all time. The blaxploitation revenge thriller stars Pam Grier in the title role as a vigilante who rales against the drug dealer responsible for turning her sister into an addict.
Grier is fierce, confident, and titillating as Coffy. Tarantino loved her performance so much he wrote and directed 1997’s Jackie Brown with Grier in mind, casting her in the title role as a flight attendant caught up in a money smuggling scheme.