Secrets You Never Knew Were Hidden In Quentin Tarantino Movies

Quentin Tarantino is one of the greatest modern movie writers and directors of all time. His first movie was an independent neo-noir crime thriller called Reservoir Dogs, which was screened at the Sundance Film Festival back in 1992. Critics loved it, which spurred him on to carry on making movies… With a total of 10 directorial credits under his belt, plus plenty of other films he has either written or produced, Tarantino is undeniably one of the greats.

There are plenty of little Easter Eggs and secrets that Quentin Tarantino superfans know about his movies. However, this creative genius still has a few surprises up his sleeve. Whether you have just seen a couple of his classics or head to the cinema every time he releases something new, here are some of the best secrets ever from his epic collection of films.

Brotherly love

Quentin Tarantino has often said that many of his movies are linked together, in his own little film universe. However, did you know that there are brothers in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction? Vic Vega is played by Michael Masden in his first film, Reservoir Dogs, and was reportedly going to be the lead role in Pulp Fiction.

However, Masden turned down the Pulp Fiction role to star in Wyatt Earp, and so John Travolta played Vincent Vega instead. Tarantino decided to create the backstory that the two were brothers, to link it all together. Initially, however, he wanted the same character to be in both of the movies. We wonder how different it would have been with Michael Masden in Travolta’s role? We doubt the dancing would have been as good!

Fox Force Five

When Mia Wallace, played by Uma Thurman, and Vincent Vega are at the diner in Pulp Fiction, she talks about a pilot for a TV show she was going to be in called Fox Force 5. While the show never got past the pilot stage, those who listen carefully to her description may notice some similarities to another Quentin Tarantino film. The team of female secret agents all seem to tie in with the five women from ‘Kill Bill 1 & 2.’

There’s a Japanese woman, a French woman, a blonde woman, an African American woman, and Mia’s character who specializes in knives. If you have seen the ‘Kill Bill’ movies, then you’ll know who each of the Fox Five Force women are; Lucy Liu, Julie Dreyfus, Daryl Hanna, Vivica A. Fox, and Uma Thurman.

Five minutes

O-Ren Ishii is an impeccable character in ‘Kill Bill,’ played by Lucy Liu. As they begin their epic fight scene in the snow, Ishii claims that The Bride (Uma Thurman) “may not last five minutes” in a fight with her. We watch as the two battle it out, and eventually, The Bride claims her victory. However, if you start a timer from the music cue that signals the beginning of the battle, to the time Thurman’s character wipes out O-Ren Ishii, then you may notice something interesting.

It takes her precisely four minutes and 59 seconds! Well, she was right about not lasting five minutes, she just got it the wrong way around. It’s these little details that Tarantino just loves to put into his movies – and we just love watching out for!

Selling the script

While Quentin Tarantino’s first movie was technically Reservoir Dogs, it wasn’t the first movie he had written. In fact, he had penned the classic ‘True Romance,’ which follows the story of Clarence and Alabama Worley, before that. In order to be able to make Reservoir Dogs independently, he needed to sell the True Romance script to fund it. The screenplay was optioned and eventually then directed by Tony Scott, before being released in 1993.

The movie wasn’t a hit at the box office but has since been labeled as a cult classic with a massive following of fans who love the combination of Tarantino’s writing and Scott’s directing. While there were some significant changes to the screenplay, including making it more linear and changing the ending to a happier one, Tarantino has admitted that he thought Tony Scott did a great job on it.

Sheriff Earl McGraw

As we’ve already mentioned, Quentin Tarantino likes to link some of his movies together in his own cinematic universe, and so sometimes you see the same character more than once. A prime example of this is Sheriff Earl McGraw, played by Michael Parks. We first see him in ‘From Dusk Till Dawn,’ before he appears again in ‘Kill Bill.’

We then see him in both segments of the Grind House movies he made alongside Robert Rodriguez, ‘Planet Terror,’ and ‘Death Proof.’ While he technically lost his life in his first appearance, he then goes onto star as the same character in three more movies. Yeah, we don’t really know how either. However, Sheriff Earl McGraw isn’t the only character who can jump between Tarantino movies.

Tarantino’s Universes

Quentin Tarantino has created several universes with specific rules about the characters and which other movies they can appear in. First up is the ‘Realer than Real’ universe, which is a bit like our own reality but a bit more violent. Movies in this universe include Reservoir Dogs, True Romance, Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. However, the other universe is the ‘Movie Movie’ universe, which features more supernatural and comic book style characters.

From Dusk Till Dawn and the ‘Kill Bill’ movies are part of this universe. The general rule of thumb is that characters can’t move between universes, but they can move between movies of the same universe! The only exceptions to this are Sheriff Earl McGraw and his son and daughter, and ‘The Wolf’ from Pulp Fiction.

The yellow suit

Quentin Tarantino has never kept it a secret that he watches a lot of movies, then uses them as inspiration for his own films. In particular, he’s a big fan of martial arts movies, and we see that in films such as True Romance and, of course, ‘Kill Bill.’ However, there is one huge hat tip to a martial arts legend in the latter, and it’s quite glaringly obvious when you see it.

Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman) is renowned for the yellow tracksuit with a black stripe down the side, but it’s not the first time that outfit has been seen in the movies. Bruce Lee wore something almost exactly the same in ‘Game of Death’ back in 1978. It seems as though Tarantino was inspired by this film and wanted to include something from the martial arts classic.

Stealing the trophy

If you have watched Pulp Fiction as many times as we have, there’s a good chance you already picked up on this little secret. In the movie, we see Mia and Vincent take to the stage at the diner in that iconic dancing scene. You know exactly the one we mean! When they arrive home, they’re clutching the trophy and are clearly the worthy winners, right? Well, perhaps not.

If you listen very carefully, later on, you’ll hear a radio broadcast about how a trophy was stolen from the diner. It seems as though, despite some of the best dancing we’ve ever seen, Mia and Vincent didn’t win the dancing trophy at all – they simply ran off with it! Is this the pettiest crime in Pulp Fiction? We think so!

Seeing the same car

Tarantino is known for having some of his characters reappear in several of his movies. Still, they’re not the only thing that we see more than once. There is a Honda Civic that we first see in Pulp Fiction, driven by Butch (played by Bruce Willis). In fact, it’s the same one he runs down Marcellus Wallace with. A little later on, in Tarantino’s universe, we see it again, driven by Pam Grier in Jackie Brown.

Fast forward a few more Tarantino movies, and we see it once again, this time in ‘Kill Bill: Volume 2.’ At least we can safely say that Quentin Tarantino doesn’t mind recycling things for his movies! We wonder what happened to the car in the end? Maybe we’ll see it crop up in another film in the future.

Tarantino really wanted a Volvo

It might seem a little odd, but it’s alleged that Quentin Tarantino’s movie ‘Death Proof’ was actually inspired by his desire to buy a Volvo. Yep! He once explained in an interview that he was talking to his friend about getting a safe car, as he didn’t want to end up in a car accident. Tarantino said he felt as though a Volvo was a really reliable car, but his friend knew a way to make it safer.

He was told that if he gave a stunt team around $10,000 to $15,000 they could make it ‘death-proof’ for him. The idea stuck, and he started working on the script for his half of the Grindhouse movies. If you’ve seen the movie, however, you’ll know that Stuntman Mike doesn’t have a Volvo…

Jamie’s horse

Django Unchained is right up there with some of Tarantino’s finest movies, but there are plenty of little secrets about the Western that even superfans don’t know. For example, did you know that the horse that Django rides in the film actually belongs to Jamie Foxx, the actor? It’s believed that he was given the horse, a chestnut gelding which he called Cheetah, as a birthday present back in 2009.

He then decided to learn to ride and quickly became a lover of all things equestrian! Foxx apparently called up Tarantino to say he wanted the part of Django and that he could even bring his own horse… It looks like it worked, and the actor managed to nail the role.

Turning the tables

Who can forget the infamous rant from Steve Buscemi in Reservoir Dogs, where he explains why he doesn’t tip waiting staff? It’s an iconic scene and proof that Tarantino is a genius at dialogue that, despite not having much to do with the plot of the film, keeps you hooked. Mr. Pink, as Buscemi is known as in the movie, drones on and on about his unpopular opinion despite everyone else being against him.

It seems as though Tarantino was keen to turn the table on Buscemi a bit later on, however, as he cast him as a waiter in Pulp Fiction. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment in the diner, but it’s an excellent bit of karma for Mr. Pink nonetheless. We wonder if Mia and Vincent left him a tip…?

Robert and Quentin’s friendship

Maybe people know that Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino are good friends. After all, they directed their Grindhouse movies together. However, did you know that they have also directed small parts of each other’s movies, too? In Pulp Fiction, we see Quentin Tarantino playing the role of Jimmie. Of course, he can’t be acting and directing, so Rodriguez steps behind the camera to direct the scene.

Tarantino also allegedly paid his friend just $1 to do the score for ‘Kill Bill.’ In return, Rodriguez offered Tarantino a short scene to direct in his hit movie Sin City, for which he also paid him a dollar. Tarantino also wrote the screenplay of From Dusk Till Dawn, his first writing gig, which was directed by Rodriguez. Hollywood is such a small world…

The two Djangos

During a scene in Django Unchained, Jamie Foxx is sat talking to a man in a bar who seems to take a particular interest in him. The man asks him his name, to which he replies that it’s Django, but the D is silent. The man then replies with “I know,” which seems like a very strange thing to respond to a stranger telling them how to pronounce their name…

However, the person playing the mysterious man is actually an actor by the name of Franco Nero. Movie buffs will know that this actor played the titular character in the original 1966 Django movie, then again in the 1987 film Django Strikes Again. We were witnessing the two Djangos having a conversation… Who knew?!

Big Kahuna Burger

“Now that’s a tasty burger!” is an often-quoted line from Pulp Fiction, as Samuel L Jackson’s character, Jules, chows down on the tasty looking fast food. However, it isn’t the first time we have seen the Big Kahuna brand in Tarantino’s movies – and it wasn’t the last, either. The Hawaiin themed burger restaurant actually features in Reservoir Dogs, ‘Death Proof,’ and Four Rooms too.

Not only that, but Robert Rodriquez has used the same burger chain in his movies, including From Dusk Till Dawn, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D, and the From Dusk Till Dawn TV series. Interestingly, the Kahuna Burger also features in the 1997 comedy Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Now that’s a famous burger!

Red Apple

Tarantino seems to like creating brands and products that can be seen throughout his movie universe, and one of the most famous of these is Red Apple. It’s a brand of cigarettes that features a green worm with a human-looking face creeping out of a red apple. It’s first mentioned by name in From Dusk Till Dawn, we then see it in a bar in Pulp Fiction, and again being advertised on billboards in ‘Kill Bill.’

In ‘Death Proof,’ we see it being sold at a gas station before it’s referenced again in The Hateful Eight. Finally, we see them again in the most recent Quentin Tarantino movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, where Cliff Booth is seen smoking them.

Foreshadowing in Reservoir Dogs

After spending the whole movie trying to work out who the rat is in Reservoir Dogs, we finally find out it’s Mr. Orange. However, Tarantino had left plenty of clues along the way. He’s the only one to snitch when asked who didn’t tip the waitress at the beginning, which is the first clue he’s not quite as ‘bad’ as the other criminals.

There is also a scene where Nice Guy Eddie is on the phone talking about the potential for there being a rat in the group, just as he drives past an orange balloon. Finally, there’s another scene where Mr. Pink and Mr. White are arguing over who the rat might be, with a shot of pink and white bottles in the background. Separated from them are bottles with orange liquid inside…

So many family members

As we already know, Tarantino wants most of his movies to be in the same universe, and it seems as though he’s created family trees for them too. There are so many characters from movies who have family members in other films. Captain Koons, played by Christopher Walken in Pulp Fiction, actually has an ancestor in Django Unchained. His name is ‘Crazy’ Craig Koons, and he was a wanted member of the Smitty Bacall Gang.

Donny Donowitz from ‘Inglorious Basterds’ is also thought to be the father of the movie director in True Romance, Lee Donowitz. There are also plenty of other alleged links between different characters in his movies… We’d be here all day if we listed them all, but there are plenty of Wiki fandoms that show all of the links.

Other family links

It’s not just family links in his own movies that Tarantino likes to hint at, however. There are also plenty of other alleged family ties between his own films and others. For example, in Django Unchained, Django and Broomhilda Shaft are thought to be tied to another famous character from the big screen… Shaft! It’s believed they are the great-great-great-grandparents of the private detective.

Also, Hattori Hanzo from ‘Kill Bill’ is Sonny Chiba playing a direct descendant of another one of his characters from the film Kage No Gundan. There are also two real-life family members in Django Unchained, Russ Tamblyn, who is credited as ‘Son of a Gunfighter’ as a nod to his role in his movie of the same name. There is also Amber Tamblyn, who is credited as ‘Daughter of a Son of a Gunfighter’ – that’s Russ’ real-life daughter!

Bringing back the trunk shots

While Quentin Tarantino can’t exactly be hailed as the inventor of the ‘trunk shot,’ there’s no denying he played a big part in making it mainstream again. It’s likely that the director saw it another film and then used it as inspiration for many of his own movies. A trunk shot is a low camera angle that is designed to make the audience feel uneasy and claustrophobic, almost as if they themselves are stuck in the trunk.

We first see it used in Reservoir Dogs and then again in several other of Quentin Tarantino’s films. Many other directors now use this shot to film similar scenes and ensure the audience feel as though they can empathize with whoever has been trapped in the trunk.

Master Pai Mei

When Quentin Tarantino wrote ‘Kill Bill,’ he actually imagined himself playing Master Pai Mei, who is the martial arts teacher that Beatrix Kiddo spends a lot of time with. He’s also the creator of the infamous Five Point Palm Exploding Heart technique that we finally see being used by the end of the movies on Bill. It’s thought that Tarantino actually went into training for the role, before realizing what a big task it would be to undertake.

He knew he had to put all of his heart and soul into the directing, so he decided to give the part to Gordon Liu instead. Liu was actually in one of Tarantino’s favorite martial arts movies of all time, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, so he knew he’d found the right man for the job.

Casting Pam Grier

It is believed that actress Pam Grier actually auditioned for another Quentin Tarantino role before she landed the part of Jackie Brown. He didn’t think she was right for the role she initially wanted, but he knew he had to cast her in something. It’s believed that the director actually wrote the whole film just so he could use Pam Grier as the lead role.

Grier was an icon of Blaxploitation cinema and was once in a movie called Foxy Brown back in 1974. On the movie posters for Jackie Brown, Tarantino chose the same font as her previous film to pay homage to all Grier had done for Blaxploitation cinema. We can’t imagine anyone playing Jackie Brown better than Grier!

Mexcian stand-offs

Quentin Tarantino has often hailed spaghetti westerns as both inspiration and one of his favorite genres of movie. So, it doesn’t surprise us to learn that he stole a trick or two out of their books. One of the most obvious is the Mexican stand-off, which is believed to have come from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

This iconic moment in cinema was too much for Tarantino not to try to squeeze into one (or more) of his movies. We see it in Reservoir Dogs, near the climax of the film. It’s also used in The Hateful Eight, Pulp Fiction, and True Romance. Even ‘Inglorious Basterds’ refers to the Mexican stand-off, where characters explain what it is to the audience.

Wrong place, wrong time

Long before Quentin Tarantino was one of the greatest moviemakers of all time, he worked at Video Archives, which is where he met a woman by the name of Linda Kaye. The young woman had already had a small part in the 1989 movie Shocker, but it seemed like Tarantino had bigger ideas for her… He decided to cast her in both Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, but it looked like the actress wouldn’t have much luck in either.

She’s carjacked by Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs, before accidentally getting shot by Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction. She may not have made it big in Hollywood, but at least she can say she was in two Tarantino movies as one of the unluckiest characters of all time.

Reading his own book

There is a scene in Jackie Brown where Max Cherry is waiting to pick up Jackie herself. While he’s waiting, he’s seen reading a book called ‘Rum Punch.’ If you’re a culture lover, then you may already know that this is a 1992 novel written by Elmore Leonard. Five years after it was released, Quentin Tarantino decided to adapt it into the movie Jackie Brown!

Although he did change where it was based to Los Angeles instead of Miami. So, while we’re watching Max read his book, we’re basically watching him read his own story. We wonder if he ever got to the end of the book and found out what was going to happen before it actually happened.

Drawing squares

It seems like Uma Thurman has got a real thing for drawing squares, as it’s something we have seen her do in more than one Quentin Tarantino movie. In Pulp Fiction, she tells Vincent not to be a square, before drawing the shape out in front of her. The square is brought to life by animation, in true, bizarre Tarantino style…

We wouldn’t expect any less. Later on, in the Tarantino universe, a similar thing happens in ‘Kill Bill’ when she is talking to Vernita in her kitchen. She says “that’d be about square” and then goes to draw the shape with her finger. It’s not exactly the same as Pulp Fiction, but it’s a very obvious hat tip to the former movie.

Links to Tennessee

Quentin Tarantino was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, before moving to Los Angeles when he was a bit older. However, it seems as though Tarantino is keen to remember where he came from, and there are plenty of references to his birthplace in many of his movies. In Pulp Fiction, Butch (Bruce Willis) is trying to get to Knoxville. This is also where Butch’s grandfather originally buys the gold pocket watch.

The movie ‘Death Proof’ is set in Tennessee and the song Tennessee Stud by Johnny Cash features in Jackie Brown. Aldo Raine in ‘Inglorious Basterds’ makes reference to his Maynardville origins too. Finally, we see an Oak Ridge coffee can in ‘Kill Bill: Volume 2’ – Oak Ridge is around 25 miles west of Knoxville.

A Roald Dahl story

Not everyone has seen, nevermind heard, of the anthology comedy movie called Four Rooms. However, it’s effectively four short films rolled into one, with four different writers and directors. Allison Anders and Alexandre Rockwell wrote one part each, with friends Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino writing another one part each. All four segments are set in the fictional Hotel Mon Signor in Los Angeles, and we see Tim Roth, a bellhop, having four different encounters with hotel guests.

Those who have seen the movie will know it’s quite hilarious and gives a different perspective having four different writers and directors. However, not everyone will know that actually, this anthology was based on short stories by Roald Dahl. In fact, most Quentin Tarantino fans would be shocked to know he wrote a film based on a Roald Dahl book!

Eli Roth’s input

You may recognize the face of Eli Roth from both ‘Death Proof’ and ‘Inglorious Basterds’ by Quentin Tarantino – in the latter, he played the formidable Donny Donowitz. While he had quite a big part in the WWII film, it turns out that it may have been an even more prominent role than we first thought. That’s because Eli Roth actually created the film within a film that we see in Chapter 5.

Nation’s Pride, a propaganda movie that tells the tale of Frederick Zoller, is six minutes long and directed by Roth himself. The director is best known for horrors such as Hostel and Cabin Fever, so it certainly wasn’t his first stint in the director’s chair. However, it’s probably the first time he directed a film in another film!

No screen credit for Bruce

Bruce Willis was keen to help his old friend Quentin Tarantino out during the filmmaker’s segment in Four Rooms. He decided to take the role on for free just so he could star in it. However, according to the Screen Actors Guild, this is a big ‘no-no’ and Bruce Willis could have been sued by SAG for violating their rules.

In order to prevent any kind of lengthy lawsuit, Bruce Willis agreed not to receive a screen credit for his part in the movie. This meant that he could avoid getting a slap on the wrist from SAG and still star in the film. It seems as though Bruce was really keen to be in another Tarantino movie – so much so, he did it for free and risked some big consequences!

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood easter eggs

Tarantino’s latest movie, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, was absolutely packed with hidden easter eggs and hat tips to previous films. There are plenty of little nods to ‘Inglourious Basterds,’ including the flame-throwing scene with Rick Dalton. We also hear the name Antonio Margheriti – a name that comes up in the WWII film, too. Sergio Corbucci is one of the directors Dalton works with, who is the real director of the original Django movie.

The show ‘Bounty Law’ in the film is also the same set that Tarantino used for Django Unchained. Old favorites Uma Thurman and Bruce Willis may not star in this film, but their respective children, Maya Hawke and Rumer Willis do have small roles. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood really does have all the clever easter eggs!

Racial slurs

While filming Django Unchained, Leonardo DiCaprio was reportedly unhappy with the number of times he had to use racial slurs. Jamie Foxx admitted in an interview that Leo seemed upset by it all until Samuel L. Jackson took him to one side to give him a pep talk. He allegedly told the star that “this is just another Tuesday for us,” and told him to get on with it.

However, Leonardo DiCaprio wasn’t the only person unhappy with the constant use of racial slurs in the movie. Critics slammed Django Unchained for using a particular word far too much, saying it was just unnecessary. Tarantino’s defense was that it was true to history, and it should make people feel uncomfortable; it’s hardly a sunshine and rainbows movie. We kind of have to agree with him there!

Top Gun trash talk

Tarantino doesn’t just write and direct movies, he likes to star in them too. We’ve seen him take on small roles in most of his own movies, but it’s not just his own he likes to star in. We see Tarantino take on a cameo in the 1994 film ‘Sleep With Me,’ and it seems as though his small part caused quite some controversy.

In dialogue that looks like it could have been written by Tarantino himself, due to his telltale style, his character rants on about the movie Top Gun. Asking what the movie is really about, he makes plenty of references to how it seems to be a story of a man struggling with his own sexuality. Yep, Tarantino has a whole speech on how Top Gun is actually an LGBT movie.

Real-life brothel

During ‘Kill Bill: Volume 2,’ Beatrix Kiddo heads to Mexico to see Esteban Vihaio, played by Michael Parks, to try to find out where Bill is. The pimp, who is keen to tell her Bill is like a son to him, is a pretty creepy character who makes you feel on edge the whole way through. Part of that is due to the way he treats the women around him, but it turns out there’s something quite spectacular about where this was filmed and with who.

Tarantino wanted it to feel realistic, so he decided to use a real brothel to shoot the scene. The women working there are actually the women who work in that brothel, simply hired as extras to make it feel more realistic. This was also the final ever scene shot for the film – it’s a wrap!

More controversies

It seems as though Quentin Tarantino is no stranger to controversies in his movies. In fact, it almost seems like he enjoys them! Once Upon a Time in Hollywood delighted fans when it was released, but it looks as though several critics had a problem with so many parts of the movie. Some of the more divisive moments of the film include the scene with Bruce Lee (played by Mike Moh), which was said to be racist stereotyping and disrespectful to Lee himself.

Another aspect that was brought up included the violence against women, something that is quite common in Tarantino movies. One writer for The Guardian newspaper even said that we should ‘cancel’ Tarantino because of the grisly endings for the women at the end of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Faster Pussycat

In ‘Death Proof,’ Shanna Banana is the first victim of Stuntman Mike – in yet another grisly scene that depicts violence against women… What would the critics say?! If you look at the t-shirt she’s wearing before her rather bloody end in the car of Stuntman Mike, you’ll see it’s a homage to the 1965 cult classic film ‘Faster Pussycat… Kill! Kill!’ by Russ Meyer.

Why is this important, you ask? Well, the 1965 movie is about an all-female crime-fighting trio who are on the hunt for a serial killer. Sound familiar? If you made it all the way to the end of ‘Death Proof,’ then you’ll know this was foreshadowing the end of it, when Abernathy, Kim, and Zoe all finally bring down Stuntman Mike. Tarantino loves secret foreshadowing!

The P Wagon

When Beatrix Kiddo wakes up from her coma in ‘Kill Bill,’ she takes down the creepy hospital attendant (Buck) and steals his truck. Much to her horror, it’s a bright yellow and pink truck that has the words ‘P***Y Wagon’ emblazoned on it… Not exactly an inconspicuous getaway vehicle. However, pop culture fans may have seen this vehicle turn up in other things since the movie.

It’s featured in music videos such as ‘Telephone’ by Lady Gaga and Beyonce, along with ‘I’m Really Hot’ by Missy Elliot. The truck actually belongs to Tarantino, and he doesn’t mind lending it out – for a price, we imagine. We wonder how much it would cost us to spend a day cruising around in the original P Wagon!