10 Horror Movies Quentin Tarantino Talks About All the Time


There’s no denying that Quentin Tarantino is one of the most important filmmakers and storytellers of our time. The director’s ability to shift the industry into an experimental style in the ’90s served as an introduction to what he would attempt in the following decades. More than 30 years after his feature directorial debut, he still has the power to bend cinema to his vision every couple of years to general acclaim.




Even though he has tackled several genres in his short career, Tarantino still hasn’t made a horror film. It can’t be from his lack of knowledge of the genre, as he’s been known to address horror filmmakers and their movies as influences, paying homage along the way. His closest approach to horror is probably his less appreciated film, Grindhouse’s Death Proof.

He’s also known as a very vocal director who doesn’t like, but loves to celebrate, movie classics. But not only the ones you always think about when hearing the word “classics.” At his cinema, the New Beverly, Quentin schedules the ugly, the weird, and the beautiful as well. Always on film, of course.


Also, in the constant discourse of the podcasts he hosts with Roger Avary and Avary’s daughter, Gala, Tarantino highlights horror any chance he gets. After all, it’s one of the genres that modeled him. At one point, he said his last film would be a horror movie, but then things changed, and that idea was discarded. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t lose hope, as his retirement is yet to happen. To celebrate the genius’ love for the wicked, the scary, and the horrific, here’s our rundown of horror films that Tarantino likes to talk about.


10 Jaws (1975)

Jaws

Release Date
June 18, 1975

Runtime
124

Steven Spielberg’s Jaws takes viewers to Amity Island in the summer, the perfect destination for sandy beaches and small-town comfort. But the problem is that a monster lurks below the surface and has already claimed the lives of a couple of innocent souls. Chief Brody, alongside oceanographer Matt Hooper and a shark hunter called Quint, will attempt the impossible and hunt the great white that’s put Amity on the edge. Oh, but they will need a bigger boat than Quint’s vessel.


“Jaws Is the Greatest Movie Ever Made”

Tarantino has been very vocal about Jaws in the past. It isn’t a coincidence that he claims that the blockbuster is the greatest movie ever made, as he points out the difference between films and movies in regard to their purpose in the industry: “As far as a movie, there’s no making it better than Jaws. There’s no ‘better’ than Jaws. It is the best movie ever made. And it shows how badly timed most movies made before Jaws were.”

It’s all about spectacle, something Tarantino has accomplished in the past with storytelling and technique that make him one of today’s important cinephiles who dared to become a director. Rent on AppleTV.


9 Piranha (1978)

Piranha

Piranha

Release Date
August 3, 1978

Runtime
94

Joe Dante’s underrated horror classicPiranha tells the story of small-town residents being terrorized by the recent disappearances of teenagers and the mutant piranhas, which have feasted on the innocent who dared to take a dive in Lost River Lake. As it turns out, the infestation by the flesh-eating fish was caused by a military project in which the government genetically modified piranhas to release them in Vietnam and neutralize the Viet Cong.


“A Horror Genre All Unto Itself”

Piranha may be accused of being too similar to Jaws, and sure, it does resemble the Spielberg mammoth because of its setting, but Dante actually makes sure to execute the film from another angle. Piranha is much more graphic and does what it can with its small budget. The practical effects are eerily effective, and considering Roger Corman’s participation as executive producer, you may be aware that it does comply with some B-movie rules.

Tarantino’s comments about Piranha on the Video Archives podcast will make you think about watching this one. Just make sure you notice how well-edited the film is, as Quentin highlights this about it. Stream on Shudder.

Related: 15 of the Most Highly Rewatchable Horror Movies

8 Audition (1999)

Audition

Audition

Release Date
October 6, 1999

Cast
Ryo Ishibashi , Eihi Shiina , Tetsu Sawaki , Jun Kunimura , Renji Ishibashi , Miyuki Matsuda

Runtime
115


In Takashi Miike’s Audition, a widower by the name of Shigeharu Aoyama attempts a very risky move in order to find the love of his life. With a friend who’s a film producer, they come up with a mock audition that helps Shigeharu meet new women. He becomes enthralled with Asami Yamazaki. When they start going out, things are ideal at first. But then Asami’s true nature will come to light at some point, and it will be something terrifying enough to make Shigeharu think this wasn’t such a good idea.

“A True Masterpiece if There Ever Was One”

The film isn’t exactly a J-horror piece because it doesn’t comply with some of that movement’s rules. But regardless, it’s one of the most important horror films of the ’90s. Audition perfectly mixes its romantic theme with a horrific outcome that will make you squirm while you try to understand what Miike was trying to do with such a shift.


Tarantino is very clear about how shocking the film’s most important scene is: “It’s important to watch the film in a room full of strangers, as you can feel them getting madder and madder.” He also claims the film is a modern masterpiece, but this is one of those that may be too shocking for those who aren’t prepared for it. Stream for free on Tubi.

7 Deep Red (1975)


Dario Argento’s production of Deep Red, also known as Profondo Rosso, is an extremely underrated murder mystery that always falls behind the other supernatural horror film by Argento and his most famous film. Deep Red tells the story of Marcus and Gianna, a musician and a journalist who team up in order to find the murderer behind a horrific crime that took the life of a prominent psychic. The problem is that the monster wearing the black leather gloves is actually closer to Marcus than he thought at first.

Deep Red’s Sadism Chilled Him to the Bone

As a child, Tarantino was terrified of reality. News outlets and mugshots made him lose sleep. However, when Tarantino dared to see Argento’s Deep Red in 1975, things changed. In Eli Roth’s companion podcast to his show History of Horror, Tarantino was clear about the effect of Argento’s film.

The language issues (Deep Red is an Italian movie) flew past his reaction to the violence on the screen and the sadism characteristic of the cloaked figure. He called it a thrilling experience with the loudest soundtrack he ever heard (Argento’s first collaboration with Goblin). You can stream Deep Red on Shudder.


6 The Thing (1982)

In John Carpenter’s The Thing, American researchers in Antarctica come upon a creature from another world with an insane ability to morph into any living organism. This thing has no shape and can imitate other humans, which makes their hunt very inconvenient as any of them can be the creature. The film revolves around the fearless R.J. MacReady, a helicopter pilot who takes it upon himself to find out who may be the cover for the parasitic alien before all bodies drop.


“I Don’t Get Scared in Movies. The Thing, I Got Scared in.”

A timeless classic, The Thing is one of those films you think of instantly when listing the ones that defined the horror sci-fi genre. And it’s definitely not only the practical effects extravaganza everyone thinks it is. Tarantino points out that the film’s effective because of its clever use of paranoia as a psychological element that drives survivors toward desperation: “the paranoia is bouncing off of the four walls, until it has nowhere to go except through the fourth wall into the audience. I started feeling exactly like they felt.” Rent on Apple TV.

5 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)


In The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Tobe Hooper’s 1974 horror behemoth, a group of hippies is on a road trip through Texas, in an area where graves have been disturbed, and fresh corpses have been dug up. When they’re forced to make a stop after a weird encounter with a hitchhiker, the group falls prey to a family of cannibals whose prominent member, Leatherface, wears a mask made of human flesh and wields a chainsaw like no other.

“There’s Nothing You Can Say to Bring it Down”

The ’70s horror classic has been acclaimed by critics and audiences since its release, and many deem it a film that reshaped the basis of the genre. Quentin hasn’t fallen behind when speaking out loud his love for the film: “A perfect movie kind of crosses all aesthetics. It might not be your cup of tea, but there’s nothing you can say to bring it down.” When it comes to modern gritty films that try to emulate the aesthetics pioneered in the ’70s, there’s nothing more inspiring than the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.


Though Tarantino hasn’t made a pure horror film, if he ever does, there’s a high chance that it will resemble Hooper’s masterpiece. You can stream The Texas Chain Saw Massacre on Shudder.

4 Crawl (2019)

crawl

Crawl

Release Date
July 11, 2019

Runtime
87


Alexandre Aja’s creature featureCrawl is based on a very basic premise. Dave and Haley, father and daughter, re-encounter during a flood in Florida. Haley has taken it upon herself to convince her father they should leave their house immediately, but when she finds him in the house’s crawl space, she sees huge alligators preying on them. Perhaps anyone would think it’s all about leaving the crawl space, but Aja’s horror experience is designed to make Haley and Dave’s journey a very unlucky one.

His Favorite Film of 2019

Every now and then, Tarantino will show his real nature and taste for movies. Don’t get us wrong, the dude likes to get awards, but with every movie that passes, Oscars seem distant and, honestly, less important for him and the audience that faithfully follows him everywhere.

His declarations in 2019 about one of his favorite films of the year are very clear and represent Tarantino’s love for more obscure genre films that don’t necessarily get awards. He was very impressed by the film’s style and filmmaking techniques applied to make it a white-knuckle ride. Stream on PlutoTV.


3 The Exorcist (1973)

the exorcist

The Exorcist

Release Date
December 26, 1973

Runtime
2hr 2min

William Friedkin’s The Exorcist takes viewers to Georgetown, Washington, D.C., where a film star has just moved with her daughter because she’s finishing her latest film. Chris has gone through a tumultuous divorce and custody battle, but she has the capacity to take care of Regan. The 12-year-old is a curious pre-teen child who goes one step too far and summons a demon that begins to possess her slowly. Doctors can’t agree on one solution for Regan’s deterioration, so they advise Chris to seek the help of a priest. When Father Karras arrives at the MacNeils, he realizes the Devil has the child under a monstrous grasp and must find support in the hands of a more experienced exorcist.


“Killer, Absolutely Killer”

Tarantino’s love for The Exorcist has made him reach for extreme measures. In The New Beverly, he only shows 35-mm films, and Friedkin only allowed for DCP (Digital Cinema Package) versions of the films to be shown. However, Tarantino convinced him to let the Beverly show a print, and the result was astounding.

Tarantino has been vocal in the past about the most important horror film of all time, which turned 50 in 2023. He says, “If I had all the time in the world, I would love to make a really, really scary horror film, like The Exorcist.” Rent on Apple TV.

Related: 20 Horror Movies That Roger Ebert Actually Liked


2 Battle Royale (2000)

Battle royale

Battle Royale

Release Date
December 16, 2000

Cast
Tatsuya Fujiwara , Aki Maeda , Tarô Yamamoto , Takeshi Kitano , Chiaki Kuriyama , Sosuke Takaoka

Runtime
114

Battle Royale depicts Japan after a disastrous period that has left the country in a ravaged state of poverty and chaos. The government has no idea how to install its totalitarian doctrine, but it comes up with the next best option. They have found a way to fight crime by going to the root of the problem. They believe it all starts at a very young age.

After a violent incident in class, a group of students are taken to a remote island in an undisclosed location. They are now part of a game called Battle Royale, in which they must find a way to survive. They must fight and kill each other until there’s only one winner. If they don’t, the collars around their necks will explode. Sound familiar? This is where it all began.


“That Would Have Been Awesome to Have Directed Battle Royale”

Tarantino’s love for Battle Royale has been enough to make his words appear on just about every DVD release of the film. In 2009, he called it his favorite film since he had become a director, and it’s easy to see its influence on Tarantino’s Western/kung-fu mashup, Kill Bill. More recently, he said out loud that he would have loved to directBattle Royale. That is, while he accused The Hunger Games of being a rip-off of the Japanese action horror film. Stream for free on Tubi.

1 Carrie (1976)


Brian De Palma’s Carrie is one of the most important horror films of the 1970s, and it tells the story of poor Carrie White, a teenager who’s been bullied every day of her life in school, and that isn’t her only problem. Her mother, a religious fanatic, subjects her to torture any chance she can, and when Carrie enters womanhood, she’s only called a sinner.

When someone comes up with a way to show Carrie some mercy, someone else comes up with a prank. Carrie gets crowned prom queen, and gallons of pig blood fall on her, and she becomes the audience’s laughingstock. This calls for Carrie’s definite release of her true nature. She’s telekinetic, and her powers aren’t exactly limited to bending metal. She installs Hell on Earth on the most important night of her life.

His Favorite Stephen King Film

According to the handwritten list that Empire published, Carrie is not only Tarantino’s favorite Stephen King adaptation but also one of his all-time favorite movies. This religious horror film sits among the best of De Palma’s entire career, and Tarantino has been enamored with the director’s ability to portray violence and make it artistic in the midst of the gruesome aspects. You can hear more of Tarantino’s kind words for Carrie and De Palma on the Video Archives podcast.


Let’s take a look at a ranking of all Quentin Tarantino’s films through the following video:



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