The Hateful Eight: review


In which Quentin Tarantino sticks two fingers up to the American film industry and thinks to himself; if there’s nothing else left to parody it’s time to parody myself.

Tarantino’s films have increasingly taken themselves less and less seriously.  Look back through his seven previous movies and you’ll see that he started with a pretty full on, totally original, but relatively serious ‘take’ on Mean Street type hitmen, mafia stooges and mobsters with his only real moment of pure humour being the Stealer’s Wheel ‘ear scene’ in Reservoir Dogs..

Pulp Fiction was a full blown paean to, um, pulp fiction and rather than reaching for the humour button instead drew entirely on style.

Jackie Brown was a stunning tribute to blaxploitation and pulp fiction of a more cerebral kind, drawing as it did on Elmore Leonard’s superior crime noir and was an instant classic.

But Kill Bill 1 & 2 started to see Tarantino play games with his audience.  This time he sought out humour as he dialled up the violence to ridiculous, but glorious, proportions drawing from Manga, Kung Fu, Bruce Lee, and Monkey to delight all who sailed with him.

Death Proof I’ll have to comment on only from reviews I’ve read.  It pastiched B movies and Grindhouse.  His descent into levity was beginning in earnest.

Inglorious Basterds (war films) continued that journey and it reached new highs with the remarkable performance of Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained; this time Westerns being the genre of choice.

It’s perhaps a surprise to see him tackle the same genre two movies running as Westerns are the source of The Hateful Eight’s inspiration but, for me, it’s actually Tarantino that is the inspiration, because he’s made a conscious decision to rip the piss out of himself in this wondrous three hour epic.  Every excess that Tarantino has brought to our screens in the past is amplified in this shoot ’em up, completely joyous and utterly unpretentious homage to Quentin Tarantino.

He lampoons himself by appearing as a voice over, very briefly, on two occasions, thereby giving us his ‘Hitchcock Moment” – another nod of reverence to a master of the big screen.

But it’s the killings (and there are many) that provide the greatest glee and give Tarantino the most fun.  Buckets of blood mixed with suet and bits of bone spray liberally across the set, and regularly onto the magnificent countenance of Jennifer Jason Lee (an actress that’s clearly up for the ride and vies with Samuel L. Jackson for star billing).

Cowboys vomit gallons of gore in brilliant fountains of rouge and heads are dramatically obliterated with barely a by your leave.

Even his cast is a parody of itself.

Michael Madsen is back for the first time since being Mr Blonde, as is Tim Roth who was Mr Orange; Kurt Russell follows up his Death Proof appearance, Samuel L. steps out for the sixth time, Bruce Dern does a quick reappearance after Django, as does Walter Goggins who is terrific as the Sheriff.

It’s glorious (inglorious really).  A pure romp.  A very clever storyline, beautifully filmed, hilariously, and I mean laugh out loud hilariously, scripted and the ensemble cast is a pure delight.

From the very first bar of Ennio Morricone’s masterful score (in itself another parody) to the last note of the closing credits this is filmmaking at its most uninhibited, most irreverent (the n word appears many more times than any other white man could get away with) and most crafted.

A triumph.

I cannot wait for his forthcoming horror movie.