Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof was inspired by many different ’70s car chases, but also heavily inspired by a classic Italian horror film.
During Quentin Tarantino death proof was inspired by car chases from the 70s vanishing point and Dirty Mary, crazy Larryit was also heavily inspired by an Italian horror film by Dario Argento. death proof was a love letter to the”all or nothing days” of handy special effects and dangerous car stunts. Kurt Russel’s villainous stuntman Mike longs for the days when “real cars smashed into real cars,‘ taking his love of old Hollywood to a deadly extreme. death proof has been described as a slasher film in which the killer uses a car instead of a machete, but the film’s horror influences are easy to overlook.
Quentin Tarantino is a fan of horror and has dabbled in the genre more than once, writing the film directed by Robert Rodriguez From dusk to dawn and set a the thing-inspired taste on The Hateful Eight. However, death proof may be his only film specifically labeled horror by Tarantino. The film played as part of grinding house with Robert Rodriguez planet terror and was intended to be a broadcast of low-budget ’70s B-movies that delivered the thrills those movies often didn’t have. To achieve the dingy feel of a grindhouse film, Tarantino drew inspiration from many films.
The cinema version of death proof omits some references to Italian horror, but the extended editing released on home video draws a direct line to that of Italian horror director Dario Argento The bird with the crystal plumage. In a longer sequence, stuntman Mike tracks his next victim, a group of women working on a film in the area. He takes voyeuristic pictures of them while playing a song plumage plays on the soundtrack, parallel to the opening scene of Argento’s film. This eerie and ethereal song gives the film a spooky vibe and shows how obsessed stuntman Mike is with his victims. There’s even a brief giallo-style shot of authorities, played by Michael and James Parks, attempting to unravel the mystery that is a cornerstone of Argento’s work.
How Death Proof honors Dario Argento’s film style
The weathered visuals of death proof also reflect the style of Dario Argento’s early films. Most of the film features naturalistic lighting and color grading, with Tarantino taking charge as his own cinematographer, giving the film an appropriately grimy ’70s vibe. In the Extended Cut there is a black and white sequence that turns shrill into colour. The colors in this scene are vibrant and saturated, reminiscent of Argento’s bold colors suspiracy.
On the surface, death proof was seemingly verging on horror as it was mostly inspired by ’70s car chases. Tarantino did, however, bring some undeniable horror movie slant to the film. Old Hollywood-obsessed stuntman Mike is one of the most sinister characters Tarantino has created, and the film’s extended editing fleshes him out as a fragile, unpredictable villain who would fit perfectly into an Argento film. The film’s theatrical version retained some of the spooky atmosphere, but the extended version solidified it into a horror film only Tarantino could make, with heavy nods to the horror films of Dario Argento mixed with the thrill of ’70s exploitation.
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