Monday, June 17, 2024

Quentin Tarantino Says Even Horror Master Wes Craven Walked Out of the Original Screening of “Reservoir Dogs” 25 Years Ago


Quentin Tarantino provided his own 35 mm print for the 25th anniversary screening of “Reservoir Dogs” at The Tribeca Film Festival Thursday evening at the Beacon Theater and the film still looks sensational with the blood looking particularly vivid.
Tarantino sat through the screening, so engrossed in the film that when a woman tried to scoot past him in the row to get to her seat, he asked her to walk around the other side of the theater so he wouldn’t be disturbed. She slipped past anyway.
Following the screening, Tarantino, Michael Madsen, Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi and Tim Roth reunited for a panel that was as funny as it was epic. It was moderated by entertainment writer Lynn Hirschberg although the guys mainly reminisced and talked to each other.
On taking the stage, Tarantino told the crowd, “Except for all your cell phones you guys were a great audience.”
“Reservoir Dogs” is about a jewelry heist gone terribly wrong. The crime is committed by a bunch of bunglers, perfect strangers who know each other only by their invented names, which are colors.
The movie debuted at Sundance, where the first screening was a disaster said Tarantino.
“They didn’t have the right lens and the movie looked like caca all the way through.” He added,“That would be bad enough, but then it gets to the final climax when everyone’s yelling at each other, everyone’s got their guns pointed on everybody else, then all of sudden…. almost as if on purpose…right at the height of that scene there’s a power outrage… I was like, so this is what it’s like to watch your movie in public!”
The second week it was shown at the big industry screening and big names showed up, including Faye Dunaway and Sean Penn. “That screening went fantastic!” said Tarantino, with Dunaway even asking a question about composition.
It was the infamous torture scene that got everyone talking and people started to leave the theater
Tarantino said the first year the film was on the festival circuit he started counting the walkouts.
 Thirty three was the largest number of people exiting the theater during that scene said Tarantino.
At one festival they were screening one of Peter Jackson’s earliest films, “Dead Alive,” said Tarantino.
“People were drowning in zombie blood and guts. I thought, okay, I’ve got an audience that won’t walk out… five people walked, including Wes Craven. The guy who did ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘The Last House on the Left,’ my movie is too tough for him!”
In the torture scene – as everyone knows by now – Madsen turns on the radio and “Stuck in the Middle With You” is on. He’s got a straight razor in his hand and starts dancing to the tune and slices off the ear of a young cop tied to a chair.
Madsen had a problem with the scene. The cop pleads for his life, saying he has a kid. “That fucked him up,” said Tarantino because Madsen had just had a son.
“I didn’t want to fucking do it. He’s got a kid,” said Madsen.
“When he was just killing that was fun and the audience can appreciate it, but now that you learn he’s got a son it’s not so much fun,” said Madsen.
And even though they rehearsed for two weeks prior to shooting for five, they never rehearsed the dance scene.
“That’s true, you never made me do it in rehearsal because I was so intimated by it. I didn’t know what to do,” said Madsen. “I didn’t know if I wanted to do it or not. In the script it said, ‘ Mr. Blonde maniacally dances around (the cop).’ I remember specifically that’s what it said. And I kept thinking what the fuck does that mean?… What am I going do? So he never made me do it during rehearsal. He trusted me that on the day I would come up with something.”
Turns out Madsen never practiced the scene at home either. On the day of the shoot,
Madsen said,  “I didn’t know what the hell to do. I heard that music and I thought, ‘Oh fuck I better do something.’… I remembered some weird little film that Jimmy Cagney did – I don’t remember the name of it – but he did this crazy little dance thing. It just popped into my head at the last second. That’s where it came from.”
They did the scene three times and the first time is the one immortalize do screen. It’s been with him ever since.
A few years ago he went to Michigan to open up a theater. “They were going to name it the Michael Madsen Theater,” he said. “I thought it was great, and the theater was as big as that closet over there, but it was a great honor and I was happy to show up. And then they sent me a memo of what I was supposed to do and it said, ‘Well first we’ll announce the naming of the theater and then Michael Madsen will come out doing the Mr. Blonde dance…  There’s no way I’m going to do that! I started to imagine myself 80 years old, someone asking me to do the Mr. Blonde dance. It’s been following me around forever.”
After the panel the actors went next door to the Beacon Hotel. I was sitting at the bar and Tim Roth, who is very charming, apologized to me for taking over the space. Then all of them, including Tarantino and Madsen, sat at a table watched over by two big security guards. It looked like no one could get into the bar/restaurant. They were still there when I left at 1 a.m.
Photo c2017 Showbiz411 by Paula Schwartz

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