Speaking at the Tribeca Film Festival with cast members of the iconic film to commemorate its 25th anniversary, Tarantino revealed that many people walked out of screenings when it was making the rounds on the festival circuit.
Even one of the industry’s most prolific horror directors couldn’t stomach one of the most talked about scenes in the film.
As reported by EW, Tarantino revealed that the infamous torture scene—in which Michael Madsen’s Mr. Blonde cuts off a tied-up police officer’s ear while dancing to “Stuck In The Middle With You”—caused many moviegoers to walk out in the middle of screenings.
But when he took Reservoir Dogs to screen at Spain’s Sitges Film Festival, which typically screens horror and fantasy films, he thought the movie would be a hit with everyone in the audience.
“They showed Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive, which was just drowned in zombie guts and brains,” Tarantino told the crowd at the Tribeca Film Festival. “Finally I’ve got an audience that won’t walk out. I even joked about that in the opening introduction for the movie.”
But that was not the case.
“Five people walked out of that audience, including Wes Craven,” Tarantino said. “The f**king guy who did Last House on the Left walked out? The guy who did Last House on the Left, my movie’s too tough for him.”
There have certainly been even more graphic depictions of violence since then, especially in Tarantino’s followup movies. But the scene remains talked about to this day as it shows Madsen’s character gleefully dismember a hostage before dousing him in gasoline.
Tarantino is known for his unflinching use of graphic violence, employing it as a statement in many of his films depending on the context. It’s just interesting to hear that Craven, who has directed many graphic horror films, walked out of the screening.
Maybe the scene just gave him an idea that he really had to get down on paper?