Retroplex Cinema: Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Retroplex Cinema is back and today takes a look at one of the modern day classics that was released 20 years ago this week back in 1992.  Quentin Tarantino is a staple amongst Hollywood in 2012, but in 1992 no one had heard of him until this film hit theaters becoming an instant cult classic.  Let's look at the directorial debut of Quentin Tarantino, Reservoir Dogs

Reservoir Dogs (1992) hit theaters on October 23, 1992 in only 19 theaters.  The film had a budget of just $1.2 million and while it never played in more than 61 theaters, it grossed $2.8 million making it's money back.  Quentin Tarantino had been working at Video Archives, a video store in Manhattan Beach, California, and originally planned to shoot the film with his friends on a budget of $30,000 in a 16 mm format with producer Lawrence Bender playing Nice Guy Eddie. When actor Harvey Keitel became involved and agreed to act in the film he was cast as Mr. White. With Keitel's assistance, the filmmakers were able to raise $1.5 million to make the film. With this, Reservoir Dogs would begin to film and go on to cult status.  We won't give the plot to the film as we usually do in Retroplex Cinema, because chances are you have seen it, and if you haven't, you should go watch it.  So this edition could contain spoilers, you have been warned.
Film Notes: Reservoir Dogs was, according to Tarantino, influenced by Stanley Kubrick's The Killing. Tarantino said: "I didn't go out of my way to do a rip-off of The Killing, but I did think of it as my Killing, my take on that kind of heist movie".  The main characters being named after colors (Mr. Pink, White, Brown, etc.) was first seen in the 1974 film The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and the film The Big Combo inspired the scene where a cop is tortured in a chair.   Tarantino was even asked if he plagiarized making this film, but instead stands by his decisions as homages to teh original films he grew up watching that influenced him.  When asked about his decision to not show the heist itself, Tarantino has said that the reason was initially budgetary, but that he had always liked the idea of not showing it and stuck with that idea. He has said that the technique allows for the realization that the movie is "about other things".  He compared this to the work of a novelist, and has said that he wanted the movie to be about something that is not seen and that he wanted it to "play with a real-time clock as opposed to a movie clock ticking".
The Film's Violence: The film has received substantial criticism for its strong violence and language. One scene that viewers found particularly unnerving was the ear-cutting scene; Michael Madsen himself reportedly had great difficulty finishing it, especially after Kirk Baltz ad-libbed the desperate plea "I've got a little kid at home."  During a screening at a film festival in Barcelona, fifteen people walked out, including horror film director Wes Craven and special effects artist Rick Baker. Baker later told Tarantino to take the walkout as a "compliment" and explained that he found the violence unnerving because of its heightened sense of realism. Many people walked out during the film and Tarantino commented about it at the time: "It happens at every single screening. For some people the violence, or the rudeness of the language, is a mountain they can't climb. That's OK. It's not their cup of tea. But I am affecting them. I wanted that scene to be disturbing"
Influence & Success: The film has gone on to be highly influenced in the making of other independent films, and the critical response to the film over the years has been highly positive.  The film has gone on to spawn video games, action figures, numerous pop culture references, and  all sorts of other merchandise.  

This is a bit shorter edition of Retroplex Cinema than usual, but a film as good as Reservoir Dogs doesn't have to have a lot said about it.  Check out some images of figures and merchandise the film has influenced and watch the trailer below.  Retroplex Cinema will return soon!