When you think of Quentin Tarantino, classic films like “Reservoir Dogs,” “Pulp Fiction,” and “Django Unchained” certainly come to mind. But what about the critically reviled “Saturday Night Live” sketch adaptation “It’s Pat”? Or the Michael Bay Alcatraz action movie “The Rock”? Tarantino’s fingerprints have been all over the movies ever since his breakout debut in 1992, and some of his projects are way more bizarre than others.
The director is currently getting together his ninth feature, which will be his penultimate effort behind the camera if his retirement talks are to be believed. Sources say Tarantino is putting together a drama involving the Manson family murders and that he’s eyeing Brad Pitt and Jennifer Lawrence to star. As the filmmakers looks to the future for his next project, we’re going back to the past for his 9 strange and most bizarre titles.
“Eddie Presley” (Cameo)
1992 is best remembered as the year Quentin Tarantino became one of the early titans of indie cinema with his Sundance breakout “Reservoir Dogs.” But Mr. Brown wasn’t his only screen credit during that breakthrough year. While in production on his first feature, Tarantino took a short break to film a cameo appearance in Jeff Burr’s “Eddie Presley.” Burr was best known as the director of horror sequels “Stepfather II” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III” and was adapting Duan Whitaker’s one-show, about an elvis impersonator with a wounded psyche, into a film. Tarantino and “Evil Dead” star Bruce Campbell play orderlies at a mental hospital who assist the titular character, played by Whitaker. Tarantino would later cast Whitaker as the pawn shop owner Maynard in “Pulp Fiction” three years later. Whitaker also co-wrote and starred in 1999’s “From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money,” which Tarantino executive produced.
“It’s Pat” (Uncredited Writer)
Julia Sweeney’s androgynous “Saturday Night Live” character Pat Riley was a one-joke bit that somehow became an entire feature-length movie. The film was a box office bomb when it was released in 1994, not even crossing the $1 million mark despite its $8 million budget. Tarantino had spent the years after “Reservoir Dogs” working on screenplays like “True Romance,” “Natural Born Killers,” and “Pulp Fiction,” which makes his uncredited work on something as abysmal as “It’s Pat” all the more bizarre. Sweeney had written the film with Jim Emerson and Stephen Hibbert, who Tarantino would cast as the leather-clad Gimp in “Pulp Fiction.” In a 1994 interview with Playboy, Tarantino explained that his love for Pat’s obnoxious side led him to saying “yes” to the screenplay job. Thank goodness he went uncredited.
“Sleep With Me” (Cameo)
Just a year before “Pulp Fiction” took the Cannes Film Festival by storm, Tarantino appeared at the festival in small but memorable role in Rory Kelly’s comedy-drama “Sleep With Me.” The movie had its premiere in the Un Certain Regard sidebar and features a scene between Tarantino and “Little Children” director Todd Field in which the former breaks down the homoerotic subtext of “Top Gun.” Riffing on pop culture is a staple of Tarantino’s screenplays, so watching him analyze Tom Cruise and Tony Scott in person is a highlight of his acting career.
“Destiny Turns On the Radio” (Actor)
If “Sleep With Me” represents one of Tarantino’s best appearances on screen, then consider “Destiny Turns on the Radio” one of his worst. The movie opened the same year Tarantino was on top of the film world with “Pulp Fiction,” so luckily his appearance as a gambler named Johnny Destiny went largely unnoticed. Tarantino appears early in the film and sports such a bizarre southern accent that it’s shocking director Jack Baran let it slide. Tarantino is at his best on screen when he’s simply being Tarantino. Watching him try to act couldn’t be more distracting.
“The Rock” (Uncredited Writer)
“The Rock” was only Michael Bay’s second feature, and by the time he was ready to start production the script had gone through some pretty talented hands. Not only was Aaron Sorkin brought on to do a script rewrite at one point in the movie’s development, but so was Tarantino. The movie stars Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery as an FBI chemist and a convicted Special Air Service pilot who team up to stop rogue U.S Marines from releasing a nerve gas over San Francisco. “The Rock” followed Tony Scott’s “Crimson Tide” as back to back films whose screenplays went under the supervision of Tarantino.
“God Said Ha!” (Producer)
Four years after helping Julia Sweeney adapt her “Saturday Night Live” skit into a feature film with “It’s Pat,” Tarantino rejoined the comedian for 1998’s “God Said Ha!” The director produced and briefly stars in the film, which is based on Sweeney’s one woman show. The film is an 85-minute monologue in which Sweeney reflects on her memories of her brother being diagnosed with lymphoma and her own experience discovering she has cancer. The movie premiered at SXSW to favorable reviews.
“Daltry Calhoun” (Producer)
Tarantino spent a majority of the years following the release of “Kill Bill” serving as producer on various movies, including Scott Spiegel’s “My Name is Modesty” and Eli Roth’s “Hostel.” By far the most surprising producing credit on his resume during this time belongs to “Daltry Calhoun,” the Johnny Knoxville star vehicle that earned just $12,551 at the box office. The gross is even worse when you consider the film cost $3 million to make. Tarantino’s involvement brought in Miramax Films as a distributor, but it was a major loss for everyone involved.
“The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz” (Cameo)
You wouldn’t normally associate Tarantino with the Muppets, nor would you expect to see the ultra-violent filmmaker show up in a children’s movie, and yet here we are with “The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz.” Featuring Ashanti as Dorothy and Queen Latifah as Aunt Em, this adaptation of the L. Frank Baum story features Tarantino teaching Kermit the Frog some violent ways to put an end to the Wicked Witch of the West. It’s entirely on brand for Tarantino (perhaps Kermit could have used the five point palm exploding heart technique), but also entirely unexpected, too. The cameo got cut from the theatrical version but can still be seen on the extended one.
“She’s Funny That Way” (Cameo)
Peter Bogdanovich hadn’t directed a feature film in nearly 15 years when the ensemble comedy “She’s Funny That Way” opened in August 2015, so it’s really no wonder his return brought out some of today’s biggest heavyweights. The film was presented by Noah Baumbach and Wes Anderson, and Quentin Tarantino showed up during an end credits scene as a last second surprise. Unfortunately, Tarantino ruins one of the movie’s best gags by proving that Bogdanovich basically ripped off a similar bit from Ernst Lubitsch’s last completed feature “Cluny Brown.” How’s that for the last word?