I always loved film. Some of my earliest memories involve movies. I still remember watching Joe Camp’s Benji as a young lad. Then I got a little bit older and I started attending the drive-in with my parents to see movies like Smokey and the Bandit and Superman. These were memorable times because my father would have me cover myself with a coat and lie down on the floor in the backseat so he wouldn’t have to pay extra. I wasn’t a very discerning viewer back in those days. As a young man I loved everything I watched, from Salem’s Lot to lesser fare like Porky’s and Super Fuzz.
It wasn’t until October 14, 1994 that I began to see film more clearly. It was on that night—opening night—that I first saw Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. (I’ll admit it, I still hadn’t seen Reservoir Dogs at this point.) When that movie came blaring to life on the screen before me, complete with unbelievably cool music from Kool and the Gang and Dick Dale, my eyes were forced opened for the first time. It was then that I truly came to realize everything that cinema could actually be. This was the first time I really considered that there was a man called a director behind this thing, pulling the strings like a talented puppet master. This movie would forever change my life.
Some time later, I was in Seattle, Washington, trying to convince this really cute girl that she should go on a date with me. We went to a book store (as “friends”) and I stumbled across two books that would almost have as significant an impact on me as that film had. They were Quentin Tarantino: The Man and His Movies by Jami Bernard and Jeff Dawson’s Quentin Tarantino: The Cinema of Cool. These were the first books on the subject of cinema I would ever possess. And that night when I went back to my hotel room alone and rejected by that cute girl, I didn’t feel lonely or sad at all. I had those magnificent books to keep me company. And as I read the two biographies of this man Quentin Tarantino, I started to see the path before me in a new light. I had always planned on being a writer, but I never knew what I would write about. But here in my hands were exactly the types of books I wanted to write. On that night I fell in love with film books and even more deeply in love with the works of Tarantino. That was when I came up with the idea that would eventually result in this book. What if I made a companion book to the films of Quentin Tarantino, rather than a biography? At that time there was no such book in existence, and it seemed like a brilliant idea.
It was then that I embarked upon a journey which would stretch out over the next twenty years. I began researching Tarantino and interviewing anyone who knew him that I could get close to. But somehow the book stalled for a good long time after the release of Jackie Brown. I actually had the opportunity to have a really great conversation with Tarantino at the QTIII festival in Austin, Texas, about the merits of the under-appreciated film Death Collector, as well as the copious deficiencies found in the laughable musical The Apple. I would later have a similarly good time with Pulp Fiction co-writer Roger Avary, in which he detailed the even-longer theory he and Tarantino had conceived about Top Gun containing homosexual subtext.
But after that, the book started and stopped intermittently. My attentions were pulled towards number of other projects. (I published nearly thirty books during that span, none of which were the Tarantino book.) And each time a new (and equally wonderful) Tarantino offering was unleashed upon the movie-going public, I would vow to finally finish my book. But I never did. Then I read Dale Sherman’s terrific book Quentin Tarantino F.A.Q. and quickly realized he had crafted pretty much the same book I had always envisioned. So my dream of twenty years looked as though it were finally dead. Then, not long after the release of Tarantino’s eighth “official” film The Hateful Eight, I had a conversation with Bear Manor Media editor Ben Ohmart. It was in that discussion the book would find new life as a collection of original interviews on all things Tarantino.
And so, after two decades in the making, I present you with Big Kahuna Burgers, Hitmen, Killers & Heists: Conversations on Quentin Tarantino. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.