Reservoir Dogs is currently enjoying its 25th Anniversary as one of the greatest crime thrillers of all-time. But it wasn't immediately well-received by the filmmaking community of which Quentin Tarantino worshipped. In fact, the first ever screening was an absolute disaster. And as the director screened it around the country, he experienced quite a few walkouts from audience members who just couldn't 'stomach' some of the more visceral scenes of violence, which included an ear getting hacked off (though off screen) and a man brutally shot in the gut. Surprising enough, one of those in attendance who just couldn't handle the violence was Wes Craven. And in the middle of a screening, Quentin Tarantino was shocked to see Craven, the director behind the brutal Last House on the Left and the immortal Nightmare on Elm Street get up and leave.
Quentin Tarantino and his core cast from Reservoir Dogs recently gathered to celebrate their indelible cult classic. Variety was on hand to catch some of the colorful dialogue between these legends. But one of the more amusing and insightful bits of trivia came from Tarantino himself, who just couldn't believe that Wes Craven of all people got up and left the movie. This was the man that created Freddy Krueger, after all.
When Reservoir Dogs was released back in 1992, Tarantino traveled the world with the movie. And he'd keep score on how many individuals couldn't make it all the way through. Most people got up and left during Mr. Blonde's infamous torture scene, which ironically pans away during the most grisly moments. Tarantino reveals the largest number to evacuate any given theater. And he also goes onto explain how, when he screened it at a horror festival, he thought he'd found his perfect audience. Oh, but that wasn't the case.
"I started counting the walkouts during the torture scene and 33 was the largest. [Arriving at Spain's Sitges Horror Film Festival], I thought, 'Finally I've got an audience that won't walk out' and I even joked about it while introducing the film. Five people walk out of that audience, including Wes Craven! The fu**ing guy who did The Last House on the Left walked out?! My movie was too tough for him."
Tarantino went onto describe the first time he screened the movie at the Sundance Film Festival. The incident has become legend. For all the wrong reasons, though. This particular screening became a nightmare in and of itself. The movie was shot in scope, even though the festival didn't have a scope lens for the projector. Tarantino let them screen it anyway. Explains Quentin.
"That was a disaster, that's kind of famous, actually. It looks like kaka all the way through it. That would be bad enough but then it gets to the final climax and all of a sudden the lights come up. Someone says, 'Oh shit,' and they brought the lights down. Then everybody has their guns pointed on everybody else and right at the height of that scene, there's a power outage and all of the power goes out. It was a f**ing disaster."
Going deep into the history of the movie for its 25th anniversary, Quentin Tarantino also revealed that Tom Waits came very close to being cast in the movie. And during auditions, Tarantino had the musician read the Madonna monologue just so he could hear him do it. Waits complimented the director's script, calling it 'poetry'. Tarantino describes making the movie as the 'happiest' time of his life.