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Quentin Tarantino’s Response To Stephen King’s Criticism Of His Film ‘Kill Bill’

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Kill Bill: Volume 1 is an American martial arts movie written and directed by American filmmaker and actor Quentin Jerome Tarantino. The film starred  Uma Thurman as the bride who vows to get revenge against a team of assassins who are members of the deadly viper, O-Ren Ishii, played by Lucy Liu.

The character of Bill, the former lover of the bride and father to her daughter as well as the gang’s leader, was played by David Carradine. Her planned revenge was based on the fact that the gang members tried to kill her. However, best-selling author, Stephen King, was not in the least amused by the movie as he openly expressed his dislike for the movie.

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Stephen King’s criticism of the movie, Kill Bill

AMERICAN BADASS: A MICHAEL MADSEN RETROSPECTIVE, Quentin Tarantino, 2021. © Playmaker Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection

While writing a review on the movie for Entertainment Weekly, Stephen King did not mince words in expressing the fact that the movie was not pleasant to his cinema-loving self. “The blah movie was Kill Bill. You probably saw some good reviews of it, possibly even in this magazine,” he wrote.

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“Steve says don’t you believe it. Steve says you should remember that movie critics see movies free. Also they don’t have to pay the babysitter or spring 10 bucks for the parking. They’re thus apt to rhapsodize over narcissistic stuff like Kill Bill, which announces itself as Quentin Tarantino’s Fourth Film, ain’t we la-di-da.”

King’s criticism of the movie stems from the use of violence as well as his opinion that the story was not in the least enthralling. He stated, “Uma Thurman tries hard, and she’s the best thing in the movie, but in the end, she’s stuck playing a woman who’s a label instead of a human being: she is, God save us, the bride. The violence is choreographed like an Esther Williams swim routine. When the bride dispatches at least 70 kung-fu goons in one scene, blood spurts from amputated limbs, often in pretty spirals. And the movie’s litany of in-jokes is so tiresome,” he continued.

WHAT SHE SAID: THE ART OF PAULINE KAEL, director Quentin Tarantino, 2018. © Juno Films / courtesy Everett Collection

Quentin’s response

Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino did not immediately respond to critics of the movie, one of whom was Stephen King. After taking his time, he eventually responded to the criticisms in a printed 2004 edition of Entertainment Weekly. He stated that most of the critics were of the opinion that Kill Bill Vol. 1 was not in the same league as his earlier movie Jackie Brown.

“But one thing that was semi-annoying to me in reading reviews for Vol .1 was oh, this is very wild and stylish, but it’s a clear retreat from Jackie Brown, Clear Reatreat’ says I’m running away from what I did in Jackie Brown. But I’ve done that. I don’t have to prove I can do it, alright?” Tarantino stated.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, director Quentin Tarantino, on-set, 2019. ph: Andrew Cooper / © Columbia Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

Speaking about King’s comments on Vol.1, he said, “Stephen King took a dig at me for starting off Kill Bill with ‘Quentin Tarantino’s fourth film’- you know la-di-da! I can imagine someone taking a cynical view like that. But to me, I meant it, and not in some airy-fairy way. This is my fourth movie and I haven’t done anything in a long time. It’s telling you who I am today, and the fifth will tell you something else.”

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