Horror and gore sometimes go hand in hand, but apparently it takes more than some corn syrup and food coloring to impress horror aficionado #WesCraven — something that #QuentinTarantino still seems a little bitter about to this day. Craven was the sire of the slashers, while Tarantino is the viscount of violence, and together the duo arguably make the godfathers of gore. There are a million and one ways to separate the two's directing styles, and at least back in 1992, Craven wasn't a fan of their differing takes on gore in theaters.
As Tarantino's earliest feature-length work, #ReservoirDogs was the violent delight that went on to become an underground hit. The indie heist may not be as well remembered as Pulp Fiction, or perhaps even Kill Bill, but its shocking contents and ensemble cast made it a bloody good romp. Reminiscing at the Tribeca Film Festival for the film's 25th anniversary, Tarantino recalled how unpopular Dogs had been when screened to the good and the great of cinema at a horror festival in Spain.
Speaking to the crowd, Tarantino recalled how even the legendary Craven couldn't stomach Officer Marvin Nash having his ear sliced off to the joyful melody of Stealers Wheel's "Stuck in the Middle With You":
"They showed Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive, which was just drowned in zombie guts and brains. Finally I’ve got an audience that won’t walk out. I even joked about that in the opening introduction for the movie."
"Five people walk out of that audience, including Wes Craven! The f**king guy who did The Last House on the Left walked out?! My movie was too tough for him."
The scene has become possibly more infamous than the film itself and parodied in the likes of The Simpsons, but by today's standards it is just another squirming torture scene. Michael Madsen (who played the sadistic Mr. Blonde) admitted that he had never listened to the song before they started filming, and even then, the scene only took three takes. The 58-year-old says that the haunting melody of Stealers Wheel still follows him around to this day.
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But back to the scene in question and that rather awkward incident. Tarantino claimed that the highest number of walkouts he ever had during Dogs was 33 in one sitting, but it would seem that Craven's departure has affected him most. While critics laud the scene as one of the best in cinema, Craven was definitely not stuck in the middle when it came to deciding he had had enough. Certainly the shocking change in nature from some men sitting in a warehouse to Hostel-esque torture was long before we were used to the likes of The Human Centipede.
Perhaps the problem was that Reservoir Dogs was playing at a specialist horror film festival. The audience had no problem with Tim Balme's Lionel Cosgrove ploughing through the neighbors with a lawnmower in Dead Alive, but seeing an officer of the law have his ear sliced off with a razor and then doused in petrol was a little too out there. Bearing in mind as well, Reservoir Dogs was billed as a crime thriller, and in the early days many said the "ear scene" ruined an otherwise stellar film.
Unfortunately no one is able to ask Craven the story behind the walkout due to his tragic passing in 2015, but with the imagination to pull off films like Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, and Scream, you'd think Craven would've had a stomach of steel.
Check out the iconic scene in question, and don't forget our poll below!
Is the ear scene too much for 'Reservoir Dogs'?
[Poll Image Credit: Miramax]