It’s no secret that Quentin Tarantino is a fan of many low-budget B-movies, especially schlocky genre flicks. He’s recommended literally hundreds of them. He was deeply influenced by ’70s exploitation cinema, in particular. In fact, in a lot of ways, QT’s movies are B-movie premises filtered through a big-budget, Hollywood perspective.
Consequently, over the years, he’s praised many movies that were unpopular with audiences and/or panned by critics, like The Lone Ranger and The Intern starring Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway. However, these movies only scratch the tip of the critically-maligned iceberg of films that QT includes among his favorites.
‘Demonoid’ (1981) – IMDb: 4.6/10
Demonoid is a Mexican horror about a group of archeologists who accidentally awaken an ancient demon while on a dig. The spirit takes the form of a severed hand, like Thing from The Addams Family, and wreaks havoc on the team. They race to defeat it before it gets loose and destroys the world.
Tarantino gushed about the film on an episode of his Video Archives podcast with Roger Avary. “This is the best crawling hand I’ve ever seen in any movie,” he said. “He [director Alfredo Zacarías] figured out the exact angle to sell the gag. And that’s directing, man!”
‘Revenge of the Cheerleaders’ (1976) – IMDb: 4.7/10
Revenge of the Cheerleaders is the lower-budget sequel to the already low-budget The Swinging Cheerleaders, directed by Jack Hill. Tarantino is a massive fan of Hill, who also made Coffy and Foxy Brown starring Pam Grier. Tarantino recommends the Richard Lerner-directed sequel as well, despite it being a lot less famous and more negatively reviewed. He screened it at his first Tarantino film fest in Austin 1996.
The movie centers on several high school cheerleaders. After being ridiculed, they decide to take revenge on their school’s football team. They use their skills and wit to defeat the jocks and become the school’s new sports heroes.
‘The Huns’ (1960) – IMDb: 4.5/10
The Huns is an Italian movie, directed by Sergio Grieco, about Attila the Hun. Attila was the leader of a tribal empire in Central Asia and Eastern Europe during the 5th century. The film follows his conquests as he and his army terrorize Europe.
It portrays Attila as a ruthless but shrewd military leader. However, it’s more of a fantasy than an accurate historical narrative. It’s another film that QT showed at one of his film festivals. It’s unclear what exactly he liked about it, but most viewers disagreed.
‘Jason X’ (2001) – IMDb: 4.4/10
In the future, the infamous killer from the Friday the 13th franchise has been cryogenically frozen (don’t ask why) and awakened on a spaceship. Jason begins terrorizing the crew, hellbent on destroying the ship and everyone on board.
It’s wacky stuff, even by the standards of the series. Nevertheless, Tarantino was a big fan. He says he was particularly fond of the death scene “where a fiend solidifies a woman’s face by forcing it into liquid nitrogen, then slams it against a counter, so it shatters like glass.”
‘Mr Superinvisible’ (1970) – IMDb: 4.2/10
Mr. Superinvisible is another Italian film, this time a comedy about a man (Dean Jones) who gains the ability to become invisible after being struck by lightning. He uses his new power to play practical jokes on his friends and family, but things take a turn for the worse when a group of criminals discover his secret and try to use him for their own gain.
This was another film that played at a QT film fest. Not to mention, it was directed by genre filmmaker Antonio Margheriti. In a famously funny scene from Inglourious Basterds, Donnie (Eli Roth) adopts Margheriti’s name as his alias when meeting Lt. Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz).
‘Beyond Evil’ (1980) – IMDb: 4.1/10
Beyond Evil is a horror about a young couple who inherit a mansion in the middle of nowhere. As they begin to investigate the building’s history, they uncover a dark secret involving a series of murders and a vengeful ghost. Before they can escape the mansion, they must confront the evil forces that haunt it.
It stars John Saxon and Lynda Day George and was directed by Herb Freed, who also made the slasherGraduation Day. The special effects look rather silly, but the lead actors make up for it by delivering strong, believable performances.
‘Cocaine Cowboys’ (1979) – IMDb: 4.1/10
Cocaine Cowboys is a crime drama about a team of drug smugglers who become wealthy and powerful while transporting cocaine from Colombia to Miami during the 1970s. However, their success attracts the attention of the authorities. They must find a way to evade capture while continuing to run their lucrative business.
Tarantino discussed this film on the inaugural episode of his podcast. “I’m not sold on Ulli Lommel as a filmmaker but I think he pulled off something with Cocaine Cowboys,” he said. “I think this film captures the aesthetic that Dennis Hopper as a filmmaker was always trying to capture and never quite captured.”
‘Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster’ (1965) – IMDb: 3.8/10
Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster is a sci-fi directed by Robert Gaffney. In the future, humans have colonized Mars, but all the women die in an atomic war, except for Princess Marcuzan (Marilyn Hanold). Marcuzan and her henchman Dr. Nadir (Lou Cutell) concoct a plot to kidnap people from Earth to repopulate the Red Planet.
Things quickly go wrong, with the result that a mutated android monster escapes and begins terrorizing Puerto Rico (again, don’t ask). Disappointingly, neither Dr. Frankenstein nor his monster appears in the movie, despite the title.
Hot Summer in Barefoot County is a comedy about a police officer from the city who is sent to a rural area to investigate a moonshine ring run by a woman and her three daughters. The story gets complicated when the cop falls in love with one of the young women. It was another official selection from one of QT’s film fests.
The film is an example of the hixploitation subgenre. Director Will Zens made several other ultra-low-budget movies between the 1960s and ’70s, including The Starfighters, which ranks even lower on IMDb, with a rare 1.5/10.
‘Battlefield Earth’ (2000) – IMDb: 2.5/10
Battlefield Earth is a sci-fi based on the novel of the same name by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. It was directed by Roger Christian, with John Travolta, Barry Pepper, and Forest Whitaker in the lead roles. The story follows a human resistance fighter taking on the aliens who have invaded Earth and enslaved humanity. In interviews, Travolta described the book as “like Pulp Fiction for the year 3000″ and “like Star Wars, only better.”
The film was a critical and commercial disaster, winning eight Golden Raspberries, and has since been ranked by some as one of the worst movies ever made. Tarantino was among the few to praise it on release. “You’re gonna be killed,” Tarantino told its director. “But I just loved this film. Wait ten, twelve years, it’ll all come ’round… Forget it now. You’re gonna go through hell.” That was 23 years ago.