Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #593
Number of Views: One
Release Date: December 25, 2015
Box Office: $155,800,000
Country of Origin: United States
Running Time: 187 minutes
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Producers: Richard N. Gladstein, Stacey Sher, Shannon McIntosh
Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino
Special Effects: Greg Nicotero, Howard Berger
Visual Effects: Darren Poe, Laurent Gillet, Dan Glass
Cinematography: Robert Richardson
Score: Ennio Morricone
Editing: Fred Raskin
Studios: Double Feature Films, FilmColony
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks, Channing Tatum, Zoë Bell, Dana Gourrier
Suggested Audio Jukebox ♬
 The White Stripes “Apple Blossom”
 Ennio Morricone “Regan’s Theme”
 Iggy Pop And The Stooges “Gimme Danger”
 Roy Orbison “There Won’t Be Many Coming Home”
It’s about time that the number eight got some recognition. We’ve had the fantastic four, furious five, savage six, and magnificent seven but some callous bastard skipped right the way to dirty dozen and left us Sesame Street fanatics positively reeling in the process. What did eight do to deserve such snubbery, at any rate? Has everyone conveniently forgotten the octagon or were seven wonders of the world deemed sufficient? If you ask me, I believe the number eight has every right to feel somewhat hard done by and, should that mean getting a little hateful, then blame that shit on Pythagoras. Mathematics was fun until he threw a cat amongst the pigeons and don’t even get me started on algebra or I’ll remind you that 2xy+c=bollocks. Don’t make me pull out my abacus as I will you know and sitting right there between seven and nine is the most under-represented numeral of them all and it looks decidedly pissed.
Thank the heavens then for Quentin Tarantino. One man’s folly is another’s elbow room and, after providing cinema-goers worldwide with seven reasons to plant one on his glorious forehead, he has arrived at eight and decided to make a song and dance about it while he’s there. The Hateful Eight may not have set the tills ringing to quite the extent of some of his previous trailblazers but those familiar with his eminence lapped that shit up like mutt placenta and the general consensus was as unanimous as it was utterly predictable. All hail the king right? Of course, there will always be mutineers within the ranks, and those hell-bent on willing him to fail. But the thing about Tarantino is that, while he talks a good talk, he also has that walk down to pat and any naysayers are inevitably left boxing shadows by the time he lays yet another golden egg.
Given that he has mentioned throwing in the towel at ten, I found it curious to learn of his intention to return to the wild west for his next expedition. Last I heard, Django managed to wriggle free from his infernal shackles, and there’s plenty of exploitation flicks just begging for a good reconditioning, so why the sideways step? Let it be known that any lingering doubts as to his mental well-being lasted all of five seconds as I cast my eye across his players and jizzed a little directly beneath my loin cloth. Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Demián Bichir, and Bruce Dern – okay dokey. Carry on regardless Quentin and ignore my thick-headed incertitude. Unless my arithmetic is all out of whack, them there’s eight reasons for a thigh slap or seven at the very least. Bichir gives me a reason to get to know and I even learned a thing or two about ropefish in the process. Good old Google.
I was under no illusion that this particular eight would be anything less than utterly hateful and also felt reasonably assured that subtraction would be thrown into the mix by way of bloodthirsty countdown. But hate is such a strong word don’t you think? Could I really be expected to hate on such a smorgasbord of playfellows? With Tarantino putting words in eight separate mouths, it stood to reason that friendships would be formed accordingly. What then? Will they seem quite as hateful after a nice bowl of stew and a round of charades? Of course not, I would be required to mourn each passing for as long as it took to wire my jaw shut after whatever revelation he had tucked up those long sleeves of his next. It’s like setting eight egg timers blindfolded before scuttling away to the outhouse to empty your cart. One of these inglorious bastards has to bite down on that bullet first and my money was on the ropefish. Suddenly I felt all Maverick and rifled through my chip stack once again in honor of The Great Tarantino Sweepstake.
Personally I’d suggest a side bet on black. How Samuel L. Jackson’s face hasn’t shown up on a dollar bill yet, I’ll never know, and his presence is never anything less than a foot job from Bridget Fonda. It’s because of Jackson that snakes are no longer permitted in hand baggage, and he’s also responsible for the fact that my stomach contains enough semi-digested red meat to construct a life-sized meat bag. Having watched Fast Food Nation through my fingers, I was all ready to boycott, but if Jackson says that burger’s tasty, then it’s motherfucking succulent. I shit you not, I almost rushed out and purchased some jheri-curlers after hanging out with Jules Winnfield and shooting the shit. It’s no easy feat quoting the bible and not losing something in translation but I swear those two little fishes and five loaves of bread weren’t there a minute ago. Must I really spell it out any further? Jackson is that thirteenth apostle they’ve been trying to cover up since 70 A.D. and this stagecoach ain’t going nowhere without his beautiful black ass in it.
So where do we go from here? That’s easy. Two words. Snake Plissken. Now it’s far too sub-zero for that vest, and the eye-patch was starting to affect his 20-20 somewhat, so he grabbed himself another prop to rock out instead. The word around these parts is that the ‘tache holds many hidden powers and Kurt Russell never has been one for taking those measures by half. Dang, there’s enough fetching fluff resting on his top lip to fashion an American quilt and still enough left over for matching drapes. Pairing him with Jackson is like seating Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder side by side behind a Steinway, and neither man hits a solitary bum note. Had I mentioned that their official titles here are “The Bounty Hunter” and “The Hangman”? That’s right, there should be six people shifting rather uncomfortably in their seats right now as that’s pretty much the authority side covered and we’re barely five minutes in.
Dignified executioner John Ruth (Russell) is on his way to Red Rock by stagecoach when Major Marquis Warren (Jackson) flags him down and hitches a ride. All signs point to blizzard and Ruth may be a hard man, but he’s never less than fair, so he throws his fellow-man a bone and shifts over. It just so happens that Ruth is transporting cargo this day and there’s nothing precious whatsoever about “The Prisoner”. Foul-mouthed fugitive Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is positively crying out for the noose and doesn’t seem the slightest bit repentant for the crimes she is destined to stand charged for. With three starting to feel like a crowd, we make another pit stop, this time to pick up former lost-causer soon to become “The Sheriff” of Red Rock, Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins). With a blizzard drawing ever closer and tensions already beginning to rise, it’s time to head for shelter.
On arrival at Minnie’s Haberdashery, we are promptly introduced to our over four hatefuls. First we have “The Little Man” or Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth) to his chums. Ruth may be known as “The Hangman” but dreadfully nice Englishman Mobray is the real deal and taking Domergue’s neck measurements before they can even nail the door shut. Sat opposite is “The Confederate”, or General Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern) reporting for duty sir. In the corner we have “The Cow Puncher” Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) has in his possession more clenched knuckles than reasons to waste his breath with what the snow blew in. He’s the kind of “self to yourself” specialist who you’d be well served approaching with extreme caution and would think absolutely nothing of twisting his knife in your guts. Last up we have “The Mexican” and what about Bob (Demián Bichir) anyhoots? I’d love to tell you more about the infamous Marco The Mexican but all I can come up with is mildly shifty.
Not a single one of them is going anywhere until the snow settles some and it is here in Minnie’s Haberdashery (curiously lacking a Minnie) that this hateful eight should wait things out. Some are all for social interaction, others play their cards closer to their chests, but there’s one common thread between all of ’em – they ain’t making it through this night without incident. Immediately things settle into a two group dynamic, our side and theirs, and there is no lost love within these rancid rafters for damn sure. Today’s buzz word is trust, something running in scarce supply right now and dropping with the temperature as nightfall creeps in. Tarantino’s main inspiration here is John Carpenter’s The Thing and that puts Russell one step ahead of the game in my book. Paranoia grows between the group, lifelong friendships ain’t formed, and all the while our shackled outlaw is more than content just to drink all the hostility in and swill it about those filthy cheeks, smug little madam that she is.
Revealing any more would make me the hateful ninth and I’m pleased to report that Tarantino has all of them on a short leash, meaning plentiful yapping and crapping. Leigh is an absolute treasure as our snake with a human tail, Goggins no less of a revelation, and the others no less willing to leave an impression. Madsen gives a suitably sullen turn, Dern is wonderfully weary, Roth simply delightful in a role that I would have shoehorned Christophe Waltz into prior to insertion, and Belchir won’t be such a stranger from this point forward (providing he doesn’t shave). Moreover, there are a few additional surprises in store, and you ain’t getting zip out of me or I’ll be in the noose by sunrise.
Given the formidable presence of both Jackson and Russell, you’d be mistaken for this being a cut-and-dried affair but that simply isn’t the case. This is Tarantino’s most intimate film since Reservoir Dogs in terms of square feet and he cheerfully brings it in for one almighty group hug. The look, sound, and set design are as pitch-perfect as we have come to expect from the director, and the dialogue brimming with the kind of verbal ping-pong that has long since become synonymous to his work. Whether it is better or worse than anything else in his oeuvre is entirely down to personal preference as he seemingly has no clue how not to nail the door shut on the competition. It will be a sad day when he finally decides to hang up his Stetson but, until it arrives, you just keep doing what you’re doing son.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 9/10
Grue Factor: 3/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers: With Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger packing the latex, you just know things are about to get messy and The Hateful Eight has absolutely no intention of disappointing. The clue is in the title here and the violence places all emphasis on vile. For as despicably deserving of denouement as our eight are, the innocent are blown away no less mercilessly, and this is undoubtedly one of the most barbarous westerns ever pre-loaded. The wonderful thing about Tarantino is the shock and awe that accompanies his bloodshed and there’s barely a second to process the sickness here before it spreads once more.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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