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The Grateful Eighth: Tarantino’s Pot Fiction

By David Jenison

The Grateful Eighth: Tarantino’s Pot Fiction

In a 2012 interview with Playboy, Quentin Tarantino talked about the creative spark he sometimes enjoys from smoking cannabis. He explained, “I wouldn’t do anything impaired while making a movie. I don’t so much write high, but say you’re thinking about a musical sequence. You smoke a joint, you put on some music, you listen to it and you come up with some good ideas. Or maybe you’re chilling out at the end of the day and you smoke some pot, and all of a sudden you’re spinning a web about what you’ve just done. Maybe you come up with a good idea. Maybe it just seems like a good idea because you’re stoned, but you write it down and look at it the next day. Sometimes it’s fucking awesome.” He later added, “I don’t need pot to write, but it’s kind of cool.”

The writer-director-actor, whose new movie The Hateful Eight debuts Christmas Day, admitted to smoking cannabis in France with Brad Pitt when they met to discuss Inglourious Basterds, and Pitt apparently broke out a Coke can made into a bong. Likewise, in an interview for Django Unchained, Tarantino equated the Drug War with slavery. He remarked, “This War on Drugs and the mass incarcerations that have happened pretty much for the past 40 years has decimated the black male population. It’s slavery. It’s just slavery through and through.”

Though partially shot in Colorado, The Hateful Eight is a post-Civil War western that is unlikely to have any stoner references (at least on-screen), but past Tarantino films certainly do. The following are some of the best examples:

Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) in Reservoir Dogs says, "I'm carrying the weed in one of those little carry-on bags.” In recounting the story, he refers to the great cannabis drought of 1986 when "people were living on resin… smoking the wood in their pipes for months." On a side note, the cannabis drought was a real thing that reportedly stemmed from a production and distribution shift in the 1980s to cocaine and crack.

Brad Pitt plays the characger Floyd, who rivals Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) and Slater (Rory Cochrane) as the best big-screen stoners, in the Tarantino-penned True Romance. In a classic trendsetting scene, Floyd smokes cannabis from a Honey Bear bottle transformed into a bong.

Remember the Deliverance-like scene in Pulp Fiction when Bruce Willis’ character saves Ving Rhames? Notice that several of the clocks in the pawnshop are set to 4:20pm, which is likely a reference to the 420 smoking holiday.

Also in Pulp Fiction, Jules Winnfield (Samuel Jackson) asked Vincent Vega (John Travolta), “Tell me again about the hash bars?" Vega had just returned from Amsterdam, which is where Tarantino started writing the Pulp Fiction script.

Sheriff Earl McGraw (Michael Parks), a character who appears in a few Tarantino films, says, “Them damn burritos ain't good for nothing but a hippie, when he's high on weed” in the Tarantino-penned From Dusk Till Dawn. Likewise, in Death Proof, McGraw said, “Every damn one of them gals was swimmin’ in alcohol and floatin’ on weed.”

Tito & Tarantula, the house band playing the Titty Twister in From Dust Till Dawn, played the song “Angry Cockroaches” that includes the chorus line, “Fumando marijuana."

Jackie Brown arguably includes the most cannabis references. Ordell Robbie (Jackson) refers to Bridget Fonda and Robert DeNiro’s characters as a “couple of Cheech and Chongs.” In the same scene, Robbie tells Fonda’s character that smoking too much cannabis will sap her ambition, and she replies, “Not if your ambition is to get high and watch TV." She later tells DeNiro’s character, “Coughing's good! It opens up the capillaries. You know, when you cough you're pulling in air, or in this case, smoke, into parts of the lungs that don't normally get used. So, coughing's good, it gets you higher."

David Jenison (david@prohbtd.com) is Editor-in-Chief at PRØHBTD.

 

 

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