I first saw this movie shortly after its release in 1994. Thought it was strange to bizarre, a bit funny, way too much violence, but I did like the acting of Samuel Jackson, particularly when he did his preacher-role gig.
The movie popped into my head again in 2002, in a very unusual circumstance. We had driven a hard twelve hours in the open desert, to a special, obviously remote spot far from Riyadh, where stood the giant stone monolith called Abu Kaab. What was once called Ayer’s Rock in Australia is a first approximation. Three wonderful days of camping, without moving, before pushing west through the desert to Al Baha. A dream vacation, at least for some. Six vehicles in total. Four other vehicles contained expat Saudi “old hands” who knew the rules, of camping, and deportment. The sixth vehicle was the “wild card.” A mother and her two late-teen sons, 19 and 18. First desert trip. Oh, and one might say they were the “highest ranking” Americans in the Kingdom, if one kept score in a particular way. On the third day we decided to visit the nearest desert village, some 40 km away, to top up the petrol and pick up a few odds and ends for the push to Al Baha. The two teens were wearing SHORTS, and in terms of “deportment,” particularly in the rural area of Saudi Arabia, was the equivalent of the women going in topless. Felt I had a clever way of getting the message across that a change of attire might be in order.
“Have either of you ever seen the movie ‘Pulp Fiction’”? I had in mind the scene of two of the protagonists, rather tightly restrained in the basement, awaiting their fate from someone with less than honorable intentions… and how I hate to see these two young lads left over in that village. Wow! Talk about throwing a cat in with the canaries. The mother hated the movie, rightly, in my opinion, due to the violence. Her two kids had the entire movie MEMORIZED! It apparently was/is a “cult classic.” I could only think of one other movie that rated such devotion: “La Cage aux folles.” It was the “midnight classic” at the one and only art theater in Atlanta. The gay community would pack the theater, having seen it perhaps 50 times before, and shout out every line with the actors! Odd perhaps, but far more understandable than making “Pulp Fiction” a similar classic, to what purpose?
To answer that question, Quentin Tarantino concocted a movie that has this constant undercurrent of violence that maintains “high dramatic tension” throughout, as in, who is the next person that will get “blown away,” and for what non-reason? Then stir in a heavy dollop of drug abuse that might only be resolved by a syringe-full of adrenaline straight into the heart. In real life this is never done, and I have to wonder how many people in that same real life have died from attempts at this. (“Hey, man, it worked in the movie!”)
So, I just completed my vow, once made in the Saudi desert, to re-watch this movie. Sure, call me a prude, even a bit squeamish, but I simply do not like gratuitous violence, particular when scripted to shock (“Hey, man, I’m the one in the backseat picking up the pieces of skull”). And lawdy, what does it say about our society that this movie is a “cult classic”? Still, Jackson delivers a pretty good rap when he is quoting the Bible, which saves this movie from the ultimate damnation. 2-stars.