How Tarantino's movies are connected including 'Once Upon a Time In Hollywood'

Tarantino Cinematic Universe revealed
Tarantino Cinematic Universe revealed

Before Kevin Feige came up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Quentin Tarantino was busy laying the groundwork for his own.

The filmmaker has written 12 films, directed nine (he counts the Kill Bills as one), and he says that each exist in the same universe, though some in a different way to others.

“There are actually two separate universes,” Tarantino told Dazed and Confused in 2016. “There is the ‘Realer Than Real’ universe and all the characters inhabit that one. But then there's this movie universe.

“So when all the characters of Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction,” he added, “when they go to the movies, Kill Bill is what they go to see. From Dusk Till Dawn is what they see.”

Read more: Tarantino defends Bruce Lee portrayal

With Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in cinemas here are some of the biggest crossovers in Tarantino’s Cinematic Universe (TCU).

Red Apple Cigarettes

Red Apple Cigarettes are smoked in The Hateful Eight
Red Apple Cigarettes are smoked in The Hateful Eight

Red Apple cigarettes make the most frequent appearances in Tarantino’s movies. The fictional tobacco company was founded in 1862, according to details in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and first appeared in Pulp Fiction (1994) where they are smoked by Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) and Ringo/Pumpkin (Tim Roth).

The brand can later be seen via ads and packs in From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), Kill Bill (2003), Inglourious Basterds (2009), The Hateful Eight (2015) and, of course, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019).

Read more: Why Black Panther was first to return in Endgame

Outside the TCU, Red Apple cigarettes feature in Four Rooms (Tarantino directed a segment of the anthology comedy film) and a scene in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, which starred his then-girlfriend Mira Sorvino.

There’s also the fast-food chain Big Kahuna Burger which pops up in both Reservoir Dogs (1992) and From Dusk till Dawn.

“Fox Force Five”

“Fox Force Five” is the fictional TV pilot that Pulp Fiction’s Mia Wallace starred in and describes to Vincent Vega during the diner scene.

“Fox, as in we’re a bunch of foxy chicks. Force, as in we’re a force to be reckoned with. Five, as in there’s one…two …three…four…five of us,” Mia says before describing each character.

“The Japanese fox was a kung fu master, the black girl was a demolition expert, the French fox’ specialty was sex [and] the character I played...was the deadliest woman in the world with a knife.”

These are pretty apt descriptions of several female characters from Kill Bill played by Lucy Lui (O-Ren Ishii), Vivicia A. Fox (Vernita Green), Julie Dreyfus (Sofie Fatale) and Thurman (The Bride). Looks like whoever wrote “Fox Force Five” decided to turn their pilot into a movie and that movie became Kill Bill.

The Vega brothers

Vic and Vincent Vega (Left)
Vic and Vincent Vega (Left)

In Reservoir Dogs, Michael Madsen goes by the alias Mr. Blonde, a recently paroled criminal hired to take part in a jewellery heist along with the team of colourful professional robbers.

His real name is Vic Vega and he’s the brother of John Travolta’s Vincent Vega, who appeared in Pulp Fiction.

Interestingly the ideas for both movies began as a collaboration between Tarantino and Roger Avary, who developed his "Pandemonium Reigns" script into what would become “The Gold Watch” narrative in Pulp Fiction.

Mr White knows Alabama

Harvey Keitel played Mr. White in Reservoir Dogs, real name Larry Dimmick (brother of Pulp Fiction’s Jimmie Dimmick), and during one scene, Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) asks him about a girl called Alabama.

“I haven't seen 'Bama in over a year and a half,” White says. “We were [a team] for a little while, we did four jobs together then decided to call it quits.”

This Alabama would be seen in True Romance (1993) and played by Patricia Arquette. Mr White was certainly right about her.

She is “a hell of a woman and a good little thief,” who manages to steal a bunch of cocaine with her lover Clarence (Christian Slater) to sell to a big shot film producer.

The Bear Jew is Lee Donowitz’s dad

The Bear Jew is Lee Donowitz's dad (Credit: Universal/Sony)
The Bear Jew is Lee Donowitz's dad (Credit: Universal/Sony)

That film producer is called Lee Donowitz (Saul Rubinek) and his obsession with war movies is because of the World War II adventures of his dad, Donny Donowitz.

The same Donny Donowitz who goes by the nickname “The Bear Jew” and played by Eli Roth in Inglourious Basterds.

Donny goes out in a literal blaze of glory when he starts gunning down Nazis, including Hitler, at a burning down cinema which explodes and kills everyone inside, him included.

The Hicox family

Pete Hicox is the great-great grandpa of Archie Hicox (left) (Credit: TWC)
Pete Hicox is the great-great grandpa of Archie Hicox (left) (Credit: TWC)

In The Hateful Eight, Tim Roth’s character first goes by the name Oswaldo Mobray, but soon its discovered that he is in fact the criminal ‘English’ Pete Hicox. Peter was a murderer and Domingray gang member with a $15,000 bounty on his head.

By the movie’s end he is dead after getting shot in the chest by Mannix (Walter Goggins) and in the leg by Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), but he must have fathered a child during his criminal misadventures because he’s actually the great-great grandfather of Lieutenant Archibald "Archie" Hicox in Inglourious Basterds.

Michael Fassbender played the film critic-turned-British Army officer who appears in the tense tavern scene which ends in a Mexican stand-off and he fares as well as his great-great grandpa.

The Scagnettis

Tom Sizemore played Jack Scagnetti in Natural Born Killers
Tom Sizemore played Jack Scagnetti in Natural Born Killers

Seymour Scagnetti doesn’t appear in Reservoir Dogs but Mr. Blonde does dish out a few harsh words about his former parole officer.

His brother, Detective Jack Scagnetti appears in a big way in Natural Born Killers (1994), Oliver Stone’s film (that Tarantino has a “Story by” credit on) about a couple of serial killing lovers who go on a murder spree and become famous.

Scagnetti is the sadistic cop, played by Tom Sizemore, who tracks them down.

The Lonely Grave of Paula Schultz

Django Unchained features Dr. Schultz whose wife's grave appears in Kill Bill: Volume 2
Django Unchained features Dr. Schultz whose wife's grave appears in Kill Bill: Volume 2

In Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004), Budd (Madsen) buries The Bride alive in what’s called “the lonely grave of Paula Schultz.” Thurman’s assassin famously punches her way out but there’s an even sadder story associated with the plot that relates to Django Unchained (2012).

Paula Schultz was in fact the wife of former dentist turned bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), who frees Django (Jamie Foxx) and helps him rescue his wife Broomhilda Von Shaft (Kerry Washington).

This suggests Django Unchained is part of the interior movie universe of the TCU, which is further backed up by Tarantino himself saying that Broomhilda is a distant relative of the character John Shaft.

“[Broomhilda] and Django will eventually have a baby,” Tarantino said in 2012. “That baby will have a baby and one of these days - John Shaft will be born. John Shaft started with this man here and this lady here.”

The McGraws

Earl and Edgar McGraw in Kill Bill
Earl and Edgar McGraw in Kill Bill

Earl McGraw first appeared in From Dusk Till Dawn but didn't last long. The Texas Ranger was shot in the head by Richie Gecko (Quentin Tarantino) in a liquor store.

Earl is back, with his Texas Ranger son Edgar in Kill Bill where they are investigating the Two Pines massacre. They both appear in Death Proof in a hospital scene where they visit Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) and after run him out of Texas.

And though it's a Robert Rodriguez joint, Earl appears in the other Grindhouse film Planet Terror where it turns out he's the father of Dakota (Marley Shelton).

Jackie Brown buys Mia’s outfit

Jackie Brown was based on the Elmore Leonard novel so they’re aren’t any major connections with other movies in the TCU, other than the fact that Pam Grier’s title hero picks out the same black and white pant suit outfit worn by Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction.

A whole lot of style for a whole lot of women.

TCU idioms

Tarantino has come up with some pretty great bits of dialogue but he’s also written a few expressions that he’s repeated in a few movies.

In Jackie Brown, Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson) says, “a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out," which was first heard by DIck Richie (Michael Rapaport) in True Romance.

Tarantino used another True Romance idiom, first uttered by Alabama, for Pulp Fiction through Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros) who says, "Any time of day is a good time for pie."

Toluca Lake

Vincent and Jules get help in Toluca Lake
Vincent and Jules get help in Toluca Lake

In Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Rick (DiCaprio) and Cliff (Brad Pitt) have a little heart to heart while and the former discusses his need to downsize and the possibility of moving into a condo in the neighbourhood of Toluca Lake in the San Fernando Valley.

You’ll remember in Pulp Fiction, Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) sats he’s “calling my partner in Toluca Lake,” which is of course Jimmie Dimmick (Tarantino) who contacts The Wolf (Keitel) to help clean up Jules’ car after Vincent accidentally shoots Marvin (Phil LaMarr) in the backseat.

Burning Nazis

Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (Credit: Sony)
Rick Dalton appears in a movie called “The 14 Fists of McCluskey (Credit: Sony)

In Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, Rick Dalton appears in a movie called “The 14 Fists of McCluskey where he plays an American soldier who torches a group of Nazis with a flamethrower.

During Inglourious Basterds, Hitler, Goebbels and a whole load of Nazis are burned to death by “the face of Jewish vengeance” Shoshanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent) who locks them in a Paris cinema and sets it on fire.

As Inglourious Basterds is the “realer than real universe” and “The 14 Fists of McCluskey” would be the movie universe, it’s believed that Dalton’s film was influenced by the real world incineration of the Nazi party in June 1944.

Once Upon a Time In Hollywood is in cinemas now.