Quentin Tarantino almost followed up Reservoir Dogs with a Showtime flick based on a 1950s Roger Corman B movie.
After the success of Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino had his choice of pretty much any project he wanted…and he almost blew it by remaking a cheapo Roger Corman movie for Showtime.
Speaking on his Video Archives podcast, which he co-hosts with Roger Avary, Tarantino said he was approached by Showtime to take part in Rebel Highway, a 10-part tribute to B movies from the AIP catalog, all with a budget just over $1 million. “They wanted me to do one. Now, the thing is, every single person who did one–nobody did a remake, they just took the punchy title and then kind of did their own thing. I really liked Rock All Night…and so I would have done this remake.” For those unfamiliar with Rock All Night, it’s about two killers who take over a teen hangout spot and take them hostage.
Notably, Tarantino would have made this Showtime collaboration his first go at revisionist history, long before The Hateful Eight and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. One of the characters, Tarantino notes, is a singer who’s afraid to sing until she gets coaxed into it. “In my version of the story, [that character] would have been Elvis Presley. It takes place in Memphis, Elvis has an appointment to go into Sun Records and record a song for his mom but then at the last minute he decides not to do it…[The gangsters] end up making him sing and then he realizes he can sing.” Prior to going to Sun Records, Presley inquires about one of the thug’s names, to which he replies, Red. “And that means that it was Red West, the head of the Memphis Mafia…And then they go and change rock and roll history.”
So why didn’t Tarantino make Rock All Night with Showtime (and Tim Roth, who he planned to cast)? It came down to an overzealous producer who was used to working with John Carpenter and not Sundance sensations. “There was something about the way Debra Hill was talking about it. She was a little too excited that I was doing one,” even pushing a theatrical release, thus defeating the purpose of the project. For QT, it made him realize, “I’m kind of the man after Reservoir Dogs, I really shouldn’t be lining up with all these other guys to do this Showtime thing. Maybe my next movie should be a little more important…” That next movie, of course, was Pulp Fiction, which took Cannes by storm, won Tarantino his first Oscar and went down as one of the most important films ever made. That’s a bingo!
But Tarantino has apparently maintained a relationship with Showtime, narrating the first season of Super Pumped and even mentioning the network as a possible avenue for his planned Rick Dalton TV series.
In our own revisionist interpretation, Rock All Night would have been Tarantino’s second movie, thus making Once Upon a Time in Hollywood his tenth and final, which, really, does feel like a fitting conclusion to his career. Back in reality, QT has The Movie Critic set as his farewell. Other actual contributors to Rebel Highway include Robert Rodriguez, Joe Dante, William Friedkin, and Ralph Bakshi.
Would you have liked to see Tarantino team up with Showtime for the Roger Corman project? Which other movie would you like to see him remake? Let us know!
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/quentin-tarantino-almost-did-a-tv-movie-for-showtime/