Did Quentin Tarantino Steal the Idea for Grindhouse?

It seems inevitable now that every time Quentin Tarantino releases a new movie, someone’s going to accuse him of plagiarism. In some sense, it’s his own fault as he clearly borrows from others and “pays homage” in just about every film he’s ever done. But there are always people lying in wait, trying to get free publicity out of a situation. A filmmaker named Stephen Tramontana is accusing Tarantino of pilfering ideas from his own indie horror film Grindhouse; he sent a copy of the DVD and poster to Tarantino’s production company sometime in 2003 and never heard back. However, that seems to be about the time that Tarantino came up with the idea to do his double-feature with Robert Rodriguez. Sounds a little too perfect to be mere coincidence, right?

To be honest, I’m not sure what to think here. Clearly Tramontana and his crew made a movie called Grindhouse that played in festivals throughout 2003. There’s no debating that — the title appears in the awards list for the New York Film and Video Festival in July 2003, where they won an award for Best Horror Film. However, even if they did send a copy of the movie and it did find its way into the hands of Tarantino, I don’t know that they can take credit for inspiring the entire project. Rodriguez states that it came from the fact that Tarantino used to invite him over and screen a couple of old movies, complete with trailers before and in between the films. It’s not like Tarantino stole the story from their film either… if anything, he might have simply lifted the title. Tramontana contacted Dimension Films and asked them to change the name but they simply told him he would have to take the matter to court. Plenty of movies share the same name… can you actually copyright a movie title? Given Tarantino’s reputation for stealing ideas, I can’t completely discount this claim, but it certainly sounds like someone trying to generate publicity based on the fact that the movies have the same title. What do you think, is there any validity to this? (Thanks to Goon for the heads up.)

» Related Link: The Real Grindhouse

  • This is exactly why studios don’t want people sending them their scripts and ideas. They don’t want people claiming they sent some idea in that ended up resembling something down the road. This is such an open ended idea that it’s ridiculous to claim personal ownership of it.

  • P. S.

    I think its entirely feasible. Tarantino has a history of ripping stuff off. Its gotten to the point where its above “homage”. Almost everything he has done has been lifted from other films. Personally, I think he is extremely overated and I think the American public needs to realize his movies are crap. I saw Grindhouse last nite and the only downside of it was 75% of Death Proof. It was all pointless conversation. It did not further the story in anyway whatsoever. The only good parts were the car chases because they were dramatic (which by the way has more to do with the choreographer and the editor than the director) and Kurt Russell’s acting. They were the only things that saved Death Proof. The rest was self-indulgent drivel. Tarantino needs to stop boring his audience before they realize what a hack he is.
    However, that being said, the whole idea for having a double feature may have just come from nostalgia for that stuff. Grindhouse 2003 could have just been something that got the gears turning.

  • geeker

    Worst, worst case, Tarantino lifted the title, which is annoying but not illegal. Given Tarantino’s history, maybe he did. But read the reviews or take a look at the “Real” Grindhouse and you’ll see that this indie kid is hardly original himself – and in fact many of his ideas were directly lifted from Tarantino’s earlier works (Dusk till Dawn, etc.). Stupid.

  • Dan

    I’m a little confused. Sure Tarantino/Rodriguez could have been ‘inspired’ by Mr. Tramontana’s Grindhouse but I’m not too sure what he ‘ripped off’. Is Tramontana saying he has copyright/trademark on all 70’s exploitation flicks?

  • Hugues M