Tag Archives: Quentin Tarantino

Interview: David Carradine

Enter the caveman, David Carradine: He’s been a cowboy, a kung fu artist, a folk artist. Now he takes on Austin-shot ‘Homo Erectus’

Dec. 2, 2005, Austin American-Statesman

David Carradine has long skinny legs that are stretched out like bamboo poles, naked, knobby, porpoise-smooth. They are exposed from the ankle to way up the thigh, several unsettling inches past the tan line to scary areas that make one’s eyes avert in a violent spasm. He looks supremely relaxed and casual, sunk deep in a chair with those bare legs leveled at the floor, elbow propped on an arm rest to keep the cigarette in his fingers close to his faintly duckish lips.

Carradine is dressed as a caveman. Cave-people, according to the Discovery Channel, didn’t wear much apparel. Innocent of vanity, they sported spots and dashes of clothing — loin cloths, tattered shorts, shredded bikini tops, sometimes nothing at all. And so Carradine, former star of the indelible television series “Kung Fu,” in which he sometimes wore little more than a monk robe, is sparsely draped in the rags of primitive man. His shoes are ratty moccasins, his shirt random scraps of earth-tone felt. His pants: nonexistent.

“This is only half of it,” Carradine says with a swell of pride. “I throw fur on top of it all.”

He points to a heap of fake black fur on the floor of his actor’s trailer, which rests on the magnificently dusty moonscape of a limestone quarry in North Austin. Scenes from the movie “Homo Erectus” are being shot here, one of the film’s many locations, including Hamilton Pool and Enchanted Rock, that suggests prehistoric landscapes. (A limestone quarry? How very “Flintstones.”)

“And in the movie my hair is sticking straight up like this,” says Carradine, teasing out long, wild gray-blond strands to make a static-electric blast. “Out to here.”

What are you going to do when playing a caveman but go with it? Carradine seems to be having fun with the role of Mookoo, the blustering chief of his cave tribe. His son Ishbo, who is goading his species to evolve, is played by a Woody Allenish Adam Rifkin, the film’s writer and director. Talia Shire plays Carradine’s cave-wife and Ali Larter (“Legally Blonde”) plays Rifkin’s elusive dream girl. “Homo Erectus” is the third low-budget feature produced by the University of Texas Film Institute and its for-profit arm, Burnt Orange Productions.

Carradine’s last major role was the title villain in Quentin Tarantino’s martial-arts revenge opus “Kill Bill,” the success of which hurled the actor back into public view after a disappearance that seemed to have lasted decades. Actually, it did last decades. His most recent watchable film before “Kill Bill” was the Jesse James western “The Long Riders,” co-starring his brothers Keith and Robert. That was 1980.

“Playing in ‘Kill Bill’ helped,” Carradine says. “Up until then everyone was saying ‘Grasshopper.’ Now everyone says ‘Bill.'”

Climbing into Carradine’s trailer, one is swallowed in a rich fog from his English Ovals, fancy, filterless cigarettes he lights the way some people pop peanuts. He has the grainy rasp and paper-bag flesh of a smoker and the gruff pluck of someone turning 69 on Thursday.

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Tarantino’s all-night movie marathon

Slipping out on QT rates director’s cut

Feb. 26, 1999, Austin American-Statesman

Austin movie aficionado Harry Knowles plopped on the sidewalk at the Alamo Drafthouse.

Slumped in a mangled lotus position, he looked ever the sage Buddha. A Buddha of B-movies. A Buddha with hair like the kid’s in “Mask.”

Buddha yawned.

“Tired, Harry?” asked a guy in line.

“Sleep,” replied our backyard Buddha, “is for mortals.”

A hush fell over the small crowd. A car alarm tweedled in the night.

It was Sunday, around 7 p.m. Knowles and many of the young men in line at the Alamo had only just left the theater at 9 that morning. They had stuck out an all-night stretch of movies: Quentin Tarantino’s Exploitation Marathon, a lurid six-flick endurance test that ran from 8 p.m. Saturday till breakfast time Sunday. (Or, for QT fans: from dusk till dawn).

It was the first of two all-night blowouts during “QTIII,” Tarantino’s annual, only-in-Austin film festival, which began last Friday. It continues tonight with gangster movies and finishes Saturday with a kiddie matinee at 1 p.m. and the all-nighter, “Men, Women and Chainsaws,” at 8 p.m.

The all-nighters pose an Olympian challenge for film hipsters. Not only are they dared to withstand six obscure cult films of wildly diverse entertainment value, they must do it in the presence of the film demigod himself, who not only handpicked the bill, but owns each movie, loves each movie and sincerely wants us to love each movie. (“My enthusiasm might accidentally oversell a film,” he said not inaccurately Sunday.) Talk about pressure.

I dropped out Saturday after the second feature, “Alligator,” a surprisingly deft “Jaws” forgery, whose script Tarantino declared “one of John Sayles’ best.” (See the “oversell” line.)

Escaping was tricky. Tarantino was sitting directly in front of me and I thought I might slip out unnoticed. Here’s what he said to me at Sunday’s ’70s double feature: “You didn’t make it very far last night.” Nailed.

I shrugged, thinking, “Hey, man, I’m not 20 anymore. Doing 12 hours in a movie seat watching 40-foot-tall Chinese gorillas at 6 a.m. is not an option.”

Knowles and the other bloodshot stalwarts who made it through the night were working off more than willed stamina. Alamo owner Tim League reports the venue served 15 to 20 pounds of coffee Saturday.

Here’s the thing: It probably was worth staying for all six movies. Each night, with humor and expletive-spiked erudition, Tarantino strikes a spirited mood and invites fans to chat up the movies with him. (Though he deflects autograph-seekers. “This is like a party, all right?”)

Egos are shed, and Tarantino cuts an approachable figure, with a great laugh, a boyish mien and one of those tiny, bottom-lip tufts of hair that could be mistaken for cappuccino foam.

When he takes the stage, he paces with his sentences and gesticulates for punctuation. It’s the delivery of a rapper. An edgy energy fuels his crackling preambles, which draw from a stunning fund of knowledge, revealing the promiscuous appetites of a true cineaste. Introducing one film, he tossed out allusions to Buster Keaton, Hong Kong flicks and “Alexander Nevsky.”

Cool, yes, but not too cool to gush during a kiddie matinee, “I’m so tickled to see all these kids!” The kids were tickled to see him.

And then Quentin Tarantino sat down and gobbled an ice cream float.

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