Unless you've been living in a cave for the past couple of decades you'll have a vague awareness of some of the recurring tropes and trademarks of a Tarantino movie, with bloody violence and a myriad of pop culture references being two of the most obvious.
But Tarantino - an avowed comic book fan as well as film nut - has also constructed a vast, rich screen mythology that in its details and intricacy puts Marvel and DC to shame. For example, did you know that Tarantino's films take place in not just one, but three separate universes? And that there are characters who have special permission to traverse them at will?
Here's our rough guide to the complexities of the weird world of Quentin Tarantino.
1. The 'heightened reality' universe
The majority of Tarantino's movies take place in this world, which is essentially an ever-so slightly left-of centre version of the real world: Tarantino films that take place here are Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, True Romance, Death Proof, Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. While the 'rules' of the universe are almost identical to real life - you're not going to see any vampires show up, for example - they are also characterised by slightly more frequent outbursts of casually brutal violence than you'd find in everyday life, as well as characters who are all immersed in pop cultural knowledge to the same insane degree as QT himself.
These slight tweaks to reality as we know it may be borne out of the director's own preferences for what he personally likes to see on screen - or is there possibly something more subtle and insidious at work? We'll return to this later, but first, a look at the second Tarantino universe, which is...
2. The movie-movie universe
The world in which Natural Born Killers, Kill Bill Vol 1 and 2, and From Dusk Till Dawn take place are excessively violent and comic-booky places even by Tarantino's violent and comic-booky standards, with secret assassin squads, outrageous arterial sprays, vampires, characters from other films (Pai Mei, The Bride's trainer from Kill Bill, was a frequent villain in '70s Shaw Brothers kung-fu films) and so on.
Tarantino has gone on record to state that these films form their own separate movie universes, where pretty much anything can and will happen. The thinking behind these films, according to Tarantino himself, is that they are the movies that the pop-savvy, bloodthirsty characters of the 'heightened reality' universe would choose to go and see. This meta-crossover is hinted at by Pulp Fiction's Mia Wallace when she describes her failed pilot Fox Force Five, a story of five "foxy" female assassins, each with a "special skill", including a knives expert and a Japanese kung-fu master. While it's a stretch to class Michael Madsen as a foxy female, in lots of other respects the Fox Force Five are an eerily similar bunch to Kill Bill's Deadly Viper Squad.
3. The Elmore Leonard universe
The black sheep of Tarantino's films, Jackie Brown is a surprisingly straightforward adaptation of Elmore Leonard's pulpy thriller Rum Punch. Leonard is one of the world's most popular and enduring crime writers - with nearly 50 novels under his belt and countless other screenplays and short stories - and as a result has his own universe replete with its own recurring characters and its own rules, thank you very much. As a result, Tarantino doesn't confuse things by forcing his own trademarks onto the film, and as a result it feels markedly different from all of his other work. Which isn't to say there isn't any meta-nonsense going on: Michael Keaton plays a key role as ATF agent Ray Nicolette in both this film and in Steven Soderbergh's Out of Sight, which was released a mere six months later.
4. Fake brands
While the director likes to keep his parallel movie universes separate, he does allow himself a little leeway when it comes to his own, made-up brands, which he can't help but litter throughout all of his movies.
Turns out Tarantino is almost as obsessed with junk food as he is with TV, movie and pop music references. As well as several references to the (real) American cereal Cap'n Crunch, Tarantino characters also have a wide variety of fictional food to feast on. Most famous perhaps is the Big Kahuna Burger, whose legendary sandwiches are enjoyed by Jules and the unfortunate Brett in Pulp Fiction, as well as George Clooney and Tarantino's Seth and Ritchie Gecko from From Dusk Til Dawn. Mr Blonde can also be seen sipping a Big Kahuna soda in Reservoir Dogs during his memorable introductory scene.
Other brands that make regular appearances in the Tarantino-verse are Red Apple cigarettes (smoked by Mr Blonde, Pumpkin and Butch from Pulp Fiction, and Esteban from Kill Bill Vol. 2) and Teriyaki Doughnut, the fast-food outlet that provides a mix of Japanese cuisine and, er, donuts: Jackie Brown enjoys a meal there, and Marcellus Wallace attempts to get some takeout from there before being mown down by Butch.
5. Sheriff Earl McGraw and The Wolf
As well as the brands, there are two characters who have been given special dispensation to move between the "heightened reality" and "movie-movie" universes: the first two are Sheriff Earl McGraw and his son Edgar: Earl, portrayed by Michael Parks, appears in From Dusk Till Dawn, Kill Bill and Death Proof, while Edgar appears in Kill Bill and Death Proof. The third character is Harvey Keitel's Mr Wolf from Pulp Fiction, who, despite only appearing in that film, Tarantino has claimed can move between universes - possibly due to his supernaturally fast driving skills.
6. Family ties
One of the most obvious things linking Tarantino's films together is the way a number of his most prominent characters are related to each other. Most famously, John Travolta's milkshake-swilling, heroin-shooting, Marvin-killing Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction is actually the brother of Reservoir Dogs' psychopathic Mr Blonde, aka Vic Vega. Tarantino even had plans for an Amsterdam-set prequel starring the two brothers, entitled Double V For Vega.
Another key link is that movie producer Lee Donowitz from True Romance is the son of Sgt. Donny Donowitz, aka the 'Bear Jew' from Inglourious Basterds - the significance of which is potentially pretty mind-blowing...
7. All of Tarantino's movies are alternate history science-fiction
Let's back up. The end of Inglourious Basterds sees Sgt. Donowitz machine-gun Hitler's face off in an explosive finale in a French cinema, an ending that, it must be said, deviates from reality at some fairly crucial junctures. By expressly linking Donowitz to the movie producer in True Romance, Tarantino confirmed that Inglourious Basterds takes place in the 'heightened reality' universe, therefore possibly inferring that all of the characters in that world grew up knowing that Hitler was massacred by a death squad in a movie theater.
The implications of this were explored in a Cracked article and then in a widely-shared Reddit post; here, perhaps, was the key to why all Tarantino's characters are obsessed with pop culture and why they place such stock in violent revenge. To quote the original Reddit post:
"Because World War II ended in a movie theater, everybody lends greater significance to pop culture, hence why seemingly everybody has Abed [from Community]-level knowledge of movies and TV. Likewise, because America won World War II in one concentrated act of hyperviolent slaughter, Americans as a whole are more desensitized to that sort of thing. Hence why Butch [from Pulp Fiction] is unfazed by killing two people, Mr White and Mr Pink [from Reservoir Dogs] take a pragmatic approach to killing in their line of work, Esmerelda [from Pulp Fiction] the cab driver is obsessed with death, etc."
It's an outrageous fan theory (one that has not been officially confirmed by Tarantino himself, we might add) but a fascinating one, and something that's not outside the realms of possibility, given the obsessive level of detail Tarantino has demonstrated he likes to cram into his on-screen mythologies.
Now in Django Unchained, he takes on another of history's darkest chapters - slavery in the American South. Will any ancestors of previous Tarantino characters make an appearance? Will there be any history-altering moments that will suddenly cast all of his previous films in a different light? The fact that all this and more is possible is just one reason why, although it can occasionally be complex and bewildering, the Tarantinoverse is one of the most exciting and entertaining places to visit in cinema.
Django Unchained is showing in US cinemas now, and will open in the UK on Friday, January 18.