This says it all.
Deadly Movies Cameos | Steven Spielberg and others in ‘Gremlins’ (1984)
The cameos, nods, winks, references, and self indulgent love-in’s that litter Gremlins (and other Spielberg produced and/re directed movies from the 80s) can become a real headache to piece together, and are worth further exploration in a Deadly Movies Connections article one day. This particular cameo is wonderful for its sheer self indulgence, yet it’s handled with huge pinches of salt by the filmmakers, as well as a displaying a great sense of timing. While Gremlins awaken in his attic, inventor, and Mogwai purchaser extraordinaire, Randall Peltzer calls home from a convention centre, allowing us to see his fellow entrepreneur’s going about their conference business. This gives filmmakers Dante and Spielberg the ideal narrative vehicle, and plot segway, to throw in as many in-jokes and cameos as possible in the space of 30 seconds.
So you get Senior Spielbergo ridding some kind of recumbent bike (sitting down bike to me and you) around in circles, movie score legend Jerry Goldsmith in a phone booth wearing a ridiculous hat, Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet (1956) being escorted across screen, and best of all, the Time Machine from The Time Machine (1960) can be seen revving its Victorian engine in background. Fabulous deft comic timing is at hand here, because when we cut back to the Peltzer house, and then again back to the convention centre, take a look as to where the Time Machine was – it’s now gone leaving nothing but bewildered delegates and a puff of smoke. Genius stuff. A sort sharp scene, filled with gags, taking place away from the action so as not to distract the viewer too much.
And if that’s not enough for you the in-jokes and cameos in Gremlins go on and on.., and on. Here’s a couple more: In school the students are watching ‘Hemo the Magnificent’ (1957), starring Marvin Miller, who also voiced the aforementioned Robby the Robot. Then there’s this little gem; sitting next to Billy at the bar, watching him sketch, is none other than Looney Tunes director Chuck Jones. As Billy gets up to leave the bar he says, “excuse me Mr Jones”. Throw that all in with further references to The Howling, E.T, Indiana Jones, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and It’s a Wonderful Life (and I’m sure I’ve left more out) and your Spielberg, Dante, Columbus, and Zemeckis nerd’o’meter starts blowing steam.
Like bad daytime soap operas horror movies love a good recast. The problem is that they are seldom any good. We’re of course pointing the finger at the creatives here not the poor sods laboured with the unenviable task. First up let’s eliminate remakes. Why? Well, can you name a single horror remake where the recast was better? Hardly.., so that one isn’t really a challenge. So I’m sticking to linear, cannon, franchise recasts, just to make it a little harder on myself.
…, Harry has man boobs in ‘Jaws’ (1975)
“You’re gonna need a bigger boat” may well be Jaws‘ most infamous line but who could ever forget Police Chief Brody’s ultimate zinger “That’s some bad hat Harry!“. The offending hat is a lopsided rubber swimming cap that sits unevenly atop the head of one of Amity’s leading citizens Harry Wiseman. Played by Martha’s Vineyard local Affred Wilde, one can’t help but be distracted by his wonderful old man man-boobs that have a little wobble when given a little pat dry. Fans of Harry and his man-boobs can delight in the knowledge that all three of them make a fleeting appearance in Jaws 2 (1978). Sadly the first two Jaws movies were local man Alfie’s only saunter into the world of acting. However Harry and his hat have been imortalised by Bryan Singer’s TV production company ‘Bad Hat Harry Productions‘, the logo for which features Singer, Harry, and importantly, and prominently, the man-boob twins. Deadly Movies salutes you Harry (and your famous moobs).
James Bond meets Batman in ‘James Batman’ (1966)
The year is 1966. Cinema goers around the world are treated to the likes of Oscar-winning ‘A Man for all Seasons‘, Michael Caine vehicle ‘Alfie‘, and Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor slobberknocker ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?‘ If only anyone could remember these forgettable entries into the annuls of Hollywood history. The real action was happening across the Pacific in the home of the Blockbuster.., The Philipines, where writer-director Artemio Marquz was readying one his four movies from that year, ‘James Batman‘. Incidentally the US were also preparing a Batman movie that year starring Adam West which I can only assume is a poor rip-off of this intricate classic.
I often bestow the tag wacky or barmy onto some of our most treasured b-movie greats, but if you really want a one-way ticket on Baron Bizzaro’s Banana Boat to Bellevue then James Batman is the film for you. Two icons of western culture are thrown together here in a bizarre cocktail that makes a Long Island Ice Tea look short on ingredients. Batman, Robin, and Bond are summoned to some kind of Filipino council to see off the threat of an evil emperor’s dastardly atom bomb plot…, with hilarious consequences. Batman and Robin have surprisingly good costumes that match-up fairly well to their West / Ward counterparts, except that Batman’s cowl is a little on the wonk and the bat-symbol has been replaced by some kind of snake motif. Also props go out to the Batmobile which does a pretty good impersonation of the US TV version. On the other end of the sanity scale there’s Bond, who has a penchant for hideous tartan style suits and Trilby hats and couldn’t look or act any less like his western namesake.
The plot is pretty hard to work out but it is in essence a standard Saturday serial tale of beating up goons and thwarting the bad guy’s evil scheme.., or at least that’s what I got from it. Saying that I don’t speak Tagalog so the whole thing could be an analogy for the plight of the Magdiwang rebels who sought independence from Spain back in 1892. Whatever the meaning it’s wacky but entertaining stuff with surprisingly enjoyable, incredibly camp fight scenes that really do echo those of the US TV Batman show, there’s even the odd bit’o pyro. Why Bond is in this at all is anyone’s guess. There are plenty of in-jokes including my personal favourite, Batman getting his lunch from his utility belt, take note Nolans. You’ll be hard pressed to track this down, conventions are probably your best bet, or the odd illegal online download that Deadly Movies doesn’t condone as such activities could ruin Warner Bros. and MGM’s respective profit margins. If I had a copy of this (and that isn’t an admission) it would be incredibly grainy with a strange pink hue that accompanies the proceedings and add’s to its already bonkers feel.
As any National Park warden, woodsman, or hiker will tell you, a camping trip into the woods is fraught with danger. Loveoutdoors.com for example offers this insightful, and cautionary, piece of constructive advice: ‘Always be prepared for the unexpected’. Wise words indeed. But if shitty weather, crying kids, poisonous plants, dangerous trails, and mosquito bites aren’t enough to worry about there’s always the constant threat of mutated creatures, bigfoot, man eating animals, redneck hillbillies, and mask wearing psychopaths to contend with. Now You’re always most vulnerable when you’re asleep, and the everyday sleeping bag can easily transform from from the womb of nighttime tranquility into an all encompassing death trap. Oh yes, in Deadly Movies opinion the humble sleeping bag is one of man’s deadliest inventions, and here’s the proof, our Top 5 sleeping bag based attacks: Continue reading
Head over to t5m to see some of the horror highlights that Deadly Movies is looking forward to in 2010. A Deadly Movies exclusive article for t5m. Click the image above.
.., Leslie Nielsen Wrestled a Bear? ‘Day of the Animals’ (1977)?
In a quite remarkable scene Hollywood’s favourite bumbling fool Leslie Nielsen has an actual bare knuckle fist fight with a Bear. Prior to his career changing, scene steeling comic turn in Airplane! (1980) (that would lead him down the path to comedy fame and typecasting in 1982s Police Squad and 1988s Naked Gun) Nielsen’s career was largely one of ‘serious’ roles in TV and B-Movies. It’s quite a shock to the system, for those of us most familiar with his iconic buffoon Lt. Frank Drebin, to see Nielsen not only as straight faced heroes but also asshole villains. In the wacky animals attack fest Day of the Animals (well some animals attack but in the end it’s mostly dogs) Nielsen plays the increasingly irritable, volatile, and inexplicably violent Paul Jenson.
‘Freddy vs Jason’ (2003) a retrospect
Back in 2002 horror fans around the world were preparing themselves for a wet dream of Vesuvius proportions. Best of all this euphoric event was going to be a real motion picture, not some fan made Youtube effort. Two of horror’s biggest and most fetishised icons were to appear in the same film at the same time for a slasher first. Freddy Krueger of The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise and Jason Voorhees of the Friday the 13th series would go head to head in the aptly titled Freddy vs Jason (2003). Up until this point these two heavyweights had amassed seventeen cannon movies between them in the space of 23 years. Pitting horror idols against each other as an excuse for another franchise entry and a quick buck is nothing new; Frankenstein, The Wolfman, and Dracula have been at it since the 40’s whilst King Kong and Godzilla were bitch slapping each other around Japan in the 60’s. However modern horror cinema offers two delightfully irresistible factors that make crossovers hugely attractive to producers: A huge adult fanbase with a loyalty other genres can only dream of and, importantly, ever relaxing censorship regulations when it comes to good old blood and guts. So it was finally time, almost 30 years after Ali and Foreman squared up in Zaire, Krueger and Voorhees would finally meet on the shores of Crystal Lake.
Deadly Movies Connections
Here’s a little movie connection and titbit that’s rather interesting.., Patrick Bateman has a little brother, Sean. First things first this has absolutely nothing to do with American Psycho 2: All American Girl (2002) or the bizarre mocumentary This is not an Exit: The Fictional World of Bret Easton Ellis (2000). Indeed this connection leads to a strange ongoing relationship between Christian Bale (Patrick Bateman in American Psycho 2000) and the main cast of Dawson’s Creek. 2002’s The Rules of Attraction was the second film adaptation in as many years of a novel by Bret Easton Ellis, the first of course being American Psycho. Apart from being a decent little preppy sex romp it also features Patrick Bateman’s little brother Sean, played by Dawson Creek’s James Van Der Beek.
Deadly Movies takes a look at representing the future of space travel
Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson (along with Sylvia Anderson) wrote, produced, and of course created the miniatures for the 1969 Sci-fi film Journey to The Far Side of The Sun. Now for me this film has faults way beyond that of the realisation of the future, but it was this particular movie future that got me thinking; How best to represent the future on film? In Anderson’s film, for example, never has the future looked more like 1969. Complete with knee high boots, bob haircuts, mini skirts, egg chairs, and plenty of psychedelia. Now of course films should be watched in the historic, cultural, and social context of which they were made, and Journey to The Far Side of The Sun certainly isn’t the only culprit when it comes to pimping the present out as the future. Take the greatness of Arnie’s Total Recall; great film but set in a future that’s more Walkman than Ipod. That’s what I’m getting at, you could pull up multiple examples from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. Don’t get me wrong outdated technology is often part of the charm, but what can really throw a phaser in the works is if the fashions of the day (or fifteen minute phase) are so sewn into the visual fabric of the film that it acts as a distraction rather than a compliment. And that was indeed the case with Journey to The Far Side of The Sun.
While it’s easy to point the finger at previous attempts at (re)creating the future, you have to remember that these films were once cutting edge and that our contemporary takes on what lies ahead may well one day seem laughable. But this doesn’t mean that filmic representations of the future are doomed to ridicule. There are shining beacons of visual hope, path blazers of concept and set design that achieved the almost impossible by creating a future that, to date at least, for the new viewer cant be dated by hair-do’s, fashions, furnishings, slang, or pop references. They are the sci-fi films who’s directors, cinematographers, set designers, costume designers, and conceptual artists have given us timeless settings by which we can bathe in a film that could be a glimpse of tomorrow. Look at Fritz Lang’s timeless Metropolis (1927), or the simple lines and neutral colours used in Alien (1979) likewise some of the amazing sets seen in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) or the mixing of cultures, periods, and ethnic design in Blade Runner (1982). These visual wonders have kept things simple and not of the period. Yes characters may smoke and there may even be the odd perm or flattop, but the effort and understanding was there that to be of the future the film must have a healthy distance from the present.