May 27, 2007 19:34Geek Culture
I'm in the loop. Now how do I get out?
A momentous occasion like the 30th anniversary of Star Wars couldn't pass without me being inundated by news stories, press clipping and email links to all varieties of Star Wars weirdness. I guess it's my fault for considering it my duty, in the pre-web access days, to make sure as many bootlegs of the god-fucking-awful Star Wars Holiday Special made it into the hands of fan boys across the city and beyond. Someone had to remind them that not all things Star Wars were necessarily good, or even watchable. But then the prequels came out and Lucas made that fact all too clear himself.
Well unlike the superfans out there, I felt no real desire to celebrate the anniversary by watching any or all of the series. I carefully avoided all talk or suggestions of getting together to revisit fond childhood memories, or initiate some Star Wars virgin who missed the boat back in the late seventies/early eighties (and spent the subsequent years wisely not giving a shit). However…
One web surfing link led me to something I'd only heard mentioned a few times in the last couple of decades. An obscure little movie called The Man Who Saves the World. More commonly, it's referred to as The Turkish Star Wars, an oddity from 1982. At this time, Turkey was in political turmoil, and American movie distribution in the country dried up. To remedy this, and keep their populace amused, inventive Turkish filmmakers set out to make their own versions Hollywood blockbusters, openly stealing special effects footage and music cues and cutting them into their incredibly cheap knock offs. This happened to a number of big-name movies, but never more infamously than in the case of the original Star Wars.
I only meant to watch a few minutes of it, but it quickly became obvious I had to sit through the whole thing. Just to be able to say I sat through the whole thing. I must have seen worse movies in my life, but no titles immediately leap to mind. To be sure, The Man Who Saves the World is an endurance test, but sometimes a hilariously rewarding one. I'd already had a beer before I started watching the flick. But when the line "Those coming ones are too sour faced. It'd be nice if some chicks with mini skirts were coming" was uttered during a galactic dog fight, I knew I had to get much much drunker to make it through all ninety minutes.
The fight scenes are awesomely awful, happen about once every five minutes, and go on forever. But hey, when was the last time you saw a couple of Turks springing around on trampolines to fight giant hairy muppets by karate-chopping their arms off and stabbing them with their own claws? I bet it's been at least a week.
If you want to skip the plot (trust me, you want to skip the plot) and get right to the essence of the movie's greatness, fast forward to the climactic battle in the last ten minutes. It's like everything great and horrible in the whole film was recapped for your quick-fix viewing pleasure. Lots of evil muppets and crappy robots to kick and punch, all intercut with Star Wars effects footage for a dramatic denouement that makes absolutely no sense at all. By this time, in an effort to keep my buzz going, I was reduced to drinking siphoned windshield washer fluid fresh out of the car. So maybe that's why I couldn't really follow the ending. Yeah, that has to be it.
If you're too much of a Star Wars traditionalist to sit through this shameless bastardization and copyright infringement of a classic, maybe Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager is more your speed. I know, I know. There are a million Star Wars parodies out there on the net. But none that do such a fine job of impersonating James Earl Jones. Plus it's a better sitcom than most of what's out there on real TV. I watched all eight episodes, which is eight episodes more than I ever watched of Friends.
May 09, 2007 18:20Attack Of The China Girls
Of all the ironically self-aware movies destined to come out this year, it's unlikely any of them will top the film geek experience of Grindhouse. What can be said for a film that's so far up its own celluloid ass, that it runs pictures of random women over the end credits as an inside joke only the nerdiest of the movie nerds will get. Like me.
Despite high expectations, this double-feature concept movie failed to light up the box office. Talk of a franchise has evaporated fast, and a sequel seems unlikely now. The pleasure of watching other notable filmmakers take a tongue-in-cheek stab at trash exploitation has been denied me, and now I'm all sad. Sure, there are virtually endless pieces of reprehensible cinematic filth yet to discover. I've seen hundreds of them already, but could probably dig up thousands more without even looking very hard. Still, there was a certain unique fun in watching contemporary directors trying so hard to recreate the look and feel of those abused prints of warped movies. The mock trailers were a highlight, and Edgar Wright and Eli Roth in particular managed to hit the nail on the head. Hard.
It was with great delight that I heard some weeks later that Robert Rodriguez had held a competition for amateur directors to come up with their own grindhouse-style trailers. The competition, much like the film it was meant to promote, fizzled out with the disappointing ticket sales. But a winner and a number of finalists did manage to worm their way into cyberspace immortality where traffickers in this sort of thing will continue to upload and link to them for untold years to come.
It was some crazy kids from Nova Scotia who took the top honors for Hobo with a Shotgun. But there are plenty of others to enjoy if you look around for them. Runners up, Maiden of Death and The Dead Won't Die illustrate that the key to making a good fake trailer to convince the audience they want to see a movie that doesn't even exist.
Well I was convinced, anyway. But then, I'll sit through damn near anything.