Get Your Ass To Mars – The Original Total Recall Reviewed

The mighty Arnold Schwarzenegger and director Paul Verhoven, king of everything not subtle, teamed up for this 1990 science fiction mind bender. Based on a short story by the late, great Phillip K. Dick called “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” the story revolves around a man who might be another man who goes to a place to have a memory implanted and they may have unlocked stuff that was supposed to be erased.

The great things here are Verhoven’s over the top style and Rob Bottin’s amazing effects. The story also holds up well. The not so great things are Arnold’s trademark grunts and one liners that just don’t stand the test of time.

I go to the movies a lot and have seen the trailer for the remake numerous times. Every time I see it all I can think is “that was a shot from the original, that was another one, and there’s a bad one liner coming from Kate Beckinsale instead of Arnold.” Watching the original now it seems there is very little they could do to top it. Sure Kate and Jessica Beil are hotter than Sharon Stone and Rachel Ticotin but that doesn’t make a good movie. Hell, Beil and Beckinsale have both appeared in Adam Sandler films. That didn’t make them good.

Verhoven has a very distinct style he has always incorporated in his science fiction films, namely over the top violence and humor. Recall has that. What it doesn’t have is the same kind of social commentary that was so prevalent in Robocop and Starship Troopers. As much as I love Total Recall I actually love the other two more for that reason.

Despite the grunts and bad one liners Arnold Schwarzenegger is a lot of fun to watch in this film. The beautiful thing about having him in this movie is his presence. That man, despite his poor grasp of the English language and his bad acting, can make you want to watch him.

This movie gets 4 out of 5 stars from me. I would be surprised if the remake gets such a high mark from me.


Oh Dear God! – A Reboot Of The Brady Bunch!

Somehow Vince Vaughn and CBS think it would be a good idea to bring a new version of The Brady Bunch to the small screen. And if that wasn’t bad enough it’s not just a reboot…it’s also a sequel!

According to the release I just read it states that the new series would focus on Bobby Brady’s blended family. He and his wife will both have kids from previous marriages as well as one they share together. The big change this time is that the exes will be part of their lives.

The Brady Bunch is one of those shows that never seems to die. After the run of the original series it had a variety show, a spin-off about Marcia and Jan, a couple TV movies, a new hour long series in the 80’s, two theatrical features, and another TV movie.

Sure, I have a fondness for the original show just like most people do. Maybe that’s why I want to let it die. Please, Hollywood, let it die.

As Promised – Writing Experiment #1 Revealed

Well, Brian and I came up with a concept. We decided not to limit it to just two five word descriptions. Rather, we chose to each come up with an idea.

My idea was that it’s the not to distant future and there is no longer any cash so strippers have a card reader installed in the crack of their butts to accept tips from their patrons. Brian’s was simply five words – Muffin Top the evil clown.

It seems to me these two ideas could be married together quite simply. Muffin Top goes into a strip club and wreaks havoc on unsuspecting strippers. It could be fun to write.

Lepus Is Tentatively A Go

Brian and I just got back from meeting with the guy who was going to help us with our short film “Lepus”. He’s already read the script a few times and finds it very funny.

We are looking at October as the production time frame as the short takes place at Halloween. This gives us the chance to get the costumes, cast the piece, and scout the three locations we need.

He even mentioned that if it works out he would like to include it on a DVD showcasing short films from local filmmakers. He also liked our idea for our second short called “Terrestrial”. We pitched him the idea tonight. He wants to see the script so we can possibly shoot both in quick succession and have them ready for entry into short film competitions by April and May.

Next stop Deadsville. If we can garner a little bit of buzz from the shorts we can hopefully raise the money we want for the first feature, “Welcome To Deadsville”. It was the first script we wrote together and it is our baby. We don’t want to sell it someone else to take the beating heart out of it and put some bland, watered down thing on the screen. We want it done our way.

Lepus is going to show we can do it. Terrestrial will prove it wasn’t a fluke. This is gonna be a fun ride.

Writing Experiment #1

A few years ago I had talked a friend into writing a short story based on the first line of the first paragraph I gave him. He could write about anything he chose based on that line. I used the same line and wrote a story of my own. Then we compared. It was a fun experiment.

Next I suggested we write short stories based on two completely random ideas. He would choose one, I would choose the other. Then we would go off and write our stories based on that idea. The two ideas were as follows – “a man fights his way out of a maximum security prison in space” and “a man is in search of pirate treasure off the coast of Florida”. It was fun trying to find a way to marry a real world idea with one of science fiction.

The next concept was that we each wrote the first paragraph of a short story and the other person had to come up with a story to fit it. My friend never wrote his. It was a shame that he didn’t because I wanted to see what he would have done with a paragraph about a man who believed bird poop was good luck and was trying to get hit. Oh well.

I decided to dust off the idea of doing a writing exercise with my screenwriting partner. I suggested we each come up with a crazy idea five words or less, tell each other the ideas and write a short film about them together. I’m interested what will happen given that without the exercise we have come up with a short film about Jesus Vs. The Easter Bunny and another one about a man who believes he has an alien living in his closet.

I’ll keep you posted with the results. We are gonna brainstorm it tonight.

Skewed Perspective – Puss In Boots

My roommate and I were discussing the idea of the golden eggs in Puss In Boots last night. The goose that laid them was actually just a gosling. Gosling’s don’t lay eggs. They’re just children themselves.

I had mentioned to Brian that it would have made more sense for the giant mother goose to lay the eggs. He agreed. Then I asked if the gosling came from a golden egg itself. If so was this the end of the line as there was no male goose to fertilize the eggs? He suggested that perhaps the creatures were asexual and that they were like a phoenix, grow up, burn up and be reborn. Of course I argued that if that was the case then why would there be a need for egg laying? If the creatures were asexual there were be no need for them to have eggs in the first place. Then he reminded me that this was a movie about a talking cat.

Still, it makes no logical sense. If the goose laid the eggs I could buy it. But to have a gosling too young to have fully formed reproductive organs makes even less sense than a talking cat to me. After all, I had a cat once that could say hello clear as day.

My roommate later suggested that the golden egg laying was a dominant gene and that any male goose could fertilize the eggs and create another goose to continue the line. That seems like a better argument to me even if dominant genes can still be diluted by breeding outside their specific gene pool.

Then there’s the idea of Humpty Dumpty. If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want it spoiled then stop reading now.

Humpty Dumpty dies at the end. He is cracked to reveal that inside he is a golden egg. If that is the case then the geese actually produce eggs that become walking, talking eggs and not more geese. That makes even less sense. I know this is just a kids movie but I just want a little thought put into the process. Is that really too much to ask?

Another Short Film Written

My writing partner will be the first to admit that he has trouble getting motivated to write. It can be frustrating at times. Last night I wanted to work on Unhinged, our slasher movie, and he just wanted to watch Psych on television. During the commercial breaks I took the time to work out an idea and would pitch pieces every break.

Originally the story was going to be about a man who may or may not have an alien living in his closet. I wanted to it to be like an adult version of E.T. if Elliot just couldn’t let go and went crazy from it. The idea shifted a bit between the talks last night and putting it on paper tonight. The one idea that remained was that a man believes he has an alien living in his closet. The other thing that stuck was the title I pitched to him – Terrestrial. We both agreed it was a nice allusion to E.T. as an extra terrestrial.

The story goes to some pretty dark places, like how the “alien” forces our main character to order hookers, sleep with while playing Milli Vanilli music, and the “alien” watches from the closet.

What’s funny is that my writing partner didn’t realize that I was aiming for this to be a comedy, albeit a dark comedy, but a comedy nonetheless. We’re going to have someone else read it in the next couple days and see what they think. Even if the script sucks I got my partner to sit down and push through for 12 straight pages. That’s something.

80’s Movie Review – Escape From New York

John Carpenter and Kurt Russell together is a wonderful combination. I love The Thing and Big Trouble In Little China. I even like Russell’s portrayal of Elvis in the barely remembered made for TV movie of the same name directed by Carpenter. But Escape From New York holds a soft spot in my heart.

I have always loved the strong brooding anti-hero in movies. Add an eye patch and it somehow becomes even cooler. The story is simple – a former war hero turned master criminal is forced to go into New York, now a maximum security prison wasteland, to rescue the president after his plane goes down.

Over the course of the film Snake Plisskin has to find the president on a time limit while fighting his way through the scum of the city with help from Ernest Borgnine, Harry Dean Stanton and Adrienne Barbeau. Snake us put to the test several times physically when he meets Isaac Hayes as The Duke and his henchmen.

The movie is goofy and dated. The thing that makes this movie special, as with many Carpenter films, is the social and political commentary of it all. His anti-establishment views are all over this film. That, coupled with the great performances of the previously mentioned cast and Donald Pleasance as the President, makes this movie a true classic. And the use of the theme from American Bandstand was brilliant.

This movie deserves to be remembered AND NEVER REMADE! I give it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

“Unhinged” – Our Slasher Movie

After months of talk and vigorous note taking my writing partner and I are prepared to sit down and write our little slasher film, “Unhinged”, about two brothers and a group of students caught in the woods on the five year anniversary of several brutal killings.

The movie is going be set up as a mystery slashed film, much like the original Friday The 13th or Sleepaway Camp where the killer’s face isn’t revealed until the final act. Aside from Scream, which did things a little differently, there hasn’t really been a mystery slasher film in quite a while.

We decided to use the title Unhinged as it plays into the schizophrenic nature of several characters in the film. We talked about using Schizopolis since our first script was Welcome To Deadsville. We thought it would be fun to make names that allude to characters or events as towns. But then I remembered Schizopolis was a film by Stephen Soderbergh in the 90’s.

I have already written about 10 pages of the script and we are planning on knocking out the rest very quickly. Hopefully we should have a first draft in the next few weeks.

First Draft Complete

I mentioned once before I was rewriting a movie for a director. Well, I finally finished the first draft of “Wurms” yesterday. I just emailed her a copy as we live in different states. It’s a first draft and a little clunky in spots but I think the first two acts are solid. The third act needs work but I want her input on what she wants before I try to fix it.

I went through the initial 50 odd pages she wrote and rewrote the dialogue and reworked some scenes to make things flow a little better. It was a difficult third act to crack as this is obviously meant to be a low budget movie. I wanted to blow up the place where the threat was housing itself. But that is just not possible on a shoestring budget. So I did my research on worms since the story is about mutated versions of them. It turns out you can create your own pesticide for worms using dish detergent, certain peppers, hot water and few other things mixed together. Start hosing them down and killing them. It makes sense for a low budget movie.

Anyway, the first draft is sent and now I wait for notes on the changes she wants. We will see where it goes from here. Hopefully she likes and keeps me going on this. If not it was a good writing exercise. Either way I think it was time well spent.