Friday, June 19, 2015

Want Some More?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


This is an odd and funny little story. I rented a movie the other night called Asylum. I’m not sure why. It was a horror film, which is generally something I stay away from unless it’s a good old-fashioned ghost story. And these, sadly are very rare.

I wish I had read the back story on this movie before I started watching it, but I didn’t. And so I was confused almost from the start. To be sure, the story that had been described in the blurb was right there, when a hostage negotiator and his team are called to an insane asylum because the inmates have taken over the place, and haven’t we all worked in places like that?

Well, they haven’t just taken over the place, in some mild administrational way, but were actually killing and mutilating folks. Sure it was bloody and gory and gruesome, and not really my cup of tea. But then the film kept cutting back to an editing bay where two editors were actually watching the movie. The premise was that this was footage was from a film shoot and it was their job to whip it into something decent. “This is unwatchable,” said one of the editors. But of course they continued to watch it anyway.

And not only did they continue to watch it, but they made comments over the film besides. Funny comments that were clearly an imitation of the classic Mystery Science Theater 3000. And that’s when I became confused. Did these people actually go through the trouble and expense of producing an entire horror movie just so they could make jokes over it? It didn’t seem likely. And so I finished watching it, not really appreciating it because I didn’t know what was going on. And then I went to the Internet.

Here’s what happened. The writer of the horror movie, Chris Mancini, had handed in his script, only to be told the movie was going to be shot in Bulgaria, in an attempt to save money. The director in Bulgaria supposedly used almost none of Mancini’s script, save for the title. The result was, as the wise-cracking editor said, unwatchable. The production company decided that there was only one way to save the movie.

And so once again Chris Mancini hit the keyboard, but this time he was writing comedy. He borrowed the MST3K premise and created the storyline of the two editors watching and making fun of this horrible film, along with scenes with some other employees, and a crazed boss, around the office of the production company.

The IMDB rating for Asylum is an even three stars out of ten, and that’s probably about right. Still, I think that if I knew the back story going in, I might have enjoyed the movie more. The jokes, of course, were not up to MST3K level, but some of them made me laugh out loud. Had I gone in knowing the details of how this strange little movie-within-a-movie came to be I would have been able to fully appreciate what was, after all, a rather humorous situation. Hell, I night have even given it four stars.

Oh incidentally, the film starred both an Academy Award-nominated actor and the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL. So there you go.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Hoping for the Big One

They all still live on the East Coast, and they want you dead, California. I was reminded of this a few months ago when I was reading an article where a movie critic wondered in how many films the Golden Gate Bridge would be destroyed this year. Well, there’s yet another movie out about a mega-earthquake, and I’ve seen the trailer, so the answer is at least one.

There was a time, not so many years ago, when the thing for East Coasters to do, particularly New Yorkers, was to pack up and go west, young man or woman, go west. Many did, but of course most did not. And those who didn’t had a multitude of excuses for not doing so, ranging from the valid, like not wanting to be so far from their family, to the absurd, such as not wanting to lose the option of buying an onion bagel at three in the morning.

And the years passed by, and they always wondered. Should I have made the move? Should I have had my California adventure? I was surprised recently when several East Coasters told me they could never live in California…because of the earthquakes. It seemed like such a silly reason. I could say I would never live in Florida because of the alligators or in Manhattan because, well, how much time do you have?

The truth is here in California I never even think about earthquakes. Until, that is, I’m actually in one.  And it is during those five or six seconds that I realize that I must be insane to live in a place where you can’t even count on the ground to stay still. And then the shaking stops and I forget all about it. Until the next one.

But don’t kid yourself, California. They want you dead. They want an off-the-chart twelve point oh quake to break off the entire state, nice and neat at the Nevada border, and then sink forever into that ocean we all seem to think is so great. And only then will they be at ease with that decision they made thirty, forty, fifty years ago. Whew, they’ll say. I could have died in that earthquake. I knew going out there was a bad idea.
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