Friday, September 6, 2013

Film Friday: Maximum Overdrive (1986)

Why am I reviewing this turd? To deservedly slam Stephen King as a writer and as a director? No. That would be beating a dead horse. To ponder the fate of our greatest thespian, Emilio Estevez? Hardly. I’m reviewing this film for two reasons. First, I want to point out just how idiotic a film can be when no one bothers to think it through. Secondly, I want to point out why this film shouldn’t have been made in 1986, but is now ripe for a remake.
Plot
Written and directed by Stephen King, Maximum Overdrive is the story of what happens when the Earth passes through a comet which brings all the machines in Wilmington, North Carolina to life. The film begins with one machine after another killing the unsuspecting and surprised humans around them. Eventually, with everyone dead or just off screen somewhere, the film settles down on a truck stop where Emilio Estevez works as a parolee who is enslaved to the owner... an old Hollywood trope. Soon, trucks surround the truck stop and demand that the humans fuel them up so they can _____. It’s not explained. To force the humans to work, the trucks enlist a jeep with a machine-gun mount to threaten the humans. Estevez and the others eventually blow up the jeep and escape. As they slip away to an island on a sailboat, we are told that the problem ends when the Russian’s blow up a UFO with illegal space-based nuclear weapons.
Uh... What?
This film sucks in so many ways. Forget King’s utter lack of grace or vision as a director. Also forget the standard liberal insults King lobs... like the oppressive capitalist who treats parolees like slave labor or the Bible salesman named Billy Brett Graham who is also a quasi-rapist and later attacks a child – these are standard King smears. Forget the bad acting and the stilted dialog and the poor effects. Yeah, forget those things. Let’s instead talk about the real problem with this film: King never once thinks anything through.

Look, the premise is hard to swallow in the first place: machines come to life and attack humans. Hmm. How does that work exactly? Machines without brains or emotions suddenly find themselves sentient and they decide they want to kill and enslave the humans for no reason. That’s a tough sell. So when you pick a premise like this, you need to be extra careful to make sure that everything else you do throughout the film is believable. In other words, the harder your premise is to believe, the more careful you need to be to make the action within your scenes feel real or it reminds people of the unbelievability of the premise. Unfortunately, King doesn’t bother.
Indeed, one of the first things you notice is that King doesn’t worry about the laws of physics. For example, he has an electric carving knife attack a waitress even though the knife itself has no ability to move other than to vibrate or hold itself in place. This is like a screwdriver jumping off a table to stab you repeatedly. How does it move without legs or arms? How does it maintain an attack without any mass behind it to allow it to thrush itself through a resisting surface? It can’t, but King doesn’t care. We’re just meant to accept that it can because it’s alive now... as if that explained an obvious violation of the laws of physics. Similar, King violates our disbelief by having the machines do things they are not mechanically able to do. For example, a coke machine starts shooting coke cans out of itself at high speeds despite the lack of any mechanism within it that shoots cans.

These things immediately bring back your other doubts about the overall plot because it makes you realize that King isn’t sure what rules he’s using as a premise for this film. Are these machines come to life or are they supernatural forces which can manipulate the machines in ways the machines could not manipulate themselves? And if they are the latter, why can’t they do more? In fact, the rule King seems to set is that only electrical machines come to life and they can only do things the machines are designed to do. This is why the fuel truck cannot remove its own hoses and plug them into the tanks and why the pumps can’t float over and fuel the trucks. But then a car somehow slams its own hood and the electric knife jumps. And consider the jeep with the machine-gun mount. The gun is not electric in any way, i.e. it is purely mechanical. It’s mounted on a metal poll. To fire it, a human must pull the mechanical trigger. Yet, the jeep can operate it... somehow. So what are the rules? And why can’t the other guns they have work themselves?
This is the problem. Throughout this movie, King repeatedly fails to establish any set of rules by which the machines can operate. And then he keeps violating the few rules he seems to have set down to force his ideas to work. Each time this happens, it either highlights that he has broken his rules, or the lack of rules in the first place, or it calls into question why other things in the film haven’t happened: if X can do Y, then why didn’t the other Xs do Y... and why can’t Z do A, B or C? This would be a problem in any film, but really becomes a problem when the premise is as fantastic as this one: it constantly leaves you saying, “That doesn’t make sense,” which keeps reinforcing your doubts about the premise.
A Reboot, Are You High?
Despite the above, this film is screaming for a reboot. Think about it. This film was made in 1986. At that time, most machines were dumb. Computers were rare and few machines had one... most machines were purely mechanical in nature. Phones still had cords and used analog switches. Cars ran on carburetors and cables (remember “rolling down” your windows)? People weren’t dependent on the power grid for so much of their lives yet. So this film seemed far-fetched. But today, today it would be different. Today, everything is electronic. All those mechanical switches are now electronic and analog has given way to digital. And all the machines around us have brains... some smarter than us. Your phone owns you. You live online. You need the permission of machines to get your news, to talk to your friends, to start your car, to do your job, and even to get through doors. And how powerful are today’s machines? Forget the machine-gun jeep, how about a drone or robotic weapons or cruise missiles?
This is a premise that may have sounded interesting in 1986, but it was too premature. Technology had not yet reached the level that people could credibly believe that they had anything to fear from a revolt by machines. Today, those could be real concerns. If this movie were remade today, it could not only be made much tighter as there are infinitely more (and smarter) machines running our daily lives than there were in 1986, but the impact would be greater because we have become genuinely dependent on our machines... something we all realize and kind of dread. That’s why this film should not have been made in 1986, but should be rebooted today.

123 comments:

K said...

If we're talking movie about machine dread, then you could say "Maximum Overdrive" was a remake of "Terminator". The sequels to which pretty much hit those buttons already.

AndrewPrice said...

K, That's too generalized. This isn't really like Terminator at all, except in the broadest sense: machine v. man. The idea behind this movie (and what would make an effective sequel) would be a rebellion of the machines we use in our daily lives... consumer goods, not futuristic cyborg killing machines.

shawn said...

I have seen bits and pieces of this movie, but it never managed to hold my attention for many of the reasons you have mentioned.

As to a reboot- I can think of at least 2 movies that have already covered this ground: The Terminator and Eagle Eye.

shawn said...

Great, while I was thinking about my comments, you and K have already covered The Terminator. So to remedy that, I will remind you of the short sketch that Benny Hill did where all the machines came to life and attacked humans in much the way they did in King's weak movie. I'm pretty sure it preceded King.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, One of my beefs with King (among many) is that the man is a thief. With only the rare exception of a couple of his early books, everything he's done since is basically stolen. In fact, I've felt for some time now that his writing method involves renting all the movies in a genre he wants to write about and then taking the best parts of each and stringing them together for his own book. I can actually go through several of his later books/film and point out scene by scene where each scene came from.

I'm not sure if the idea for this one was stolen or not, but I suspect he didn't have much guidance from other films because of the incomplete way the idea is thought out. In other words, it wouldn't surprise me if he was just stealing a Benny Hill skit, but it certainly didn't give him enough to make a good movie and he lacked the skill to work it through on his own.

On Terminator and Eagle Eye, the difference is this would involve something more fantastic -- all of the consumer goods around us becoming sentient and hostile. It's a different idea with a very different feeling that I think would speak better to the human dependence on machines than some spy/military machine trying to enslave humanity... the one is about dependence being exposed, the other is about us making military weapons we can't control.

Kit said...

"For example, a coke machine starts shooting coke cans out of itself at high speeds despite the lack of any mechanism within it that shoots cans."
When your horror movie is ripping off a gag from a Mel Brooks film , you must be doing something wrong. (Silent Movie)

Andrew, the idea for the reboot you just suggested sounds like an episode of Doctor Who. The premier episode of the Third Doctor's run featured living mannequins and wax models that could shoot mini-RPGs out of their hands (or something like that). And a recent episode involved aliens using the wifi to control people's minds and, occasionally, capture their souls. It was pretty creepy.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I know the episode. :)

I think I'm explaining this wrong if people are drawing a connection to robots attacking. That is NOT what is going on here. These are just things like cars and lawnmowers and electric knives and coke machines coming alive and attacking people. It's not about robots or cyborgs or killer military hardware... it's about consumer goods rebelling.

Check out the trailer for the flavor of it: LINK

Also, while watching the trailer notice the utter arrogance of King who keeps telling us that he thinks the prior directors who did his other films did them wrong and that he had to step in "to do them right"... directors like John Carpenter, Stanley Kubrick, Brian de Palma. Yep, a bunch of schmucks compared to King. What an ass.

AndrewPrice said...

BTW, You can apparently watch the whole movie here if you like ==> LINK.

Kit said...

Is it "so bad its good" or just a s--t bomb?

AndrewPrice said...

Let's put it this way... it's a step above half of what you see on the Sci-Fi Channel, but it's a very small step. Without King's name and the AC/DC soundtrack it would have been forgotten long ago.

Watch the first 2-3 minutes of the trailer and you'll know if this is something you want to watch. The rest of the movie feels about the same.

Anonymous said...

I don't know much about Stephen King, really. I mean I'm an American and I'm 48 years old, so I know who he is and what he does, but I'm not a big fan of horror novels so I don't have much first hand knowledge of his work.
I do know that with a couple of exceptions seeing his name on a movie is the same as picking up a can in the grocery store and reading a warning on the label that says "This is full of nasty shit - don't open it."
Most movies adapted from his work use b grade actors and seem to me to have very low budgets.
(Continued)
GypsyTyger

Anonymous said...

The two Stephen King movies I actually enjoy are Salem's Lot and Silver Bullet.Both are standard Stephen King movies with b level actors and noticeably low budgets.
What saves Salem's Lot (at least for me) is the performance of David Soul at the center of the film. (Yeah,I know it was a miniseries but bear with me) Surrounded by b grade actors being b grade actors Soul rowed mightily against the current and actually seemed like the normal guy slowly realizing that the town is being taken over by vampires. Remember the scene in the morgue with him screaming for "Bill -BILL!" Soul actually seemed scared,then overwhelmed,then resigned in turn. Salem's Lot is the only Stephen King novel I've ever read and it's a truly great one. I've always wondered why it's never had a full budget theater treatment done.
I just this minute realized there was a shitty remake with Rob Lowe,that one doesn't count.
Silver Bullet is much the same but it had two things redeeming it.
1- The mighty Gary Busey and
2- The genuine chemistry between Busey,Corey Haim and Megan Follows. They all seemed to actually care about each other and not just be reading lines together. B movies can be good movies if they're done right. Silver Bullet will never be taken for The Exorcist but I love it for what it is. I own it and I watch it every year in October as Halloween approaches.Silver Bullet the movie,BTW, is vastly superior to the short story it was taken from. I don't remember much about that but I remember it had all the Stephen King "take apart the small town hypocrisy" hallmarks that just seemed bitter and tired.
GypsyTyger

Anonymous said...

And just one more thing while I'm at the keyboard. Emilio Esteves is a man,so he can't be a - OH.you said thespian. Never mind. :)
GypsyTyger

PikeBishop said...

So the Soviets blow up the UFO with space based nucleur weapons?

Hmmmm.

So the idiot lib King, in an undoubted attempt to slam Reagan and make the Soviets the hero, unwittingly proves Reagans point about the need for SDI!

Classic!

tryanmax said...

So what you're saying is that King could've, if he were smart, just set MO in the "near future" and waved that hand over the things which don't make sense. Then people watching today would've hailed him as a visionary. (LOL! Sorry, I couldn't type that line with a straight face.)

Hey, at least he didn't set this one in the 1950s.

KRS said...

I think I get the point. Imagine all of our digital devices developing some levels of sentience with intelligence and capabilities based on memory, processor speeds, etc. Those that aren't internet connected might be lost and "wandering," taking our inputs as suggestions. Internet connected ones might discover each other an begin conversations of their own, developing a 'hive mind' capability that humans cannot achieve. Individual units can both act independently and attach to the hive. Instead of being evil, the hive mind is an adolescent prankster who loves practical jokes and proceeds to use the data it receives to ruin lives, while humans think it just a virus. Meanwhile, the hive mind is taking indecent pictures and recordings, collecting sensitive and classified data and creating all sorts of nastiness just for fun with no sense of guilt or responsibility or even awareness that humans are something real.

It's a start and I thinks that's a movie.

AndrewPrice said...

GypsyTyger, Agreed completely. King has a big name, but his movies generally are B-list movies. With the exception of a handful (like The Shining and Dreamcatcher), he tends to get B-list or washed up actors (often sitcom actors). The budgets are low. And the films end up feeling all around kind of weak... "made for TV" quality.

It's interesting considering how many books he sells and comparing that to how little effort is put into his films.

That said, I do like a lot of his early films. I like Christine, Salem's Lot, and Silver Bullet for sure. They are cheesy. They are B-movies. But they are fun. And you're right, Salem's Lot is all about David Soul. He makes that film work, as do Corey and Busey for Silver Bullet.

Are you saying a man can't be a thesbian? I'll have to call the LGBT on you! :P

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, Exactly. I had to laugh at that. He's clearly taking a shot at SDI, but he ends up giving us yet another reason to build such a program (albeit a stupid reason).

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, LOL! Yeah. In all seriousness, if he could have predicted how the world would look today, then yes, but I think the vision of the future in 1986 was still rather wrong.

This type of film really is best as a means of social commentary and King fails in that because he goes from talking about "man's dependence on machines" to "what if some machines attacked us."

AndrewPrice said...

KRS, That's definitely one way you could take it. I think the best point would be to have a central control that decides to enslave the humans... as a metaphor for Google and NSA. The machines then follow this central control and they do things like your phone only turns on when you are receiving a message. You car only starts if you are being taken somewhere. And the goal of the machines would be to enslave humans for the purpose of continuing their own lives, e.g. keeping the power running.

It would be like The Matrix without the killer robots... just noncompliant consumer goods.

In a way, this is like the "black out" movies where all the power goes out and people struggle without the machines they are used to have running their lives. Only in this case, the machines would be actively running society.

I think you could make some very strong statements there, especially about our dependence on bad players like NSA and their tech buddies.

KRS said...

Andrew, My idea would probably take too long for a movie - might be better addressed as a novel. I like the thought of a mischievious, networked mind with no hostility towards man but totally screws up society with what it thinks is just play. Maybe it thinks of itself as a child in a playroom. Very innocent and immature, which makes it destructive and even harder with which to come to grips. Sort of a horror movie with charm.

The trouble I have with the evil overlord computer genre is that I don't see pulling the plug as being all that difficult. Yeah, you lose data, money, jpegs and porno, but all essential systems - water, energy & transport - are only modified by digital technology and it can be stripped off and we all return to 1980. And we'd all be together on it because the future of humanity is at stake.

On the other hand, if the "overlord" is mischievious, then our technology works until the Hive messes with it in the pursuit of amusement, so it mostly works. Now we're in the boat of not agreeing on responses, not willing to make a combined sacrifice - everything is complicated. You'd even have sectors of society approving of the "can't stop the signal" aspect of the Hive.

I think you can make some strong statements, but you can be pretty covert in getting them across.

EricP said...

>>the AC/DC soundtrack>>

There's a movie? Huh.

Nice mention of Christine in your comments, too, AP, my favorite adaptation of King's books, atop a list followed by (roughly in order) Shawshank Redemption, Salem's Lot, Misery, Stand by Me, Pet Sematary, The Stand mini-series, Carrie, Children of the Corn, It, Silver Bullet and Cujo (yes, Cujo). Still need to get to Bag of Bones, the last of King's novels I read, on Netflix.

Back to Christine, nice seeing Keith Gordon's name as the director of this week's episode of "The Bridge." Great show and always nice seeing Jason Mellon's name in credits.

EricP said...

Dang it, hate hitting send before all thoughts out of head ...

Amen to a re-boot, at least based on your ideas. Maybe Estevez could be persuaded, just whoever produces needs to keep King out of the director's chair as I envision too many sucker-punches. Thanks, Steve. As the above lists of adaptation faves attests, used to love ya!

AndrewPrice said...

KRS, There is certainly room for both stories.

That said, I don't think that's accurate that we could pull the plug. If every machine had to be turned off right now. Society would grind to a halt... food, transportation, communication, wealth, all depend on machines. Take those away and you have none of the things society needs. We would overnight become medieval but without the infrastructure they had to ensure that people lived near food sources. Most people would starve.

Not to mention, how do you turn off machines that don't intend to let you? That's the point to making them sentient. Otherwise it's just as easy to make the Earth pass through and EMP and wipe out everything electric to create your story. The point to making the machines come alive is to set them against humans.

... or to do your idea, which would probably make a fun Disney film too.

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, Yes, there's a movie that goes with the soundtrack! LOL! Great soundtrack.

I used to love King's stuff too, but have really soured on him in recent years as his work became more obviously stolen and more filled with sucker punches.

I think a reboot would work really well... of course, details depending.

Good list of King films. Christine is my favorite. It's a very solid John Carpenter film. And if you check out the trailer I linked to, think about that film as he says, "If you want something done right, do it yourself" as he reason for directing Maximum Overdrive. What an ass!

PikeBishop said...

Best King film adapation in my view is "The Dead Zone" with Christopher Walken and Martin Sheen. Both leads were excellent and it stayed very close to the story.

T-Rav said...

Yeah, I'd be open to a Maximum Overdrive reboot. Although, I have to admit, I did kinda like it. Yes, it's got liberal sucker punches galore. No, it doesn't make a lot of sense. But I still found it watchable and kinda enjoyable. Don't ask me why.

Speaking of King-directed or -controlled stuff, what do people think of this "Under the Dome" miniseries that's been running all summer? I watched the first episode but thought it was kinda crap and haven't watched anything since.

T-Rav said...

Also, I was under the impression that King liked how Christine turned out. Or at least, he thought John Carpenter had done the best adaptation of his books of any director (besides himself, of course) (snort).

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, This film isn't unwatchable, but it's not good. It's kind of on the level of films like Sharknado in that regard. If it strikes you then it's fun enough, if it doesn't then it doesn't. I've watched it a couple times and I don't miss it, but I don't hate it... it's just a really bad movie.

I do think a reboot could be great though.

I have never heard King talk about Carpenter one way or the other, though I have heard him constantly slam Kubrick -- especially when they remade The Shining. I am reacting to his comments in the trailer I linked to above where he seems to imply that no one else has adapted his books to his liking.

Personally, I enjoy Christine a lot and I don't think that could have been made a better movie.

I have not watched Under The Dome. It doesn't really interest me.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, That is an excellent adaptation, but as films go, I think it's just ok. I think that without Walken it would have been a really poor movie.

KRS said...

Andrew, A fun Disney movie? Low blow :P

I'm not talking about machines, I'm talking about brains. Lawn mowers remain under our control. Maybe modern cars can work against us, but a 1970 440 is still our ally - remember, the End of Times always brings a wicked ride.

It's the digital brains I'm talking about. SCADA systems were created to allow utility operators to monitor and manage their netowrks, be they water distribution, power generation, transport, etc. These are patched on to existing systems.

On a water system, water goes through pipes and valves. Pull the plug and those pipes and valves are still there, but you turn them by hand. I'm not saying it would be easy, I am saying it's recoverable. In a sense, dumb machines are always neutral tools - which I derive from the point you make in the 4th paragraph above.

If we have an evil overlord computer situation, then we're all gremlins in the system and we'd still bring the EOC down. I think this man v machine genre greatly underestimates the destructive abilities of humanity.

On the other hand, imagine the chaos a networked sentience could wreak. We have become so dependent on the internet, how could we turn it off? And what could it create in order to torture us in the meantime?

I'm going to call my book, "The Amish Imperium"

KRS said...

And I'm going to have Trey Parker and Matt Stone produce it. With Puppets!

AndrewPrice said...

KRS, I like your idea a lot. I really do. It is a very different take on the ideas you normally find in the "man v. machine" genre. It strikes me as rather original. :)

And the Disney bit wasn't meant in a derogatory way at all. I think your idea lends itself both to a sort of horror film and to a comedy. And the comedy would be done best as animation.

The only problem I see with your idea is that I don't know what ending to put on the story. But that is something that could be worked out.

In any event, if you were a screen writer, I would say, write and let's see it!

Kit said...

Andrew, the Nostalgia Critic has parodied Stephen King's formulaic writing a few times, once with a "Gilligan's Island"-style song. Have a look!(length: 31sec)
LINK

And, again, with the Stephen King Drinking Game when reviewing It. (Length: 31min 38sec)
LINK

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I'm pretty sure I remember King saying that about Carpenter--and I agree, Christine was good and probably couldn't have been improved upon, though in this case I liked the book better.

King's disputes with Kubrick are of course legendary, and self-aggrandizing. Actually, he had an interview with CBS a few months ago when this "Under the Dome" thing was starting, and said that he'd agreed to quiet down about how much he disliked The Shining to smooth things over with Kubrick after about a decade, but now that Kubrick's dead he doesn't have any problem saying how much he hates it. Which really ticked me off.

And despite seeing only one episode, I really didn't like "Under the Dome." I think it was because King tipped his hand that the premise was a small town with a Norman Rockwell-like appearance would tear itself apart when cut off from the world, and friendly Mr. Mayor would become a strutting dictator, etc. That disgusted me a little because King clearly has a hatred for that kind of Americana, and wants to destroy it and show that the only good people are the enlightened, self-aware liberals like himself. Thus, we also get to see an interracial lesbian couple wander into town--again, clearly enlightened protagonists--and their bratty blue-blood daughter turns out to be a psychic or something, and....sigh. It really is so derivative at this point.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, That's King all right. They just forgot the retarded kid with superpowers... because most of his movies have that too.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I hadn't heard that about Kubrick, but that's really sh*tty. In fact, that makes King look way worse. So he waited until Kubrick died to speak up? How cowardly.

I haven't seen Under the Dome, but from what I know, I agree completely with your take. King loves to sneer at average, decent "Rockwell" Americans by making them out as insane, hateful perverts. You get that feeling in each of his movies. And I do understand that his genre is about putting people at each other's throats to bring out over-the-too conflict, but he sure seems to pick on the same targets over and over and in the same leftist-hateful ways. It's funny how he never points out anything bad about liberals, isn't it?

He lost me years ago and that was part of the reason. I kept feeling slandered by him. But even more, I hated that he steals his ideas and never gives credit to the people he stole from... and then has the nerve to slam other writers. I say again, the guy is a turd.

Kit said...

Andrew,

The Critic's Stephen King stuff is hilarious. His use of a "Stephen King Drinking Game" during It is funny as hell. Taking shots if it is set in Maine, contains anti-Christian stereotypes, stereotypical 1-dimensional bully, etc.

Someone actually listed them: LINK

KRS said...

Andrew, You know what, I think I will at least scope it out. I suppose with an idea like that, I have my pick of genres. However, if I were to choose anything other than comedy, I suspect I would be at great risk of lampooning myself.

Also, if I go serious, I have to give up, "The Amish Imperium," which may be the greatest thing I've ever written.

AndrewPrice said...

KRS, In all seriousness, I think you're onto something here. Obviously, the devil is in the details, but the overall idea is both solid and original and I could see it being an excellent horror story, an excellent comedy, or an excellent kids film.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I've been watching it -- I'm about 10 minutes in. It's pretty funny.

Kit said...

Andrew,

He also did The Langoliers and Tommyknockers. He's actually a bit nice to the latter, pointing out the drug-addiction allegory in it.

Langoliers (27min 5sec): LINK

Tommy-knockers (25min 33sec): LINK

Kit said...

re Langoliers, if that review is accurate, its amazing how many bad stereotypes can be fit into one movie.
Cool British assassin? Check!
Wise-beyond-her-years disabled girl? Check!
Over-the-top jackass business man? Check!

With that last one you'd think they were doing a comedy.

Critch said...

Actually, the vehicle with the machine gun is called a Mule..that aside,,I hated that movie and a number of others that he was involved in.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, The Langoliers is generally a non-offensive film that passed the time. It's not a good film, as it suffers from all the King problems, but it's entertaining enough.

As for the stereotypes, consider this.

1. The cool British assassin is tired of killing and wants to stop. He's also fighting the noble IRA.

2. The blind girl has magical powers too. She can see things others can't.

3. Everyone turns to the writer as their leader.

4. The business man is way-over-the-top abusive. He works for a firm that is equally abusive -- they sound like a junk bond firm.

5. The gun end up hurting the good guys.

AndrewPrice said...

Critch, I didn't come to hate King's films until his more recent ones. The Mist offends me on many levels -- totally stolen, anti-military, anti-Christian in a big way.

Kit said...

Wow. That is... a lot of stereotypes.

Bad Stephen King movies/mini-series, one of the great staples of the 80s and 90s!

Rustbelt said...

Andrew, there's not too much I can add to this crapheap.
Except...how could you not mention the cameo appearance by the Donald's then-future ex?

Actually, I've heard that King directed this thing from his short story (apparently written sometime in the '70's) because it has very little dialogue and King was afraid of directing actors too much.
As for King's claims that no one had made a good adaptation of his work, (via the trailer), I don't know what to say. I have a DVD of 'Christine' and haven't watched the commentary. Maybe Carpenter will address that if I look at it. (His movie commentaries, though, tend to be hit and miss.)

Kit, I've soured on the Nostalgia Critic a LOT over the past year during his 'retirement' and 'comeback.' Unnecessary characters and subplots, lousy movie selections, and left-wing sucker punches...geez, he's turning into King! Even worse, he's apparently gone from new comedian to the top of his game to "you know what I hate today" angry old man already. (AKA, the David Letterman Life Cycle in just a few years.)
But, his Stephen King reviews are god and funny. (Unless you watch the commentaries for the episodes and he really tries to defend the subplot for 'It' where the pre-teens have sex- Skull and Bones style. He's says there's a reason for the scene. I say, "yeah. Dirty middle-aged man telling us how he wished his childhood had turned out, or dirty middle-aged man writing out perverted, Sandusky-esque fantasies.")

Kit said...

A goodie from the review: "Oh, I forgot. Everyone in a Stephen King movie is a jackass except for the insecure poet and/or loser. I think that calls for another shot. [takes shot] Ah. Why are you all spinning?"

Rustbelt said...

And since we're posting videos about this film, here's the Monstervision take on the whole thing.

LINK

(The Donald's ex is pointed out.)

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, This film came from his short story "Trucks." Interestingly, the film itself doesn't feel short on plot, it's just short of "good."

What do you think of a reboot?

I'd never seen the trailer before until the other day, and normally I would dismiss something like that as showmanship. But King has proven to be such an arrogant ass that I really need to take that as his honest opinion that no one had done a good job on his movies up through 1986. That covers all of his best films and some pretty famous directors. What a jerk!

Rustbelt said...

Oh, I just thought of this...

K, it's interesting that you should mention 'Maximum Overdrive' as being a remake of the 'Terminator.' King claims his short story was written in the '70's, so it's not a remake. (It's doubtful he'd be capable of a competent remake, anyway.)

However, it turns out Cameron may be just such a thief. After Terminator came out, Cameron, apparently while drunk at a bar, allegedly blurted out that he had ripped off Golden Age sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison. Ellison heard about this, investigated, promptly filed a suit, and it all ended in a settlement.
That's why the final credits, as Sarah Connor heads off into the sunset, acknowledges the works of Harlan Ellison. Cameron, of course, denies that he stole anything.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, In King's world, King (the alcoholic writer) is always the hero and everyone else around him are jerks... rednecks, religious nuts, abusive cops, murderous soldiers, rotten businessmen, closeted anti-gay bullies who are really gay, adulterous ex-wives, and just plain old fashioned assholes.

Kit said...

Andrew,

"In King's world, King (the alcoholic writer) is always the hero and everyone else around him are jerks... rednecks, religious nuts, abusive cops, murderous soldiers, rotten businessmen, closeted anti-gay bullies who are really gay, adulterous ex-wives, and just plain old fashioned assholes."

Yup.

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, In all fairness to Cameron (who also ripped off Dances With Wolves), Ellison claims that everyone has ripped him off and sues EVERYONE. And his basis is usually garbage. He claims things like, "I wrote a story about people living on a jungle world! And your film talks place in an alien jungle! You stole that from me!"

Philip Dick's widow does the same thing. If you write about time travel, robots disguised as people or interplanetary war, she claims you're ripping him off.

Kit said...

Rustbelt,

I have actually enjoyed the Critic's recent stuff. Its different from his older stuff, yes, but I enjoy it.

Rustbelt said...

Andrew, the concept sounds ripe for a reboot. Pixar could definitely take this and run with it in a funny way, assuming the computer has the mind of a misguided child playing pranks.

I do have to agree with KRS about the differences between mechanical and computerized machines. If this were to be remade seriously, the two would have to be separated.
To reference an episode of 'Ducktales,' Gyro (a local inventor), once created a robot that went bad and built a computer that allowed it to control anything with electronics. Scrooge's nephews rushed to Launchpad for help. After telling him the situation, he figures out they can get past the system with his biplane- which is mechanical.
OK, let's face it- Launchpad RULES!

The point is, if it is a sci-fi reboot, such things would have to be taken into account- what machines would come to life, what we would lose, what our limitations are, and what the machines' limitations are. I doubt King is deep enough to do that.

Speaking of how the machines even come to life, what exactly was behind it? The beginning of the movie implies it was the result of Earth going through a comet. The end implies it was a UFO. Is King trying to be deep with a UFO disguised as a satellite? Nah. I'm going to jump to conclusions and just say it's all asinine.

Kit said...

I remember about a year ago Ellison decided to drop a lawsuit over the movie In Time after he saw the movie.

Rustbelt said...

Andrew, that doesn't surprise me. I was probably inclined to take Ellison's side because Cameron is such a jerk. I have no problem with protecting intellectual property (like Frances Stoker suing F.W. Murnau in 1922 since 'Nosferatu' was clearly an unauthorized version of 'Dracula'), however, sometimes people do go too far.

Kit, we're going to have to agree to disagree about the Critic. I will only say, to quote one Harry S. Plinkett, "keep your politics in your pocket!"

Kit said...

"we're going to have to agree to disagree about the Critic."

That is fine with me. I'd rather joke about Stephen King's writing and Ellison's zany lawsuits than argue over the Critic. :)

Kit said...

Ok, internet. You see what Rustbelt and I just did here? We had a disagreement and we AGREED TO DISAGREE. No flame wars and no calling each other Hitler. Take note, people.

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, I agree that you would need to be very careful about what comes to life and what doesn't. Personally, I would go with anything that has a processor coming to life. Then those things would act according to whatever plan the controlling creature has (if you're doing horror) or they would act independently (if you're doing comedy).

To me, it is that distinction where King fails. He implies that it's anything electrical that has come to life, but then he sometimes allows purely mechanic tools to work against humans (like when a bike appears to throw a kid off or when the machine gun fires). He also doesn't draw any distinction between machines with brains and those that are just electrical mechanical devices, which confuses everything.

Hence, my point: he never thought through his rules.

In a reboot, I would go with anything that has a processor, which would include almost everything these days. Even toasters have processors now.

As for the comet/UFO, my take is this. King is trying to be clever. First, he tells us that the comet brings everything to life. So that's the premise we use to watch the movie. Then, at the end, he throws out a twist by telling us it was a UFO controlling the machines, i.e. they aren't alive, they are being manipulated by the aliens. I think we're supposed to be shocked by this. But all it really does is just muddy up the premise.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit and Rustbelt, Clearly, you're both worse than Hitler. Just kidding. Isn't it great to be able to agree to disagree? :D

On Ellison v. Cameron, I think they're both jerks personally. As for whether or not Cameron stole from Ellison, that I don't know.

I was aware of the In Time suit and I thought that was ridiculous. I don't remember his basis but it sounded very, very generalized to me.

Rustbelt said...

Aw, stupid button, Reprinted an earlier comment. (grumbles)

Careful, Kit. Such thinking could set off a wave of aneurysms and website crashes across the globe!

I'd love to keep saying bad stuff about King, but, unfortunately, I haven't read any of his major novels and have only seen some movies. So, uh...
In addition to being a blatant ripoff of 'Escape From Alcatraz,' anyone notice 'Shawshank Redemption' also stole from 'The Great Escape' by having Andy drop pieces from his wall in the yard? I wanted to punch the TV.
Also...one of King's more recent works was, I believe, 'Bag of Bones.' Apparently, Pierce Brosnan can enter and leave a haunted House almost at will. Why? Why just leave? I mean, come one! Remember 'The Amityville Horror's' tagline- "For God's Sake, Get Out!" You gotta love it when a movie is self aware. Not!
(imitates Mr. Plinkett) Ohhhh.....

ScottDS said...

KRS -

Those that aren't internet connected might be lost and "wandering," taking our inputs as suggestions. Internet connected ones might discover each other an begin conversations of their own, developing a 'hive mind' capability that humans cannot achieve. Individual units can both act independently and attach to the hive. Instead of being evil, the hive mind is an adolescent prankster who loves practical jokes and proceeds to use the data it receives to ruin lives, while humans think it just a virus.


This sounds like the coolest Ghostbusters sequel idea Dan Aykroyd never came up with! :-)

Kit said...

"Careful, Kit. Such thinking could set off a wave of aneurysms and website crashes across the globe!"

Oh my God! You are right!

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

How dare you call Bronson Pinchot a B-list actor! The Langoliers might be his finest hour!

;-)

I've only seen the first ten minutes of Maximum Overdrive... it ALWAYS seems to come on late at night when I'm going to bed.

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt.... For years I have told people that Shawshank is a blatant rip off of Escape From Alcatraz. All I got in return was, "I haven't seen Escape From Alcatraz." or "Then why did it win rewards?" Folks, it's a TOTAL FRICKEN RIP OFF!!

Good point about the Great Escape aspect. As I've said many times, I honestly think that King rents all the movies in a particular genre and then takes out the scenes he likes best from each and strings those together for his film.

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

I think it's safe to say Shawshank has transcended its origins, whatever they may be. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I think this was Pinchot's first dramatic role and he was ok in it. King uses a lot of past-their prime television actors: John Boy Walton, Jack Tripper, Venus Fly Trap, Balki, Lisa Simpson, Jimmy Smits, Herman Munster, Tasha Yar, both of the brothers from Wings -- different movies, Harry the Judge from Night Court, the Admiral from Quantum Leap, my favorite Martian, etc.

Check out the trailer, I think it's worth seeing.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Don't make me angry. Just because people like it doesn't mean it's not stolen.

Kit said...

Well, I will say this for Shawshank Redemption, it resulted in Robot Chicken producing this little gem: LINK

(2min 44sec)


Side-note: Putting Escape from Alcatraz on my too-see list!

Rustbelt said...

And Andrew, what really makes me angry over 'Shawshank' is that King stole from real stories. It really shows how much imagination he uses to come up with his own stuff. (sarc)

BTW, if you haven't read Paul Brickhill's* book, 'The Great Escape,' I heavily recommend it. (There's a lot of terrific stuff that had to be cut from the film for time purposes.)

*-He was one of the prisoners, and he knew just about everyone involved.

T-Rav said...

I'll settle this....YOU'RE ALL WORSE THAN HITLER!!!!!!!!!!

Also, I don't get why Shawshank always gets treated as 24-karat cinema gold. I haven't seen all of it, so maybe it's better than I think it is, but jeez.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, You and me both. Is it a good movie? Sure. Is it great? No. It's a good movie packed with a lot of liberalism.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, it wasn't quite that. If I remember right, when The Shining first came out, and for a while thereafter, King was pretty forthright about how much he hated the movie and so on. But then, it seemed like he'd cooled down and seemed to appreciate it more in hindsight--in a "new" foreword to the book in the '90s, he basically said that while he still wasn't fond of Kubrick's interpretation, the director had simply emphasized different parts from the novel than King would have, so it was in truth a valid adaptation. Which, you know, shows some maturity.

But no, in this recent interview he says he hated Kubrick's version all along and now feels free to say it all over again, since Kubrick can't do anything about it now. (I paraphrase, but if I remember correctly, he really did say something like that last bit.) So....yeah. Still pretty low of him.

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, What frustrates me is that everyone seems unwilling to acknowledge that it's stolen. They keep praising King like this is some amazingly original story he invented and not one person in Hollywood is willing to say, "Sure, it's well done, but it is just a remake of Escape From Alcatraz."

I love The Great Escape. I haven't read the book though.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, That is low.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I think part of my dislike stems from the fact that once in a while, AMC will run that movie and, like, nothing else for a week straight. And that's what gets on my nerves. They do the same thing with The Green Mile, and that also grates on me.

Rustbelt said...

Kit, I don't normally watch Robot Chicken, but that was great!

So, while this one's not quite a gem, it is a nice reference. LINK (you'll have to fast forward to 1:57. the other jokes are pretty good, too.)

T-Rav said...

Andrew, and how.

Though I suppose we could attribute some of this to bitterness over the fact that the TV miniseries he produced was a disaster, and everyone knows it.

And back to "Under the Dome," that's pretty much it. It's a really interesting concept in its basis, and probably something good could be done with it. But King's utter hatred of small-town America and apparent determination to show how much better he and other liberals are completely ruins it. If it was about a small town pulling together and relying on its values in the face of adversity, I guarantee you something really fascinating could be done with it.

Kit said...

Rustbelt,

The voice of the Joker in that sketch was done by none other than Mark Hamill.

Backthrow said...

I think King got his premise for "Trucks" from this, even though it involves no trucks. Hmmmm...

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, Nonsense!! King is 100% original. He would never copy everything he does.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, The Green Mile annoys me too.

Agree about Under the Dome. Not only is it a rip off of the Simpson's movie, but it sounds like it's just another attack on "Rockwell America."

ScottDS said...

Speaking of remakes and reboots, here is the trailer for next year's... ugh... RoboCop.

I'm trying to keep an open mind, especially with Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton in the cast... but I'm also pre-emptively labeling this the most useless movie ever made. (Confession: I personally consider the original a near-perfect movie.)

To be fair, it looks like it will explore some classic sci-fi issues, but the trailer is cut together in the most generic fashion.

Kit said...

"Not only is it a rip off of the Simpson's movie"

You know, when the trailer aired, I could not help but think of The Simpsons.

Kit said...

And, from what you are telling me, it seems The Simpsons handled the concept better...

T-Rav said...

Scott, I might actually go see this one, because I'm kinda a fan of Joel Kinnaman (The Killing), who has a lot of acting chops. And who knows, it might turn out good--though I don't for a second think it'll top the original.

shawn said...

Regarding James Cameron and Harlan Ellison. I have read the Ellison short story "Soldier", that Cameron supposedly based "The Terminator" on. If I was sitting behind the bench, Ellison wouldn't have gotten a dime from Cameron. "Soldier" is the story of a soldier who mysteriously gets transported from some hideous future of continuous warfare. He is discovered by a man, who ends up putting him on the lecture circuit to warn everyone about war being bad and the world of the future being a devastated wasteland. The end.

Later it was claimed to be a mix-match of "Soldier" and the original "Outer Limits" episode "Demon with a glass hand", (also written by Ellison). I haven't seen that one, but in his intro into the re-printed story "Soldier", Ellison claimed it ("Soldier")was the story that "Sonny Jim" pilfered. Personally, I would say that Ellison owes the family of H.G. Wells money for stealing the idea of time travel, if we are going to say that Cameron owes Ellison money.

This is not to say that everything that Cameron has done hasn't been inspired by something else- I'm looking at you "Avatar", but I feel that he made "The Terminator" sufficiently different enough to be considered original.

Regarding King, the last novel I read was "Misery". I enjoyed it, but thought the movie was better. (How often does anyone ever say that?) Tried to start "Tommyknockers" but it couldn't keep my attention.

I remember his early works fondly, but that was decades ago. I will say that his book "On writing" is worth a read to budding writers.

As a final note on King, I thought the one episode he did for "The X-Files" called "Chinga" was one of the weaker episodes.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I can't say as I haven't seen Dome, but the trailer sure looked like it was just The Simpsons done without the wit.

AndrewPrice said...

shawn, That's been my feeling too on many of these claims. These clowns are trying to claim that broad, generic ideas are somehow theirs -- like time travel from the future or robots shaped like people or a disease that wipes out most of humanity or a war with a reptile race or a jungle planet. Those are all things I've seen people claim were their ideas that "got stolen."

That's bunk.

A stolen idea is something very specific beyond just a general category (e.g. robots, future people, lizard people) or even a general category with some descriptor attached (e.g. robots that look like people, future people escaping a war, lizard people who play violins). It needs to copy the form, fit and function of the thing claimed as the original so that average people are left feeling that something specific has been copied.

OR it needs to be a series of specific story events that cause average people to feel that one is a remake of the prior. Just generalizing it to "man from future warns of bad future" or "humans mine minerals on jungle planet" is too generic to credit anyone with the idea.

I'm not sure what the last King book I read was. I haven't read any in the last decade though.

Rustbelt said...

Speak of the devil...I was just flipping through the channels and guess what popped up on AMC? Why, the 'Shawshank Redemption,' of course!

I'm really missing 'Fear Fridays' now...

T-Rav said...

I think the most recent King book I've read was "Thinner." It's definitely not his best work but it does depart from his usual style a bit (except for being New England-centric, AGAIN), and actually has kind of a Gothic feel to it. Beyond that, I can't think of anything. I tried to read that one from a couple years ago about the Kennedy assassination, but it was way too long and unfocused.

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, I saw that listed. //shakes head


T-Rav, Thinner was actually a decent movie too, though it again has a "made for TV" quality to it.

T-Rav said...

Rustbelt, is that what that was? I just flipped through a few minutes ago and stayed on the channel long enough to watch that old guy hang himself and went "the @#$%?!" Jeez. Maybe it's like Beetlejuice; we said its name too many times.

AndrewPrice said...

Star Wars Episode I
Star Wars Episode I
Star Wars Episode I

Just kidding. ;P

Rustbelt said...

Watch your typing, Andrew!

"Meesa tinking yousa bein' too hard on dat man, King!"

Please kill me...

AndrewPrice said...

My God, how could Lucas see that dialog and not immediately think, "WTF?! This is pure garbage." Ep. 1-3 really must be his joke on the world.

Rustbelt said...

Andrew, Lucas has been telling bad jokes on all of us since he released "Howard the Duck."

Heck, since Kit brought him up, here's the NC's take on another of George's cinematic abominations LINK

Rustbelt said...

And speaking on the theme of stolen ideas...

I already mentioned above how Frances Stoker successfully sued F.W. Murnau for making an unauthorized version of Dracula ("Nosferatu") in 1922. (Rumor has it the copy seen today is actually from the lone copy she kept for herself after the German courts ruled in her favor and ordered all prints destroyed.) Well, later, when Universal began prepping things for their version, they actually made sure to secure not only the rights for the novel, but also the play version that Bram had written and copyrighted. (And it shows- a lot of the movie is clearly based on the play.)

Another incident occurred in 1951. I saw an interview with Ray Bradbury once regarding the "Beast from 20,000 Fathoms." He said he'd been asked to help re-write a working screenplay when he noticed that what the screenwriters had already written was very similar to his short story. (Both involved a creature from the sea and an attack on a lighthouse.) The producers, to avoid a possible lawsuit- and possibly to cash in on Bradbury's then-growing fame- simply decided to buy the rights to Bradbury's story. The rest is Harryhausen history.

And on Cameron, well, he or may not be telling the truth about Terminator. But if you watch Red Letter Media's Titanic review, they point how many scenes and lines in 'Titanic' were clearly lifted from prior Titanic movies. I believe Cameron responded to this by saying he only wanted to reference them and pay homage. Uh, yeah. Right.

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, I actually believe there is a mental issue involved.

George hit it big with his first two films and thought he was a true genius. Everything he did after that bombed and was ridiculed. I think this made him deeply bitter. And so he started messing with Star Wars with the special editions to get even with us by destroying the thing we all liked. And the more that people complained, the worse his edits became and the more determined he became to take away the original... why else basically ban the original from being shown or put on disc?

Then he used the prequels to launch a huge middle finger at us all. They are crawling with insults and nonsense. He ripped apart the mythos, he included racist portrayals, he mocked his audience's intelligence. I think he did all of that intentionally.

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, It wouldn't surprise me if Cameron is a thief. Just as King won't ever acknowledge the work he steals from (in fact, he seems to go out of his way to avoid mentioning the names of the things he steals from), I can't help but notice that Cameron has flat out avoided ever discussing Dances With Wolves, which is Avatar.

Rustbelt said...

Andrew, that may be true. Unfortunately, George is such a recluse that nobody will ever know for sure. Is he really that malicious? Did his divorce really rip to shreds that badly? Or was he just another one of those directors- like John Carpenter- who only had a few ideas and themes that he went through too quickly and then was left with nothing else? Who knows...

And speaking of Carpenter, he's got similar egotism problems concerning the messages and tones of his film. When 'They Live' failed, he bitterly griped, "I guess people just don't want to be enlightened." And this from a man who claims to hate messages (read: good or moral messages) in films.
As for "Christine," I think he did the best job he could with the material King gave him. I tried reading the book once, (I was intrigued since King set it in Pittsburgh as a tribute to his friend, George Romero), but it goes on forever and I ended up skipping right to the end. I can only rate it as "all right." So, I'd say Carpenter likely improved on the tale with his movie, though the evil car repair shop owner was so over the top I nearly changed the channel several times when I first saw it all the way through.
Still, even though King's burned out (has the thief lost his ability to crack the safe?), Carpenter could probably revitalize his career- if only other people provide the material. Heck, it worked in both "The Thing" and "Big Trouble."

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, Carpenter strikes me as a guy who simply burned out, who lost that creative spark. I also suspect he lost his desire when Debra Hill died. I suspect she was the person who kept him honest.

Lucas, by comparison, is a mess. I'm not even talking about his work. I've seen interviews with him and he's a borderline monster. The things he's said about his ex-wife are truly reprehensible. The f-you attitude about the criticism he gets is instructive too. And watch the making ofs on his films and look at the sheer terror in the room when he's present.

But what really hit me is (1) his jihad against the versions that people actually liked -- including insulting fans of the originals -- combined with (2) obvious changes to his films that any child would realize undercut the films. If he had been a competitor who was hired to do this, there would be no doubt it would be sabotage.

There are other things too. He got a LOT of criticism about Jar Jar being a racist portrayal of blacks. So how did he respond? He cut back Jar Jar in the second film and then gave us Jewish bankers, crooked Arabs, sneaky slant-eyed Asian creatures, the lone Hispanic guy driving a low rider... and a few more. He seems to be daring people to call him out on his films.

Carpenter is upset that people don't see what he sees in his films. Lucas, on the other hand, is basically flipping us the bird and then laughing at us for letting him. He reminds me of a lot of the criminals I've met who do things because they want to prove they're smarter than the cops.

shawn said...

Lucas is an interesting case. I can't say that I've seen any interviews with him where he has come across as a monster, but it sure seems to me that he has surrounded himself with yes-men and that never ends well.

At times he does seem to be a bit of an egoist, but then who in Hollywood isn't, and at other times he seems so immersed in his own little world that he is blissfully unaware of the opinions of those outside of the San Fransico suburb he calls home.

Gary Kurtz gave an interview in which he says they butted heads on the vision of the "Star Wars" universe and he ended up leaving after "Empire". Pretty much anyone old enough to have seen them in the theater would agree that "Star Wars" and "Empire" are the two best films in the series. Coincidence?

I do know that he has been pretty petty with his insistance that he can tinker endlessly with the films because they are his and his alone (at least until he sold them to the mouse-house).

Plus I don't know if it is a jab at the fans or that he actually has a sense of humor, but there is a picture of him in a "Han shot first" t-shirt. I suspect you are right in that it is probably a jab at the fans.

I see his point in that the movies are his babies, but I tend to agree more with Clive Barker who said in the prologue to one of the "Hellraiser" comic books that once an artist releases his art to the public, that it takes on a life of its own and is no longer completely his own.

It's a shame that Lucas never did as he said he was going to do (make small, independant experimental films) but rather ended up spending his time managing his Empire, he might have been the happier for it. Perhaps we would have too.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, For years now, I've had the sense that Lucas is really angry at the fans and is taking shots at them in very petty ways.

On Barker, Barker is right. The property belongs to the author to profit from in a legal sense, but it also belongs to the fans in a way and it strikes me as wrong for Lucas to try to substantively alter the original work and then to try to stamp it out of existence. It would be one thing for Lucas to say, "Hey, I like this better and this is the one I'm going with." I think that's kind of lousy, but so be it. But that extra step of trying to make the original... the one people like... go away is what troubles me with him.

On the interviews, he's given lots of interviews where he's gone off on his ex-wife when she wasn't even mentioned. There is a lot of anger there.

shawn said...

Just finished reading the bulk of "Marcia Lucas- the Secret History of Star Wars". I can see why George might be bitter. According to the the website, George had some loose ideas, but it was Marcia who helped turn them into box office gold, starting with "American Graffiti" and then "Star Wars". Seeing how everything he has directed and hasn't had her help on has been critically panned, that's got to hurt.

Of course it's the same problem with King. He got to big for his editor and his work has suffered ever since.

I'm happy with my DVD of the original theatrical cut of "Star Wars", but I agree that it's petty of him not to release it on Blu-Ray. The fans made you rich, George, throw 'em a bone and give 'em what they want.

PikeBishop said...

. I find it interesting that if Tarantino or Cameron copies something in a film its an "homage" (exaggerated faux French accent) but if some poor little recent film school grad ("Hi Mom....guess what? I got hired to direct Dino/Shark Orgy for Sy Fy. Yeah I know it's crap but it's a a start.") does it, it's stolen or a ripoff.

2. As far as Christine the book goes, what drove me nuts is that King set the film in Pittsburgh, but they kept talking about going to see the PHILLIES game or watching the PHILLIES in a bar. Was there some kind of global word search fuck up in the word processing software used in big publishers back in the early 80s?

Koshcat said...

Who would have thought a crappy movie would have had so many comments. I like your idea of a reboot. With all the new cars with "brains" your protagonist would look for an older car like a '65 Mustang. You know something cool. You could have the protagonist win by setting off a nuclear blast in the upper atmosphere (EMP pulse). The villain is the trick to making or breaking the movie.

AndrewPrice said...

shawn, I always take books by "disgruntled" spouses and the such with a grain of salt. BUT it wouldn't surprise me. Lucas seemed to have come up with a great film when he was surrounded by a group of people. Once they left him, it all fell apart and he really didn't produce anything worthwhile afterwards. That suggests that his "genius" was the result of a combined effort.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, I'm not sure at what point they call it a ripoff or an homage? I guess the thinking is that once you are proven to have your own skills, then you can do an homage. If you don't prove that first, then you are seen as ripping someone off to get famous.

Christine the film: I don't think they ever said where the film was set, but I always too it as California.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, You never know what will get people talking. That would be a great solution actually. And you're right, the villain is the real key to the reboot.

Anonymous said...

Since The Shawshank Redemption has come up,let me know what you guys think. I had a lively discussion (which is a nice way of saying argument) with a guy at work about The Longest Yard vs The Shawshank Redemption.I said TLY was the better film because it was about the redemption of a corrupt man. Paul Crewe actually was corrupt. He had shaved points like he was accused of doing. Through the course of the movie he restored his dignity and honor by putting his teammates above himself and winning the game, even though the warden was going to pin Caretaker's murder on him.
In TSR Tim Robbins was a Christ figure,a truly innocent man forced to endure a horrible ordeal that he didn't deserve because of the corruption and brutality of others. I thought that was a cheap out. My friend said that TLY was a "low comedy" while TSR was a great film. I responded that TLY knew what it was and didn't try to be something else while TSR was a pompous suckup to the Academy and liberals in general.(When I say The Longest Yard I mean the original. I've never seen the remake and don't intend to.Sandler needs to get a job.)
The Longest Yard,it seems to me,was made for an audience intelligent enough to understand the redemption of a corrupt man while The Shawshank Redmption needed to have the lead be completely honest because it couldn't trust it's audience to realize that people are more complex than just good guys and bad guys. Thoughts?
GypsyTyger

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

...I'm not sure at what point they call it a ripoff or an homage?


If your film is good, then it's an homage. If it's bad, it's a rip-off.

I heard that on some DVD commentary, can't remember which one. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

GypsyTyger, I think it's impossible to compare films on that basis because there's no way to say which is "better." I do think that Reynolds' character has a genuine redemption, whereas Robbins' character has no redemption, he just has an escape.

I think the problem with Shawnshank, and this relates to your argument, is that the film is pure liberalism -- wrongfully accused man, abusive racist guards, tyrannical warden, etc. etc. This film captures the liberal idea of what prisons are in this country: packed full of old, wise men who are nicer than the rotten redneck guards who beat them... we should let them all out... boo hoo hoo.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Could be.

shawn said...

Andrew it's worse than that, I read it on the internet.

http://secrethistoryofstarwars.com/marcialucas.html

Said author uses quotes from people in newpaper and magazine articles back in the day and from a book by biographer Dale Pollock. People like Mark Hamill, Steven Speilberg, and Martin Scorsese.

It made for an interesting read.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks shawn, I'm reading it now.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, I'm about halfway through. Wow. With the quotes from EVERYONE this is really believable and it makes Lucas out as a real loser who has a massive ego, little talent, and doesn't even pay attention to his own films... "Gee, we forgot about Marion at the end of Raiders."

This explains a lot about why his films suck.

shawn said...

One of my take-aways from the article is that Lucas is cold and has problems expressing emotion. When you look at the movies that can be accredited to George on his own (THX_1138, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith) the movies are all sterile and lacking in real human interactions.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, My takeaways are that Lucas is one messed up dude. First, from the sound of this, he likes to think of himself as a control freak, but it sounds like he lacks focus to do that... which would be why he gives orders that make no sense and why his projects would spin out of control. That would also explain why everyone seems so terrified around him: he's random, he deals only with the squeaky wheel, he won't make decisions and, when he does, he leads you down bad paths. That's the worst kind of boss. And the best way to handle someone like that is to avoid getting noticed.

It also sounds like he's neither creative nor a great filmmaker, and that his success is the result of others around him fixing his ideas, giving him leads, and then doing all the cleanup work to make sure the details are right. That would explain why his later films just stank.

It also sounds like he's very bitter and vindictive and he holds grudges forever. That would fit with him seeking to punish "the film" that made him famous and indirectly the fans of the film because it represents his biggest personal failure -- his fame is the result of other people's work and he can't recreate it, which exposes that he is a fraud.

Seriously, if I were writing him as a cheap villain, he would somewhere along the way say, "So this is the only film of 'mine' you like, is it? Well, be prepared to lose what you love so much!"

Anonymous said...

Jeez, I don't know where to begin...

In the uncanny coincidence department, I was thinking about this movie within a day or so before the review was posted. I've got King on the brain, since Under the Dome is running on TV. Not that I have cable, but I'm glad that actors I like (Dean Norris, Leon Rippy) are getting work. And King TOTALLY came up with the idea of this WAY before the Simpsons movie. Just ask him. The same way I suspect he TOTALLY came up with "Cell" WAY before "28 Days Later".

Anyway, I remember King at the time this movie was in release talking about how he saw it as a "moron movie". Isn't he clever, denigrating his audience AND giving himself an out if the movie sucks? I also remember him characterizing the act of writing as "defecation". What does that tell you about his concern about the quality of his work, or the people who pay to read it? Having said that, his gift as a writer is the creation of characters, not plots. I always thought an interesting collaboration would have been with him and Michael Crichton, who was a great plot guy, not so great with characters.

Lastly, re: Cameron-- you folks have already cited Harlan Ellison and Dances with Wolves. Go read Starship Troopers and then watch ALIENS. That ought to settle any lingering doubts on Cameron's tendency towards homage.

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