Category Archives: (Plot)opsy Podcast

Podcast that dissects movies to figure out how and why they failed or succeeded

Plotopsy Podcast #7 – Springtime For Hitler

Springtime For Hitler (The Producers)

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Welcome back to the (Plot)opsy Podcast! Today’s episode is a bit of an oddball, in that I’m going to be covering a play instead of a movie. Well, sort of. The play doesn’t actually exist, but a movie about it does. Also, there’s a play adaptation of the movie about the play that doesn’t exist, and a further movie adaptation of that play. Sound confusing? You have Mel Brooks to thank for “Springtime for Hitler,” the fictitious Broadway smash at the center of the acclaimed film-turned play-turned film again, “The Producers.”

Recently, I caught a fantastic American Masters documentary about the legendary Mel Brooks. The movie chronicles his entire impressive and lengthy show-business career, and offers a lot of the behind-the-scenes insights that I always enjoy learning about. This, of course, sent me through a re-watch of some of Mel’s film highlights, including his Hitchcock-inspired “High Anxiety” and the beautifully executed “Young Frankenstein,” just to name a couple.

While I love a lot of the Mel Brooks movies, I don’t think any of his later films quite match up in quality to his 1967 Academy Award winning debut, “The Producers” (and its subsequent musical adaptation). Given my fondness for the aesthetics of the awful, I’m admittedly a bit biased here: the plot of “The Producers” is about creating the worst play of all time, so of course that is up my alley. Coming from a place of affection for “The Producers” and Mel Brooks, I want to analyze the baffling success of the film’s fictitious Broadway blitzkrieg: “Springtime for Hitler.” Hang with me here, this could be interesting.

Believe it or not, I think there is very good reason as to why “Springtime for Hitler” is successful within the world of “The Producers.” In the Broadway adaptation, Bloom and Bialystock share a musical number called “Where Did We Go Right?”. I think that I can adequately explain exactly what went “right” about “Springtime for Hitler.” Here’s a look at some of the lyrics to get us started:

We searched Broadway on and off
For singers with a cough
We had tryouts and auditions by the score
And to trip the light fantastic
We picked dancers who were spastic
If anyone jetted, we jetted them out the door

They shouted hooray for that sausage on display
Where did we go right?
Our leading man was so gay he nearly flew away
Where did we go right?
A show so easy to despise
Now it’s up for the Pulitzer prize
Oh, where, oh, where, tell us
Where did we go right?

In “The Producers,” the lead characters are attempting to craft a genuinely bad play, which should be a fairly simple task in theory. So, the question is: how did Bialystock and Bloom stumble into the elusive realm of the “good-bad” aesthetic? First off, it helps to understand the accepted contributing factors to “good-bad” status.

It has been alleged that one cannot intentionally create a “good-bad” feature, because one of the most widely accepted requirements for the pseudo-genre is a healthy degree of earnestness. Basically, in order for a movie or play to be “good-bad,” it needs to have honest and genuine effort thrown into it by at least a healthy number of the cast and crew. Thus, trying to intentionally capture the “good-bad” aesthetic is impossible (or is it?).

I believe that “The Producers” actually stumbled across a fascinating way to intentionally create a good-bad work, even though that isn’t what Bialystock and Bloom set out to do in the movie. As mentioned previously, earnestness is absolutely key to the good-bad aesthetic. In most cases, an attempt to create something awful will lose that all-important creative honesty. However, the plot of “The Producers” skirts around this roadblock: the only two characters who are in on the plan are the eponymous producers, who are not part of the hands-on creative team. Their influence on the play is limited to the assembling of the pieces: they are shown selecting the director, the script, and the cast, for instance. That means that the creative team of “Springtime for Hitler” is unaware of the dishonest motivations of the production, and are therefore earnest in their efforts with the play.

While earnestness is a major key in creating a good-bad feature, there is more to the success of “Springtime for Hitler” than that alone. After all, earnestness is essentially atmospheric, and doesn’t guarantee entertainment value. For that all important entertainment value, most good-bad movies rely on the actors. Sometimes this is achieved by over-the-top performances (like Nicolas Cage’s in “Vampire’s Kiss” and “The Wicker Man”), other times it may come from astounding underacting (as is found in “Birdemic”). Or, best of all, the acting can provide a peculiar mix of the two, as was the case in “The Room,” which features a cavalcade of simultaneously emotional, intense, and completely vapid performances.

The cast of “Springtime for Hitler” is one of the few things that significantly varies between the initial film version of “The Producers” and the later musical adaptation. They both function more or less the same way and lead to the same ultimate result, but the differences are worth pointing out.

In the initial film version, Hitler is played in “Springtime for Hitler” by a hippie named Lorenzo St. Dubois (LSD). He apparently performs while drugged out of his mind, and improvises most of his dialogue (to the intense disdain of the play’s author, Franz Liebkin). However, his performance is what turns the audience around: before he takes the stage, the audience has already started parading out of the theater in disgust. Once he gets going, however, his baffling exploits quickly win over the crowd. Adding a cherry on top of the performance are the antics of the infuriated Franz Liebkind, who takes to the stage in a fit of rage while clad in his German army helmet. The audience mistakes this for part of the surreal act, responding with immense applause.

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LSD as Hitler in the original film version of “The Producers”

In the musical adaptation and subsequent film, the character of LSD is cut from the story. Instead, the writer of the play (Franz Liebkind) is initially cast as Hitler, but is injured before opening night. The director, Roger De Bris, takes over the role or the great dictator for the show. The play goes much the same way as in the initial movie, with the audience storming out just before Hitler takes the stage. Instead of drugged improvisation, De Bris wins the audience over with flamboyant innuendo and comedic song and dance (“Heil Myself”). I personally think that the De Bris Hitler version works better for the film by eliminating an unnecessary and light character, but the LSD version is certainly more surreal. In either case, the curious and hilarious performances of the leads wind up providing the entertainment value behind “Springtime for Hitler”, and save the play from the dull fate that it seemed all but doomed to. They make the final difference between bad-bad and good-bad for “Springtime for Hitler”.

The last and perhaps most important factor in the success of “Springtime for Hitler” as a fictional good-bad smash is entirely the fault (or credit) of Bialystock and Bloom: the assembly of the “Springtime for Hitler” creative team.

In general, all of the decisions that the producers made in the creation of the “Springtime for Hitler” team were big, obnoxious, and loud: they couldn’t settle a bad, boring script; it had to be the worst, most offensive script. They wouldn’t take a mediocre director, they wanted the absolute worst. Their Hitler had to be the most atrocious Hitler since the actual Hitler. Arguably, if they had settled in any one of those categories, the flop may very well have been assured.  What led the producers to going so over the top with their assembly, though? Why go for all of the biggest personalities and extreme outliers? The obvious answer is that they wanted a guarantee of failure, but I think it goes a little deeper than just that.

At the beginning of the story, it is made clear that Bialystock had been producing flops for years, with Broadway success just a fading memory from his distant past. When Bloom reveals the theoretics of the flop scam that ultimately drives the film, there is a perceptible change in the character of Max Bialystock. His desire for failure brings back the drive and ambition that he had clearly been missing, and was almost surely what made him successful in the first place. This is particularly driven home in the musical adaptation’s number “The King of Broadway”, which paints a clearer picture of the pro-Bloom, downtrodden Bialystock.

In essence, Bloom’s scam reawakens Bialystock’s motivations, and he is once again driven and capable of assembling a team. While he tries to build something to fall apart, I think he underestimates himself: despite his many flops, he lacks the innate ability to create failure, which is something he wrongfully believes to be the case. His failures, as much as the audience sees of them, come from a place of apathy. The mere fact that he is expending energy and displaying passion for “Springtime for Hitler” is the kind of intangible that can positively effect a production. Just looking at the way he desperately courts and pleads with Roger De Bris and Franz Liebkind is intriguing when viewed from this perspective. They don’t know why, but they know that something about “Springtime for Hitler” has Bialystock exited to produce again. Remember: no one other than the producers know about the scam until after opening night. For all they know, this script has genuinely reignited Max Bialystock.

“Springtime For Hitler,” a play created to fail, is ultimately a success within the story of “The Producers” for the same reasons that we have cult classic good-bad movies in the real world. The play is made in absolute earnest by an outlandish, eccentric, and boisterous cast and crew, led a highly eclectic lead with  a peculiar charisma that is capable of captivating audiences. Despite it all being assembled by crooked producers with impure motivations for failure, “Springtime For Hitler” was unintentionally crafted with an ideal, elusive formula for a good-bad smash, along the same lines as beloved films like “Troll 2” and “Birdemic.”

That’s all for today’s (Plot)opsy Podcast here at Misan[trope]y Movie Blog! Be sure to like Misan[trope]y Movie Blog on Facebook, and subscribe to the (Plot)opsy Podcast on iTunes. That way you’ll never miss a new post!

Plotopsy Podcast #6 – Santa Claus (1959)

Santa Claus (1959)

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Today on the (Plot)opsy Podcast, I am spotlighting a particularly infamous IMDb Bottom 100 film as part of the 15 Days of Bad Christmas Movies: a 1959 Mexican production called “Santa Claus.” Despite the simple title, this is one of the strangest Christmas movies out there: the plot involves Satan, Merlin, some of the creepiest surveillance devices in cinema history, robotic reindeer, and Santa’s captive child workforce who are housed indefinitely in his space castle. I recommend seeking it out.

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santaclaus11santaclaus12 An assortment of Santa’s humanoid listening devices
Santa with his mechanical toy reindeer
Santa with his mechanical toy reindeer
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The demon Pitch attempting to tempt Lupita
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Santa Claus with Pitch
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Lupita with giant, horrific, dancing dolls
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Promotion for the December 2014 Rifftrax Live event featuring “Santa Claus”

Be sure to visit my cohorts in the “15 Days of Bad Christmas Movies”:

Stinker Madness Podcast
If We Made It Podcast
JT Movie Podcast
Dark Corners of This Sick World

Also, you can check out previous episodes of the (Plot)opsy Podcast here.

Plotopsy Podcast #5 – Santa With Muscles

Santa With Muscles

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Continuing with the “15 Days of Bad Christmas Movies”, today’s entry is on the 1996 Hulk Hogan vehicle “Santa With Muscles”. Get ready for some Santamania!

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“Santa With Muscles” is one of a handful of attempts to turn Hulk Hogan into a legitimate crossover star. After his performance in “Rocky III”, Hulk starred in a string of unsuccessful movies. Much can be said of his films like “No Holds Barred” and “Suburban Commando”, but his movie career was undoubtedly more successful than his brief music career, which consisted of one hilarious album entitled “Hulk Rules”. I suggest looking it up on YouTube, it is pretty laughable.

The plot of Santa With Muscles centers around the egomaniac health mogul and millionaire Blake Thorne (played by Hulk Hogan), who, after becoming severely concussed during a run-in with police, wakes up believing himself to be Santa Claus. This leads to Thorne becoming a vigilante orphan advocate in his local community, all while a con man pretending to be his elf (Don Stark) tries to prevent him from re-discovering his identity as part of an elaborate attempt at bank fraud.

santamuscles5Another plot surfaces when a it is revealed that a local eccentric health-obsessive and germophobe (Ed Begley, Jr) is terrorizing an orphanage via his super-powered minions (their powers, of course, are not explained). Their actions prompt Thorne to repeatedly intervene on behalf of the orphanage, gaining him minor celebrity status as a peace-keeper along the way.

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Goon with electric powers, for reasons.

Among the orphanage residents is the now famous actress Mila Kunis, in one of her earliest film roles. Interestingly enough, co-star Don Stark would later play her father for many years on the hit sitcom “That 70’s Show”.santamuscles7The sleeveless Santa suit that Hogan wears for much of the movie is designed in-story by Mila Kunis’s character, Sarah. When asked about the design, she claims that it was inspired by a comic book, specifically “Mega Man #96”. Mega Man is a well known video game hero and one of the franchise faces of Capcom. While he has had a couple of comic book runs, none have made it to #98, and the blue robotic boy does not much resemble Santa Claus, nor does he use a utility belt or wear a red suit. That said, his creator, Dr Light, bears a significant similarity to the jolly saint nick. But, I’m willing to bet that there isn’t a real connection there.

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Dr Light and Mega Man

The executive producer of “Santa With Muscles” is none other than Jordan Belfourt, a man now famous as “The Wolf of Wall Street”. Belfourt served as Executive Producer of six movies in 1996, including “Santa with Muscles” and another Hulk Hogan family feature called “Secret Agent Club”. Belfourt also became good friends with notorious B-movie director David DeCoteau during this brief fling with the movie business. DeCoteau later loosely adapted Belfourt’s tales from Wall Street into a homoerotic werewolf movie called “The Wolves of Wall Street”, a flick that predated Scorcese’s famous work by a solid decade.

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At the beginning of “Santa With Muscles”, Hulk Hogan is playing a character clearly based heavily on himself, but he is inexplicably a complete dick to everyone around him. Why might that be? Well, this is more justified than you might think: it isn’t a Dickensian redemption tale for the sake of Christmas alone.

In July of 1996, Hulk Hogan made the shocking move to turn heel for the first time in his career: a term used to signify a “villain” in the pro wrestling community. Ironically, this turn to the dark side coincided with his adoption of the nickname “Hollywood”: I’m guessing he had higher aspirations for his film career than “3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain”. In any case Hulk continued on as a consistent villain in the WCW wrestling league for a number of years after this. The November 1996 release of “Santa With Muscles” places it in the midst of Hulk’s sinister turn, so it makes sense that he plays a callous and cold character as the story unfolds.

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Hogan’s “Hollywood” heel persona

According to IMDb’s trivia section, the original author’s draft of “Santa with Muscles” was changed so extensively that he sued to have his name taken off of the film. I haven’t found any information to independently substantiate the rumor, but I certainly wouldn’t be shocked if this were true. The three credited writers on the film include one person with no other credits of any kind, a fellow who is only credited as an assortment of extras (he played a water slide attendant in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”, apparently), and another person with a handful of credits solely as a casting assistant. It isn’t exactly a writing dream team.

“Santa With Muscles” director John Murlowski was also responsible for the other 1996 Hulk Hogan movie, “Secret Agent Club”. However, he is probably best known for helming the film “Cop Dog”: a kid’s movie in which the ghost of a dead dog possessed by a fallen cop leads a young child on a quest for revenge. It is a very strange film.

Among the accessory cast of “Santa With Muscles” are Clint Howard, who is the brother of famed director Ron Howard (and a stalwart B-movie character actor in his own right). He has featured in movies such as “The Ice Cream Man” and “Evilspeak”, not to mention a veritable drove of Uwe Boll movies. Also appearing is Garret Morris, best known as an inaugural cast member of NBC’s beloved comedy sketch program Saturday Night Live.

santamuscles6The climax of “Santa With Muscles” sees Hulk Hogan doing battle with Ed Begley Jr (clad, as always, in a hazmat suit) in an expansive cave below the orphanage. It is revealed that the building sits atop a mine filled with valuable explosive crystals, which is why Begley had been trying to expel the orphans. It is also inexplicably revealed that both men were raised in the orphanage as children, and at one point were best friends. In light of these bizarre and lazy revelations, the two men have a sword fight with the highly explosive crystals, which somehow doesn’t blow them both up into tiny meat chunks. The aftermath of the battle does ultimately see the orphanage explode, after which Thorne opens his mansion up as a new location for the children, completing his redemption.

On to the plotopsy of the film: what led to the failure of “Santa With Muscles”?

First off, it is just too damn cartoon-y. The villains have ridiculous unexplained superpowers, and chew their way through scenery throughout the film. Ed Begley Jr’s lead villain is played as such an over the top germophobe that the trees in front of his house are shown covered in plastic. That kind of thinking makes my brain want to implode.

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Just random shrubs covered in plastic
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Until the end of the movie, Ed Begley Jr’s character refuses to leave the mansion, instead appearing via a TV to outsiders.

Of course, centering a movie around Hulk Hogan isn’t such a great idea either. He may be a good showman, but he is a horrendous actor. Watching him stumble through lines in this movie is embarrassing, particularly during an interview sequence where he is supposed to be acting nervous. It takes an unfathomable void of talent to not be able to appear nervous and confused. Last but certainly not least, this script is absolutely abysmal. The plot is baffling and poorly paced,  and the dialogue is awkward and stilted throughout the film. I am kind of curious what the original draft looked like, and how it managed to be mutated into the state that it ended up in.

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I think a toddler designed the title card

All in all, I absolutely recommend giving Santa With Muscles a watch if you can find a copy of it. It is definitely a movie you have to see to believe, and it may be the worst entry in Hulk Hogan’s abysmal filmography. The pacing slows down significantly here and there, but there are generally enough confusing and outlandish moments to keep your eyebrows cocked and your jaw on the floor through the entire run time.
That’s all for today’s (Plot)opsy Podcast here at the Misan[trope]y Movie Blog! I recommend checking out the rest of the “15 Days of Bad Christmas Movies”. Here’s what you will find this week:

Stinker Madness Podcast
The He-Man She-Ra Xmas Special

If We Made It Podcast
Silent Night Deadly Night 2

Dark Corners of This Sick World
Elves

JT Movie Podcast
Black Christmas (2006)

So, make sure to check in with all of those good folks as part of the “15 Days of Bad Christmas Movies”! Also, make sure to check back here next week for the next (Plot)opsy Podcast on the infamous 1959 Mexican Christmas movie: “Santa Claus”

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Plotopsy Podcast #4 – Santa Claus Conquers The Martians

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians

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Today, as part of the “15 Days of Bad Christmas Movies” pod crawl, I will be talking about the B-movie holiday classic and IMDb Bottom 100 stalwart, “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”.

To begin with, the setting of “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” is a bit peculiar. In this universe, Santa Claus is an established, real person: there is no particular mystery or mysticism associated with him. This is fairly bizarre for a Christmas movie, to say the least: most use the mystery surrounding him as part of the story. The movie even opens with Santa being casually interviewed on TV at the north pole (where he, of course, has a physical workshop in the near-uninhabitable tundra). This sequence also features the first appearance of the character Mrs. Claus on the big screen, as “SCCTM” predated “Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer” to the theaters by 3 weeks in 1964. Santa also strangely forgets the names of his reindeer during this scene, famously referring to “Blitzen” as “Nixon”. Keep in mind, at this point in time Nixon was only know as the former Vice President of the United States, and as the man who lost the Presidency to a Catholic.

Part of the charm of “SCCTM” comes from a horde of cheap effects used throughout the film: these include the kind-of animated introductory credits, a man in a polar bear suit that makes the bear fight in Lou Ferrigno’s “Hercules” look dignified, a cardboard killer robot named Torg (not to be confused with Torgo from “Manos: The Hands of Fate”), space ships of Ed Wood levels of quality, and martian costumes consisting of what appear to be spare television and vacuum cleaner parts. Last but not least, the Martians carry magic guns (capable of freezing or tickling targets) that are just recolored “Wham-O” air blasters. Personally, I can’t hold the fact that the production was frugal with effects too harshly against them, but the end result of all of these cost-saving decisions is pretty entertaining to see on screen.

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A lot of fanfare has been made regarding the inaccuracy of the title of this movie. Santa does not do any fighting in the movie, and doesn’t claim Mars for the glory of the North Pole. The more accurate title is “Santa Claus and the Martian Civil War”: the conflict of the story comes from a split in martian society over whether the joy of Christmas should be assimilated into their lifestyle. The martian elder Chochem warns that the children of Mars will become rebellious if they are not exposed to yule-tide cheer, a controversial declaration which sparks the initial martian expedition to retrieve Santa in the first place, and plants the seeds of the eventual martian rebellion by Voldar. so if anything Santa is a catalyst to conflict, not a space conquistador.

Despite not featuring any real conquering, there is a climactic fight scene in the movie, in which toys are used by Santa Claus and the martian children to annoy and distract Voldar and the martian rebels until they are subdued by Kimar and his loyalist soldiers. It is a frenetically shot scene that needs to be seen to be believed, and is perhaps the most infamous sequence in the film.

The leader of the martian rebels, Voldar, is one of the most purely evil characters in the history of film. He not only convinces the martians to kidnap and interrogate a pair of human children, but he also attempts to murder Santa Claus and two kidnapped children on multiple occasions, including an incident in which he attempts to launch them into the void of space via an airlock. He is also established to be particularly bellicose and fond of war, at one point commenting on Mars’s past as a military society. Mars, of course, is the romanticized name for Greek god Ares, who is the god of war in both mythologies. He also has a legendarily villainous mustache, just in case it wasn’t clear to the audience that he would be the mutinous villain of the story.

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Voldar, ordering a robot to murder children
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Voldar is the one with the stache, of course

It is worth noting that the Martian naming conventions in the script and by and large astoundingly lazy: four of the primary martian characters are named Kimar, Momar, Bomar, Girmar. standing for “King Martian”, “Mom Martian”, “Boy Martian”, and “Girl Martian”, respectively.

One of the most memorable parts of “SCCTM” is undeniably the theme song, Hooray for Santa (or Santy) Claus: it is absurdly catchy, and features some mean trumpet work to boot. I specifically recall finding the sheet music to this is my high school band’s archives, and despite my pleadings, we ultimately never performed it publicly. The song is arguably the best thing to come about as a result of this film, though you probably won’t hear it on a Christmas radio station.

Infamous actress Pia Zadora appears in this film as Girmar in her first on-screen role (she was 8 years old at the time). She is best known as a punching bag for movie critics in the 1980s, particularly for her Razzie nominated roles in “Butterfly” and “The Lonely Lady”. Bafflingly, she also received a Golden Globe for her performance in “Butterfly”, a decision that is mocked and criticized to this day

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One of these is Pia Zadora. Flip a coin, I can’t tell them apart. Does that make me a Martian racist?

At the end of the movie, it is decided that one of the martians (Dropo, who provides much of the film’s comic relief) will take on all the duties of Santa Claus for Mars. It is never made clear as to why this wasn’t tried in the first place: the martians have a concept of what Santa does, and it is established that they have earth television programs that feature him prominently. Why wouldn’t they try to replicate Santa’s work first, instead of going through the trouble of apprehending Santa? Who knows?

The cult status of SCCTM is iconic among “so bad it is good movies” and Christmas movies alike. it particularly took off in popularity after it was featured in the show MST3K in the 1990s.  The movie has since seen multiple adaptations to the stage, is often cited as one of the worst movies of all time in professional publications, has become a staple in the IMDb Bottom 100 ranking, inspired a spin-off novelization, and was even re-dubbed in Brazil as a drug comedy called “Santa and the Magic Powder”. It was re-riffed live by the Mike Nelson MST3K crew as part of a Rifftrax Live event in December of 2013, which was simulcast in theaters around the United States and Canada.

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Promo for the Live Rifftrax of “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” from December 2013.
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Photo from a stage production of “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” in Fullerton, CA

As to the Plotopsy of SCCTM, what went wrong with this production? As I previously mentioned, the defining aspect of the movie is frugality, bordering on frank cheapness. That said, there is an honest charm to this film that has turned it into the cult classic that it is, much of which is rooted in those same financial limitations of the production. So, when it comes down to it, the movie’s weakness is its strength, and it wouldn’t be what it is without it. The cheesy writing is also often criticized, but to a certain degree, that was unavoidable: after all, this was intended as a simple children’s film, so cheesy elements were going to seep in regardless.  Director Nicholas Webster did have success directing television, so he certainly wasn’t incompetent behind a camera (though the failure of SCCTM pretty much killed his chances with features). There are even some shockingly half-decent shots to be found in SCCTM, so unlike many bad movies, it isn’t so much a failure on a technical level.

I can’t recommend this one highly enough, especially with the MST3k riffs. It is horrible and absolutely deserving of a place in the IMDb Bottom 100, but it is also an absolute blast. Definitely check it out if you haven’t already, it is readily available on YouTube.

 

You can catch up with the 15 Days of Bad Christmas Movies over with the Stinker Madness Podcast who just covered “Home Alone 3”, the If We Made It Podcast who just did “Ernest Saves Christmas”, the JT Movie Podcast, who took aim at “Jack Frost” this week (notably the creepy snowman one, not the Michael Keaton one), and Dark Corners of This Sick World on YouTube, who are featuring one of my personal holiday bad movie favorites this coming Monday, “Elves”: because nothing says Merry Christmas like a Nazi incest plot.

Make sure to tune in next week for my next entry in the 15 Days of Bad Christmas Movies, which will feature the Hulk Hogan vehicle and fellow IMDB bottom 100 member, “Santa with Muscles”

Plotopsy Podcast #3 – Maximum Overdrive

Maximum Overdrive

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Episode 3 of the (Plot)opsy Podcast spotlights one of my favorite good-bad movies, 1986’s “Maximum Overdrive”. Stephen King took up the role of director for the first and last time in this cult classic about killer machines possessed by aliens…or a comet…or something. It features some of the most ridiculous deaths in mainstream cinema history, and is a must-see flick for bad movie fans. As it turns out, there are some interesting narratives tied up behind the scenes of this one as well. Enjoy!


Direct Link

AC/DC wrote a number of original songs for “Maximum Overdrive”, including the hit “Who Made Who”
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Stephen King’s cameo at the beginning of “Maximum Overdrive”, in which an ATM calls him an asshole
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An accident involving this radio-controlled lawnmower took the eye of the Director of Photography on “Maximum Overdrive”. A hefty lawsuit followed.
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One of the most famous sequences in the movie features a murderous vending machine, which attacks a little league baseball team
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“Maximum Overdrive” star Emilio Estevez alongside the Green Goblin truck, which serves as the primary villain of the movie.
DVD cover for “Trucks”, a 1997 movie made from the same source material as “Maximum Overdrive”

The trailer for Maximum Overdrive oozes with hubris on the part of Stephen King, who introduces the film in much the same way that Alfred Hitchcock once did. King does this while simultaneously putting down the many well-regarded adaptations of his works by other film-makers in the past. I’m sure this trailer is one of the more embarrassing entries in the history of Stephen King.

Plotopsy Podcast #2 – BlockBusted

BlockBusted: The Fall of the Video Store

On episode 2 of the (Plot)opsy Podcast, I decided to talk about something a little different. Instead of a movie, I decided to take a look at the aftermath of the collapse of BlockBuster Video, and the current state of the physical media market for movies. There is more to movie shops than just movies, after all: there is the movie shop culture to be considered.

You can check out episode 1 of the (Plot)opsy Podcast, on “Guardians of the Galaxy” and James Gunn, here.


Direct Link

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Potomac Video, of the DC Metro area, shutting down in May 2014.

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A MovieStop location in Huntsville, AL

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McKay Used Books of Nashville, TN
McKay Used Books of Nashville, TN
One of the last BlockBuster video stores, just days before closing in southern MS.
One of the last BlockBuster video stores, just days before closing in southern MS.
Videodrome of Atlanta, GA
Advertisement for Scarecrow Video of Seattle, WA
Video Central of Columbus, OH
Video Central of Columbus, OH

Plotopsy Podcast #1 – Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

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Welcome to the first episode of Misan[trope]y’s (Plot)opsy Podcast! My name is Gordon Maples, writer of the Misan[trope]y Movie Blog and a somewhat obsessive film buff.

Here on the (Plot)opsy Podcast, you can hear yet another dude on the internet talk about movies. More specifically, I will be looking at the narratives behind movies: their cultural contexts, the startling personalities around them, and the curious production paths that led to their creation. I am going to focus on memorable films, both good and bad, new and old. I intend to be joined by guests in the future dissections, but today, on the pilot, you just have me. Welcome to the (Plot)opsy. Scrub up.

This first feature I am covering is the smash hit “Guardians of the Galaxy” by Troma alum and generally awesome weirdo James Gunn. Listen to the whole episode below:


Direct Download

Here are some relevant images to go along with the episode:

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“Tromeo and Juliet” was the film writing debut of James Gunn, a Troma flick primarily in iambic pentameter that he wrote while interning with Troma Pictures. Rumor has it that he was paid $150 for the screenplay.

 

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James Gunn co-wrote a book with Troma head Lloyd Kaufman detailing the history of Toma Studios

 

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Yondu from the source comics (left) and the film (right, Michael Rooker)

 

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Vin Diesel’s best known voice work is as the eponymous Iron Giant from the animated cult classic. His part as Groot in “Guardians” is highly reminiscent of the lovable giant robot.