A Case for Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters, along with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, has a special place in my heart as one of my first pop culture obsessions. I remember I never missed an episode of the cartoon series, The Real Ghostbusters. I owned a legitimate copy of Ghostbusters II on VHS and would watch it religiously. Unfortunately, the only version of the first movie my family had was a poor quality VHS copy. At one point I lost the tape. When I found it again I was in early teens. To my surprise the audio of the movie was abysmal. Turns out all those times I had watch the movie as a child, I was only watching the visuals. This is a long, roundabout way of saying that until the movie came out on DVD, I had no idea how funny it really was.

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[S]He Directed That? THX 1138

At MovieDebaters.com Harrison and I are devoted to presenting the freshest, most innovative film discussion that our limited budget can provide. So we’re introducing a new feature entitled “(S)He Directed That?” which looks at the films that seem to stick out as oddballs in a filmmakers filmography.

Filmmakers are driven by particular themes, and their careers are often filled with work that follows that thematic thread. It is the purpose of this feature to examine that other film, the oddball picture in a filmmakers catalog that doesn’t gel with anything else. Sometimes it is a deliberate attempt by a filmmaker to do something new, it’s their early work, or it’s a project they took for a good paycheck. We think the film that doesn’t fit can teach us something about that filmmaker.

Today we’ll look at THX 1138 written and directed by George Lucas.


THX1138 Trailer
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DVD Commentaries: Writer’s Edition

As much as I wish I could, I can’t empirically say whether DVD commentaries are still popular or not. I do remember at the onset of DVDs that having a commentary was a major selling point. Most DVD and Blu Ray releases still have commentaries on them, but I get the feeling that it’s more of afterthought than something the filmmakers or studios are passionate about releasing.

Of course, it could be that not every commentary is a good one. It could be that the majority of DVD commentaries are bad. Which brings me to the point of the article. I have a few DVD commentaries that I think are worth your time.

As an aspiring writer, I naturally gravitate towards commentaries that discuss the art of screenwriting. Here are three commentaries that do a good job of that (plus a bonus one).

Black Dynamite

Black Dynamite is the hilarious throwback/spoof of 1970s Blaxplotation movies. The story follows Black Dynamite as he tears through his city to clean up crime. What really sells the movie is the production value. Everything from the script, the clothes, the acting, and the story are all perfectly lifted from the 70s.

The commentary has a great mix of general behind the scenes shop talk. What’s particularly interesting is hearing the writers discuss all the more subtle jokes that test audiences missed. It’s also fun to learn about all the different Blaxplotation movies that inspired Black Dynamite.

True Romance

This sprawling crime movie is about two newlyweds as they try to sell some drugs they’ve happened upon in Los Angeles. The movie is jam-packed with notable actors in great roles. Particularly stand out is the tete-a-tete between Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper.

Quentin Tarantino wrote the script to True Romance. What makes this a great DVD commentary is A) Tarantino rarely does commentaries. (To date he has not provided a commentary for any movie he has directed.) B) Tarantino goes very in depth about how his initial script had a different act structure than the final film. For anyone interested in writing it’s fascinating to get inside Tarantino’s brain and see why he valued one story structure over the other.

Fight Club

Does Fight Club really need a plot recap? I don’t mean to be glib, but considering the movie’s marketing fiasco in 1999, I think it’s best just to watch the movie cold.

The particular commentary to look out for (there’s four commentary tracks on the special edition DVD) is the one with novel writer Chuck Palahniuk and screenwriter Jim Uhls. The two writers are very respectful of each other’s work. It’s a great listen because it helps the viewer see an inside look at two writers handling the same story for different mediums. There’s a couple of parts where Palahniuk complements Uhls on improving the novel.

Community Season 1

I know this site is called MovieDebaters. However, Community is a show that heavily references movies. Why recommend a TV show on a movie blog? A) Every single episode in the 25 episode first season has commentary on it. That’s almost unheard of. Most shows only have one or two commentaries for an entire season. B) The creator of the show, Dan Harmon, has an unparalleled grasp on his characters. The depth of knowledge and understanding he exhibits is amazing. It’s a great insight into writer’s brain regarding character. Not only that, but just about everything he says can be turned into a lesson for blossoming writers.

Do you have any favorite commentaries? Post them below in the comments.

-Harrison

Apocalypse Countdown 2012: Daybreakers

As a regular reader of our site or as a conspiracy nut you know, the looming Mayan apocalypse is only seven short months away. I’ve taken the tremendous task of preparing all of our blog readers by reviewing the best source of doomsday preparation literature on the planet: dystopian and apocalyptic films. This week I’ll be looking at a particularly bloodthirsty apocalypse: the vampire apocalypse as depicted in Daybreakers. Remember this is more than just a review of the film; this information could save your life.

Spoilers about the plot of the film will follow after the trailer and the break.


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Quick! Before it Expires: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Final Sacrifice

Slim pickings this time for expiring Netflix movies. Though there is one I wholly endorse.

There’s always going to be bad art. No matter what the medium. Bad ballet, bad movies, bad paintings, bad sculpters, bad novels, bad guitarists, bad poets.

Some scoff at inferior products. They mock and ridicule it without mercy. Others may ignore bad art and only focus on the good. However, I do think a viable option is to embrace bad art and do something with it to elevate it.

To that end there’s Mystery Science Theater 3000. Airing between 1988 and 1999, the show featured human and robot characters gently mocking truly awful movies. The mission statement of the show as to take bad movies and replicate fun times had by gathering a group of friends and cracking wise as the awfulness ensues.

One of the best episodes of MST3K is The Final Sacrifice. The movie is about a reluctant boy who is caught up with a Canadian death cult. Joining the boy is a character named Rosdower who, for the MST3K fanbase, has since turned into a mythical hero.

Yes, the whole movie is on Youtube. It’s arguably easier to watch on Netflix though.

This episode aired fairly late in the show’s run, but it still achieves the gut busting heights of the very best episodes. There’s a schism between fans of MST3K over which host was better — Joel or Mike. For fans of Mike, The Final Sacrifice is one of the best episodes to showcase his strengths as a host.

There isn’t too much else I can say (I don’t want to spoil any jokes) other than watch this episode. If you enjoy it, Netflix has plenty of other episodes to whet your appetite for a goofy and endearing show that makes terrible movies entertaining.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Final Sacrifice expires in three days (March 16th). For a full list of expiring movies, check out Queuenoodle.

-Harrison

Debate: Best Superhero Movie

In recent years the “Comic Book Movie” has become a regular event during the summer blockbuster release schedule. Often times these films feature classic superheroes and beloved icons like Batman, Superman, Spider-Man et al. We’re interested in examining the phenomenon of the “Superhero” movie in order to decide which Superhero movie is the best.

Note: Our reflections upon the superhero movie are focusing on the “movie” and do not reflect, in any way, our favorite superheroes.

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The Exploitation of the Moviegoer

First off, congratulations to Christopher Plummer, who became the oldest actor to win an Oscar at 82. He was definitely the best story (and might I add gave the best speech?) of the night that was not full of many surprises. He is a wonderful example of an actor who loves to work and isn’t afraid of doing traditionally lowbrow roles alongside the high drama.

I did want to talk about a another Oscar story that night. It was the nomination of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close for Best Picture. It didn’t get very good reviews and many believed that the film was not just a bad film but transcended into exploitation:

“In the most genteel way the film has both its hands around your throat, forcing you to choke up.” – Michael Phillips Chicago Tribune

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