Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Shocking Dark (1990)

aka Terminator 2

aka Alienators

Gather 'round me, children, for I have a tale to tell! Once upon a time it came to pass that an Italian movie producer realized that he was in the position to legally name one of his films Terminator 2, and bring it into the cinemas way before the (less entertaining) James Cameron film of the same title would hit - at least if he could find someone to make the film right now, in the space of approximately two days of shooting and with no budget except for what petty cash the producer had lying around. Fortunately for the history of the cinematic art - though not the sanity of mankind - our mysterious producer knew just the right candidates for the job, the dynamic duo of Bruno Mattei ("director") and Claudio Fragasso ("writer"), two men completely without professional standards or shame.

But what the producer could not have imagined about the two was that their lack of standards and shame hid a very peculiar sense of humour (or, if you believe some scholars, a very particular kind of insanity). So, while they agreed to make the producer's dream of a cheap Terminator rip-off come true, Bruno and Claudio then proceeded to film a rip-off of that other excellent James Cameron movie, Aliens. Claudio, full of love and respect for Cameron's work, even took it upon himself to quote whole bits of dialogue from his hero's film, although usually in places where they made neither structural nor plain sense.

Yet despite the shared genius of Bruno and Claudio, their work was still plagued with problems. Surely, they could not afford more than one monster costume while still providing for their own meagre livings on the budget the producer had provided them with! But how, oh how, could a whole squad of professional soldiers be conquered by one pitiable rubber suit monster? Claudio, always cleverer than his peers, went back into his chamber with the script, and turned the squad of soldiers into !MegaForce!; now, even a single rubber suit looked like more than enough of a threat for his film's heroes, their shoulder pads and motorcycle helmets.

But when the producer arrived at Claudio's and Bruno's home the next morning to read their script, he was very angry about what Claudio had written. "There is no Terminator in my Terminator movie! What, oh what have you done!?" he shouted. Claudio and Bruno looked at each other, giggled, and explained they would turn their film's most wooden actor into an android by directing him to babble in the most monotonous voice and never to change his facial expression. "It will be just like Schwarzenegger!" Bruno added. The producer, recognizing sheer genius when he saw it, was mightily pleased by this and allowed Bruno and Claudio to begin shooting their masterpiece.

Their casting director was desperate. "Where, oh where will we find actors who will work for food?" he cried. "Nothing easier than that!" Bruno and Claudio answered, and proceeded to lure a group of American tourists onto their "set" - for this is what the artists called the darkened factory and the service tunnel where they made movie magic happen - with promises of cameras made of gold. Before the Americans could realize they had been lied to, Bruno and Claudio dragged them in front of their camera for "a screen test", letting their new-found partners read Claudio's script aloud. Afterwards, the wily Italians sent the tourists home, telling them they'd call them once filming would start. In truth, they knew that they had already filmed all the performances they would ever need.

And so, having found a solution for each of their problems, Bruno and Claudio brought their film into the cinemas, where it was loved and adored by the masses. Even James Cameron was so moved by the boys' love for his work that he decided not to sue them. And because there are no costs to cover when one's film hasn't cost anything to produce in the first place, the producer, Bruno, and Claudio became very rich from their work's earnings. And they all lived happily ever after.


No comments: