Cinema is at heart a means of telling stories, and those stories have to come from somewhere. There are many talented screenwriters working today producing original tales for the big screen, and there’s an equal number sourcing material from elsewhere. Books, comics and television are obvious places to look, but some people look further for inspiration. Here’s some of the stranger places movies (and one TV show) have sprung from…
10. A Twitter Account
Ok, I’m cheating a little here because it’s a TV series and not a movie. But it’s such a stretch to make this concept work that I’m including it (also it’s my list and I can can include whatever the hell I want). ‘Shit My Dad Says’ got canned after a year, possibly because it starred William Shatner, and originated from one persons Twitter account of the same name. The Twitter account does what it says on the label – the dude posts the funny and dumb things his dad says. The person who thought that this could sustain a television series is a (and I apologise for this pun) a twit.
9. Urban Myths
Back in the day, people told stories about monsters, werewolves, vampires, demons…the habit of spreading terrifying stories has not left us, but the monsters have. The urban legend is a treasure trove of great story ideas – the killer with the hook hand left in the door handle, the girl who’s dog licks her hand, the list is endless. Wanting to cash in on them all at once, while riding the post-modern horror wave of the late 90’s, ‘Urban Legend’ featured a killer in a fencing mask killing people in the methods described in urban legends. I only saw the third film in the series, about a copycat killer attacking film students who are making a movie about the original killer. It sucked.
8. A Board Game
Watch the above trailer for ‘Battleships’. This trailer just came out and yes, it is based on the Hasbro board game. As you can see, the movie does not feature two nerdy looking types calling out numbers and letters but big bloody aliens attacking boats. This raises the question as to why they’re naming it after the board game at all, instead of creating a new property called ‘Battleships VS Aliens’ or something. Make sure you pause the trailer at about 1:57 to see that the alien bullets are shaped like the pegs from the game. Also currently in the works – ‘Monopoly’ and ‘Candyland’.
7. An Amusement Park Ride
“What?” you ask. “How can this possibly work?” Well you should know, you went to see it and it’s sequels. As any0ne who’s been to Disneyland can attest, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ was and still is a feature at the famed amusement park. The original script did it’s best to mimic the story of the ride (basically a bunch of random pirate stuff) and it was only later in the process that the supernatural element was added. In recent years they have made alterations to the original ride to include notable characters such as Jack Sparrow and Davey Jones. In hindsight it turned out to be a bloody good idea, with a massive franchise and merchandise empire stemming from it. Pity the same couldn’t be said for ‘The Haunted Mansion’, also a Disney ride.
6. An 8-Bit Video Game
A franchise such as ‘Tomb Raider’ can make the chasm wide leap between the home console and the big screen. There’s a clearly defined and well developed (her character – sheesh) protaganist featuring in a rather straight forward adaptation. ‘Super Mario Bros’ on the other hand – watching a stereotypical Italian plumber stomp his way through the anime Wonderland that is the Mushroom Kingdom would be nightmare inducing trippiness. Not that they even stayed true to the game – instead Mario and Luigi travel to a dystopian alternate universe where man evolved from dinosaurs only to be menaced by Dennis Hopper in bad make-up. It’s hard to know what’s worse – that they made a point of the fabled Mario Brothers turn out not to be real brothers, or the whole ‘his last name is Mario’ routine.
‘Toy Story’ featured quite a few toys that are all to familiar to anyone who was once a child (ie: you) such as the Etch-a-Sketch and Barbie. These toys are not, however, the basis for the film. For this entry, we have ‘Transformers’. A great concept for a young lads plaything – a car that turns into a robot. Hell, it’s like getting two toys in one! This landed in the 80’s, a magical time for toy manufacturers who discovered that a cheap cartoon show can move products of the shelf faster than closing time on Christmas Eve. Skip forward two decades and nostalgia for a simpler time (before your brain has developed) means Michael Bay gets an excuse to blow crap up again.
4. A Saturday Morning Cartoon
‘Transformers’ did use the cartoon format as a stepping stone onto the big screen, but what about those that started life on a Saturday morning? Enter ‘Scooby-Doo’, one of many cartoon franchises that studios have deluded themselves into thinking would make a perfect blend of tacky live action and cheap CGI (see also ‘Smurfs’, ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’ and ‘Yogi Bear’). Done on the cheap, expecting the name brand alone to fill the seats, the ‘Scooby-Doo’ movie was a mishandled mess. Shocking acting and computer effects aside, the producers couldn’t decide if this would be a movie for kids who grew up, went to college and started making weed jokes about Shaggy, or an outright kids movie. What we end up with is the awkward sight of a bright, colourful, G-Rated movie full of slapstick and jokes about smoking drugs. Weak.
3. A Newspaper Coloumn
A talking foot has sex in an urban setting. It can only mean one thing…’Sex and the City’. Author Candace Bushnell made her splash in the world of journalism by writing somewhat candidly for the New York Observer in 1994. Her essays were collected in a book, that was very loosely adapted as a series whose sole function was finding new ways to shock middle aged couple who pretend that they’re edgy which then made itself known to cinema goers. Discussed more for Parker’s multiple costume changes as much as anything resembling a story, the two movies have moved pretty far from the source. Unless the original newspaper articles featured a bunch of jokes about burkhas that I’m not aware off.
2. A Fake Trailer for a Movie That Doesn’t Exist
Fake trailers are nothing new. Spend some quality time on youtube and you’ll uncover a bounty of trailers for ‘The Hobbit’, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and even ‘The Legend of Zelda’ that have been cobbled together by fans. Even prefessional film-makers like to get in on the action with Robert Rodriquez, Edgar Wright and Rob Zombie producing entertaining fake trailers to bridge the ‘Grindhouse’ double feature – ‘Machete’, ‘Don’t’ and ‘Werewolf Women of the S.S.’ respectively. Rodriquez must’ve been feeling a bit stumped for new ideas, because he went out and made a full length feature of ‘Machete’, which he know intends to turn into a trilogy. The finale – Machete in space. I’d watch it.
1. A Meme
‘RickRoll: The movie’…is not yet happening. But if it did, it would be as moronic as the idea of turning a 16 second video of a panda sneezing into a full length feature film. The documentarians who captured the footage of the baby panda sneezing seem to have let the success (is that the right word) of the clip get the better of the logic centres and have embarked on the task of filming a movie length mockumentary about a zoologist from Australia traveling the China to save the baby panda (from what, I don’t know – perhaps the idiots who thought this was a good idea). Granted, if the movie is terrible (odds are it will be) then it will be promptly forgotten about – but what if it opens the floodgates for other memes to hit the big screen? Lolcats, WOW Freak-Out, Annoying Orange, Rebecca Black…the horror is endless.