Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Missing Masterpieces

Not every Danman Production made it past the script stage. Given the general quality of the movies that did get made, I know this is a harrowing assertion. Nevertheless, I can think of at least three movies that were put into perpetual turnaround. For the first time ever, I share these lost films with the world. Behold!

No matter that I had never actually seen Friday the 13th. I knew enough to cobble my own version: there was a kid who was really into hockey and who died a terrible (possibly hockey-related?) death and who now rose from the grave to murder teen campers.

I had all the materials: I had a glow-in-the-dark hockey mask from a Halloween set. I had enough corn syrup and dye to make ten gallons of fake blood. I had a freakin' lake, for crying out loud. One thing I did not have, however, was enough actors. I recall calling Joe and trying to cajole him to come out one Saturday, but on this rare occasion he declined. So I took the script that I had scrawled out that morning, as well as the "Camp Crystal Lake" sign I had hastily made from some college-ruled paper and a sharpie, and put them into a drawer. Unlike Jason Vorhees, they were never to rise again.

Much like Battle of the Arms, this was meant as a late-in-the-game "Tales from the Creep." At some point, someone had given me a novelty bear-trap the size of a quarter, and so I wrote a movie around it. The premise was rather delicious: two bored aristocrats (to be played by Joe and I), make a wager about the nature of greed. Their plan? Throw a dinner party, and on the bathroom floor hide the tiny trap within a wad of money. By the end, the entire cast was fingerless - including one of the aristocrats.

Genius, right?! But if you didn't notice, the period between Misery and Fear were lean times for Danman Productions. Most of my actors had vanished (it was summer vacation, I think), and I ended up starring in everything. The Wager required an entire dinner party worth of actors. I'm sure I considering playing all of the roles, but sadly did not.

[EDIT: Turns out I remembered this wrong. Get the real scoop here.]

This project was so top-secret I don't think I ever told anyone about it - until right now. It came near the end of Danman Productions, when I was high on power and convinced that I could do no wrong. It required a large cast, elaborate costumes, set dressing enough to turn my garage into an underground labyrinth, and songs.

What, didn't I mention that it was going to be the freaking Andrew Lloyd Webber version? Yes. Yes. Shad was going to be the Phantom. I was probably going to be the normal dude. I'm not sure who was tapped for Christine. But it gets even crazier. See, the problem with the soundtrack album was the vocals. If I could only somehow isolate just the music tracks then we could actually sing. You heard me right. I intended to make my actors sing.

Ultimately, the logistics were too complicated. My actors dodged a potentially soul-crushing blow to their psyches. And the world was robbed of perhaps the worst musical in history. [See the actual script here.]

A Danman-only awards show that I have recreated here.

[NOTE: Long after writing this post, I uncovered a bunch of additional unproduced scripts. Check them out here!]

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Trailers #1

Now my movies were so epic they needed trailers. The highlight of this first batch is the fairly clever JFK 2. But before you get to that, you're going to have to wince through our umpteenth ethnic stereotype in Como Estas? and amuse yourself during White Man Can Jump--a perfect example of why I so desperately needed real editing equipment.

The first thing you'll see, though, is a popcorn and concession stand advertisement. The tune that is hummed is a replica of that which ran over similar ads at our local movie theater. In high school I worked as a projectionist at that theater, so I heard the song a bajillion times. I can still sing it. Hey, why are you walking away?

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009


By this point, Danman Productions had become infamous within my circle of friends. Yet I hungered for wider appreciation. Thus, my first "original" story and my first epic: Fear. I was swinging for the fences now. We weren't playing zombies or mad scientists. We were giving "performances." Fear ultimately screened in my high-school English class. Fame was mine.

Fear is about how a mop-wigged, voodoo-practicing Jamaican stereotype (named "Freedom Jones") summons an evil ghost (named "Tyler Fearless") who turns nice-guy Joe into murderous freak. Both Freedom and Fearless were played by my pal Jami. This being Jami's first Danman Production, I exploited him for all he was worth.

Any movie revolving around Joe's descent into madness is bound to be hilarious, and in that regard, Fear does not disappoint. But Joe's emotionless screams and psychotic glares are the obvious payoffs. Far more inexplicably bizarre are the getting-a-can-of-Coke and preparing-some-instant-coffee scenes. Watching these numbing procedurals, you are forced to repeat to yourself, It's only a movie, it's only a movie...

As always, the music selection is the most baffling element, segueing uncomfortably from "Carmina Burana" to the Beatles to Twin Peaks to Don McLean to gangster rap to Phantom of the Opera to Guns n Roses. Say hello to the mix tape from hell.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

The Blob

The Garbage Bag would've been a more accurate title. With a flapping Hefty bag as our dastardly villain, we needed a couple of manly heroes. Instead we got Joe in his most peevish role to date and Ben (who had impressed me with his zombie grunting) as the kind of cop who says things like "Drive, fool! Drive!"

The Blob has the greatest final scene of any Danman Production. And that's saying a lot, because the scenes that precede it include inappropriate doo-wop music, special-effects shots with crappy-looking miniatures, and phone calls to President Bush. The final scene begins with Ben saying, "Well, so much for that Blob"--so much, indeed!--and ends with that old chestnut, the maniacal laugh.

"Apple butter, grape jelly, blob". Soon this will be your new mantra.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Monster Variations - it's out!

A short commercial break: The Monster Variations, the book for which this blog exists, comes out today! Check out the above book trailer, directed by the same dude who made all the Francis Ford Iowa movies. I know it's hard to believe, but believe it.

So buy the book, why don't you?

If you want to support your local bookstore go here.

If you prefer the comforts of Amazon, hey, who am I to judge?

Thanks for your support. I mean that.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Battle of the Arms

Don't we all remember our first Vietnam flashback scene? I sure do. I play "Jack," a sweaty dude with only one arm. "Arm donors are scarce," says his doctor, which causes him to flash back to 1969, when he was part of an elite fighting force that wore white tennis shoes, jeans, and sweatshirts.

You would think the best thing about this would be the Vietnam stuff. But no! It's that scene where I'm stewing at the table and tell my my cad wife (played, naturally, by my sister, who may or may not also be my doctor) that I'm "thinking about the war again" and she flippantly suggests that I "stop that foolishness." Clearly, this is my Deer Hunter.

Even better than that: for a movie about a guy with one arm, I manage to spent two entire scenes with both arms.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Jif commercial

Anyone who knew me as a teen remembers my cat Gooshy. My mom had named her Marilyn, but that name just didn't "pop," as they say in the biz. I was obsessed with Gooshy. I carried her everywhere, communicated to her in babytalk, and pretty much annoyed the hell out of anyone who came within earshot.

With my actors fleeing me like I had the plague, it was inevitable that I would recruit Gooshy to star in a video. Despite her acting skills being superior to those of my usual actors, she was even more difficult to work with. Thankfully I had the good sense to know a good blooper reel when I saw it and thus this gem was born.

Scary side note: At the end of the video, for less than one second, there's a mysterious shot of my Grandpa (deceased). As far as I know, this split second is the only existing video footage of him. There's something eerie about it, as if his ghost is breaking through the footage to say hello. Hi, Grandpa.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Wide World of Sports

A sextathalon featuring such competitions as the egg roll, leap frog, and beer guzzling. Sounds like comedy gold, right? Eh, not so much.

Most enjoyable for me is all the nostalgia hiding in the margins: that horrible tan van we used to own, how shockingly lush our backyard was, the omnipresent buzz of lawn mowers. In fact, I'd really enjoy this video if those two geeky teens weren't in it.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Night of the Living Dead (2 of 2)

Kinda like the first half, except with more dying. Witness:

* Chris's girlish, screaming death-howl as the Shad-zombie strangles him.

* Julie's inability to get more than three feet outside the house before she's overwhelmed with zombies, despite the fact that she has a gun and they are "slow."

* Bad-ass Joe's death by the nerdiest, squeakiest-voiced assassin in the history of cinema (me).

You have to hand it to Night of the Living Dead--it's probably the fastest-paced Danman Production ever. And speed is a quality that will become increasingly elusive as the movies drag on (and on).

Bonus: the credit music is from Rocky IV! [Edit: The original script reveals this almost wasn't the case.]

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