Saturday, September 05, 2009

worst case scenario

ideas for movies are interesting in themselves not because of the age-old argument of there being no new ideas, but of the odd facts of the debates regarding who owns what ideas. i recall in the early '90s when tv show host david letterman jumped networks. his old network told dave that he couldn't do certain bits developed on his show because these ideas and concepts, called intellectual property, were owned by the network and not by letterman's production company, world-wide pants. i recall the derision of the commentators critical of the old network and that the phrase, intellectual property, could be a bit more orwellian than not.

now in our early century the phrase intellectual property holds a bit more weight as the recording industry, and tv and movie production houses, are staggered by the primacy and immediacy of our emergent digital cultures. when the product is distributed on the net the concept of ownership is diaphanous at best.

rather than get into that debate of intellectual property in the age of digital media (for lucid essays regarding these subjects please see ernesto priego's brilliant blog) i bring the subject up in relation to a pair of movie trailers for a film that was never put into production.

i read about director richard raaphorst's trailers for his unmade film worst case scenario in the pages of rue morgue a couple months back. a dig on the nazi zombie flicks of the 1970s and recently resurrected by the norwegian horror flick dead snow [2009] raaphorst could not make his movie because he, as i understand it, does not own the rights to the story. too bad because the trailers are rather goofy but beautiful.

take the first trailer for example. playing off nazi fears it plays as a kind of b-movie that gets little notice by an audience today. a set piece consisting of stock news footage it becomes spooky only in the last few seconds. it is the sort of trailer that at first lulls you into boredom but by the last image knocks you out of your seat.

better, i think, is the second trailer that plays like a very short film. the bluish images of a pair of children digging for worms on a cold day in squishy mud develops a tone for the strangeness of the concluding images of zombies floating above in the weirdest victorian-looking balloons ever conceived. the synth score swells up and you know that the world is now an alien place.

both trailers parlay their b-movie origins into a compelling visual presentation of a movie that, at this time, will not be made. seriously goofy but haunting just the same raaphorst has created a sumptuous feast for halloween.



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