Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Is Venkman burning in hell?

Straight after the title card scene at the beginning of Ghostbusters, we're taken into the halls of Columbia University to the door of resident parapsychologists Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stanz (Dan Aykroyd) and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis).

Presumably because of his habit of using science as some sort of dodge or hustle, Venkman's prompted someone to scrawl graffiti on the glass that says 'Venkman burn in hell'.

Just recently Sigourney Weaver let slip that Murray's character might be appearing in Ghostbusters 3 as a ghost.

Coincidence?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Jackson does Hitchcock

Movies aren't exactly new, but for many a year directors were a professional class, not like today where the biggest directors are fanboy hobbyists who've taken the reins of Hollywood because they know what fans want.

I'd therefore argue we're witnessing the rise of the second generation of film directors. Ask the Tarantinos, Finchers or Jacksons of the world and they'll tell you their heroes are the Kurosawas, Peckinpahs, Romeros and Hitchcocks of the former world.

So it's amusing to see them emulating not just the styles but the behaviours of their personal directorial deities. When Frank Bannister (Michael J Fox) stumbles out of the corner store into a mean-looking biker in The Frighteners the pierced, leather-clad man is played by none other than its director Peter Jackson.

So it was amusing to see Jackson have his second Hitchcock cameo moment in his new film The Lovely Bones. Recognise the heavyset bearded guy testing an antique movie camera in the store where Susie's dad Jack (Mark Wahlberg) collects his murdered daughter's first roll of developed film?

And although I'm not sure, I won't be surprised if the camera being played with by the anonymous shopper is the same model (if not the same camera) an 11 year old Jackson crawled around on his parents' floor with to make his first ever movie, King Kong.

Monday, December 7, 2009

You try typing when you just want to kill someone

When Wendy Torrance (Shelley Duvall) finds the manuscript of the book Jack's (Jack Nicholson) been writing since their arrival at the Overlook Hotel in The Shining, she finds page after page of scrawled typing that says 'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy' over and over again.

Anyone who remembers writing in 1980 knows it was a messy affair with lots of errant keystrokes and no spell checker. As soon as you hit a key you were committed.

And as he was being driven slowly and murderously insane who haunted the Overlook, it's understandable Jack made more than his fair share of typing errors.

But did you know he gets just one single paragraph entirely correct? If you weren't quick enough to see it, Wendy reaches it on page 16 as she leafs through the pages wondering what's happened to her husband's mind.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Keep your arms inside the vehicle

You remember Michael Ironside. Anyone who came of age in the 1980s remembers a cool show called V about an alien race invading Earth by pretending to be our friends but who were horrible lizard-like creatures under clever human masks. There's actually a remake going on right now. He played tough-as-nails mercenary Tyler, who joins the resistance and becomes one of their best fighters.

Ironside's been a staple of action/adventure TV and cinema since the late 1970s, and while he isn't the only actor who usually plays characters who end up dead, have you ever realised how many times he loses limbs? It must be written into his contract or something.

In 1987's Total Recall, after a brutal fight to the death against hero Doug Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) during a long open-air elevator ride, Ironside's character Richter is holding on to the edge of the platform when a support beam comes along and slices his arms right off, sending him plummeting to his death.

Ten years later he played teacher-turned soldier Mr Rasczak in Starship Troopers. During the bug siege at Fort Joe Smith, the block of flats-sized, ball-of-destructive-light-producing beetle burrows up underneath the compound where the mobile infantry are pinned down. Rasczak falls into the hole and his squadmates have to pull him back up - sans legs.

As Miller in ace 2004 twist thriller The Machinist, Ironisde again loses an arm after catching it in an industrial machine absent-minded hero Trevor (Christian Bale) leaves it on. If only Free Willy had attacked during the 1993 kids' weepie and bitten his arm off as Dial, it would have completed the picture. If you ever read this Michael, we all look forward to seeing what you lose next.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What do Alicia Silverstone and Michael Moore have in common?

True Crime with Alicia Silverstone is a strange little mystery movie, a disjointed mix of Nancy Drew innocence in the lead character but with plenty of violence, a smattering of teenage sex and a fair amount of profanity.

But listen right after Mary (Silvestone) and Tony (Kevin Dillon) discover the hanging body of Earl, the man they thought was the killer. The scene changes and the cops are everywhere, interviewing Mary and Tony about their discovery.

There in the background, over some police radio off camera comes the voice of a female operator saying 'eight eight fourteen clear.'

Now watch Canadian Bacon, Michael Moore's single fictional film. It's not as creatively successful as his documentaries, feeling somewhat forced and ham fisted in it's depiction of a soft US President (Alan Alda) convinced to whip up a phony war footing against Canada in order to bolster US military stocks.

But as Niagra cops John Candy and Rhea Pearlman roll along in their patrol car, you can distinctly hear the voice over the police band - the same young lady with the same 'eight eight fourteen clear' recording.

Welcome to 8814clear

If you listen to rap music like I do, you'll hopefully have heard No Tears by Scarface. If not I urge you to listen to it as soon as possible.

And when you do, listen right until the end, you'll hear stock audio of police operators speaking over the LAPD band reporting what appears to be the activity in city sectors. While some of it's a bit of a jumble, one line couldn't be more distinctive, when the lady operator says 'eight eight fourteen clear'.

Nothing special about that, right? But for some reason it struck me as a cool effect to end the song and it stayed with me.

So imagine my surprise when I heard the exact same recording in the soundtrack of not one, but two completely separate movies. Imagine also how weird it was when I happened to watch those two movies two nights running, and heard the effect clearly in both.

Convinced the world was trying to tell me something, I started this blog in order to indulge and share my fascination and love of deep movie trivia, the stuff I'm sure most people would miss.

8814clear isn't about knowing the birthdate of the third sons of the King of Rohan. Hardcore movie fans know that sort of 'story-specific' trivia and I can't compete with that.

What it's about is when trivial coincidences catch my notice and seem just to eerie to ignore, like a completely random stock audio file being played in the background of two totally unrelated movies two nights in a row, just because I happened to choose those nights to watch those movies.

Sometimes, after all, the world's trying to tell us something...