Ask 411 Movies for 04.15.13: Shemp Cocktail!
Posted by Leonard Hayhurst on 04.15.2013
Was Die Hard With A Vengeance meant to be Lethal Weapon 3? What’s the Connection between Bucakroo Banzai and Big Trouble in Little China? All this and more covered this week in Ask 411 Movies!
I survived Cinema Wasteland and had time at my friend Ron's house to put a column together for the week. The highlight of the show for me was meeting Jack Lemmon's son, Chris. He was really nice. I got a picture with him and he signed my DVD of Thunder in Paradise. He even gave me a signed 8x10 from the show free. He said of Hulk Hogan, "great boat driver, better friend." Lemmon told me a story of them filming the opening. A helicopter was getting aerial shots and was blown low in front of the boat. If Hogan hadn't reacted in time and turned the boat, they would have crashed into it.
What Leonard Recently Watched Evil Dead is a successful remake because it stays true to the original while going its own way. There are plenty of nods to the trilogy, but they fit the narrative and aren't blatant. It's respectful without being a copy or parody of the original. The last half hour really sets the whole movie apart. It's blisteringly paced and pays off the slow build and tension from the first hour. Character development and relationships are only give courtesy nods, but the young cast is likable and strong enough to carry proceedings. I don't want to give spoilers, but Jane Levy was really a linchpin and the movie probably wouldn't have worked as well as it did with someone else in her role. The remake goes back to the scary roots of the first movie, eschewing the humor of Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness. There's really only one campy spot, and it's intentionally so, involving an electric carving knife. Evil Dead is a good bridge between 1980s cult and modern horror. Fans of both should really like this, but others will certainly be turned off by the excessive gore and violence. I give it 7.5 out of 10.
Ask 411 Remembers
Annette Funicello, 70, died April 8 of multiple sclerosis, which she had suffered from for many years. Funicello was a break out star of the original The Mickey Mouse Club and starred in several beach movies with Frankie Avalon in the 1960s. Below, from Back to the Beach Funicello and Fishbone doing "Jamaica Ska."
Stuntman and actor Richard Brooker also died April 8 of unknown causes. He was 58. Brooker played Jason in Friday the 13th Part 3. It was the movie where Jason picked up his iconic hockey mask.
Comic legend Jonathan Winters, 87, died April 11of natural causes. He was a pioneer of improv comedy in the mainstream and inspired such comics as Robin Williams and Jim Carrey. Williams even worked it out for Winters to play his adult, but childlike son, Mearth on Mork and Mindy. He was also on the series Davis Rules and appeared in several movies, most notably It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Watch the below clip of what the man could come up with given a simple stick.
Q: Hey, I have a friend of mine who never ever watches the Super Bowl and instead goes to the movies on Super Bowl Sunday. He says its the best day to go because it is the emptiest all year. My question is: is that true? Is Super Bowl Sunday the slowest day for movies, at least for a Sunday. Movie Theaters are always packed during the holidays so I guess he's right.
A: You would think someone would keep stats on that, but I couldn't find any. I did find several sites, which noted the busiest day of the year for movie theaters on average is Black Friday, followed by Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
Traditionally through the week, Saturdays are the busiest day while midweek matinees are the slowest times. It all has to do when people are off of work or out of school in need of something to do.
Super Bowl Sunday being the slowest day of the year would make sense. Even non-football fans are either going to a bar or a friend's house for a party to watch the game, but that wouldn't preclude them from going to a Sunday matinee.
The only other specific day I could think of that would be slow is a presidential Election Day. Not only are people voting and then watching the results at home, but Tuesdays are traditionally really slow.
Q: During the end credits of the "Evil Dead remake, there is a listing for positions called "Fake Shemps." What is this and is this a Three Stooges reference?
A: ODB answered this question in the comments last week, but I'll give you my own version. To correct him on one thing, Curly Joe was not the direct replacement for Shemp in the Three Stooges. Joe Besser did the last set of shorts, then Curly Joe came on for the movies.
Fake Shemp is more of a reference to original Evil Dead director Sam Raimi, who in turn was referencing the Three Stooges.
Shemp Howard was the brother of Moe and Curly Howard. He was with the comedy troop, but left before they got big making shorts for Columbia. When Curly left after suffering several strokes, Shemp returned to replace him. He died of a sudden heart attack in 1955. The Stooges had four shorts left on their annual contract with Columbia. They used stock footage and outtakes of Shemp mixed with stand-in Joe Palma shot from behind or under a disguise like a long beard, as was the case in "Hot Stuff."
Sam Raimi, a huge Stooges fan, coined the term Fake Shemp while making the first Evil Dead. Due to the shoot running long because of budget constraints, many actors dropped our or weren't available when they got back to a scene. Raimi, star Bruce Campbell and their friends served as stand-ins. To give them credit, Raimi listed them as Fake Shemps in the credits.
Fake Shemp pops up in a lot of Raimi's movies, either for stand-ins or nameless characters he wants to give a tip of the top hat too. In Darkman, the disguises the title character uses are listed as Fake Shemps in the credits with Bruce Campbell as "Final Shemp."
Other famous examples of Fake Shemps include Ed Woods' wife's chiropractor, Tom Mason, standing in for Bela Lugosi in Plan 9 From Outer Space, Richard Lester using stand-ins for Gene Hackman for Superman II after he replaced director Richard Donner, Jeffrey Weisman replacing Crispin Glover in Back to the Future II, Brandon Lee needing Fake Shemps after his death filming The Crow and his father, Bruce Lee, had Fake Shemps standing in for him in Game of Death and Game of Death 2. The death of Peter Sellers resulted in Fake Shemps being used for Trail of the Pink Panther. In Curse of the Pink Panther Inspector Clouseau appears after extensive plastic surgery, played by Roger Moore.
Q: I have a couple of questions, both concerning sequels: 1.) I've heard that there are several sequels that started out as entirely separate projects, but were re-tooled as sequels ("Honey I Blew Up the Kid" and "Evan Almighty" to name a couple) but what are some projects that started as sequels but were re-tooled as separate films? I've heard that "Minority Report" was originally a sequel to "Total Recall" and that "Cyborg" was originally a sequel to "Masters of the Universe", but can you think of others? And 2.) I recently heard that a '60s film called "The Detective" was based on a novel that was followed by a sequel on which the original "Die Hard" was based. What are some examples of films that--while not necessarily sequels of one another--are somewhat tied together continuity-wise by their source material? (Examples would be "Goodfellas" and "My Blue Heaven"--both based on different points of the life of the same man--, as well as "Three Musketeers" and "Man in the Iron Mask"). Do you know of any others (hope the question makes sense)? Thanks--love the column!
A: Fact in the comments last week said Bio-Dome was intended to be the second sequel to Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Well, that's an urban legend and not a fact. In an interview on Slash Film, Alex Winter, who played Bill, said that wasn't true to his knowledge.
For other movies in your question:
Honey, I Blew Up the Kid was an unrelated script called Big Baby. A toddler is accidentally shot with a growth ray and terrorizes Las Vegas. Disney saw how it could easily be adapted as a sequel to its surprise 1989 hit and went that route.
The Passion of the Ark was an independent script by Bobby Florsheim and Josh Stolberg. Sony bought it for $2.5 million and a percentage of the profits. Universal entered into a partnership with Sony on the script in order to use it as a Bruce Almighty sequel. Steve Oedekerk was brought in to tweak the script. He served as a co-writer and producer of the original movie. When Jim Carry declined to come back, Steve Carrell was enlisted to star as his character from the first movie and Oedekerk wrote a brand new script with supposedly nothing of The Passion of the Ark remaining.
Total Recall and Minority Report are based on stories by sci-fi writer Phillip K. Dick. Writer Gary Goldman optioned the writes for Minority Report in 1992 with the intentions of making it a Total Recall sequel. This never came about and in 1997 novelist Jon Cohen was hired to do a version for a movie to be directed by Jan de Bont. Tom Crusie and Stephen Spielberg had wanted to make a movie together for years and latched onto Minority Report after Cohen made revisions to Spielberg's specifications.
Cannon Films was working on a live-action Spider-Man and a sequel to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe at the same time. Financial difficulties resulted in the studio losing its deals with Mattel and Marvel. Cannon had already spent $2 million on sets and costumes for both movies. Director Albert Pyun wrote the script for Cyborg to take advantage of what they already had to work with. He wanted Chuck Norris to star, but the lead went to Jean Claude Van Damme.
The Detective was a 1968 film based on a novel by the same name from Roderick Thorp. The character of Joe Leland received a 1979 sequel novel called "Nothing Lasts Forever," which was turned into Die Hard with some name changes.
Die Hard plays into your question as Die Hard With A Vengeance started out as an original script called Simon Says with the role of Zeus as a woman. It was considered at one point to be used for Lethal Weapon 3. Screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh said about the first third of Died Hard With A Vengeance is pretty much his original script word for word, just with name changes. Director John McTiernan said a rejected script for the sequel went on to become Speed 2: Cruise Control. He didn't want to basically do the first movie again on a boat.
In factA Good Day to Die Hard was the first movie in the franchise to come from an original script. The second movie came from the book "58 Minutes" and Live Free or Die Hard was a script for WW3.com by Enemy of the State director David Marconi based on an article in "Wired" magazine about a cyber-terrorist attack known as a "fire sale."
Rumors have Big Trouble in Little China being an intended sequel to Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, but that's not totally correct. At the end of Buckaroo Banzai, a title screen reads that the character will return in Buckaroo Banzain Against the World Crime League. The sequel never happened as the fist film was a flop. Big Trouble in Little China was a script from first time screenwriters Gary Goldman (yes, the same guy from above) and David Weinstein. It was set in turn of the century San Francisco with Jack Burton as a cowboy. 20th Century Fox wanted it modernized to save on production costs and brought in W.D. Richter, director of Buckaroo Banzai to do a rewrite. Supposedly, Richter incorporated ideas he had for the Banzai sequel, such as the crime lords with the giant hats and magical powers and the potion that allows one to see things no one else can see and do things no one else can do. Reportedly only the general story of Lo Pan survived from the original draft by Goldman and Weinstein.
Pretty much every movie about Oz has been based on the original books by L. Frank Baum and are not direct sequels to each other. This is due to rights issues with the various studios that made the films. Oz the Great and Powerful takes cues from 1939's The Wizard of Oz, like the black and white opening and the wizard's fake mystical presence at the end, but is not intended to be a prequel to that movie. One element you'll notice missing from the new film is the ruby slippers. That was an invention of the 1939 movie. In the book, they were silver slippers, but MGM thought bright red would be a good use of their Technicolor process.
The Gumball Rally, Cannonball and The Cannonball Run are based on the same illegal cross country road race. Cannonball Run director Hal Needham actually participated in the race in a tricked out ambulance, just like in his flick. It was followed by The Cannonball Run II and the loose sequel Speed Zone. There was also the short-lived television series, Cannonball 2001. The real race was ran five times in the 1970s and was named for Erwin Geroge "Cannon Ball" Baker, who held a cross country driving record that stood for more than 40 years.
Of course, reboots are popular today where you have brand new franchises replacing old ones based on the same characters. Batman and Spider-Man are good examples of this. I'm sure readers will suggest other examples to your questions, but there are a few from me.
"I'm a reasonable guy. But, I've just experienced some very unreasonable things."