Sunday, September 24, 2017

Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust (2008) and How it Relates to My Schooling

As you might know, I’m in school for film production.  I’ve mentioned that a few times over the past year.  The first year involved television and radio as well, but my second year is focused on filmmaking.  It’s a fun experience, as we learn about editing, writing, directing, lighting, audio, and a multitude of other things that go into producing something.  It has given me less time to focus on the Sunday “Bad” Movies, but it’ll be worth it in the long run when I’m helping create the movies that I love to watch.

The reason I bring this up is that this week’s movie, Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust, took a look at the behind-the-scenes of a bad movie.  Kelvin Cheatum (Kevan Moezzi) inherited a movie studio from his father and tried to bring it back to the spotlight with low budget horror movies.  The current production was Tiny Terrors 9, the latest sequel in a long running franchise.  Nobody was being paid, and long hours were being worked.  The production crew was irritated by this and things were coming to a head.  None of these problems would matter, however, when Gingerdead Man (John Vulich) showed up and began another murder spree.

Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust felt relatable now that I have gone through a year of film school.  There were things within the behind-the-scenes that felt real, even with the limited amount of exposure I’ve had to professional filmmaking.  Some moments felt like real moments that I’ve experienced.  This will be a post where you get to know me a little bit more, as I let you in on the relatable bits of Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust.  Warning: there may be spoilers ahead.

The opening credits had a familiar sounding song over them that sounds familiar.  It was called Run, Run, Run and was basically a cover version of Bad Reputation by Joan Jett.  It got me into the movie as much as the pre-title sequence that was a fairy tale recap of the first movie.  The rocking song about the Gingerdead Man coming to attack the people was a fun way to kickstart the film before going into the main story.  It was also used as the end credits song.

Using music that sounds familiar was something that happened a lot throughout my first year of film (and television).  We were always trying to place familiar music over our productions because we were first year students and didn’t know how to do anything better.  One of the go-to songs for us was X Gon Give It To Ya.  Sometimes it was by itself, other times it was mashed together with the Thomas the Tank Engine theme.  We were so unoriginal that we wanted to use music we knew instead of music that fit.  Sure, it’s not quite the same as taking a song, writing new lyrics to it, and passing it off as something new.  But we were taking songs, having them thrown together, and using this new combination to try and accentuate our films.

Let’s get a little more specific in the correlations, though.  That one didn’t connect too well, but the rest will.  They’ll fit together better and better as the post goes on.

Scripts are a large part of fimmaking because without some sort of script in place, you don’t have a movie.  You need to frame it.  Even improvisational movies have some sort of a script to them.  Writers can get full of themselves to the point that they lash out at rejection.  Near the end of Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust, a character came to the studio for revenge because Kevin Cheatum hadn’t used his scripts.  It was completely over-the-top in that he was going to blow up the studio, killing himself in the process.  That’s one way to get your point across.

I want to take you back, now, to my first year screenwriting class.  Really, it should have been called Story Structure instead, since what we learned was the three act structure.  We didn’t really learn much in terms of script formatting.  Anyway, one of the assignments was to write a two or three page script for two people sitting at a table.  My script was about a guy who approached a woman and got really sexual about her salad.  Not the greatest script, not that funny.  But I got 90% on it, so I was happy.  Someone who wasn’t happy was one of my friends who got a lower mark with a script that he thought was much better.  He won’t take my ideas seriously anymore because his script didn’t get as good a mark as mine.  That might sound like bragging on my part.  It shouldn’t be.  I don’t think my script was any good.

Going off of the whole script scenario, let’s move into grudges.  I shouldn’t really have to cover the Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust part of grudges, since the script storyline works as a grudge storyline.  The writer held a grudge against the studio because they hadn’t chosen his scripts.  He came up with an elaborate plan to get to the studio so that he could get revenge.  It was a grudge that ended in violence.

There have been various grudges throughout our productions in school.  The most notable was a grudge between a set designer and a producer.  I know that the person filling that set designer position reads these posts from time to time.  Hey buddy.  If you’re reading this, I’ll try to do justice to what happened.  We were working on an interview series during our television class.  These interviews involved three shows, each with a different guest, which would be about a certain topic.  The producer and set designer had to come up with an idea for our interview set.  The problem was that they weren’t communicating, leading to either unanswered questions or fighting.  I ended up becoming the middle man.  They would communicate with each other through me and it would stop the fighting.  There was also an issue where we couldn’t get the budget when we wanted it, so the production designer used some of his own money as a loan.  The producer took a super long time getting the money back to him.  That didn’t help the situation at all.  The two still have residual dislike for each other, and I don’t think that will go away.  They didn’t have a good time working together.

On a side note, that producer became director for a ten minute television short that we had to produce later in the term.  He wouldn’t communicate with his production designer (a different person) on that, either.  The day that the set was supposed to be built, the two almost got into a fight because the set designer didn’t build the set as the director wanted, even though the director never told the set designer what he wanted.  I had to step in and break up the fight, finding some compromise in the middle of their two ideas.  I was the mediator of the term.  It was a weird term of television production.

There’s no real segue into the next thing I’m going to write about so I’m just going to dive right into it.  Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust featured a storyline where a dying man was being given a tour of the studio as one of his final wishes.  He was being shown around the sets, the special effects office, and the actors’ trailers.  It was a full tour that showcased everything that was supposed to make the studio great.  Not that the studio was great, but they were trying to put it in a good light.

This is one of those strange similarities between working on films in school and in the real world.  There are always people interrupting a shoot, whether it’s a tour or producers showing up to check on things.  Just this past week, we were shooting an insert shot during film class when a school tour walked in.  They watched us for a few minutes, took a look at our studio as the program heads talked about how state-of-the-art it is, and then said “bye” and left.  This wasn’t the first time.  It’s a school, so there are recruitment tours.  We’ll be learning how to use the television studio equipment when all of a sudden a bunch of people checking out the school come in.  So, yeah, tours and set visits happen.  It’s commonplace.

Finally, we get to the one I want to discuss because of how ludicrous it is that this happens.  Near the beginning of Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust, characters complained about their lack of payment and long hours.  It boiled to the point of an all-out brawl.  The entire cast and crew was in the fight.  The movie showed how people in the industry can make it to the breaking point and that breaking point will break everyone, not just the first person to break.

What can I say?  That has happened multiple times throughout my year and two weeks of film schooling so far.  During our first term, we had an essay class.  Everyone in the college has to take that class.  One of the students put an answer on the board.  When he was told he was almost right, but capitalized one word that he shouldn’t have, he said “Goddammit!”  The entire class erupted in noise, and we never settled down until class was over.  It was crazy.  This term seems to be getting close to that point with two classes, cinematography and audio.  It has only been two weeks.  In cinematography, there are three students who seem to always push themselves to the front when we’re supposed to be looking at equipment, blocking everyone else’s view.  In audio, the teacher seems to not understand basic technology.  As one of my classmates compared it to Murphy’s Law, “If anything can go wrong, he won’t know how to fix it.”  We are all ready to break.  When the first person does, it will be a flood.

As I said, this post was about comparing Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust to my college experience, and letting you know more about me.  Now you can see that my fellow students and I are immature people.  You’re welcome.  The movie was a good look at the behind-the-scenes of movie making, and was relatable in ways that I wasn’t expecting.  If you were to take the actual Gingerdead Man out of the movie, it would be a semi-realistic look at the business.  That’s something.  Put the Gingerdead Man into it and you get a fun, lower-end slasher movie set in a studio.  It’s a good follow-up to the original, perhaps even surpassing it in quality.  You should check it out.
Check out these notes as well:

  • Here’s the post for the first Gingerdead Man.
  • Jacob Witkin had a role to play in Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust.  He was previously in Evil Bong, Evil Bong 2: King Bong, and Showgirls.
  • Kenneth J. Hall made a second appearance in the Sunday “Bad” Movies this week after being in The Summer of Massacre.
  • Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust featured David DeCoteau, who directed A Talking Cat!?!
  • Finally, Evil Bong marked the first appearance of John Carl Buechler as part of the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  He made his return with Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust.
  • Have you seen Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust?  What did you think of it?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
  • I’m always open to suggestions about what I should be watching for the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  If you have a suggestion, let me know about it in the comments or on Twitter.
  • Sometimes when I’m watching bad movies, I share clips of them on my Snapchat story.  Does that sound interesting to you?  Add me: jurassicgriffin.
  • That does it for this week.  I’ll be back in seven days with another post about another movie.  What movie will it be?  I’ll be diving into the 1970s disaster era with The Swarm, about a group of killer bees trying to destroy America.  I’ll see you soon with that one.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Son in Law (1993)

Pauly Shore is one of those people who I’ve never really liked, yet I’m curious to see all of his work.  I want to understand why he was such a force in the early 1990s.  The guy had an irritating personality, but his charisma seemed to propel him to movie stardom.  Movies like Bio-Dome, In the Army Now, Encino Man, and this week’s movie, Son in Law put him in the comedy spotlight.  I know his popularity stemmed partially from MTV.  Maybe the times were just different and he was what interested teens.  I don’t know.  I was barely a thing back then.

Speaking of Son in Law, let’s get into the actual movie instead of my rambling about the Pauly Shore popularity of the early 1990s.  Son in Law was a fairly simple movie, with a bunch for me to write about.  Rebecca Warner (Carla Gugino) went to Los Angeles for school.  When Thanksgiving came around, she brought her Resident Advisor, Crawl (Pauly Shore), home because he didn’t have anywhere to go for the holiday.  Antics ensued.

Son in Law consisted of two different fish out of water stories, with one being the introduction and the other being the bulk of the story.  The first was Rebecca’s trip to Los Angeles as she began her post-secondary schooling.  Rebecca was used to her farm town life in South Dakota and the Los Angeles lifestyle was a big change.  She was a country girl trying to survive in city life.  After a month of hiding in her dorm room and avoiding parties, she wanted to drop out of school.  Crawl changed that.  He convinced her to open up and try new things instead of isolating herself.

A major theme of Son in Law was compromise.  Though the comedic antics of Crawl and the aggressiveness of Rebecca’s family might have diluted it, the message was still there.  Be yourself while embracing other things.  Rebecca was still the caring person at the end of the movie that she had been at the beginning.  The only difference was that she had broken out of her shell.  She brought a new world to her family.  She relaxed and stopped being so uptight, as had her family.  They began to see other people’s lifestyles as equal to theirs.  They compromised and ended up somewhere in between where they began and where Crawl began.  There was still a little more country to them, but they were open to new lifestyle choices.

Examples of this could be seen in how Rebecca dressed at the beginning versus how she dressed after befriending Crawl.  Instead of her muted colours and old-fashioned dresses, Rebecca began wearing more colourful garments that were popular in the city.  Her father, Walter (Lane Smith), opened up to his son, Zack (Patrick Renna), instead of trying to model Zack after himself.  Rebecca’s mother, Connie (Cindy Pickett), started wearing makeup and feeling good about herself.  Everyone improved themselves for themselves by allowing different outlooks on life to affect them.

The other fish out of water story was Crawl going to South Dakota and learning about country living.  Crawl was entrenched in the city life of Los Angeles.  He always watched hot women on the beach, in the dorms, and everywhere around the city.  Not that the good looking ladies thing changed when he went to South Dakota.  But his lifestyle had been one of lazing around and taking in the attractive view.  When he got to South Dakota, Crawl quickly learned that there was work to be done.  The farm needed care in order to run properly.  He would need to learn how to work, rather than be his six years in college self.

This story also involved compromise.  Crawl began working by doing things the way that people wanted him to.  That involved being harassed by the farmhand, Theo (Dennis Buckley).  Crawl actually wanted to learn how to work on a farm.  He wanted to know how to milk the cows and feed the pigs.  He wanted to take out the machinery.  Crawl was open to learning as much as he could.  The thing he learned most was that to work at the best of his abilities, he would have to compromise.  He would have to find his own way of doing the jobs.

There were many examples of Crawl’s compromise throughout Son in Law.  To fill the troughs for the animals, Crawl figured that he would ski down a hill and cut holes in the feed bag.  As he skied past the troughs, the holes would pour feed into them.  When Theo tried to send a pig after Crawl for the second or third time, Crawl went with it instead of running away.  He began riding the pig.  He learned how to properly milk cows from Zack and he fixed fences.  Crawl learned how to farm through his own means.  He brought city mentality to farm mentality and blended the two.  He felt like a true country boy.

The only problem with the two fish out of water stories was how much Pauly Shore there was.  That was to be expected since the movie starred Pauly Shore.  The guy never felt right for a starring role.  He was a supporting actor who was pushed to the front when he shouldn’t have been.  Pauly Shore could have been a great comedic relief while other people did the heavy work of starring in the movies.  When he gets positioned as the lead actor, his shtick gets tiring.  Son in Law could have been stronger were the character played by someone else.

There are a few other, smaller beats about Son in Law that I want to make note of before we head out.  One of the running gags, which actually worked, was Crawl having random skills and knowledge because of the extended college time.  After six years, Crawl had majored in various different subjects that gave him handy talents.  The most notable one was karate, which he used at the end of the movie.

Son in Law had a solid cast of recognizable faces.  Pauly Shore was obviously a star at the time.  His romantic interest was Carla Gugino who would go on to many better projects.  Zack was Patrick Renna, who was in The Sandlot and The Big Green.  On the kids’ sports movie theme, Walter was played by Lane Smith, who was the rival coach in The Mighty Ducks.  He was also in My Cousin Vinny and Lois & Clark.  Then there was Tiffani-Amber Thiessen from Saved by the Bell as one of the other people in South Dakota.  There were more, for sure, but those are the ones that I noticed immediately (even if it took me some time to remember why I recognized Lane Smith).

The thing I most want to write about, though, is a story moment from late in the movie.  The whole premise of Son in Law stemmed from Rebecca not wanting to marry her boyfriend, Travis (Dan Gauthier).  She asked Crawl to do something to stop the proposal, and Crawl came up with the idea that he and Rebecca were already engaged.  Travis didn’t like this and punched Crawl in the face.  Things only got worse from there.  In the most villainous possible, Travis offered to throw Crawl a bachelor party.  He drugged Crawl and Tracy (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen), and put them in a compromising position to make it look like they had slept together.  It was a way to break up Crawl and Rebecca so that he could win Rebecca back.

What made the turn so strange was how Travis had seemed like one of the “good ol’ boys” living in the South Dakota countryside.  He went from the dependable hometown boyfriend to the jealous, vindictive person who would destroy other people’s lives to improve his own.  He also brought Theo into his plotting.  Theo had been pulling fairly harmless (outside of breaking a fence) farm pranks on Crawl.  Now he was moving into criminal activity.  This could have worked better had the extreme behaviour been better set up.  In this case, it seemed shocking for the characters to resort to drugging people.

That should do it for Son in Law.  It had promise that didn’t quite work.  The positioning of Pauly Shore as the lead, as well as a weird final turn held the movie back from becoming a great comedy.  It missed the mark just slightly.  Perhaps there is a remake out there somewhere that could find the right tone.  There could be something great with this concept.
Before we part ways for the week, here are some notes:

  • Son in Law was suggested by @DerfelBarada.
  • Pauly Shore made his fourth Sunday “Bad” Movies appearance in Son in Law, after already having appeared in Bio-Dome, Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, and Sandy Wexler.
  • Patrick Renna was in Dorm Daze, which was covered early in the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  He made his return to the blog with Son in Law.
  • Son in Law was the second Sunday “Bad” Movie for Carla Gugino, who was also in New Year’s Eve.
  • Finally, there was a brief appearance by Brendan Fraser in Son in Law.  He was in Furry Vengeance.
  • Have you seen Son in Law?  What did you think of it?  What do you think of Pauly Shore?  You can discuss any of this stuff in the comments below.
  • If there are any movies that you think I should watch for the Sunday “Bad” Movies, you can let me know about them in the comments below, or on Twitter.  I’m always looking for movies I may not have thought of that I can toss into my schedule.
  • Sometimes, when I’m watching bad movies, I will put clips of the movies into my snapchat story.  If that interests you in any way, or if you want to see random pictures that I accidentally put in there, you can add me.  My username is jurassicgriffin.
  • The last thing I’m going to leave you with is a preview of next week.  What movie will I be watching?  I’m going to be revisiting a franchise that I first dipped my toe in back during the second year of the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  I will be watching a movie called The Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust.  It should be a fun one.  We’ll see next week when we all come back here and I put up some writing about it.  Until then, keep on watching what you want to watch.