Ok, so that title is a bit of hyperbole, but taking a break from my year by year review of my personal history as a film fan, I’ve come up with something which I thought may be a little bit of fun. In case you’ve forgotten, “fun” relates to doing something with your hobby or interest that makes you happy and that you share with other people with a positive response. As opposed to how some arseholes tend to show their own fandom, by viciously attacking other fans for having differing taste and opinions and harassing and threatening women fans and creators for having the audacity of well pretty much existing.
So I’m going to do a little bit of what pro wrestling fans refer to as “fantasy booking,” where I pretend that I’ve somehow become a massive success as a film producer with the power to greenlight whatever vanity projects my heart desires. So here I present the films I would scream and yell at my underlings to make and which would no doubt see me bankrupt a major studio within twelve months.
The Wizard of Oz Story
The Wizard of Oz watched with adult eyes earns it a whole new respect for how an amazing masterpiece it really is. Aside from being one the most spectacular, innovative movies of all time it’s also incredibly dark and disturbing for a “family” movie (The wicked witch and her flying monkeys still remain terrifying today, and there is something troubling about Dorothy and her friends essentially embarking on a murder mission to earn their hearts desires). However what went on behind the scenes makes for just as incredible a story.
It was a production plagued with near fatal accidents. The original Tinman, Buddy Ebsen ended up in an Iron Lung due to a reaction to the paint he was coated in (he allegedly suffered ill health for the rest of hIs life). Wicked Witch Margaret Hamilton suffered severe burns when she caught fire while filming the scene where she exits Munchkinland in smoke. Her stand in Betty Danko was also badly injured while filming the flying broomstick scene. The Scarecrow was left with marks on his face for the rest life due to the makeup that was troubling to remove. And we all know the stories about what those horny midgets were getting up to. Not to mention the urban legend of the suicidal midget supposedly hanging from a tree in the background of one of the scenes.
There is so much there to make a dark comedy out of, with the fascinating backdrop of the ruthlessness of 30’s Hollywood. The studios abuse of performers in this era has plenty of dramatic potential, especially towards the treatment of Judy Garland who was fed tobacco to reduce her appetite and keep her weight down. Naturally there would be some mileage out of covering the geniuses who tried to get the “Over the Rainbow”scene removed.
As far as a “behind the scenes ” movies go, no film has more potential for a stunning looking movie than one on The Wizard of Oz.
In the 80’s and 90’s heyday of horror novels, no author had as much claim to the title of “bad boy of horror” with as much blood soaked credibility as Shaun Hutson. An underappreciated British treasure, Hutson brought his Heavy Metal sensibilities to pen delightfully dark pulpy horror novels, more likely to be influenced by Iron Maiden or KISS than Edgar Allan Poe.
For me his triumph was Assassin, a novel I received as a Christmas gift from my mum which I devoured over Boxing day and is one of only two novels I’ve read twice. It’s The Long Good Friday meets The Fog, as the streets of London are host to a vicious gang war. A Mob boss is under attack from rival gangs, just as the reanimated corpses of a group of gangsters he had murdered rise up to take revenge on him. He’s even the target of a Manson family style Class War group, that their murderous war on the wealthy is only a subplot tells you how jam packed with story this action/horror novel is.
Hutson is a massive film lover and it shows in Assassin with it’s visceral style with obvious cinematic touches. The shootouts convey the majestic choreography of Eastern action movies (the lead character the bodyguard Carter would have been perfect for Chow Yun Fat if made in Hong Kong) and an over top perfect for the screen character in the mysterious Hitman who listens to Guns n Roses on his walkman as he dispatches his targets.
Assassin is an absolute blast and would make a crazy British action movie. My pick for director would be the amazingly talented Ben Wheatley who has some of the Shaun Hutson dark style and did one of the most imagiantive low budget shoot out movies in Free Fire.
Leno Vs Letterman
Even as a Brit, I was always aware of how big a deal the late night host shows were in America, even if Letterman and Leno were not exactly household names over here. I was vaguely aware of the ratings war between the Late Show and the Tonight Show, but it wasn’t until I read two books by Bill Carter (The Late Shift and The War for Late Night) that I realised how heated and personal the rivalry between Letterman and Leno became.
The whole saga of battling networks, rich with intrigue and personalities is ripe for a film. The roles of the iconic Letterman and Leno, as well as Conan O’Brien (who’s doomed attempt to take over from Leno adds a sad element to the story) would be inciting to top actors especially when you consider the monologues that came out of the rivalry to get their teeth into.
I’m thinking the style of Adam Mckay, with the fourth wall breaking of the Vice and the Big Short would be perfect for this film, which hopefully will bring Christian Bale and his appearance morphing abilities to play Letterman and Steve Carrell as Leno.
Battle of the Planets/G-Force
If you were a child of the 70’s chances are you are already humming that glorious theme music, yelling “G-FORCE” and reciting that opening narration “Always five, acting as one. Dedicated! Inseparable! Invincible!”
For those who aren’t old, Battle of the Planets was an early Anime that crossed on to Western shores. Known as “Science Ninja Team Gatchaman” in Japan it was dubbed into English, renamed Battle of the Planets and heavily edited to take out the violence unsuitable for American kiddies (the transgender element of lead villain Zoltar was also removed). An insane mashup of superheroes, Star Wars style Science Fiction and Kanji monsters, Battle of the Planets was unlike anything we’d ever seen, way more exciting and colourful than any other animation we were getting at the time.
With Hollywood raiding our nostalgia for all it’s worth there is obvious potential in bringing a live action adaption of G-Force, that would wow both fans of the 70’s shows and today’s young uns. But perhaps a more interesting take has had it’s way paved for it by a short fan film on a similar Japanese franchise, made by Joseph Kahn and Adi Shankar.
In 2015 the appearance of a Power Rangers fan film caused the internet to go wild, with it’s dark depiction of what became of the Power Rangers after the TV show. With Katie Sachoff as an adult Pink Power Ranger, it utilised every folklore from the show and behind the scenes to create a violent, grim, very adult 15 minutes that fans ate up and drove rights owners Sabin to send their lawyers out to get the film removed from the internet.
As a producer I’d unashamedly steal this idea to present a retired and broken up G-Force and the return of a full on gender mixed Zoltar to force the team of Mark, Jason, Princess (who’s panty flashing on the show got by the censors to the delight of young lads everywhere), Tiny and Keyop to come together and don the bird costumes one last time. There would be fan service galore (a cameo by a broken down 7-Zark-7, the robot created by the western adaptation to narrate the parts cut out of the Japanese original), with flashbacks to the colourful glory days to take advantage of the beautiful costumes and spaceship designs from the 70’s show.
And in inspired casting, i’d throw a ton of money at John Goodman to play the ageing “Tiny.”
Looking at the slick, professional UFC of today it’s a universe away from the freak show that was the first event some twenty-five years ago. The visual spectacle of bizarre looking fighters in a cage, battling with no rules or time limits, intrigued and horrified the media and public in equal measure. It was unlike anything presented on PPV, with viewers wondering if they were going to see “Pro Wrestling but real” or a Mad Max style fight to the death.
The putting together of the Gracie showcase UFC 1, recruiting of the fighters and night of the show would make a great movie, but not the realistic sports bio that you would expect. Instead I’m suggesting that the story of UFC 1 should be a comedy. Not a whacky, god awful Will Ferrell style comedy, but something dark and dry, possibly in the style of the witty Death of Stalin.
There is so much potential for comedy that occurred on the night. You could recreate the hilarious scene of the absolute freak out of all the fighters backstage as they saw giant sumo wrestler Teila Tuli having his face and teeth smashed in, realising the reality of what they had signed up for. There is the clueless commentary on the show (the first thing heard on the broadcast was a burp) with the bemused reactions to what was going on, treating the first submission of the show with bewilderment as to what had just happened. As for the sight of boxer Art Jimmerson coming down to the cage with one boxing glove, this shit is just writing itself.
UFC 1 was a weird event full of bizarre characters and while MMA purists may baulk at the less then reverence shown towards the source material, this could be hilarious.
The Four Kings
Of all these projects, in it’s own way this could be the most challenging and ambitious of them all. Squeezing the legacies of Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, Tommy Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard into a two and a half hour movie and doing them justice is a big ask, especially when you consider you’re talking covering nine fights over a ten year period. That of course is just the ones they have between each other, as for context you’d have to at least pay lip service to the many championships they had throughout their careers.
But done right this could be the greatest boxing movie based on real events ever made. Their diverse backgrounds, the comparative rise and fall of fortunes (many times effected by their battles with each other) and classic tale of fighters coming from their glory days to the melancholy of the end of their careers (there’s something cinematic in the narrative cycle of the first fight between the four was Leonard and Duran in their youth and the last been the two well past their best).
Incidentally, anyone interested in this vibrant golden age of boxing should check out the excellent book Four Kings by George Kimball. I would also really recommend the Fabulous Four podcast by Garrett Gonzales and Duan Greally. Each episode covers one of the nine fights, extensively detailing, the build, politics and tactics of the bouts themselves. The first episode can be found on this link here
The Greatest Female Led Action Film of All Time
This one I’m going to be vague on, because all I want from this is nothing less than an absolute homage to female action heroes. The concept is pretty similar to what the Expendables was going for, a team made up of iconic action heroes. I want legends who broke the mould (Cyntha Rothrock, Michelle Yeoh, Pam Greer), young Lionesses (Amy Johnston, Zazie Beetz, Jeeja Yanin), established kickass mainstays (Zoe Saldana, Michelle Rodriguez), hell I want the worlds of TV, B-Movies, mainstream, sport and music plundered for women who can bring the action on the big screen (let’s raid pro wrestling and MMA while we’re at it and bring in Ronda Rousey, Gina Carano and have the fight we never saw).
So as for the story, thats nothing to do with me frankly. Because it’s going to be directed, written, filmed, scored by women, in fact where possible every role in the making of this film will be filled by a woman. Because after seeing what Patty Jenkins, Kathryn Bigelow, Coraile Fargeat, Christina Hodson can do with action films, I want to see what a true 100% women action film would look like.
The only thing I insist on is that part of the soundtrack (which of course will be all featuring female fronted bands) will feature the song “Mayhem” by Halestorm. Honestly that wild, riotous song would make the trailer tear up the screen.
Quentin Tarantino has said that he only intends to make a couple more films at most. So in my fantasy movie world, the final Tarantino film will final take advantage of for want of a better term the “shared universe” aspect of his movies. The links between the films have been established with Mr Blonde in Reservoir Dogs been brother to Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction, Mr White apparently have paired up with Alabama from True Romance at one time and Sheriff Earl Parks having appeared in From Dusk Til Dawn, Kill Bill and the Grindhouse movies.
To explore this crazy world of exploitation influences, I think the perfect character is Samuel L Jackson as Jules Winnfield last seen about to walk the Earth in a spiritual journey at the end of Pulp Fiction. His story was left so open for many possibilities, perhaps when we drop in on him twenty five years later he’s still on his quest to see where God wants him to be. Maybe he returns to his old life working for Marsellus Wallace.
A hell of a lot of Tarantino’s characters never lived to see the end of their respective movies (gutting as a Vega Brothers teamup would have been aces), but their are plenty or enticing interactions on the tables. Jules running into the likes of Seth from From Dusk til Dawn, Jackie Brown, Mr Pink from Reservoir Dogs, Alabama and Clarence from True Romance maybe even putting together a dream heist team with them are all feasible.
There’s unfinished business in other movies that Jules could get involved in. As far as we know, Daryl Hannah’s Ellie Driver is blind but very much alive at the end of Kill Bill and could be utilised using the daughter of Copperhead’s daughter to seek revenge on the Bride (Tarantino apparently had an idea for a Kill Bill follow up around the daughters of the Bride and Copperhead).
There is so much fan pleasing potential in a film like this. Woah, what if Micky and Mallory Knox are still out exploring America in their camper with whatever family they’ve raised?
Sure, critics would no doubt cry out at the crass, self indulgence of such a project. But this is Tarantino we’re talking about and self indulgence has been a hallmark of his career and a film as over the top as this would be a fitting farewell, love him or hate him.
So that’s my list of dream projects. Feel free to share, comment or donate money to bring these films to reality, I’m thinking 500 million should do it. you’ll find me on twitter at @dazzalovesmovie
I’ll be back with my regular article soon, where I have reached the year 1997 in films.