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“A Look Back in Apathy” PDF Print E-mail
Written by Written by Mike Watt   
Apr 21, 2005 at 02:00 AM
Yeah, everyone’s doing their year-end reviews right now. This isn’t quite one of those.

 It started out to be. I sat down and tried to compile a “Best of” and “Worst of” list and could barely remember half of what I’d seen last year. At the top of the pile right now is “The Incredibles”, “Finding Neverland” and “Chainsaw Sally”, but only because those are the things I’ve seen most recently. That doesn’t take away from the fact that they’re both awesome movies though. At the “Worst of” spectrum, “Van Helsing” tops my list, as well as “Retards Shouldn’t Run with Chainsaws”, but that isn’t quite fair—neither of those are actual movies (one’s a video game pretending to be a feature film, the other is a backyard thing shot by kids who will hopefully improve with their next outing). Again, they’re just first and foremost on my mind. There weren’t any movies that I was really anticipating this year. Last year, I was salivating over “Return of the King”. This year, I just kind of went where the wind blew me.

Mostly, what I’ve been doing, staring at this white screen, is ruminating about my hopes for 2005. I always go into the next year with high hopes, and generally, they’re not dashed immediately. But looking back has allowed me to look forward.

In 2004, our company, Happy Cloud Pictures, produced and released a documentary, “The Spicy Sisters Slumber Party”, which has been garnering rather favorable reviews and may spawn a DVD series, thanks to Amy Lynn Best’s passion for women’s rights and roles in indie filmmaking. As soon as the first was complete, we were receiving email from other women working at this end of the spectrum who would like to take part in the future. For most men, the movie will be little more than eye candy, but every single woman who’s watched it has gotten the message: exploitation on your own terms and never settle for “Victim #2”.

In mid-2004, I completely re-edited a movie we’ve been working on since 1999, namely “The Resurrection Game”. Originally shot on 16mm film, it’s a zombie-themed mystery that I’m quite proud of, but can no longer watch with any sort of objectivity. I’m currently shopping it around and I’m very optimistic that it will see the inside of stores sometime in 2005.

This week, we got the first case of finalized DVDs for “Severe Injuries”, the movie we produced for Sub Rosa. Holding that DVD in my hand for the first time sent an electric shock through me. This is what we set out to do. We made a movie from start to finish, screened it to largely approving audiences and now it’s available world-wide for people to buy. It was a strange moment—almost a surreal one. “Severe Injuries” is technically our second feature, but came out ahead of “The Resurrection Game” due to the miracle of the digital platform. If anything, it made me think that we may very well be on the right path.

In non-Happy Cloud-related thoughts, looking at the latest box office influx shows that the American “Just Entertain Me” consumer might just be growing weary of the mega-million dollar blockbuster. “Alexander” is pulling in numbers that are impressing no one. “Troy” tanked. “King Arthur” died on the vine. The highly-enjoyable but grossly expensive “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” did very little. Even “Polar Express” is underwhelming its creators, who thought it would be the highest-grossing animated film of all time.

This news is leading to my hope that there may be smaller, quieter movies on our horizon, produced more or less independently. Like Zach Braff’s “Garden State” or the quirky “Napoleon Dynamite”, both of which did fairly well, considering their modest beginnings (and don’t give me that “Zach Braff’s a Hollywoodite”. The guy wrote it strictly because he’d never be offered a role like that in real life.)

I’m hoping that, in spite of bloated remakes of “Dawn of the Dead” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, horror is still a viable movie genre and that the upcoming glut—“Land of the Dead”, the remake of “The Fog”, “The Boogeyman”, etc.—not only won’t suck, but will actually be scary. Scary as, say, the remake of “The Grudge”, but with some semblance of a plot to move things along (unlike, say, the remake of “The Grudge”).

I’m hoping that the impressive and chill-inducing trailer for “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” is an indication that the movie itself will redeem George Lucas in my eyes, but then again, I could also hope for wings and to win the lottery.

Call me shallow, but I’m hoping that there will be a return of gratuitous nudity to the big and small screens, and that the Puritanical FCC will start to relax a bit. Nobody really cared about Janet Jackson’s nipple and you can survive without money from the Religious Right. Really, you can, FCC. Quite frankly, being a child of the ‘80s, when I go to see a slasher movie, I expect to see some skin. It’s chocolate and peanut butter, folks. The folks behind “Freddy Vs. Jason” understood that!

At the same time, I’m hoping that the independent horror filmmakers out there will stop relying on gratuitous nudity—and gore, for that matter—to propel their movies along. If your movie won’t survive without these things, then chances are, you’re not really making a movie. Study screenwriting first and come up with a chilling story. Then you can add all the blood and tits you want. Just thrill us before you strike at the baser instincts.

There are a lot of selfish, personal hopes in there too, of course. I’d like to produce a couple of things next year and build on the humble successes we’re experiencing now. I’m looking forward to “Sixteen Tongues” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”—hey, I’m a man of many tastes!

But most of all, I wish everyone a healthy and happier 2005. There, that should score some karma points…

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