I still mourn the loss of Roger Ebert from our world. Oh sure, it had to happen sooner or later, and the last invasion of cancer in his body likely had him believing it would be rather soon. But there are deaths in the world where even people who only know the deceased through their work feel it for years after the fact. Roger Ebert‘s ability to impart facts about the workings of the film industry and inform the audience in poetic terms about what they can expect from a film were second to none.
It is almost like when one of the children in a school class gets sick. In a matter of days, if not hours, every child in the class is sick. And when a film enjoys some vestige of success, sequels, remakes, or spin-offs follow like stench follows shit. People who do not understand the nature of the film and media businesses will moan endlessly about the reasons for this, but when you get down to it, it really is astonishingly simple. Hollywood does not remake films because they want to improve or even repeat the good points of a film, be it an old classic or a foreign hit. No, the real reason the film studios in Hollywood remake any film is because they want to remake the money that the film they are remaking made. The cut-throat nature of the entertainment industry means that a studio literally lives from hit to hit, not the quality of the hits, nor the magnitude of them. I have already made reference to the subject of how profits are not made in the cinema, but rather on home video or television licensing. This is a major part of the reason why the unregulated market that is the American film market does not produce any innovative, interesting, or unusual material. If you do want a film that meets any of these criteria, you generally have to go to foreign markets.
Every serious fan of films that are so fukking terrible that they are entertaining by accident, at some point in their life, asks themselves whether it is possible to make a film that is so terrible it is awesome on purpose. Films that have come out of production so terrible that they are often more entertaining than most “good” films by accident are legion. Often, it is merely a matter of things going horribly wrong, or people in key positions failing at their job. But hysterically terrible films that were made that way on purpose are so rare, so difficult to find, that it is even a matter of debate as to whether they really exist. The only example I can think of is a Roger Corman production of Fantastic Four that was shot in 1994 and not intended to be commercially released. The only reason it even exists is because certain people held the rights to make such a film and wanted to retain them, which in turn necessitated making an actual film. The total budget of that piece was a mere one and a half million dollars, which in 1994 terms is not even enough to hire enough people to make a two minute superhero film trailer. (For those who doubt this, Terminator 2 was released commercially the previous year, with the kind of special effects that would be required to photo-realistically render Mr. Fantastic’s signature abilities. Even if you leave out Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s average salary around the time, that equates to around seventy to eighty million dollars.) Continue Reading