Under the influence

With this weekend’s effects test postponed until January (long story short, we’re still hunting for a workable meat substitute; ten bucks says we wind up using actual meat), there’s not much to discuss at the moment. There’s plenty of planning and pre-planning and pre-pre-planning, but nothing that deserves a lengthy blog post. (“Dear Blog: Today I emailed two people to tell them I’ll email them later about when to audition.” Can your nerves handle such behind the scenes excitement?!)

Then someone asked me about the movies which are influencing this one. And like that, I’ve got myself a blog update.

While “what are your influences?” can be one of the laziest questions a journalist can ask, it can also be quite revealing when asked by non-journalists in a non-interview – especially if the question comes before the movie is made, as the answer can give people a more precise sense of “what are you going for?” as opposed to some ramble about how awesome monster movies are.

So here, in no particular order, is a list of things you could put in a blender and pour out our movie. Netflix ’em all tonight.

The Blob. Um, obviously. The 1958 original remains one of my favorite movies. It’s sharp entertainment on a budget, and it delivered one of the most iconic imagery in movie history. Everything about the creature’s final form in Inhumanwich! is a direct reference to this. The remake’s darn solid, too.

Monster a-Go Go and The Creeping Terror. Both movies are awful, to be certain, but their appearances on Mystery Science Theater 3000 resulted in some of the cowtown puppet show’s finest work. They’ve featured plenty of other terror-from-a-space-capsule flicks, too (hats off to The Incredible Melting Man), but these two earn points for grabbing the most of my attention.

The Quatermass Xperiment and X the Unknown. Moving back toward actual quality cinema, we have the first in the Quatermass series and its sequel in spirit (if not in franchise). It’s been scientifically proven you can’t go wrong with 1950s/60s British science fiction, and these two best capture the essence of the Inhumanwich! plot (Quatermass for its terror-from-a-space-capsule yarn, X for its ooze-will-kill-us-all goodness). More generally, though, any half-decent sci-fi B-movie from the era will earn smiles from me, and therefore sits as some sort of influence.

Pretty much everything Larry Blamire has ever made. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is perhaps the most recognizable of the recent trend of independent movies attempting to pass themselves off as bad movies from a bygone age. The entire premise of Cadavra is that it’s “bad on purpose.” But that overlooks two key components which rarely appear in other works in this comedy subgenre. First, Blamire knows his source genre inside and out; other titles tried to mock drive-in schlock, but Blamire celebrates it. He mocks with love because he understands what made them work and what made them fail. His admiration for the genre shines through in every scene. Second, Blamire actually bothers giving us actual jokes, not just “ha ha the actor is saying a bad line woodenly.” That sort of thing happens in Cadavra, too, but Blamire gives the “bad lines” a certain quotability, then douses the rest of the script with genius-level wordplay and banter. By the time he made Dark and Stormy Night (a send-up of 1930s dark old house movies), he perfected his style, using genres as a guideline but making the off-kilter dialogue the main ingredient. He revels in well-written silliness, and well-written silliness is something I most certainly adore.

(Note: Many people have asked me this, so I’ll clarify: Inhumanwich! is not meant to be a “bad on purpose” movie. Absurd, yes. Ridiculous, absolutely. But if any part of it sucks, it’s our own damn fault.)

And just about every independent project from the last decade. And by “independent,” I don’t mean a medium budget drama from a studio’s arthouse branch. I mean movies made locally, on the cheap, by innovative storytellers taking advantage of available technology. Most of these movies suck, but every so often you find a decent one. Then you find a good one, or, if you’re really lucky, something even better. These filmmakers aren’t hindered by studio pressure or bosses who don’t understand their intent. Creative freedom is a wonderful thing.

So there you have it, the sort of thing I’m “going for.” Now if you’ll pardon me, I’ve got this Gamera Blu-ray calling my name…

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