When a nine year old from Chicago named Randi Peters uploaded the first episode of the 'Octocat Adventures' in March 2008, the crude MS Paint animation, hyperactive voice acting and Freud-bothering content ensured that the video soon went viral - not Susan Boyle viral, but fairly contagious all the same. Inevitably YouTube commenters began to debate almost instantly whether this really was the work of an American kid, particularly as, as the episodes continued, the jokes started to become gradually more complex and sophisticated, whilst retaining the coarse art style and unfettered child-like imagination also found in something like Axe Cop. By the end of the fifth episode, though, the jig was pretty much up, and it was clear that Randi Peters might not exactly be who he said he was. See for yourself:
On the excellent ‘geek’ blog Topless Robot there’s a whole category of posts titled ‘Impressive Acts of Nerdery’. There’s a variety of things in there to cater for everyone– someone hand-farting the theme song to Duck Tales, note for note; more recently, the whole world of Studio Ghibli created in Minecraft, and a video detailing a group of friends’ attempt to try every single pizza mentioned in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with predictably unpleasant results. Fan made videos and trailers are by far the most popular entries in this category, however, and it’s in these shorts you can find some of the most passionate and painstakingly detailed film-making anywhere at the moment.
There are hundreds of amateur film-makers who are putting together YouTube videos that homage their favourite films with such skill that in many cases they’re putting the creators of the original work to shame (let’s call a spade a George Lucas here). I mentioned in my piece for Den of Geek on high-concept films that the blockbusters of the late seventies and eighties have inspired a fervent level of fandom that only seems to increase as the years go by – it may of course be because these films were the ones the amateur film-makers of the 2000s watched when they were kids, and so we could reasonably expect to see a load of Transformers and Pirates of the Carribbean videos in 20 years time.
I’m not sure though – so many perfectly formed universes came out of that particular period (Star Wars, Robocop, Terminator, Back to the Future, and dozens more) that I think we’ll still be revisiting them for many years, although unfortunately it will likely be in the form of the cynical, bloodless reboots that take up multiplex space every summer in the hope of establishing or restarting a ‘franchise’. If there’s stillgreat home-made stuff made by people who deeply care about the material , however, it’ll make the endless remakes a little easier to swallow.
Even in this congested field of fan-made awesomeness, the alternate ‘Film Break’ sequence for Gremlins 2 made by Belgian film-maker Sacha Feiner, a lifelong Gremlins fan and special effects designer.
If you’re not familiar with Gremlins 2, there is a fantastic piece of fourth-wall breaking where, in its original theatrical run, the film appears to break on the projector. Shadows of gremlins in the projector booth appear, before the film is replaced by a black and white film of ladies playing tennis. There’s then a short scene of Hulk Hogan in the audience screaming at the gremlins to put Gremlins 2 back on, before the film restarts again.
In the VHS version of Gremlins 2, the film break effect is replaced by one of a VCR freezing, then segueing into more gremlin tape mischief and a scene where John Wayne has a shootout with gremlins dressed as bandits.
But what of the DVD version? Well, when pressed as to why there was no sequence shot for DVD, director Joe Dante claimed that there was no budget for something like that. Feiner took this statement as a personal challenge, and over the course of two months, with a budget of just $3000, created a DVD version of the film break that is just awe-inspiring in its pure craftsmanship. I don’t want to spoil it if you haven’t seen it, so *mild spoiler alert*: the Raiders scene in particular is absolutely mind-boggling. *end mild spoiler*
Here it is then - be sure to check out the making of (also embedded below) for a look at just how Feiner managed to pull it off. Amazing stuff.