This entry co-written with Greg Royce.
Originally premiering on October 25th 1997, Under Wraps, the second ever DCOM, became a Halloween staple for the Disney Channel. It centers on Marshall (Mario Yedida), a twelve year-old horror movie fanatic who is struggling to adjust to his divorced mother’s new boyfriend. In an act of curiosity he and his two friends Gilbert (Adam Wylie) and Amy (Clara Bryant) break into the basement of a recently deceased neighbor and accidentally awaken a mummy! But instead of a monster, Harold (Bill Fagerbakke), as they name him, turns out to be friendly and a bit of a goofball. Now Marshall must return Harold to his sarcophagus by midnight on Halloween or he will turn to dust and his soul will be destroyed forever!
GREG: If the exclamation points didn’t tip you off, Under Wraps is actually an entertaining movie, unlike Northern Lights. This is pretty much all thanks to Harold the Mummy. There’s many attempts at incredibly telegraphed verbal humor that fall flat, but Harold’s physical comedy is great. It really only varies between slapstick and the humor of just having a mummy walking around in the suburbs, but all of those gags landed with me. Even the one with Harold skateboarding. How can you not love a skateboarding mummy?
Kiss of the Damned, the latest film from Xan Cassavetes, the daughter of Gena Rowlands and actor/director John Cassavetes, is closer to a Jean Rollin movie than it is anything her father would make. I went in knowing nothing about it beyond seeing the fantastic poster and walked out having seen what some could argue equates to soft-core porn.
Josephine de La Baume plays Djuna, a vampire who meets Paulo (Milo Ventimiglia), a human screenwriter away on vacation in order to find inspiration. Despite Djuna’s demands that he stay away he refuses and in a passionate love-making scene she turns him into a vampire, which he is all too willing to go along with. She teaches him about his new lifestyle, which includes feeding off deer, but he quickly adapts and becomes a part of the ritzy vampire underground culture.
Things become complicated when Djuna’s sister Mimi (Roxane Mesquida) comes to visit and begins seducing and feeding on humans. Her recklessness threatens to undermine the safety of the entire vampire community. Read the rest of this entry
Art is subjective. Any work of art, be it a painting, a song, or a film, is a Rorschach test of sorts because every person is going to gauge it differently. “Room 237 “is an exercise in subjectivity.
The documentary, directed by newcomer Rodney Ascher, is a compilation of interviews with critics who all have different theories about what Stanley Kubrick’s horror classic “The Shining” is actually about. Some sound plausible, others are absurd enough that the entire theater was laughing.
The first theory is that “The Shining” is a metaphor for the genocide of Native Americans, pointing out the film’s consistent Native American imagery and that the Overlook Hotel in the film is mentioned as being built on an “Indian burial ground.” This is probably the analysis that has the most ground to stand on because it only gets weirder from there. Read the rest of this entry
This entry co-written with Greg Royce.
Northern Lights is the first film to be marketed as a “Disney Channel Original Movie.” Produced by and starring Diane Keaton it tells the tale of a business woman from the city, Roberta (Keaton), who upon finding out her brother Frank has died, travels to the small town where he lived. After the funeral she discovers that he had a son she never knew about and that his custody was left to her and Frank’s college friend Ben (Maury Chaykin). Now she must get used to life in the country and the oddball townsfolk who live there.
BRAD: Northern Lights is like if a Hallmark movie and Twin Peaks had a child. And then Twin Peaks went out for cigs and scratchers one day and never came back.
If the Twin Peaks comparison seems strange, well I certainly wasn’t expecting to make that connection either. In fact, very little of Northern Lights feels in line with the rest of the DCOM canon (that I’ve seen). While it certainly has the sentimentality and push for family values it lacks the goofier tone of the movies to follow. To put it simply, there’s no hijinks going on.
GREG: That’s not to say there aren’t moments of levity, but they’re much more sparse than in DCOMs to come. The fact that Diane Keaton’s Roberta is the protagonist, rather than Frank’s son Jack (Joseph Cross), is another strange departure from the usual DCOM formula.
Overall, it’s pretty clear that this film wasn’t made by Disney. So many of their hallmarks are absent, and I don’t think there’s a single mention of Disney or a subsidiary in the credits. Which makes it pretty strange to consider that this was the first movie under the Disney Channel Original Movies banner.
This entry co-written by Greg Royce.
In 1997 the Disney Channel began a tradition that continues to this day – the Disney Channel Original Movie (otherwise known as a “DCOM”). Before this they had a series of films known as “Disney Channel Premiere Films”, but fourteen years after that name’s 1983 premiere, they suddenly changed the moniker. The change was not merely cosmetic, however. The Disney Channel began to heavily promote their original movies and as a result the station’s popularity began to boom. DCOMs became a social event among young children.
The movies usually starred young kids, usually between 12 and 15, and pushed strong moral values. They often contained fantastical elements, diverse casts (more on this later), and that timeless message of “be true to yourself.”
Unsurprisingly most of these are cheesy, melodramatic, and cheap. But what else do you expect from made-for-cable movies whose target audience is ten year olds?
So what is this write-up all about? Well, I’m fairly young and from 2001 to 2004 I watched the Disney Channel religiously (I was eleven, everybody was doing it). During that time period I saw just about all of the content Disney had to offer. But inevitably I grew out of it, I dropped the channel like a rock, and I haven’t watched it since.
But nostalgia is a cruel mistress. A few years ago a friend of mine, Greg Royce, suggested the idea of watching all of them and doing write-ups for each one. Eventually he decided he didn’t hate himself quite that much, but I liked the idea and agreed to go in on it with him. Two years later we’re finally doing it.
These are peculiar films that have been largely forgotten save for the occasional “Only 90s Kids Remember This” list on Buzzfeed. But I feel they’re ripe for discussion. At times these films could stop feeling like movies and more like product, like corn syrup. But other times they could also have a lot of heart and soul behind them, especially when they attempted to be poignant.
Perhaps the biggest reason for wanting to undergo this though is simply to revisit childhood. I had a lot of fun with these movies as a kid, and I hope some of them hold up.
Hey folks, Wag isn’t dead, far from it. We are pleased to announce that on occasion we will be presenting short films and other visual entertainments to the public here on Wag. First up is a short film that I had the distinct pleasure to make recently, called Coffee with Lou.
Coffee with Lou is about a young man named Jeremy who has started sharing his morning coffee with a recent friend named Lou. Lou, however, has a deep secret that may change how Jeremy thinks of him. Things are not always what they seem.
This is the first episode of the new podcast hosted by myself. It is based on a series of articles I will be writing for TarsTarkas.net
The podcast will be released in conjunction with the posted articles, and will be about how motion pictures and theme park attractions inspire and borrow from each other. A little bit film nerdery, a little bit theme park trivia, it should be a fun “ride”
This episode is just an introduction to the show. The next episode will be a full discussion.
First Article: Pirates of the Caribbean (Pt.1)
As the holiday season is now in full swing, it’s often up to film fans to look back and piece together the year in cinema, and what a year this was. Often, one may hear “Well, it just wasn’t a good year for movies.” and while this is almost never true, it is most certainly not true about this year. Some real good ones have come out this year, from new classics to thrilling blockbusters
Every year, a youtuber known as GEN IP compiles footage from all sorts of films to wrap up the year. It’s an overview of film in general, so there are some less than excellent films included, but it’s a great way to think back on 2012 at the movies. Enjoy.
(Special Thanks to Tim Jackson from artsfuse.org for the chance to see this film early)
When I was but a young lad, story time was a big deal for me. My father would often pick books that could be read chapter at a time, such at The Chronicles of Narnia, Little House on the Prairie, and most memorably, The Hobbit. Hearing the tales of Bilbo Baggins and his friends bit by bit, night by night, made them part of my life. My dad would often do voices for the characters, and those nights were the keys that unlocked my imagination, and truly shaped the person I would become. Years later, in 2001, a new part of me was discovered when the adaptation of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings captured my imagination, and I knew I wanted to make films. I say this to let you know that I am very much a fan of this series, and perhaps a little biased.
The Comedy is a film where you’ll know whether you’re going to like it or hate it within the first ten minutes. Some people will walk out of it having loved every second of it, and others will undoubtedly claim that it’s the worst movie they’ve ever seen. Despite the title, The Comedy is a drama, and a slow, alienating one at that.
Tim Heidecker (Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!) plays Swanson, a privileged, aging, Williamsburg hipster with no direction in life. Lacking a conventional plot, the film is a character study that follows Swanson over the course of several weeks, as he aimlessly drifts around New York City partying and avoiding responsibility.