Wednesday, February 20, 2013

From The Idea Hole: This Meets That, Part One (Giant Monsters, Drunken Toons, Zombie Muppets, Badass Amish, and Robot Horses)

A little while ago on my podcast The Dirty Sons Of Pitches, my co-hosts and I debuted a new game called This Meets That. The game was inspired by the practice of movie studio executives to describe new film pitches in terms of combinations of other successful films in the past (i.e. "This movie is sure to be a hit, its Robocop meets Forrest Gump!"). Our idea was to work backwards from this construction in order to come up with an original pitch for a movie based on two randomly selected films pulled from a hat, distilling the themes of two movies to make up a third one on the spot. The game was so successful that I decided to experiment with it on my own, to see what I might come up with.

Robocop meets Forrest Gump = Inspector Gadget

To do this, I first assembled a random list of one hundred movies, just writing in a stream of consciousness, then supplementing that with various best and worst lists from various decades once I ran out of ideas. I then numbered this list and picked individual films using my trusty 100-sided die from my D&D kit, pairing every two movies together, and re-rolling whenever I hit one I already picked. Every few rolls I would remove movies I already used from the list and replace them with different ones, refreshing as I went along. I've gotten a surprisingly large amount of potential ideas from this, so I'll be doling them out in spurts, but for now, here are a few examples of what I've come up with.

#1: Hotel Transylvania meets Cloverfield

(Note: I have a lot for this one, most won't be this long.)

At first I considered this to be too obvious, both movies involving monsters and all, but since I established a rule early on never to re-roll, and only to put a movie back in the list if I absolutely fail to come up with anything, I decided to work with it. I finally settled on taking the general concept of a kids movie about a gathering of famous monsters and transfer it from the classic Universal series, to a canon closer to Cloverfield, specifically giant monsters of the 50s and 60s.

The movie would take place on Monster Island and follow the exploits of its various oddball but mostly harmless residents, who just happen to be pastiches of various classic giant monsters. Prior to the start of the movie, a prologue would show that the island is just off the coast of a major American city, and for a long time monsters would wander onto the mainland, unable to tell humans that they meant no harm (only speaking in monster), where they would be instantly attacked for their inadvertent destruction of property. Conventional weapons do not harm them, and they dare not nuke the place for fear of just making the problem worse, and it is found that the only thing that ever seems to stop them is power lines. so they decide to isolate the island by building a giant wall of them around it.

The story would follow a young boy who goes to the island with his greedy father, who sneaks him and his son in to capture an infamous giant ape, tame it, and display it on stage as his father tried to do years ago with disastrous results. The son meets an island girl, part of the tribe that honors the giant monsters, who just wants to be able to see the rest of the world outside of the Island. As for the monsters, my only ideas so far would be an unrequited love between a King Kong analog and a Godzilla analog revealed to be female, both known for an infamous brawl they had in Tokyo, that she's never forgiven him for, and I think the main antagonist, apart from the obligatory overzealous military general who wants to blow up the island, would be a Rodan-esque Pterodactyl trying to escape the island for secretly nefarious purposes, but can't get past the electric field, which screws up his sense of direction and sends him crashing every time. Either that, or do Mothra, who would start out as a character you think is a wise and noble creature, until she reveals she wants to start a family, and would need large amounts of humans to eat when her young hatch.

Title: Monster Island

#2: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? meets American Beauty

This was a hard one at first, but clicked when I thought about the character of Roger Rabbit, and the fact that he's famously married to a non-rabbit. My thought, what if instead of being married to a cartoon human woman, this character, or one very much like him, married a real woman, who insisted that he retire from show business and consign himself to raising a family in the Prozac-tamed banality of suburban life. The husband struggles with the temptation to go back to his old crazy ways while his long suffering wife tries to keep the family together. Their son is just manifesting his cartoon side, prompting a discussion of whether to medicate him for something akin to ADHD, and the daughter isn't showing any cartoon side, suggesting she may have a different father. Maybe the Chris Cooper neighbor could be a guy obsessed with cartoons who had a weird attraction to the main character whenever he would cross dress in his movies (as many people have admitted to with Bugs Bunny).

Title: Zany Street

#3: The Muppet Movie meets Frankenstein

This one is similar to an idea I had prior to this project called Puppet Squad, which was sort of like The Muppet Movie meets R.E.D. about a group of puppets who are revealed to be secret agents, their 70's era show a cover for their wetworks operations, who have to bring the band back together when someone is targeting them for assassinations. Unfortunately, I've since discovered that there is a very similar idea already out there called The Happytown Murders, so if it comes to it, I think this idea is different enough to pursue.

The idea is that a very disturbed man who happens to be a mad scientist was obsessed with a public access puppet show when he was a kid, and one day as an adult finds the old puppets in a dumpster as the studio is cleaning out its storage. He takes the puppets, which are all severely damaged after years of neglect, and sews them back together as best he can, but is saddened when he finds that they are not alive. Thinking they are just dead, he seeks to re-animate them by integrating actual pieces of the animals they resemble, and eventually human brains after he realizes that it is the only way to give his creations human level intelligence. The result is a pack of evil and insane puppet monsters who stalk the night.

Title: Frankenfelt

#4: Ghostbusters meets Maximum Overdrive

A world in which all of our precious technology has come to life and turned against us, and an elite team of experts at this exact kind of supernatural evil tasked with taking them down. At first I didn’t really think much of this match until I started looking around my house at the various devices around me and thinking about how they could transform into evil monsters and kill me (an exercise that I highly recommend for you at home). You see moments like that occasionally in movies, including Maximum Overdrive, but they are always very brief. I can’t remember a whole movie dealing with all technology turned evil, and I always thought the Stephen King film focused on the least interesting possibilities of this concept. And who would be this group of anti-tech crusaders? The only ones best suited to take on such a threat – The Amish. Specifically, they would be a secret order within the religion motivated by prophecy who have been preparing for this day for generations. I just have this image in my head of a bad ass Amish hero leaping up at a giant robot made out of a thousand smaller devices, swinging his scythe right into its metal maw.

This Thing! But a movie.

Title: We Told You So.

#5: The Terminator meets Hot To Trot

Time traveling robotic killing machine meets talking horse movie. I was very tempted to drop this one, but here’s what I got. I dropped the time travel element and just went with the unstoppable robotic hunter, who in this iteration, naturally, is equine in configuration. I’m thinking a man invents a robotic horse to end the subjugation of race horses, only to find it malfunctions West World style and goes after him, waging war against all humanity for enslaving his fleshy horse brethren. Like The Terminator, it would start out looking like a regular horse, but just like the original robot, its synthetic skin would gradually come off revealing a skeletal framework beneath, because skeletal horse robots are even cooler looking than skeletal human robots. Actually, you know what? Fuck it, the horse travels in time too. Yeah.

Title: Stalking Horse

That’s it for now, but I’ve got a huge list of these, some funny, others just fucking awesome, including time traveling dinosaurs and a Nazi fighting robocop, so stay tuned for that.

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