Posts Tagged ‘ghostbusters’

#moviepuke

2017/05/28

moviepuke

Let me tell you about the worst thing I’ve ever made.

I was born–in 1984–at the tail-end of a generation of children that experienced what I would call a heyday of “gross”.  1984 brought us both The Toxic Avenger and Ghostbusters; 1985 both Garbage Pail Kids stickers and Madballs toys (and the concomitant craze of knock-offs and also-rans); 1986 Cronenberg’s body-horror movie The Fly

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One of my earliest memories is going to see Ghostbusters II in the theatre when I was four years old. Slime took center stage here, to the point that it’s heavily implied Egon rubbed some on his dick.  The slime featured in the movie, in the cartoon, post-personified as Slimer, and was available in toy form:

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If I’m giving too breezy an overview here, it’s because I hope to cover my experience with these things in full at another time.  The point is, I grew up with gross toys, gross media, gross food–

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–you could say I was imprinted by a particular aesthetic.  By no means has my entire generation remained fascinated with it as I have, but again, I think it’s fair to say I got to experience the first flourishing of “gross” before it became–as all things do–devoured by the pop culture industry. I benefitted by exposure to artistic masters who managed to make the gruesome appealing.

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The point is I’m a lifelong fan of the disgusting. Chalk it up to a lack of bodily sympathy, an ability to think of things without also pseudo-sensing their smells or textures, or the fact that I ate my boogers as a kid, but what can I say?  I find it all amusing.  Much like Gulliver found out in the land of Brobdingnag, beauty up close is frightening.  There’s lot of weird stuff in the human body, and some of it comes out, occasionally even when we don’t want it to…

And that’s where #moviepuke comes in. Or, out, really.

There are others like me, and some of them make films.  When it’s not being used to decry the dangers of teenage drinking, or to depict how much the cancer patient’s body betrays them, vomit is quite often used as a gag (ha) in movies, so much so that some critics complain about its frequency.  And I’m sure you would have no problem naming a movie where someone vomits for comedic effect.

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Did you think of Problem Child 2? The Sandlot? Team America: World Police?

(If you thought of The Exorcist or Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life first, I bet you’re over 40. That’s okay.)

I can’t find it now, but a few years back a friend on Twitter posted a link to a list of movie posters that featured characters peeking out from under or behind manhole covers.  By the way, if that list is still extant somewhere, here’s one that kind of fits:

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I realized then that the Internet is a place where every possible grouping of things that can be made will be made. Further, if it’s not a question of if, it’s simply a question of when and who.  Being the occaisonally-arrogant librarian that I am, I figured if someone was going to put together a supercut of all the times that someone visibly vomited in a movie, it ought to be someone like me.  Someone who knows how to search Google in ways unknown to the average layperson.  Someone who is dedicated to just about every idea he’s ever had.

So I set to work.  I scoured Google.  I asked on Reddit.  (I got about 100 films from one Reddit thread, right alongside accusations that I masturbate to the scenes. To set the record straight, I don’t.)  I found websites catering to people who couldn’t stand to watch–or even, for some, hear–vomiting, with lists of films containing such scenes.  Hell, for one of the blogs, people would write in and give descriptions of what scenes to be wary of, and even timestamps in some cases. Early on, I made a distinction between vomit discretion and vomit indiscretion, thanks to TV Tropes.  One of the most important sites I’ve come across is Kids In Mind, which lets you know everything that anyone could find objectionable in the films it lists.  It even makes the distinction between whether the vomit is seen, heard, or only talked about.  I went through the full list of 2,000+ films on IMDB whose records included the user-applied keyword “vomiting”.  I looked up information on forums for foreign films.

I bought dozens of DVDs, many from overseas, some at a price of $20 apiece or more.  I slowed down my computer for a full three days one weekend by (illegally) downloading 100+ different films.  I downloaded films from YouTube. I sought out filmmakers for confirmation before purchasing DVDs. I was told by one rightsholder that I would not be allowed to use the scene from a movie (I still did).  I begged reviewers on letterboxd.com to share files with me.

I watched dozens of films.  I used the slider tool in Windows Movie Maker to scan quickly through hundreds more. I watched funny movies. I watched great movies (I got to rewatch The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover). I watched what may well be the most graphically disturbing movies ever made. (I left the four movies in the Vomit Gore series out of the supercut entirely.)

I was disappointed when films featured only vomit discretion (that is, where the vomit is not seen at all).  I was upset when unknown people on unknown websites confused vomiting with sneezing, or spitting.  I had to make intense, sometimes philosophical, decisions for some films.  Can a severed head vomit? Did the guy in Jaws vomit, or did he even still have a stomach at that point? Does a CAT 3 Japanese video of a woman eating and then vomiting, and then having sex, count as a film?  What length must feature films be? Should the vomit scene last only as long as it takes for the vomit to exit a person’s mouth, or should it last until the vomit has come to rest? What about artfully edited scenes, like that in the Sandlot, that show vomit, but don’t show it coming out of someone’s mouth? (In the end, I removed most like that; but I have kept the Sandlot because people will tell me to put it in if I don’t.)

For a while, I posted the scenes individually to a YouTube account.  This is where things started getting frustrating.  To begin with, these scenes are all copyrighted by someone. So I had to deal with being told that I didn’t have the rights.  I had to appeal cases left and right that my use of the material was “fair” according to common understandings of the term; at the very least that my use was transformative.  But then I started getting knocked on community guidelines.  The YouTube terms of service, as well as the community guidelines, say nothing about vomiting.  There’s nothing at all in there that would indicate that vomiting would not be allowed.  I was able to appeal most of these successfully–once with the help of someone at YouTube–until finally I wasn’t.  Here’s what I consider an unfair loophole of the community guidelines: if you get too many complaints within a short time span, YouTube doesn’t even have to review the actual videos. They just take them down.  Two or three people hardly constitutes a “community”.  (And why the fuck did someone object to the 1-second clip from the movie Looper? You can barely see what’s going on unless you know what to look for.)  To add insult to injury, they won’t even tell you what exactly was offensive–YouTube will simply refer you back to the aforementioned silent-on-spewing community guidelines.  In one of the weirdest cases, a clip that I used from a 1970s Italian film featured music that was later sampled in a 1990s music album.  Because the album’s rightsholders had registered their works with YouTube, my video got flagged.  That one took some researching to figure out exactly what was going on.

I spent countless evenings and a handful of solid weekends–thankfully not consecutive–finding vomit scenes.  I wanted the list to be as complete as possible.  Certainly this was doable. But I had to keep it from becoming my entire life.  When it came to the IMDB list, I had to make gut choices on which films to watch or scan through; there are hundreds more there that I’ve yet to touch, and may never.

After almost a full year of dedicated work, I gave up at 877 films.  But a few months later I was at it again. I found new lists. More movies had been released in the interim.

In that last stretch of looking, I unlocked hidden achievements, hit squares on the bingo card I didn’t even knew existed.  I found a character named Casey puking. I found Jesus vomiting in a John Waters film. And finally, finally, after 950+ films, I found Tom Hanks throwing up.

I reached 1,000 films last November.

Total length: 2 hours, 19 minutes, 6 seconds

You can see the full list of films here.

I’d like to show it to you. You know what’s in it, you’ve been warned.

Fun fact: the earliest film I can find with a vomit discretion scene (so it’s not in the supercut) is the 1953 film Wages of Fear.

Fun fact: the earliest film in the supercut is a Korean film called The Housemaid, from 1960.  The remake from 2010 is also in the supercut.

Fun fact: The Exorcist is the 24th film in the list chronologically.

Fun fact: Jonah Hill is the most-featured celebrity in the supercut. He’s in there at least four times.

Fun fact: look for all the great Exorcist knockoffs in there!

Fun fact: four of the eight American Pie movies are included.

Fun fact: there was only one scene in the whole thing that made me briefly want to throw up.  See if you can guess which one!

I keep watching movies, and I keep finding vomit scenes. It’s actually a good gauge of a movie’s popularity if I discover it has a vomit scene at random: it simply means that the group of people who have seen it and the group of people who type in keywords on IMDB do not overlap.  The list now stands at 1,055 movies.  Once a year–probably on Christmas break–I plan to update the list, gather each year’s clips. My work will likely never be done.

But I did it.  Over the course of a single year, I collected 1,000 vomit indiscretion scenes.

It’s the worst thing I’ve ever made.

I’m so proud.

Movie Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

2016/10/02
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I just saw the new Ghostbusters movie. I’ll give you the TL;DR first; or, I suppose that’s the “too long, won’t read”.
 
Good dialogue and visual gags, 95% solid story, and God bless the team that oversaw the color choices.
 
More:
 
Ghosts should be green, thank you for the green ghosts. Thank you for the blue ghosts. Thank you for the pink offsetting the green, it was very 80s. Thank you, color team.
 
I laughed throughout the movie, and I was happy to be the only person in the theater who laughed at the communist undertones of Rowan’s plans. I’m sure if I knew more, it’d be even funnier!
 
I enjoyed the attention to detail–that is, my own attention to it, anyway. I’m not sure what all time periods are meant to be represented in the film’s final fight, but I saw two films from 1971, and one from 1976 on marquees. I suppose any big film nowadays has so many people working on it–and with computers–that you’re bound to get lots of detail. It’s simply what you notice that informs your reading, so I appreciate being the kind of person who pays attention to the background to begin with. Anyway, we’ve got the 1920s (or a highly stylized version of it, anyway) in the form of the parade balloons. Sidebar: the 1920s are actually referenced twice, explicitly. Let me back up. The first time was in the concert hall, where the prissy manager is upset at the Art Deco fixtures being physically destroyed. (The fact that a metal band (can someone tell me if this was really what a metal band looks and sounds like these days? or was it movie metal, the way movies treated punk characters in the 80s?) is performing in the venue doesn’t faze him, though, I should point out.) You’ve got the 1960s present when the Slimers–the woman Slimer replete with a flip hairstyle–taking a joyride through the city. Oh yeah, and the pilgrim, and whenever the hell the locked-up daughter was from, and whenever the prisoner was supposed to be from.
 
There’s this mix-and-match, a picking and choosing of what parts of the past to show. Sure, to make the story read, you have to pick ones that are *obviously* representative of certain eras (like, were there Pilgrims in New York? I’m clearly the wrong guy to ask), but the approach remains clear. And it’s the same approach that the film takes when dealing with the original Ghostbusters movie (I’d say movies, but I still remain the only person on the planet who loves GB2). You get jokes about how you can’t have things exactly the same: the rent for an abandoned firehouse is prohibitively expensive; a paranormal studies department could only exist at a shitty college* that forgot it was there; it’s finally revealed at the end that Holtzmann builds all the cool equipment from stuff she finds in dumpsters, and yeah, seriously, where the hell did the original Ghostbusters get the money and manpower to build a giant containment unit? The mix-and-match goes further–nods to the cartoon in the form of Holtzmann’s cartoon-Egon hair; Rowan being simultaneously the 80s cartoon logo, a pastiche of even older “cute ghost cartoons”**, AND both Oogie Boogie and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
 
It’s commercial, and it’s pandering to an extent, and yes, and I’m sure if I knew more about communism and cataclysms, I could either make this film punch itself–or explain itself. I mean, come on, the opening scene has a ghost terrorizing someone who makes their living off of the commodification of ghost stories. And don’t get me started about how Patty Tolan knew the street artist who made the No Ghosts logo, yet we don’t see her tracking the guy down to license his creation. But it’s precisely the same type of love/hate relationship I–and likely a large swath of my generation–have with the pop culture we grew up on. We wouldn’t have the movie we got without love for the franchise, and we wouldn’t have the movie we got without a willingness to criticize the past. It’s how I write my comics; it’s how I write my Perfect Strangers blog. I think it’s a type of thinking about old media, and our relationship to it, that will never sit well with those who are simply fans, and just want to consume.*** I think that’s part of why Star Wars was a “success”, and why this “wasn’t”. I think it’s why the Perfect Strangers fan community will never get past my swear words and toilet humor to see the thought (and love, I’ll admit) I put into those reviews. I don’t want to downplay the sexism inherent in the pre-criticism of this film, because that was a bunch of bullshit from whiny guys. (An aside: I believe that no one who dislikes GB2 has any fucking right to criticize this film on any basis, but that’s a post for another day. Another aside: I have some theories about why these type of guys are semi-legitimately whiny, but just can’t see the bigger picture (spoiler: it’s basically the same short-sightedness of affirmative action critics).) (Do I love my parenthetical asides or do I love my parenthetical asides?)
 
I’m going to say that this movie is a great balance of goofy and serious in its storytelling, and like Socrates, let’s understand the city by looking at the man. The hyper, overworking generative force of the Ghostbusting team–Jillian Holtzmann, who manages to be comic at both the broad and detailed levels****–is herself constantly clothed in a fusion of mismatched styles. I think people like to break teams into easy personality categories: the “funny” one, the “serious” one, the “nerdy” one, the “heart” of the group. You know what? Holtzmann *is* the Ghostbusters: she makes everything work and tells everybody what to do. She’s not a leader; she’s a god damn force. She’s the perfect combination of theory and practice, the perfect balance of goofy and brainy, and I fell in love with her more than I’ve swooned for any lesbian with great hair (which is strangely damn often).
 
Other tiny things I loved:
–There’s a scene late in the movie, where Abby is running from Rowan’s ghost; she tries to lock the door with both locks, even though we–and she–saw in the first act that there’s no amount of locks that can keep a ghost from opening a door
–Erin and Abby’s motivations can be understood through their backstory of being teased in high school for their belief in ghosts; everyone called them the “ghost girls”. At the end of the movie, the resolution of both the threat of the movie and their relationship’s arc results in their hair turning white.  I teared up at the fact their reclaiming of the put-down had taken physical form.
 
Things I hated:
–the Harold Ramis bust was kind of lame
–I’m primed to keep an eye out for what I call the “videogame scene” in movies like this (that is, a scene that seems to have been come up with by someone who said “this will be great in the video game”), and that scene was popping the parade balloons as they approached
–Also, this movie plays super fast and loose with whether ghosts are made of physical material, and whether the ghostbusting equipment only impacts ghosts, or the physical world as well. We got a whole sequence in Ghost Dad where Bill Cosby went from passing through an old woman’s crotch; to working on trying not to fall through the floor; to mastery over his new relation to his environment by travelling through a phone line. It felt like there were no rules, or at the very least none explained
–This movie shows its seams. I could have used a little more Rowan, and I feel like there probably was more Rowan. I’ll admit I read about the dancing scenes that were cut before I saw this, but I think I would have realized there was something missing in that part of the movie. I mean, Rowan-as-a-ghost-as-Kevin putting people into dance positions, and then nothing happening is the equivalent of one of those “scene missing” screens. Also, the scene where the team tries out Holtzmann’s inventions felt off, like there was too much edited out of it; but hey, this thing was already 105 minutes.
–Ozzy’s cameo was total shit
 
Lastly, I think they missed an opportunity for Bill Murray’s and Dan Aykroyd’s cameos by not having them be the bums from one of the deleted scenes from the original movie, but I suppose you can’t get everything you want.
 
*I love jokes about shitty colleges
**Harvey Comics tried to sue over the No Ghosts logo, claiming likeness too similar to Ghastly Trio (Casper’s brothers)
***I think you should all be paying attention to whatever South Park is going to say about this with its 20th season, because “member-berries” are certainly resonating with this line of thinking I’m going down
****never, EVER take your eyes off of her if she’s on screen; she never turns off