Saturday, January 26, 2013

Marble Hornets

I talked a little about low budget production with a cousin who hipped me to this---an internet series called Marble Hornets. I started watching it. Uploaded to YouTube in 2011.

It was interesting in the beginning. Each entry was fairly short.

A student filmmaker was being stalked by "the slender man", a tall slender faceless man in a business suit. The student filmmaker becomes fearful and flees leaving the tapes he filmed behind with another film student who begins investigating and who then finds himself being stalked.

Just as with a TV show, the episodes become repetitive. It's worse here because they're so short. There's no explanation as to where the characters get their money. They flee their apartments in fear and stay in hotels, but how do they pay for them? They drive late model cars. They have no contact with their families.

I'm slightly annoyed by the shaky hand-held camera. But that's the whole point, that these are videos shot by the characters as they try to figure out what's happening.

Maybe I wasn't supposed to watch the whole thing at once.

I did feel very creeped out whenever the Slender Man or the other guys appear. And the thing is a mystery. The main character is trying to figure out what's going on. There won't be a logical explanation, but I still want to know what it is.

It would fall into the same genre as The Blair Witch Project. There's the fake folklore aspect, the pseudo documentary approach.

The Blair Witch Project itself was made by a couple of guys who, as kids, were frightened by the Bigfoot documentaries from the '70s. I know how that is. I was scared by those things. I had friends who had nightmares about Bigfoot. It didn't occur to us that anyone would say anything in a documentary unless it was true.

If I wanted to make another Blair Witch Project, rather than looking at the movie itself, I would look at their source of inspiration, at the old Bigfoot documentaries.

Some were better than others.

One had a French psychic. They started by talking to him about Bigfoot. Then the filmmakers showed him a sealed box. They asked him to give them a psychic reading of the contents. And, well, what do you think he would say? He said he sees a big hairy ape that lives in the woods. He opens the box and it contains a plaster cast of a  giant footprint. I'm assuming they didn't just tell him what was in it before they started filming.

There was a local director, Ed Ragozzino.  He was known locally for doing big musical stage productions, but I heard he made his money by flying to the big cities to direct TV commercials. He was hired to direct a bigfoot movie that was being financed by a local millionaire who had the Jiffy Lube franchise.

The movie was called Sasquatch: The Legend of Bigfoot.

I was told by the Assistant Director that Ragozzino took the job because he wanted to direct a feature. They were all nonbelievers.

I remember when the movie was released. They talked about it on the local radio station. They noted that the movie didn't have the Roger Patterson film of the "real" Bigfoot, so they had a guy in an ape suit.

I finally saw the movie several years ago. I can see why it lost money. It wasn't a documentary---it was fictional---but it wasn't an exploitation film. They were trying to be respectable. Rather than show Bigfoot slaughtering hikers and attempting to breed with human women, they made it about Bigfoot researchers who somehow use computers to locate a hotbed of Bigfoot activity. They feed data into the computer which then prints a picture of what Bigfoot looks like. The use of computers didn't lend it quite the credibility that the French psychic did the other movie.

A group of western movie stereotypes, including a crusty old prospector whose only friend is his mule, accompany researchers as they travel to the location. They set up electronic sensors. They see that Bigfoot is approaching! They scramble to get pictures. One of them tries to shoot Bigfoot but his rifle is jammed.

In the end, nothing happens. They go home empty handed and make no plans to return.

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