Hollywood blockbusters have been filling our heads with the same stories for a century, rarely straying far from the familiar characters and plot devices that are proven to sell tickets. But while studios continue to crank out one multiplex-filling cash grab after another, the rest of the world has been putting its own spin on them, quietly dipping those tired old cliches in pure liquid insanity.
7The Ragtag Sports Team Movie (Where Everyone Dies Horribly)
The Familiar Cliche:
A loveably plucky team of ne'er-do-wells and underachievers overcomes the odds and beats the slick regional champion squad.
The Foreign Version:
In the 2003 Japanese film Battlefield Baseball (mind-blowing trailer here), Jubeh is a high school student who is supernaturally talented at the game, despite being portrayed by an actor who has clearly never seen a baseball before and seems entirely uncertain how it works.
"I just squeeze it until sports happen, right?"
The school's team desperately wants him to join so they can defeat their rivals at Gedo High, but Jubeh, bearing the heavy emotional scars of accidentally killing his father during a game of catch, refuses (this bit of personal history is told in flashback and narrated in song by Jubeh himself, stumbling through a minor key).
Jubeh eventually agrees to be the pitcher, but on the day of the big game, Gedo High murders every single member of the team, including Jubeh, who shows up late and steps on a land mine that is buried in the field for some reason.
This is what happens when you use BabelFish to translate the rules of baseball into Japanese.
This turns out to be no more than a minor setback, however, because, through a combination of divine intervention, advanced cybernetics and time-bending reincarnation, everyone is more or less fine and ready for a rematch (please note that by this point in the movie, not one game of baseball has taken place).
After beating his mother with a baseball bat, Jubeh suddenly remembers how to do his special move, the Super Tornado Pitch (yes, that sentence just happened and now belongs to history).
We feel sorry for those of you at work who want to shout "HADOUKEN!" right now, but can't.
Armed with this technique, which is essentially a flaming baseball thrown at speeds scratching the front door of the sound barrier, Jubeh and his team face Gedo High once more. After a lengthy battle (see "not one game of baseball" above), Jubeh defeats the Gedo High coach and then screams a monologue about the importance of friendship and teamwork directly into the camera. He does this without ever actually using the Super Tornado Pitch, or indeed throwing a single pitch of any kind.
6The Reimagined Modern Vampire (Starring a Vampire Motorcycle)
The Familiar Cliche:
Traditional vampire mythology is updated with a modern twist to keep it fresh and interesting, a phrase which here means "vampires drive Volvos and sparkle in the daylight." Other examples include the tech-savvy raver nightghouls in Blade and Underworld's people-infected-with-an-immortality-virus-get-bitten-by-a-totally-regular-bat origin story.
The Foreign Version:
Prepare to have your mind blown by the U.K.'s 1990 I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle, which fulfills every promise made by its title.
"The word 'I' in the title connects the audience to the story. It makes it real."
The movie opens with a warlock attempting to summon a vampire spirit from hell, but he's abruptly crossbowed mid-ritual by a disgruntled biker gang and the spirit is forced into one of their motorcycles (classic biker gang). Unassuming Noddy buys the motorcycle some time later and takes it home to work on it, but a stray drop of blood in the gas tank causes it to come alive and start eating people.
The sheer logistical impossibility of a motorcycle attacking people and drinking their blood suggests that the filmmakers came up with the concept and went immediately into production without so much as rereading the Subway receipt they'd scribbled it on. At first they skirt the issue by having the motorcycle kill people offscreen, but as the movie escalates and important characters start dying, they have to get more creative, giving it a harpoon gun, wheel-mounted blades and stainless steel bendy straws with which to wreak destruction.
You know, modern twists on those classic vampire tropes.
In the film's climax, Count Motorcycula goes on a rampage through a rec center, chasing people around at speeds approaching 3 mph before it is finally trapped by an insurmountable push/pull door and melted with a tanning bed (because it's a vampire).
These guys are literally running faster than we ever see the motorcycle go in the entire movie.