6 Insane Versions Of Great Movies You Didn't Know Existed
We all joke about how modern Hollywood is being flooded by remakes, but that's not an entirely fair complaint. Sure, no one wanted the new Ninja Turtles or RoboCop, but chances are at least one of your favorite movies is a remake, and you never realized it because they were remaking something so awful it's been long buried in pop culture's graveyard. Like ...
A Creepy, Low-Budget Lord Of The Rings From The Early 90s
Before filming a collection of video game cut-scenes and calling it the Hobbit trilogy, Peter Jackson did what many thought was impossible: make a good live-action Lord of the Rings (and make people want to visit New Zealand). But most people have no idea he was beaten to the punch by a 1993 Finnish mini-series called Hobitit, either because Finland feels the need to translate made-up words or because they came up with a clever ratings ploy to include "tit" in the TV listings.
Not to be confused with The Hobbit: In And Out Again.
The series combines the stories of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, focusing mainly on the Hobitits. But the entire series' budget was lower than Jackson's caterers, and the results are ... unsettling. For starters, the cast all look like they just came from one of Middle Earth's lesser methadone clinics.
Christ, Gandalf, what are you cutting your pipe-weed with?
The actor who plays Aragorn Konkari also plays Gollum Klonkku, and interprets them as a deranged hobo and a half-naked man who considers chili cheese dogs as precious as the Ring, respectively.
Kari Vaananen, Man of 1,000 Pooping Faces.
The music sounds like it was recorded by a band that got kicked out of their local renaissance faire for being too experimental, and the effects are special in every sense of the word.
In this version, wearing the Ring inserts you into a Talking Heads music video.
We're not sure if they were planning a Lord of the Rings movie from the start, or were filming LARPers and realized there was greater potential. The fact that everyone constantly looks surprised doesn't help answer the question.
Maybe this is just how they act in Finland?
The plot of The Hobbit is covered in like 10 minutes (so it does have some strengths). It then moves on to a Rings highlight reel, such as the gathering of the Fellowship at Rivendell, represented here as a laser tag arena filled with men who look like they hang out as laser tag arenas.
"While in Rivendell, please refrain from running, climbing, and employing foul language."
There we meet Elrond, played by the Finish equivalent of Danzig.
"All hail him, and the sweet tat he gave me."
Later the Fellowship travels through the forest of Lorien, famed across Middle Earth for its stunning beauty.
Yes. Truly stunning.
And, of course, they ascend the perilous Mount Doom.
Sauron really went all out on his elementary school science fair project.
The show concludes with the famous heartfelt goodbye between Sam and Frodo ...
"But let me know if your nose starts to bleed."
... which, thanks to their old-age makeup, makes them look even more strung out than usual. Maybe the White Ship was actually a metaphor for cocaine.
Unrecognizable Versions Of A Clockwork Orange And Batman, From Andy Warhol
When he wasn't painting soup cans or hanging out with Mr. T, Andy Warhol was filming obscure adaptations of iconic works of pop culture, because it's easy to make movies when you don't care about owning the rights or making the slightest shred of sense. Warhol got his mitts on A Clockwork Orange six years before Stanley Kubrick, and while Kubrick was a master cinematic craftsman, Warhol had access to a camera and an arsenal of drugged-out friends with no acting experience who were willing to appear in a boring mess. It's called Vinyl, and it looks like your dad made home movies of your nightmares.
The two movies have surprising similar starts, with an extreme close-up of the protagonist in a milk bar. Although judging by the incomprehensibility of the dialogue, Warhol's bar was an echo chamber.
Those are some sad looking droogs.
Since most of the budget went to drugs, wigs, and drug wigs, the entire movie takes place in that one bar, kind of like our college years. This doesn't stop Warhol from including iconic moments, including the lead character being strapped to a chair and tortured.
In the first draft of the Kubrick version, they made Alex watch the Warhol version.
Unfortunately, this also didn't stop Warhol from stripping him naked and putting him in a gimp suit.
"This torture story needs to be sexier."
Most of Vinyl is random acts of violence punctuated with pointless conversations and dance interludes, because if there's one thing Kubrick's version is missing it's two and a half minutes of the main character busting out every awkward, white guy move in the book.
That's either a predecessor to "Gangnam Style" or a seizure.
Warhol also produced the first ever feature-length Batman movie, although he called it Batman Dracula and combined the title characters for reasons that are probably explained in some obscure Velvet Underground lyrics but are otherwise incomprehensible to us.
The movie was thought to be lost, but footage that looks as terrible as you'd expect it to has recently resurfaced.
"OK Andy, just tell us when you're ready to start filming."
"I've been filming for the past six hours."
Sadly, none of the grainy, weirdly edited clips feature Batman in costume, although that's possibly because Warhol forgot to put Batman in his Batman movie.
A Terrifying, Dead-Eyed Winnie The Pooh
It's hard to imagine a time before Disney owned Winnie the Pooh. Hell, they once had him run for president until allegations of marital infidelity scuttled the campaign. But in 1960, Winnie was adapted for Shirley Temple's Storybook, a TV show where the famed actress presented different kid's stories with a twist -- all of your beloved characters were now nightmarish, dead-eyed marionettes!
"Why, what's the matter, Eeyore?"
"MY SOUL HAS GAZED INTO THE ABYSS."
Sometimes the characters don't obey the laws of physics, which suggests either satanic possession or a world where our pitiful "laws" have no meaning. Both would be believable.
"We can't all be possessed by Pazuzu, and that's all there is to it."
Tigger looks like he should be starring in Five Nights in the Hundred Acre Woods, while Winnie apparently walked off the set of The Shining.
Later, gallons of honey sweep through the forest in slow motion.
It doesn't help that Winnie sounds like a chain-smoking Southerner whose previous voice acting experience was as Mime No. 2. Eeyore sounds mildly upset that the bar is out of Coors Light, and Piglet sounds like a concussed Kristen Schaal. Christopher Robin, meanwhile, is played by a live actor, which makes the whole thing feel like a small boy is losing his grip on reality as his expressionless toys dance around him.
"I swear to God, he was alive ... they were all alive."
By the time Pooh starts talking to giant mice who look like they'd advocate for a cleansing of the rats from our population, you'll wonder if you're watching an old TV show or having an acid flashback inside a Disney store.
"Remember 'Nam, Winnie? WE WERE THERE, IN THE HEART OF DARKNESS."
The '70s Soap Opera Version Of Apollo 13
Apollo 13 was a huge hit, both because it's a compelling story and because audiences love to see Tom Hanks get stranded in exotic locations. But while it focused on NASA's hubris in sending a ship labelled "13" to the moon and the struggle for survival that followed, the TV movie that predated it by two decades knew where the real drama lay -- made-up, soap opera bullshit.
Houston, We've Got a Problem takes place entirely on the budget-friendly confines of Earth, and focuses on the men working in Mission Control and the problems they're having with their wives. Because rupturing your oxygen tank in a tiny capsule hundreds of thousands of miles into the cold abyss of space is nothing compared to a woman nagging you to take the garbage out, are we right? Honestly, we can't believe Ron Howard didn't think to include a scene where a technician argues with his wife about who should do their taxes.
She contemplates cheating on him with an accountant to get them done for free,
because she's too stupid to figure them out herself. No, seriously.
And we bet Apollo 13 would have picked up more Academy Awards had it included a dramatic, slow-motion flashback where we learn about another employee's heart condition by seeing him collapse in his Speedo while his wife watches in horror and a cut from the Blade Runner soundtrack plays. Remember, most medical emergencies happen in the home, and in the '70s, most of them happened in Speedos to synthesizer backing.
"The ... music! It's ... too ... futuristic!"
It's like a soap written by a men's rights activist. When tax argument guy gets called in early because of the developing emergency, his wife complains about being woken up and then snarks, "Oh, I'm sure it's important. Everything about that marvelous job of yours is so important."
Lives are at stake, lady.
Another employee has to deal with his ex-wife showing up out of the blue after seven years to fight for custody of their son, heart-attack wife reminds her husband how devastated the astronauts' families will be if he fails at his highly stressful job, a neglected wife attempts suicide, and a lapsed Jew is forced to choose between his job and helping his faithful family deal with the death of their father. At least, we think it's a different guy -- everyone in this movie has the exact same haircut.
Except for his rabbi brother Abraham. Again, seriously.
So much stupid shit happens to the staff that Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell wrote a letter to TV Guide pointing out that the movie made it seem safer up in the crippled space capsule than down in NASA's Melrose Place. We'll spoil the fact that the astronauts are saved, but we'll leave the fate of all these troubled marriages up in the air for curious readers to discover themselves.
The Sound Of Music, Minus The Music (And Its Sequel!)
The Sound of Music was a beloved piece of classic cinema before we had it rammed down our throats with four decades' worth of sing-alongs, Oscar tributes, and live TV specials. But before the hills were alive with the sound of music, they were lifeless clumps of mute dirt; 1956's The Trapp Family tells the same story you know, but without the songs you once loved and now dread.
But both movies make their stars look so happy that it's accidentally terrifying.
With the exception of the scenes where they're actually performing on stage, no one spontaneously breaks into song to celebrate the sheer joy of being alive on the brink of a horrible war. That's odd, considering that on the Scale of Effective Villainy, the Nazis in this movie fall closer to Colonel Klink than the kind that battle Indiana Jones. The Trapps escape the threat of fascism with the amount of effort normally reserved for planning a family trip to Disneyland, and spend the last third of the movie in New York concerned with finding an agent, breaking into show business, and hiring a baby sitter who supports their Paleo lifestyle.
The movie was so successful the story continued in a hastily produced sequel, The Trapp Family In America, in which the Von Trapps inspire the Muppets and Jason by taking Manhattan.
Which was in turn followed by The Trapp Family In Da Hood and The Trapp Family Vs. The Secret Nazi Moon Base.
The Nazis are replaced with the equally timeless villain of "critical and commercial struggle," while their dramatic escape is recreated in a dramatic decision to buy real estate in Vermont. In-between, the kids get a taste of good old-fashioned American living by playing a slot machine in a sleazy bar ...
"The sound of music ain't got shit on the sound of jackpots."
... and learning to have more sex appeal by showing a little leg.
"Being objectified is not one of my favorite things."
Maria tests this out at a park, where she's immediately hit on by a filthy stranger. OK, yeah, that's a pretty fair representation of New York.
The Lonely Hoboherd.
The Sound of Music musical hit Broadway the following year, but sadly "Sixteen Going on Seventeen Dollars of Gambling Debt" and "Central Park is Alive With the Sound of Furtive Masturbation" didn't make the cut.
Casino Royale With Flying Saucers And Woody Allen
We realize that to a certain segment of our readership -- hard-core Bond fans and those old enough to remember 1967's box office hits -- the first Casino Royale will always be the original and the 2006 Daniel Craig version is just a gritty reboot. But the vast majority of moviegoers either A) don't realize Casino Royale was a remake at all or B) don't know that the original was weird as hell. There's a reason fans don't like to bring it up.
They could have stopped at "Much."
In fact, before you go searching through your Blu-ray box set, you should know that this Bond movie isn't considered "official." Even though Sean Connery's chest hair had already saved the world several times, the rights for Casino Royale lay elsewhere. Not up to competing with Connery's suave action-movie draw, the decision was made to turn Royale into an all-star spy spoof in the hopes that celebrity appeal would make up for a complete absence of comedy. It was basically the Movie 43 of the 1960s.
It begins with a drawn-out-of-retirement-for-one-last-job James Bond, played by David Niven, ordering all MI6 agents to go by the Bond codename to confuse both their enemies and the viewers. One of these Bonds, Peter Sellers, takes on Orson Welles' Le Chiffre in a card game, much like the Daniel Craig Bond we all know and secretly have posters of in our bathroom.
Welles' Le Chiffre cries tears of jelly.
Unlike the Craig version, the villains have a flying saucer ...
... Bond dresses as Hitler ...
... and predating James Bond Jr. by over 20 years, Bond's nephew, played by Woody Allen, makes an appearance. His character is eventually revealed to be the main villain, predating society turning on Woody Allen by over 20 years.
"Oh, sorry, what were you saying? I lost interest after they said 'over 20 years.'"
His plot is to release a biological weapon that kills all men over 4 foot 6 inches, leaving him as the "big man" who gets mad laid. But then he turns into an atomic bomb and explodes, sending the entire cast to the afterlife. Honestly, we kind of hope that's the plot of Spectre.
It's still better than A View to a Kill.
Casino Royale somehow managed to be just as insane behind the scenes -- it was actually more expensive to produce than the official Bond movies, in part because it had five directors, and Peter Sellers demanded that an elaborate set be destroyed and redone because he had a dream where his mother didn't like it. If you've ever wondered what The Expendables would have been like if everyone involved was constantly on acid, now you know.
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