4 Spam Emails That Deserve To Be Movies
Hidden beneath the appalling grammar and bewildering sentence structure lies the gripping emotional core that elevates some spam emails above the usual riff-raff of the genre. They're all trying to rip you off, but some do it with a narrative flair. Fully realized characters defect from tyrannical governments, wrangle large sums of money from the hands of the greedy and powerful, or have loved ones die under mysterious circumstances. Email scammers are petty criminals, yes. But more than that, they are storytellers, and their medium is your spam folder.
I say it's time we recognize the stirring tales found in spam emails by giving them the silver screen adaptations they've long deserved. So join me as I bring the world's most cinematic spam emails to life by fleshing out their stories, finding the perfect actors for the roles, and deciding which director would do these stories justice.
The Hitman Scam
A man receives an email containing grave news: An assassin has been hired to kill him! The email is from ... THE ASSASSIN HIMSELF. He was hired by one of the mark's closest friends. Who? Why? Before these questions can be answered, international assassin Dai Teatime offers an alternative: His investigation into the mark has yielded no reason why he should be killed. For a ransom, he will reveal who hired him. Dai is the best assassin in the world (if you're signing emails with your full name and telling people you're an "international assassin," you must be pretty damn good, right?), so what is it about this target that makes him reveal himself and his mission?
The mark is Thaxton Brigaand, billionaire and philanthropist. Thaxton made a fortune in the tech industry and now spends his retirement helping poor African nations get basic modern technology like singing Japanese toilets. His philanthropic ways began soon after he made his first billion, after which he received an email from a desperate African school teacher who needed money to keep local rebels away from her students. It turned out to be a Nigerian scam email, but the millions of dollars Thaxton gave to a sweaty den of email scammers allowed one young man to pay for an entire graduate and post-graduate education, ultimately receiving a doctorate in assassination.
"And now for the ceremonial throwing of the caps so our sniping majors can blow them to bits."
That young man was Dai Teatime, international assassin. Dai's life changed after that. He was murdering dozens of people a week, no questions asked, and he put all of his money back into the small African town he called home.
Dai's assassin code was put to the test when he was contracted by Russian water park mogul, Yuri Russianame, to kill the man who always inadvertently thwarted Yuri's plans to use millions of gallons of drinkable water to build a water park beside every small African village by blindly donating millions of dollars to spammers who put the money to anti-water park efforts. That man is the same one who inadvertently paid for Dai's college tuition: billionaire philanthropist Thaxton Brigaand. Thaxton and Yuri were the best of friends, but Thaxton's refusal to believe that he'd been funding spammers tore their friendship apart.
Dai and (inadvertently) Thaxton team up to take out the villainous Yuri Russianame once and for all -- Dai with a set of guns and Thaxton with his uncanny ability to yield positive results from allowing a quarter of his fortune to be stolen from him.
Dai Teatime has franchise written all over him. He's the James Bond of spam email. So I need someone who can be smooth but also damaged. That's why I nominate ...
Idris Elba. Why? Pfft! Haven't you seen him in Luther? I haven't. But his performance in Luther's Netflix cover photo convinced me he can play troubled justice-seekers.
You give me an actor who can play the bumbling sympathetic screw-up better than William H. Macy and I'll eat my own head:
I'll Periscope that shit and dozens of creepy 4chan weirdos will find it erotic.
And since there's only one Russian actor in the world, let's have him be Yuri Russianame.
He isn't even Russian in real life. But he's Russian in my heart.
Since we're being obnoxious movie nerds right now, let's bring on David Fincher to direct.
David "What do I do with my hands?" Fincher
It's not a perfect fit. I'd probably go with Michael Mann, realistically. But Fincher's always one of the first names obnoxious movie people bring up in these conversations. I'm just keeping with tradition, is all.
The Title And Poster
Preaching The Gospel Through Outdated Technology
Friday Fred (an actual name used in spam mails I'm appropriating for this one) wants to restore the hope and faith of his fellow villagers in the wake of Idi Amin's genocidal reign of terror -- and he needs a TV and DVD player to do it. And he's also a psychic.
Thrown in as an afterthought is Friday Fred's incredible superpower: Visions of the past and future come to him in his sleep. His only weakness is that the same principal applies to the present. He's an oblivious idiot in his waking life. But if you catch him napping -- look out! He's never confused. His deep understanding of present situations while he's asleep is so deep it makes people feel inadequate. Think about it: If someone could do something better than you in their sleep, you'd feel pretty shitty too. He makes people collapse under the weight of their inadequacy, thus finding no other option than to give Friday Fred all the TVs and DVD players he wants just to make it stop.
He and his villagers are swimming in TVs and DVD players that loop Joel Osteen gospels 24 hours a day. Everything is going according to plan ... until he meets his arch-rival: Richard Donner (also a name used by spammers), the man who never feels the inadequacy of being confused in a situation. How is this possible?
After some digging and many epic fights wherein a sleeping man and an awake, confident man just kind of stand around, the secret to Richard Donner's ability to always know what's happening is revealed: He's on Adderall.
Friday Fred will be unconscious for most of his big action sequences, so I need an actor with so much charisma he can literally give a great performance in his sleep. I think I just described the flavor text on Will Smith's business card.
"Do you need a shitty rap for the soundtrack?"
Richard Donner will be played by legendary movie director ... Richard Donner.
I have no idea if he can act, but casting people whose names are the same as the character they're playing is kind of no-brainer. I don't know why. It just feels like a no-brainer, ya know?
I can't cast Richard Donner in a movie and not have him direct it too. I don't even know if he's the right guy for the material. But he directed Superman 1 & 2, The Goonies, Maverick, all the Lethal Weapon movies, Scrooged, and three episodes of Tales From The Crypt. That guy could direct traffic and make it compelling.
The Title And Poster
President Robert Mugabe seized the lands of thousands of white farmers in Zimbabwe in the early 2000s. In this fictional account of that time, a murdered farmer's wife and daughter must find a way to smuggle $7 million -- and themselves -- out of the country before it's too late.
The spam mail says Teressa Macurley's father was one of the best farmers in the country. And, oh boy, was he ever. Early on in the film, we'll see Mr. Macurley's wall of farming accolades: the four multi-tiered trophies for winning best pig slop. The big blue ribbon he won for inseminating 39 horses in 10 minutes. He was one of the all-time greats before he was murdered by Mugabe's forces.
The guy knew his way around a horse pussy.
Teressa and her mother need to get their father's money out of the country before it, too, is seized. She grabs a random list of emails from the Johannesburg Chambers of Trade and Commerce and fires off a desperate cry for help to the first address she sees.
The email is received by a late-20s slacker from rural Pennsylvania named Hoover Pisserson, who once donated five bucks to a South African charity while paying for groceries, but made the mistake of also giving them his email address. Now he gets four emails with sad subject lines every week. He usually deletes them all. Not because he doesn't care. It's just that those subject lines are a really depressing thing to see suddenly pop up on your phone in the middle of the day. But by opening this one email titled "The Farmers of Zimbabwe," he's thrust into heroism.
It's a race against time. Can Teressa and her mother outrun Mugabe's forces long enough for a random dude halfway around the world to set up a bank account online and make a massive transfer that he's not even sure a normal checking account will handle, and all with his spotty internet connection and limited knowledge of how to actually set up a bank account?
Probably not, to be honest. Hoover's a real fuck-up.
I'm assembling an all-star cast of South African accents. In the role of the farmer we have Leonardo DiCaprio's terrible accent in Blood Diamond.
Charlize Theron is South African, and the only reason she's playing Teressa is because she's eight years younger than Nicole Kidman, who did a terrible South African accent in The Interpreter. And those two things are all I need to hear to cast Kidman as the mother.
Honestly can't tell if these are wax figures or not.
Hoover Pisserson is Michael Cera, because no shit he is.
I could have chosen a less-date-rapey picture. But I didn't.
Morgan Freeman will play Robert Mugabe, in accordance with the California law that states that Mr. Freeman must be cast as famous old black men or a film production can be subject to heavy fines.
Alejandro G. Inarritu, or every oil painting of a conquistador? You decide.
Alejandro G. Inarritu, if only because I want to see an intricate seven-minute steady-cam shot of Hoover in line at the bank during peak hours after his internet totally craps out in the third act.
The Title And Poster
The Nigerian Stranded In Space
A Nigerian astronaut is stranded on an abandoned Russian space station after his crew thought he was the lumpy sack of cargo someone put in his seat on the shuttle home. And 14 years later, he's still up there. Somehow he's not dead, and the fact that we've left a person stranded in space for a decade and a half isn't humanity's biggest, saddest failure to date. But one man still cares: Dr. Bakare Tunde, the stranded astronaut's cousin and an "Astronautics Project Manager."
The movie begins after the Russian astronauts have made it safely back to Earth. Upon realizing their mistake, they attempt to pass off the lumpy sack of cargo as the Nigerian astronaut. Everybody tells Dr. Bakare Tunde that the lumpy sack of cargo is most definitely his cousin. But something's ... off. His cousin has been acting rather like a lumpy sack of cargo since he came back.
"Cousin, why is your face potatoes?"
The cover-up becomes undeniable when a stack of vacuum-sealed astronaut food falls out of his supposed cousin's face during a dinner six years after his return from space. Tunde yanks off the blonde wig mimicking the flowing golden locks his cousin never had and a terrifying thought occurs to him: If this lumpy sack of cargo is here, then his cousin must be ... up there!
For the next eight years, Dr. Bakare Tunde fights to change the minds of not only the Russian space authorities, who refuse to pay the less than $20 million (U.S.) to rescue the astronaut, but a global population that has decided to let a man we can practically stand on a tall chair and grab just die in space.
In short: It's The Martian meets Home Alone. Give me a billion dollars please.
The Russians will be played by that one Russian actor who's in everything (including our very own Dead By All Means) and we'll duplicate him with CGI like Michael Keaton in Multiplicity. Don't worry. Each CGI clone will definitely look like a completely different person.
Early concept art.
You probably think the astronaut is the prestige role. Nope. The astronaut just has to look gaunt and sickly. That's why he'll be played by the "I am the captain now" guy from Captain Phillips.
Dr. Bakare Tunde is the real star of the movie. Can't you just see Denzel Washington Denzel Washingtoning it up all over the place as the aeronautical project manager who gives impassioned Denzel Washington-like speeches to panels of white people in suits?
We can reuse entire scenes from Flight to save money.
So many black actors and not a single black director so far. Let's fix that by nominating Ryan Coogler, the director of Fruitvale Station, Creed, and the upcoming Black Panther movie.
I don't have a joke for this one. He's just really good, one of the few directors working today who I feel like could take a bad idea and make it incredible. In that sense, he's perfect, since not a single bit of any of this is a good idea. For proof, just remember that he took the sixth Rocky sequel, which, in any other hands, would've been Rocky In Space and made it the most entertaining movie of 2016.
The Title And Poster
Luis is currently filming on location in a sweaty African spammer's den of digital thievery. In the meantime, you can find him on Twitter, Tumblr, and on Facebook.
Get more of the marvels of spam emails in The Most Weirdly Specific, Lazy Spam Email I Ever Received and find out what happens when the penis pills actually do work in If Spam Emails Were Telling The Truth All Along.
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