5 Famous Cities That Hide Movie-Worthy Secrets
Do you like cities? I've always loved them and, in particular, the many strange secrets they hold. Most major cities have a few of these eerie peculiarities. Some of them are buried deep underground, while others are hiding in plain sight, just waiting to slap the errant tourist across the face with a massive cathedral/creepy cult hideout/Godzilla fighting system when you walk around a corner.
And some of them are just a camera crew and a suitable soundtrack short of amazing movies.
Barcelona Is A Video-Game Level (Thanks To One Guy)
When people think about Barcelona, the Catalonia capital of northern Spain, they generally think of either soccer, beaches, or this fucking thing:
"Shit, they left the cathedral on the stovetop again."
That giant, molten candle of a church is Sagrada Familia, a massive Catholic basilica that has been under construction for 133 years and will likely remain so until at least 2028 or so. It's a beautiful, if batshit insane hodgepodge of carefully constructed Gothic pillars and crazy-ass Art Nouveau that wouldn't look out of place in a Final Fantasy game.
So, of course, they let the guy who designed it run rampant across the entire city, turning large swathes of Barcelona into Tim Burton's fever dreams. Here's his famous Casa Batllo building:
As filtered through all the hallucinogens.
Walk a little farther down the road, and you'll bump into Casa Mila, the mother of all geometrical middle fingers:
Its wave pattern is gorgeous, but only sailors could live there without projectile vomiting all the time.
The reason Antoni Gaudi, the architect behind these projects, was able to turn his genius yet impractical doodles into actual buildings for people to be in was the same that enabled most of the famous classical composers to do their thing: He had a rich patron. Industrial tycoon Eusebi Guell was a huge fan of Gaudi's work and happily threw money at his projects in a way that would make even the most adventurous venture capitalist go, "Whoa, dude." Gaudi kept filling Barcelona with stranger and stranger constructs, inspiring many other architects to adapt his nature-inspired, angle-hating style.
As a result, it's difficult to walk around the older areas of Barcelona without getting the creeping feeling that a fat plumber in overalls is going to start battling Goombas in front of you at any minute. Nowhere is this more evident than in Park Guell, Gaudi's large-scale landscaping project that turned a large park area into a full-scale video-game layout of different areas (levels) that look completely unlike each other. Feel free to Google pictures and see if you can find a suitable stage for each Street Fighter character. Meanwhile, here's the statue guarding the whole area.
Yes, of course it's an LSD dragon. I don't know why you even bothered asking.
How To Turn It Into A Movie:
Park Guell and Sagrada Familia alone wouldn't look out of place in a live action version of, say, a particularly deranged Nickelodeon cartoon. Then again, these places are easily awesome and deranged enough to use in a very particular movie fantasy of mine, one I've ranted about before. So, look at those pictures, friends, and say it with me:
Fuckin' Psychonauts movie.
Moscow's Community Of Adventuring Stray Dogs
What with one thing and another, Russians tend to be our go-to example when it comes to people who are physically incapable of giving even the tiniest of nano-fucks. Following that stereotype logic, it's easy to assume that Moscow, the country's capital, is Hardcore City, where vodka'd up folks in fur hats stumble through insane traffic and wrestle grizzly bears in a state of constant anarchy that is recorded for YouTube by a thousand cheap dash-cams.
Which makes it all the more surprising that there's a live-action Disney movie hiding within the city. We've already told you about Moscow's stray dogs that are so clever they can actually use the city's Metro system, riding downtown for a workday of beggin' and stealin' food, and returning to the relative peace of outer districts for the night. It's just the tip of the iceberg, too: The city has a solid, comfortable population of stray dogs that have learned to survive in the city environment in a way that makes the intelligent dogs from Up seem like underachievers. They dodge Moscow's notoriously messed-up traffic by crossing the street with the pedestrians. They use cartoon-like food acquiring tactics, such as sending the smallest and cutest member of the pack to woo susceptible humans or "accidentally" barking behind people who seem to be holding their hot dogs a little too clumsily. Of course, that's if they need to actively seek sustenance at all; the locals fully tolerate and even love the strays, to the point where many of them don't even need to forage for food -- they just lounge near busy subway routes and catch whatever bits of lunch commuters toss them, unless of course it's Vasili with his fucking tuna sandwiches again.
Even though they keep hogging the best seats.
Of course, not everyone likes the strays. A few years ago, one particularly irate subway passenger stabbed a stray dog called Malchik to death with a kitchen knife.
The rest of the city reacted by putting up a statue for the dog.
What, did you think that was a joke?
How To Turn It Into A Movie:
"Turn"? It's pretty much a movie already. Moscow's dog population is an Elton John-penned soundtrack short of a Disney movie. Now, all they need is an over-the-top, cartoonish supervillain to oppose them. If only there was one of those in Moscow ...
... oh, right.
Rome's Public Transit Is Screwed Because They Have Too Much History
If you've ever been to Rome or seen pictures of anything that isn't the Colosseum, you've probably noticed the insane amount of cars and fucking, fucking scooters this city of roughly 4 million people has buzzing through its streets pretty much any time of the day. It's an ancient city with an ancient layout, and precisely none of its old roads were meant for the kind of traffic they have to take these days. As a result, people drive, park, and walk pretty much anywhere they like, depending on everyone's skills and goodwill to get from point A to point B in one piece and rendering much of the city into a constant, ever-evolving mass of assbrain-parked vehicles.
Why don't they upgrade their fucking subway system? Most major cities have at least a dozen subway lines for the sole purpose of not letting things turn into a scooter-infested hellscape. Rome, on the other hand, only recently managed to build their third subway line.
Well, they've been trying, but it's hard. Here's the problem: Rome is one of the oldest cities in the world, and it's mostly built on even more Rome. This means almost every hole you dig in the ground carries a chance of becoming an archaeological site, which in turn means building a subway line in the city runs a constant risk of devolving into a slapfight between burly construction workers and a team of archaeologists constantly standing by in case they find something interesting. Which they do. Constantly.
How To Turn It Into A Movie:
Insert Indiana Jones.
Have you seen a tunnel boring machine? They look like this:
"FEED ME SOULS."
Now, be honest: Tell me you're not imagining a freshly Chris Pratt'd reboot Indy dropkick a giant henchman into that thing right now. Just set the plot to 1960s or so, and make the plot of the upcoming reboot/sequel revolve around hunting valuable roman artifacts in the treacherous, mob-controlled Italian tunnels.
Paris Can Break Your Brain Just By Being There
There is a condition called Paris Syndrome, which is basically a dick-punch Paris deals to your brain when you find out it's very much not the quaint, friendly small town with a giant-ass metal tower in the middle that movies like to present it as. Chinese and Japanese tourists are particularly vulnerable to the phenomenon, which is a relative of Stendhal's Syndrome -- an old Cracked favorite where too many beautiful and/or powerful sensations can throw you into a full-blown psychosis.
Much like your uncle at Hooters.
However, Paris doesn't deal in pretty; not to the extent people who only know it from movies expect, anyway. It's a large, gritty, and rude city, filled with pickpockets, traffic, and subways that smell like a dead man's armpit. Realizing this can give the unwary tourist into a multitude of physical and psychological symptoms, ranging from sweating and tremors to outright hallucinations and feelings of persecution. Some people are able to shake the syndrome away with rest, hydration, and maybe a nervous phone call to the embassy to make sure the city isn't about to fold in on them, Inception style. Others are hit so hard they actually have to be flown back home under medical supervision.
Yes, Paris can put people to hospital just by being Paris. Your move, New York.
How To Turn It Into A Movie:
Mark Ruffalo makes romantic comedies sometimes, doesn't he? I'm almost positive I've seen a poster of one. Can you think of a more perfect actor to play someone who is overwhelmed by something huge and surprisingly hostile, yet bring a heart to the role? You could almost think he's done it before. Let's cast, say, the woman from Amelie opposite him, because of course, and let them throw light, fun shenanigans at each other for, oh, 40 minutes or so.
And then, halfway through the movie, he would turn into the Hulk and punch the Eiffel Tower to the moon, because fuck romantic comedies and fuck Paris. I still remember that food poisoning a few years ago, Paris.
Oslo Has A Park Straight Out Of Hannibal
A few years ago, I told you about the best statue in the entire world:
That's right, "Father Of The Year."
However, that's just one of the many, many insane statues littered around Oslo's Frogner Park. Between 1920s and 1943, a sculptor called Gustav Vigeland presumably lost the battle to the cacodemons vying for the control of his brain and filled the park with 212 sculptures of demonic babies, nude people attacking each other, and, of course, the occasional combination of the two. Sure, there is normal stuff there, too, but good luck remembering the "Guy Standing With Arms Folded" statue when the next one you bump into is going to feature a dude getting eaten by a tree or a huge wheel made out of human bodies.
Hey, there's a huge monolith thing at the center of the area? I wonder what it's made o-
But of course.
How To Turn It Into A Movie:
Those of you following NBC's Hannibal will probably recognize these statues as the exact type of body horror the show likes to throw at our retinas, only this time everyone is stone. If they ever decide to give the Mads Mikkelsen version of Hannibal an actual movie where he's on the run from whoever the hell is going to be alive to chase him by then, there are few places in the world more suitable for a final showdown than Vigeland's twisty stone-corpse land. And if they want to up the ante, someone could always bump into one of the statues and discover that they're just thin shells of clay that cover ... see? Your mind's writing the script already.
Or, you know, make this really cheery, upbeat Hugh Grant popcorn comedy. Just shoot it entirely in Frogner Park, so that every scene will feature a twisted Vigeland statue on the background. And never address the statues in any way. Now that's a romantic comedy I'd watch.
For more from Pauli, check out 5 Crazy (But Intriguing) Celebrity Conspiracy Theories and 5 Bizarre Ways People Are Fooling Surveillance Systems.