At work the other day, everyone was a-buzz, talking about this new movie called Cocaine Bear. And if you haven’t heard of it yet, you may be thinking that “cocaine bear” is some new slang for a large, hirsute drug dealer, like Scarface only with a hairy back and long beard. Yet you would be wrong, as wrong as I was when, as a child, I was obsessed with sharks and begged my mother to let me stay up late and watch a movie about a loan shark, believing the plot centered around a solitary hammerhead. No, Cocaine Bear is based on a true story about an actual bear who takes cocaine, gets addicted, and goes on a drug-fueled rampage. It’s A COMEDY. And my only question is Why? But this isn’t the only example of a movie involving an animal doing things it wouldn’t normally do. For instance, there’s Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast, which gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “fish out of water story”, because this shark is IN THE SNOW. Well, at least its head is in the snow—the budget was only $7 000 and the producers didn’t have enough money for an entire mechanical shark, so you only ever see the head. I’ve seen Snow Shark and it was predictably and outrageously terrible—one critic said it “excels at being mostly forgettable” which isn’t true because I only saw it once and I still remember how awful it was. I have not, however, seen any of the follow-ups: Sharknado, Sand Sharks, and Avalanche Sharks, the synopsis of which states “a bikini contest turns into a horrifying affair when it is hit by a shark avalanche.” Obviously.
Of course, this new trend of putting animals in bizarre situations takes a back seat to another trend—that of integrating classic stories with sci-fi/fantasy scenarios. For instance, a few years ago when I was living in Toronto, my brother and I saw Pride and Prejudice…And Zombies. I didn’t know what to expect with the movie. Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite novels, and when it was originally written, there was nary a hint of zombie within its pages. I figured it would just be a cheesy excuse for blood and gore, wrapped in an Edwardian cloak. I was actually pleasantly surprised that not only was the original storyline intact, the integration of the zombie storyline was well-done and not illogical at all. Well, except for the fact that there were ZOMBIES. You can never really get away from the illogic of that. Still. But then my brother told me that there was another Jane Austen rewrite called Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and I was like “WTF? Now we’re really stretching it. I’ve read that book, and it took place mostly on the moors–there was literally one scene that took place near open water, so are they land-based sea monsters? And then there was Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, where the 16th President of the United States, when he’s not governing a country, kills the undead. And the two best things about this movie are 1) it was heavily criticized for being ‘overly serious’ and 2) when I googled it, the second hit was “Is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter a documentary?” and you know a LOT of people have searched that for it to come up right away.
Anyway, it occurs to me that maybe I should hop on this bandwagon, and I came up with a few ideas of my own for integrated storylines.
1) Gone With The Wind and Chupacabras: On the eve of her debutante ball, the vivacious Scarlet O’Hara finds herself defending Tara, and her inept suitors, against a swarm of small, spiky, bear-like, goat-sucking creatures. Casting aside her idyllic plantation upbringing, she devotes the remainder of her life to protecting the South, declaring “I’ll never go swordless again!” With the help of the dashing Rhett Butler, and her devoted servants (“I don’t know nuthing ‘bout killing chupacabras, Miss Scarlet! But I’ll learn!”), she drives back the chupacabra hordes with nothing but her trusty sabre and her wit. Her job is, of course, made easier by the almost complete lack of goats in Georgia. Ultimately, however, she is betrayed by Rhett Butler, who unbeknown to anyone, is the Chupacabra King and is planning to take his minions to the North. When Scarlett finds out, she’s appalled:
Scarlet: Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?
Rhett: Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.
Scarlet: Well, f*ck you then. Prissy, hand me my sword. It’s time the Chupacabra King lost his crown.
2) Citizen Kane, Sasquatch Slayer: On his deathbed, Charles Foster Kane, newspaper tycoon extraordinaire, and a bit of a d-bag, utters his final words: “Rosebud”. No one knows what it means. His private life was a mystery; however, throughout the film, via the use of tabloid-esque newsreels, it is slowly revealed that he had another calling aside from the news business: to hunt down and slay every Sasquatch in the country. Taken in as a child by a millionaire, William Thatcher, Kane is trained in the art of surveillance and becomes noted, and ridiculed, for his numerous Sasquatch sightings. He builds a “scandal sheet” empire, based on stories about alien invasions, government conspiracies, two-headed babies, and the Kardashians. All the while craving respect and legitimacy, he turns to hunting Sasquatches in order to prove to the world that he’s not a madman. He runs for governor, with the campaign slogan “The truth is out there” and posters featuring blurry photos of Bigfoot. After a devastating loss at the polls, he builds a fantastical estate, “Xanadu”, where he lives in isolation until his death. Once the contents of the estate are inventoried, it is revealed that “Rosebud” is the name on a glass showcase found in a hidden room on the estate. It contains a stuffed, 6 foot-tall, ape-like creature.
3) The Wizard of Jackalopes: A young, mid-west farm girl gets caught in a hurricane and finds herself in a strange land. After cavorting and singing with a group of tiny, hard-drinking people, she meets a couple of witches, one good, but a little creepy and passive-aggressive, and one who seems to be bad, but whose redeeming quality is that she loved her dead sister whose crushed body lies under the farm girl’s flying barn. The bad witch vows vengeance and disappears in a cloud of red smoke. The farm girl, whose wide-eyed innocence quickly becomes super-annoying, teams up with a robot, a zombie, and a griffin in order to make their way to the Emerald City and meet a wizard who can solve all their problems. After a series of misadventures, they are confronted by the bad witch and her army of jackalopes, giant rabbits with fierce teeth and deer antlers, and are forced to fight to the death. They all die. (I have to stop here, because when I was a kid, there were so many commercials in The Wizard of Oz that the damn movie was over three hours long, and I always fell asleep at about the half-way point. I have no idea how it actually ends.)
So there you have it—fresh ways to look at the classics. I also have another idea about an FBI agent, traumatized from a childhood attack by killer lambs, who is chasing her serial killer nemesis, an unhinged talking ram who calls himself The Mutton Man, but it’s not “fleshed out” yet, haha.