WIDE: The shaft of sunlight now falls full on Swamp Thing, rimming him with incandescent gold — and the most extraordinary thing is happening.
CLOSE SHOT reveals his feet are altering — his toes elongate until they’re no longer toes but roots, piercing between the great stones of the dungeon into the black earth beneath.
INSERT. IN CROSS SECTION, we see the roots plunge down between the stones, through the earth and into water.
FULL SHOT — The monster’s body swells, powerful, unstoppable. And suddenly, something on his right side waves up — where his arm had been severed there now is a thin, vine-like extension of wirey green flesh and sinew — split at the ends into tendrils — expanding and growing!
Continue reading Swamp Thing 3.43: Wes’ Lament
“So what were your feelings about the film, once it was finished?” the friendly voice on the DVD asks director Wes Craven. “Did you have any, you know… expectations?”
“No,” Wes sighs. “And, you know, I didn’t work for two years after that. I felt like I’d had my chance and kind of blown it, and would probably never work again.”
Now, this is my third time approaching a movie like this, and what I’ve learned so far is that the DVD commentary helps me to define what the genre of this story is going to be. When I was talking about the making of Superman and Superman II, the story was a true crime podcast. For Swamp Thing, it’s a comedy of errors.
Continue reading Swamp Thing 3.3: It Wasn’t Wes’ Fault
With Lex Luthor and the three Kryptonian villains either imprisoned, abandoned or vaporized, and Lois Lane memory-wiped by an oscular neuralyzer, there’s only one problem left to resolve in the final scenes of Superman II, which is the punishment due to Rocky, a Canadian truck driver who’s mildly insulting when he orders a second plate of food at his favorite diner.
“Hey, Ron?” he grouches, midway through a mouthful. “Gimme another plate of this garbage.”
“Garbage?” retorts the crabby waitress. “That’s my number-one special, Rocky!”
“All right!” he groans, abandoning the argument. “Get me some more coffee too, will ya?” He doesn’t even say “please”. Clearly this man is a major threat to world security who needs to be mercilessly crushed before he strikes again.
Continue reading Superman II 2.54: The Scene of the Crime
Perry White and Jimmy Olsen are worried. Standing in Perry’s office at the Daily Planet on this unquiet night, they fret about the fate of the world.
“I can’t understand it,” Perry grouches, pacing across the room. “Where is he? I mean, he shows up every time a cat gets stuck in a tree, and now he’s decided to pull a disappearing act.”
Jimmy starts pacing too. “Yeah, well, maybe we just haven’t figured out his game plan,” he offers.
“Game plan!” Perry huffs. “It’s fourth down, the two-minute warning has sounded, and the ball’s deep in our territory. Just how brilliant do you have to be? I mean, uh —”
And then he stops, realizing that Jimmy is pacing exactly in step with him, and grimaces at the copy boy.
It’s a cute moment, which gives Jimmy and Perry one of their vanishingly few moments of cuteness in the sequel. But was it worth rebuilding the Daily Planet set?
Continue reading Superman II 2.40: The Reshoots
Let us speak, then, of comedy.
When people talk about the difference between Richard Donner’s work on Superman: The Movie and Richard Lester’s work on Superman II, they often say that Lester was a comedy director, and that he turned Superman II into a comedy. There’s some truth to that — there is a different sensibility between the two directors — but it’s not the difference between serious and comic. It’s the difference between two different kinds of comedy.
Donner’s comedy was mostly verbal. Basically, as soon as the film sets foot in Metropolis, everyone starts wisecracking and never stops. Everyone at the Daily Planet is funny, all of the villains are funny, the big scene between Superman and Lois is a romantic comedy sequence. Everybody talks fast, and they talk a lot.
Lester’s comedy is more visual than verbal, and the best example that I have is the scene that just happens to be coming up right now, when Superman crosses the road and causes a traffic accident. In many ways, this scene embodies Lester’s approach to the film, and the fact that it sucks does not bode well for the future of the franchise.
Continue reading Superman II 2.7: To Get to the Other Side
So here’s how to torpedo your own film in six words, courtesy of Army Archerd’s Hollywood gossip colum in Variety:
Producer Pierre Spengler allows that he and Superman director Dick Donner differed during filming, but he says all’s now well, and Spengler expects to return to complete Superman II. Donner, however, declares, “If he’s on it — I’m not.“
It’s late December 1978, and Superman: The Movie has just opened in theaters to, if you’ll pardon the expression, boffo box office. Everybody who worked on the film is feeling that Christmas spirit — except for Richard Donner, who fucking hates Pierre Spengler, and is not shy about letting people know his truth.
Continue reading Superman II 2.1: Things That Richard Donner Probably Shouldn’t Have Said
I tell you what, today is not a good day to be living in Tinytown.
First, somebody dropped a midget missile on Li’l San Andreas Fault, which made a mess of the Golden Gate Microbridge. Then the model train set fell apart, endangering dozens of itty-bitty passengers.
And worst of all, the model of Hoover Dam has burst, and now the floodwaters are threatening to overwhelm an innocent community of dollhouses, ending playtime as we know it.
Continue reading Superman 1.98: That Dam Scene
“Christopher felt very strongly about staying in character, all the time,” Margot Kidder says, in one of the DVD featurettes. “I, on the other hand, got really bored during the flying scenes, because there were Chris and I strapped together for ten, twelve, fourteen hours a day. So I would hide books down my front, or try and tease Chris, and he’d be going, ‘shut up!’ And we would bicker, and the poor crew would look away, and they’d go ‘action’, and suddenly we’d be madly in love, and they’d go ‘cut’, and we’d go back to our bickering.
“And at one point, I remember Christopher said, ‘Don’t you stay in character?’ and I said, ‘Oh, Chris, for god’s sake, I’ve been Lois Lane for a year now, and all we have to do is look left!'”
So this is what happens to you, I guess, when you spend fifteen weeks writing about the same movie: I’m watching this incredibly romantic night flight sequence, and all I can think about is how much of a pain it was for them to shoot.
Continue reading Superman 1.73: The Takeoff
wrote the LA Times, in July 1977.
Director Donner doesn’t know the exact budget of the film.
“Whatever it is, I’m not privy to it,” he said, sprawled in a chair. “That’s the way these producers work, apparently. It doesn’t make my life any easier, I can tell you. I’ve no way of knowing whether I’m going over budget or not.”
An unusual way to make a movie?
“I would say so. Yes.”
Continue reading Superman 1.36: When the Shooting Starts
As the ground pitched and buckled, Jor-El and Lara moved together across the floor of the great hall of Kryptonopolis. There was nowhere they could go; Jor-El knew that better than anyone. He’d tried to warn them, and had suffered for it.
The dying planet was in its final spasms, rock and crystal crumbling around them. Sliding, crunching sounds, unimaginably loud. They were lost, all of them, irretrievably lost, but Jor-El and his wife ducked and flinched, as everything they’d ever known fell to pieces around them. They continued to move down the hall, looking for — what? shelter? a way out? No hope, no time, but still they kept moving. What else could they do?
The floor gave way. The population of Krypton, a proud and noble people, falling and crying and dying, every one. A great darkness. A final, splintering crunch, and then a burst of light and sound that no one was left to witness.
And then things really started to go badly.
Continue reading Superman 1.30: After Brando