Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Most Horrifying Film To Hit The Screen

Alright, then. We've established in the previous post Weird Al's Horror Cred, but what of my own design credentials?

I am a designer with a Bachelor of Architecture degree from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. I worked for thirteen years at the firm Olio, Inc., creating concepts for themed retail and entertainment venues. Design contributions include both The Dig and AquaVenture for the Atlantis Resort at Paradise Island, Bahamas, for which I designed an architectural vocabulary, ancient artifacts, a hieroglyphic language, a backstory, a docent guide, a visitor’s site map, and suggested merch tie-ins (including the foundations for an archaeologist’s journal and storyboards for a CD-ROM game)...
...the Mad Science Park at COSI, the Museum of Science and Industry, Columbus, Ohio; uShaka Marine World in Durban, South Africa...

...environmental graphics for CityWalk, Universal Studios; collaborating for the interiors and merch displays for Attack of the Killer B’s! in Hollywood, California...
...the Ko Olina Resort in Oahu, Hawaii; Pearls of Arabia in Dubai, UAE; Al Ain Wildlife Park in Al Ain, UAE; and the Lost Chambers at the Atlantis Resort on the Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE.
Artifact fabrication by Scientific Art Studio

So, quite a substantial run, one would say: You've been doing Theme Design since your late twenties.

Nope. Since at least 1979.

Wait, you say. You graduated from Cal Poly in 1994. Are you telling me you've being doing this since you were, what, nine? Proof or GTFO. Pics or it didn't happen.

Oh, it happened.

That's right. I designed a concept for a "Super Train Testing Center" Thrill Ride. When I was nine.

Yes, I understood the concept for "Cross-Promotional Marketing Synergy" before I could articulate it as such. Not that the buzzwords "Cross-Promotional Marketing Synergy" actually communicate a damn thing.

And yes, I was a kid who could see a newspaper ad for the upcoming fall schedule from NBC and immediately gravitate to the one image of a looming vehicle on tracks and immediately think "rollercoaster" because F Yeah Rollercoasters.

And yes, I thought it would be perfectly sensible to have a canopy fitted over the passenger compartments that would be blown off by explosive bolts in the middle of the ride because that would be so cool, and then refitted with new canopies before the train returns to the load-in area.  The fact that vaguely familiar mechanical rubble would be delivered via a chute marked "Eject" to a bin would lend credence to the presumed danger of the ride as it spontaneously disintegrates around the new passenger.

So yes, I was sure that issues of Safety, Budget and Throughput would be subservient to the issues of That Would Be So Totally Awesome. That's since changed, of course, but I'm proud to say that reflex is still present within me.

No, I don't think I've ever seen a full episode of "Super Train." Is that important?

Dedication or Early Onset OCD? This piece was clearly influenced by a visit to Knott's Berry Farm and a ride in the Calico Mine Train, and indicative of a lifelong enthusiasm for theme park attractions.

Bona Fides locked in? Good. let's get to it, then.

T  H  E     P  R  E  M  I  S  E

Roll back the clock to the early 80s Slasher Movie Heyday. Since the lightning-in-a-bottle phenomenon that was John Carpenter's 1978 film Halloween, others attempted to replicate its pop culture and box office mojo. Some were successful, others not so much. The 1982 "Nature Trail to Hell in 3-D" would have been in the latter category.

Let’s be honest: a real “Nature Trail to Hell” movie would have been a derivative shlockfest , a stray nugget in a glut. Not to say its scenes of splatter and gore wouldn’t be serviceable, but a benchmark of the era? Nothing would suggest it.

Its troubled production by a sketchy fly-by-night team seemed more suited to tax writeoffs and interstate fraud violations, and yet, it was completed and distributed. After exhaustive rummaging, you can find proof of it in old newspapers’ microfilm archives and everything.

Hat tip to the blogs Held Over Movies, Temple of Shlock, and Scenes From The Morgue for sourcing background collage elements for this piece of artwork.

And then, after an unconventionally brief theatrical run, it vanished. However, rather than a brand of ignominy, this feature became its post hoc marketing. Rumors circulated that its “suspiciously” short release was not an indicator of quality, but of concerned parental groups secretly lobbying to pressure theater chains to drop its screenings. Eventually, bootleg VHS copies would circulate hand-to-hand among curious horrorphiles, and the static of each successive generation of grainier and grainier videotape would be interpreted as occulting the most transgressive depravities ever put to celluloid. It became the movie Everyone Has Heard About, and No One’s Ever Seen, and thus its mystique was secured.

Ostensibly, "Weird Al" selected this obscure flick as the source of his tribute to the ascendant Slasher Movie genre for his 1984 album "In 3-D."

P  R  E  S  H  O  W

To clue the guests in to this premise, Video Kiosks which are set up alongside the entry queue would show a mockumentary on "Nature Trail to Hell — in 3-D."

If the producers could get the Biggest Wish In The Whole Wide World for this project, verisimilitude for this backstory can be achieved by interviewing Industry Notables. Both Rob Zombie and Eli Roth (significantly mentioned in my previous post) collaborated with Halloween Horror Nights in the past, perhaps they can be roped into bolstering that aforementioned mystique of the fictitious film by reminiscing about their first discovery and/or pursuit of it. Established film historians can add credence by discussing the significance of the movie, or rather, the lack thereof. For variety, interspersed with these interviews should be covers of the "Nature Trail to Hell" song by modern bands. C’mon, musicians, I know you Alaholics are out there.

It would be uncharacteristic not to take this opportunity to plausibly shill for the presumptive 30-Year "Splatterversary" restored Blu-Ray release of "Nature Trail to Hell." Look, it's optimized for 3D television monitors, but includes a version in red-blue anaglyph for use with the four commemorative collector's 3-D glasses included inside. (Because, seriously? Only offer one or two sets of 3-D glasses? This is the kind of crap horror movie you see with your friends; you'll need at least four sets.)
If it’s possible to finagle them into this, a rare few celebrities who were active and notable in the early 1980s will hail the rerelease on Blu-Ray, because it would open up a new window of opportunity to sue for damages. One of them can act as the plaintiff for a case of malicious misrepresentation, for back in 1981 when the camera crew broke into their trailer when they were sleeping to film a scene around them, and then claimed them as an above-the-title star of the picture. Yeah, that’s the kind of “troubled production” that it was.

Tomorrow, the walkthrough of the spookhouse maze begins. Hope to see you there!

P.S.: I'm guessing it's not going to be long until that previous Drive-In Ad gets coöpted for some band's fliers, so let me save you a step, you lazy, thieving bastards. Don't say I never did nothin' for you DIYers.

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