So yeah, in case you didn't pick up the sad news, Vampires Suck
, the latest "movie" from con artists Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, placed #2 at the box office this weekend, making an estimated $12.2 million over the weekend, and a head-shaking $18.5 million since its launch on Wednesday (when it placed #1). Against its $20 million production budget, that means it'll become profitable by the end of the week, and it will also likely surpass the to-date gross of an unfairly neglected rush of cinematic vitality called Scott Pilgrim vs the World
(to be fair, I was kind of expecting it to bomb anyway- the marketing team really had its work cut out for it). That our generations' youth would neglect a film with actual money and talented actors behind it (yes, I know Michael Cera has his haters, but he really does mix it up here) that actually speaks and celebrates the culture of the young teens and twenty-somethings of now in favor of a cheap, crude hackjob of a "parody" which has cultural value equivalent to an aborted fetus trampled by an angry mob of Eat Pray Love
fans (I think we can agree that there are images in Seltzerberg productions that are even less tasteful or creative than that) is depressing to many users of Spill, myself included (I've really got to stop drawing out my sentences like that).
So now I ask the question that I alluded to in that little title on top of the digital page- why do these piles of cinematic waste keep getting made? You'd think that after the failure of Disaster Movie
2 years prior that these abhorrent "spoofs" were done, that audiences would have caught on, that the demand had been exhausted. Furthermore, you'd think that aiming so squarely at the Twilight
series, still so highly popular and fanatically beloved by its core teenage audience to the extent that any attempt at mockery would bring response of riots would have turned off the very audience Vampires Suck
was trying to court. You'd also think that opening on a Wednesday would bring enough bad word-of-mouth prior to the weekend that any demand it may have had would have been swiftly diminished. Alas, once again the more sensible moviegoers are left shaking their heads in abject shame of the human race. But among my bouts of night terrors (which mainly consist of Seltzer and Friedberg waving money in front of my face while farting profusely) I reached an epiphany or two. And with that I segue into my 5 reasons for the continued box office success of these utter wastes of celluloid, some that are kind of obvious (like so many of the "jokes"/references in these turds), along with one or two you may not have previously realized.#5: They Cost Next to Nothing
Yeah, I think mentioned before that they were cheap? Well... yeah, they really are. The average budget for one of these films is usually listed as $20 million (Meet the Spartans
was apparently $30 million), which is more or less the cost of an average romantic comedy with middle-range, reasonably recognizable stars that don't command big A-list asking prices. The major beat being that they tend to look even cheaper than their already middling budget would suggest. I'd bet that there's a significantly sized surplus that gets blown on God knows what (guessing from the acting quality and level of commitment , I'm going to say pot). To put into perspective just how cheap these movies are, I'll tell you about a little movie I saw called MacGruber
(an underrated and overlooked comedy, though admittedly not everyone will agree on that). That movie cost just $10 million, half of the supposed budget for a Seltzerberg production, but looking at the film you wouldn't guess that. Visually it does what it sets out to do- capture the aesthetic of a well-funded yet cheesily-scripted action film. Love or hate the film, it still has more ambition than the alternative, and you can clearly see where all the money went. That Friedberg and Seltzer can't allot us even that kind of respect is downright insulting. Heck, you'd think any teenager with a YouTube account and a MacBook could film this kind of "parody" and it'd look more or less the same in terms of quality. And even if that's a bigger waste of your time, at least it'd be free.#4: The Best Stuff (if you can call it that) is Always in the Trailer
Once again, you probably already know this by now, but the Hollywood marketing machine is more often than not a deceitful bastard. The most common way of doing this is to stuff all the film's best moments into the advertisements, thus making a mediocre to bad movie look far more appealing that it actually is. In the case of Friedberg/Seltzer joints, it's as if they make those "best moments" knowing right off the bat that they're going to put it in the trailer, which makes the films themselves highly disjointed but makes the trailers hilarious
(*sarcasm, duh*) to the main target demos. The central issue, then, is that they're essentially making their whole movie around what topical references they can shoehorn into a two minute trailer, while giving them an excuse to be even lazier with the final product. It's like one big, terrible joke that people don't seem to be catching on to.#3: Hot Skanks... Now "Unrated"!
Yes, sex still sells in movies, even when its the chaste, PG-13 variety. Which is why Friedberg and Seltzer find a half-assed excuse to put a cadre of cheap floozies in underwear in at LEAST one, likely two or three scenes per crapterpiece. Does it serve any purpose to the plot whatsoever? Well for starters, since when do these things have a plot?
But the exploitation of preteen boys who don't know how to surf for porn doesn't stop there. Because then there's the "Unrated" DVD that comes out a few months later, which those same easily manipulated boys will think that this may in fact be their gateway to the life-changing sight of a girl's bared cleavage. But after they buy the waste of shelf space at their local Wal-Mart, they realize that the movie itself is barely changed at all, and must rely on their powers of imaginative thinking to create the mental image of breasts in their minds, now unfortunately melted into a worthless pile of sludge from having watched Epic Movie
not once, but twice.#2: They Feed Off R-Rated Splatterfests
Now here's where I made an epiphany- the old trick teens have been pulling for decades now. You know the one- buy a ticket for the PG-13 film and instead sneak into the theater showing the R-rated bloodbath you wouldn't be able to get into otherwise. You'd like to admit that it doesn't happen anymore, but it's most definitely a big contributing factor to the success of these sh**storms. On the bonus features for Rambo
it was mentioned that studio estimates attribute a significant portion of Meet the Spartans
' opening weekend business to teenagers who later snuck into Stallone's ultraviolent 80s revival (not the first time, and definitely not the last for him, either). So that got me doing a little research, and lo and behold it turns out that this has been Fox's main strategy to timing these films. Take a look:Epic Movie
($18.6m opening) - PG-13 [#1]Same weekend: Smokin' Aces
($14.6m opening) - R [#2]Meet the Spartans
($18.5m opening) - PG-13 [#1]Same weekend: Rambo
($18.2 m opening) - R [#2]Disaster Movie
($5.8 m opening) - PG-13 [#7]Same Weekend: Babylon A.D.
($9.4 m opening) - PG-13 [#2]
($7.8m opening) - PG-13 [#5]
($11.5 m 3rd weekend) - R [#1]
($12.2 m opening) - PG-13 [#2]Same Weekend: Piranha 3D
($10 m opening) - R [#6]The Expendables
($16.5 m 2nd weekend) - R [#1]
As you can see, there tends to be a pattern where the latest Seltzerberg production is released alongside and/or in close proximity of the latest R-rated action or horror flick with built-in appeal to teenagers who can't actually see it. One of the many reasons Disaster Movie failed (aside from opening on a dead weekend with clusterf*** marketing) was that it had no R-rated films to feed off of, save Tropic Thunder
, which had absorbed a lot of demand already by that point. As for Vampires Suck
, it had the teen-ready Piranha 3D to prey on, along with a still-popular Stallone flick. I can't wait to see what they open Paranormal Movie
#1: Kids Are F***ing Retarded
We all kind of saw this coming, but I think it still needs to be said, as there is still a good number of people unwilling to face this truth- our culture is borderline brain-dead, and that lack of basic taste is reflected in our popular culture. Now, this isn't necessarily pop culture's fault- America's educational system has been severely lacking for some time now. And if we are to believe the children who walk the halls of these underfunded schools, Meet the Spartans
is a hilarious movie, and I'd bet those same kids (barring the possibility that they've grown out of it) have flocked to Vampires Suck
, and will subsequently buy the DVD. Then in a few years time those kids will get their girlfriends pregnant before finishing high school, and the bastard pieces of conception that will make up the following generation to ours will see these same movies (possibly still made by Seltzerberg) and continue funding the cycle of shoddy, half-assed "parody" films, which will continue barring the unlikely possibility that Jason Friedberg and Arron Seltzer have failed to impregnate any cocaine-influenced strippers that will raise their bastard children that will take vengeance upon the cruel world which they were brought into by making more of these unsightly pieces of God-awful, bile-spewing, SHIT
Having that said, please feel free to leave your comments below, which will likely consist of potentially threatening hate mail towards Friedberg and Seltzer, or... well that's probably it, really.
I'd also like to thank Martin Liebman of bluray.com for writing the review of Meet the Spartans which inspired the epiphany that led to this post. It's a great site for keeping up-to-date on the latest Blu-Ray releases.http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Meet-the-Spartans-Blu-ray/800/#Review
I also figured that including any pictures related in any way to these abominations of film would be overdoing it- reading about them is bad enough.