Snakes on a train. Apparently there is more to say.
July 28, 2006 5:10 AM   Subscribe

Blasphemy on a train. We've talked all about the movie epic of our generation, Snakes on a Plane, before, but now that its within a month of opening, most of us can't even sleep at night. What to do? Placate your anxieties with the direct-to-DVD low budget rip-off from The Asylum. What better testament to capitalism than a company like this succeed riding on the coat-tails of real movies about codes, pirates, and gorillas.
posted by allkindsoftime (24 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In all fairness, Asylum's inspiration may be obvious, but at least they've given some degree of thought into their cash-in attempt. I don't think Samuel L. Jackson is going to be dealing with any Mayan curses. (Although if a movie did pit Samuel L. Jackson against a Mayan curse, I'd be first in line.)
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:13 AM on July 28, 2006

As someone who's worked in direct to video productions (and is currently in the process of setting up a production company), I have to say I slightly resent the idea that direct to video movies are not "real movies". The process of making them is basically exactly the same, and the line between low-budget theatrical release movies and higher-budget direct to video is often blurry (and lower-budget movies made for theatrical release sometimes get demoted to direct to video, just as successful/good direct to video productions get a theatrical release some times).

Most direct to video fare does not consist of obvious rip-offs like this, though, although its known for a certain lack of originality. But in general, what's direct to video today is just what used to be B-movies and low-budget productions 20-30 years ago.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:21 AM on July 28, 2006 [2 favorites]

Get those mother fucking snakes off my train!
posted by furtive at 5:46 AM on July 28, 2006

jscalzi was close.
posted by brain_drain at 6:07 AM on July 28, 2006

El Mariachi was made as a direct to video film (aimed at the Spanish market), before it got picked up.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:08 AM on July 28, 2006

Poor old Lance Henrikson...
posted by A189Nut at 6:30 AM on July 28, 2006

The trailer (mov) is priceless, and gratuitiously grotesque.

"There are snakes... (pantpantpant)... on our train car," doesn't have the same ring to it as IWTMFSOMMFP.
posted by yeti at 7:01 AM on July 28, 2006

slimepuppy: Well, Mexican, Spanish-language market, yes. It's the same market I've worked in, by the way, and it's pretty big, and fairly lucrative, especially since, as Robert Rodriguez observed, the vast majority of movies being made in it are crappy, far worse than average US direct to video releases.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:14 AM on July 28, 2006

Maybe someone can tell me this:

How can they possibly make enough money to justify the expense? If these were home movie quality I would understand, but these resemble feature films in effects (at least, judging from the trailer).

Who buys these videos? Who would pay $18 for a Pirates of Treasure Island DVD when you can spend around the same for Pirates of the Caribbean?
posted by Deathalicious at 7:36 AM on July 28, 2006

posted by IronLizard at 7:44 AM on July 28, 2006

It's rental, mostly. The distribution costs of direct-to-DVD is also much lower than theatrical release, and effects, well, effects are cheap to do digitally, in many cases. A lot of direct to video used to be shot on 16 or 35mm, but video (and increasingly HD) is getting more common now, and in many cases, you can't see much of a difference on a normal TV set (not to mention in a downloaded trailer).

And on sale and rental, these generally don't cost as much as a blockbuster movie, especially not if that blockbuster is new. You might pay 18 dollars to buy a new blockbuster movie, but 10 or so to buy a direct to video release. The rental price ratio is not quite as big, but similar.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:48 AM on July 28, 2006

Joakim Ziegler, that's why Rodriguez went for that market. Cheap, but fun!

Straight-to-video is a profitable and creative field in my mind. I've seen quite a few (knowingly) tongue-in-cheek straight to video horror movies that beat the everloving hell out of the soulless Hollywood films like Godsend, Darkness Falls, Boogieman, Skeleton Key etc. ad nauseum.

There's an honesty in straight-to-video films that can't be beat. And when they're bad, they tend to be so bad that they're good. Unlike, oh, say, Dr. Boll (die you talentless little fuck!) and his insipid video game adaptations.
posted by slimepuppy at 8:01 AM on July 28, 2006

From the interview:
Did you ever consider for going with slugs or spiders or maybe bees on a train? What would your response be if I just said "Dude, what's UP with these movies?"

David: Our film has snakes. On a train. Very different. Train. See?
posted by yeti at 8:10 AM on July 28, 2006

Cool thread.

Rodriguez gets a lot of mileage out of his "fast, light, cheap, good" production techniques, but as JZiegler implicitly points out, he's really just adapting technology to well-established practices.

It's not going to be Lord of the Rings, but then, most movies don't have to be.
posted by lodurr at 8:13 AM on July 28, 2006

Somebody told me that "Snakes on a plane" used to be Hollywood slang/shorthand for including a lot obvious characteristics of recent blockbusters in hopes that you'll just get lucky.

E.g., if you'd had blockbusters in the previous year about alien abduction, shipwrecks and political intrigue, a "snakes on a plane" approach would be to make a movie about a ship whose entire crew is abducted by aliens, leaving the ship barreling toward the rocks with all the passengers still on board, one of whom is a beautiful single-mother who is a reformist candidate for the Senate from Texas, in a fiendish plot to throw the election to her rival.

Any truth?
posted by lodurr at 8:20 AM on July 28, 2006

If you want to see how creative a direct to video market can really be, check out the Japanese one. People like Takashi Miike started out there, and still work in it, because it's almost totally free from censorship and creative limitations. I'm personally hoping to be able to work with a similar lack of limitations here in Mexico. It's really not that kind of market here yet, but I think it would only take a few movies to open people's eyes to it.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:26 AM on July 28, 2006

Poor old Lance Henrikson...

They got C. Thomas Howell too. Damn you, Asylum!
posted by bpm140 at 9:08 AM on July 28, 2006

Poor old Lance Henrikson...

Actually Lance has a long history of doing direct to video movies.

Which is exactly the reason I'm such a fan.

I would guess that on average, I probably see about twice as many direct-to-video movies as I see theatrically released. As someone said above, there is more opportunity for creativity.

So yeah, I've seen a lot of crap. But every once in a while, you get a gem so good that instantly becomes a cult hit among your circle of friends.
posted by quin at 9:57 AM on July 28, 2006 [2 favorites]

"... off my motherfuckin' train."

You gotta say it both times...
posted by baylink at 10:19 AM on July 28, 2006

If you're into straight to video ripoffs, 90210, or softcore porn, you should check out Ian Ziering in The Corporation (aka Subliminal Seduction, aka Flash Frame, aka Mind Storm) which was a Sci-Fi porn version of The Firm. You used to be able to get it at your local Blockbuster.
posted by pwb503 at 10:39 AM on July 28, 2006

Metafilter: It's not going to be Lord of the Rings, but then, most websites don't have to be.
posted by indiebass at 11:44 AM on July 28, 2006

From the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin comes the Blanks on a Blank film competition. The Drafthouse's random generator provides contestants with an animal and a vehicle. See how easy it is?
posted by lunalaguna at 2:08 PM on July 28, 2006

VENOMOUS is pretty hard to get wrong, but they got it wrong.
posted by emelenjr at 7:03 PM on July 28, 2006

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