Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

Reading Hollywood’s mind

One of the best things about going to see a brand new, big-budget, summer action flick is that you can count on lots of trailers for even more big-budget action flicks (for the rest of the summer and beyond) being shown before the feature presentation. And Friday’s debut of X-Men was no disappointment in this regard. They must have shown ten or eleven trailers before the movie started. In fact, by the time they were through, I had to think hard about what movie I had actually come to see.

After all that, however, only about three of the promos actually stuck in my mind. And, refreshingly, none of them totally gave away the entire plot of the film they were hawking which, as faithful readers know, is one of my serious pet peeves. This gives us a chance to play one of my favorite games: Guess What the Movie Will Actually Be Like. It also affords us an opportunity to test my infamous clairvoyant talents.

The three trailers:

  • Blair Witch 2: This is definitely the scariest thing I’ve seen in quite some time. This sequel trailer, like the original film, is mainly a bunch of erratic camera movements showing nothing but somehow giving the viewer an ominous feeling. And these few minutes of a trailer clearly cost way more than the entire original film. (That’s the scary part.) But how do you do a sequel to The Blair Witch Project? I don’t want to spoil anything for those who still haven’t seen the first movie but who still hope to, but let’s just say that it would be hard to work in any of the original characters.

    My Psychic Prediction: A second team of filmmakers follows in the footsteps of the original group. They are led by Zoe Donohue, who is obsessed with finding out what happened to her sister Heather. To their horror, they find themselves trapped in an old house in which they are on camera 24x7 for the voyeuristic entertainment of a national television audience. Once a week, they vote to have one of the group sent to the cellar. The last person has to watch from the corner, but his or her heirs get a million dollars in prize money.

  • Castaway: Tom Hanks seems very preoccupied with getting a shipment out and then getting home to his wife, Helen Hunt. But then, in an amusing chain of travel mishaps vaguely reminiscent of Steve Martin’s travails in Planes, Trains & Automobiles, his plane crashes into the ocean. Next thing we see: Hanks dragging himself onto an island beach. What happens next? Will he encounter a manservant and call him Friday? Or will he find himself stranded in paradise with a a skipper, a rich couple, and a professor—making this the long-awaited big screen version of Gilligan’s Island? Or will he find himself alone with Anne Heche, verbally sparring for six days and seven nights only to find that she likes men after all?

    My Psychic Prediction: Tom will be merely one of several contestants on the island, who must to compete to survive over a period of many weeks. They will do anything they have to, including eating a rat. To Tom’s chagrin, he nearly wins the prize money, but in the second-to-last week he is voted off the island in favor of Harrison Ford.

  • Lost Souls: This creepy-looking movie stars Winona Ryder, who has creeped us out in everything from Beetlejuice to Heathers to Alien Resurrection. The storyline looks reminiscent of The Exorcist, with a fair number of paranoia/conspiracy touches à la Rosemary’s Baby. In other words, it looks to be yet one more apocalypse thriller about the end of the world in the vein of Stigmata, End of Days and a bunch of other movies I never saw.

    My Psychic Prediction: Satan’s evil plan for humanity is as follows: after The Rapture, everyone left on earth is forced to watch everyone else on earth 24x7 on their television sets. Every week everyone on the planet has to vote to send one person to hell. The rest keep on watching the ultimate reality show on their TVs until the next week until they again vote to send someone to hell. (The ones who get to go to hell are the lucky ones.)

    -S.L., 20 July 2000

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