Marked For Justice Vs Fan Films

We live in an age where a geeks life is a many splendored thing. Gone are the days of scrounging around at stale old comic marts, tracking down grainy third generation dubs of the Roger Corman Fantastic Four movie or the Star Wars Holiday Special. At the touch of a button the modern dork can access out of print games, underground music, cult movies and become an expert on their chosen field of interest in minutes. But it wasn’t always like that. No mate. I’ve said it before and I will definitely say it again but being about that nerd life before the internet was some fucking toil man. If you wanted something niche… had to put in the leg work.

These days fandom is accessible to all. Comic book movies dominate the multiplexes. TV shows that draw upon the established lore of once reviled cult authors are now smash hits. We are quite literally spoilt for choice. I am not ashamed to admit that there’s a big part of me that is incensed by all this acceptance. What changed? Where was all this enthusiasm and tolerance when I was getting the pipe knocked out of me because I’d rather read an X-Men comic than play football? You people are all posers. I bled for this shit. Actual blood, not fake blood from the joke shop or corn syrup or whatever you cosplay people use. Fuckers.

Anyway look, right back at the dawn of the internet, before Marvel got their shit together and turned the superhero movie into a certified money spinner, that genre was absolutely in the bin. Yeah yeah we may well be past saturation point with superhero movies these days but until you’ve suffered through the Albert Pyun Captain America or endured The Hoff as Nick Fury, and don’t even get me started on the guy from Streethawk playing Daredevil in the Trial Of The Incredible Hulk… spare me your issues with superhero cinema you mewling babies. You don’t know pain.

A few intrepid and creative souls started making low budget ‘Fan Films’.These were guerilla movies, made on a shoe string budget that attempted to do that which Hollywood (at the time) overlooked. That was to create genre shorts that portrayed the characters as we, the fans, knew and loved them. Further to that these efforts demonstrated just how inventive a few dedicated souls could be without the funding or interference  of a studio. They were movies made for the hell of it and many served as career launch pads for the people involved. I guess sometimes it’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission. Unless you get sued.

Anyway I got obsessed with these things, I have a tendency to get consumed when things capture my interest and fan films were no exception.  Here’s a run down of a few of my favourites:

Slaine: The Horned God……

Taking direct inspiration from the Pat Mills/Simon Bisley 2000AD meisterwork, this Italian fan made trailer melted my brain the first time I clocked it. There’s another version with english subtitles out there on the internet but the visuals are not HD so really whats the point. Creator Miguel Mesas really nailed the tone of the comic books and managed to squeeze all the good stuff into this short clip. Ukko? Check. Lord Slough Feg? Check. Warp Spasm? Check. Too bad no one at Titan/Rebellion ever threw some money at this guy to make this trailer a cinematic reality. Miguel also had a stab at making an Arkham Asylum trailer (Grant Morrison/Dave Mckeen rather than the video game of the same name). It’s tight. Watch it HERE

Troops …what you gonna do when them come for you?

Troops was a mockumentary that was doing the rounds on the nerd back in 1997. It spoofed the popular (at the time) TV show Cops. Instead of coppers  however, we follow a group of Sandtroopers from the Tattooine garrison as they go about the business of keeping the peace in a galaxy far far away. The production values are excellent, the storyline is sublime genius and as far as I’m concerned it’s still the gold standard for Star Wars fan movies. There’s so many subtle touches you’d have to be a right poe faced plonker not to enjoy it. Director Kevin Rubio caught a lot of props from the fan community for this and ended up doing some work for The Clone Wars TV show.Watch it below and enjoy having that theme song stuck in your head for the rest of the week.

Batman Dead End …In Gotham No One can Hear You Scream

I think I may have originally scored my copy of Batman: Dead End on VHS from a comic mart back when I was working at Incognito Comics. At the time I was blown away that director Sandy Collora had managed to put together such an authentic looking Batman short on his own dime. Then when the bad guys start to show up? Holy shit. In Gotham, no one can hear you scream….

Andrew Koenig, the guy playing The Joker was the son of the original Chekov, Walter Koenig. Andrew provided the voices for Ambush in the old GI Joe cartoon and was a dedicated human rights activist. Sadly he took his own life in 2010.

Grayson…because everyone loves Dick

Another Batman related fan film was the trailer for Grayson.After discovering this trailer I searched for a long time to see if a full movie was ever made but sadly no, this was only ever intended as a trailer. And mores the pity. Grayson picks up following the alleged demise of the Caped Crusader. Original Robin/ Nightwing Dick Grayson, long since retired from crime fighting, breaks out the underoos to suss out who stitched up Bats.

Whilst it remains unclear exactly why Dick would return to the fray dressed in the clothes he wore as a 13 year old boy instead of his adult alter ego Nightwing,the whole thing is executed with such obvious joy and reverence for the source material that who really cares?

Cameos abound with everyone from Hal Jordan to Chief O’ Hara turning up alongside the usual suspects to give Grayson a hiding. As a massive Dick Grayson fan I was delighted when I found this online a few years back and I constantly lament the fact that we’ve never seen a legit big screen version of the first and best Boy Wonder.

Dirty Laundry ……Yoo-Hoo, I’ll make you famous

Adi Shankar is the don of the Fan Film genre. Indeed, the man has built an entire Bootleg Universe populated by his versions of The Power Rangers, Venom: Truth In Journalism and The Punisher: DIRTY LAUNDRY. Thomas Jane gets another shot at Frank Castle, and this time he absolutely nails it, redeeming his turn in the 2004 stinker The Punisher admirably. Jane’s Punisher seems more wolrd weary than gun crazy here. Just a man at the end of his rope who wants to do his laundry and drink a chocolate milk. Craggy faced genre favourite Ron Perlman shows up and the whole thing is one big bloody violent love letter to one of Marvel’s finest. Jon Bertnal, who can be seen gunning down underworld scum as the present bearer of the Punisher mantle stated that Jane’s version of Frank castle in Dirty Laundry was a direct influence on how he played the character. Easy to see why.

Search/Destroy…. who let the dogs out?

Look the sad truth of it is that despite comic book heroes dominating at the box office and on streaming sites like Netflix, the Brits are woefully under represented. I find this somewhat baffling given 2000AD’s story vaults are rupturing with thousands of original  ideas that would make for challenging TV and cinema. If the viewing public can get their heads around Black Mirror or Inside Number 9 then why the heck isn’t there a Future Shocks TV show in production? Michael Bay churns out Transformers movies more frequently than my tortoise empties his bowels but I can’t get a sniff of an ABC Warriors movie? Come on man.

Thankfully the guys behind the JUDGE MINTY short movie had the stones to take a swing at my beloved Johnny Alpha and they didn’t do a bad job of it. Once again all the fan boy goodies are squeezed in: we get the Doghouse, Wulf Strenhammer, Middenface, Durham Red, electro knux, time grenades, lions and tigers and bears oh my!

Spawn: The Recall….No remorse (I wanna die)

Remember Michael Jai White in the 1997 Spawn movie? I wish I didn’t and  I wouldn’t blame you if you don’t because it’s an irredeemable lump of shit. Todd Mcfarlane’s Spawn was frigging HUGE at one point in the early 90’s but in 2018 I’m honestly struggling to remember why. The only thing I can really remember from the movie other than that it looked like it was flimed through a camera lens smeared with vaseline, was that god awful Atari Teenage Riot/Slayer collabo on the soundtrack. You should all ask  Sophie about that song. Big fan.

Maybe it’s because the book was new when I was a kid and I got caught up in the whole Image Comics hype. When Todd, Rob, Jim and the rest flipped Marvel the V’s and split to start their own gig…well I thought it was just about the most punk rock thing ever. Obviously we all know how that panned out but for a while things seemed kinda exciting and Image shook things up in the comic book world.

On a side note, back when I worked in a comic book store we used to have this guy who would come in every few months and pick up a copy of Spawn Issue 1. Just that issue. Never asked for issue 2 or the issue 49 or whatever, just issue 1. After I’d sold him at least ten of these fucking things (my boss had gone hard when the book was launched and we had a bunch stashed away) I asked this guy “Why do you only collect Spawn issue 1 dude?, Are you not at all curious about how the story unfolds?”. This jackass proceeds to inform me that if he buys up every issue of Spawn issue 1 then he will control the market price and thus make his nut. I left that job ten years ago and we still had thirty fucking issues of Spawn #1 under the counter. The current value of a Spawn issue 1 is around $25 dollars. I guess he still has a few to go huh?

Anyway fuck all that, because these French guys did an awesome job of making a far cooler Spawn film in the biscuit aisle of their local Co-Op than Hollywood could manage with all the infernal resources at their disposal.

OK I’m done with this. If anyone out there wants to help me bring my Stormtroopers: Tour Of Duty screenplay to fruition, my email’s over there on the sidebar. Let’s make a movie.