Find out how some of your favorite (read: batshit crazy) movies were made!
Entertainment today is packed with zombies, whether it be World War Z, The Walking Dead, or Joan Rivers' Fashion Police. Unfortunately, some people forget the patient zero of the zombie genre, 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. Now brace yourselves, because this may come as a shock, but Night of the Living Dead wasn’t a documentary (apologies if you decapitated your grandma for nothing). What is a documentary is Birth of the Living Dead, a new look at the production of the 1968 classic. This film is going to answer all of our burning questions about the zombie classic - for instance, how did they get those dead people to walk around like that? And why do our couch cushions always get wet after the scary parts? In celebration of Birth of the Living Dead’s release, we’ve made a list of a few other behind-the-scenes documentaries that will enrich your (delicious) brains.
Heart of Darkness
Artists get a little eccentric while creating their work. For example, we all started storing weeks’ worth of our own urine in jars just to write this article. But nothing can compare to the insanity that took hold of Francis Ford Coppola and his crew during the production of Apocalypse Now. It turns out that watching this film's crew completely lose their minds in the jungle is way more interesting than the film itself. If you think Charlie Sheen is the craziest person in his family, consider that one scene in Heart of Darkness depicts his father Martin Sheen drunk, naked, and crying hysterically while covered in his own actual blood, all while a manic Coppola shouts absurd direction at him from off screen. Just imagine how much better In the Army Now would have been if Pauly Shore gave that kind of commitment. And if you don’t believe us that Coppola really went insane during this production, we remind you that sometime after this all went down he decided to make Jack.
Lost in La Mancha
Everyone has a failed project or two, so don’t take it personally that one's ever heard of your ZZ Top tribute band, The Beard Boyz. But as Terry Gilliam of British terrorist organization Monty Python learned in this documentary: That can be a problem when your project is a multi-million dollar movie. The film was called The Man who Killed Don Quixote, and everything from extreme weather, injury, and audio issues delayed and eventually killed the production altogether. Basically, Gilliam and his crew had so many shitty things happen to them in the desert, they are officially recognized as Jews now. And fortunately, in the end, elements of the film along with its behind-the-scenes footage were combined to make an awesome stand-alone documentary.
The Thing: Terror Takes Shape
These days, the only Hollywood effect that still relies on prosthetics is Sylvester Stallone's face. Which is why the amazing effects behind John Carpenter's 1982 masterpiece The Thing deserve the spotlight they get in this doc. And for all you youngsters who don’t understand why these effects are so impressive, consider this: In 1982, a movie that featured a man’s head coming off of his body, sprouting spider legs, and scurrying across the floor literally used less CGI than the average episode of Glee (although it was arguably more homoerotic). We only have one disclaimer: You may want to avoid it if don’t enjoy being scared. Not because of the scenes from the movie, but because it turns out John Carpenter is really fucking creepy.
Best Worst Movie
Have you ever seen a movie that’s so bad it’s good? Well in 1990, a horror movie was made that was so horrible you can consider it the Citizen Kane of stinkers. The film is called Troll 2 and it has less cinematic merit than the footage of Chris Christie’s colonoscopy. But despite its best efforts, it turns out this film actually did produce something legitimately scary - the legion of obsessed fans we meet throughout Best Worst Movie. Yes, people are crazy about this film, so much so that there are sold out screenings across the country 20 years later. All that for a movie called Troll 2 that doesn’t even feature any trolls and was not made as a sequel to Troll. What’s most interesting about this documentary is that its director was actually cast in Troll 2 as a child. As the saying goes, “When life hands you lemons, make an award-winning documentary about how lemons ruined your childhood.”
Jaws: the Inside Story
Jaws is often considered to be among the best movies ever made, which is surprising because it only featured one shark and literally zero tornados. But as Corey Haim could tell you, just because something is successful doesn’t mean it isn’t a complete trainwreck behind the scenes. Seriously, everything went wrong while filming this movie. The robotic shark constantly malfunctioned, they went over budget and missed deadlines, and worst of all, during the shooting of it Spielberg got the idea for The Terminal. This film also reveals how some of the signature features of Jaws, such as rarely showing the shark, only happened because of budget problems. That’s right, if this movie actually went according to plan, it could’ve suffered greatly - ending Spielberg’s directing career and leading to one logical outcome: Schindler's List being directed by George Lucas. This documentary shows us just how close we came to Oskar Schindler being portrayed by a computer generated amphibian.
American Movie proves making movies isn't just for Hollywood douchebags anymore; it's for any douchebag with a dream. This film is set in northwestern Milwaukee, which prides itself on being the most western part of northern Milwaukee. Its subject is a regular working-class guy named Mark Borchardt, who is pursuing his dream of directing his own horror movie. Although Mark’s attempts at amateur filmmaking are mostly so bad that they’re comical, this movie also has some serious heart and an incredible cast of characters. It’s like watching a car accident, only everyone’s ok, and all the passengers are hilarious burnouts. And on top of all of it, the film has an important message: Be grateful you don’t live in northwest Milwaukee.
Making "The Shining"
And clocking in at a mere 35 minutes, you can check out this documentary about The Shining in less time than it takes to murder your entire family (provided you’re not a Mormon). This film was directed by Vivian Kubrick, the 17-year-old daughter of the director, Stanley Kubrick. Stanley Kubrick is so creative, he created a person, who created a movie, the subject of which was the movie he was himself creating. And you couldn’t even finish that Niagara Falls puzzle. The film’s natural pacing really shows you what it’s like to hang out on a Kubrick film set. Interestingly enough, it’s like hanging out on any film set: mind-numbingly dull. But trust us, watching Jack Torrance casually order take-out from the set of the Overlook Hotel is worth your time alone.
Inside Deep Throat
Excluding the shark sex scene from Jaws (which was only cut because, as usual, the shark couldn’t “function” properly), this is the only film about a pornographic movie that made our list. The actual plot to Deep Throat is irrelevant, plus it’s too big a mouthful to explain (zing!), but basically it’s worthy of its own documentary because it changed our culture and made more money than any porn in history. I know what you're thinking: “Even more money than Schoolyard Nymphos 5?” Yes, we were surprised, too. In fact Deep Throat made so much money that it’s not just one of the most profitable porn films of all time, it’s one of the most profitable films, period. Take note, Hollywood; maybe John Carter wouldn’t have bombed so badly had he “finished off” an alien or two. Inside Deepthroat also explores a magical time in porn, when people actually had to go to movie theaters to see them. Next time you think it’s annoying when the people behind you are chatting at the movies, consider yourself lucky that that’s all that they’re doing.