The potential matchup between Germany and Holland in the World Cup Final this year (didn’t happen–SPOILER!) got me thinking about that amazing teaser trailer for the Dutch-produced Nazi-Zombie film, Worst Case Scenario. Though the production team put together a brilliant couple of minutes that promised a highly stylized Nazi-Zombie invasion, the film never made it out of the gate and it was finally officially canned after six years of development hell.
Director Richard Raaphorst’s explanation for this made a lot of sense–basically the Zombie film market is oversaturated and it’s impossible to find financing for his vision. Even if he did find the money, people would complain that he’s just copying Dead Snow or something which would be insulting. So Raaphorst has moved on to developing something new called Army of Frankenstein which sounds like it’ll basically pay off the promise of Worst Case Scenario anyway. Still, in a world where garbage like THIS and THIS and even THIS gets made by The Asylum, why can’t this Dutch guy with some vision get a movie going?
Are Transmorphers and Alien vs. Hunter really so cheaply made that their budgets wouldn’t even support a decent but small foreign production like Army of Frankenstein. SyFy spends a large amount of its programming time on genre films that scrape the absolute bottom of the barrel. In fact, I find watching terrible sci fi films from the 80’s on demand to be a lot more entertaining than watching terrible contemporary sci fi films. It would seem like a better idea for SyFy to license old stuff that no one cares about than to pay companies like The Asylum to produce these new films. But that’s not what they do. They are sinking money into genre garbage–and I think most of us would probably devote a couple of hours to genre junk food at least.
So can’t Raaphorst connect with a company like The Asylum and actually produce his film for that DTV/VOD market? Theatrical releases in the US require marketing and distribution budgets that make really small-scale genre stuff nearly impossible. But there’s clearly a market for these films as DVD rentals and SyFy programming can attest, so why can’t we get some that are actually good? Troma produces tons of stinkers, but they’ve also turned out a couple of gems. For every couple of forgettable Cannon films, there’s one that’s really worth watching again or even owning on DVD. Hell, in Japan, new directors break into the film world by making (sometimes) interesting soft core porn. Today’s directors often look back fondly on the cheap and out-of-control films churned out in the 70’s and 80’s. We’re getting a decades’ late sequel to Predator, a remake of Mad Max, and we’ve been treated to homage like Grindhouse and Black Dynamite, but it’s doubtful that anyone will feel that way about stuff like AVH, where a company works litterally just inches away from trademark infringement in order to pump cheaply-made crap into Blockbuster stores and Netflix queues.
I’m under no illusion that Dino De Laurentis, Roger Corman, and Golan and Globus were out to make great art–they were chasing a buck just like the current crop–but somehow we got talents like Sam Raimi, David Lynch, Michael Mann, James Cameron, David Croenenberg, Charles Bronson, Jean Claude Van Damme, and Michael Dudikoff out of those studios. I don’t know if Richard Raaphorst might eventually be amongst that pedigree, but there’s more promise in the teaser trailer for Worst Case Scenario than in anything I’ve ever seen as a premiere on SyFy. It’s too bad we won’t have a Germany/Holland final this year to kick Worst Case Scenario back into production.