Thanks everyone who attended Friday’s Kevin & Matt Geek Out About Sharks. It’s amazing that a 2-hour video variety show doesn’t have enough time for all the footage we wanted to show. In talking about JAWS as a pop culture force, we looked at some parodies and rip-offs. But there was also a series of visual references that came out of the film’s success, seen in this dialogue of sorts between two horror film-makers.
We’ll start with Wes Craven: In his 1977 version of The Hills Have Eyes, audiences witnesses brutal violence and carnage on screen. After a particularly gruesome attack, we see the remains of a trailer, in the background there’s a ripped poster of a shark (reportedly a poster of JAWS, but I’m not sure.)
Sam Raimi noticed this detail, and he thought it would be funny to do the same thing in his feature film debut, The Evil Dead. In this scene, the torn poster for Hills appears, as if to say “No, your movie is just a movie. This is real horror.”
A year later, Craven struck back by taking Raimi’s movie and showing it as a late-night TV horror movie on Nancy Thompson’s TV set. Again, the message seemed to be “No, Evil Dead is just a movie. THIS is real horror!”
Then in 1987, Raimi got a prop of Freddy Kruger’s glove and placed it inside the work shed. Look carefully, it’s just above the door. The signature prop appeared again when Ash is exploring the Cabin’s basement (clip not seen.)
To the best of my knowledge, the game of tag ends there. Too bad, it would’ve been great if during Music of the Heart (1999) Meryl Streep was seen watching For Love of the Game (1999) on TV, as if to say “That’s not drama. THIS is drama!”
Also, I haven’t seen the Elm Street re-make, but I wonder if there’s any Sam Raimi put-down like a kid playing with a Spider-Man action figure or something.
You hard-core dorks out there, might know what I’m talking about: Steven Spielberg made DUEL (1971) as a TV movie. 7 years later, without Spielberg’s permission, Universal produced an episode of The Incredible Hulk, which was based on Duel. The episode uses chase sequences from the original movie, and features new scenes where David Banner rides in a 1970 red Plymouth Valiant, being pursued by criminals in a big rig (the same stunt truck that was used in the added theatrical scenes for Duel.)
The episode, titled “Never Give a Trucker an Even Break” can be seen in its entirety on Hulu, click here.
Spielberg was furious that his movie was being repurposed, especially since he was striving to be a film maker, not a hack doing comic-book adventures on TV. He wasn’t able to sue, since Universal owned the movie, but he did make sure that all of his future projects were protected from being incorporated as stock footage.
As if to get the last laugh, there’s a scene in Poltergeist where the paranormal investigators visit the kids’ bedroom and see an array of possessed toys flying around the room, notably an action figure of The Incredible Hulk (riding a horse). I have to imagine this is a pot-shot against the Hulk–Duel debacle, but who can say for sure?
Lastly: Hey, I just came across this funny mash-up that uses footage of DUEL and “Never Give a Trucker an Even Brake”, check it out: