Monday, April 9, 2012

One for the History Books

1980: Spurned on by Saturday afternoon Martial Art movies (ala Kung Fu theater) of the 60's and 70's, movie and TV trading cards, Batman TV shows reruns (from 1966), D+D games, and a once vast collection of comic books, our basement was transformed into a "mysterious jungles of South America"- the walls were covered with large green garbage bags (filled and molded with newspapers, towels and crumbled cardboard, that were taped and strung together) and lit to appear as a "series of craggy, rocky tunnels leading into a large chamber of evil" and we began filming my adventure flick, "The Caverns of Mystery".

We filmed it with a bulky VCR recorder my mom borrowed from a co-worker, and we shot a series of scenes, emulating the beginning (and ending) of Raiders of the Lost Ark (some of the guys stayed for back to back showings the first weekend it arrived). We had rigged up this elaborate light and sound show, which would signify a malevolent creature held inside the chamber of evil. I was the dashing archaeologist, about to uncover a great secret power. I'd then get hypnotized by the "creature", and go mad, and then disappear in a green cloud (we tried to melt my face off, but we couldn't get any of the four paper machie heads to "melt right"). A green smoke bomb fit the bill, but stank up the basement for weeks.

The tunnels looked great, but the light and sound show, representing the monster inside the "chamber of evil" didn't work (flashlights with multi-colored plastic wraps and some spliced together radio speakers with a Mr. Microphone I got for Christmas one year was hardly "movie magic"). But then we cranked up the color and screwed around with the brightness on the TV (as the footage rolled) and it looked world's better. So, we hooked up our neighbor's VCR (and played the footage) to our TV and recorded the trippy 2001 like ending onto our VCR (not only adjusting the color and brightness, but also by pushing the pause button for a second, giving it a 'skipping effect'). The hyper-weird colors and strange garbled sounds of the static and music, blurring in and out... It was kind of spooky. I didn't know it then, but at age 14, I'd peaked as a film maker.

A few years later, I 'accidentally' taped over it when I was in my 'documentary phase' (shots of me and my brother driving around the city’s downtown at one o'clock in the morning).

A stolen notebook (see Dream of the posting) and 27 minutes of lost video footage. Sounds like the set up to a new high octane action thriller; the objects of some long forgotten culture. The reality? Sometimes, I lose things. Sometimes, things are taken. And now, decades later, with the re-release of the DMG, it's de ja vu all over again. Life is like ... The Caverns of Mystery.


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