Krakatoa: East of Java


Titles That Make You Go, “Uh?”

Article by Matteo Molinari

So the other day I had to spend a lot of time at my local Best Buy, for — you know, one of those reasons, nothing important… You know, stuff. Mad stuff… I was there for a while. Business as usual… All right, if you really want to know, I accidentally stuck my head into a dryer and I had to wait for 911 to come and rescue me. Happy? Anyway, I had a very good reason for finding myself in that pickle. Or dryer. Whatever.

Zombie UndeadAs I was walking by the shelves of the store, perusing all the new DVDs, my eyes fell on a new horror, whose title I found mesmerizing: “Zombie Undead”. I couldn’t believe it! (no, I lie; I did believe it, but still it was surprising). I thought about it… “Zombie Undead”. What an amazing silly title. A zombie is, by definition, undead. At least a living dead in a horror movie. Now, “living dead” is a paradox — but “zombie undead” is a redundancy. It’d be almost like calling a movie “Simian Monkey” or “Chef Cook”. “Zombie Undead”. What an awesomely inept title!

I was so lost in my thought that I accidentally slipped and dove inside the dryer.

So now that I was forced to stay there, I started to ponder about stupid movie titles — titles that are quite odd or that don’t seem to know what the movie is they’re representing.

For instance, I understand the reason to identify a series of movies with either the same title or a variation of the original one — but “The Pink Panther Strikes Again” and “Revenge of the Pink Panther” have nothing to do with the Pink Panther diamond that was the “protagonist” of the first movies in the series.

And let’s not even talk about misguided movies like “Halloween III” or “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2”. May they rest in peace.

Trapped in my metallic, echoing head canister, I started to think… And a few movies came to mind.

Abbott & Costello movies
The first two belong to the classics: “Abbott and Costello Go to Mars” and “Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff”. Funny movies. Both of them. With one tiny little problem each, though.

In “Abbott and Costello Go to Mars”, Abbott and Costello go to Venus. Not Mars. You see, Earth is “sandwiched” between Venus (a little more than 67 million miles from the Sun) and Mars (141+ miles from the Sun). So it appears that Abbott and Costello turned left rather than right. It happens. Evidently, nobody told that little change to the marketing department, and thus the title became a filthy lie.

As for the other Bud & Lou movie, “Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff” — a movie originally thought for Bob Hope, but then adapted to the beloved comedy duo — when you sit down to watch it, you’d think to know the name of the killer from the get go, right? Uh — no. In the movie, Boris Karloff is not the killer. How about that, for misdirection?

And then there was the Maximillian Schell’s disaster classic “Krakatoa — East of Java”. Uuuh… I don’t know how to tell them, but the volcano Krakatoa is actually west of Java. Unless of course the marketing department had a globe they bought at Wal-Mart, they found Java on it, and to find the Krakatoa they started to circle the globe East — some 24,000 miles. If they actually did that, the title would be correct. Ish. Sorta.

FrogsIn more recent times, there was one of the first 1972 eco-horror movies called “Frogs”. The poster painted an oversized frog with a human hand dangling off of its mouth. Wow! Giant killer frogs? I’m so there! Only a minor problem: the victims in this movie are killed, in order, by snakes, spiders, monitor lizards (or tegus, or some other big lizards — which apparently know how to read labels of poison), a clever teaming of leeches and snakes, a crocodile, snakes (again!), and a snapper turtle. Throughout the movie, all the frogs do is keep an eye on people and hop here and there, mostly thrown by stagehands onto the set. Oh, no, wait! The frogs do murder a star-and-striped cake. Peculiar. It looked delicious.

But I understand that if they’d titled the movie “Snakes, Spiders, Monitor Lizards, Leeches, Crocodiles and Snapper Turtles” it would have lost some of its dramatic impact. Oh, well…

“Hang in there, we’re preparing your escape!” yelled the fireman with the welding torch outside of the dryer.

Escape From the BronxWhat? Escape? But of course! How could I have forgotten about “Escape from the Bronx”?! The Italian trash movie about a gang leader named… Trash. Yeah, Trash. How ironic. Anyway, this is a spaghetti movie that tried to capitalize on two American flicks, “Escape from New York” (in Italian, “1997: Fuga da New York”) and “The Warriors” (in Italian, “I Guerrieri del Bronx”). See? If you combine “Escape from” from the first title, with “Bronx” from the second — Italian — one, all you have to add is “the” and voilà! “Escape from the Bronx”, guaranteed to attract legions of fans of the first two movies. Well, not exactly: not only did the plan not work (mostly because the movie sucks), but despite its clever title, “Escape from the Bronx”, the movie tells the story of a group of people who are fighting to stay in the Bronx.

Still from Italian descent is the gargantuan disaster that is “Troll 2”, where nothing seems to be working. Starting from the title, “Troll 2” — which indicates a movie about… Goblins! Yep. For whatever reason, someone decided that there were not supposed to be any trolls in “Troll 2”. It’s almost too easy to make fun of this train wreck — but if you haven’t, watch the wonderful documentary “The Best Worst Movie” and almost all your questions will be answered (alas, we won’t get any insight from the incredibly popular “Oh, my Goooooooooooooooooood!” line).

Ballistic: Ecks Vs. SeverThe chainsaw is cutting through the metal of the dryer, so I don’t have much time left. But not before pondering that monumental root canal that is Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu’s “Ballistic – Ecks vs. Sever”, a bona fide bad movie that tries to tell the story of two secret agents of some sort who team up to fight against someone else… At best I figured it was a DIA agent named Gant, but I’m not sure. Nor am I sure what this mess is all about, either. Nor does any member of the audience. But the point is, Ecks is not vs. Sever. If you care. Which I doubt.

The Karate Kid PosterFinally, the last movie whose title was misleading (at least to me) was one of those pointless remakes, in this case “The Karate Kid”, with Jaden Smith, a kid who is as likable as anthrax. In the movie, the kid meets a Chinese master who teaches him the secrets of… kung fu? What happened to karate? Don’t you know there’s a difference? Jackie Chan, of all people, should know! But if for you it’s the same, here’s an idea for a sequel: bring that obnoxious kid to a donut shop, leave him there for three months, and then do “The Sumo Kid”. That I’d watch in a heartbeat.

Anyways, the firemen have set me free, now.

Is anybody interested in buying two halves of a dryer? Anyone? Anyone…?

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