Actually, the Tracy Lords version of Princess of Mars is produced by a company called 'The Asylum.'
Asylum's specialty is something called 'Mockbusters'. Essentially, they ride on the coattails of big budget Hollywood exploitation films by producing a direct to video film with a similar title and premise which comes out at the same time.
Thus, when King Kong gets released, they produced 'King of the Lost World', Alien vs Predator hits theatres, and Alien vs Hunter hits video store shelves. Land of the Lost is mockbustered by Land that Time Forgot. Terminator: Salvation is matched by The Terminators. The Day The Earth Stood Still is accompanied by The Day the Earth Stopped. 10,000 BC is trumped by 100,000,000 BC. And Transformers is challenged by Transmorphers. There's miles more of them, but this is a representative sample.
It all started early in the companies history, when they'd happened to produce a version of War of the Worlds at the same time as the Spielberg production, and they sold something like 6 times as many units as usual. That's when the light bulb went off in their head.
Their modus operandi is to shoot cheap and shoot fast. CGI costs have dropped a bit, so they like to use CGI dinosaurs and giant spiders and whatnot. They'll shoot internationally - their Allan Quartermain movie (to accompany the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) was actually shot in South Africa and benefitted from impressive locations.
Generally, their budgets are under a million dollars. They generally make their costs back in three months.
The downside? Often, the movies are not terribly good. Thin budgets show in threadbare sets or locations, often people have to stand around and talk a lot, to pad the running time.
Because of the very short shooting schedule and the tight budgets, what often gets short shrift are the script and performances. There's a desperate need to get it all done quickly and get it in the can. So they concentrate on just getting a shot, rather than getting a good shot, or pacing it out right.
The result is often wordy movies that aren't terribly lively, the dialogue often lacks snap and sizzle, there's very little time to actually develop the characters, or for the actors to flesh out their performances, there's very little of the quirkiness or inventiveness that made Roger Corman's boys an enduring legend. There's little sign of genuine humour in these movies. In the end, they're generic product with little sign of becoming beloved cult films.
Having said that, I actually liked their small scale version of 'The Lost World' more than the bloated Spielberg/Cruise travesty, if for no other reason than they gave C. Thomas Howell, an underrated actor, a chance to do a nuanced performance. Alien vs Hunter and The Terminators are decent actioners with some nice set pieces and good momentum, and look all the better for the degeneration of the original franchises. On the other hand, their forest fantasy 'lord of the rings' type movies just drag. As for 'Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus'..... well, that has to be seen to be believed, and you won't believe it even then.
I can't really say that I'm a fan of Asylum pictures, though I've went out of my way to watch most of them. I think I just admire the Chutzpah.
Still, what it means is that we will get to see a version of Princess of Mars in the next few weeks. So, all to the good.
But wait, you ask - the Big Budget Blockbuster Barsoom isn't coming out until 2012??? Isn't Asylum shooting its wadd? Prematurely cinejaculating?
Ah, but they're not releasing Princess of Mars for the Barsoom movie. They're releasing it for Cameron's Avatar. Their tagline for Princess of Mars is 'The Original Story that Inspired James Cameron's Avatar' based on Cameron's comments in interviews that he was heavily influenced by Burroughs.
So, Princess of Mars is an Earthman transplanted to a world of primitive aliens movie designed to ride Avatars coattails. And with any luck, it'll keep on riding into the big budget Barsoom movie. Hell, if it works, Asylum may actually make more cheesy Barsoom movies, either from the original public domain Burroughs novels - or from similar Barsoomiads - Gullivar of Mars for instance, or Kline's Outlaw and Swordsman of Mars. Basically, if the big budget Barsoom franchise takes off.... they're ready.
This is not the first time that Asylum has mined Burroughs, by the way. They used Burroughs caspak novelette 'The Land that Time Forgot' as the public domain answer to 'Land of the Lost', and they've also done pellucidar with 'Journey to the Earth's Core' which is definitely more Burroughs than Verne.
Actually, from the Trailer, it's not nearly as bad as I feared. Asylum has a CGI spider package and they tend to overuse it, so I figured all the multi-legged barsoomian beasties would bet rendered as spiders. And I figured the rest would be shortcuts - so just use horses instead of thoats, have the green men simply be a version of human Tuaraeg or Bedouin, etc. They clearly weren't going to render full Tharks. I figured they'd also cheat on flyers as well.
Instead, it looks like they've opted for at least some decent CGI critters (although they look more like Otis Kline's riding birds than 8 legged horsies). They couldn't do full scale tharks, but they've at least put decent monster masks on them, there's actual flyers. And there are some pretty decently epic looking visuals. All of this is good news.
Tracy Lords is easy on the eyes and a rather underrated actress. Sabato? Don't know him, he looks like a generic lunk. But then again, I can't really say that they're vastly inferior to the big budget stars.
The downside? Well, the Asylum teaser trailer looks good. But often the Asylum puts all the best parts into a trailer and then pads the movie out with tedious filler. Check out the trailer for Mega-Shark vs Giant Octopus and then watch the movie itself. So you have to be careful.
Still, we have to acknowledge that the original story was a classic ripping good adventure. Perhaps even the Asylum can't screw that up. So who knows.
Anyway, it'll give us something to watch, and something to talk about waiting for the big movie.
And who knows, it raises an interesting possibility. Princess of Mars, and the first few Barsoom novels are clearly in Public Domain, or could probably be had cheaply. As is Gullivar of Mars, and likely other early Barsoomiad's, Pope's Journey to Mars, Tolstoy's Alita of Mars, LaRouge's 'Prisoner of Mars', as well as Otis Kline's own classics.
Remember when Steven Spielberg was making his 'Lost World', and a host of smaller and international production companies pushed out four or five different versions of the public domain Conan Doyle story. Or how there were a handful of versions of Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth.
It's possible that we may be seeing a lot more of John Carter and his pals than just Hollywood's designated golden goose.
--- On Mon, 12/21/09, Randy Harmelink <rharmelink@...> wrote:
From: Randy Harmelink <rharmelink@...>
Subject: Re: [barsoom] Tracy Lords as Dejah Thoris?
Received: Monday, December 21, 2009, 1:22 AM
Oh, no. Did that look cheesy.
Take a look at the director's ratings for previous projects:
http://us.imdb. com/name/ nm0040630/ filmorate
Not a good sign.
The director of the 2012 version of the film also directed Wall-E, Finding
Nemo, and Toy Story. He's got almost all animated credits, but all highly
thought of. I'll be looking forward to that one.
On Sun, Dec 20, 2009 at 11:12 PM, Den Valdron <dgvaldron@yahoo. ca> wrote:
> Maybe not so completely terrible....
> http://42blips. dailyradar. com/video/ princess- of-mars-trailer/
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