The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

7 Movies Based on Sadistic Fictional Games (Rejected Writing, pt.2)

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(continued…)

Death Race 2000 (1975)

Director:  Paul Bartel

Cast:  David Carradine, Sylvester Stallone

So what’s up with American society in 1975 envisioning a dystopian future ripe with blood sports?  Was it a fear that Nixon would somehow come back to power and further ruin the country?  Anyhow…  In this 1975 vision of the next millennium, the United States has suffered financial collapse and a military coup, leaving the Bipartisan party acting as church and state.  Also, it is not only apparent that Ralph Nader is dead, but that the fascists in charge enjoy pissing on his grave.  How else to explain the annual Transcontinental Road Race?  The objective is for driver-navigator teams to rip across the country at high speeds and kill as many innocent pedestrians as possible (points are awarded based on age and gender).  Competitors get to trick out their rides with crazy shit like spikes or machetes on the front bumpers, super-charged engines, and sprayers to lay down oil slicks behind them.  If that wasn’t enough, they get to adopt bad-ass racing names like Mathilda the Hun, “Machine Gun” Joe, Calamity Jane, Nero the Hero, and Frankenstein.  The only caveat is avoiding The Resistance, which is trying to ambush the drivers, end the game, and overthrow the government.

Cool Rules:  Audience participation!  A retirement home along the route celebrates Euthanasia Day each year by wheeling its sickest patients out to the road.  Fan clubs sacrifice their members to help their favorite drivers score points.  Drivers can also run down the race organizers and even their own pit crews.  Bonus rule for drivers:  Your navigator is also your friend—with benefits!

Probability of dying while playing the game:  Pretty high.  Even though the drivers are doing the killing, horrific smashups are common, and The Resistance lays down lots of traps designed to kill the participants.

Likelihood of playing the game in real life:  Low, unless you commute on the 91 and 405 freeways around Los Angeles, where all of this would seem normal.

The Running Man (1987)

Director: Paul Michael Glaser

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Dawson, Maria Conchita Alonso, Jesse Ventura

It’s 2019, and things are looking a wee bit dystopian (go figure, right?). The country loves violence on T.V. and the government has done away with inconvenient things like The Bill of Rights. If you’re thinking this 2019 looks a lot like 2000-2008, you’re not the only one… Anyhow, the government airs the wildly popular The Running Man, a reality show that gives convicts the chance to win their freedom by playing what is essentially American Gladiators on…well, we were going to say steroids, but that seems redundant. Essentially, a contestant runs a city-sized maze populated with superhero-themed goons, each with a gimmick like a flame thrower, a jetpack, a razor-sharp hockey stick, or being an ex-Navy SEAL/pro wrestler/future governor.  Enter Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character Ben Richards, a pacifist wrongly accused of butchering the innocent citizens of Bakersfield, CA.  What follows is 1980’s action movie gold as Ahh-nold dispatches each boss on each level of the game, kills the show’s host, and ultimately exposes the government conspiracy behind the game.  Oh, he also proves his own innocence and presumably shags Maria Conchita Alonso.

Cool Rules: There appear to be no rules during the game, but the audience gets to bet on who they think will win.  If you manage to win and somehow topple the government (no easy feat), you can spend the rest of your years shooting steroids, sexually harassing women, serving as a state governor, and banging your Mexican housecleaner (who knows?  Maybe she reminds you of Maria Conchita Alonso…).

Probability of dying while playing the game: Certain—even if you win!  Richards learns that you can’t trust network producers at all (who would have guessed?) when he discovers a pile of charred bodies of past “winners.” So, much like Guantanamo Bay, once you get in you never get out.

Likelihood of playing the game in real life: Very low.  This show would never make the airwaves, especially since the FCC had the foresight to publish the report Violent Television Programming and Its Impact on Children twelve years before The Running Man would air in real life.  Good job, guys.  Now go back in time and stop Mama’s Family from airing.

The Dead Pool (1988)

Director:  Buddy Van Horn

Cast:  Clint Eastwood, Patricia Clarkson, Liam Neeson, Jim Carrey

In a present-day, non-dystopian (but still weird and dysfunctional) San Francisco, a group of hipsters plays a sick and twisted pop culture game called The Dead Pool.  Each participant makes a list of celebrities who they think might die soon.  Whoever’s list is completed first wins the game.  When hard-bitten SFPD inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan reaches celebrity status after testifying against a mob boss, his name appears on a film director’s Dead Pool list, along with a drugged-out heavy metal singer.  Never mind that Callahan only finds this out while investigating the singer’s mysterious death while the director is filming a video for the singer’s hit song “Welcome to the Jungle”—all that just muddies the plot up nice and good while Callahan tries to figure the shit out and shag Patricia Clarkson.  Regardless of the outcome of the game and the tying up of the plot, some questions remained unanswered:  What dipshit had the idea to sell Guns-n-Roses’ signature song to promote the lamest film in the Dirty Harry series?  Also, since Callahan had already solved the Zodiac murders, busted up a cadre of vigilante cops, defeated the People’s Revolutionary Strike Force, and stopped Sondra Locke from shooting more dudes in the balls, why did it take him so long to become a local celebrity?  What the hell does a guy have to do to become famous in San Francisco?

Cool Rules:  Everybody knows that Inspector Harry Callahan plays by his own set of rules which, coincidentally, can oft times be characterized as “dirty.”  That usually means Harry finds some type of over-sized weapon with which to waste the bad guys shortly after he solves the case (this time, it’s a harpoon).  As for the actual game, the only cool rule is that you can throw anybody you want into your Dead Pool.

Probability of dying while playing the game:  Almost non-existent.  The participants are merely casual observers.  Sick and twisted casual observers.

Likelihood of playing the game in real life:  Pretty high.  It turns out this is an actual game that sick and twisted observers of pop culture have played for years, and they were probably inspired by the concept for the film if they hadn’t heard of the game before then.  If you check out stiffs.com (among other Dead Pool sites), you’ll see that the folks there have been playing since 1994.

Surviving the Game (1994)

Director: Ernest R. Dickerson

Cast: Ice-T, Rutger Hauer, Gary Busey, F. Murray Abraham, Charles S. Dutton

Chances are you remember reading “The Most Dangerous Game” as a freshman in high school—the Richard Connell story about an evil Russian general who makes sport of hunting men on his private island.  Now imagine a group of zit-faced boys at a prep school so into the story that they discretely masturbated under their desks while reading it in class.  Now imagine those boys all grown up with white-collar jobs, NRA memberships, and enough resources at their disposal to pluck homeless men off the streets of Seattle, WA and drop them in the woods of the Pacific Northwest for the sole purpose of hunting them.  If you can imagine all that, you have this game in a nutshell.  The only flaw is that the game lacks a cool name.  Maybe they could have called it Kill the Poor or Stalk the Street People.  Heck, since this film came out before the internet porn boom, even Bum Hunt would have worked.

Cool Rules: The only apparent rule is giving the prey a head start equal to the amount of time it takes the hunting party to finish their breakfast.  Film goers learned another rule, though:  Make sure the homeless man you’re hunting isn’t Ice-T.  That’s right—those corporate douchebags were too busy watching their money market accounts and sabotaging Bill Clinton’s presidency to realize they were fucking with the O.G. Original Gangsta from the west coast, L.A., who had previously gone on record about his willingness to kill cops.  Even if they had ten Gary Buseys in their hunting party, there was no way they could have stopped the O.G. Original Gangsta from shooting them in their muthafuckin’ faces.

Probability of dying while playing the game: Extremely high, unless you are the aforementioned O.G. Original Gangsta from the west coast, LA.

Likelihood of playing the game in real life: Low, unless you go on a hunting trip with Dick Cheney.

The Game (1997)

Director: David Fincher

Cast: Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, Deborah Kara Unger

We all know some asshole who is so focused on making money that he pretty much has no family since they dumped his miserly ass for not giving them the time and attention they deserve.  Heck, most of us have someone like that in our own family.  Now replace “asshole” above with Michael Douglas (Nicholas) and “family” with Sean Penn (Conrad), and consider that Conrad has given Nicholas an interesting birthday gift—the chance to participate in an alternate reality game created by Consumer Recreation Services that will change his life. Before he knows it, Nicholas becomes a part of the all-encompassing game. His bank accounts are drained and his business is in trouble. He runs away from his problems, meets a hot chick, gets drugged, and wakes up in a cemetery in Mexico. Though it sounds like the game has turned him into Hunter S. Thompson, Nicholas thinks this shit has gotten too real, and wants out. He finds out CRS doesn’t even exist, and when he tries to explain the game to marauding agents, their response is pretty much along the lines of “Game?  We don’t need no stinking game!” followed by a hail of bullets.  Nicholas soon realizes that he has no choice but to start a new game called “Take Hostages and Threaten to Blow Some Heads Off.”  Unfortunately, that game ends with him inadvertently shooting Conrad and then jumping off a roof to kill himself.  Game over, and like mom and dad always said:  It’s all fun until someone commits murder / suicide.

Cool Rules: Denial!  CRS initially screens and rejects Nicholas, making him think that he doesn’t qualify for the game.  It’s all part of their tactics to catch the player off-guard and really get his nuts in a vice.  And everybody is in on the denial, which explains why Nicholas can’t get any cooperation from the police.  From a player’s perspective, there are no rules. The game encompasses your entire life, and as the “player” you can do whatever you want as it seems the company is totally prepared for any type of shit you pull, which includes murder and suicide (they ultimately prevent both courtesy of fake bullets and a well-placed air mattress).

Probability of Dying while playing the game: As a player, you think your chances of dying are pretty high, but in reality the company is always in control and your chances of dying are almost zero. However, Michael Douglas does later suffer from cancer. Coincidence?

Likelihood of playing the game in real life: That depends on how all-encompassing you like your alternate reality games.  Most of us don’t have enough money to play this game, or another Michal Douglas ARG that we’ve been playing for years and like to call “shagging Catherine Zeta Jones,” but there are plenty of ARG’s available on more reasonable budgets. Check out “The 5 Most Insane Alternate Reality Games” for some crazy examples of what you have been missing because you were busy watching porn and listening to Nickelback.

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Written by seeker70

August 15, 2012 at 12:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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