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May 10-16, 2006

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Cult Leader

No Movie for You: In some alternate universe, Darth Vader likes pie

By Steve Palopoli

I DON'T HAVE a screenplay, I just have lots of bizarre ideas for movies that wouldn't, couldn't and probably shouldn't be made by anyone. My latest is a project that unites the loopiest, cultiest actors in one room and gives them the chance to be their superfreaky selves for two incredible hours. It's a remake of the über-Mamet adaptation Glengarry Glen Ross called Death of a Fuckin' Salesman and starring (hold on to your chalupas, people): William Shatner, in the Jack Lemmon role as Shelley Levine; Steve Buscemi, in the Alan Arkin role as George Aaronow; Christopher Walken, in the Ed Harris role as Dave Moss; Willem Dafoe, in the Al Pacino role as Ricky Roma; and James Spader in the Kevin Spacey role as John Williamson. Alec Baldwin gets to play his role over again, 'cause he seems even more psychotic now than he did in 1992. It still takes brass balls to sell real estate, baby!

This most recent million-dollar movie idea started me thinking about real movies that I wish had been made. Here are my Top 5 picks for Best Cult Movies That Don't Exist, in no particular order:

1. David Lynch's Return of the Jedi. Can you believe he turned this down to do Dune? That bastard! Well, I suppose technically he turned it down because he realized George Lucas would never give him the artistic freedom he needed, which is undoubtedly true. But really, how cool would this have been? I don't know what he would have done with Ewoks, but I guarantee we would not be sitting here 20 years later going, "God, those things were way too cute and cuddly." The Emperor would probably have looked like the yukasaurus behind the dumpster in Mulholland Drive. Scene I most hate to lose: Kenny Baker comes out of the R2D2 costume onscreen and does a dwarf dance.

2. David Cronenberg's Basic Instinct 2. Don't look at me—I don't have any idea why Cronenberg wanted to do this film, either. But he did, and they should have let him. I doubt I have to tell you that they didn't because they considered the direction he wanted to take it too wacky. Note: As a consolation prize, I would have settled for Paul Verhoeven's Basic Instinct 2.

3. Luis Bunuel's Un Chien Andalou Part II. Supposedly the great director turned down the chance to make this in 1966 with his former partner in crime Salvador Dali. I love the idea of Bunuel—who had moved so far beyond his 1929 debut by the 1960s, a decade in which he produced Viridiana, The Exterminating Angel, Belle De Jour and Diary of a Chambermaid—tackling the concept of a sequel to a stream-of-consciousness Surrealist masterpiece. Perhaps he could have run the images from the original in reverse order?

4. Orson Welles' Don Quixote. This was one of Welles' far-too-numerous unrealized projects; he worked on it from 1955 to 1973, and at one point got so frustrated with the whole thing he started calling the film When Are You Going to Finish Don Quixote? because that's what everyone asked him. The worst part is the answer was "never." Or maybe the worst part is that exploitation clock-puncher Jess Franco for some reason was allowed to put together his own version of this using much of Welles' footage and release a 1992 travesty criminally titled Orson Welles' Don Quixote. Terry Gilliam didn't have any luck with Don Quixote, either, as evidenced by the depressing documentary Lost in La Mancha.

5. Dario Argento's La Terza Madre. Argento was still promising this as recently as 2003 (at the Trieste Film Festival). Fans know it would be the final part of the "Three Mothers" trilogy that Argento began in 1977 with Suspiria. The mythology comes from a book by Thomas DeQuincey—Suspiria was about the "Mother of Sighs"; the sequel was 1980's Inferno, about the "Mother of Darkness." The third film will be about the "Mother of Tears." Why is it such a big deal to Argento fans? It's hard to explain, except to say that the supernatural themes of these films have freed Argento from the restraints of the thriller genre and allowed him to hit some wildly imaginative stylistic heights. Yes, I do realize that's the first time "Argento" and any form of the word "restraint" have appeared in the same sentence.

Cult Leader is a weekly column about the state of cult movies and offbeat corners of pop culture. Email feedback, confessions about weird films you love and questions about that one movie you saw one time to [email protected]

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