Tuesday, August 2, 2011

...Some concepts just aren't theme park material...

Theme parks are an interesting concept to me. No where else will you find such flagrant milking of a piece of intellectual property. The simple fact is that, if you have a moderately successful IP, be it a movie, book or tv show, if there is a theme park tribute to it, not only is it officially a successful business endeavor, but your producers/publishing companies believe that there is still money to be made off of it by luring tourists into a fiberglass world full of falsehoods and facades (both literally AND figuratively LOLOLOLOLOLOL). That said though, I do love the shit out of my theme parks and roller coasters. In fact, just a few weeks ago I spent three days and an exorbitant amount of money at Universal pretending I was a wizard right there with the soccer moms and their 12 year olds. (yes that's right, given the opportunity I would have dueled every kid I found and probably just defaulted to the killing curse because I like winning and they should have seen it coming from someone with a giant fuck-off skull on the end of their wand and a slytherin patch in his hand)

That said, I like to believe that there is a certain limit to what kinds of intellectual properties can get turned into theme park attractions. In fact, it's generally safe to say that most non-kid-friendly IPs (or at least IPs that most sane human beings figured their kids have already watched behind their backs on HBO while they were out to dinner) are perfectly safe for family consumption. So that said, the most hardcore thing you'll find at a theme park (besides a few seriously awesome roller coasters) are based around things that are strictly PG13 (Jaws, The Mummy, that fucking holy land thing...you know...somewhat childish fiction). So naturally something like Pookie the pedophile bear's adventures in touchy-feely land really wouldn't be considered for theme park material. (Though I have to admit, the nightmarish Doctor Seuss land they have a Islands of adventure does come fucking close to that level of creepy)

Well color me surprised when I heard that Eli Roth of Hostel fame would be designing a theme park exhibit for Hollywood's iteration of Universal Studios. Now Hostel, in case you didn't know, falls into the niche genre of movies delightfully known as torture porn (or gore porn). For those of you who are still with me and who still don't know what I'm talking about, whatever you're thinking it stands for is probably, if not definitely, accurate. In retrospect, Hostel was an interesting movie insofar as I realize now that it could be a litmus test for normality on whomever you choose to watch it with. Act one of the small art-house film that was Hostel takes place in...you guessed it...a hostel somewhere in Europe (the exact locale escapes me and I'm too lazy to google it so you'll just have to deal with it). And in typical teen summer movie fashion, there were more boobs than you could shake a stick at. But beyond the near soft-core porn levels of nudity, there was little to no horror (or gore, or torture...just porn). No all of the blood and guts were saved solely for the second act. No lead up. No justification. No suspense. Just a smash cut to a torture chamber where our previously scantily clad young male and female leads (if you could REALLY call them that) were being cut on by psychopathic eurotrash with far too many power tools and surgical equipment. Why did I say this would be a good litmus test for your friends? Well put it this way. For the average teenage boy (because this kind of movie should attract pretty much no other demographic) 45 minutes of straight nudity should, in any healthy teenage boy, cause him to stir in his shorts. (And before you jump down my throat about the heteronormativity of that statement, there were plenty of shirtless guys too, so calm the fuck down). Suffice it to say, after flipping the switch from sex to death, if any of your buddies is still rocking his hard on, it's probably best to avoid talking to them from now on....just saying.

Anyways back to the point (heh heh boners...) of this piece, SOMEONE with a LOT of money got it in his head (and I say his because again as with the vanity plates issue, no self respecting female would ever think this idea up) that this halloween, they should open a special section of the park just for Eli Roth himself to design a tribute to his glorious contribution to film, Hostel. That's right, this halloween, if you're in the hollywood area, you two can feel the sheer terror of bored rich Europeans chaining you to a chair and burning your face off with a blow torch. No really I don't understand how these people expect to pull ANY of this off. The entire POINT of the movie was that youth hostels are kinda creepy and that Europeans are prone to kidnapping and torturing unsuspecting teenagers that are trying only to bring a bit of money to their obviously destitute countries (because I mean really...if Europe had...y'know...like...ANY money...they'd...like...be able to renovate all those silly castles...amirite?). And that said, unless there are actors who are paid to randomly grab toursits as the pass through this "horror maze" only to horribly maim and ultimately kill them while their friends gawk gormlessly wondering where their buddy got all that super real looking (and tasting) fake blood, then this maze feels like it's going to miss the mark somewhere.

Ultimately, if the point of a theme park is to make one feel as though they are a part of whatever movie or book it is based off of, I for will will accept nothing less than 45 minutes of girls jumping around shirtless followed by being tortured and killed for the next 45 minutes. Because that is the only way they can claim ANY kind of immersion into the Hostel IP.

Come to think of it...you remember how I said that you could tell if your friends were fucked in the head if they were still pitching a tent into the second act? This kind of attraction will probably only attract THOSE types. Do not want.

...And that's what I learned today.

(PS That's actually the justification for the whole movie [SPOILER ALERT]. It's all just rich bored Europeans who pay the kidnappers money so that they can "legally" kill another person...THAT'S THE WHOLE FUCKING )
(PPS Did anyone else reading that castles bit do it in a dumb blonde/valley girl accent in their head?)