TOP FIVE FILMS WITHIN FILMS.
What’s better than watching one good film? Obviously it’s watching an equally great film within the context of that one. Like those TVs you used to get in the 80s that had a screen within a screen, placing one narrative within another, is a win/win situation all the way. John Noonan takes a look at five of his favourites… Warning: Spoilers ahead!
In Peter Strickland’s giallo inspired arthouse flick, Berberian Sound Studio, Toby Jones plays Gilderoy, a foley artist seconded to Italy to work on the latest sexploitation horror pic, The Equestrian Vortex. We never get to see The Equestrian Vortex. We can only listen to its bone crunching, virgin violating and witch burning glory. Derek, a man with the personality of a watered down glass of milk, struggles to come to terms with the film’s depictions of explicit gore and violence. Coupled with the alienation of working in a tense atmosphere where you don’t speak the lingo, he slowly starts to unravel. It’s like a more upmarket version of Evil Ed.
Angels Live in My Town shows a simpler time; a time before comic book parodies were the norm for porn films. Porn stars Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) and Reed Rothchild (John C Reilly) star in this ‘gritty’ police procedural, which has plenty of sex, action and Diggler’s oversized member. Much like real life skin flick, Deep Throat, Angels Live in My Town becomes a mainstream hit spawning a couple sequels. The success of which, along with the copious amounts of drugs he’s been snorting, goes to Diggler’s head, causing him to leave the adult industry to pursue a music career slaughtering Stan Bush songs.
In Tarantino’s WW2 exploitation flick Inglorious Basterds, Stolz der Nation is one of the many films produced by Joseph Goebbels to promote Adolf Hitler’s regime. It supposedly tells true story of a young German sniper, Frederick Zoller, standing up to the might of the British and American troops, who go against everything the Führer believes. Clearly embellishing the truth of the situation, Zoller’s biopic, directed in real life by Eli Roth, is propaganda at its finest, with a body count higher than Commando. The premiere of Stolz der Nation is brought to sudden end when the cinema’s owner, Emmanuelle Mimieux, burns it down in a fit of rebellion, thus ruining everyone’s evening. Everyone’s a critic.
Quotes from other horror films, Wes Craven dressed up as Freddy Krueger and many more winks to the camera, Scream is as meta as they come. So it’s no surprise that screenwriter Kevin Williamson would introduce Stab in Scream 2. Supposedly directed by Robert Rodriquez, Stab is an amped up version of the events of the previous film with more violence and nudity. Like the movie it’s in, Stab would return in each subsequent Scream sequel. Scream 3 plays out it japes and stabbings on the set of Stab 2, whilst Scream 4 parodies its own meta-humour, with the latest Stab instalment becoming a film within a film within a film within a film. And my brain has just melted.
There are numerous fake movies in The Three Amigos in Vietnam vehicle, Tropic Thunder, but lets discuss just one. Firing a shot across the bows of SS Good Taste, Simple Jack is the Oscar baiting role of faded action star Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller). A box office bomb and mauled by critics, Simple Jack is a grotesque caricature of disability that, Speedman unfathomably believed would win him the respect of his peers. Despite its lambasting in Hollywood, the film proves popular with a Vietnamese drug smugglers who kidnap him during the filming of his latest film; forcing him to re-enact it on a daily basis.