Thursday, October 7, 2010

John Carpenter Fanfiction: CARPY & THE CAP'N- PART 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH (2010, Sean Gill)


Author's Note: This piece was preceded by


10:37 P.M. April 27, 1993. Grauman's Chinese Theater, Hollywood, California.

Outside of Grauman's Chinese theater, all was quiet. The stillness was quite remarkable given the sheer amount number of raucous Cap'n Ron fans in attendance, John Carpenter thought as he thrust his hands deeply in his pockets. He paced back and forth, quite aimlessly. He'd survived a sufficient number of premieres to shed any real, crippling anxieties, yet his legs were still restless. He turned toward the theater again. It was draped with four enormous one-sheets, symmetrically arranged. The posters looked like this:
He glanced at his watch. The film should be ending any moment now. Suddenly, one of the doors swung open, and a tuxedo'd Kurt Russell strode out, purposefully.
"The big zinger's comin' up!" gushed Kurt.
"You didn't want to see their reactions?"
"Nah, I wanted to be out here with you, Johnny. We'll see their reactions soon enough, HAW-HAW-HAWWW!"
Faintly, he could hear the closing credits strains of the Coupe de Villes' "O Captain! My Captain (Ron)." A murmur within grew to a roar, and suddenly the red carpet was teeming with well-dressed Hollywood professionals and professional hangers-on (all equipped with martinis, of course). John was faced with a line of well-wishers, and while it was pleasant, he began to zone out their smiling faces and kind words and focus in on random martini chatter in the background. Here's some of what he heard:

"I didn't understand- is it a sequel to CAPTAIN RON, THE FOG, CHRISTINE, or ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK? Or is it all of them?"

"Ho-leee shit, that reveal of Snake Plissken at the end blew my goddamned mind! Now I have to rewatch CAPTAIN RON and check for foreshadowing! How did I not see it? They've even got the same eyepatch! It's like how Clark Kent fooled the staff of the Daily Planet!"

"Soooo lame. Carpenter's losing it. It's all been downhill since THE RESURRECTION OF BRONCHO BILLY. And what was with that soundtrack? It sounded like it was recorded by some old dudes in a basement."

"I liked it. A lot. But I must admit I was creeped out by all the Tom Atkins nudity."

"Wait, wait, wait. If Captain Ron and Snake Plissken are one and the same, then why doesn't shirtless Captain Ron have the snake tattoo?"
–"Because he hasn't gotten it yet, asshole! ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK takes place in 1997. This is 1993, jag-off."

"This has got to be his worst movie since THE THING. Or at least since that BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINATOWN. And the effects looked fake. Rubber and shadows. That's all it is. Why doesn't he get on board with these, uh, what're they called? From the TERMINATOR 2. Yeah, these C-G-I effects."

"Dennis Dun was born to do these kinds of movies. Why is Carpenter the only one giving him work?"


At this last announcement, John actually turned around to see Buck Flower, dressed in a trenchcoat and swilling malt liquor from a brown paper bag. John arched a knowing eyebrow, smirked, and Buck shuffled away. As the night progressed, John became weary. He caught his eyes losing their focus and he looked down at the red carpet, now an indistinct, crimson blob. Something else that was red entered his field of vision. Something red and plaid. He shook his eyes to attention and looked up to see a kilt-wearing 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper. Piper wore an expression of sheer emotion upon his face, and there was a touch of wetness from where a single tear had streamed. Before John could say anything, he found himself caught up in a bear hug of titanic proportions.
"You're like that man you admire," pronounced Roddy.
"That director, did that picture with the Duke."
"Howard Hawks?"
"Yes. You show us how to live."
"Well, let's not get carried away, Roddy."
"You never admit to yourself what you are, John. You're one of the giants."
"Thank you, Roddy."

Roddy released his grip, straightened John's suit in a gesture that was at once strangely boyish and grandfatherly, and walked on. John felt renewed, somehow. He was filled with an indescribable energy he hadn't quite felt since his youth in Bowling Green. He straightened his cuffs and turned to face... Adrienne Barbeau.
"Adrienne, great to see you." They hugged.
"I liked it, John. Nice to see some humor after all these apocalyptic...meditations."
"Well, thank you. And thanks for being in it!"
"I figured a little voiceover cameo was the least I could do."
"I think it's nice for the audience to know that Stevie Wayne's still out there, somewhere, broadcasting snappy jazz and sultry weather reports."
Adrienne chuckled. "I'll see you around, John."

As she walked away, John felt a tap on his shoulder. Before he knew it, Kurt had handed him a martini glass and raised his own in a salute. Goldie Hawn stood awkwardly behind him.
"To Captain Ron..." offered John.
"To the best damn buddy I ever had," said Kurt.
"Cheers." John took a sip, but was immediately repulsed by the taste of coconut-infused monstrosity that rippled in his glass. "Wait a minute- is this-??!"
"It's Malibu, Johnny-boy! HAW HAWWWW!!!"
"Ye Gods!" exclaimed John, swishing his tongue in a futile attempt to cleanse his palate. The two men laughed for a long time.

7:27 P.M. May 13, 1993. The basement of Nick Castle.

"Naw, Jamie, it's a little quicker than that. Up-tempo. Two, three, four!"
The Coupe de Villes rocked out harder than ever. They had a whole new slate of hot songs from the CAPTAIN RON soundtrack, ranging from pleasant ditties like "(He's the) Captain of the Ship" and "She Lives in Antonio Bay" to dark prog rock tracks like "Into the Fog," a song featuring a six-minute guitar solo by Tommy Lee Wallace which everyone agreed was downright Stygian. But for now, there was a new face amongst the Coupe de Villes: Jamie Lee Curtis, on drums. For some reason, she was wearing her costume from PERFECT.
Of course, she was only sitting in for a few rehearsals, but she'd felt so bad about missing out on CAPTAIN RON VERSUS THE FOG that she felt indebted to the band.
"Rockin' practice, fellas. ...And lady," remarked Nick Castle.
"I agree," said John.
"What about the elephant in the room?" asked Tommy.
"What about this?" Tommy waved a copy of Variety in the air. John, knowing what was coming, pursed his lips. Nick and Jamie looked to the magazine with interest.
"Says here that 'CAPTAIN RON VERSUS THE FOG is a futile exercise in self-promotion,' blah blah blah, 'an excuse to get his cronies a soundtrack album deal,' blah blah, 'a rip-roaring good time for no one, unless you're the cretinous sort who sees BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA as the pinnacle of film art,' blah blah, uh... and here: 'certainly the front runner for worst film of the year, and I've already seen BOXING HELENA, SUPER MARIO BROTHERS, and COP AND A HALF.'
There was a long pause, and Jamie Lee Curtis and the Coupe de Villes eyed one another, unsure what to say.
"Don't you care?" asked Tommy. "It's the Inquisition! It's SEASON OF THE WITCH all over again!"
"No," replied John. "I don't. These things might not really find their audiences for ten, twenty years or more. And the people who like 'em, LOVE 'em. I didn't make my movie for these flavor-of-the-month simpletons. I didn't give them any thought when I was making it. So I'll especially give them no thought afterward."
"John's right, you gotta put it out of your mind, or you'll just torture yourself. And over what? Some pencil neck in an office who doesn't know shit from Shinola," concurred Jamie.
"Check this out," offered Nick, pulling a different publication from his back pocket. "Cahiers du cinéma. It's their half-year issue, and they've assembled a list of the best films of 1993 so far. See, look who's number two... US!"
"Who's number one?" inquired Tommy.
"CARLITO'S WAY," read Nick. "So if Cahiers didn't have such a hard-on for all things De Palma, we'd be number one."
"YAH-EH-YUHH!" screamed Tommy, offering his fist. Nick placed his hand atop his, and John followed suit.
"What's happening?" wondered Jamie.
"It's a little thing we do," explained John. "Call it a secret handshake."
"COOOOOOOOOOOP DE VILLES!!!" they yowled, in unison.

5:27 P.M. June 13, 1993. John Carpenter's home. Hollywood Hills, California.

John Carpenter reclined on his couch as Kurt Russell noisily wolfed down a super nacho platter. They were watching the third game of the 1993 NBA finals, a much-anticipated match between Phoenix and Chicago.
Watching basketball together was a common activity for John and Kurt; occasionally they'd spend hours together without even speaking at all, and yet it still felt to them like quality time. Today's game was not particularly thrilling, and neither was feeling very invested.
"What you got comin' up, Johnny?"
"Oh, yeah. Forgot to tell you. Anthology movie on Showtime called BODY BAGS. Premieres in August. Gonna be doing some acting in this one."
"Yeah? "
"Well, not a lot of acting. More like the narrator. A master of ceremonies."
"HAAAAA! You think you're Rod Serling, Johnny-boy?"
"Nah, I'm more of a Ghoul, or something."
"Good, so you won't need to hire a makeup artist... HAAAWWWW HAAAWW!"
"Verrrry amusing, Kurt."
"I'm just jerkin' yer turkey, man. Heh, heh."
"What about you?"
"Little flick called TOMBSTONE."
"That's right. A Western. Damn. Who's directing?"
"I am," Kurt whispered softly, winking. "But don't tell anybody. On the record, it's a guy named Cosmatos. Stallone gave me the lowdown on TANGO & CASH."
"Well, well..." John pondered, "who'd've thought you'd ever be directing, and I'd be acting? Or that you'd be directing a Western before I did?"
"It's the CAPTAIN RON thing. He turns everybody's lives upside down. It's what he does."
John smirked and took a swig of his beer.
"But you have no idea, Johnny– everything I know about directing, I learned from you."
"I don't think I'd be such a great teacher- 'John Carpenter' films are the only kind I know how to make."
Kurt chuckled, but then looked away, collecting himself. His manner became quite serious. "I, uh, don't know if I ever told you this, Johnny, but... I always saw you as a big brother. And now, gettin' to do what you do- in a manner of speaking- it's uh... I don't know what. It's great."
"Thank you, Kurt, that means a lot."
"Pity about CAPTAIN RON 2, though."
"Don't worry, it'll find its audience down the line."
"That's cold comfort to the Cap'n. But you know what I think?"
"Remember the tale of Walt Disney's last words?" Kurt was referring to the legend that just before Walt Disney died, he had summoned for a pencil and paper, written the words 'Kurt Russell,' and then expired.
"Yeah. I thought you didn't believe it."
"Well, I'm still friendly with a lot of folks at Disney, and a few weeks ago they let me down into the vault. Showed me the actual piece of paper. It certainly had the look of authenticity. You can't fake that dead man's scrawl. And it said, 'Kurt Russell,' alright. But there was something about the placement of the name, and a purposeful stroke to the right. It's almost as if it were the beginning of a sentence which was never finished. Now maybe it was a misfiring synapse, he'd just seen FOLLOW ME, BOYS!, and he had my name in his mind by mistake when he really meant to write something else... Or maybe he had a vision of the future. Maybe he was going to write- 'Kurt Russell, team up with John Carpenter and make some of the best damn movies of all time.'"
"I don't think old Walt would have held a favorable view of THE THING."
"Oh, shoosh it. I'm trying to say something nice."
"Well, thank you, Kurt. You're a treasure, too."

8:56 P.M. June 13, 1993. The interior of Kurt Russell's pick-up truck.

Kurt chawed on a gargantuan ham sammy as he drove home from John Carpenter's place. It was a lovely Sunday evening, and the sun was still setting as he made his journey through Laurel Canyon. His car phone began ringing, and, setting down his sandwich, he picked up the receiver.
"Hiya, Goldie."
"You on your way home?"
"Yup. Yessiree, the check is in the mail."
"Nevermind. Ten minutes."
"Okay, honey. See you soon."
"Bye." Kurt moved to place the receiver in its cradle, but paused. Without thinking, he picked it up again, and began speaking, despite the fact there was no one on the other end:
"Just remember what ol' Kurt Russell does when the earth quakes, and the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake. Yeah, Kurt Russell just looks that big ol' storm right square in the eye and he says, 'Give me your best shot, pal. I can take it.'" He sharply hung up the phone, chortling privately to himself.

Meanwhile, in the bed of the truck, the desert wind fluttered a tarp, briefly revealing none other than Powers Boothe, curled and crouched and ready to spring, a devious grin upon his lips.
In the distance, heat lightning flashed and thunder rumbled and somewhere a scrappy kid was watching BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA for the first time and life was good.



J.D. said...

"But I must admit I was creeped out by all the Tom Atkins nudity" Now THAT'S a disturbing image I can do without! ; )

Nice to see Buck Flowers in there... and swigging back Malt Liquor no less. Also, nice pic of Jamie Lee Curtis - ah, the spandex from the 1980s... I also liked the nice touch of including JC's love of basketball. This may very well be my fave installment of the three. Ah, if only this film had come to be.

Thanks for another excellent contribution to my JC Week!

Sean Gill said...

Thanks, J.D.- this Carpenter week has been a blast. Hopefully I've got one more entry in me before it ends!

And of course the Atkins nudity comes from his chick magnet-tude in Carpenter films- shirtless and canoodling with Jamie Lee Curtis in THE FOG and briefly bare-assed and doing the same in HALLOWEEN III- he's like the Keitel of Carpenter's ensemble. I'm surprised he wasn't making out in the background with some random female riot trooper in ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK! Nonetheless, it's a pity that H3 was their final collaboration.

And ah, yes- Buck Flower. The Man. The Legend. Who else could appear in COUNTRY CUZZINS, BACK TO THE FUTURE, ILSA SHE WOLF OF THE SS, THEY LIVE, and PUMPKINHEAD? And I saw him the other day in a random ER re-run and nearly did a spit-take!

le0pard13 said...

Wonderful piece, and series, Sean! It's been a blast to read. Thanks for this.

Sean Gill said...


Very glad you enjoyed! Thanks for stopping by.