Saturday, September 14, 2013

When You Wish Upon A Star... YOU DIE!

I've been a fan of Disney since I was but a wee lad. Their classic animated features, the incredible TV programming of the 80s and 90s, and the world-famous theme parks are some of my favorite things. I've visited the resort in Florida over 30 times. That doesn't mean I think they always get everything right though. Like any other giant corporation, the House of Mouse can occasionally get on my nerves with their decisions, and it's nice to see the company as a whole taken down a peg. 

Never forgive. Never forget.

That's just one of the reasons I was so thrilled to stumble onto Escape From Tomorrow, a horror/psychological thriller filmed secretly at the stateside Disney parks. Whether director Randy Moore is crazy or brilliant remains to be seen, but he's certainly got chutzpah, I'll give him that.

Without the Disney company's knowledge or permission, Moore and his small cast and crew shot their story all over the various theme parks, capturing footage of attractions, other guests, and "cast members" (Disney employees). Scenes were acted out in full view of unaware tourists, with the actors keeping the script on their cell phones to avoid attention. I haven't seen the movie yet, but judging by the trailer and the plot summary, the location was not chosen merely to be daring and provocative. It would seem that the Disney park and its imagery factor heavily into the plot, with ample use of its most famous rides (especially Spaceship Earth, the large geodesic dome at the center of EPCOT) and beloved cartoon characters. The trailer also teases a chase scene during a fireworks display. Having first-hand knowledge of what it's like to navigate through a Disney park, especially during a show, it's incredible that this film was made at all. 

More incredible is the fact that Disney's army of lawyers hasn't removed all traces of it from the internet just yet. One upload of the trailer I viewed was taken down by the user, but there are still several places to find it. The word of mouth has been strong, and whether or not the filmmakers get sued, they may be able to release their work regardless. If not in theater, then on demand or online. The big question is how should Disney, as a company, officially react to this?

In my opinion, the best thing that they could do is embrace the situation. Enjoy the free publicity, commend the director and his associates on their ingenuity, and allow the movie to be released. A small, black-and-white endeavor like this is not going to hurt Disney's public image. I think we're all aware that a vacation there doesn't end up with your children possessed. Spoiled, but not possessed. Sure, slap the filmmakers on the wrist, discourage this sort of thing in the future, but seriously, it's getting people talking about your parks! Use this Disney. Have a laugh at yourselves. You'll be respected for it. 

Whatever Mickey and Co. decide, Escape From Tomorrow looks like a ridiculously good time. Even if it features Ed Wood levels of suckitude, it'll be an important part of guerrilla film-making history. Watch the trailer above before it gets taken down. And be sure to visit the movie's Facebook page and show your support. There is a tentative October 11, 2013 release date for both video-on-demand and theater, so we'll M-I-C... ( sorry, I had to.)

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