Saturday, January 9, 2010

Raging Inferno

Hello, Space Monkees.

(Looking at my blog, I've noticed something...  Its so BORING.  Something very key is lacking.  And it should have occurred me a while ago what that was.   Pictures!  Duh!)

I don't think you've ever heard of this movie.  Neither did I until it came on TV last night.  Just let it be known, if there was anything better on, I wouldn't have started watching it.  I try to avoid B-movies as a general rule.  But if I must watch one, I'm ready to put on my snarky best and prepare to riff the Hell out of it.  So when "Raging Inferno" (2007) came on, I all good and ready for a fun evening of clever quips and laughs at the cornball acting and effects.  This seemed like a nice start for this blog, since I've been doing "serious" stuff last week, and this would break that spell and allow me to go back to the usual pointless bullshit.

Here's a little background information.  Back in the 1970s, "disaster flicks" became really popular.  You had movies like the "Airport" series and "The Poseidon Adventure".  The appeal was a simple one:  what if you and your family were caught in one of those disaster you see on the News.  These were never Academy Award winners, but they at least made enough of an impact on pop culture that remakes to them continue to spring every now again.  1974's "The Towering Inferno" was one of those movies.  Basically a skyscraper is on fire, people have to escape.  I'm not sure if this movie, "Raging Inferno" is an official remake, but the similarities are so many that you could never get away with calling this an "original film".

First thing I noticed when the movie started up:  the production company, Maverick Entertainment, has by far the worst looking logo thingy (I don't know the actual name) I've ever seen.  You know how at the beginning of the movies you see a little animation and the company logo of the distribution guys?  Well, Maverick Entertainment's animation is an extremely ugly CG horse that rides into a lazy logo.  I can only imagine what kind of person would look at this and say "wow, that's so much better than spending fifty bucks and filming a real horse".  This isn't a good sign.

Second thing I noticed:  its dubbed.  Maverick Entertainment must have hired voice actors to dub over the original, whatever language that might have been.  Seeing the laziness they put into their logo thingy, you can guess that these voice actors aren't exactly going to be winning any Academy Awards.  Also their voices have no connection with their lip movements, so I keep on expecting Godzilla to pop up and destroy whatever European city we're in.  Here's a weird bit:  in the movie there are two characters who speak a foreign language (I don't know which one).  Maverick Entertainment decided to dub these guys over too, but they kept the original German subtitles.  Not a good sign either.  I don't recognize that tower there, but looking at how Nordic everybody is looking, I'm guessing this is either Berlin, Stockholm, Oslo, or possibly Copenhagen.

Minutes later I cave and look this stuff up.  The original name of this movie is "Das Inferno - Flammen ├╝ber Berlin".  From that its obvious that the city is Berlin, we're in Germany, and that the towering inferno here will be the Fernsehturm Berlin (called the "TV Tower" in the movie).  Here's a fun fact about the tower:  the dome's reflection happens to look like a Christian Cross, which has been taken to be an insult to the atheist Communist powers that formally ruled half this city for decades.  The tower is even nicknamed the "Pope's Revenge" and "St. Walter" popularly.  So perhaps this movie has some kind of anti-religious message to it?  I'm reading too much into this, probably.

So the usual happens with these disaster movies, we're introduced to loads and loads of characters, just regular folks like you and me.  Then the unexpected happens:  a fire breaks out.  Soon enough all of St. Walter's dome is up in flames, and people are running around covered in flames.  This the usual affair.  I'm even able to note with glee that there is a Black American tourist here with a Yankee cap on.  And he turns out to be a big hero, saving several random Germans with a fire extinguisher.  I bet no Mets fan would be that handy in an emergency!  I have a favorite character now.

Then... something strange happened.  All of sudden, fire fighters all around the city start pouring into the burning skyscraper.  A commander on the ground is sending his men up to the top.  And then a cabbie sees the Fernsehturm, and smoke is pouring out of its top...  Ugg... Suddenly this isn't funny any more.  You see where I'm going with this right?

9/11 was eight years ago, and still I get sick to my stomach thinking about that day.  It isn't like I personally lost anybody to the terrorist attack, but its not like the World Trade Center wasn't a part of my life.  I live in Bayonne, New Jersey, which is just across Hudson Bay from Brooklyn.  Just by going up a few stories in any house, I can just barely see the tips of the New York skyline.  My mother worked in the Twin Towers for years, and was evacuated from her office while pregnant with my baby sister during the first bombing in 1993.  Every time I went to New York I took the World Trade Center subway route in.  I must have been to those buildings one hundred times or more.  On 9/11, my class went up to the third floor of my grammar school, and we could see the smoke cloud pouring out of the towers before they fell.  For a full week, a huge smoke cloud billowed past over the bay.  To this very day, that empty space in New York is a constant visual reminder of that day.  I'm sure that my story is by far the very least of the horrible life changes that came after that day.  I lost next to nothing, thousands lost everything.

The fact there this is an empty space in the skyline after all these years is a testament to the waste, corruption, and incompetence surrounding the rebuilding effort.  There isn't even an official monument in New York yet.  The best thing New York has is the "Tear Drop Memorial" right here in Bayonne which was donated by the Russian Federation back in 2006.  And if we're going to be honest... the thing looks like a vagina.  Even so, it is criminally under-visited, and its a very nice little structure.

I can't really blame a German movie for being insensitive to a disaster that happened thousands of miles away and nearly a decade ago.  But I really couldn't keep on watching.

Maybe we can get back to stupid bullshit next time.


  1. Though not techniclly an "official monument," there is a plaque that has the names of all the men and women who died in the World Trade Center right across the street from where the tower stood, which the City government built I think in 2003, but I'm not too sure on the exact year. It may have been as late as 2006, but I know it was there in 2007. Unsurprisingly, it's usually the quietest spot in the City.

  2. It's weird that 9/11 really DID change everything. And now, only 9 years later, we quickly forget how it impacted our lives. I remember being 9 when 9/11 happend, and how that day felt .... oddly peaceful. Then, around 9 AM, our teachers were told to turn on the TV. I looked up, saw all of what was happening, and started instanly crying. 9/11 is one of my earliest memories, and today it still gives me shivers thinking about it.

  3. I was in third grade during 9/11, so I'm presumably the same age as Blue's sister(also born in 1993) but anyhow that's not my point. When was this movie filmed? I know it's a remake, but you never mentioned the actual year it was remade. For all the technological horrors in this movie may have been expected in a movie made in the '90's, and that could also explain the insensitivity of the movie, reminding the audience of 9/11. However as cruel as it was, if it was indeed made after 9/11, they could have maybe been trying to use pathos to actually remind people of that horrible event. Maybe they thought that would make people like it more. Either way, they were wrong, weren't they.

  4. I didn't find out until I got home from school. By the end of the day, there were only two other kids; all the others were picked up early. My dad was actually supposed to work across the street that day, but slept late and decided to take a personal day.

  5. 9/11 was a wake up call that we were running our foreign affairs too imperialistically. We then use the attack to justify more imperialism, and unconstitutional abuses domestically. I fucking hate this country.

  6. No country can grow without being imperialistic. I for one think that the United States had stopped acting like that regardless, until the attacks of 9/11. But, I guarantee you that all the people complaining that the War on Terror (which, I admit, is a stupid name for a war, and too broad a term) has gone on for too long either has no idea where we are actually at war (ask a guy the next time you're in a deli exactly who we're fighting and they'll give you the name of a peoples) or were calling for war after 9/11.

  7. ABC, do you really understand the number of far left leaders overthrown in developing countries by the US, so our companies could take advantage of the deregulation after their socialism was destroyed? Imperialism built our economy after WWII, but oppressing so many people will cause attacks like 9/11.

    Oh yeah, Blue, grow some balls. If you can't even bear to watch a movie about a skyscraper on fire because it reminds you of 9/11, the terrorists won. It's their fucking job to make you afraid and they've pussywhipped you.