When I watch a movie, it’s like there are two of me in the same seat. There’s that regular movie-going guy who likes blood and boobs and things that explode, the kind of movies we call POPCORN MOVIES. But there’s another fellow who accompanies him. This guy likes some of the same things as his friend, but he is a seeker and connoisseur of SERIOUS CINEMA. This guy doesn’t just want to see a movie, he wants it to change his life.
The camera eye watches an entire city, somewhere in the Midwest, from high above. It closes in on one street, then on one car cruising up that street. The car is a raggedy old blue Pacer (closely resembling the one driven by Garth in WAYNE’S WORLD). Naked buttocks are pressed up against the passenger window of that car. The two guys inside, not surprisingly, are arguing.
CINEMA: Come on, now. What the hell are you doing???
POPCORN: Didn’t you see that house? Dude, they had a Nazi flag.
CINEMA: No, they didn’t.
POPCORN: Yuh-huh, they totally did. I know a swastika when I see one, and that was a swastika. Ain’t nothin’ Nazis deserve more-n a big ol’ sweaty ass up in their faces.
CINEMA: While I can’t disagree with you about that, what I don’t deserve right now is a big ol’ sweaty cop handing me another ticket. Regardless of who you think is seeing your ass.
POPCORN: Naw, man. Ain’t gonna happen. Cops don’t like Nazis no more than you do. They’d prob’ly give you the key to the city or something. So where we goin’ anyway?
CINEMA: Library. I told you, I’m picking up a couple movies.
POPCORN: Dude, I don’t know why you don’t just get Netflix like everybody else.
CINEMA: Because I can’t afford even the most common luxuries. Come on, now, I’m serious, get your ass out of my window. This – this right here! – is why I don’t have money for the good things, because I have to bail you out of jail or pay your medical bills when a bunch of skinheads beat your ass.
POPCORN: Dude, like, when did that ever happen? Besides, some shit would just be worth it.
CINEMA: Like mooning neo-Nazis.
POPCORN: Damn straight, dude, mooning neo-Nazis. Alright, alright, I’m done. Are you happy now? So, anyway, do you think they got Nazis on the moon?
CINEMA: Do you mean in reality, or in the world where you live?
CINEMA: Well, people have believed that all kinds of things were on the moon –
POPCORN: Oh, man, here we go.
CINEMA: Of course, there’s the fabled man in the moon. Old European myths speak of him as a strange shape that looks like someone carrying a bundle of sticks on his back, and claim that he was banished there for committing a crime –
POPCORN: Can’t ever just give me a straight answer.
CINEMA: – though some ancient Christian lore says that he’s actually Cain, cursed by God to roam the moon forever –
POPCORN: Ask a simple question –
CINEMA: – and others insist that there’s a woman in the moon –
POPCORN: – and get a textbook in the face –
CINEMA: – while yet others say there’s a rabbit on the moon –
POPCORN: – every damn time.
CINEMA: – but the reality is that there are two golf balls left there by Alan Shepard, a three-inch aluminum sculpture of an astronaut (which has fallen over), a photo of Apollo 16’s Charles Duke and his family from 1972, and a small ceramic chip with work from six artists, including something from Andy Warhol that looks like a tiny penis –
POPCORN: A penis??
CINEMA: – though, despite all the speculation about what could be lurking on the so-called dark side of the moon, it’s really just a big, cold chunk of rock orbiting the earth –
POPCORN: So there’s dicks on the moon?
CINEMA: – but, in response to your question, Edgar Rice Burroughs was already satirizing the Nazis before the war had even ended, putting them on Venus under the guise of a fascist political group called the Zanis. The moon-Nazi phenomenon, however, began in earnest with a mediocre 1947 Robert A. Heinlein novel called Rocket Ship Galileo. It was about three teenagers who build a spacecraft in their backyard and launch themselves up to the moon, only to find that the Nazis are already there. The 1950 film DESTINATION MOON was loosely based on Heinlein’s book.
POPCORN: Dicks on the moon, heh-heh.
CINEMA: Norman Spinrad’s The Iron Dream involves cloned SS supermen, a galactic empire, and a kinder, gentler Hitler, who’s chucked the whole dictator thing to become a writer, with all of them living on the moon. Of course, there’s all kinds of alternate-history stories where the Nazis won the war – THE MAN IN THE HIGH TOWER is popular right now – and space Nazis are all over video games, board games, and TV appearances – STAR TREK, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, DIMENSION X. As a matter of fact –
POPCORN: No way! You got the Vandals –
CINEMA: – one of the movies we’re going to get from the library –
POPCORN: – on cassette??
CINEMA: – is called IRON SKY. It’s a German-Finnish-Australian sci-fi action film –
POPCORN: Dude, your car has a tape deck???
CINEMA: – from 2012, and it . . . yes, I have a tape deck. I’m bringing 1989 back –
POPCORN: More like 1984. That’s when the Vandals put this one out. It was, like, their first album, and – hold up, I got a song for you. So what’s this flick you’re talkin’ about?
CINEMA: <sighs> It’s called IRON SKY. The film opens just a few years from now with an American moon-landing, when one of the astronauts climbs the top of a hill and looks down to see an entire city – it’s the dark side they are exploring, of course. Well, this astronaut turns to motion for his companion and a figure rises up behind him. The figure is wearing an armband with a swastika on it, pulling out an old Ruger to blast the astronaut right in the face –
Music blasts from the crude Pacer speakers. It’s the comedic punk band the Vandals.
“One, two, three, four!
Master race in outer space,
they had to leave this earthly place,
all the Allies and the Russians too.
This Nazi shit won’t do,
this Nazi shit won’t do,
this Nazi shit won’t do,
so we launched them to the moon!”
POPCORN: <indicating the tape deck, nodding his head proudly> Yeah? Huh? Right??
CINEMA: Yes, very timely. As I was saying, one of the astronauts is killed and the other is taken hostage by the Nazis. They are prepared to shoot him as well, but, when he removes his helmet, they see that –
POPCORN: You can breathe on the moon?
CINEMA: In this movie, yes, at least in this city the Nazis have built. So the astronaut removes his helmet and he’s an African-American model, part of the U.S. president’s Black to the Moon campaign. Of course, the Nazis (still being stuck in the mindset of 1940s Germany) are a bit shocked to find a black man in front of them –
“Germany was about to fall,
they loaded up the rockets
and launched them all . . .”
POPCORN: Was it Wesley Snipes?
CINEMA: No, it was not Wesley Snipes. The actor’s name is Christopher Kirby –
POPCORN: Cuz Blade would totally kick their asses, moon-Nazis or not.
“One small step for man,
one goosestep for mankind,
Sieg heil, baby!”
CINEMA: – and his character, James Washington, tells them he knows the president –
POPCORN: Now that’s a movie I wanna see, BLADE VS. NAZI VAMPIRES ON THE MOON.
CINEMA: – which really intrigues them, undoubtedly still imagining the wartime presidency of FDR. Just as intriguing (at least to their resident scientist, Doktor Richter), is Washington’s smartphone, which they quickly realize has more power than the massive 1940s-style computers of the Fourth Reich, and . . . are you even listening? Do we need to go back home for your medication?
POPCORN: No, dude, I’m good. I just gotta lotta interests, you know? So they want this guy’s phone cuz he’s got, like, unlimited data or something –
CINEMA: Well, they want to hook it up to power their massive ship, the Götterdämmerung, and return to conquer the earth. They’ve been hiding out on the moon since the end of the war, using a truncated version of Chaplin’s THE GREAT DICTATOR to teach new generations how wonderful Hitler was. Specifically, the scene where he dances with the inflatable globe –
POPCORN: Bouncin’ it off his ass.
CINEMA: Yes, that one. Of course, no one has seen the rest of the film, so they don’t realize that it was actually a scathing indictment of their way of life. All they see is Adolf playfully bouncing the world around and think it’s their birthright. There’s a Nazi commander, Klaus Adler, who’s been chosen to mate with the scientist’s daughter, Renate Richter – the school teacher – for purely genetic reasons. She’s blonde, blue-eyed, voluptuous.
POPCORN: Master race kinda shit.
CINEMA: Exactly. And you’ve got Udo Kier as the new Fuhrer – known to cineastes such as me from his work in Andy Warhol’s FRANKENSTEIN, and a litany of other art house, low-budget, and horror films – though you probably recognize him from BLADE, ARMAGEDDON, or that ridiculous Pamela Anderson vehicle, BARB WIRE –
POPCORN: Dude, I love that flick.
CINEMA: – though none of the other players are familiar to most American audiences. There is someone meant to be Sarah Palin as the President of the United States, trying to win her reelection bid with this new moon-landing –
POPCORN: When was this movie made?
CINEMA: Well, the whole thing began in 2006, when George Bush was still the worst president we’d ever had. Writers Johanna Sinisalo and Michael Kalesniko teamed with director Timo Vourensola and made a teaser trailer for their idea: Nazis on the moon, and took it to the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, hoping to get financing to expand on that idea. They signed a co-production agreement with Oliver Damian’s 27 Films Productions and collaborated with Wreck-A-Movie, an online community of film enthusiasts who invite everyone interested to contribute their ideas.
POPCORN: And their cash.
CINEMA: Most importantly, yes. Filming began in November 2010 in Germany and Australia, concluding February of the following year, with ten weeks of post-production to follow. A digital comic prequel called Iron Sky: Bad Moon Rising was released in October, then the film finally premiered at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival in February 2012. It went over like a Nazi health spa – critics universally disliked it – but it quickly developed a huge online fanbase. Which is more than I can say for us.
POPCORN: Speak for yourself, dude. Chicks love me.
CINEMA: Uh-huh. So Adler decides that he should take a recon mission to earth in order to retrieve more of these mini-supercomputers –
CINEMA: Heh-heh, yes, and he takes a recently Aryanized James Washington, who has been transformed into a very unreal-looking white man via Doktor Richter’s special “albinizing” drug – which is just actor Christopher Kirby in white-face, and –
POPCORN: So they turn the black dude into a white dude?
CINEMA: Heh, yes, but Renate has begun to really like Washington, so she stows away on the spacecraft –
POPCORN: So they turn a black dude into a white dude . . . and you thought it was funny?
CINEMA: Well, it wasn’t funny funny, but it was the way in which the filmmakers were so pointedly unconcerned about political correctness in a film about Nazis that –
POPCORN: And they could just up-n go back to earth to get some phones? So, like, why didn’t they go back sooner and check everything out? I mean, long as they didn’t go down there with Hitler mustaches and shit –
CINEMA: I, uh . . . well, they didn’t have the first phone to power the ship to go retrieve the other phones, and –
POPCORN: How’d they get there in the first place? Couldn’t they just go back the same way?
CINEMA: I don’t know, I didn’t ask them because I wasn’t there. They probably didn’t want to land a 1940s rocket from Germany in the middle of modern New York –
POPCORN: Isn’t that what they did anyway?
CINEMA: Well, yes, they did – more or less, it was a flying saucer, really – but now it was powered by a smartphone . . . and they had a guide, someone who was actually from the place they were trying to infiltrate –
POPCORN: But they turned him into a fake-lookin’ white dude. That’s what you said, right? I mean, wouldn’t it make more sense to, like, leave the dude lookin’ natural if you’re gonna land in the middle-a the inner city –
CINEMA: Look, I didn’t write the movie. I didn’t direct the movie. I merely, in a moment of critical weakness, found myself enjoying the movie. It happens sometimes.
POPCORN: Naw, dude, you’re cool. I’m just tryin’ to see the shit like you saw it. So, on the Stupid Scale, is it somewhere around, like, BARB WIRE? Cuz you’re all tellin’ me I’m an idiot for liking that flick –
CINEMA: I didn’t say you’re an idiot.
POPCORN: Naw, it was more like <in Thurston Howell III voice> “but you probably know him from that ridiculous Pamela Anderson vehicle . . .” Then you start countin’ all your Oscars over there. Oh yeah, almost forgot, you don’t have any awards.
CINEMA: Not yet I don’t. Look, the director admitted that it was a tremendously politically incorrect film, but that they did have a message about war-mongering and government ineptitude. All of the government officials in the movie are scheming, incompetent, or evil, while the United Nations is shown to be a bunch of bickering children who lie to each other about having the same forbidden weapons. The best people in the whole movie are the astronaut and the not-really-so-Nazi girl Renate –
POPCORN: So it’s smart cuz it’s, like, a documentary.
CINEMA: Not like IDIOCRACY is turning out to be, but there is a militarized spacecraft called the USS George W. Bush and the Nazis launch an assault upon the earth with a fleet of giant zeppelin-like ships called Siegfrieds –
POPCORN: Do any Nazis get mooned?
CINEMA: Well, no, but a couple of them get Richard Spencered in the face. Speaking of which, I just read that your boy Steve Bannon got himself kicked out of the White House.
POPCORN: He ain’t my boy. Even my sperm wouldn’t have a face like that.
POPCORN: Whatever, yourself.
CINEMA: Well, you wanted King Cheeto in the Oval Office.
POPCORN: Hey, I don’t actually like the stupid son-of-a-bitch. I just figured he might shake that shit up in Washington, give us little folks a chance.
CINEMA: You’re an imbecile.
POPCORN: Better than a stuck-up dick-weed.
CINEMA: Anyway, it seems that Nazi bastard Bannon didn’t get along with Trump’s Jewish son-in-law. Imagine that.
POPCORN: Huh, imagine.
CINEMA: Maybe there’s just a little hope for humanity yet. Hey, could you drive on the way home from the library?
POPCORN: Sure, dude, if we can get BARB WIRE. No problem. Why?
CINEMA: I want to moon some Nazis too. Why should you have all the fun?
“This Nazi shit won’t do,
this Nazi shit won’t do,
this Nazi shit won’t do,
so we launched them to the moon!”
– j meredith
POPCORN CINEMA will return with more unforgettable adventures with the movies. Meanwhile, feel free to drop a comment or click a ‘Like’ . . . it makes the guys feel good. Check out all our previous editions right here on PSYCHO DRIVE-IN.