I’m a little bit torn about Martin Scorsese’s new film The Wolf of Wall Street. I can’t deny that it looks entertaining as hell, and any time you get Matthew McConaughey chewing scenery with a silly haircut it would take at least a strapping bouncer or two to keep me out of that theater. The book the film’s based on sounds pretty entertaining too:
By day he made thousands of dollars a minute. By night he spent it as fast as he could, on drugs, sex, and international globe-trotting. From the binge that sank a 170-foot motor yacht, crashed a Gulfstream jet, and ran up a $700,000 hotel tab, to the wife and kids who waited for him at home, and the fast-talking, hard-partying young stockbrokers who called him king and did his bidding, here, in his own inimitable words, is the story of the ill-fated genius they called… (The Wolf of Wall Street). [Amazon]
The problem is, the book was written by the subject himself, Jordan Belfort, and I have a hard time listening to a story narrating to anyone who refers to himself as “an ill-fated genius.” Not to mention, giving this guy even more money to self-mythologize and tell me about how awesome it was when he screwed a bunch of people out of money leaves a bad taste in my mouth, no matter how much I want to hear about those chimps on rollerblades.
But as some of my astute commenters pointed out, Belfort actually financed a handful of movies himself in the mid 90s. While we may not be able to buy his memoir guilt-free, one thing we can do is to explore some of the crappy movies this self-described genius executive produced. For instance, did you know he bankrolled two separate films directed by the guy who did A Talking Cat?! It’s true. And it appears as if he discovered, like so many before him, that financing movies isn’t the easiest way to make money.
But first, Leo would like this dance:
TITLE: Santa With Muscles (1996)
PLOT: “An evil millionaire played by Hulk Hogan gets amnesia and then believes that he is Santa Claus.”
It practically writes itself.
TRIVIA: Marked one of the first appearances by Mila Kunis, also co-stars Clint Howard.
MEMORABLE LINES: “Fax me, you little brat.” “You sleigh me, Santa.”
DOMESTIC GROSS: $220,198, from 98 theaters.
SAMPLE AMAZON REVIEW: “It was a very good movie and I loved it. I saw it from start to finish and it was the best movie ever that Hulk Hogan starred in it.He was very funny in this movie and he has done many movies and also he is a very good wrestler and a good general manager for TNA and his movies are very great. I would say thank you very much for sending me this tape and I would say keep up the good work and earn the cash. Sincerely yours, Zaida M Quijano.”
OTHER NOTES: I honestly can’t tell if the Hulkster is in brownface.
TITLE: The Elevator (1996)
Belfort’s first effort, there is little evidence this film even exists outside of Amazon and IMDB, and yet it boasts relatively decent star power with Martin Landau, Richard Lewis, and Martin Sheen. It was written by the delightfully named “Gabriel Bologna,” who apparently was a background dancer in the original Captain EO.
TRIVIA: “Gabriel Bologna was stuck in an elevator with Ron Howard in real life. Gabriel happened to have a script under his arm and contemplated pressing the stop button and pitching him the movie, but instead, came up with the idea for “The Elevator” about a struggling writer who traps a producer in an elevator and forces him to listen to his script that he reads from cover to cover.”
Later, M. Night Shyamalan stole the idea to produce Devil, which was also a failure.
TITLE: The Secret Agent Club (1996)
Another Hulk Hogan/John Murloski production, this one about the Hulk as a toy salesman/secret agent.
SYNOPSIS: To the world Ray Chase is nothing more than a klutzy, overgrown toy seller whose wife passed away a few years ago; and his only son Jeremy doesn’t get to see him very often, because he’s always away on “business trips.” What no one knows-not even Jeremy-is that his dad is a secret agent who flies all around the world, completing highly classified missions for a top-secret peacekeeping agency. Unaware of his dad’s dangerous, yet exciting, secret identity, Jeremy’s world is utterly normal. But all that changes when Ray returns from a mission, bringing with him a high-powered laser gun he stole from a treacherous female foreign guns dealer. Ray tells his son the gun is only a toy, but his secret comes out when the dealer sends her henchmen to capture Ray and retrieve the gun. The nasty henchmen get Ray, but Jeremy escapes with the wanted firearm. After he learns how to use the laser gun, Jeremy gathers his friends, and together they hatch a clever plan to rescue Ray.
The mid-90s really loved casting an enormous buff dude as a klutz who was secretly a badass. “But he can’t be athletic, he’s wearing glasses!”
TRIVIA: The Asian kid shouts “Bonzai!” and knows karate. Classic Asian kid stuff.
TAGLINE: “True Lies meets Home Alone!”
SAMPLE REVIEW: “Hulk Hogan is awesome in any movie he does he is so cool and he plays a father who haas a job to do but also tries never to neglect his kid he does a great job.”
TITLE: Blood Money (1996)
DIRECTOR: John Shepphird, who went on to make Jersey Shore Shark Attack and Chupacabra Terror.
NOTABLE CAST: James Brolin, Traci Lords, and Mark Ruffalo
COPIES AVAILABLE ON AMAZON: Six.
THEATRICAL RELEASE?: Hahahaha, very funny.
IMDB REVIEW: “This mystery-thriller is neither mysterious or thrilling. The story is completely predictable and the characters are underwritten and uninteresting. Much of the acting is wooden, but that is not a surprise given the material with which they had to work. Don’t waste your time by watching this film.”
REVIEW 2: “Unfortunately, a lot of people could not appreciate the subtlety with which Blood Money turns film noir and the classic `crime story’ conventions around, while at the same time commenting smugly upon the expectations of the cable-subscriber audience. Shepphird’s film is all about inexorability, free will and ultimately, redemption, all cloaked in the guise of a quiet little made-for-tv movie. A post-post-modern `The Killing’ with a Corman twist and a cast of zany characters (including ex-porn star Traci Lords, making her non-porn debut here, in a seeming homage to Mati Hari), Blood Money slaps you, then asks you if you like it. It catches you in the nude, and then just just when you think you’ve got it figured out, it reaches down and pulls out – something you didn’t expect.”
TITLE: Assault on Dome 4 (1996)
DIRECTOR: Gilbert Po, who seems to have left the business after this film.
SYNOPSIS: Low-budget Die Hard clone in which mad terrorist Alex Windham takes over a small scientific community on another planet and forces Dome 4’s inhabitants to build him some bombs. Windham is unaware, however, that futuristic “peacekeeper” Chase Morran is on Dome 4 and plans to foil Alex’s evil plot.
RELEASE: A Sci-Fi original, back before Sci-Fi got all cool and changed their name to SyFy.
SELLING POINT: Bruce Campbell!
SAMPLE IMDB REVIEW: “This is the kind of movie that assures Bruce Campbell of his cult status. The movie is downright awful, but Bruce shines by overflowing with his characteristic cockiness. If your interested in story, special effects, good screen writing, or little things like a cohesive plot or originality, then pass on it; but if you appreciate the over-the-top idiocy of a pure guilty pleasure B-made-for-TV movie, then this is definitely a must see.
I love the movie because of the sheer balls it must have taken to produce: The dialog is awful. The characters are cut-and-dried stereotypes. The entire movie seems as if it was written overnight. It was awesome.”
OBSERVATION: Okay, I might actually watch this one.
TITLE: Prey of the Jaguar, (1996). I think this one wins the “best title” prize in the Jordan Belfort catalog.
DIRECTOR: This one was directed by the infamous David DeCoteau – whom we’ve already profiled in great detail – and stars Stacy Keach and Linda Blair.
SYNOPSIS: “In this low-budget action adventure, a former Special Operations agents becomes a mysterious crime fighter to avenge the slaughter of his beloved family by the fugitive convicts he sent to prison. He and his family were living under assumed names and believed they were safe. But despite the warnings of his former superior Derek Leigh could not save them. Two detectives show up, but Leigh will not talk to them. It is while looking at his son’s simple drawing of a super hero that Leigh decides to don a costume and get the bad guys himself. Wearing a leotard, boots, a mask and painting his face to resemble the title cat, he begins brushing up on martial arts and lifting weights. He then arms himself with assorted darts, throwing stars and arrows all dipped in a special sleeping potion. Once ready, the Jaguar sets off for revenge leaving a trail of dart covered sleeping bodies.”
Not enough vigilante movies about poison darts, I always say. And because it’s David DeCoteau, you can expect some loving close-ups of the hero’s groin.
I believe you can actually watch the full movie online. But failing that, these pictures seem decently representative:
You wouldn’t really think those could come from the same movie, would you?
TITLE: Skeletons (1997)
PEDIGREE: Another David DeCoteau film, this one was actually written by Joshua Michael Stern, who went on to direct the Kevin Costner bomb Swing Vote and Ashton Kutcher’s Steve Jobs biopic jOBS.
RELEASE: According to IMDB, it received a theatrical release in April 1997, but BoxOfficeMojo doesn’t have an entry for it.
TALENT: Ron Silver, Oscar winner Christopher Plummer and James Coburn.
SYNOPSIS: “A heart attack moves a Pulitzer winning journalist to leave NY for the peace of a small New England town, but he soon finds himself pulled into a case of a man accused of killing his gay lover with the blade of a shovel. Wanting to keep the case quiet, the town turns against the journalist and his family when he begins digging into its secrets, until finally the accused man is found hanging in his cell and the truth comes out about more than just the killing.”
I miss Santa Claus having amnesia.
LONE QUOTE ON IMDB’S QUOTES PAGE: Reverend Carlyle: You cannot hide from an AK-47 that’s been blessed by the lord.
TRIVIA: The film was originally started by director ‘Ken Russell’, but after he locked horns with one of the film’s nine producers, he was fired and David DeCoteau was hired to replace him.
This was one of the first seven films to be foreclosed by the Screen Actors Guild for non-payment of wages and residuals to SAG members. On 13 July 2004, rights to the film were sold at auction.
Shot in nineteen days.
Say what you will about his movies, but in a career that’s spanned more than 20 years, David DeCoteau’s steadfast refusal to learn how to record or mix sound is almost impressive. The man had a vision. Of unintelligible dialog.
TITLE: Firestorm (1997)
SYNOPSIS: In 2024, on the planet Markus 4, a ruthless dictator has enslaved a group of androids. The stir of them against the tyrant frahogar, causing increased repression. Sonny, a young policeman decides to take revenge of the prevailing system on the planet, after learning of the murder of his twin brother during the rebellion. You can watch Firestorm online in TV cable or cinemas with original audio in English.
TALENT: Robert Carridine, aka Skolnick in Revenge of the Nerds.
LEGACY: A year later, another film called Firestorm, this one starring Howie Long, would come along and steal its thunder.
NUMBER OF IMDB USER REVIEWS: One.
IMDB REVIEW: Not a bad movie. Cast is strong – Bentley Mitchum, John Savage, Paul Williams all turn is a great performance. Roxanna Zal (Rivers edge) might want to consider turning in her Emmy though. Her performance is sooo boring it brings the movie down a bit. Otherwise, the movie is fun. Explosions, fights, guns, twists and turns. Even a small role played by Gary wolf(scott’s brother)! Great for a rainy day sunday afternoon…
And that was it for movies bankrolled by Jordan Belfort, who, all told, produced eight movies between 1996 and 1997, including two directed by a softcore gay porn director and two by the director of Cop Dog. And now, Martin Scorsese is directing a movie about his life with Leonardo DiCaprio starring. I’m not sure what to make of any of this, but I bet Jordan Belfort has the weirdest rolodex ever.