Video: The Happening meets "The Happening"

Welcome to the latest installment of Razzie Contenders: 2009 Edition! Yeah, you though it was over, didn’t you? Well, think again. And this time, it’s in the form of a music video!

Yes, you could just skip to the end of this article and watch the video, but then you’d be missing out on all the tedious backstory about what led me to make it.

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First of all, I’d like to take back pretty much everything I said about M. Night Shyamalan on this site a couple of years back. I was really trying hard to defend a director who’s made three (and a half) solid movies, because, let’s face it, most directors can’t even manage one. I even tried to defend the much-maligned The Village (which I still think is a pretty good film, for at least the first hour) and Signs, which I loved, and to this day I still contend that anybody who uses the final plot twist of (spoilers!) “aliens allergic to water” as justification to hate the entire film has missed the point completely.

But in the two years since I posted that article, it’s become clear that Shyamalan is completely out of ideas, and is desperately trying to make movies out of unworkable concepts. Lady in the Water, his self-proclaimed “bedtime story”, was a random hodgepodge of characters and events, none of which were the slightest bit entertaining. And then came The Happening, an even more bizarre film. It’s supposedly a horror movie, but the tone shifts wildly throughout, making most of it laughable. Thing is, I couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be laughable or not. Shyamalan seems to be aiming for dark comedy, but all the gore is presented in a deathly serious way. It’s essentially a slapstick comedy about graphic, gut wrenching suicides.

I’ll say one thing for The Happening: Whereas Lady in the Water could be marketed as the cure for insomnia, The Happening is mesmerizingly bad. It’s so awful you can’t take your eyes off it. And the movie’s central premise, that plants are somehow reacting to climate change by triggering humans to commit suicide, is orders of magnitude more ridiculous than anything that came out of the whole “animals attack” genre of the ‘70s.

I honestly have no idea how Shyamalan got talented actors like Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, or John Leguizamo to sign on for this. Hell, I’m actually mystified that he even scored Spencer Breslin for this.

So yeah, me and M. Night are pretty much done after this movie. Fool me twice, shame on me. His next film, due out in 2010, is The Last Airbender, which is apparently based on some anime series, so there’s two reasons for me not to see it.

But what many people don’t know is that Shyamalan’s film isn’t the first major motion picture to bear the title The Happening. The original The Happening came out in 1967, and starred Anthony Quinn, George Maharis (of Route 66 fame), and Michael Parks (recently seen in several Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez movies, and on this site in The Savage Bees). Also featured are Faye Dunaway in her first movie, and Milton Berle in a small role.

The Happening (1967)

By all accounts, 1967’s The Happening was just another ill-fated anti-establishment comedy made to cash in on the whole counter cultural movement of the late ‘60s. (I say “by all accounts” because I haven’t seen it—the film has yet to see the light of day on DVD.) Accordingly, the movie uses the word “happening” in a much different sense. I did some research on hippies (i.e., two minutes on Wikipedia), and I’m still not exactly sure what a “happening” is in that sense, but I do know that this is my happening, and it freaks me out!

Unfortunately, the movie bombed. This was despite having a hit theme song recorded by one of the biggest pop acts of the day. Diana Ross and the Supremes had a #1 hit with the title track “The Happening”, and Herb Alpert had a Top 40 hit with the instrumental version. (And a couple of years ago, the song was sampled by American Idol winner Fantasia and used to interesting effect on her song “Hood Boy”.)

I always liked the original song, and I knew about the 1967 movie from my research on Myra Breckinridge. So when I first heard that M. Night Shyamalan was making a horror film called The Happening, I couldn’t help but imagine taking some choice clips from the film and setting them to “The Happening”, the theme from that other The Happening.

Now that the movie is out on DVD and I have some rudimentary idea of how to edit video clips together, I’ve made my dream… happen. Check it out:

The Happening meets “The Happening”

If you ask me, Shyamalan really should have used the Supremes song in the trailer. People would have been rushing out to see this. Oh yeah, and there’s one last thing to keep in mind…

Tag: Razzie Contenders: 2009 Edition

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