We have a lot of rules on Hyphenates, all of them self-imposed. A lot of the time they make sense: we always make sure a new release from a past Filmmaker of the Month is given preference in the reviews, for instance. This makes sense if you, say, cover Sofia Coppola’s career around the release of Somewhere and want to keep up to speed on where she’s heading.
So what happens when we’re cursed to watch the films of, say, Michael Bay forever more? And what must the person who first cursed us think of this prison? And what happens if that person just happen to return to the show exactly five years after their original appearance, at the exact moment Bay’s opus prime Transformers: The Last Knight is released into cinemas in much the same way a calicivirus is released into a population of wild rabbits to bring their numbers down?
You’ll have to listen to this episode to find out, because we are legitimately delighted to be joined by C. Robert Cargill, who first joined us in June 2013 in defence of Michael Bay’s unique brand of auteurism. Cargill, a former film critic now full-time screenwriter and author, has, since his last appearance, since worked on the horror sequel Sinister 2, the Marvel Studios blockbuster Doctor Strange, and many secret upcoming projects we unsuccessfully grilled him about once the mics were off.
So what compelled Cargill to return to the show? He wanted to talk about the films of his screenwriting guru, the one and only Everett De Roche. If you’re unfamiliar with De Roche and why he’s such an influential and beloved figure, you’ll really have to listen to this month’s show. You’ll leave it wanting to watch everything the man ever wrote.
Before we get to De Roche, however, Cargill joins us to talk about some of the films of this month: Transformers: The Last Knight, The Mummy and Wonder Woman. Do you spot the one big thing those films all have in common? No, the other thing. Yes, they’re all building blocks for ambitious, multi-billion dollar interconnected universes. Not just the usual bunch of sequels, but spinoffs and crossovers and films that explore other corners of the world created.
So, given we’re joined by a writer who worked on a Marvel film, we had to ask the question: how do you create a successful cinematic universe now that everyone is trying? Is this behemoth model sustainable? What’s the future of this franchise format?
It’s another tri-continental show as Cargill joins us from Austin, Texas for a jam-packed episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates you can’t afford to miss.
- To listen back to the episode from exactly five years ago, in which Cargill first appeared and cursed us with Michael Bay films forever more, click here.
- And, exactly ten years ago almost to the day, Lee reviewed the very first Transformers on Australian community TV, which you can watch here.
- Sophie mentions the MayBot’s possible appearance in Transformers: The Last Knight, referencing the British Prime Minister’s mainstream moniker. No action figures to speak of yet, though.
- Also worth mentioning: during her epic Transformers rant, Sophie suggests a King Arthur equivalent of Godwin’s Law to punish anyone who resorts to a lazy referencing of the English legend. Only after we’d finished recording the episode did we hit upon the obvious name: Y Gododdin’s Law. There’s no chance it’ll catch on, but just in case it does, you heard it here first.
- The non-Tom Cruise mummy film Sophie was referring to was The Night of Counting the Years (1969), directed by Shadi Abdel Salam. Restored by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation in 2008. Now in public domain, it can be downloaded and viewed for free at the Internet Archive.
- Cargill mentions the Mummy trailer that was accidentally released with half the soundtrack missing. Universal’s been trying to take them all down, but you can’t kill something once it’s on the internet. If this video disappears before you get to watch it, a quick search should find you a new one:
- You can read more about the Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman video art piece by Dara Birnhum here, and watch the video here:
- Cargill refers to Born Sexy Yesterday, a trope identified by Pop Culture Detective, aka Jonathan McIntosh, in his recent video essay:
- If you want to join our Saïd Taghmaoui love-in, you can follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
- The cyberpunk book that Cargill was adapting with writing partner Scott Derrickson, When Gravity Fails, was written by George Alec Effinger, and won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1988. The book is available in print and digital from all the usual places.
- Want to know about all those shared universe properties Lee rattled off on the intro? Click the links to read more about the Stephen King TV show Castle Rock, Sony’s parallel Spider-man franchise, the currently-unconfirmed rumours about a JamesBond extended universe, for the sake of completeness here’s anoverview of the DCEU that Wonder Woman has just resuscitated, the monster mashed Dark Universe franchise possibly launched by The Mummy, and whatever the fuck is happening with Transformers.
- Cargill talks about some of the slasher team-ups that were rumoured before the shared universe thing took off. These included Pinhead vs Michael Myers, Freddy vs Jason vs Ash, Freddy vs Michael Myers, Freddy vs Chucky and Chucky vs Leprechaun. It was an exhausting period.
The Tommy Westphall Universe theory suggests that most of television is the dream of one kid named Tommy Westphall who appeared in the final scene of the 1980s drama St Elsewhere. The suggestion is that all of the show was imagined by an autistic kid named Tommy Westphall. And if that’s true, then it must mean Homicide: Life on the Street is in his imagination as well, given two characters from St Elsewhere crossed over into that. And Homicide crossed over with Law & Order, which crossed over with The X-Files, which leads us to The Simpsons, and basically all of television including Arrested Development, Buffy, Seinfeld, and really everything you’ve ever watched. Fall down the rabbit hole here.
- We didn’t mention it, yet no discussion of the shared universe concept is complete without mentioning the Wold Newton family, created by author Philip José Farmer in his books Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography of Lord Greystoke (1972) and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (1973). This theory unifies Tarzan, Doc Savage, Sherlock Holmes, Scarlet Pimpernel, James Bond, Sam Spade, Phileas Fogg, and many others. If you’re a fan of Alan Moore’s excellent comic League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, you need to check out Farmer’s work.
- The Quentin Tarantino shared universe is a very real, very deliberate thing, and you can read more about its dual tiers here.
- Lee’s unproduced sketch about Australia forming its own cinematic universe is reluctantly presented for you to read via this link.
- Cargill mentions a Twitter convo he just had with comics writer Mark Millar and Kong: Skull Island director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, which you should be able to read if you click on this link.
- If you want to know more about the Chinese figures of legend that Cargill discusses, you can click on these links for primers on Ip Man, Fong Sai-yuk, and Wong Fei-hung.
Filmmaker of the Month
- The Bazura Project interview Lee did with Everett De Roche that partly inspired Hell Is For Hyphenates can be seen here.
- We mention Brian Trenchard-Smith, the director of the Everett De Roche film Frog Dreaming (aka The Quest), and you can hear him on Hyphenates talking about the films of Quentin Tarantino.
- And we also give a shout out to Mark Hartley, the director of Not Quite Hollywood, who was also on our show talking about the films of John Hough.
- Cargill mentions his fantasy novel set in Australia. This is Queen of the Dark Things (2014), a sequel to his book Dreams and Shadows (2013), both of which can be bought from all the usual outlets, including actual physical shops (support your local bookstore, people).
- Yes, Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt did go missing during a swim (as Cargill discusses in reference to De Roche’s film Harlequin) in 1967. Here are some of the facts surrounding the disappearance, and here’s the actual swimming pool we named after him, cos Australians generally don’t give a fuck.
- The Edgar Allen Poe story that Cargill references in relation to Link is The Murders In Rue Morgue, which sets an awesome precedent for murderous orangutans. Read it here.
- An interesting bit of trivia we didn’t get to in the show… we asked De Roche’s family if he ever harboured an ambition to direct, or if it was something he deliberately avoided. Their reply: “He’s always expressed an interest in directing. For one reason or another, the opportunity didn’t present itself in his lifetime.”
- Check out these interviews with Everett De Roche, including this one from 1980 in Cinema Papers, this one from 2012 in Spectacular Optical, and this one from 2013 in Fake Shemp.
- If you want to hear more of Cargill talking films, make sure you subscribe to his podcast Junk Food Cinema, available from Film School Rejects here.
Outro music: score from Patrick (1978), composed by Brian May
The latest episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring C. Robert Cargill talking the films of Everett De Roche, can be heard on Stitcher Smart Radio, subscribed to on iTunes, or downloaded/streamed via our website.