27 March 2012

Todd Holland and Amazing Stories, Episode 2.4, "Welcome to My Nightmare"

You probably didn't realize it, but director Todd Holland has been with you your whole life, if you were born in the early 80s. At his career's beginning he directed two tv episodes for the Steven Spielberg-produced Amazing Stories (including "Welcome to My Nightmare"), and an episode of Max Headroom (2.4). His moviedirector debut was the '89 videogame-spotlighting The Wizard (which movie famously [IMO?] revealed the SMB3 white-block warp). Then, two episodes of Twin Peaks (2.4 and 2.13), an episode of Tales from the Crypt (3.5), and (an) episode(s) of Eerie, Indiana; Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures; and My So-Called Life. In 1998 he directed his second movie - which I totally remember seeing - the Richard Dreyfuss and Jenna Elfman family comedy Krippendorf's Tribe. Obviously, he then directed fifty-one (51) episodes of The Larry Sanders Show. He directed three episodes of Felicity, an episode of Friends ("The One Where Rachel Smokes"), and twenty-six (26) episodes of goddamn Malcolm in the Middle. I haven't seen his third movie, 2007's Firehouse Dog, but it's on my list because of its IMDb synopsis and theatrical poster:

Rexxx, Hollywood's top canine star, gets lost and is adopted into a shabby firehouse. He teams up with a young kid (Hutcherson) to get the station back on its feet.
Since then he (Holland, not Rexxx) directed some episodes of family shows I've never seen and two episodes of 30 Rock that I've also never seen. Truly an enviable career.

Holland received screenwriting credit a handful of times, including on "Welcome to My Nightmare."

"Welcome to My Nightmare" is a family story, i.e. a kids' episode. Anthology series are funny like that, seems funny to imagine turning on Mad Men one week for the kids' episode. Harry is a teenaged boy obsessed with horror movies. He's played by David Hollander, who was only a 17 year-old actor at the time, but had a bunch of credits already; strangely, seems this episode pretty much extinguished his acting career (recent credits are as music supervisor). One of those scary coincidences/curses, I guess.

Harry's mind is so fucked from horror movies that he has twisted-ass movie-fantasies during real life -- in the one pictured above some fratboy zombies spring out of trashcans.

Harry's mom and dad and sister Molly (Christina Applegate) and Molly's boyfriend Bud think Harry has problems, he shouldn't watch so many movies. They give him shit about it. Thing is, Harry in the realworld (the kid/adult watching this Amazing Stories episode who is exactly like Harry) is losing his noodle right now - this is exactly the same life realworld Harry lives(!). Holland knows the core demographic for this show will relate.

Bud: Hey Harr, how 'bout shooting some hoops later?
Harry: I'm going to the movies.
Younger brother: Surprise.
Bud: Harry, only molds grow in the dark. You gotta get some sun. Get out, work your body, and develop yourself. No girl's gonna wanna be seen with a half-bake loser-wimp.
Mom: This, uh, dance is for the entire school, isn't it Molly?
Molly: Mmhm.
Mom: Why don't you take some nice girl to the dance Harry?
Molly: Oooh, please. The last time all he talked about was being cloned from alien seed-pods.
Younger brother: Better than bowling or miniature-golf.
Bud: Mmm, let's face facts. Harry is a closet-sociopath, and I think it's time we all admitted that to ourselves and -- put Harry in an institution.

Fact: The boyfriend is played by Steve Antin. Random fucking name? Only kind of. He also had acting parts in The Last American Virgin, The Goonies, The Accused and other movies/shows, until switching gears to become a writer. Dude wrote the script for the '99 remake of the Cassavetes movie Gloria, directed by Sidney Lumet and titled Gloria. In 2003 a film he cowrote called Chasing Papi was released (which appears to be the only theatrical movie directed by busy tvdirector Linda Mendoza). In 2006 he directed a DTV movie called Glass House: The Good Mother, and then in 2010, at the age of fifty-two (52), the first theatrical movie he directed was released -- you fucking guessed it, I'm talking about: Burlesque. The movie with Cher and Christina Aguilera that you probably skipped in the theater 'cause you had no idea the director of the movie was the hunk bf in Todd Holland's episode 2.4 of Amazing Travels. DAMN. Fucking Hollywood. IMDb trivia says he was also the "[b]oyfriend of media mogul David Geffen during the mid-to-late 1980s."

Anyway, Bud (Antin) gives shit to Harry and makes him feel bad, telling Harry that he needs to take risks and do things because life is different from movies because in life you don't know what's going to happen.

Harry runs out of the house, pretty upset, and is like "Please God, why can't life be as good as a movie?"

So, via magical theater, Harry lands himself in Hitchcock's Psycho.
Fantasies merge with reality, that's what happens in family films -- being in one, Harry should have known.

In the end Harry returns to his life with a lesson learned, which is like what happens in It's a Wonderful Life, ISN'T IT??

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