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Entries in This is Spinal Tap (2)

Friday
Mar032017

New to Netflix: Spinal Tap, Blazing Saddles, Jurassic Park...

It's that time of month when we get our new streaming options. Here are random new titles on Netflix for March (or that showed up late in February), freeze framed at totally random places, whatever comes up. As we do...

It's part of a musical trilogy I'm doing in D minor, which I find is really the saddest of all keys. I don't know why but it makes people weep instantly.

This is Spinal Tap (1984)
Heh. So funny this movie. Christopher Guest and Rob Reiner's collaboration became a classic. Without it we probably wouldn't have had Waiting for Guffman or Best in Show or whatnot. 

More films after the jump...

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Thursday
Mar172011

Unsung Heroes: The Props of "This is Spinal Tap"

Michael C here from Serious Film this week to throw a little love to the technical support who help make it possible for the geniuses in front of the camera to change comedy forever.

I do not for one think the problem was that the band was down. I think the problem may have been that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage in danger of being crushed by a dwarf. That tended to understate the hugeness of the object. -  David St. Hubbins

 

One of the things that makers of Hollywood spoofs and satires seem to have forgotten is that it is important to first establish the reality of the story, and then, and only then, does one proceed to twist and subvert the conventions of the genre. Kubrick knew to let Dr. Strangelove play out with stark simplicity for the whole opening act before the big laughs started to creep in. Mel Brooks knew to let Young Frankenstein feel like a convincing horror classic before the monster started putting on the Ritz. And Rob Reiner clearly knew that his off-the-charts hilarious This is Spinal Tap would be dead in the water if every detail didn’t ring true. The prop work and set decoration placed the bar for mockumentaries at a level that has rarely been approached since.

Everything here is exactly the right level of awful. The crappy plastic pod that captures Shearer’s Derek Smalls and the crappy plastic demon skull that looms over the stage are both just good enough to allow the band to delude itself into thinking they're awesome. The legendary amp that goes to eleven displays that extra level with the perfect degree of carelessness, as if a disinterested roadie hastily tacked on the elevens in order to placate the band. One of my favorite bits is the series of briefly glimpsed past albums. The blindingly tacky cover art lets you know in an instant precisely the type of horrible band Spinal Tap is.

And what words can do justice to Stonehenge? That henge has a lot of buildup to fail to live up to and it delivers spectacularly at failing to deliver. Yet one can still spot the faint glimmer of the awesome spectacle the band imagined it would be.

It occurs to me I may be going overboard handing out credit. The wonderfully cheap look of Spinal Tap’s props may simply be a fortuitous result of the movie’s limited budget and shooting schedule. But even if that were that case what difference would it make? Would it be more praise-worthy if Spinal Tap had a prop department the size of Lord of the Rings and the budget of Avatar? The question comes down to how much more perfect could every minor detail of Tap, from the tiny bread on Nigel’s refreshment tray to the cucumber in Derek’s trousers, be? And the answer is none. None more perfect.