Star Dipwads II: The Metal Years
Star Dipwads II was the fourth (prior to the expunging of Making Of) Dipwads feature CPF was to tackle, its rather misleading moniker aside. The idea was first proposed shortly after the Christmas Special, but it would be around two more years before any actual steps would be taken. To the best of my recollection, we were sitting in an IHOP discussing how we were never going to do another Dipwads film, and by the time we left we had a lengthy synopsis for a new Dipwads mini-series. Go figure.
We began recording for the first episode in spring of 1995, but poor initial recording quality caused us to set the film aside-for, as it turned out, another two years. We finally began recording again in 97, with the aim of creating an uber-parody, one to end all parody overdubs (which of course, it hasnt done.) Footage was massively rearranged, and in some cases entirely new shots were created out of pieces of old ones, to create scenes that would match our script. All the music and sound FX were recorded anew (the Yamato LDs kindly included isolated music and sound FX tracks in between the episodes) to avoid the awkward sound breaks that had plagued the older Dipwads and X-23 films. Sound was processed to simulate the reverb of the particular onscreen environs.
But really, who cares? This rant is about the Brain Tank. If theres one thing we remember about the making of Dipwads II, its all the above stuff plus the fucking Brain Tank.
Sometime in 1996, myself and Matt Buffington happened to see a film called The City of Lost Children, which featured a brain preserved in a mobile tank with a sort of retro, industrial-future look. Now, the notion of having Dipwads hosted by the disembodied brains of Ego Hat and Leper Jim had dated back to the films earliest conceptions, but from this point forward, it was impossible (for Matt B. anyway) to conceive of the preserved brains being displayed in anything other than the Gilliam-esque City of Lost Children tank. And so the construction began.
After beginning, the construction proceeded to drag on for three months of solid work, all weekend, every weekend (and sometimes during the week, too). We were trying to have the film completed for Project A-kon VIII, despite my loudly repeated protests of "never again" from previous years still ringing loudly in my head. An ungodly amount of paper-machei was boiled (by me, always me, dammit) for the stonelike walls of the tank, which were patterned upon the stone blocks featured in the titular castle from Hayao Miyazakis Laputa: Castle in the Sky. The wooden frame, built strong enough to survive a direct nuclear assualt, was paneled over with masonite which was then stained to look like wood (youre asking me? I didnt design the goddamn crazy-ass thing!!!) and which was then adorned with engraved heiroglyphics akin to those used by Captain Harlocks Mazone invaders. After a while, though, we ran out of those and began digging for additional symbols to decorate the paneling, which ended up including ones representing films we liked, favorite bands (the Dead Kennedys logo is pretty visible during the defrost sequence,) and abstruse pictograms representing every Corn Pone Flick ever made, as well as some we hadnt yet made (and some we still havent). A completely stupid total of 176 glyphs of varying degrees of complexity eventually found their way onto the tank. Jesus Christ! What the HELL were we thinking?!!! What do I mean by "we?" This wasnt my idea! Two rubber brains in a fish tank! Or one, split-screened! That was my take on it! Fuck!!!
Did I mention the circuit boards? Do you know how difficult it is to wrench off the bumpy parts of circuit boards with a pair of pliers? "No," you say, "but I bet youre going to tell me that you do, right?" Is that what youre thinking? Then youre correct! Its harder than fuck, and especially after youve been at it for days on end.
Oh, did I also mention that it has a built-in VCR, video games, and stereo system, all of which work, and all of which can be routed through the speakers and either or both of the two TVs contained in this Frankenstein monstrosity from the nether regions of some awful place of...something awful? I didnt? Silly me! I should have, since its almost (read as completely) pointless for it to be so endowed, seeing as it merely needs to pop onscreen long enough to intro the dubbed segment of Dipwads and then pop off again.
In the end, naturally, you can see almost none of this onscreen, but we finished construction the weekend before Project A-kon VIII, just in time for me to slap it all together for its premiere, which was punctuated by some asshole pulling the fire alarm halfway through and ruining it, leaving us proclaiming, "never again" again, but for the last time, as it turned out, since we never went back. I also knocked together both The Eighth Element and B.O.A. that week-the latter being finished around forty-five minutes prior to our departure for Dallas, and involving me recording narration into the camera whilst standing in the middle of the street in the rain at around 5:00 AM, so as not to wake those who were staying over to leave with us come morning. But thats another story.
Now, we have of course never finished the proposed mini-series, and may never do so at all, but if we do, it will almost certainly be done to justify the mind-pummelingly large amount of work that went into this $800 or so prop. Still, I suppose an eight-foot-tall brain tank is a better living room conversation piece than most.
Did I mention the pop-out Shizuma Drive?