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In praise of fake endings in movies and added sequences in or after end credits

(There are no spoilers in what follows)

Rather belatedly, I saw Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2.

An absolutely wonderful film.

At the end of the screening, only three of us sat through the end credits in the cinema.

The rest of the audience missed the five – count ‘em – FIVE – extra bits of full-screen live-action scattered amid the credits.

I am enthusiastic about film-makers doing this. It is an added bonus for genuine movie lovers.

Frankly, if people walk out before the end of the movie, they deserve to miss out.

What they missed at the end: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

When I saw On Her Majesty’s Secret Service on release in 1969, because audiences were so familiar, even then, with the techniques of film-making, about 20 people in the cinema walked out when the plot seemed to have been rounded-off nicely with James Bond’s wedding and there was a slow, rising and widening crane shot – a very normal end shot for a movie. By leaving before the credits had even started rolling, they missed out on the plot-changing coda to the film.

I have never been sure if this was or was not an intentional fake ending put in by director Peter Hunt.

Carrie – the 2nd most frightening sequence I have ever seen

The most famous intentional fake ending to a film (now almost de rigueur in horror films) is almost un-arguably Carrie (1976), where Brian De Palma, master of cinematic technique, with careful use of music etc, made the audience believe the main plot of the film had ended and then suddenly pulled out a shock from nowhere. I did not know there was a fake ending and saw the movie one afternoon towards the end of its run in London’s Odeon Leicester Square. I was sitting alone in the front row and there were maybe twelve people clustered in the back rows.

The original Night of the Living Dead – cheap but terrifying

When De Palma pulled the shock, there were multiple audible gasps and one shriek from the back of the cinema and – literally – I felt as if my blood had turned to ice. My blood ran cold.

Next to a particular unexpected shot in the middle of George A.Romero’s original Night of The Living Dead (1968) where those who have not seen it before almost always let out audible gasps, it is the most frightening shot I have ever seen in cinema. The bath scene in Les Diaboliques (1955) had little effect on me.

But, as well as admirable shock and fake endings, there is now a scattered genre of additional sequences at the end of films – Marvel have virtually annexed it as a house style, thus the FIVE additional sequences in Guardians of The Galaxy, Vol 2.

Kong: Skull Island had this extra end-teaser plugging a sequel

The recent Kong: Skull Island (2017) had a surprise addendum teasing a sequel and even the Fast and the Furious and Pirates of the Caribbean films have caught on to them.

Movies as far back as Airplane! (1980), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) and American Gangster (2007) have used them fairly inconsequentially. At the end of Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) Richard Donner and Joel Silver blew up  an entire mega hotel for no reason. Just as a bonus, I suspect, for anyone who had sat through the credits. Good for them.

But I remember at least two addenda where the REAL ending of the film was missed by a large number if not most of the audience who just left when the credits started.

After the Young Sherlock Holmes‘ credits finish, there is a major plot revelation and someone raises an eyebrow

In Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), the film very definitely ended.

The credits rolled and then there was a long additional sequence which ultimately climaxed in a revelation about one of the central characters in the film which totally changed your understanding of what had happened.

L.A. Confidential (1990), has a relatively up-beat ending but, after the end credits have rolled…

L.A. Confidential: British TV viewers almost never see this end

…there are flash-forwards in the story which give the movie a much more cynical ending. I think I have seen it on British TV three times and, each time, the additional sequences have not been screened because, presumably, the people preparing the film for screening did not realise there was something else at the end in addition to the credits.

Returning to Guardians of the Galaxy, good old Marvel included a brief (unexplained) sequence with their character Howard The Duck in the first movie (2014).

Howard The Duck – appallingly buggered-up by George Lucas so he was nothing like the grouchy character of the comics

And, in Vol 2, he appears (again unexplained) in a brief sequence within the film itself AND within the end credits. I can only hope this means Marvel are, at some point going to make a movie of Howard The Duck, my favourite Marvel character who was mutilated and cutesified beyond belief in George Lucas’ vomit-inducing ultra-cuddly family-friendly film of 1986.

Maestro Stan Lee appears in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol.2

My hope rests on the fact that the final sequence in Guardians of The Galaxy, Vol.2 has Marvel Comics’ maestro Stan Lee referring to all the other good Marvel characters he has created.

Howard The Duck makes Rocket Racoon seem like Mary Poppins.

Howard The Duck ran for President of the US in 1976. Maybe he should do it again…

 

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Comedy, burlesque and going OTT at PTOO with a naked Irish Riverdance in Peckham, London

There seem to be two separate ‘circuits’ in London at the moment: the amorphous alternative comedy circuit and the burlesque circuit. The latter seems to meander from stripper-type-tease to glimpses of old-style variety to fetish-style stuff with more than a nod to Berlin cabaret between-the-Wars.

Most of the straight comedy shows nowadays are a just a string of stand-ups with maybe, occasionally, an odd act thrown in. Vivienne and Martin Soan’s monthly Pull The Other One club in Nunhead (that’s Peckham to me and you) is clearly not burlesque; but it is not one of the amorphous straight comedy nights either.

It is old-style variety mingled with comic performance art plus usually one big-name straight stand up. It is never short of the unexpected and bizarre, so it’s no surprise that Pull The Other One regulars Bob Slayer and Holly Burn both appear in the April issue of Bizarre magazine as New Alternative Comedy Heroes.

The average Pull The Other One show does not exist and it is a sign of how unusual it is that it has always attracted comedians to its audience. Last month Boothby Graffoe was there in the audience just to enjoy it; this month it was Stephen Frost.

The Big Name stand up on the bill last night was multi-talented Omid Djalili, a man who can move with nary a blink from appearing in Gladiator, The MummyPirates of the Caribbean and James Bond movies to club gigs on the London comedy circuit to playing Fagin in Oliver! at the London Palladium and having his own TV series on BBC1. His career is almost as variety-filled as a Pull The Other One show.

I missed most of last night’s show because main speciality act Paul Morocco had got cut down earlier in the day with a very serious stomach bug and couldn’t appear – well, it’s a tribute to his professionalism that he would have appeared if Vivienne Soan had not been able to find a fill-in sharpish. But Paul’s amazing act includes juggling, a lot of bopping around and blowing/juggling multiple ping pong balls from his mouth. This is not ideal if you have a serious stomach bug and just want to lie in bed and die with the pain.

So I missed most of last night’s show because I was picking up and driving my chum Melbourne-based Irish fiddle-playing comic vagabond Aindrias de Staic from the West End to Nunhead after he appeared in two performances of Woody Sez at the Arts Theatre in London’s West End. Aindrias is not so much jet-lagged as show-lagged. He is over in London to appear in Woody Sez until 2nd April – another two shows today – and tomorrow he performs his one-man show Around The World on 80 Quid at the Pleasance Theatre in Islington.

So last night, at 9.35, we were legging it to my car to get to Pull The Other One in time – parking mid-evening on a Friday in the West End had not been fun.

Aindrias decided in the car on the way to the venue what he was going to do: mostly stand-up stories with an inkling of fiddling… but, when he actually got there and realised the measure of the audience, changed it all.

He gave them a bit of a foot-stomping fiddle, then a bizarre story and a couple more musical items.

Well, that doesn’t quite do it justice.

He had had a 20-second chat with Martin Soan before he went on and they ad-libbed what then happened.

Aindrias was interrupted during his second diddly-aye foot-stomping Irish fiddly piece by Martin Soan – totally naked, of course – Riverdancing in from the wings behind him and, trust me, Irish dancing in the nude is a particularly visual entertainment.

There’s a lot of flopping up and down going on.

When this went down very well with the audience, Aindrias called Martin back on stage to do a reprise “bollock dance” to the Jew’s Harp accompanied by a rather dubious song which Aindrias improvised.

Aindrias called what was happening “gyp-hop” – a musical combination of gypsy and hip-hop.

Watching this, Stephen Frost said to me: “If only Malcolm (Hardee) were here to see this.”

Indeed.

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