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03.11.2009by: Jim Law

Top 14 Awesome Uses of Films Within Films

Let me explain. I’m going for actual movies that appear in, and contribute to the story of, another movie. I’m not including fake titles such as ’Logjammin’ in THE BIG LEBOWSKI or ’Angels with Filthy Souls’ in HOME ALONE. The films below all have somewhat of an importance to the films that surround them, there’s no mention of anything simply because it was playing in the background of a scene. What was once a list stalled at eight quickly grew out of control with the help of many JoBlo.com staff and friends. Thanks go out to Scotty, Matt, Eric, Nick, Jason, Zara, Sturdy, Dave, James, and Ammon for basically doing my job for me. My autographed nude self-portraits should be showing up in your inboxes soon.

Honourable Mention: SPACEBALLS in SPACEBALLS

I know the title kind of makes you assume I mean one film within a separate film and I also know that I’ve been on a “trash SPACEBALLS” kick lately but hey, that’s what honourable mentions are for. Looking back, this just might be the most brilliant few minutes of this entire movie. In a day when straight to DVD titles flood our shelves weekly and the turn around for theatrical releases to home video is getting quicker and quicker, SACEBALLS hit the nail on the head way ahead of it’s time.

14. RETURN OF THE STREET FIGHTER in TRUE ROMANCE

The presence of this Sonny Chiba marathon is only important for the fact that it brings Clarence and Alabama together. I guess it could have been any movie playing in the theatre that night but something tells me these two wouldn't have wandered into just any trilogy. Say it's RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER instead and we've got a completely different pair of protaganists.

13. THE QUIET MAN in E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL

It was this kind of confidence that probably led to Elliot getting laid later in life. Getting drunk without a drop of alcohol, releasing doomed frogs, and making out with a future ’Baywatch’ babe while standing on the back of the class asshole/fatty are credentials any real man would want on his life’s resume. This is the kind of shit John Wayne brings to the table.

12. BEING JOHN MALKOVICH in ADAPTATION

It's kind of fun to watch some behind the scenes footage from BJM and get a glimpse into how insignificant Charlie Kaufman felt on set. It's these feelings that set the tone for this entire film and allow Kaufman to write himself as such a loser as he attempts to adapt 'The Orchid Thief'. Throw in the fact that Kaufman created his own twin brother out of thin air and credited him with co-writing the screenplay (and eventually went on to become the only ever fictional character to be nominated for an Oscar) and you've got yourself a mind-fuck within a mind-fuck.

11. WALL STREET in BOILER ROOM

If you hadn't already caught the WALL STREET vibe pouring from this film's script, they made it mighty clear by having a room full of their characters recite the film's dialogue for us. More than your average homage, the boys from BOILER ROOM take the "greed is good" message out of Gordon Gecko's mouth and literally make it their own. I'm pretty sure Ben Affleck should have had GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS playing in the background at one point also.

10. PONT BREAK & BAD BOYS II in HOT FUZZ

Getting drunk and watching these two films could bond any two men in the world. Officers, Angel and Butterman could do nothing but clash styles before their action marathon. After, it was smooth sailing and ass kicking whenever they worked together. I saw LETHAL WEAPON in a theatre with one other guy. We never spoke a word to each other but when it was over we knew we had formed a super crime fighting tandem that would go on to clean the streets of evil. I'm just waiting for him to call.

9. SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS in GREMLINS

As much as is it a plot device to get all the gremlins together to die, it's funny as hell to watch these crazy fuckers sing along with 'Heigh-Ho' and destroy the theatre. Thank God it was something so cheerful and they had a chance to chill out for a bit before blowing up. Imagine they all wandered in on the prom scene from CARRIE or some such horrifying shit. Gizmo would have been strung up by his fuzzy little nuts and slaughtered like a piñata.

8. GILDA in THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION

It's this scene that finally brings Red and Andy together. It didn’t mean much at the time as we all thought Andy just wanted some special Rita Hayworth chaffing material for his wall. Little did we know that this screening would ultimately lead to his great escape down the poop tunnel. That last sentence has nothing to do with Ms. Hayworth’s rectum.

7. HELLO DOLLY in WALL-E

The only trace of human emotion left on Earth is within this VHS copy of a musical. Wall-E rocks this tape every night in hopes of one day finding a dance partner and someone to hold hands with. Again, this could have been worse. Say he finds THE SHINING during one of those salvaging missions. Eve shows up to search for life and finds a psychotic, axe-wielding trash robot that keeps screaming redrum while trying to kill her.

6. HALLOWEEN in SCREAM

It’s the inspiration of HALLOWEEN that leads to Randy’s defining speech, which eventually led to SCREAM’s iconic fanboy status (and a long string of shitty movies mistakenly labelled as the revival of the slasher genre). Having a house full of teenagers getting killed while Michael Myers stalks around in the background is just good homage. Rose McGowan’s pokies pointing at the camera and then having her get killed by a garage door is just good times.

5. GHOSTBUSTERS, RUSH HOUR 2, etc. in BE KIND REWIND

I wish this entire movie was just Jack Black and Mos Def doing swedes. The subplot (or was the sweding the subplot?) to the film seemed to keep me from an entire catalogue of films that would have been sweet to see remade. Oddly enough, the six hundred sweded movies that popped up on YouTube over the next few months bothered the shit out of me. Never satisfied.

4. A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS in BACK TO THE FUTURE II & III

If Marty doesn’t watch that scene from FISTFULL in Part II, he dies in Part III. That’s pretty important, right? Then Doc would have to go back in time and save him in some wacky way and lead to another crazy adventure. Who needs that? This is exactly like the time I watched CUJO, went over to my girlfiend’s house, and kicked her St. Bernard unconscious. Saved everybody’s ass.

3. FIRST BLOOD in SON OF RAMBOW

This film is definitely in my top three, if not my favourite, of last year. I love the feel-good tale of the kids that do silly shit I wish I would have thought of when I was their age. I wanted to find One-Eyed Willie’s gold. I wanted to go on an overnight hike to search for the dead body of some random neighbourhood kid. I wanted to make SON OF RAMBOW. The closest I ever came was when my brother remade THE EXORCIST using my STAR WARS figures. Princess Leia’s head fell off when he twisted it around.

2. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET in WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE

I kind of covered the concept of this film in another list not too long ago but couldn’t bring myself to leave it off here. When the star of your movie is having nightmares about being in said movie (which just happens to be about nightmares) be sure to make another movie out of it. Follow? If nothing else this film proves Robert Englund to be a painty little nerd without the glove.

1(a). PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE in ED WOOD

I hope I'm around when Uwe Boll gets this treatment. If only Ed Wood would have known he was one of the weirdest dudes on the planet, he could have stopped wasting everybody's time and just filmed himself at home for a few weeks and really entertained his audience. Tim Burton took the concept of an A&E special and turned it into one of the most original movies of the 90's. I've never even seen PLAN 9, and I probably never will.

1(b). NOSFERATU in SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE

I hope I'm around when Uwe Boll gets this treatment. If only Ed Wood would have known he was one of the weirdest dudes on the planet, he could have stopped wasting everybody's time and just filmed himself at home for a few weeks and really entertained his audience. Tim Burton took the concept of an A&E special and turned it into one of the most original movies of the 90's. I've never even seen PLAN 9, and I probably never will.

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