Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): Another take on the Holy Grail: Apocryphal ephemera or, Mouse Guts

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Another take on the Holy Grail: Apocryphal ephemera or, Mouse Guts

[The Holy Grail list has been expanded to include blog names. This is worth checking out not only because it allows you to read more about the particular films, but because it will lead you to discover some great blogs that you were completely unaware of before; at least I found that to be the case. Enjoy.]
"We'd often go to the movies. We'd shiver as the screen lit up. But more often, Madeline and I would be disappointed. More often we'd be disappointed. The images flickered. Marilyn Monroe looked terribly old. It saddened us. It wasn't the film we had dreamed, the film we all carried in our hearts, the film we wanted to make... and secretly wanted to live."
-Masculin Feminin
While updating the Holy Grail list, I was reminded of another sort of cinematic holy grail, one far close to the actual holy grail in that it doesn't actually exist. As I've previously discussed, I was obsessed with horror movies in the first grade. I hadn't actually seen any of them, but the school library had a series of orange, cardboard-bound books which discussed the plots of every Universal horror film (along with other horror classics like King Kong and Godzilla), along with a detailed history of the film's making and historical context (all illustrated by old stills).

Another friend of mine was soon obsessed with these books too and we used to spend lunches and recesses roaming the playground discussing these great films which we'd never seen. Now, I don't know how it was in your school but in mine there was an immense gap between first and second grade. Second-graders were cool, the kings of the lower elementary, prone to mock and humiliate first-graders every chance they got. Usually their attacks were not very witty, but there was one exception.

One day a second-grader (whose hair I remember as white, though it was probably just extremely blonde) overheard my friend and I discussing Frankenstein and Dracula. He joined our conversation, asking if we'd ever seen the classic horror film Mouse Guts. In fact, he told us, there was even one of those cardboard-bound books about it, though it must have been checked out of the library at the time since we couldn't find it.

Over the course of several recesses, we tagged along with this older kid, asking more and more questions about the movie. Turned out there was a Frankenstein-like character who rode his motorcycle around town, crushing mice along the way and eating their guts. We couldn't get much more of the plot out of him, but that only made the mystery film all the more exciting. Soon my friend and I were discussing the movie on our own, without the second-grader's encouragement, although with further inquiries he led us to his friend.

"Hey, Chris," he shouted to a kid lying on his belly, rocking back and forth on the swing set. (This was the only cool way to ride swings, just as as it was only cool to drape your backpack over one shoulder, which we did to imitate the godlike junior highers who hunched near the back of the bus on rides to and from school). "Chris, does the guy die at the end of Mouse Guts?" Chris, waiting a beat while our mentor turned his head slightly, as if concealing a wink, responded affirmatively. "Yeah, he gets electrocuted." And so on.

I would frequently return to the library, pestering the librarian to find out if Mouse Guts was checked out, or if she could order another copy. "I'm sorry," she'd say, genuinely perplexed. "I can't seem to find it." The second-grader promised to bring in his videotape of the movie and I meanwhile scoured my parents' TV Guide for listings, even on HBO, which we didn't have (at least I'd know it was out there somewhere). Mouse Guts never showed up and eventually the second-grader tired of our company. To this day I have, sadly, not seen Mouse Guts.

It was at least a few weeks (maybe longer) before it dawned on me and my friend that we'd been had. There was, of course, no Mouse Guts at all. Indeed, who the hell would make a horror movie about a Frankenstein monster riding around on motorcycles, crushing mice? Disappointment set in as we realized this was one holy grail which would never be discovered.

There's a meme in here somewhere, though I'll let you tease it out. Probably occasions like this are rare, but was there ever a movie that you thought existed, or that actors, producers, or directors planned, which fell through? Or a legendary film which may or may not exist? What's your own apocryphal ephemera?


2 comments:

James Hansen said...

Lynch has a wild screenplay called "Ronnie Rocket" that he was supposed to make, but everything kept falling through with it. Now, it appears that the moment for that film is past. Still, you can find the screenplay pretty easily and it is worth a read. He also has a comedy screenplay (I forget the title) that is crazy too. All failed Lynch projects are on my "wish they got made" wish list, along with John Waters "Flamingos Forever", the sequel to "Pink Flamingos" that featured Divine easting a piece of cake underwater...

MovieMan0283 said...

I'll bet Lynch could've directed Mouse Guts.