There are, as far as I can discern, two purposes served by the fake trailer:
1) to contextualise a feature-length work, e.g. the trailers for ‘Don’t’, ‘Machete’, ‘Thanksgiving’ and ‘Werewolf Women of the SS’ which emphasise the drive-in exploitation traditions which the two halves of Tarantino and Rodriguez’s ‘Grindhouse’ grew out of; or those which begin ‘Tropic Thunder’ and present an ironic commentary on the kind of movies its mismatched actors are usually associated with;
2) as works of satire or spoofery in their own right.
Of course, all of the trailers in ‘Grindhouse’ and ‘Tropic Thunder’ are satirical. And just to make things meta, ‘Machete’ became a movie in its own right, as did ‘Hobo with a Shotgun’ which was originally conceived as a fake trailer for a ‘Grindhouse’ competition. Moreover, ‘Thanksgiving’ is easily the most accomplished piece of cinema Eli Roth has put his name to.
Having said all of that, let’s turn our attention to Richard Gale’s magnificently titled ‘The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon’. Everything about it suggests that Gale was going all out to make the fake trailer of all fake trailers, the ne plus ultra of movies that don’t exist. (Yet. Of this, more later.)
To begin with, it runs ten minutes. Fake trailers, by their very definition, generally exist at a length analogous to your average punk single. Edgar Wright’s ‘Don’t’ is just one minute eighteen seconds. Rob Zombie’s ‘Werewolf Women of the SS’ seemed outrageously operatic at five minutes. ‘The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon’ doubles down on ‘Werewolf Women of the SS’ (and, man, that sentence takes on a raft of new meanings if you remove the quote marks!), stretching its running time into double figures, hellbent on being the ‘Santango’ of its (admittedly underpopulated) subgenre.
Then there’s the sheer amount of stylistic homages Gale packs in, from stalk ‘n’ slash to Rambo-style mano-a-mano business, by way of oriental mysticism, widescreen globe-trotting, spaghetti western grunginess and elements of the police procedural. Gale’s own narration leaves no voiceover cliché unturned, be it overly dramatic diction or relentless repetition (“again and again and again and again and again and again …”). One the trailer’s best jokes is the assertion that the movie itself was twelve years in the making, filmed on four continents and is nine hours long.
And what, you may be wondering, is ‘THSMwtEIW’ about? Well, our hero is Jack Cucchiaio (Paul Clemens), who is one day subjected to a vicious attack by an antagonist known as the Spoonman (Brian Rohan). The Spoonman looks like a cross between the Grim Reaper and a heroin addict, and spends the duration of the trailer reappearing in Jack’s life and attempting to kill him … with a spoon.
Jack’s attempts to variously run, fight back and learn the truth about his attacker do little prevent the onslaught of spoon-thwacks, although Jack does glean one seemingly important fact from a sinister eastern mystic: the Spoonman is an immortal being known as the Ginosaji. Cucchiaio versus the Ginosaji (linguistics will appreciate the names): a duel between a forensic pathologist and a spoon-wielding demon. The absurdity sells it without even trying.
It’s certainly been lapped up by a genre-savvy internet audience, with Gale expanding the Ginosaji’s mythology in four sequels: ‘Spoon vs. Spoon’, ‘Save Jack’, ‘Spoon Wars’ and ‘Ginosaji vs. Ginosaji’. And he’s not done yet. Gale is currently crowdfunding to expand ‘THSMwtEIW’ to feature-length. Whether, as a 90 minute feature, it’ll manage to sustain its one-joke premise remains to be seen, but good luck to the guy.