FUTURE SHOCK is a 1994 horror(ish) anthology, it seems very made-for-cable, though it apparently was made-for-video. Or at least as a compilation it was – I believe it’s made from two pre-existing short films tied following a new story and a wraparound.
The connective material stars none other than Martin Kove, who was in a prolific post-KARATE-KID period of his career – that year he also appeared in WYATT EARP, WYATT EARP: RETURN TO TOMBSTONE (yes, a TV movie that came out the same year as the better known one), ENDANGERED, SAVAGE LAND, GAMBLER V: PLAYING FOR KEEPS, DEATH MATCH, CAGNEY & LACEY: THE RETURN, plus a Burke’s Law and a Kung Fu: The Legend Continues. Here he’s rocking Swayze/Gibson style long hair, but playing a mostly buttoned down character, Dr. Langdon (yes, THE DA VINCI CODE was originally written as FUTURE SHOCK fan fiction but Kove refused to be in the movies because he knew they were gonna be fuckin boring, that’s why they almost didn’t make them and obviously regretted when they did [citation not necessary]), a psychiatrist who uses virtual reality to help his patients face their fears. (You see? In the form of little Twilight-Zone-ish short stories.)
I know what you’re thinking: what kind of giant 1994 goggles does he have them wearing? Are they in gyroscopes? Do they make cyberlove and turn into mercury and butterflies? I’m afraid not. He just has a plasma ball from The Sharper Image or somewhere and they look into it and then it cuts to the short film.
The first segment is “Jenny Porter,” directed by Eric Parkinson (TERROR EYES), and written by Vivian Schilling (SOULTAKER), who also stars as the title character. She’s a woman who’s freaking out because wolves have mauled some animals in her area and she’s convinced they’re going to eat her and/or her cat. Her husband (Brion James, also in SCANNER COP and CABIN BOY that year) is no help and is going out of town.
At night she lays in bed flipping the channels between THE HOWLING II and RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and is disgusted by Linnea Quigley as Trash asking, “Do you ever wonder about all the different ways of dying? You know,violently?,” clearly not understanding that it’s a comedic scene. She keeps a can of mace or pepper spray strapped to her wrist and a large kitchen knife under the sheets and later we see a rifle laid out on top of the covers.
Eventually wolves actually do show up at her house (actually they look like very friendly dogs, but they’re supposed to be trying to eat her, it seems like) and the cat gets outside so she has to go out to try to save her. I was thinking it was funny that she was so intent on being prepared for this wolf attack with all those weapons but then dressed in a long night gown that would be hard to run around in – sure enough one of the wolves bites the gown and drags her by it! Also, when she finally has an opportunity to use the spray she sprays it right into her own face. Good stuff!
There’s a whole long chase and battle until she’s pinned down and then she notices the wolf is wearing a collar with a tag that says “SPARKY.” And she says, “Sparky?” And suddenly her neighbor, Sydney Lassick (CARRIE, ALLIGATOR, SILENT MADNESS) is there asking, “Are you playing with Sparky?” because it’s just his dog. It’s funny that it turns out to be that because I don’t think they were intentionally making the “wolves” not look scary, but it fits.
Then they hear a voice and Martin Kove appears and tells her she’s in VR. It was a good (but patently unethical) trick because when he offered it to her she thought she turned it down and left but that was part of the VR too.
The second patient is Georgie (Scott Thomson, FRIGHTMARE, POLICE ACADEMY 1-4) who stars in “The Roommate,” a 1989 short directed by Francis “Oley” Sassone (BLOODFIST III, the unreleased FANTASTIC FOUR, FAST GETAWAY II) and written by David DuBos (LEPRECHAUN 3). Georgie works at a morgue and is is timid and pushed around by his co-workers, including one apparently called “Kafka” played by James Karen – who we saw working across the street from a morgue in a clip from RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD in the earlier segment. At home he has worse problems after he rents out a room to Vince (Bill Paxton a little before BRAIN DEAD), a total asshole who hand writes on the newspaper ad that the room is furnished and convinces Georgie that means he has to give him all his furniture.
Vince acts similar to Paxton’s horrible best friend Gus in THE DARK BACKWARD but he looks kind of like Steven Seagal – leather pants, black muscle shirt, long pony tail. His pain in the ass shenanigans including being late on the rent, then paying it in bags of coins. Oh, and borrowing Georgie’s car and decorating it to enter in a homecoming parade (he won first prize). George has to drive to work with the thing covered in crepe paper flair and gets attacked with a bat by Rick Rossovich (STREETS OF FIRE, THE TERMINATOR, TOP GUN, NAVY SEALS) because the side of the car says his fraternity sucks.
Georgie gets into trouble at work because he recognizes the toes of a headless corpse as a woman (Timothi-Jane Graham) Vince had over and yells “Satan’s Slut!” Long story. Well, not really. That was what it said on a tattoo on her ass. She was in her underwear when he met her. So he has to get out of that and then stand up to Vince. etc.
The third and final segment is called “Mr. Petrified Forrest” and it’s the reason I rented this – it’s the debut of THE BATMAN writer/director Matt Reeves. According to the credits it’s his 1992 USC Master’s Thesis film. Coincidentally, perhaps, it’s about what Trash was talking about in that RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD clip: imagining horrible ways to die. It opens in some sort of beautiful sunset place where passport photographer Steven Forrest (Sam Clay, one episode of Quantum Leap) is told by his friend Marshall (Tim Doyle, a writer on Dinosaurs) that he’s having a near death experience, but he can’t remember how he died. So we get a series of flashbacks as he tries to remember what happened.
The first thing he remembers is Marshall dying by choking on the olive from his martini. He’s there, and doesn’t realize he’s choking until it’s too late. He looks like he’s laughing. He goes to the funeral, where Marshall’s various yuppie asshole friends talk about other freak deaths they’ve heard about. Steven becomes debilitatingly paranoid about different ways he could die. I don’t think “eaten by wolves” occurs to him, but everything else does, and he keeps having weird close calls, like he doesn’t get on a flight and then it crashes near him.
At the funeral he met a woman though, Paula (Amanda Foreman, INLAND EMPIRE), who makes the poor choice of asking him out for a drink afterwards. At first his talking about mortality seems kind of quirky but appropriate, since their friend just died so randomly and so young. She gets it because she’s afraid of birds. “I’m afraid they might peck my eyes out. Like in that movie?”
But I think she starts to realize he has a problem when she tries to get him to go to the movies but he’s busy wearing a construction helmet sitting under a table because he thinks there’s going to be an earthquake.
Anyway he does die but there’s a cute message about how you gotta not worry and enjoy life. And lots of silhouette shots as practice for later.
This is one of those shorts that shows you a life long group of collaborators working together since they were young. J.J. Abrams is a producer, composed the score, and according to Film School Rejects staged the plane crash scene on his parents’ lawn. According to reference materials he and Reeves would later create a TV show together called “Felicity.” The co-lead here, Amanda Foreman, was on the show, according to what I read she was Felicity’s grouchy wiccan roommate Megan who started as an occasional comic relief character but was so funny she became a regular. Also Greg Grunberg (Snap Wexley from THE FORCE AWAKENS) is a producer and has a small part as a limo driver. He was also a funny roommate on Felicity who grew into a lead and dated Foreman’s character. He appears in almost all of Abrams’ movies and also played a driver in A STAR IS BORN which in my opinion means he is for sure canonically the same character and A STAR IS BORN takes place in the FUTURE SHOCK extended cinematic universe.
CLOVERFIELD producer Bryan Burk was also involved, and Reeves edited with James Gray (director of AD ASTRA). Reeves and Gray later wrote THE YARDS together. The assistant director is Richard Hatem, who co-wrote UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY with Reeves.
Cinematographer Richard Fannin isn’t even listed for this on IMDb. His only credit on there is the pilot of Felicity – the same one I was mentioning before I believe although there could be different Felicitys, I certainly wouldn’t know, obviously.
According to the Film School Rejects article, USC sold the short to the FUTURE SHOCK producers without permission or compensation of the filmmakers. They say the movie shortens it by a couple minutes – you can see the original on Vimeo – but I couldn’t tell what the difference was.
The DVD cover says “WINNER! Golden Scroll Award,” so clearly congratulations are in order. I bet that was why they hired him to do Batman!