I recently finished reading X Films
, Alex Cox's book on the first ten films he made.
Now this, via the Austin Decider, via The Onion AV Club:Alex Cox on his greatest films that never were
The cult director cleans out his closet
by Scott Von Doviak May 18, 2009
With the one-two punch of Repo Man
and Sid And Nancy
, Alex Cox positioned himself as one of the most promising young filmmakers to emerge during the indie film boom of the 1980s. Unfortunately, his eagerly anticipated follow-ups—1987’s ramshackle spaghetti Western pastiche Straight To Hell
and 1987’s Walker
, a politically charged allegory of U.S. intervention in Nicaragua—were not warmly embraced by either audiences or critics, and Cox has spent the better part of the past two decades in Hollywood exile, making micro-budgeted films on a catch-as-catch-can basis. He’s also accumulated a virtual file cabinet’s worth of unproduced screenplays, many of which are available for download on his website (http://www.alexcox.com/writing.htm
). In honor of Cox’s visit to Austin (he presented his latest film, Searchers 2.0,
last night; tonight it’s his cult classic Repo Man
), Decider asked the man himself about four Alex Cox movies that never saw the light of day.Waldo’s Hawaiian Holiday
Alex Cox: Michael Nesmith and the producers of Repo Man proposed this sequel to Repo Man to Universal about 12 or 13 years ago. The weirdest thing is Universal never got back to us, so we raised the money independently. It was kind of hard to raise money for a film with Emilio Estevez, because his career as an actor hadn’t been very illustrious. Peter McCarthy, one of the producers of Repo Man, worked and worked and was finally able to put together a deal. Then, suddenly, Emilio Estevez just dropped out, and from then all the energy just fell out of it.
Decider: It did finally get made recently as a graphic novel.
AC: As a comic book! It exists as a wonderful comic book by Chris Bones, made in Australia. So it does have an existence. And we’re working on a film called Repo Chick now, which is not a sequel, but it is set in the same environment—in the same economic crisis, only worse.Dr. Strange
(co-written with Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee)
D: What was that collaboration like?
AC: It was great! I mean, he’s remarkable. The only thing with Stan Lee is that he was writing Spider-Man in the newspapers, so every day I would have to wait on him to finish before we could start on Dr. Strange. I don’t know if he still writes Spider-Man every day, or if he’s farmed it out to someone else, but he’s still going strong. I spoke to him on the phone a couple of weeks ago and he sounds great.
D: Almost every other Marvel hero has made it to the screen. It seems inevitable that sooner or later Dr. Strange will get there.
AC: I would suspect not, for a couple of reasons. One is that he doesn’t have any superpowers; he’s just sort of intellectual and spiritual. And the other thing that would really freak out the Christian right is that he’s a witch. [Laughs.]Keith Moon Was Here
AC: That was work for hire. I think Roger Daltrey was the executive producer, and so maybe it didn’t fit his recollection of events or vision of the story. It’s a pretty funny script. It features Peter Sellers as the antagonist. Peter Sellers is the devil!
D: He’s a giant spider at some point.
AC: He’s a giant spider, but he’s also Harry Nilsson, so Peter Sellers will go out and Harry Nilsson will come in and it’s obviously the same guy. And Peter Sellers is kind of creating this hell world for Moon. That was a funny script.
D: Somehow Roger Daltrey didn’t remember it that way?
AC: Perhaps. I think that the people who wanted to make the film were expecting more of a mainstream biopic—which is really hard, to make a guy like that sympathetic. I mean, the guy’s a serial wife beater, you know? It’s really hard to make a guy like that conventionally sympathetic.Mars Attacks!
AC: I was the person who brought Mars Attacks! to the attention of the studio. They were bubblegum cards I had as a kid. I developed Mars Attacks! with Jon Davidson, the producer of Robocop, for quite a while, but at some point my project got shut down and it was given to Tim Burton. It was a bit of a shame, but I think both the script that I wrote and the Tim Burton one suffered from not being enough like the bubblegum cards. I was very attracted to science fiction when I was a lad, but that sort of science fiction seems to have gone away now—the hardcore Harry Harrison, Arthur C. Clarke kind of world seems to have disappeared. In the science fiction section of the bookstore now, it’s just Star Trek spinoff books and fantasy novels, flying-on-the-back-of-a-dragon stuff. That really mainstream, kind of macho science fiction of the ’50s and ’60s has just disappeared.