Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Jersey Devil Expeditions: As Seen On TV, Part III

Photo Credit: IMDb
The Jersey Devil Expeditions is the movie diary of Fighting Owl Film's new independent monster movie of the same name. Over the course of the next several weeks and months, you'll get an insider's peek at what it's like for filmmakers to craft a new entry of paranormal pop culture from Erin Lilley, a producer and actress on the film.

Here we are, with the last five filmed mentions of the Jersey Devil, and this time all feature-length movies!

Wait, did I say five? I meant three. Whoops. You see, when I first sat down to research this, I found what appeared to be five feature films. However, when I went to vet them, I realized one was a student short, and the other was still in production with no set release date. Apparently, there are even fewer Jersey Devil-centric films than even the Internet wants to admit.

As someone who is currently trying to put together a Jersey Devil creature-feature, I can totally understand why not too many others exist. For starters, the creature, itself, is a doozy to design. According to lore, it has the head of a horse, face of a dog, body of a snake, and wings of a bat ... weird, yes, but not really scary. I mean, I still wouldn't want to run into it in a dark alley, but a less than stellar design could leave you with something cartoonish. Then there's the question of suit or CGI. If you go with a suit, you run the risk of your terrifying creature looking more like an ambitious trick-or-treater. CGI leaves you with a host of other issues, though, because it can look unnatural, and your actors have nothing more than a tennis ball on a stick to interact with. Trust me, Thomas and I have lost more than a little sleep over character design.

Secondly, you have to decide how much, if any, folklore you want to incorporate. Do you just mention the Devil in passing, or do you really delve into the mythology and complicated back story of the cryptid? It's a pickle, I'll tell you that.

So, with these predicaments squarely in mind, here are the three feature films starring good 'ol JD. Three films with three different takes on the lore, and three completely different ways of showing (or not showing) the creature.

The Last Broadcast: premiered March 9, 1998. This film, presented in both docu-style and found-footage formats, revolves around two reality show hosts who go missing during a live broadcast of their search for the Jersey Devil. While the creature is the subject of their hunt, it is never seen, and the mythology is never discussed.

13th Child: released October 25, 2002. A detective investigates a murder and finds more than she bargained for. The Jersey Devil is seen and discussed, though the mythology is hit or miss.

Carny: premiered on SyFy April, 25, 2009. A traveling carnival's new attraction, The Jersey Devil, breaks loose in a small town. The CGI Devil is shown as a dragon-like creature with a pig's snout.

Thank you for coming along on this research experiment with me. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to stop watching TV and get back to work!