Patrick and Jamie are transported to the Top Hat Land, the land of the Top Hat Man. Their tale of how they met, battled, earned a grudging respect for, and ultimately became good friends with the Top Hat Man is a really exciting tale full of adventure and good humor. Maybe someday you’ll get to hear it… it’s really great. Too bad this is a different story. They walk into Top Hat Man’s kitchen where he is doing his morning sudoku over a warm cup of the blood of innocents. He looks at us with surprise. ‘Oh hi, guys. I didn’t expect you. You need something?” Boy howdy, do they. “I need to escape the horrorscape that I’m trapped in before I am destroyed by the many terrors I’m encountering,” says Patrick. “And I need to totally own this vampire in a dance-off,” says Jamie. The Top Hat Man ponders while consuming one of his recently captured souls of the damned. “Hmmm, I’m only a simple all-powerful demon my guys. I think I can maybe do one of those things. Which should I do?” When Patrick open his mouth to ask for rescue from his dire situation he is quickly interrupted by Jamie, “I want to learn the Top Hat Dance to put this piece of shit Vampiro to shame.” Patrick winks out of existence. When the Top Hat Man finishes the Top Hat Dance Jamie realized it’s not that much different than the patented Twin Dance he and Patrick have mastered. “Seems pretty obvious in retrospect, Top Hat Man. Guess I didn’t really need your help in the end. But nice seeing you.” Jamie winks out of existence.
Back in Dracula School, Jamie pulls out all the stops in performing his sensual yet classy dance routine. Vampiro is stunned. He falls to his knees and stammers, “Just as the Viking legend foretold…” That’s right! This week we’re watching The 13th Warrior. It is the classic story of a Middle Eastern emissary caught up in a Viking war that we know and love. It was well known at the time of release for being totally recut and reshot after test audiences responded poorly to it. It ended up sitting on the shelf for almost a year before finally being released in 1999. Let’s go!
Back in the alleyway set Patrick reappears. Now that he thinks about it he kind of wishes he had also asked to learn the Top Hat Dance, although he doubted it was better than their patented Twin Dance anyways. Nearby Sticks and Stones, unaware that he has returned, are finishing the end of a heated conversation. “Gosh dern it! We lost him! If our corrupt police captain who wrapped us up in all of that corruption with that corrupt city official finds out, that’s it! No more corruption money for us, Sticks and Stones, the most corrupt cops in the Z-Movie Multiverse.” At that moment Sticks notices Patrick. “He’s back” he growls, “how much of that did you hear?” That’s right, we’re also watching Edison (Force). Known either as simply Edison or Edison Force, this star-studded film (featuring Morgan Freeman, Justin Timberlake, and *cough* Kevin Spacey) was shelved for one year before being quietly released as a direct-to-DVD feature. Let’s go!
The 13th Warrior (1999) – BMeTric: 16.6
(Wowza that 2011 inflection! It is so steep there! I think this kind of confirms one of the original theories I had about all of this. The 13th Warrior is exactly the type of film people outside of the US would end up voting a ton on. So it is very likely that is why the vote count increased so dramatically at that time.)
Leonard Maltin – 3 stars – In ancient times, exiled Arabian nobleman Banderas travels with some Norsemen to their homelands, there to face possibly supernatural nighttime marauders, who eat their victims. Sturdy, action-packed adventure with horror overtones, realistic but in the heroic tradition, shot on spectacular Canadian locations. Based on Michael Crichton’s novel Eaters of the Dead, itself inspired by true travel writings and the medieval tale of Beowulf.
(A true rarity. Two and a half stars is pretty common in my opinion, Leonard Maltin is pretty gentle with a lot of reviews. But three stars points to this being possibly genuinely enjoyable. Maybe he just loves the visuals more than he hates the muddled story.)
Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ui7GUCzlBTM
(I. Am. Getting. Amped. Although you can totally see why this is considered a complete mess of a production, so … I guess we’ve got that going for us. It isn’t surprising that the critics tend to say it looks nice, but is thin on plot. This trailer proves that: it looked nice, but hey, guess what, you don’t need a plot in a trailer.)
Directors – John McTiernan – (Known For: Predator; The Hunt for Red October; Die Hard; The Thomas Crown Affair; Die Hard: With a Vengeance; Future BMT: Medicine Man; Last Action Hero; Nomads; Basic; BMT: Rollerball; The 13th Warrior; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director for Last Action Hero in 1994; Notes: Known for including unsubtitled foreign language dialogue in his films. Born into the biz, but basically retired after Basic.)
Michael Crichton – (Known For: Runaway; Westworld; Coma; The First Great Train Robbery; Future BMT: Physical Evidence; Looker; BMT: The 13th Warrior; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million for Twister in 1997; Notes: Basically stopped directing after the 80s. This is literally his only credit after 1989 for directing and it is via uncredited reshoots. Just nuts.)
Writers – Michael Crichton (novel) – (Known For: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom; Jurassic World; Jurassic Park; The Lost World: Jurassic Park; Twister; Jurassic Park III; Runaway; Westworld; Disclosure; Coma; The First Great Train Robbery; The Andromeda Strain; The Terminal Man; Future BMT: Congo; Sphere; Rising Sun; Looker; BMT: Timeline; The 13th Warrior; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million for Twister in 1997; Notes: Probably my favorite thing about Crichton is his kind of obvious hatred of scientists (at the very least his penchant for making them pure evil). They always know what is best, but their hubris ends up nearly destroying the world. What disasters!)
William Wisher (screenplay) – (Known For: Terminator 2: Judgment Day; The Terminator; Future BMT: Exorcist: The Beginning; I.T.; Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist; BMT: Judge Dredd; The 13th Warrior; Notes: Had bit parts in both Terminators and The Abyss … so probably knows James Cameron quite well.)
Warren Lewis (screenplay) – (Known For: Black Rain; BMT: The 13th Warrior; Notes: He is credited as contributing to the 1969 film Latitude Zero. This seems extremely unlikely as it is 20 years prior to his other credits and would make him 70 years old at the very very least. But I can’t find additional information on his birthdate or age anywhere.)
Actors – Antonio Banderas – (Known For: Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles; Shrek 2; Shrek Forever After; Shrek the Third; Spy Kids; Philadelphia; Desperado; The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water; Knight of Cups; The Mask of Zorro; Spy Kids 3: Game Over; Acts of Vengeance; Frida; La piel que habito; Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams; Once Upon a Time in Mexico; The 33; Bullet Head; Puss in Boots; Black Butterfly; Future BMT: Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D; Machete Kills; Play It to the Bone; Never Talk to Strangers; The Other Man; The Legend of Zorro; The Body; The Big Bang; Original Sin; Gun Shy; Two Much; Autómata; Assassins; Of Love and Shadows; Justin and the Knights of Valour; Four Rooms; Imagining Argentina; Black Gold; BMT: Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever; The Expendables 3; The 13th Warrior; Notes: Was married to Melanie Griffith for nearly 20 years. He looked pretty swanky with his new GF at the Starlite Gala though.)
Diane Venora – (Known For: Heat; Romeo + Juliet; The Insider; The Cotton Club; True Crime; F/X; Ironweed; The Substitute; Hamlet; Wolfen; Bird; The Young Girl and the Monsoon; Looking for an Echo; Future BMT: Megiddo: The Omega Code 2; All Good Things; The Jackal; Surviving Picasso; Stateside; Three Wishes; BMT: The 13th Warrior; Notes: Originally a theater actor. She even was reportedly fired from the show Thunder Alley because she was playing the part like she was on Broadway.)
Dennis Storhøi – (Known For: Zwei Leben; BMT: The 13th Warrior; Notes: Norwegian actor. Nearly all of his credits are productions in Norway. It is hard to tell, but it is possible this was his one foray into an American production.)
Budget/Gross – $85–160 million / Domestic: $32,698,899 (Worldwide: $61,698,899)
(Yeah the budget numbers are all over the place according to the IMDb notes. It is probably in the $115 million range prior to marketing. Regardless one of the largest bombs in history.)
#51 for the Adventure – Period genre
(Only narrowly beats out The Three Musketeers (2011) which is … embarrassing. Had a bit of a lull, but it is kind of struggling to reassert itself. Kong: Skull Island and The Jungle Book suggest that there is still an audience for something like this … if it is attached to a known quantity.)
#15 for the Medieval Times genre
(Our highest grossing. In kind of a lull now. Possibly because of things like Game of Thrones eating away a bit at its audience? Didn’t help that that King Arthur film bombed hard.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 33% (29/88): Atmospheric, great sets and costumes, but thin plot.
(Thanks Rotten Tomatoes, Jesus. Could you maybe give me less to work with here. So basically … eye candy with literally nothing behind it? Whatever, this movie is going to be boring I bet. Reviewer Highlight – With a budget said to be more than $100 million, it displays a lot of cash on the screen, but little thought. – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)
Poster – The Umpteeth Bore-ior (B-)
(Did a little NYPost with that one. Not the best of the posters, but it’s what’s on IMDb so I default to that. I kind of like the spacing and all the pieces to this one including some font work. Should have played up the orange tones. Give it a little fire.)
Tagline(s) – Defy fear (C+)
An Ordinary Man…An Extraordinary Journey! (F)
(Two versions of the poster exist with these two different taglines. They should have burned one of them… I’ll let you guess which one. Defy fear is fine (although almost a tongue twister to say and mostly nonsense). The second one is… not good.)
Keyword(s) – arab; Top Ten by BMeTric: 62.5 Bitch Slap (2009); 61.7 Ishtar (1987); 54.9 Cannonball Run II (1984); 53.6 Best Defense (1984); 49.7 The Sin Eater (2003); 46.3 Legionnaire (1998); 44.3 American Dreamz (2006); 41.3 2012 (I) (2009); 38.8 Bad Kids Go to Hell (2012); 38.7 The Delta Force (1986);
(Oooooof what a keyword. Anyways, All of these sound awful and I want to see none of them. I also am unsure what 2012 has to do with arabs. Ishtar is fine, but Cannonball Run II is straight up racist. This keyword is bonkers.)
Notes – In accordance with the book, John McTiernan’s version of the Wendol’s mother was an old woman, which was filmed with veteran actress Susan Willis. When Michael Crichton took over and did the reshoots, it was decided that brutally killing off an old lady did not reflect very well on the heroes. Crichton decided after the fact to make her younger, sleeker and tougher. In the final released film, Wendol’s mother is played by actress Kristen Cloke (uncredited), but the final credits still list Susan Willis as the Wendol’s mother (although she is nowhere to be seen in the final cut). (This movie seems like a gem …)
Graeme Revell had composed a complete original score when the movie was slated to be released as “Eaters of the Dead” in 1998. But after the film was deemed unwatchable during test screenings, Michael Crichton took over the project and rejected Revell’s original score and brought in Jerry Goldsmith to rescore the film, renamed “The 13th Warrior.” (Unwatchable …)
Although rumors persist that ‘The 13th Warrior’ was one of the most expensive movie flops ever with a budget of $160m (the figure given on the-numbers.com for its combined production and marketing costs), the producers claimed that the actual cost of the film before marketing was $90m. In the U.S. The 13th Warrior grossed $32,698,900 and only $61,702,600 worldwide. (So a giant bomb, got it)
The film omits an explanation of who the “mist monsters” actually are. In the novel, author Michael Crichton reveals they were the descendants of the Neanderthals.
One of the Viking ships used in the movie is now to be found in the Norwegian pavilion in the EPCOT-center, Walt Disney World, where it is used as a playground for kids. The Disney-company is also the owner of Touchstone Pictures that made the movie. (Fun fact)
Since Michael Crichton published his novel “Eaters of the Dead” in 1976, the basis of this film, it has become regarded as one of the most notorious hoaxes in Librarianship Circles. The Ahmad Tusi Manuscript that Crichton referenced in his bibliography as being the source of this story, is completely made up. The name of the translator Fraus Dolus is in fact two Latin words meaning both ‘hoax’ and ‘fraud’. The University of Oslo, where this manuscript is supposed to be kept, have (since the book was published), on an annual basis had to send out letters telling enquirers that they have been the victim of a hoax. (That’s pretty good, have to give Crichton credit there, that is hilarious)
Adapting “Beowulf” for his novel and then for this movie, Michael Crichton changed some of the original names for ones that sounded similar: Beowulf is here named Buliwyf, Hygelac becomes Hyglak, the Grendel transformed into the Wendol, etc. (So yeah … this is just Beowulf?)
Originally titled ‘Eaters of the Dead’, the film went through several re-edits after test audiences did not react well to the initial cut. After re-shooting several key scenes with Michael Crichton taking over as director, the title was changed to ‘The 13th Warrior’. The budget, which was originally around $85 million, reportedly soared to more than $110-115 million before principal photography wrapped. With all of the re-shoots and promotional expenses, the total cost of the film was a rumored $160 million. (Wow. That is nuts)
When Ibn Fahdlan (Banderas) and Melchisidek (Sharif) enters the tent at the beginning of the movie the latter speaks Greek which eventually leads to a conversation with the viking Herger (Storhoi). Melchisidek speaks Greek, and though Herger obviously understands Greek he responds in Latin which Melchisidek fortunately understands.Though it is not stated why a Northman could understand both Latin and Greek as there were no official connection between Scandinavia and Byzantine in the 10th century, the logical assumption would be that Herger learned the languages due to him taking part in the viking raids/travels into modern day Russia (where the first scenes are filmed) and from there south into what was then the Byzantine Empire. The dominant language of the Byzantium realm was Greek with Latin as a second language. The vikings made at least one attempt at conquering the capital of the Byzantium Empire. (Whaaaaaaa, there are like a thousand notes like this on IMDb each one more confusing than the last)
Was filmed two years before its eventual release date, which had been pushed back several times. (And that is why we are watching it, for reals)
The idea of 13 warriors is taken from Scandinavian myths regarding the danish king Hrolf Kraki (Pole-Ladder). The legend goes that Hrolf Kraki had an entourage of 12 warriors (like Buliwyf in the film) and in some versions, one of them is Bödvar Bjarki, a hero who shares parallels with the hero Beowulf. Some scholars has suggested that the story of Bödvar Bjarki is simply another version of the story of Beowulf. (Very interesting stuff)
In John McTiernan’s original cut there was no final duel between Bulywyf and the leader of the Wendol. (Huh, then why add it in?)
Director Stuart Gordon first optioned the rights from Michael Crichton’s book in the early 1990s and generated a lot of interest in the project, before ‘Martha Coolidge’ (QV) got interested before John McTiernan was ultimately actually hired to direct it. (Sounds like a real prize …)