If you are a frequent Topless Robot reader, you've probably noticed the "Impressive Acts of Nerdery" tag pop up on the site from time to time. Without a doubt the most impressive of all nerdtastic acts are fan films. Thanks to the wonders of fan-created projects, you can spend your work day on YouTube watching the Rockafire Explosion Band singing contemporary hits or taking a trip to a parallel universe where Brad Pitt is starring in a Thundercats movie. Since fan films are completely free of studio interference, they don't have to pander to their audience. This often results in productions that are truer to their source material than Hollywood could ever afford to be, on miniscule budgets no less. There's also the matter of how these Internet epics allow fanboy fantasies to come true. (We now live in age where watching the Ghostbusters fight Freddy Krueger and seeing Batman pummel an Alien are just a few mouse clicks away). Thanks to the easy accessibility of digital video cameras and editing/computer animation programs these days, every dork with imagination can get in on the act. Recent fan films such as The Hunt for Gollum are surprisingly identical to flicks playing at the multiplexes, and the bar for aspiring auteurs is constantly being raised. While you plot your own fan masterpiece, here's a look at nine of the best.
9) Hardware Wars
As someone who has wasted hours of his life trying to track down the Obi-Wan Kenobi-related country song that plays in the Hardware Wars equivalent of the cantina (i.e. a redneck bar), I can tell you firsthand that being a nerd can be detrimental to your sanity/social life. Then again, making Cookie Monster into the co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon is also nerdy and still kind of awesome. The lesson to be learned here kids is that geekiness is best in moderation. As for the film itself, this is the first fan production to get mainstream attention. Legend has it that it was so popular that copies of it were sent to schools throughout the country for classroom viewing. (Someone please verify this in the comments, as it sounds like the coolest thing ever). Classic moments include the Ham Salad gag, the aforementioned Wookie Monster bit, the Reddy Kilowatt cameo and that damn Kenobi song that still haunts my dreams.
8) The Green Goblin's Last Stand
Maximum Overdrive managed to get the Green Goblin's look right but the first Spider-Man film appears to have based the character's appearance on the lead in Star Kid. This is inexcusable, incomprehensible and a whole lot of other words that begin with "in." Goofy though it may be, this 1992 effort from writer/director/producer/actor/probable caterer Dan Poole features the most faithful cinematic portrayal of the Green Goblin thus far. Seriously. The plot faithfully covers the "Death of Gwen Stacy" storyline, with the webslinger preparing for his final battle with Norman Osborn's murderous alter ego. Viewing the film nowadays tends to draw attention to the various budgetary and acting problems that plague the production. But if you're willing to overlook such gripes you'll find a genuinely entertaining short film that does Spidey right. At the very least, you won't have to worry about Macy Gray showing up.
7) Batman: Ashes to Ashes
Although it would be awesome to see Batman teaming up with Gene Hunt to fight crime in 1980s London, this Ashes to Ashes is instead Bats' bleakest adventure yet...and the most French too! Clearly inspired by Sin City, filmmakers Julien Mokrani and Samuel Bodin have crafted a nihilistic tale in which the murder of Alfred finally sends Batman over the edge. Bloodshed ensues. Lots of it. Harley Quinn, The Penguin and an especially disturbed Joker all make an appearance, and there's a bit of confounding violence towards the end that makes The Dark Knight look like The Smurfs. An exploration of Batman at his most psychotic, the film often approaches perfection.
6) The Odd Star Wars Couple
Who would have guessed that Chewbacca keeps coasters in his bandolier? That's just one of the revelations in Kurt Ramschissel mash-up of Star Wars and The Odd Couple that recasts Darth Vader as the snobbish Oscar Madison and Chewbacca as neat freak Felix Unger. Are any of you readers affiliated with Lucasfilm? If so, please try to convince his Georgeness into making this show instead of that live -action series malarkey he has been planning.