The recent documentary "Room 237" takes an obsessive-compulsive view of Stanley Kubrick’s "The Shining," breaking down supposed clues in the imagery and story to prove everything from Kubrick admitting he faked the Apollo 11 moon landing to the film being a metaphor for the genocide of Native Americans. And the film "Spook Central" posits that "Ghostbusters" is not a horror-comedy but a diatribe against smoking and processed foods. In honor of these exercises in reading way too much into things, we present ten other fun conspiracy theories surrounding popular movies.
No. 10 - The Residents of Amity Island Are to Blame in "Jaws"
Ever find it strange that the most horrific shark attacks around Amity Island seemingly start the minute they hire new chief of police Martin Brody? And that the townspeople — especially the mayor — are so quick to dismiss it all? Maybe it’s because these attacks are actually nothing new. A sinister reading of "Jaws" claims that the residents of Amity Island have known about the shark attacks for years, and have desperately tried to cover it up in order to prop up its struggling tourist trade. Brody starts making a stink, and suddenly their summer is in chaos. Maybe Brody’s predecessors made similar mistakes?
No. 9 - Liberal Agenda in "Revenge of the Nerds"
On the surface, "Revenge of the Nerds" is a simple geeks vs. jocks comedy, and a handy excuse to show some boobies. But the jocks aren’t just jocks — they are the blond (or at least light-haired), white, privileged upper class; and the Tri-Lambdas represent more than just nerds — they are the lower class (Booger), immigrants (Takashi), African-Americans and homosexuals (Lamar Latrell). The battle is between the oppressive white establishment and the melting pot of the U.S. How else can you explain the Tri-Lams ultimately being rescued by “U.N. Jefferson?” As in, United Nations plus the one founding father who was WAY into racial integration, if you know what we’re talking about.
No. 8 - Wonka Bars Are People!
Willy Wonka is just an eccentric candy baron with a penchant for elaborate gadgets, right? Don’t be naive. The secret ingredient in every piece of Wonka goodness is candy-coated children. He lures his victims in with the promise of an exclusive tour, only to calmly lead them to their deaths. If you don't buy it, then why doesn't the ferry he takes them on — the one that leads them through a psychedelic mind-f**k – have two empty seats where Augustus Gloop and his mother would have been seated had the former not cannonballed into the chocolate river? Because Wonka knew two guests would not be leaving Stage 1. And that two would not leave Stage 2 (and so on). Also, how else would the Oompa Loompas know to prepare relevant songs for each child’s demise? Wonka finally meets his match in Charlie — the only kid to survive a death trap — and grooms him to take over.
No. 7 - Lou’s '80s Limbo in "Hot Tub Time Machine"
The big joke of "Hot Tub Time Machine" seemed to be how on-the-nose it was. It’s a movie called "Hot Tub Time Machine" about a time machine hot tub; end of story. Or is it? Some have claimed that the gang’s '80s romp is actually Lou (Rob Corddry) stuck in limbo after his suicide attempt earlier in the film was successful. He is forced to go back and atone for his mistakes before he can ascend into Heaven, which in his case is wealth, hair and a stint as frontman for Motley Crue. And clearly, Chevy Chase is the Almighty.
No. 6 - Mason. John Patrick Mason.
This one represents the rare melding of two film theories. The first is the notion that Sean Connery’s John Patrick Mason in "The Rock" is actually the first James Bond, which dovetails with theory #2 that “James Bond” is a codename and not a man (hence why the identity can be passed on year after year to guys who look like Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig). So after Mason, a man they claim “does not exist," is captured, MI-6 immediately disavows any knowledge of him, and promptly passes the 007 mantle on to the next candidate, leaving Mason to rot. After all, Mason could never again escape right? Never say never again …
No. 5 - “I am Calvin’s soul …”
Remember that feature-film version of the classic Calvin & Hobbes comic strip? No? Maybe because they went with a slightly different title: "Fight Club." There’s a theory that the unnamed narrator of the movie (played by Edward Norton) is, in fact, an adult Calvin, who conjures up his childhood friend Hobbes only now (because he no longer carries a stuffed tiger around) and renames him Tyler Durden. After all, isn’t Project Mayhem just an extension of G.R.O.S.S. (Get Rid Of Slimy girlS)? And how many times did Calvin show up with mystery cuts and bruises after wrestling with “Hobbes?” He’s been beating himself up for years.
Also check out our 20 Other Rules of Fight Club.
No. 4 - The Extremely Dark Knight
This particular theory is both a head-scratcher and a bone-chiller. Some claim that "The Dark Knight Rises" contains trigger words and imagery meant to set off government agents or, in unfortunate cases, anyone susceptible to violent impulses. The only chilling aspect of this otherwise ludicrous theory (which, of course, points not only to the tragic Aurora theater shootings but other incidents of "The Dark Knight Rises"-related outbursts) is that, during the scene where Commissioner Gordon and the government agents plot out their attempt to track Bane’s trucks, their map clearly shows a section of Gotham City called … Sandy Hook. But the notion that director Christopher Nolan is somehow knowingly programming sociopaths is beyond padded room levels.
No. 3 - "Aladdin" is Sci-Fi
Disney’s cuddly take on the classic Arabian Nights tale (originally written around the 18th century) isn’t quite as cuddly when you realize it takes place in a world after … you blew it up! Damn you! Damn you all to helll! Yes, "Aladdin" takes place in the FUTURE, after an unidentified apocalypse has wiped out mankind, and fragments of Arabian culture have been recovered and re-appropriated (“Agrabah” sounds like a bastardization of “Arabia”). The key is the Genie, who has been imprisoned for 10,000 years but calls Aladdin’s clothes “so third century.” How would he have known that (or cultivated impressions of Groucho Marx, Arnold Schwarzenegger or any other pop culture characters) unless the movie takes place in 10,300 C.E.? Duh!
No. 2 - Raising Questions
Just what in the holy hell is going on in "Raising Arizona?" Besides its slapstick hijinks, it’s a psychological Rubik’s Cube with no clear answers. Deep breath, here we go: H.I. (Nicolas Cage) and the “Warthog from Hell” bounty hunter Smalls (Tex Cobb) both sport the same Thrush Muffler tattoos (not Woody Woodpecker, as some wrongly claim) and Smalls carries a pair of bronzed baby shoes. Are they, in fact, the same person? H.I.’s voiceover says, “I feared I myself had unleashed him,” and when H.I.’s wife Ed (Holly Hunter) asks who Smalls is, H.I. replies, “You see him too?” Maybe H.I. and Smalls represent two possible futures for little Nathan Arizona. For example, when H.I. abducts the baby, we get a shot from under the crib as H.I. drags the baby out by his leg. Later, H.I. tries to hide under a car, and we get a mirror-image shot, from under the car, as Smalls drags H.I. out by his leg. There's plenty more of this, but we don't have time to get into it. On to #1!
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No. 1 - “I’m Afraid I Can’t Do That, Marty”
In "Back to the Future," Doc Brown’s biggest concern is the dreaded “time paradox.” He was so obsessed with not tearing the fabric of time and space that he made the flux capacitor fully functional, but also ... ALIVE. Yes, the flux capacitor is sentient, and its prime directive is to stop anyone from creating a paradox. That’s why it keeps “breaking down” at key moments (not letting Marty drive it into town in 1955 and stirring up suspicion, delaying him upon his return to 1985 so that he doesn’t run into himself at the mall, keeping old Biff from going into the alternate future, etc.). There has even been a theory that — because Marty arrives in 1955 at the exact time that Doc slips, falls and dreams up the flux capacitor — the machine itself actually implanted the seeds of its own creation in its creator’s mind. Whoa, Doc, this is heavy stuff.