Essentials - James Cameron
Written by Brian J. Robb
Trafalgar Square Publishing 2002
|Brian J. Robb does a
bang up job of condensing the career of James Cameron. Robb covers Camerons
filmography from XENON GENESIS (1977) to up to his involvement on DARK ANGEL TV series
Robb chronicles the ascending path Cameron took from working first at Roger Cormans New World Pictures on BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and GALAXY OF TERROR. These films led to Cameron getting his first directing job, PIRANHA II: THE SPAWNING. Robb makes it clear that Cameron was ruthless in his approach to move up the ladder and didnt really care what people thought of him in the process. Cameron sums it up, "I had only been there a month and all of a sudden I was the head of the department. Everybody else who worked there really hated me and I dont blame them "
PIRANHA II: THE SPAWING wasnt the ideal situation for Cameron to make his first film. Italian producer Ovidio G Ossonitis hired Cameron with the intentions of firing him and making the film himself. This was a foolish move, as Ossonitis doesnt have any real filmmaking talent especially when matched up against James Cameron. To this day, I bet Ossonitis is still kicking himself for exerting his power and burning the bridge with the filmmaker who would go onto make the most successful film ever made. Reminds me of how the high school coach who cut Michael Jordan must feel.
During the postproduction of PIRANHA II: THE SPAWNING, James Cameron traveled to Rome, broke into the edit bays at night and secretly edited the film together to have his own cut of the film. While doing this Cameron had run out of money had was forced to eat room service leftovers in the hotel he was staying. This led to Cameron becoming violently ill and during his sickness he had visions of skeletal men arising from flame, which would become the inspiration to write THE TERMINATOR.
One of the most interesting things about Robbs coverage of THE TERMINATOR was the detail of Harlan Ellisons lawsuit against James Cameron. After Ellison walked out of the theater after seeing THE TERMINATOR he immediately called his lawyer. The concepts behind THE TERMINATOR bore uncanny resemblance to not one, but three works by Harlan Ellison. Two were episodes he had written for THE OUTER LIMITS TV show. "Soldier" broadcast in September 1964, told of two enemy participants transported back in time to 1960 where they continue their battle. The second episode, "Demon With A Glass Hand" broadcast in October 1964, featured a lone man from the future seemingly holding the secret of humanitys salvation. The third work was a short story called "I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream" which featured significant aspects that matched THE TERMINATOR.
Its the details like Ive mentioned above that make this little book so absorbing.
Robb rates each Cameron film using a Verdict scale 1 out of 5. The low score 1/5 being the obvious PIRANHA II: THE SPAWING. The high score of 4/5 going to THE TERMINATOR, ALIENS and TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY.