The North Carolina Movie Draft
In this week's Tiny Rabbit Holes, I make the case for five movies that will leave you thoroughly confused about this state. Also, big jet go boom, a beached yacht, and RAZOR BLADES IN YOUR WALLS.
My List of Five Batshit North Carolina-Based Movies
Miller and John from The Charlotte Podcast had me on a few days ago. They’re great guys and it was a fun conversation, even though at the beginning, I had to remind them that I haven’t lived in Charlotte for almost seven (!) years now. You can listen to the whole episode here:
We spent the better part of the show playing a game: Each person got to draft their top five North Carolina movies. The only criteria: The movie had to have something to do with North Carolina. Maybe it was shot here! Maybe it was set here! In any event, here are the five that I picked. See if you can guess why. (Note: some podcast spoilers below!)
1. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
I pulled this first because there are a ton of overt connections. Will Ferrell’s family is from Roanoke Rapids. The movie was shot at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Rockingham, and Gastonia. It’s set in North Carolina. It’s about NASCAR. The casting is spectacular, and its actors are at the peak of their popularity. I, too, love crepes.
Also, and I will tell this to anyone who even mentions this movie in passing, I AM IN IT.
One note: Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a cameo in this movie and… can we talk about his choice of sunglasses:
2. I Know What You Did Last Summer
There is a subset of North Carolina movies that were not only shot in this state, but specifically filmed in and around Southport, a lovely little town down near the mouth of the Cape Fear River, south of Wilmington. This makes sense, since it’s a great location and the Screen Gems Studio is only about an hour away. There are so many to choose from here, and while it pains me to choose another movie over “Weekend at Bernie’s” (which was shot on Bald Head Island!), I went with “I Know What You Did Last Summer” here. It cost $17 million to make but grossed $125 million, and was number one at the box office for weeks. It also led to several sequels, was highly influential in the late 90’s slasher genre, and was actually set in North Carolina.
3. Blue Velvet
It’s set in Lumberton, is extremely David Lynch-y, and features this scene, which will forever influence your choice of beer:
4. Cape Fear (1991 Version)
There are two versions of this movie, and both are great, but I went with the one starring DeNiro and Nolte and Juliette Lewis here, if only because it’s an over the top version of what was already an over the top movie. The director of the 1962 version basically admitted to trying to copy Alfred Hitchcock’s style wherever he could, and the 1991 version directed by Martin Scorsese does the same thing, with the lighting and camera angles and everything. Scorsese even used the original score from 1962, which was created by Bernard Herrmann, who was used over and over by Hitchcock! It’s Hitchcock all the way down.
The movie’s set in North Carolina, although it was filmed in Florida, so there are way too many palm trees. Plus, DeNiro’s accent really isn’t right, but that’s okay, because he’s really leaning into the Bible-quoting unkillable psychopath that Max Cady is. Watch the last scene of the movie, where DeNiro literally starts to short circuit like an ordained Foghorn Leghorn:
5. Maximum Overdrive
Good lord, this movie. The earth passes through a comet’s tail and the MACHINES COME TO LIFE. The trucks in particular get really pissed off and try to corner Emilio Estevez and his friends in truck stop. The entire soundtrack is, quite literally, AC/DC’s “Who Made Who” album. This movie should, by all logic, be free to stream, and yet you’ll have to pay $3.99 at minimum to watch it. That is, either, a way to shield it from the viewing public, or a way to make up the millions of dollars it lost. Either way, the only part you really need to watch is the very beginning, which opens in Wilmington with the machines becoming sentient and immediately dropping f-bombs on humans via electronic bank signs. Also, Stephen King has an early cameo:
After directing this movie, King said he’d never direct another one.
Anyhow, those are my five. My organizing principle: If you were to watch these five movies together, you’d come away thinking that North Carolina is the most batshit state in the union. (Drums fingers together) Excellent.
Subscribers can leave their comments on how perfect/terrible our picks are in the comments, and suggest their own lists to try to beat this one (SPOILER ALERT: They can’t.)
Check Out My Sweet Ride
Mark Walker, who was running for U.S. Senate, called a press conference in Greensboro last week, and announced that he would continue to run for U.S. Senate. Now, while this may seem like a colossal waste of everybody’s time (the ultimate This Meeting Could Have Been An Email), it was really just a ruse to get everybody to check out his boring-ass bus:
Girl, Mark Walker is totally gonna buy you a brand new car and stick it in your driveway with a giant bow on it for Christmas and not tell you about it first. You’re gonna hate the interior. You wanted a Toyota. This fool bought you a used Lexus. He doesn’t care. He’s just gonna keep going, whether anyone wants him to or not.
I’m Going Down With The Ship (Which Is Currently Beached)
I have been very closely watching the saga of a dude who ran his boat up on the beach out in Ocracoke:
To recap, Scott and Karen Pumphrey of Baltimore got into a storm a week ago today, and lost their steering. They ended up getting beached the next day, and the boat’s been stuck there on the southern end of the island ever since. The National Park Service is very much not cool with this. It’s removing the fuel from the boat to lighten the load, because so far towboats have not been able to pull it back into the water.
But you know who’s seems to be just fine with waiting? The guy who ran aground. According to the fantastic Ocracoke Observer, Scott’s wife Karen got off the boat and flew back home. “She was not into this at all,” he told the Observer. Meantime, he’s out there watching DVDs and soakin’ in sunrises, talking to locals, napping, etc. “Honestly, I’m enjoying it,” he said. Which, you know, why not.
Sometimes The Questions Take Care Of Themselves
Greensboro’s Getting A Legitimately Badass Sounding Company
Hey, you know what’s cooler than a private jet? A private SUPERSONIC jet. Last week, a company called Boom Supersonic announced a half-billion dollar factory is coming to Greensboro’s airport. They’ll hire 1,760 people, pay them decent money, and build a really fast jet. Seriously, that sumbitch would get from New York City to London in 3.5 hours instead of 6.5. Most of the proposed routes would be over oceans.
That’s because, um, sonic booms are legitimately demoralizing to people. Take, for instance, Operation Bongo II, in which Oklahoma City asked the U.S. government to come to town to test out its supersonic jets in 1964. During the first 14 weeks, the tests broke 147 windows on two skyscrapers downtown. It made people crazy. The testing was supposed to last much longer, but stopped after six months, and the ensuing notoriety and class action lawsuit set back the government’s attempts to build a fleet of supersonic transport jets. According to one hearing specialist: “With their thunder, the sonic boom, they were punishing all living creatures on earth."
Anyway, good luck with the factory! Keep the volume down.
Other Tiny Rabbit Holes
The Raleigh Weather Dome is dead. All hail the Raleigh Weather Dome.
There used to be slots in your medicine cabinet for the disposal of razor blades, and not once did anyone think to ask “Hey, where are those things going?” Well, right in between the damn walls is where. Here’s a particularly horrifying tweet from a real estate agent in Charlotte:
This used to be A Thing. Also, gahhhhhh. (h/t Matt Comer)
I did a Twitter thread last week about how the story of a fake Gastonia TikTok went from this here newsletter to the national media. Somehow, it ended with the story being aired on CNN, and the ensuing tweet being sponsored by… a cruise line?
Someone who’s smarter than me can, by all means, explain how that makes sense.
Have a great week everyone, and thanks as always for supporting the Rabbit Hole.
Once again hard hitting commentary about beached boats and NC-centric movies. I love it. Seriously, they should call you the most knowledgeable NC ephemeralist in the state. (Probably not a word but it should be.) Loved the attitude of the beached boat owner and excited to learn about redwood trees here in town. Great work as usual!
If Chapel Hill qualifies as "in the Raleigh area," here's a redwood for you.... https://www.wunc.org/environment/2014-06-10/a-mystery-tree-grows-in-chapel-hill#stream/0