“Worst Movie Ever”: The Story of Nukie’s Movie, The Forgotten ET Version
Earlier this year, a VHS film of the 1987 movie “Awful” sold for $80,600, making it one of the most expensive videotapes of all time. but why?
It all started a few weeks ago. YouTube channel red letter media – wildly famous, 70-minute review from Star Wars: Episode One that went viral in 2009 – was investigating the bizarre rise in the VHS collectors’ markets. The company wanted to find out why so many people were willing to spend thousands of dollars on sealed or limited edition video cassettes (one copy of the back to the future, For example, He was able to Sold for $75,000 in June 2022). What is the appeal? Who was behind it? They decide to try an experiment, by destroying 100 copies of a 1987 South African mystery film called Noki and selling the remaining copy on eBay for charity, claiming that it was now rare and therefore valuable. It sold for $80,600 on January 6, 2023 – making it one of the most expensive videotapes of all time.
While the investigation was obvious (they did it for clicks!!), the sale was real, splitting a massive donation between St Jude’s Hospital and the Wisconsin Humane Society. It marks an unlikely revenge moment for a film that Wikipedia describes as “one of the worst films ever made.” fascinated by NokiIn his new identity as a respected fundraiser, Dazed decides to break the news to co-director, Michael Paclipa, who remembers the comedy of errors behind the movie’s production as it was yesterday. “It’s something you remember like a shock,” he tells us. “‘Gosh, Nookie! “
Strange knockout by Steven Spielberg ET, Nukie is a soft-hearted children’s fantasy about a pair of gremlin-like aliens who visit Earth, becoming separated from each other in the process. As the titular Nukie lands in South Africa, befriending a pair of tribal children (Siphiwe and Sipho Mlangeni) and a talking chimpanzee in the process, his partner, Miko, is captured and monitored by ‘The Space Foundation’ in the US. Then it’s up to American helicopter pilot Dr. Eric Harvey (Steve Railsback, former B-movie titan, life force; The X-Files) to try to reunite them. It’s a movie that Letterboxd user “James (Schaffrillas)” describes as “truly awful that I finally started crying”.
Pakleppa meets Dazed at a café near Notting Hill. He was – and still is – a film producer, director, and distributor, with a career. In 2016, it featured Angels in Notting Hill The film’s final appearance was marked by veteran actor Christopher Lee (the Lord of the rings), for example – it was described as a mash-up of “Disney and David Lynch” on the DVD cover. In the 1980s, he was distributing the works of Peter Greenaway W Monty Python collectively, along with children’s animated films in his native Germany. The business eventually drew him towards something exotic from South Africa that seemed like it could be a good acquisition.
“Our choice Noki Without knowing what it was,” he says, visibly cringing. “It was a long time before it was filmed, and no one had read the script. There was just this cool poster. It looked a bit like ET In Africa.”
“You have to make sure that you have ample room to breathe [with animatronics]But they didn’t know anything about it. They just built something and put a little baby inside. The child will suffocate after three or four minutes – Michael Pacleba
Unsurprisingly, the censors came back to bite him – and on the day they saw the movie, “we thought we were all going to die.” He continues, “There was no South Africa. There were no aliens. We just saw discussions between a nun and a helicopter pilot, who were going on about how stupid black people are, or something. Imagine that over and over, at length, and nothing else.” .
Pakleppa revealed his concerns to the film’s executive producer, Gregory Cascante, who asked if he could fix the issues. But Pacleba had no desire to tamper with the work of South African writer-director Sias Odendal, who would certainly have angered him with such vandalism. The compromise, then, was to make a new adaptation of the film: by removing unusable scenes, a new novel could be salvaged from whatever was left. The goal was to “make it less racist,” says Pacleba, but the plan didn’t quite work out. “When we cut the original footage, there were about 40 minutes left.”
Pakleppa was convinced to assemble a small crew and visit South Africa, in what would be the first of several trips on which he would become the film’s unofficial repairman. Their arrival is unexpectedly greeted by the local filmmaking team – including Odendaal – who have high hopes for what they can achieve. Pakleppa agreed to shoot additional footage for the film despite the tight budget available. “It’s something I’ve never done before,” he says. “Never will I do that again.”
The first problem they had was with the animatronics, which were used to bring to life the ugly, forbidding aliens in the movie. “We did several test shots,” says Pacleba. “But it was too small, and built completely wrong. I worked with animatronics at Shepperton, and inside are always well-trained puppeteers, and they use specialized breathing training for yoga. You have to make sure you have a huge amount of room to breathe. But they didn’t know anything about it.” That. They just built something and put a little baby inside. The baby will suffocate after three or four minutes.”
More shots of the South African hinterland were also needed, so Pakleppa and his crew drove in a convoy to capture an interesting scene. At the same time, they shot new dialogue with the film’s most relatable stars: domestic siblings Siphiwe and Sipho, now two and a half years older than when the initial footage was shot. “We spent about a week going through South Africa day and night to shoot,” Pacleba recalls. “But we got sick a few times because we were overworked. The DOP had a 40-degree fever.”
Post-production has never been better, with special effects causing major headaches. “The studio overestimated their power by 1,000 percent. All we got from them was a few glowing rocks—which we used—a shot of Earth, and some sort of comet, or something. The next day, the whole studio was gone, in a physical sense. They couldn’t. Whoever did it, and they were so afraid that we were going to sue them that they disappeared without a trace. Our special effects budget was blown away, we didn’t have any special effects.”
Soon the rest of the money was gone – and the film was not even close to completion. They still needed exterior shots of the space corporation’s headquarters, as it was a key part of the plot. “I called Gregory in America and said ‘Can’t you get me some skyscrapers?'” I got the first reel, and everything was out of focus. The second reel? It’s all black. The third reel just wasn’t there.” In the end, Pakleppa was left with no choice but to develop the film in Berlin with 12 master shots still missing. Fortunately, he ran into an enthusiastic photographer in the lab who managed to find a location at the last minute, while the film was already being processed. He came back with the shots in three hours. “I’ve never met him before or since again,” says Pacleba.
In the end, the repair job took nine months, when they only counted for three. “I thought we made the worst movie on earth,” Paclipa says. My distribution company refused to release it, and it went straight to TV. It was supposedly sold to 26 countries after that.”
Pakleppa claims he’s been largely forgotten Noki It also continued to live after its release. But he got a reminder when a group of Los Angeles fans reached out a few years ago to let him know which club he would meet regularly to see the movie. It was the first time he’d heard of her becoming some sort of cult object – in fact, similar genres would soon make a mailing habit. Noki the videos to Red Letter Media as a long-running joke.
But despite all the trials and tribulations, it looks like the big spenders on eBay might not care much about the movie itself. Gary Newman offered about $80,000 on the VHS listing for the last set, but was eventually sent to the post. “I thought it would be funny to buy it,” he told Dazed. “I make a lot of money and don’t give relatively enough to charity, so I’m always looking for fun opportunities like this.” Likewise, Steven Gutowski, who tweeted:Does anyone have $85,000 that I can borrow?‘, because he was amused and fascinated by the experience. ‘I wouldn’t actually pay $85,000 for a copy of noki… The whole situation is funny.”
But someone did — and whether or not they’re a fan of the movie remains to be seen. Speaking to Dazed, the Wisconsin Humane Society confirmed that on January 13, the organization received a $40,000 donation from Red Letter Media, adding: “It’s the largest gift we’ve received from a third party fundraiser of this nature. We’re very proud.”
As for Pakleppa, who would have thought so Noki It was “the most wrong thing I’ve ever done in my life”, maybe the whole trip is some kind of punishment. “It’s funny, it’s cute,” he says of the movie’s fund-raising enthusiasm. Why would anyone pay a fortune Noki is a mystery…but at least it was good for something.”
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