Saturday, February 19, 2011

The "Never Got Made" Files #53: IT ATE CLEVELAND


We've previously covered producer Gene Quintano's work with Tony Anthony (COMIN' AT YA! and TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS).  After the screen-popping success of those 3-D features, Quintano felt he could step into the director's chair and, working again with Cannon, prepped the Godzilla spoof IT ATE CLEVELAND (aka GODZILLA VS. CLEVELAND). The first news I ever heard of this project came in a Fangoria from 1985 with this tiny blurb in a "Monster Invasion" news item discussing upcoming horror comedies:


The script was written by Dana Olsen, a struggling writer/actor who has previous penned IT CAME FROM HOLLYWOOD (1982) and the Greydon Clark slasher spoof WACKO (1983).  Okay, you had us at WACKO!  According to the excellent Japan's favorite mon-star, the "unauthorized biography" on Godzilla, the plot went something like this:
In the story, a dinosaur like beast (which is not called Godzilla, or any other name, in the script) is spawned in the depths of Lake Erie by toxic pollution.  It rises from the murk and rampages through (you guessed it) Cleveland, wrecking comedic havoc as it takes a crap on the highway, falls in love with a female reporter, battles the military and ultimately retreats back to its cesspool of a home.  Along the way, there were numerous sight gags, like obvious wires manipulating the tanks and planes, and an overhead shot of the monster revealing the bare ass of a stuntman hanging out the open back of the rubber dinosaur suit.
Oh damn, maybe I should take back my enthusiasm?  The same year Cannon ran the following full color ad in Variety announcing the project:


Damn, a huge dinosaur in sneakers wearing boxing gloves?  Yeah, I'm definitely lowering my enthusiasm to a "hey, it was the 80s so maybe something cool would have happened" level.

While at Cannon, producer Menahem Golan felt it would benefit the project if they retitled it GODZILLA VS. CLEVELAND. Amazingly, Toho Studios, pappy of the Big G, had a problem with this and lawyers laid a Godzilla-size smackdown. Interestingly, Cannon still was pimping the project in 1987 with this ad promising at 1988 start date.  Also note that Quintano and Jerry Lazarus now had co-writing credits.  It never got made (nerd trivia: MY AFRICAN ADVENTURE came out as GOING BANANAS).  Quintano recovered by writing POLICE ACADEMY 3 & 4.  He eventually made his directorial debut with the Christopher Lambert heist flick WHY ME? and then "blessed" the world with the lame LETHAL WEAPON action spoof NATIONAL LAMPOON'S LOADED WEAPON 1.

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