Screen: Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Tom Hanks’ Forrest Gump tells what really happened during WWII, in HISHE’s ‘Saving Private Ryan.’
How It Should Have Ended
Yoda gives Obi Wan grief for getting beat down by Darth Vader, in How It Should Have Ended’s version of George Lucas’ space opera.
New Endings

A Bedford team reworks the closing moments of famous Hollywood blockbusters and posts the results on the ’net — everyone’s watching.


What if Han and Chewy had pulled a no-show at the Battle of Yavin 4 in Star Wars? What if Mel Gibson’s William Wallace in Braveheart was really a cybernetic organism? What if the head in the box at the end of Se7en wasn’t actually that of Gwenyth Paltrow’s character?

We’ve all probably talked about how this or that Hollywood movie should have ended, but a pair of Bedford natives have done something about it. In July, Tina Alexander and Daniel Baxter created How It Should Have Ended, a web site on which the team has re-jiggered the final moments of several blockbusters, using comic strip-quality cartoon animation to re-enact the new, almost always surreal endings. What started as a mere diversion for Baxter’s little brother and his fanboy friends soon turned into a serious destination for pop-cult enthusiasts from all over. The mega-nerd site Slashdot soon discovered HISHE and posted links to it. Over the span of a single afternoon recently, according to Alexander, the number of unique visits jumped from 100 to 20,000. Not bad for a $300 investment.

Baxter, the creative force behind HISHE, got the idea for the site after paying good, hard-earned American money to see The Flight of the Phoenix, a multi-million-dollar summer flop.

“I really just started doing [HISHE] for my own amusement,” he said. As funny as HISHE’s parody of Phoenix is, however, the site didn’t start getting noticed until the third parody, the one that Baxter says put his and Alexander’s web site “on the map.”

“Looking back,” he said, “it’s kind of stupid to think that making fun of Star Wars on the ’net wouldn’t get noticed. Now we’re all blown up.”

After he leaves his day job at a Mid-Cities television station’s editing department, Baxter goes home and begins work on illustrations for upcoming HISHE ’toons. He’s just released his sixth skit, Surviving an Alien Attack, in which some of the cinema’s most legendary monster slayers, including Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, discuss their successes and failures at kicking extra-terrestrial ass. Baxter also administers HISHE’s “Who Would Win a Fight?” forum, where film buffs while away the hours contemplating fictional violent encounters between famous movie characters and personae, such as Rocky versus the Karate Kid and Napoleon Dynamite versus William Shatner.

“The pressure’s always there to keep it interesting,” the 27-year-old Baxter said. “Now that people think we’re kind of funny, we have to constantly top that with something else.”

HISHE averages about 1,000 unique visitors a day, but Alexander said that no money is being made ... yet. The financial wiz behind HISHE, Alexander is trying to avoid dealing with (uniformly rather oppressive) online advertisers. She’d rather generate revenue for HISHE by merchandising, specifically by selling HISHE t-shirts.

In addition to work on HISHE, Alexander and Baxter are pursuing more traditional avenues in filmmaking. Alexander has produced two shorts directed by Baxter: Dinner Party, about a few twentysomethings’ pathetic attempts to become adults; and In This Corner, a period piece (circa 1988) about a 12-year-old’s triumph over Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, one of the era’s most popular and beloved video games. In This Corner may not sound like much, but it’s one of the best pieces of local filmmaking to pop up in years. Legal wrangling has kept the film under wraps.

“We have serious copyright issues,” Alexander said. “We say ‘Nintendo’ and ‘Tyson’ in it, like, a hundred times. I tried before filming to get permission from Nintendo, but I got the run-around. Until we get [permission], I can’t put any more effort into it.”

Copyright concerns may also be on the horizon for How It Should Have Ended. “It’s very tricky,” Alexander said. “We’re going to get a liability policy to where the worst that can happen is they’ll take the web site away from us. We just didn’t expect to get so popular so quickly.”

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