What is the deal with Films from the Basement? It’s a pretty typical story, actually. Since early 2000, I have been locked in the basement of what would eventually become The Nerd Mentality offices. I never saw sunlight or ate real food in that entire time, but I did have an allowance of $3 a week. I used this money to buy films to preserve my sanity. Unfortunately, with the budget being so low, I was only able to afford the cheapest, most terrible films and instructional videos available to mankind. The majority of people have never seen or even heard about these films. Now that I have been released from the basement, I will be able to unleash these monstrosities and take over the wor … er, I mean, I will be able to share them with the world by the power of the internet. Join me, won’t you, as we delve into Films from the Basement! This time we will be looking at the 2008 film Big Rocks & Long Props On Ice (Vol. 3)!
The main reason I even noticed this movie was the convoluted name and vague sexual innuendo. Who needs 3 volumes of planes taking off and landing? At least I thought it was going to be just that. The movie starts off with a disclaimer about copying the video with an obviously copied FBI picture from the internet stretched out across the screen all jagged with pixels. Then we are greeted with a black screen and a white font talking about Paul Claus. What are the chances that a guy who likes to fly a red vehicle over snow was named Claus? Anyway, for the next few MINUTES I had to sit through a Star Wars type opening crawl. It wasn’t just text; it also had a guy doing the voice over reading of the text in a very emotionless monotone performance. Why couldn’t we see lovely photography or some nature video clips while this was going on? Did they expect us to care about some guy who lives in Alaska? This movie was not called “the Life Story of Paul Claus: Guy with land”. I’m pretty sure it was called Big Rocks & Long Props Volume 3 On Ice. I see no of that so far.
The crawl finally stops, and we get some dictionary definition of a term that was never brought up. After that, there are three brief cuts of a plane flying (literally less than 2 seconds each cut). Now we get to see a talking head of a guy who is WAITING for the main Claus guy to get to where he is to train him with his 30 years of experience. You know, the same stuff that we just read/heard from the first 5 minutes of the movie. After he finishes being boring, there is a warning screen that talks about death or serious injury and how nothing should be duplicated. OK now we are talking! Also, it says that no planes, humans or animals were harmed in the making of the video. That’s kind of a funny thing to say but of course now I don’t have to worry about any of the “dangerous” stunts going wrong. Great.
Right away I have a problem with this movie. They show old Santa’s plane in the air and then cut to it taxiing down the runway for a good couple of minutes. Wouldn’t it be way more appropriate to show the actual landing or taking off, rather than the most basic operation on the ground? Honestly why do we even need to see that the plane came to pick the guy up? Can’t we infer how they got into the plane and into the air and go right to the Big Rocks & Long Props Volume 3 On Ice? Am I going to be super disappointed that they don’t even live up to the ridiculous name?
Be amazed as the huge balled pilot FILLS HIS AIRPLANE WITH FUEL IN REAL TIME! It’s so cold that they have to crank a generator to pump the fuel, except at the same time they show the guys walking around without gloves or face protection, while touching exposed metal, so there is no way it is that cold.
This is just like someone’s home movies. The camera focuses on the guy hitting one switch inside the cockpit for around a half hour, shows a couple seconds of some incredibly poorly done footage of flying over snow, and then it’s back inside the cockpit again for his shutting down the engine while he is already on the ground. For a second I thought for sure they had never taken off and it was bad editing, but I lacked the strength of will to rewind back and look. They meet a few people on the ground (the camera is about 20 feet back from the “action”) and you can clearly hear it’s the main guys wife or girlfriend asking about going to the grocery store. Yes folks these men have HUGE ROCKS! As a secondary note, I took better scenic pictures when I was 12. Yes, instead of looking at the majestic scenery of Alaska lets point the camera at a snowbank next to a trash can. I sure hope no one got paid for this.
Maybe I shouldn’t have complained so much. Now, it is going into a slideshow of pictures from previous people that have been at the lodge. Not historical pictures mind you, but pictures from the last couple years of people who clearly don’t want their picture taken. Great, this IS a home movie. We get a lovely topographical map from Google (remember folks: don’t copy) that shows his flight path to where they just told us they went with more voice over work from Captain Uninteresting. I have yet to see Ice, Rocks, Props or Crops, large or otherwise. This movie is making my eye strain because a nerd like me is going insane. *EDITORS NOTE: Do you really think anyone will get this reference?
We are now 1/6th of the way through the movie and this guy is sweeping the plane. Why exactly was the warning screen needed? WARNING! You may have to do chores and buy groceries for the cabin: only professionals can do this kind of work. Professionals with large cajones that is. The voice over guy just basically said that if you don’t know anything about flying planes that it could be the end of your life if you try to fly one out here. Yeah, well that could be true of flying a plane anywhere, you moron.
This is amazing. The voice over guy is telling us about a conversation he had WITH THE GUY HE IS CURRENTLY WITH. You couldn’t film yourself talking with him about it? The stuff he talked about is so stupid too. In one instance he asked Claus about a rope that was hanging on the end of the plane and what that was used for. The answer: “You never know when you might need a rope”…. Really? You don’t have room inside the plane for extra rope? If you need a rope dangling off the end of the plane for any reason you must be Indiana Jones, because that would be the only explanation that makes any sense.
They finally show us the “Ice” part of the movie, where they land on a frozen lake, and the guy in the plane does donuts in front of a glacier. That sounds way more cool and interesting than how the movie portrays it, unfortunately. The pilot comes out and talks about how landing on ice is tricky, and that you want to know the lay of the land and be in a flat proper spot to have the safest landing possible. Not to say that information is bad, but I guess I kinda took that sort of information for granted. Isn’t that the sort of thing that you would learn while becoming a pilot, and not learn from a video? I thought this was supposed to be about ski-flying, which they still have not talked about or shown, but I assumed was present from reading the back of the box. I feel like they are dragging everything out to pad the run time.
Next there is a funky hippie music montage of the plane flying around. I really thought that would make up the majority of this film but they did at least try to section it up. You can tell that Claus does get something from flying around and living in this part of the country; it just does not translate to the screen. Maybe they should have hired Bob Ross or Morgan Freeman to do the voice over.
So, I just realized that “ski-flying” has nothing to do with people on skis being dragged by a plane. I am disappoint. The term indicates that instead of front wheels the plane has skis. Perhaps this video is made for people that already know that, but to me that would have been some very useful information to go over at the start, rather than commenting about it 14 minutes into the movie. I guess the dangerous part will be landing on the lakes with skis. *sigh* (EDITOR’S NOTE: I think you are thinking of pontoons…)
Yep, the entirety of the rest of the video is them taking off and landing on frozen lakes and small patches of snow covered ground. They talk a bit about how dangerous it is, or stories of dropping people off to go hiking but nothing really interesting or different than the first 15 minutes of the movie. The jokey sounding title of the disc was specifically to get suckers like me to buy it thinking it would be fun or funny. Fellas, you got me!
Things I learned from Big Rocks & Long Props Vol.3 On Ice:
Ski-flying is not some interesting new extreme sport, but a plane landing with skis instead of front wheels.
If you don’t know how to fly a plane that could be dangerous when flying a plane.
Sweeping a plane and having a heater is necessary to have it be clean and warm, respectively.
Just hang ropes off of everything on the outside of the plane just in case. You never know when you might need rope outside your aircraft.
Glaciers are almost like mountains.
Ice is icy and slick.
Don’t get me wrong, I am sure it takes a great deal of skill and experience to be able to do the things shown on the video. I personally have no interest in flying, in or out of the snow, and therefore it is pretty meaningless for me to have sat through the whole thing. Perhaps children that are really into planes would like this simply because of the focus on it, but the movie obviously isn’t marketed as a kids movie. Not to say there is anything offensive in the movie; the actual content makes it seem like something that would be on a public access channel.
Big Rocks & Long Props On Ice was about the longest 60 minutes ever for me, and I typically enjoy documentaries and learning about new things. It is really dry in it’s presentation, and feels more like something filmed in the late 80’s early 90’s rather than 2007. Perhaps if you have trouble sleeping this could do the trick? I don’t know who this was made for because of how specific the information is. I guess they made it for themselves, to document what they do well, and there is nothing wrong with that. It really makes me wonder if they made any money off of these. I did a little bit of research and found out that they must have some sort of fans because they have an online store and Facebook page. They have even released Blu-ray discs. Who knew?
I bought this for around $2 used. As you can see on their pages they typically go new for around $20 to $30 each. I certainly can’t recommend buying this, but if you are extremely interested in the subject I can’t imagine there are a whole lot of options for content.