Artificial elephants and X Must Die! movies

Today’s Zippy:


This cartoon links to a long series of strips on the invented cartoon character Happy Boy in the town of Prosaic (a “normal” place close to the surreal Dingburg) — a series that I find tedious (and linguistically uninteresting) and haven’t posted about. But here we get amazing elephants (note the cartoon’s title “Tusk, Tusk”, a play on tsk tsk) and a pointer to movies with titles using the snowclonic pattern “X Must Die!”.

On the elephant watch.First, Lucy the Margate Elephant. From Wikipedia:

Lucy the Elephant is a six-story [three-story in #1] elephant-shaped example of novelty architecture, constructed of wood and tin sheeting in 1881 by James V. Lafferty in Margate City, Atlantic County, New Jersey, United States, two miles (3.2 km) south of Atlantic City, in an effort to sell real estate and attract tourists.

Today, Lucy is a tourist attraction. Guided tours take visitors into the building through the spiral staircase in the left rear leg up into the interior, then up again into the howdah to see views of Margate, the Atlantic City skyline, and the Atlantic Ocean.


Lucy the Elephant, a National Historic Landmark, on 11/26/11.

Now to France and the Sultan’s Elephant. From Wikipedia:

The Sultan’s Elephant was a show created by the Royal de Luxe theatre company, involving a huge moving mechanical elephant, a giant marionette of a girl and other associated public art installations. In French it was called La visite du sultan des Indes sur son éléphant à voyager dans le temps (literally, “Visit from the Sultan of the Indies on His Time-Travelling Elephant”). The show was commissioned to commemorate the centenary of Jules Verne’s death, by the two French cities of Nantes and Amiens, funded by a special grant from the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. The show was performed at various locations around the world between 2005 and 2006. [Nantes and Amiens, London, Antwerp, Calais and Le Havre]

The elephant was designed by François Delarozière. It was made mostly of wood, and was operated by 22 ‘manipulateurs’ using a mixture of hydraulics and motors. It weighed 42 tons, as much as seven African elephants.

… The elephant no longer exists: Helen Marriage of Artichoke, the company that produced the London performance, said “Royal de Luxe were so fed up with being invited all over the world to perform The Sultan’s Elephant, they just destroyed it.”

A non-exact replica, Le Grand Eléphant (The Great Elephant) was built in Nantes (France) in 2007, as part of the Machines of the Isle of Nantes permanent exhibition. It is 20 feet tall.


The current Grand Eléphant in the Nantes culture park.

(The Nantes culture park also has a two-meter centipede, which moves on a rail track.)

There are wonderful photos of the Sultan’s Elephant moving through the streets of London in 2011.

X Must Die. I’m not entirely sure which movie with a title in this form Zippy had in mind as the model for “Happy Boy Must Die”, but my top candidate is one of the Beast Must Die movies. The first (1952), from Wikipedia:

The Beast Must Die (Spanish: La bestia debe morir) is a 1952 Argentine thriller film, which is directed by Román Viñoly Barreto and stars Guillermo Battaglia, Narciso Ibáñez Menta and Warly Ceriani. It based on the [1938] novel The Beast Must Die by [British poet Cecil Day-Lewis, who wrote mystery novels under the pseudonym Nicholas Blake].

Then the French version (1969). Again from Wikipedia:

This Man Must Die (French: Que la bête meure), American title The Beast Must Die, is a 1969 French and Italian thriller film directed by Claude Chabrol. The story is based on a 1938 novel by Cecil Day-Lewis, writing as Nicholas Blake.

And then an entirely different movie, this time a genuinely sci-fi-ish movie (involving a werewolf), rather than a thriller, from 1974. From Wikipedia:

The Beast Must Die is a 1974 horror film directed by Paul Annett. The screenplay was written by Michael Winder, based on the short story “There Shall Be No Darkness” by [fantasy and science fiction writer] James Blish. The film starred Calvin Lockhart, Peter Cushing, Marlene Clark, Michael Gambon, Charles Gray, Anton Diffring, Ciaran Madden, and Tom Chadbon.

The X Must Die pattern has been used again and again for movie titles, in a wide range of genres. Some examples:

Surf Nazis Must Die is a 1987 American comedy film directed by Peter George and starring Gail Neely, Barry Brenner, and Robert Harden. (Wikipedia link)

They All Must Die! (1998): Three black street thugs sexually assault and torture a white woman who moves into their neighborhood. (IMDb link)

Romeo Must Die is a 2000 American martial arts action film directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak in his directorial debut, and also fight choreography by Corey Yuen, and starring Jet Li and Aaliyah. (Wikipedia link)

John Tucker Must Die is a 2006 American high school comedy romance film, directed by Betty Thomas. (Wikipedia link)

Stupid Teenagers Must Die! (early title Blood & Guts) is a 2006 spoof film directed by Jeff C. Smith and written by Smith and Curtis Andersen (Wikipedia link)

The horror film, Suicide Girls Must Die!, directed by Sawa Suicide, was released in select theaters on March 12, 2010. The film was released as video on demand on July 16, 2010. (Wikipedia link)

Vs (also known as All Superheroes Must Die) is a 2011 American independent superhero film starring Jason Trost, James Remar, and Lucas Till. (Wikipedia link) [presumably to be understood as ‘eventually all superheroes will die’, rather than as a call to action, but I haven’t seen the movie]

Everyone Must Die! (2012) [small towns threatened by gruesome slaughters] (IMDb link)

The formula is definitely versatile.

One Response to “Artificial elephants and X Must Die! movies”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    Oh yes… not a movie, but a book:

    Jar Jar Binks Must Die (subtitled –and Other Observations about Science Fiction Movies) is a 2011 collection of 42 essays by film critic Daniel M. Kimmel

    (Wikipedia link)

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