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Baja II (film) (Alternity)

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Baja II
Baja II movie poster, 1997
Promotional teaser poster
Directed by Mary Lambert
Written by Ben Corrin
Based on Baja by Ben Corrin
Starring Elijah Wood
Johnny Depp
Crispin Glover
Sean Penn
Studio Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) April 25, 1997
Running time 124 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Preceded by Baja (1989)
Followed by TBA

Baja II is a 1997 American horror film (currently in theaters) and sequel to the 1989 hit film Baja, based on the Ben Corrin novel of the same name. Teenaged Louis Bardmann and his family are living surprisingly normal lives, even under the threat of the new world war. Louis' father, Simon Bardmann II and Louis' older brother Casey are shocked when the skeletal remains of Simon's younger brother Mark wash ashore one day, heralding a new series of disturbing events similar to the ones of 1907, events that could very well tear Lucaston apart...

Plot

Off the Pacific coast of southern South California, USA, in April 1910, the destroyer USS Preston anchors several miles offshore the ruined town of Upperton, with a complement largely composed of intelligence observers and photographers, sent to gather visual information on the town without actually entering the Restricted Zone established in a twenty-mile perimeter around it. Very near the end of the operation, however, an observer sights something through one of the ship's telescopes, and in a fit of hysterics throws himself over the side and into the ocean, drowning. The crew is mystified by the man's behavior, and the operation is completed in haste before the Preston leaves the area for good, never knowing what the man saw to make him go insane in the span of mere seconds.

Thirty-two years later. It is late February 1942 in the growing town of Lucaston, South California – thirty-five years after the Upperton incident, and not more than fifty miles north of the abandoned town – seventeen year-old Louis Bardmann (Elijah Wood) returns from a visit to La Paz and finds Lucaston in a panic over word of an impending Japanese attack. Only by the convincing of his 28 year-old brother Casey (Johnny Depp) – a US Army officer – is the rumor dispelled and the town’s attitude returned to a state of relative normalcy. Two days later, as Casey takes his platoon for a morning exercise run on the beaches to the south of town, his command sergeant stumbles across a pile of seaweed and rotten timber. Upon searching through it amiably on orders from the sergeant, a pair of corporals are mortified to discover a small human skeleton entangled in the seaweed. Casey makes a cursory inspection of the remains, and finds several disconcerting injuries present. Hours later, he returns home in a disturbed mood and seals himself in his room until the next morning, during which time only his father, Simon Bardmann II (Crispin Glover), enters to talk with him. In the morning, Casey and his father leave a mystified Louis behind as they head into town. Once there, they go straight to the town morgue, where awaits Michael Isaacs (Liam Neeson), the local coroner (and a town councilman), with his findings on the remains. Most prominent are a deeply-gouged skull fracture (lined by a kind of gritty black dust) and massive – almost total – fracturing of the chest bone, the latter of which Simon tentatively identifies as a stab wound. A startled Isaacs concurs and asks half-jokingly if he is clairvoyant; Simon replies "Or something else" under his breath. The skull fracture badly disconcerts Simon, who has a brief flashback to carrying someone out of the ocean, someone with a major head wound: his young brother, Mark.


To be continued...

Cast

  • Elijah Wood as Louis Bardmann
  • Johnny Depp as Casey Bardmann
  • Crispin Glover as Simon Bardmann II
  • Sean Penn as Kyle Schenk
  • Linda Hamilton as Katy Bardmann Schenk
  • Kieran Culkin as Matt Schenk
  • Macaulay Culkin as Mark Bardmann
  • Liam Neeson as Michael Isaacs

Development

Even though he had intended Baja to be a standalone story, Ben Corrin was contacted by Paramount in early 1995, with a request to pen a script for a sequel. Despite his initial reservations, Corrin caved to pressure from countless fans of the film and novel (just as Paramount had) and began work on a first draft for the sequel in May 1995. In late July, Corrin submitted his third draft to Paramount, who immediately accepted it and two days later (July 19) publicly announced that work was underway for Baja II, confirming rumors which had circulated since the end of the first film's theatrical run. Pre-production began in October, at which point a brief teaser trailer was created to accompany the theatrical release of The Sum of All Fears, which was where the film's tagline was introduced - "A terror from the past will rise again...".

Despite the length of time since Baja, Crispin Glover, Linda Hamilton, and Macaulay Culkin signed on as the first cast members in November, presumably to reprise their roles (to some extent) from the first film. However, Macaulay Culkin was the only cast member to truly reprise his role, that of Mark Bardmann, while Crispin Glover was re-cast as the adult Simon Bardmann II (Edward Furlong's character from the first film), and Linda Hamilton as Katy Bardmann Schenk (Andrea Elson's character). Later that month, the popular Johnny Depp (A Nightmare on Elm Street and What's Eating Gilbert Grape) signed on for the role of US Army Lt. Casey Bardmann, Louis' 28 year-old brother and commander of an Army platoon stationed in Lucaston. Edward Furlong was briefly considered for the role of Louis Bardmann, but the producers didn't believe the almost-21 year-old Furlong could effectively portray the part of 17 year-old Louis; it eventually went to a friend and former co-star of Macaulay Culkin from 1993's The Good Son – Elijah Wood. In December, Sean Penn (Dead Man Walking) was cast as Kyle Schenk, husband of Katy Bardmann and son of the long-deceased Victor Schenk, while Liam Neeson (Schindler's List, The Awakening) was cast as Michael Isaacs, Simon's close friend, local coroner, and member of the Lucaston town council. The cast was rounded-out by Macaulay Culkin's younger brother Kieran, who was cast in the role of Kyle and Katy Schenk's teenage son Matt, Louis' best friend.

While production was initially slow to start, it was fully underway by January 1996, and though use of 3D cameras in creating the original film had been impossible due to both budgetary constraints and lack of knowledge in how to use them, a higher budget and experienced operators at last enabled use of the venerated technology. By July, enough had been filmed to release a second teaser containing brand-new footage at the theatrical presentation of Independence Day, in which the setting of early 1942 was revealed and the tentative release date of April 25, 1997 was finally announced.

Reception

Novel adaption

Future

Despite that fact the film is still in theaters, rumors are already circulating of yet another sequel. Paramount has so far denied rumors of a "Baja III" project, citing the need to wait for Baja II's full run to decide if a third movie is to be made.

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