John Landis and See You Next Wednesday
In Landis’ first big film, Schlock (1973), See You Next Wednesday rears its head for the very first time. The film is mentioned twice, and confusingly, is giving two very different plot descriptions. Landis had no real idea of what SYNW would be, so here in its first example, it’s actually two fictional films. A poster for one film appears in the theatres lobby, which looks much like a poster of Dinosaurus! (1960) with a crude hand-written sign tapped over the posters title. The other appears outside as a poster for what looks like a western film.
The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)
Landis’ anthology comedy film, The Kentucky Fried Movie, features unconnected sketches that parody various film genres. SYNW appears in one sketch as a movie, in which a patron watches in the new “feel around” format. An usher stands behind each movie patron and performs certain actions to enhance the movie-going experience. Getting cold water poured on you is one thing, but the knife to the throat is probably taking things too far.
The Blues Brothers (1980)
In the first example of ‘in your face’, SYNW appears in the 1980 cult classic The Blues Brothers as a giant billboard that fills the screen for several shots, revealing two police deputies sitting their cruiser behind the giant sign. In this film, SYNW advertises a King Kong/Godzilla styled film, with a giant ape laying waste to a city, as it is attacked by a flying saucer and large black spider. The poster boasts Donald Sutherland, who appeared in Landis film Animal House, as it’s main star. Interestingly, the director is credit as Carl LaFong, who looks to be a fictional character credited for doing stunts in several of Landis projects. It’s possible this is Landis himself, who made a cameo in An American Werewolf in London as a pedestrian who gets hit by a car and goes through a plate glass window. Sounds like stunt work to me!
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Landis’ epic werewolf movie, An American Werewolf in London, is the perfect mix of dark humour and horror, and it’s here that SYNW tales on it’s most risqué of forms, as full on pornographic movie. Whilst Shlock showed clips of other films to represent SYNW, American Werewolf get’s it’s very own film in a film, shot specifically for the classic horror. Eagle eyed viewers will have spotted the poster for SYNW in the Tottenham Court Road underground station, as Gerald Bringsly is chased through the London Underground tunnels. The camera carefully frames Bringsly next to the poster, meaning Landis really wanted you to see it. The film itself plays at a Leicester Square theatre, and it’s a ham fisted and humours film that intersects between David (David Naughton) and Jack’s (Griffin Dunne) gruesome conversation. The original shooting script never specified what was on in the theatre, and it’s three children that spot David’s transformation, meaning Landis added an adult SYNW later on in Pre-production.
“So in the original script, I had him going into the Eros and there was a Road Runner cartoon playing. But when I got back to London in 1980, all these theaters had become pornos. So I had to change the script to show a porno called, in the best smutty British tradition, See You Next Wednesday. We made the porno ourselves and it was the first scene we shot. It starred Linzi Drew, who was a Page 3 girl at the time; she went on to have an impressive porn career.”
Trading Places (1983)
For Landis’ highly acclaimed Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis and Dan Aykroyd starring comedy, Trading Places (1983), a poster for SYNW is clearly seen in Ophelia’s (Curtis) apartment. The camera clearly frames the poster next to its big female star, which is actually an old poster for the 1939 version of Wuthering Heights. The poster features the quote “L’un des 10 meilleurs Films du Monde”, which translates to “One of the 10 Best Movies in the World”. Yes Landis, I’m sure it is!
Into the Night (1985)
Into the Night is a 1985 American comedy-thriller film directed by John Landis, starring Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer. The film is notable for a large number of cameo appearances made by various filmmakers and directors, including Landis himself. However, there is one cameo that goes mostly unnoticed, that of the poster for SYNW. It appears in Bud Herman’s office, with identical posters on each side of the wall and one on a shelf. The poster is framed briefly next too Goldblum. Yep, all that negative space was to get that in-joke in shot.
Coming to America (1988)
Starring Eddie Murphy, Coming to America is an 1988 comedy about the Zamunda crown prince looking for true love in the US. SYNW appears near the end of the film, as large film poster advertising a science fiction film. A space girl, complete with a skimpy space suit (cos that’s what space girls wear!), is seen shooting her laser guns at an unseen enemy, whilst standing on barren planet landscape. The film claims to star Jamie Lee Curtis, who had already worked with Landis on a number of projects, now she was also part of his fictional film world. The poster is framed in for a good few seconds, as a subway car pulls into the station. The shot is completely unnecessary and its only purpose is so Landis can get his gag in once more.
There are many more examples of SYNW popping up, and not just in the films of John Landis. From music videos, to video games and science fiction television shows. This much-loved Easter egg has transcended into pop-culture, and the most funniest thing bout it is that no one knows what the joke is. Not even Landis himself. His fictional film could be a dinosaur extravaganza, or a romantic drama, or maybe even a cheap British porno. It could be a monster movie, an interactive thriller or an exciting space adventure. The truth of the matter, is that it’s none and all those things. See You Next Wednesday is whatever Landis needs it to be, because there’s no better joke than one that has no punch line.