Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Book on Tape -- Wizard People, Dear Reader

Every once in a while, fanbase and popularity permitting, a film will take on a life outside of its original creator’s intent. Whether it’s stoners who made the Reese’s connection of getting The Wizard of Oz in their Pink Floyd and Pink Floyd in their The Wizard of Oz, or the inexplicable crowd that will dress in drag and throw crap at the screen of that one Tim Curry movie from the 80’s 70’s (thanks Jordyn!), fans will sometimes take an already-existing movie and add to it, making, in essence, an entirely different product. One of my favorite entries in this admittedly-specific category of films is Wizard People, Dear Reader.

Wizard People is a fan-dub of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, written and performed by comic book artist Brad Neely (Neely was also responsible for that awesome George Washington video from a couple years ago). Rather than a straight Mystery Science Theater 3000-style lampooning of the film, Neely instead narrates the movie as an audiobook, adding his own name fudgings and plot alterations while still telling a (mostly) coherent story.

"But lo-ho-ho, dear readers! It is a cloak. A cloak with a cloaking device!"

The additions are pretty sophomoric, to be sure. Name changes range from mostly similar (Hagrid becomes “Hagar The Horrible”) to bat-guano loco (Madam Hooch becomes “Professor Catface Meowmers”). Character changes are equally ridiculous; Harry is a nigh-omnipotent wizard, Hermione (“The Wretched Harmony”) is constantly referred to as being hideous, and Ron (referred to as “Ronnie the Bear,” or sometimes just “The Effin’ Bear”) has 20 brothers and 12 sisters, all of whom are either Gryffindor students, alumni, or faculty members

The movie has a quirky, anarchic sense of humor that extends beyond the typical “It’s funny because it’s different” laughs. Minor characters undergo several name changes within the span of a single scene; Uncle Vernon has at least twelve swine-related names (Uncle Piggums, Uncle Gigglesnort, etc), and Marcus Flint of the Slytherin Quidditch team has a few as well that reflect on his excellent dentistry (Joey Lumbermouth, Woodpile, etc). Neely also gives his narrator some excellent similes (“Jeepers! Ed Vanders rushes into Harry’s view, like a scarecrow’s carcass.”), and characters often use hilariously toothless interjections along with the frequent swears (“Willikers!” “Crumbs and carrots!”).

"'And look! It's a bat! Sweet mustache! Willikers!'"

Elements of the plot are frequently changed—Professor Snape (Professor Snake) is made a woman, and Voldermort (Val-Mart) is made Harry’s father (“The man that killed your mama is your dada”). There are also places where, during uneventful scenes, the narration breaks from describing the movie and begins talking about a daydream being had by Harry (during his retrieval of the flying key, Neely goes off about how Harry imagines himself as a Spanish conquistador, discovering America and integrating himself with the natives).

Then there’s Neely’s performance. After secondhand-listening to way too many dull audiobooks, I only wish I could have one recorded like this. Far from simply “reading” what’s going on, Neely acts out the dialogue, and frequently responds to what’s happening onscreen (his reaction to when Quirrel removes his turban is especially epic). The voice he uses is like a mixture of Ross Perot and Peewee Herman, and it only adds to the humor of Wizard People.

"'The gig is up! There were kids! Kids, in the adult books!'"

It’s not perfect, though. It’s a bit of a slow starter, and the movie only really starts to ramp up when Hagrid comes to get Harry from the Dursley’s. That said, there are also a few places during the second half (almost the entire part dealing with the Mirror of Erised, for instance) that crawl by as well. Taken as a whole, though, the small, less noteworthy sections are well worth eating through in order to get to the good stuff.

Of course, you have to actually gather the materials needed to watch Wizard People, which can be a bit tricky. You need a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and you’ll also need to download the audio; Wizard People was recorded as a two-parter, and you’ll need both parts to get the whole movie. From there, you need to watch Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with the sound off and play the two Wizard People audio files one after another (this can be done by playing from your iPod or burning it to a CD).

The whole process can be a bit of work, but the experience is a rewarding one. Whether you’ve read all the books multiple times or simply thought the first movie was pretty neat, Wizard People, Dear Reader is an absolute treat for Potter fans.


  1. Here's my up my ass, I-know-more-than-you internet nagging: Rocky Horror Picture Show is from 1975

  2. I am incredibly excited about this! I am downloading it right now! :-)