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It’s Just Business… Movie Corporations You Didn’t Think Were That Evil

By Brad Pike

Every great movie has a powerful villain that matches its hero’s forces of good with equal, if not greater, seemingly insurmountable strength. The more fantastical side of the spectrum boasts Lord of the Rings’ Sauron and his army of orcs and Star Wars’ Palpatine with the Galactic Empire’s storm troopers at his disposal.

Dark indeed, but the sad truth is that evil organizations exist right here in the real world and they’re much more frightening than any goblin horde or planet-destroying fleet, because they actually affect our day-to-day lives. They are that legal entity with the status of an individual and power of the masses, the corporation.

The rather innocent sounding Natural Source Energy Corporation (NSEC) in KoldCast TV’s new Sci-Fi thriller, Dimensions, has a rather innocuous mission statement: harness the wasted energy produced by brainwaves while people are sleeping. It sounds like a noble endeavor for good, green energy, but in reality it’s dirtier and more horrific than your worst nightmare.

You are watching Episode 1 of Dimensions: “Correlations”

How do you fight an evil that attacks in your sleep?
Episode 2 of Dimensions: “Uncertainty”

NSEC has been working secretly despite the fact that people are dropping dead due to mysterious heart attacks, whole schools are slipping into comas, and shopping malls full of innocents are suddenly struck blind. Dimensions is a disturbing, action-packed thriller based on the myths and legends of Malaysian culture.

When portrayed on the silver screen, these archetypal mega-companies are beyond control, boasting endless resources and relentless green-eyed drive. Did Ripley put Aliens’ Weyland-Yutani out of business? No. Can John Connor stop Cyberdyne before they create millions of lethal robots in Terminator? If he did, there’d be no movie. Does Resident Evil’s Umbrella Corporation go bankrupt even after they’ve turned the entire planet into zombies? Not nearly. What about Jake Sully’s attempts to stop RDA from mining Pandora’s natural resources in Avatar? We’ll have two more sequels to answer that question.

How does Dimensions’ Natural Source Energy rank among evil movie corporations? We picked a few companies to explore that are sound at a cursory glance, unlike the blockbusters just mentioned. Oh how naïve we are…

Oscorp (Spider-Man)

Where do we even begin with this company? Oscorp’s CEO, Norman Osborn, transformed himself into the psychopathic murderer, Green Goblin, through an Oscorp-funded science experiment gone wrong. In Spider-Man 2, in-house scientist Doctor Otto Octavius became the tentacled maniac, Doctor Octopus, after another company science experiment fails. Skip one movie, and Oscorp scientist Curt Connors becomes the reptilian monster, The Lizard, through yet another company science experiment gone wrong. Even Harry Osborn nearly murders Spider-Man using equipment from dad’s company. Just how much monstrosity does New York City have to endure before calling a congressional hearing on this evil genetics corporation?

Jeffers Corporation (Visioneers)

The Jeffers Corporation, where Zach Galifianakis’ Geroge works as a Level-3 Tunt, is “the largest and friendliest and most profitable corporation in the history of mankind”. Employees greet each other by giving the middle finger and exclaiming, “Jeffers morning!” Every single minute of the day, a public announcement declares how many minutes of productivity remain until the weekend.

In this ubiquitous corporate culture, productivity is held as the key to happiness while intimacy and independent thoughts are aberrations to be eradicated with cheesy self-help books. But there’s a cost: suppression of genuine feelings causes an emotional buildup and eventually, employees start exploding, literally. Their bodies burst apart as if full of dynamite.

The Jeffers Corporation reacts to this new condition by giving employees stuffed animals and administering mandatory mind control collars, but the docile, dead eyed husks keep exploding anyway. The Jeffers Corporation promotes perhaps the most insidious kind of evil, banality and tedium.

U-North (Michael Clayton)

A little closer to reality is Sydney Pollack’s U-North. Due to their carcinogenic weed-killer, this agricultural conglomerate must deal with a class-action lawsuit by hiring Michael Clayton (George Clooney), a master attorney who specializes in exploiting legal loopholes to exonerate his wealthy clients.

Clayton’s ambiguous moral code gets a shock when he realizes this corporation is too evil, even for him. They hire hitmen to murder a fellow attorney (Tom Wilkinsen) when he tries to expose their corruption, and then they blow up Michael Clayton’s car while he investigates his colleague’s murder.

Of course, U-North’s general counsel is Tilda Swinton, the Ice Queen herself, so evil she won an Oscar for best supporting actress in this role. What makes U-North even more threatening is that it’s based on a real company, Monsanto, replete with a history of toxic contamination and ruthless legal battles waged against small, defenseless farmers.

InGen (Jurassic Park)

Poor John Hammond; he only wanted to build a theme park that would outshine the flea circus he was entranced by in his youth. You know what they say though, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” In an act of incalculable hubris, his genetic engineering company, InGen, creates hundreds of giant killer dinosaurs by extracting dino-DNA (remember Mr. DNA?) from once thirsty mosquitos preserved in amber. Of course, as it usually goes with “deadly monsters in cages” in movies – Deep Blue Sea, Cabin in the Woods, King Kong – the dinosaurs escape and kill a ton of hapless innocents, least of which is Wanye Knight.

In the first Jurassic Park, InGen doesn’t seem precisely evil, so much as misguided, but by The Lost World, the idealist John Hammond’s been ousted by his board, and InGen has gone full throttle Weyland-Utani. When will these giant corporations learn? You just cannot control vicious man-eating monsters.

Lunar Industries (Moon)

As Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) nears the end of his three-year contract as the sole resident of a lunar mining base called Sarang, he starts hallucinating. This shouldn’t be surprising when your only company is a robot with Kevin Spacy’s voice. One day, a hallucination causes Sam to crash his rover and he blacks out just after managing to put on his helmet. Sam wakes up back aboard the lunar base, presumably rescued by robot Kevin Spacy.

Then—SPOILER ALERT—when Sam investigates the crash against his employer’s orders, he discovers his doppelganger still inside, clinging to life. As it turns out, Lunar Industries, much like Merrick Biotech from The Island, cloned the original Sam Bell who already returned to Earth years earlier, and has used these disposable clones over and over to save money.

Sad creatures implanted with another man’s memories, living their short lives in utter loneliness and misery, only to die three years later from tissue deterioration, and for what? Reducing expenditures. Lunar Industries is a truly evil company.

For an exploration of how mankind’s misguided machinations are the most likely scenario that leads to our downfall, watch KoldCast TV’s Dimensions. A blend of science, mysticism and bloody horror, the ITV series gives audiences a peek at a society in chaos through an entirely new cultural lens.

Click to watch Episode 3 of Dimensions: “Accelerator”

Ancient remedies to combat a modern disease.
Episode 4 of Dimensions: “Trojan”

Brad Pike is a writer and standup in Chicago. He also writes for Thought Catalog.
Twitter: brad_pike; Blog: ieatfoundthings.blogspot.com

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Must Reads 9/16/2014