Be afraid. Be very afraid. Another Facepalm is here!

It’s Halloween, and during the month of October I gorge myself on horror movies like a school kid eats mini Snickers. But there’s nothing Fun Sized about some recent litigation surrounding horror movies, with millions of dollars at stake.

First, the curious case of Winnie the Pooh. We all know Pooh Bear as Disney’s tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff who bears a striking resemblance to a certain president of a certain People’s Republic (Google it). But what the heck does he have to do with horror movies? Well, Pooh is getting his very own slasher-style reboot, and things are about to get dark in the Hundred Acre Wood. The “plot” (quotes are necessary here) revolves around a villainous Pooh and Piglet who, after being abandoned by a college-bound Christopher Robin, go on a murderous, blood-thirsty rampage. I know my life was not complete until I heard this news, but the question remains–how did the producers of Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey get away with such a blatant appropriation of Disney’s copyright? The answer is two words: public domain. Under U.S. copyright law, a creative work enters the public domain after the author’s life, plus 70 years. And since A.A. Milne first published Winnie-the-Pooh in 1926, feel free to go nuts.

Next, Jesse Eisenberg, acclaimed star of The Social Network, is suing Lionsgate Entertainment for “exploitation of his name and image for financial profit.” The problem? Lionsgate promoted a movie Eisenberg was in by saying he was in it. In 2007, Eisenberg spent one day filming a cameo for the low-budget horror schlock Camp Hell, which he did as a favor to his friends, the film’s producers. But after Eisenberg’s stratospheric rise with starring roles in Hollywood mainstream hits like Now You See Me and Batman v. Superman, Lionsgate wanted to cash in on his success by promoting DVD sales of Camp Hell by over-emphasizing Eisenberg. Despite the actor being on-screen for merely a few minutes, his name and photo appear prominently on the DVD cover, a ploy, the suit claims, to “fraudulently induce his fans to purchase” the DVD. Eisenberg has demanded damages of $3 million, more than Camp Hell‘s entire budget. Eisenberg won the preliminary suit, which just goes to show you shouldn’t ask your friends for favors.

Finally, we turn to Texas, where a local gas station is being sued by Vortex Inc., copyright holders of the legendary gore-fest Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The Gas Station off State Highway 304 (creative name, btw) was a filming location for the 1974 slasher, and its owners have capitalized on the movie’s cult status. The Gas Station has been selling unlicensed movie memorabilia and hosting Texas Chainsaw-themed events, even after being politely asked by the copyright owners to stop. In response to the request, The Gas Station agreed stop, but only if the film’s writers, Toby Hooper and Kim Henkel, would be available to host an annual autograph signing event on-site. Refusing to establish The Gas Station’s own little Comic-Con, Vortex is is suing for $150,000 in statutory damages per infringing work, to the tune of $9.9 million. Needless to say, The Gas Station is going to get massacred in court. Ba-dum tssss.

And that’s your Halloween Leatherface-palm. I’ll show myself out….

The Facepalm Archives (October 2022)

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