What was "Punklore.com"?
This wiki database catalogues the community archives from a defunct newsgroup fan page eventually located at punklore.com. Punklore was created by an internet subculture devoted to The Realm, a fantasy film shot in 1981 but never released. Collectors and fans first began the site to track and trade Realm-related memorabilia. By the time of its dissolution, it had evolved from a site to trade found footage and bits of plot and script pages into a place to trade conspiracy theories about the movie's behind-the-scenes turmoil.
Publisher god-eat-god worlds purchased the rights to The Realm in 2019 and closed the site in preparation for an upcoming reboot. In this archive, you will find not only the story The Realm (what remains of it), but the story of The Realm—its harrowed shooting, its alleged curse, and the conception of its rich, subversive world.
Lorepunk talk pages have been archived but will be resurrected on their own page soon!
What was The Realm?
The Realm is an unreleased fantasy film, shot over six months between November of 1980 and June of 1981. Chariot Ln Studios, a small production company in the vein of Cannon Films or New World Pictures, leveraged everything they had on the film succeeding. What followed was an exercise in Hollywood excess, the perils of method acting, cults of personality, and mass hysteria in the minds of its director, cast, and crew, all culminating in an infamous on-set tragedy.
Chariot destroyed as much evidence of the movie's existence as it could and cancelled the publishing of its tie-in novel. Despite this, a surprising amount of materials remain. A premature and lofty ad campaign had already begun, interviews had been conducted with various promotional clips, as well as the filming of more reels of behind-the-scenes documentary footage than had been shot for the actual film. That documentary then became its own quagmire, but we'll get into that later.
Over the years, more evidence would surface from a seemingly inexhaustible well of real and sometimes forged materials in the form of bootleg scenes, advance interviews, recovered script or manuscript pages, and production materials like concept art, prosthetic tests, costumes, and props.
By the mid-90's, the film and its controversy had been forgotten by everyone except a select few industry insiders obsessed with the film and its curse, among them at least one Hollywood heavyweight producer and a few major stars. Among aficionados of supernatural Hollywood tales, only The Realm is mentioned in hushed tones, and only to those who the speaker is sure will "get" it. The common man may speak of the real skeletons in Poltergeist, the method directing of Exorcist, the eerie brushes with death of The Omen—but insiders knew the explanations for all that to be mundane. Only the initiated few dared to say the name of Hollywood's version of "The Scottish Play," and never before shooting abroad or on the set of a fantasy film. (Peter Jackson famously had a "No R-word" policy on his Lord of the Rings shoot, and infamously forgot to reinstitute it during the shooting of The Hobbit.) To actual crew and cast old enough to remember or morbid enough to have stumbled onto it, The Realm was the only real movie curse.
With the dawn of newsgroups and chatrooms, the movie would gain a small but rabid cult following at rec.arts.sf.film.lorepunks.moderated, which gathered to share theories on the film's plot, theories about the bizarre incidents or untimely deaths that befell many of the film's cast and crew, and footage and materials from the shoot, each item of which started to take on its own mythos. With the advent of social media in the mid-2000s, the Lorepunk cult following grew rapidly from a handful of enthusiasts to its own strange corner of the internet, present on every major site, if in their bowels and in single digits. In a hilarious twist, the name of the subculture drew in fans of actual punk and postpunk, who found in the story and its macabre history a kindred fandom. Many stayed, and Realm iconography and props even made their way onto drum sets or into performances at CBGB. The less cautious of the lorepunks will not-so-subtly remind you that CBGB closed soon thereafter.
At Lorepunks, a larger picture of the plot and characters emerged that gathered fandom of the actual property itself, as well. The Realm had most staples of '80s fantasy: an innocent lead dropped into a new world; a rakish love interest hiding a heart of gold; a strong-but-gentle giant; puppets and animatronic creatures; a dreamy, synth-pop score that clashed with its settings; an attractive-but-androgynous bad guy at the head of a facelessWehrmacht; and a load of off-the-wall, perhaps drug-fueled, production design confused by the success of Star Wars into muddling space opera with medieval fantasy in all the wrong ways. The non-curse aspects that set The Realm apart from its peers were a diverse cast, subversive world building, arthouse cinematography, and dark themes.
John Tesh: "What do you say to those claiming the themes and ideas you're adding are too heavy for a children's story?" E.E. Smith: "I'd tell them children deserve art as much as anybody. Maybe more."
Since the 90s, the film's urban legend has grown all but mythic. The most obsessive subset of the lorepunks who delve into its mythos claim Hearth (the world of the film) is the "real" world and that this one is a fantasy, a dream from which we cannot wake. This combined with the fact that many of the crew--particularly its director--ended up institutionalized, have led others to believe that any surviving materials retain the film's curse, which has only deepened the fascination with collecting it for some.
We are sure none of this effects any of you, however--it's just a story, and this is, after all, only a game.
Story of The Realm
The original manuscript was a dystopian fantasy that united elements of high medieval fantasy, portal fiction, cyberpunk, and magical realism into a genre that its author called "punklore." Its adaptation, while less subversive and more avant garde in a postmodern sense, kept the basic through-line:
On the distant planet Hearth, it is always Day on one side, always Night on the other. After an evil imperial cult orphans and enslaves a young boy from the Evening named Ash, he discovers the secret at the heart of their Empire: a young girl. The Empire keeps their queen in an enchanted sleep, a queen he falls in love with at first sight. He bides his time until to adulthood, plotting his revenge: to wake her and topple the Empire that rules half the world.
Nearly 40 years since its original production and shutdown, game developer and production house god-eat-god worlds (that's us) is proud to announce the development of a made-for-streaming reboot of The Realm. As fans of the growing "Lore Punk" subculture, we bought this wiki as well as the film's distribution and merchandise rights, and have plans to release not only our new show but a newly assembled cut of the 1984 film, its making of documentary, and the original novel in due time.
We've assembled all remaining pre-production materials, a treatment, and most importantly, got our hands on a large collection of draft pages of both the original script--triple goldenrod, specifically--and Jane Orenda's original manuscript, sold at an estate sale after her tragic passing in 2019. Our team has slaved over every iota to assemble a story bible that does both Orenda's vision and the original film justice while updating it for the modern era. As for the documentary and original footage, we're planning for a blu-ray box set in conjunction with Arrow or Criterion Collection, but don't have a release date yet. We'll announce one on our front page once we are done tracking down the original footage for both and restoring them. The studio went to strange lengths to separate and hide the four reels of footage rather than simply destroy them. Our current theory is that before his unfortunate institutionalization, the director, E.E. Smith, hid his work from the frightened executives for exactly this purpose: to one day be restored. To build enthusiasm for the source material outside of its cult fan-base, we have built an RPG to help introduce the world to the IP.
- ↑ Interview on Entertainment Tonight, 1983