What Is Punklore?
This wiki database catalogues The Realm, a cursed fantasy film and fictional world, shot in 1984 but unreleased. Collectors and fans first started and maintained the site to track and trade Realm-related memorabilia; it has since been purchased by the god-eat-god worlds game publisher in preparation for our upcoming reboot of Realm intellectual properties, currently in development as a shared universe for both a revolutionary game and accompanying streaming series. Lorepunk talk pages have been archived but will be resurrected on their own page soon!
What is The Realm?
The Realm is an unreleased fantasy film shot in 1984. After a disastrous production, crew-wide mass hysteria, and an infamous on-set tragedy, the small studio that financed the movie destroyed as much evidence of the movie's existence as it could and cancelled the novel on which it had been based. Despite this, a surprising amount of materials remain. A premature and lofty ad campaign had already begun, leaving behind snippets of footage--behind-the-scenes and otherwise--as well as promotional interviews done amid principal photography. Over the years, more evidence would surface from a seemingly inexhaustible well of real and sometimes forged materials in the form of bootleg video, recovered script or manuscript pages, and production materials like concept art, prosthetic tests, costumes, and props.
By the mid-90's the film was 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. With the dawn of newsgroups and chatrooms, The Realm gained a small but rabid cult following at rec.arts.sf.film.lorepunks.moderated who gathered to share theories on the film's plot, conspiracy 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 grew rapidly from a handful of enthusiasts to its own strange corner of the internet, present on every major site.
From the snippets that the lorepunks shared, 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 faceless wermacht; and a load of off-the-wall, perhaps drug-fueled, production design confused by the success of Star Wars into muddling space opera and 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 Halcyon (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 Halcyon, 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