Saturday, 24 January 2015

COMPETING FILM SHOWDOWN - eXistenZ vs The Thirteenth Floor

Looking at film.  Sometimes two very similar films come out close together, see which one is better...

1999: Virtual Reality Showdown

In 1998 & 1999 4 films were released with created unrealities, this is 2 of them...

Round 1


"eXistenZ. Written like this. One word. Small 'E', capital 'X', capital 'Z'. 'eXistenZ'. It's new, it's from Antenna Research, and it's here... right now." ~ Seminar Leader, eXistenZ.

  • The Thirteenth Floor - An older feeling name (actually the name of a VR horror comic story in Eagle & Scream comics in the 80s) and the floor that the computer is on in the "current" world.
  • eXistenZ - A deliberately kewl name, the name of the game that is meant to be being tested.

WINNER - eXistenZ

Round 2


"I know the truth." ~ Douglas Hall.

"Where are you?" ~ Jane Fuller.

"You could call it the end of the world". ~ Douglas Hall, The Thirteenth Floor.
  • The Thirteenth Floor - A murder mystery in which the creator of a VR 1930s world is murdered after he discovers the truth...
  • eXistenZ - The creator of a new VR game is hunted by those who want her dead and the game destroyed.


Round 3


"Our characters are obviously supposed to jump on each other. It's probably a pathetically mechanical attempt to heighten the emotional tension of the next game sequence. No use fighting it." ~ Allegra, eXistenZ.

  • The Thirteenth Floor - Has one main character, and a number of secondary characters, many playing different versions of themselves in different world.
  • eXistenZ - Has two main characters and multiple minor characters.

WINNER:  The Thirteenth Floor.

Round 4


"You know, my accent in the game was so thick that I could hardly understand myself." ~ Kiri VinokureXistenZ.

  • The Thirteenth Floor - While the surrounding cast are all quality (but rarely at their best) the star, Craig Bierko, does seem to have the charisma, gravitas or range for the main role.
  • eXistenZ - The two leads are excellent and surrounded by a .


Round 5


"Hey! What'd you do to the world?" ~ Jason Whitney/Jerry Ashton.
"Turned it off." ~ Douglas Hall, The Thirteenth Floor.

  • The Thirteenth Floor - Features 3 worlds:  The real world (a future shown briefly only at the end) - mostly beautiful landscapes and cityscapes; The VR world (1999 looking worlds, assumed to be the real world) - dark and horrible; the VR world with the VR world (1930s) - styled 30s looking, only interesting world but done better in other things.
  • eXistenZ - Features 3 worlds:  The real world? (the near future shown briefly only at the end) - the inside of a church; The game tranzCendenZ  (the near - and slightly odd - future) - recurring weirdness; the game with a game eXistenZ (the near - and very odd - future) - expands upon the weirdness.
WINNER - eXistenZ

Round 6


"You're more real to me than anything I've ever known." ~ Jane Fuller, The Thirteenth Floor.

  • The Thirteenth Floor - Limited effects for computers and transition, the worlds were well represented by effects but in such a way that they are almost unnoticeable.
  • eXistenZ - Lots of weird creature effects, some good some pretty poor.

WINNER:  The Thirteenth Floor.

Round 7


"The twists and turns at the end made my head spin.  Maybe there were too many, too fast to absorb." ~ Hugo CarlaweXistenZ.

  • The Thirteenth Floor - Beyond the standard obfuscation of a murder mystery the film takes pains to over explain everything so the audience is up to date.
  • eXistenZ - The world is weird and unsettling, the plot to the game is just twists thrown at the screen to keep the audience interested and off guard and the ending is ambiguous.

WINNER:  The Thirteenth Floor

Round 8


Hey, tell me the truth... are we still in the game? ~ Chinese Waiter, eXistenZ.

  • The Thirteenth Floor - Too predictable and familiar to be mind-blowing.
  • eXistenZ - The increasing moments of weirdness and the ambiguous ending makes it more mind-blowing.

WINNER - eXistenZ

Round 9


"Do me a favor, will you? When you get back to wherever it is that you come from, just leave us all the hell alone down here, okay?" ~ Detective McBain, The Thirteenth Floor.

  • The Thirteenth Floor - A happy ending that's just all too easy and trite.
  • eXistenZ - Leaves with a philosophical open ending.

WINNER - eXistenZ

Round 10


"I think I made the age-old mistake: Never trust a beautiful woman." ~ Detective McBain, The Thirteenth Floor.

Bechdel Test:

  • The Thirteenth Floor - Few named female characters, none talk to each other - Fail.
  • eXistenZ - Only two named female characters, one only appears briefly at the end, they participate in a conversation about a male character - Fail.
Mako Mori Test:

  • The Thirteenth Floor - Main female character is just a love interest for the lead.  Although she does some plotting to end up with him. - Fail.
  • eXistenZ - One of the main characters is female.  They share a plot, but she's the center of it (although he's the center of the film). - Pass.

WINNER - eXistenZ

Round 11


"You owe me 12 dollars and 5 cents" ~ Bank Customer, The Thirteenth Floor.
  • The Thirteenth Floor - $11,916,661 (Domestic) from a $16 million budget.
  • eXistenZ - $2,856,712 (Domestic) from a $15 million budget.

WINNER:  The Thirteenth Floor.

Round 12


"We've played your game now, so we can finally agree with the others that you are the world's finest game artist.  We weren't sure... before." ~ Ted, eXistenZ.


Rotten Tomatoes - Critics.

Rotten Tomatoes - Audience (Liked it).

Metacritic - Critics.

Metacritic - Users.

 WINNER:  eXistenz

Round 13


"Shoot.  Also long as you don't ask me to fill in your questionaires." ~ Yevgeny Nourish, eXistenZ.

Even if you haven't seen both films, do the survey.


  • The Thirteenth Floor - 6 (4 wins, 2 tie).
  • eXistenZ - 7 (5 wins, 2 tie.)

The Thirteenth Floor is a film probably ten years newer than it should be - it would have been the an major and import 1989 release - but as a 1999 film it is fairly pedestrian, especially given the other films released around the same time.
eXistenZ is a David Cronenberg film making it the body horror classic that implies: not for all audiences, but certainly with more staying power than The Thirteenth Floor.

Upcoming Showdowns

27th February

1984:  Killer Robot Showdown - Runaway vs The Terminator

~ DUG.
(Includes Virtual Reality Showdown Match 2)

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