Racka Racka is one of our 2016 Famechanger honorees. For more, click here.
From Down Under comes a disquieting blend of homemade slasher pics, gruesome film-and-video-game parodies, and a homicidal Ronald McDonald doppelgänger. Meet the Racka Racka, the wildly popular YouTube channel operated by 23-year-old identical twins Danny and Michael Philippou. “Wannabe Film-makers on a rampage!” reads their channel description.
They have racked up 2.7 million YouTube subs and more than 330 million views of their intense action videos featuring copious blood-spattering, head-shattering effects. “We try to have a moment in our videos where people say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe that!’” says Danny. He describes himself as “the pussy behind the camera,” whereas his brother, Michael, a certified stuntman, is a featured player in many of their productions.
The Philippous, who have been making movies since they were nine, saw their three-minute “Harry Potter vs Star Wars” video go viral in 2014. The clip, a death match between boy wizard and jedi, vaulted them into YouTube stardom and has been viewed more than 21 million times. They’re affiliated with multiplatform network operator BroadbandTV, owned by RTL Group.
And now, the Racka Racka have a film deal: They are in development with Triptych Pictures and Screen Australia on a feature called “Concrete Kings,” based on their childhood spent performing backyard stunts. It’s a “coming-of-age film,” says Danny, which builds up to one big action sequence.
“The Racka Racka’s unique style of comedy fused with entertaining stunts has generated millions of views and a loyal fan base,” says Ali Adab, VP of content and partnerships at BroadbandTV. “They are an exciting duo that’s breaking boundaries and redefining a genre.” Their manager, L.A.-based Naomi Lennon, says the guys bring “sophistication and a sense of fun incorporating professional-level practical stunts, action, and comedy to a tired market of CGI-reliant competitors.”
Sure, if you consider the sight of Ronald McDonald slaughtering a group of kids in a fast-food restaurant using a chainsaw, hatchet, knife, and his bare hands a fresh new form of storytelling. “I think it’s the energy of it—people can relate to the energy,” says Danny Philippou. McDonald’s is aware of the sadistic parody of its mascot, he says, adding, “In a weird way, we’re promoting them.”
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Their guerilla style carries risks: Michael once needed 26 stitches after a fall during a wrestling scene with an old man.
As for the name, “Racka” is the nickname of Pooraka, the suburb of Adelaide, South Australia, where they grew up and still live. They called the channel “The Racka Racka” because they’re twins. In creating their videos, Danny and Michael draw on a range of pop-culture influences, including the Jackass boys and the bloodlust and cheesy sound effects of “Xena: Warrior Princess.”
“I want to be in filmmaking 100% until I’m dead,” says Danny, “which will probably be pretty soon.”