The Jumper thread got me thinking. Most of us can agree when certain movies are bad. But some of us have weird little jumped synapses or maybe a skewed predilection that makes us actually like certain movies even though – or perhaps because – they’re bad. I’m not talking about movies where you could make a case they’re not actually as bad as some folks think. I don’t mean the Armageddons or the Charlies’ Angels or the Constantines or the Shoot 'Em Ups. I mean out-and-out bad movies that you nevertheless love. And no fair bringing up MST3k fodder, as that’s a whole other ball of wax.
For instance, partly because I saw it when I was a kid, I really like The Car. It’s a rip-off of Jaws, plot point for plot point, but with a driverless demonic car instead of a shark. So 70s, so wooden, so bad. But so awesomely bad it’s good. And I love the actual car.
But I have to say the worst bad movie I love is Chupacabra Terror. From the Navy Seals to John Rhys Davies to Giancarlo Esposito’s Captain Ahab of indeterminate accent to the bit parts (gotta love the sleezy con artist’s hearty community theatre overperformance!) to the production design, which is based almost entirely on hanging a single orange life preserver on the wall to suggest a cruise ship. And you simply cannot beat the climactic scene in which the chupacabra is kickboxed by the lovely Chelan Simmons (who was suntanned to death in Final Destination 3!).
I am the proud owner of both movies, and I heartily recommend them to you all. That’s right, you heard me: I recommend them! And, yeah, they’re bad.
From the mid-90s to just a few years ago, I used to see a new movie every week with one or two friends. Not only was this habit expensive, but it also led us to seeing movies we would otherwise never consider. Here are a couple of gems from that time:
Gone Fishin’: For some reason, the men-children characters of Joe Pesci and Danny Glover just struck a chord with us. We knew it was bad, but were nevertheless entertained by the endless exchanges of “Hey Joe!” and “Hey Gus!”, and can still recite lines from the Willie Nelson cameo. Ah, and Maury Chaykin’s great appearance as a maitre d’, creeping out the audience with a throwaway remark (in reference to Danny and Joe): “If you see them, you tell them that I love them very much and I want to see them again and that they are very nice, very attractive boys.” The three of us wound up seeing it twice at the movies. I think there were only two other people in the theatre that second time.
Solo: Mario Van Peebles rumbles in the jungle. A cyborg soldier goes rogue to save hapless, generic South American villagers, and learns a little something about being human. So many cheesy moments: Solo somersaulting out of exploding huts, Solo’s bald head slowly rising out of the water, Solo trying to laugh for the first time. And great lines, too, like a cybernetically-enhanced Bill Sadler sneering, “Welcome to the jungle, said the spider to the fly!”
I would see either of these movies again, if I chanced upon them on TV or in the bargain bin. I couldn’t say the same about some stinkier contemporaries, like John Leguizamo’s “The Pest”, which was enjoyably bad, but only as a one-shot and only in hindsight.
The starring roles of Rudy Ray Moore, namely Dolemite, The Human Tornado, Petey Wheatstraw, and the gloriously named Avenging Disco Godfather. They’re crude, violent, offensive, unpolished, hilarious movies that scrape the bottom of the blaxploitation barrel, and I love them so.
I’m also pretty fond of Never Too Young to Die, the only movie to feature the acting talents of John Stamos and Gene Simmons (who harbored a secret desire to play Dr. Frank N. Furter, if this role is any guide) facing off. And then there’s Cool As Ice, the triumphant cinematic debut of Mr. Vanilla Ice. The dialogue exchange of “I’m gonna go…schling a schlong.” “…What?” gets me every time. Also, “Drop that zero, and get with the hero.”
I also found a movie in the bargain bin at Wal-Mart that I had to get for its sheer balls in ripping off both LOTR and Harry Potter at the same time: Max Magician and the Legend of the Rings. Dear god. This movie features the only Dark Lord in history to ever use air quotes to emphasize a word, as well as a sassy talking mouse that transforms into a sassy black kid at the end.
The only one I can think of off the top of my head would be The Craft. Rejected yet hot teenagers take up witchcraft, at first merely making their lives better, then turning it to revenge on their oppressors…and then finally turning it on the goody-two-shoes main character, who objects to this latter misuse of their magic. I’ve watched this movie at least six times, and it was one of the first things I bought on DVD. I don’t know that it’s quite as bad as all that, but I can’t imagine that it’s actually good, except in terms of having a lot of hot young actresses in it.
I’ve said it before, but I really have a fondness for the Stephen King written and directed Maximum Overdrive.
It’s hamfisted direction, unsubtle nods to other movies, wooden acting and the kickass soundtrack - I can keep watching it.
Also Up The Creek - one of many Animal House rip offs, that I have a fondness for… allthough it’s been ages, so perhaps I wouldn’t like it now, should I encounter it.
Does They Live count? I mean, it’s a wonderful story, but the execution is lacking and the casting questionable at best. And don’t forget the 5 minute fight over wearing sunglasses, which was so perfectly copied for South Park.
How about Six String Samurai? Maybe it’s a great movie that is just low budget. The story is fantastic, with a Buddy Holly look alike travelling across a post-apocalyptic US to enter a rock and roll show hosted by Wolfman Jack while being chased by Death and with music featuring the Red Elvises. I love it, but I only caught it long after release, and can never find it again, so I’ll need to buy a copy.
The best of the bunch though, and another one rarely seen, Empire of the Ants. Stars Joan Collins and tells the tale of a shoddy time share resort being set upon by giant ants. A few people escape to the neighboring town to report the horror only to find… The special effects were godawful, especially when you consider Star Wars was released at about the same time, between the giant styrofoam ants and the real ants designed to look giant, but it was a film I could not stop watching once it had its pincers stuck in me. http://www.omenaheights.com/empire_of_the_ants_page.htm
Cabin Boy - Chris Elliot’s one and only starring role. Produced by Tim Burton, if you can believe it. I wholeheartedly recommend this movie even though the entire world hates it for two reasons: David Letterman has a cameo, and the muffin scene. Oh, the muffin scene. Jesus.
I loved the cameo. “Your one of those fancy lads, eh?” And the movie was pretty darned surreal at points, such as the Rikki Lake masthead periodically coming to life for no reason. That being said, “a Chris Elliot vehicle” isn’t exactly the stamp of quality.
It pains me that “The Car” does not appear to exist in Netflix’s inventory. I dimly remembering that getting television play semi-frequently when I was far too young to know any better, and would like to have my memories run over by Satan.
Several Godzilla movies.
Scanners is the best movie ever made about people making each others’ heads explode by glaring at them. (You know the animated gif.) The acting is mostly so wooden that it reverses global deforestation each time it’s viewed with the exception of Michael Ironside, who I believe actually literally sweats ham from his pores, and that’s the only way it should be.
How can someone mention Hackers for the Angelina Jolie presence but not Cyborg 2? It was one of Jolie’s first leading roles, at the young, fresh, hot age of 18, and also starred such luminaries as Billy Drago and Jack Palance.