Rupert Pupkin Speaks: "Bad" Movies We Love Series ""

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"Bad" Movies We Love Series

The idea of "bad" movies is a little tricky so let me just put this disclaimer out there. One can certainly objectively criticize craftsmanship and whatnot, but if you are entertained by or generally find enjoyment from a film, isn't it kind of "good" in a certain sense?  My goal is not to necessarily target these films as the drecks of cinema, but rather to point out that though they may be lacking in one way or another, they provide some(perhaps indescribable) amount of cinematic joy for a group of us. Perhaps "flawed" films that we love(or are drawn to) would be an even better way to describe them.
Anyway, I just thought this might be a fun series for summertime so I'm asking a bunch of my film friends to put together their own lists for your reading pleasure. I'll kick off the series with mine, but be on the lookout for more in the coming weeks!

ALIEN PRIVATE EYE(1987; Vik Rubenfeld) 
I'll let this video summary speak for itself:

Imagine being stranded on an island with a bunch of annoying people and a horde of low-rent zuni dolls stalking you constantly. That's pretty much this movie.

CONDORMAN(1981; Charles Jarrott) 
This film was a staple of my youth along with other live action Disney classics such as NEVER A DULL MOMENT, HOT LEAD AND COLD FEET and many others. I can totally see it for the terrible film it is now, but it still entertains me. All the gadgets and slapstick? Perfect for a kid. By the way, I have the above quad poster framed in my office...

  CRUEL JAWS(1995; Bruno Mattei)
I have called this film the 'TROLL 2 of JAWS Knockoffs' and I stand by that. Stunning piece of work. Also has an actor who looks alarmingly like Hulk Hogan.

  DEADLY EYES(1982; Robert Clouse)
A killer rat movie from the director of ENTER THE DRAGON, BLACK BELT JONES and THE PACK? You know you wanna see this. Sure, it features dachshunds  dressed up in rat costumes, but that is actually a surprisingly effective technique! Also has the inimitable Scatman Crothers in a small role and his presence alone raises ANY film he is in by half a letter grade. This is a sincere favorite of mine in the 'animals attack' genre.

 GHOST OF DRAGSTRIP HOLLOW(1959; William J. Hole Jr.)
More of a late 50s teen delinquent-y hangout movie than Haunted House flick, but this one hooked me for some reason. Maybe it reminded me of the vibe of the kids in THAT DARN CAT or The Patty Duke Show or something, but it's fun. Maybe there's some Scooby-Doo influence in there that I am subconsciously drawn to(used to be addicted to that show as a kid). For me, it is more enjoyable than any of the BEACH PARTY films.

  THE GIANT CLAW(1957; Fred F. Sears)
Turkey monster. Nuff said. 
Joe Dante does a much better job describing the film's appeal(or lack thereof) than I ever could over at Trailers From Hell:

HELLO DOWN THERE(1969; Jack Arnold/Ricou Browning)
From the team that brought you CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON(Browning was also responsible for the TV Show 'Flipper') comes this horrifying tale of.....underwater living. In this wacky story, Tony Randall & Janet Leigh volunteer their family to be the guinea pigs for testing out a new 'modern' underwater house. I used to have a fascination with underwater living as a kid and I credit it mostly to a few books I had(probably 60s era) that proclaimed and illustrated it as the lifestyle of the future.  Anyway, this movie is silly and cheesy and features a youthful Richard Dreyfuss singing to dolphins. Kind of like a live action JABBERJAW, but with much much less action.

  LIPSTICK(1976; Lamont Johnson)
I actually can't really explain the appeal of this one for me. It's kind of unpleasant. Maybe it's the era, and the actors involved(Margaux AND Mariel Hemmingway & Chris Sarandon). 

LOOKER(1981; Michael Crichton)
Best. Guns. Ever. And a great theme song to boot.

  LOVELINES(1984; Rod Amateau)
Zany teen sex farce centering around a (now completely archaic) phone answering service run by POLICE ACADEMY's Michael Winslow. I said a whole lot about this one in this old episode of the Gentlemen's Guide to Midnite Cinema podcast:

Ok, one more Disney live-action favorite. This one features Tommy Kirk and one of my favorite mind reading scenes this side of the "A Penny For Your Thoughts" Twilight Zone episode(my favorite TWZ of all time). It also stars the lovely Annette Funicello and one of her remarkably catchy(to me anyway) theme songs. Have I ever mentioned my obsession with Annette Funicello songs? Well I love them. I really really do. This film has a follow-up feature(THE MONKEY'S UNCLE) which I don't care for too much outside of the infectious opening title track sung by Annette and The Beach Boys. I've included it below so you needn't bother watching the whole film.

 Here is the MERLIN JONES theme as well: 

NEIGHBORS(1981; John G. Avildsen)
This is one of those movies I really need to read more about. Such a strange curiosity. And yet, I find it totally mesmerizing. I once heard Steven Spielberg say that he dared challenged anyone to turn off a Kubrick film once you've started watching. I know we all have those cinematic comfort zones that once entered into we just can't stop watching. Well NEIGHBORS is one of those films for me. It was very unpopular with audiences at the time, most of whom were expecting a BLUES BROTHERS-like rehash from the combo of Aykroyd and Belushi. What they got instead was a surreal comedy unlike few films I can think of. One of my heroes, Danny Peary said of the movie(in his Guide for the Film Fanatic): "I think this surreal comedy is imaginatively done, and perfectly conveys the lunacy of the two comics...I'm glad they went against type because both actors are at their absolute best."
I agree with this statement.

NINJA III : THE DOMINATION(1984; Sam Firstenberg)
This is truly the epitome of a "What-The-F*ck" movie. A defining example.

 ROLLER BOOGIE (1979; Mark L. Lester)
A movie that just makes me smile. I have an ongoing crush on Linda Blair in her post-EXORCIST films and this piece of ridiculous Roller-Disco fluff is perhaps my favorite. The now cliched 'save the rec center' plotline made famous by the BREAKIN' films is glimpsed early here. No opportunity for a roller skating dance sequence is spared, in fact the whole film is obviously built around them. Warning: If you aren't on board after the opening celebratory roller-conga line(joined at one point by a couple making out on top of a dumpster), you should probably turn the movie off.
*Watch ROLLER BOOGIE On Netflix!

 SCAVENGER HUNT(1979; Michael Schultz) 
Back when I used to make mix tapes(yes audio cassettes!) for girlfriends, I would often include little soundbites from movies. The Richard Benjamin/Meat Loaf scene shown below was one of such clips. I think it's hilarious, but most people won't I would imagine. One word I would use to describe SCAVENGER HUNT is "dopey". The film is certainly dopey. It's very live-action cartoon-y. It is clearly trying to be a sort of paraphrased remake of IT'S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD obviously. I absolutely prefer SH to that film(which I am not a fan of). The cast here helps it a lot for me. I think I am often drawn to the 70s all-star cast type movies, whether they be disaster films or dramas or whatever. I just dig 70s ensembles I guess.
*The movie isn't yet on dvd(I hope it is soon though) but you can watch the whole thing on youtube.

This trailer is how I was first introduced to the film. It was at an Alamo Drafthouse sponsored event at the New Beverly Cinema that was hosted by Zack Carlson and Lars Nilsen. I gotta say, it kinda blew my mind...

XANADU(1980; Robert Greenwald)
I don't know if I used to hate this film or just find it completely eye-rolling or what, but it has really become a sort of cinematic comfort food for me. I think I found my way into it via the music of ELO(which I'm a huge fan of). I recall buying the soundtrack for like a $1 at a used record shop(Record Surplus) when I first moved out to L.A. It may be a case of ironic love of a film becoming genuine love. I really can't wait for a Blu-ray!


SteveQ said...

Oh, you KNOW I want on this Bandwagon! I'll have to think about just how you're defining "bad" (perhaps a few lists from others will clear things). I loved "Hello Down There," which I saw with "Goodbye Charlie" and "Boeing Boeing" - truly a brain rotting funfest.

Rupert Pupkin said...

Steve- very much looking forward to your list!!

Robert M. Lindsey said...

I did a review of Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow. I really love those old hot rod/JD movies.

I saw Roller Boogie in the theater. Haven't seen it since it was on HBO the next year, but recently added it to my instant queue hoping to catch it again.

knitflick said...

My Dad and I used to laugh ourselves silly over Oscar, the comedy starring Sylvester Stallone. Our guilty pleasure and we don't care it's considered one of the worst movies for the year it was released. Entire cast is hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more with your opening statement. I've been asked a few times why I give "bad" films decent (or sometimes even high) ratings on my blog. The answer is, they're enjoyable! A movie doesn't have to be a masterpiece to deserve endless re-watching and love from the viewer.
Also, I'm very glad to see Xanadu on this list!

Rupert Pupkin said...

Robert-Hope ROLLER BOOGIE still holds up for you!

Knitflick-never seen OSCAR myself, but now I have to.

Tmp-thanks yeah, I find that the "masterpieces" are often less watchable to me than films like these.

Anonymous said...

Great post. A lot of awesome-looking things I'd never heard of added to my 'to watch' list. Ninja III is easily one of the greatest worst films I've ever scene. The opening fight scene is But, Lipstick? Really? It's been a while since I watched it, but I kind of remember liking in thinking it was actually a good film.