Rupert Pupkin Speaks: "Bad" Movies We Love Guest Post: Brian Kelley ""

Monday, July 9, 2012

"Bad" Movies We Love Guest Post: Brian Kelley

 Brian Kelley is a Brian Trenchard-Smith aficionado and an all-around movie obsessive(like myself). He is also a currently contributing writer for Austin Culture Map (, Horror's Not Dead ( & Daily Grindhouse (
Follow his activities and movie watchings on twitter @BTSJunkie.


TAMMY AND THE T-REX (Stewart Raffill, 1994)
My first inclination when asked to participate in this "Bad" Movies series was to do an entire piece on the works of Stewart Raffill. From the incredible dance skills of fast food addicted teens (MAC & ME) to the continued misadventures of Hollywood Montrose and the white dude in love with a fiberglass white chick (MANNEQUIN: ON THE MOVE) to the music video-making misadventures of young girls that look vaguely pregnant due to improperly cut dresses (STANDING OVATION), Raffill’s entire career seems focused solely on dropping jaws and entertaining me. Forcing myself to pick just one, though, I easily turn to the movie where Paul Walker is mauled by a lion as part of standard suburban bullying and has his brain transferred to an animatronic dinosaur and continues his loving relationship with Denise Richards. There’s nothing not incredibly awesome about TAMMY AND THE T-REX.

MEGIDDO: THE OMEGA CODE 2 (Brian Trenchard-Smith, 2001)
My favorite director is given his biggest budget with which he one-ups the Christian-camp classic THE OMEGA CODE. In this prequel, future antichrist Michael York’s beginnings are traced, from his rise to power to power struggles with his goodie two shoes brother Michael Biehn. R. Lee Ermey is president, Udo Kier pops up as The Guardian and everything ends with a special effects laden battle at Megiddo. If only going to church was a hundredth as exciting as this movie.

THE UNBORN II (Rick Jacobson, 1994)
A woman is going around killing the children that were the product of the research of Dr. Meyerling (a character from the first movie in this series). However, one mother is determined to protect her child even though he is a bloodthirsty monster.

Yep, that’s it. Nope, it’s not a good movie. But holy shit it’s FUN. The opening scene alone elicits a huge response from anyone that stumbles into it. The rest of the movie is filled with such inane dialogue and shoddy direction that entertainment is pretty much guaranteed. The real highlights, though, are the killer baby scenes (oh and a maternity ward shootout scene that’s like a blind man trying to recreate what he remembers of HARD BOILED which he saw played backwards when he was already almost fully blind). Where the first film was more psychological (heh) with pregnancy being the scariest moments and brief evil-baby moments at the end, THE UNBORN II isn’t weighed down by the wait for birth. There is some time spent keeping the baby hidden, but when it’s finally unleashed, the puppet is a thing of insane beauty.

Anyone entering this film thinking it’s a GOOD entry in the evil baby genre is in for a rude awakening. What you will get is two stories (a woman shooting children she believes to be evil and a woman protecting her evil baby) that collide in a finale of such grandiose ineptness and callous disregard for the rules of filmmaking that, if you are not drunk (as you damn well should be) by the time it comes around, you will be before the 3rd act is over!

THE BEING (Jackie Kong, 1983)
Jackie Kong, like Stewart Raffill, is another director with a reliably bad filmography. The sad thing, though, is that hers is much smaller. While most people are familiar with BLOOD DINER (her absolutely insane, insanely loose remake of BLOOD FEAST), there’s another Jackie Kong joint that doesn’t get as much love. Starting with trailer-like narration informing the viewer that, “the ultimate terror has taken form”, THE BEING plows directly into its environmental horror tale. As a bored-looking Martin Landau explains, there’s no way the dumping of toxic chemicals DIRECTLY into the city’s water supply could possibly have any harmful effects. The lazy-eyed creature killing people would seem to prove him wrong. As a package of increasingly bad decisions at every creative level, THE BEING is a something-less-than-mind-blowing curiosity from filmdom’s favorite Asian-American woman director everyone thinks is a dude.

Trying to make sense of BLOOD RAGE will send you straight to the nuthouse from which the film’s main character is set free. You see, 10 years ago twin brothers Todd and Terry were at a drive-in where Terry decided to take an axe to a couple making out. Traumatized by witnessing his brother commit this heinous crime, Todd doesn’t notice when Terry puts the axe in his hands. So Todd spends 10 years institutionalized even though it’s made abundantly clear that the psychologist assigned to the boys’ case suspects Terry is the actual killer. Now it’s Thanksgiving and Todd is coming home and people start dying. The typical slasher outline is interrupted by a flat-out maniacal performance by Louise Lasser as the mother of the two boys. Her scenes are like something out of another dimension turning the very fabric of BLOOD RAGE inside out and making it an absolute must see. Oh, and watch out for Ted Raimi as a condom salesman!

THUNDERPANTS (Peter Hewitt, 2002)
You’re either down with fart jokes or you’re not. THUNDERPANTS opens with an unborn child farting so much in his mother’s uterus he’s ejected from her vagina and flies across the room. Thus begins the life of Patrick Smash, a boy with two stomachs which causes him to have constant gas expulsions. He is friendless until he meets Rupert Grint (the ginger from those wizard stories) who happens to have no sense of smell. Grint is also a genius who finds a clever way to help Patrick. When the boys are separated, though, an unfortunate series of events lands Patrick on death row. Featuring as many instances of the word ‘ass’ as it does farts, THUNDERPANTS single-handedly renewed my faith in children’s cinema while simultaneously filling my flatulence humor quote for at least a day.

THE AMERICAN SCREAM (Mitchell Linden, 1988)
Either this movie was made by people much smarter than their target market or the creators are from another planet and don’t quite have a grasp on what “tone” means when it comes to filmmaking. To attempt to dissect this film after a casual viewing is painful (and not to mention futile) but to ponder the possibility of watching it a second time with the intention extracting every detail for the sake of analysis is torture. Plot? Super-caffeinated mom and dad take their kids and a friend of each kid to a rural town for some R & R. What the Bezinger family and friends (maybe) don’t know is that this is a town where families normally take their children to be killed so that they can leave childless and, apparently, happy. So as mom & dad trot from activity to activity completely oblivious to what is going on in the town (or are they?!?!) the kids are defending themselves against the attacks of the country folks.

It’s hard to tell if this is meant to be a straight up horror film and fails miserably or if it is actually a spoof. It seems evidence to support either theory changes from scene to scene. And boy are there are some crazy scenes in this movie. Shovel fights, “Is that a guitar or a lollipop?”, breast-feeding groping, frozen dead dog, pecker peaking, Buck Flowers, “you don’t look Baptist”, hootenannies (or are they hoedowns?). It’s all a bizarre mix that is endlessly watchable; you truly never know where this thing is going to take you next. The acting is pretty uniformly 10 steps above overacting with the son’s friend (who becomes a preacher… of sorts… maybe?) being the true standout as epically bad.

It’s sad (but not all together surprising) that director Mitchell Linden never made anything else. There’s a small bit of talent for mood glimmering through in the scene below and for a moment it almost has a Lynchian feel to it… only for a moment, though. If only people had understood this movie the filmmakers had made it possible for people to understand this movie then maybe we would have seen more tales of rural goofball terror. If only.


SteveQ said...

Oh...My...There's a sequel to "The Unborn?!" How did I miss that?

"Thunderpants" would be a good second feature to "Perfume," though I doubt there's much overlap in audience.

btsjunkie said...

It exists! And it's better than the 1st one!

Jeremy said...

I was just out of college and working for the exec producer Sarlui when he made "Tammy". I remember being so distraught by the script going into production without making any sense. I didn't understand why all that money was being spent on something that was shitty and not ready. Now I know that's just Hollywood and egos. And I was floored by the 18 year old Denise Richards. Of course.

Unknown said...

I've never even heard of Tammy and the T-Rex, but it looks amazing. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Unknown said...

Wow, the picture of that kid in the Unborn II looks like they must have just bought a Kuato doll from the Total Recall fire-sale!

Unknown said...

That picture from the Unborn II looks like they must have purchased a Kuato doll from the Total Recall fire-sale!

Great post, I enjoyed reading it!

George White said...

Yay, Thunderpants, a film which over here in the UK/Ireland got a big release, and had tie-in promotions. I managed to catch on TV, and it is fun, the film people least expected Grint to do, set in a heavily retro world inspired by British comics such as the Beano (the US space program is still Apollo-era, all the cars are 60s, the end has Ned Beatty, Grint and Bruce Cook who plays Patrick, our hero photoshopped in place of Collins, Aldrin and Armstrong at the NYC Apollo 11 parade) In fact, some suggest that despite what Peter Hewitt the director says, it began as an adaptation of the not-very-kid-friendly comic strip Johnny Fartpants about a kid in a red and white striped top (tribute to the British Beano comic hero Dennis the Menace not the US character) who can't stop farting, asfeatured in the Beano-spoof adult comic Viz. Patrick is more sympathetic, and also Grint on the cover of the US release is not what he looks like in the film, where he has frizzed-up mad scientist hair, though he does wear a double-breasted school uniform and bowtie (the only one in school to wear a double-breasted uniform or bowtie, while Patrick doesn't wear uniform but his striped top).