Rupert Pupkin Speaks: "Bad" Movies We Love Guest Post: Emily Intravia ""

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Bad" Movies We Love Guest Post: Emily Intravia

Horror aficianado Emily who runs the excellent Deadly Doll's House Horror Blog put together this lovely list of cinematic badness for your reading enjoyment.


15. Hyenas (2011)
I’m a tad uncomfortable putting this film on my list, since part of me can’t believe otherwise proven director Eric Weston (Evilspeak) wasn’t intentionally making a mess. But then I think back to the horrendously rendered CGI hyenas, the limp romance between a vacant blond and always laughable Costas Mandylor, the racial gang war subplot torn from a community theater production of West Side Story, and the supporting performance by Meshach Taylor as a character named Crazy Briggs (and often referred to just as “Crazy,” as in, “What do you think we should do about the killer hyena people, Crazy?”) and I realize more people really do need to see this recent straight-to-DVD thing. With dialogue that feels translated by a first level ESL student (sample: The bathroom is there. The toothbrush is new. The paste is mint) Hyenas is a special kind of bad.

14. The Good Son (1993)
In order to get then-10-year-old Macauly Culkin to film The Good Son’s climax—wherein the, in case it wasn’t clear, TEN YEAR OLD KID was dangled over a 30 ft. cliff— Culkin’s parents bribed the premature millionaire with the gift of a BB gun if he nailed his shot. Please note, in The Good Son, Macauly Culkin plays a 4th grade sociopath who uses every single one of his scenes to blatantly show off his homicidal tendencies, be they causing mass pile-ups on major highways, shooting cats with homemade dart guns, teasing cousin Elijah Wood about his dead mother, dangling said cousin from a 60 ft. high treehouse (foreshadowing!), or trying to drown his little sister in an ice rink. Bridging the gap between The Bad Seed and Orphan, 1993‘s The Good Son is bad not in terms of filmmaking or performance quality, but more in terms of morality, especially considering it was a mainstream fairly big budget theatrical release. You could almost make the analogy that Culkin playing this part would have been similar to teen heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio following up Titanic with American Psycho. Except a) DiCaprio didn’t and b) he wasn’t TEN YEARS OLD.

13. Frogs (1972)
In the dense subgenre of nature strikes back, there is a fairly substantial collection of dreadful films, and not all of them are associated with Bert I. Gordon. Starring a pre- facial hair sporting Sam Elliot, Frogs is perhaps the absolute worst (in a good way). Unlikable character after unlikable character drop like flies via pipe cleaner tarantula attacks, poisoned air released by lizards, toad stompings, and tortoise…somethings. Yes, a character is killed by a tortoise and that’s not even my favorite part. That honor goes to the three African American characters (a maid, butler, and supermodel) who break off from the group with a passionate political statement about being black, only to be presumed eaten by seagulls because it was clearly easier to say they were presumed eaten by seagulls than to film such an expense. Ahhh, the ‘70s.

12. Unborn Sins (2007)
An incompetently made horror film that somehow manages to elevate itself amongst countless others by being so inexplicably bad it simply HAS to be good. The film opens with what seems like a framing device as a middle aged male babysitter has to keep his 8-year-old charges occupied with, um, the totally age inappropriate story about a woman who has an abortion and then watches all the people involved in said procedure die at the nun chuck -wielding hands of “the spirit of [her] child turned into a midget freak with homicidal tendencies.” Its premise might lead you to suspect Unborn Sins as pro-life propaganda, but its utter incompetence makes such politics tough to believe. Best part of all: the whole ‘framing device?’ Never mentioned again, leading us to wonder what those second-graders ever made of their uncle’s terrible horror movie.

11. Troop Beverly Hills (1989)
Look, I’m not saying it’s a comedy classic, but if you were a female Girl Scout member in the 1980s, this movie was essentially an autobiography of afterschool life. Shelley Long taps into her underrated comic genius to play a frilly socialite charged with leading her daughter’s friends through cookie sales, badge earning, wilderness jamborees (nobody quite knows that is) and nature hikes. Notable for featuring several before- they-were-famous stars (Lifetime vet Kelley Martin, her Death of a Cheerleader costar Tori Spelling, and the always welcome Carla Gugino, among others) as well as the incredibly catchy original song “Cookie Time.”

10. Devil Times Five (1974)
It’s not just the fact that Devil Times Five (or its far better alternative title, Peopletoys) is about evil children; it’s that it’s about THESE evil children, five little escaped lunatics with wonderfully twisted character quirks that include pyromania, acting like militant soldiers, cross-dressing, and pretending to be a nun. Their victims come from a grand ol’ batch of 1970s charm, among them Boss Hogg himself Sorrell Brooke and, whaddya know? Troop Beverly Hills comedienne Shelley Morrison. Plus, someone gets eaten by piranhas. Just ‘cause.

9. Class of 1999 (1990)
Perhaps one of the greatest casts for a ‘90s straight-to-video genre film, Class of 1999 boasts the following:
-Stacy Keach in white contacts
-Malcolm McDowell as a school principal
-It’s Alive’s blue-eyed John P. Ryan as a robot teacher who spanks his students
-And Pam Foxy Brown Grier as a sexy murderous chemistry teaching robot.
A pseudo-sequel to his own Class of 1984, Mark Lester’s Class of 1999 is less about youth gone wild than, well, killer robots and gang warfare. Not quite as socially relevant, but a heck of a lot more fun.

8. The Guy From Harlem (1977)
A Mill Creek 50 pack treasure that boasts the very special distinction of not having a single actor with more than two film credits on IMDB. The Guy From Harlem is a low budget attempt at blacksploitation that can’t decide if it actually wants to be a movie or not. Actors stumble over each other’s lines without mercy. Scenes of dialogue are replayed at different cuts to either pad the running time or make some sort of artistic statement. And a would-be rape scene begins with the violator reluctantly announcing to his victim, “Let’s get this over with.” The lack of any talent whatsoever behind or in front of the camera makes this little-known mess something weirdly special.

7. Fear No Evil (1981)
The Antichrist turns 18 in this bizarre Omen/zombie/Degrassi High mash-up from 1981. Though the pacing is bogged down by molasses plotting, Frank LaLoggia’s film is just weird enough to be memorable. Highlights include an Easter crucifixion play turned real in front of a congregation’s eyes, death by dodgeball, and (SPOILER ALERT) a homoerotically fixated teen bully being cursed with a pair of large breasts and then stabbing himself in shame. See what I meant when I said it was weird?

6. Step Up 3D (2010)
Ignore the unmemorable Channing Tatum original, enjoy its strangely and subtly white- power themed sequel, but savor this third go-around like the fine bit of bubblegum that it is. Whenever I’m asked what film used 3D technology to best effect, I hold a very straight face in saying Step Up 3D, an unabashedly earnest save-the-artist’s- colony dance flick that wears its heart on its hot yellow sleeve. Save for the use of cell phones, one would never guess this movie was made in the 21st century. Everything about it, from its valentine to New York City, actors obviously cast for their dance talents who can’t deliver dialogue, and basic boiled-down plot reeks of the ‘80s, and that’s a beautiful thing. Best of all, the dancing on display is genuinely incredible. Robot moves! Fred Astaire tributes! And when in doubt, breakin breakin breakin!

5. The Refrigerator (1991)
Because of the nature of my professional life at an appliance company, this film holds a special place in my heart, but I still would like more of the general public to get a taste of this oddly sweet horror-comedy, still unreleased on DVD. A happy young couple moves to New York City to start their lives (she an actress, he a hungry businessman) only to see their relationship crumble at the doors of the titular appliance that also happens to be a portal to hell. Also on hand is a genial flamenco dancing super, colorful late ‘80s neon, and a finale that involves killer garbage cans. What’s not to love?

4. Cathy’s Curse (1977)
Frequent ‘80s era VHS renters will probably recall this no-budget horror flick, a fairly incompetent lil gem that combines two of my cinematic passions: evil dolls and naughty kids. In Cathy’s Curse, we get the whirlwind possession of a young blond by her dead aunt’s beloved ragdoll, a fairly simple story enriched by her mother’s mental instability (sample dialogue: You and I BOTH know that I’ve had a nervous breakdown) and an alcoholic caretaker who doubles as the world’s babysitter. Bonus points for a séance scene that has young possessed Cathy insult the psychic as such: “Medium? I’d say extra rare piece of SHIT.” Aw, kids. They say the darnest things.

3. Grind (2003)
Perhaps the one film on my list that I can give no intellectual justification for liking. For those who don’t know (I assume that’s everyone), Grind was a 2003 teen-aimed road trip about four skateboarding high school graduates (well, three plus an embarrassingly undisguised imitation of Matthew McConoughy’s Dazed & Confused townie) who travel far and wide to enter a skating competition. Along the way, they stay in fleabag motels run by Bobcat Goldthwait, fart a lot in Bam Mangera’s RV, do choreographed dancing, and rest at Randy Quaid’s clown sanctuary. I’m not kidding. One character’s quirk is that he hates clowns, and then we discover—SPOILER ALERT—that this stems from the sad family trauma of his parents and sister leaving him to join the circus. It’s inane and yes, quite stupid, but for some reason, there was no better way to pass the weekends in college than watching this movie and eating pizza. Go figure.

2. Gangland (2001)
I proudly assigned this to The Gentlemen’s Guide to Midnite Cinema a few years back after discovering it streaming on Netflix. The cover leads you to believe you’ll be watching a hard-hitting cop drama starring Ice-T and Coolio. Well, they ARE in the movie until they die in the first scene, leading us into a post-apocalypse where mankind’s only real salvation lies in the beefy arms of bad movie regular Costas Mandylor and that guy who lived in a trailer on TGIF’s Step By Step. Also on hand is a shirtless ponytailed villain clad in skin-tight leather pants, head bad guy with spiked shoulder pads Lucifer, his homemade shirtless wolf-man supersoldier project, and at least four great uses of “Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo!” Stream it on Instant Watch. Now.

1. The Nutcracker: The Untold Story (2009)
The “Untold” subtitle for this 2009 bomb is quite vital to understanding why, despite over 100 years of ballet and film adaptations, you’ve never before seen most of what’s inside Andrey Konchalovskiy (Tango & Cash)’s bizarrely overpriced and ill-thought-out epic. Among those missing ingredients: Nazis, decapitation, Andy Warhol haircuts, a singing Albert Einstein, and a great white shark. A 30+ year labor of love for Konchalovskiy, this inexplicably $90 million “family” film seems to violate logic at every single step of its running time, from dressing young star Elle Fanning in ‘80s era Madonna lingerie to having Nathan Lane’s Uncle Albert (Einstein) sing a song about the theory of relativity to the beat of The Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies. At least John Turturro seems to be having fun as the villainous (and S.S.-like) Rat King who proves the depth of his evil by keeping aforementioned great white shark as a pet…and electrocuting it just to show his prisoners what a badass he is. The film continues its march of irresponsibility by having one of my favorite exchanges between a child and her imaginary friend:
“I can’t fly!”
“How do you know if you’ve never tried?”
The only explanation for more children not breaking their limbs after, you know, TRYING the things taught in The Nutcracker is that their parents were smart enough to keep them away from it, far, far far away. That being said, it’s Konchalovskiy’s intense devotion to his vision—bizarre and ugly though it may be—that makes this the kind of film I’ll revisit every Yuletide season henceforth. Because no matter how many Christmas presents we get, we should never forget that the real meaning of the holiday is a metaphor for the Holocaust. Or something.


KC said...

I love that scene in "Frogs" when the frog is *supposed* to hop in the middle of a cake but has clearly been thrown there. Always makes me laugh. I think I may finally have to watch that refrigerator flick.

deadlydolls said...

You mean the "frog" (toad!)

KC said...

Ha--I didn't know that. Sort of like like how Troll 2 had many goblins, no trolls.

Unknown said...

I have frogs, and i only have it because of Sam the man !