Rupert Pupkin Speaks: "Bad" Movies We Love Guest Post: Matt Lynch ""

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Bad" Movies We Love Guest Post: Matt Lynch

Matt Lynch works at the glorious Scarecrow Video, one of the greatest places known to mankind. He is a man who eats, sleeps, lives and breathes movies. He watches quite a few of them each year.You should follow his film watching exploits on twitter(also on his tumblr). You should also listen to this interview I did with him:
http://ggtmc.libsyn.com/bonus-36-interview-with-matt-lynch

Also, Matt hosts the always enjoyable Scarecrow Video Podcast which is a favorite of mine. Listen to all of their episodes via itunes here:
http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/scarecrow-video-podcast/id442877975
(Notice that episode #31 is called Bad Movies We Love and is centered on this series and has 50 plus bad movies discussed within!)



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Working at Scarecrow Video (maybe you've heard of us, we're the biggest video store on Earth), one of the most common requests I get from customers is for a "So Bad It's Good" movie, and they always look surprised when I tell them I don't really like films like that. What they're really asking for is "Unintentionally Hilarious", which bugs me because I don't like to go into a film looking to make fun of it. I try to explain that even terrible movies are capable of something interesting or unexpected, whether it's an unusual performance or some striking photography or a few strange plot twists. Usually the best bad movies have a lot of ambition that ends up being limited either by money or lack of actual talent, and so I tried for this list to come up with a few titles that are not just entertaining and silly but have one or two unique elements. So here you go.

INVASION U.S.A. (1985)
Recently departed Richard Lynch is Rostov, a Russian terrorist who leads an invasion of America. Haunted by visions of Chuck Norris, the man who once nearly killed him, Rostov decides to get a little revenge on the side. The titular invasion is pretty ridiculous, literally commandos in jeeps driving through the suburbs blowing up random houses as opposed to striking at military targets. Norris displays almost superhuman, sometimes even magical powers, frequently appearing out of nowhere at locations miles apart, just in time to stop the bad guys. This movie is like 75% totally unconnected, gratuitous action, Golan-Globus style.


THE GREEN SLIME (1968)
The quintessential sci-fi cheesefest. Directed by the legendary Kinji Fukasaku (BATTLE ROYALE), this 1968 US/Japan co-production about a space station overrun by giant green tentacled aliens also features one of the greatest movie theme songs every recorded. The "special" effects make even the hokiest Kaiju efforts look like AVATAR, and the sets wobble with every footstep. Still actually manages to ratchet up the tension as the odds mount against a besieged crew of terrible actors headed by Richard Jaeckel.
Buy THE GREEN SLIME from Warner Archive! 

SCREAM FOR HELP (1984)  and DIRTY WEEKEND (1993)
Michael Winner is one of the greatest purveyors of sleaze cinema ever. Some of his stuff (like the first DEATH WISH or APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH) even has the whiff of legitimacy to it. He's probably best known for the amusing but overrated DEATH WISH 3, surely on another one of these lists somewhere. But these two films are his twin masterpieces. SCREAM FOR HELP is essentially the slimiest Nancy Drew movie ever made (and easily my favorite bad film of all time), following as it does a teenage virgin as she investigates her murderous stepfather while at the same time navigating the psychological trauma of young womanhood. DIRTY WEEKEND is basically DEATH WISH with a woman; Winner's attempt at a feminist revenge film is not only offensively stupid but graphic even by his high standards. Look out for the scene (possibly only on the uncut European version) wherein our heroine pukes up a wad of David McCallum's goo.

KING KONG LIVES (1986)
This sequel to the 1976 KING KONG is known as one of the greatest amusingly bad films ever, but really it's just an American Kaiju film. Kong, last seen dying at the base of the World Trade Towers, has actually been on life support ever since. When his heart begins to fail, cardiac surgeon Linda Hamilton uses a crane and a crack team of doctors to fit him with a mechanical heart in a ridiculous scene you absolutely must witness. Totally absurd but full of great man-in-suit effects. No dumber than any given mid-period Godzilla film.

I COME IN PEACE (1990)
Had to include this one despite it being extremely well known. Intergalactic Drug Dealer vs. Dolph Lundgren. Maybe the quintessential film you watched over and over on cable as a kid.

SODA CRACKER (1989) aka THE KILL REFLEX
Fred Williamson directs and stars in this scrappy, lo-fi cop thriller. When his partner is killed, seemingly at random, by a sniper, Chicago cop Soda Cracker (it's just a nickname according to the awful theme song) teams up with fellow officer Maud Adams and goes after drug dealer Bo Svenson. Lots of great Chicago location photography and a relaxed, almost comedic performance from Williamson set this apart from the typical junk of this sort. Not particularly exciting but has a weird sense of humor.

MAUSOLEUM (1983)
Probably the closest thing on this list to an actual So Bad It's Good. MAUSOLEUM stars ex-Playboy Bunny Bobbie Bresee as Susan Nomed, heir to the curse of the Nomed women who, of course, are doomed to demonic possession. First this turns her into an insatiable slut, much to the chagrin of her idiot husband (Marjoe Gortner), but eventually she becomes a hideous monster with man-eating breasts (really!). This one also has one of the most baffling final moments of any film I've ever encountered, essentially the film saying "Well, we don't know what the hell any of that was about either." Awful 80s fashions a bonus.

FANGS OF THE COBRA (1977)
This one is tough to find, available as far as I know only on a region 3 DVD from Celestial. It's a Shaw Brothers jam about a young woman who works on a farm owned by a wealthy landowner. Lonely, her only friend is her pet cobra. One day the landowner's nephew visits; they fall in love and are shortly married. Only it turns out that he has other relatives who are intent on stealing the family land from him. Repeated attempts at murdering the newlyweds are foiled by this apparently superintelligent cobra. Also features an (common-to-HK-films) actual fight between the cobra and a mongoose.

SUDDEN DEATH (1995)
An unheralded Van Damme vehicle. I'm fond of referring to this as a thoroughly second rate film. Everything about it is basically not quite as good as a bigger budget film of its type. Van Damme is an ex-fireman instead of an ex-cop. He works security at the local arena in Pittsburgh instead of NY or LA. It takes place during the Stanley Cup finals as opposed to the Superbowl or World Series. The target of terrorists is the Vice President as opposed to POTUS. I could go on. Powers Boothe is outstanding as the charismatic not-quite-Alan Rickmanesque villain. This one was directed by the great workmanlike hack Peter Hyams and, fun fact, features the exact same improvised weapon (a chemical bomb) used to defeat the bad guys that Hyams would employ in his very next film THE RELIC. SUDDEN DEATH is also that movie where Van Damme fights a guy in a Pittsburgh Penguin mascot costu

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