Rupert Pupkin Speaks: "Bad" Movies We Love Guest Post: Will Pfeifer ""

Saturday, July 14, 2012

"Bad" Movies We Love Guest Post: Will Pfeifer

Will Pfeifer has written a DVD column for the Rockford Register Star since 1994 (back when it was a videotape column), he's also written for several comic book series, including Catwoman, Aquaman and H.E.R.O, and can be found at or on twitter at @willpfeifer.


The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962) This one gets a lot of bad movie love for its memorable central image of a woman’s head nagging our hero from a pan on a table, but I love “Brain” for a short sequence that comes in the middle of the movie: The scientist goes looking for a body for his decapitated wife, haunting lowlife bars and camera clubs, evaluating floozies based on both their shapeliness and suitable neck size. It plays like either the sleaziest noir never filmed or the prologue to a black-and-white snuff film. Either way, it’s much more effective than it has any right to be.

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) Well, of course. But the thing is, despite its questionable quality, I don’t think of “Plan 9” as a “bad” movie. To me, it’s a piece of cinematic folk art – crude, even laughable, but definitely the creation of someone who had a vision he wanted to get onscreen no matter what methods – old footage of his dead friend, cardboard graves, stock footage – he had to resort to. I’m not arguing Ed Wood was talented, but his movies are more interesting to me than most movies made by talented folks. It’s the personal stamp that makes it special.

Private School (1983) The movie that defines the phrase “1980s teen sex comedy” to me. It has all the elements of the genre, thrown together with little grace but lots of enthusiasm. Fat guy falling out of the window? Check! Lewdly named masculine female authority figure? Miss Dutchbok – check! Car in the swimming pool? Check! Emmanuelle herself, Sylvia Kristel? Check! Phoebe Cates naked? No, but co-star Betsy Russell makes up for her reluctance to disrobe. And, as a bonus, choreography by Paula Abdul – really!

Chained Heat (1983) There are a lot of wild women-in-prison movies, but this crazed effort is my favorite, mostly because it’s the only one I actually saw in the theater – twice. Plus, the hot tub in warden John Vernon’s office is one of the greatest, sleaziest, most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen.

Vanilla Sky (2001) I honestly don’t know what I think of this movie. When I saw it in the theater, I thought it was laughably self-indulgent. I still feel that way, but every time I watch it – and I find myself watching it once a year or so – I have a great time. In between all the inane dialogue, histrionic performances and yuppie flattery, there are some great sequences – the empty Times Square, for one – and a story that somehow works despite all its faults. So help me, I think it’s somehow snuck onto the list of my favorite movies. How the heck did that happen?

Confessions of a Psycho Cat (1968) The weirdest variation on the old “Most Dangerous Game” story you’re likely to see. A crazy woman offers three guys – one of the Raging Bull himself Jake LaMotta -- $100,000 if they can stay alive, then hunts them down on the streets of Manhattan. The fact that long sequences of a nudity-packed pot party were added years after the fact only adds to the oddball fun.

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