Rupert Pupkin Speaks: 10 More "Bad"/Good Movies from The Lightning Bug ""

Friday, August 24, 2012

10 More "Bad"/Good Movies from The Lightning Bug

Ten More “Bad” Films I Love 

Hey there, once again The Bugg is back with another list of “Bad” movies that I love. After my last list, I kept kicking myself for leaving things off my list that I really should have included. Also this time I kept myself to a strict rule, nothing could be rated over 5.0 on IMDB. This left Killer Drag Queens on Dope, Circle of Iron, Motorama, and The Final Sanction from making the cut, but I assure you those films are both worse than their IMDB rating belies and, and at once, worthy of praise. Also for the ease of bad to worse, I have listed the films in descending order.  So, enough of the preamble. It's time to get down and dirty with some good bad flicks. 

10. Vulgar- IMDB Rating 5.0 

Kevin Smith cohort (and breakout star of the reality show Comic Book Men) Bryan Johnson directed, wrote, and edited Vulgar, his one and only directorial effort. Bryan O'Halloran stars as Will Carlson, a failure as a children's birthday clown, he decides to take up being a gag clown stripper. Only on his first job he is gang raped by a family of hillbillies (including future My Name Is Earl brother Ethan Suplee). Trying to piece his life back together, he gets an opportunity to perform on a children's show where he becomes a big star, but when blackmail comes knocking on his door, it's time for some revenge bigger than his comically large shoes. 

9. Skidoo- IMDB Rating 4.8

Probably best known for it's mention in The Devil's Rejects where a Marx Brothers expert excitedly intones that "Groucho Plays God”, this oddball film from Otto Priminger stars Jackie Gleason as Tough Tony Banks, a retired mob hit man, who is dispatched by "God", a mafia boss, to off George ”Blue Chips" Packard played by Mickey Rooney. The entire film is awash with cameos, and everyone from John Phillip Law and Carol Channing to Richard Keil and Harry Nilsson pop by. The plot is a mess, but Otto was trying to say something big about society. It's too bad that it's almost impossible to figure what that it be. Come for the cast, stay for the crazy plot, and relax in the expert filmmaking of a Hollywood master having a little fun. 

8. Doctor Detroit- IMDB Rating 4.6

Here’s one that I love because of my history with Doctor Detroit as much as the film itself. Obviously, I was a tad too young to see the R Rated film when it was released in 1983, but within a couple of years, when I was about 9 or 10, it started airing on TBS fairly frequently. Looking back on it, I can't quite figure how they cut the film because, until I saw it as an adult, I had no idea it was about a pimp (with a metal hand) saving a group of prostitutes with use of medieval literature. I'm fairly sure I thought that Dan Ackroyd, who I only knew from Ghostbusters, was playing a superhero of sorts. I loved it as a kid, and when I watched it as an adult, I still loved it though for completely different reasons. 

7. Shark- IMDB Rating 4.2

Sam Fuller rarely made a misstep. As one of my favorite directors (just under Hitchcock in my book), Sam made a career out of making interesting, hard hitting, and challenging films. Well, Shark, also known as Caine, is interesting, but I think the only hard hitting is what Fuller wanted to do this skinflint producers. Shark was Fuller's first feature film following The Naked Kiss, a film about prostitution and child molestation, which earned him a persona non grata status around Hollywood producers for several years. Burt Reynolds, in pre-Deliverance form, stars as Caine, a gun runner who loses his cargo and takes up the risk of salvaging a sunken ship due to a beauty's request. There's no telling what the film might have been like if Fuller had gotten a budget and the producers had not edited the film themselves. (Fuller asked to be taken off the credits, but the producers refused.) As much of a mess as it is, Reynolds is charismatic, Fuller's sense of realism shines through, and, depending on who you ask, there might be a shark attack on a stuntman left in the film. Shark is a strange film with a strange history that still provides an intriguing adventure tale. 

6. Heartbeeps- IMDB Rating 4.2

Here’s another one where my childhood informs my choice. Released in 1981, a couple of years later, Heartbeeps hit the dollar movies in a summer series for kids. I must have made my Mom are me to it no less than five times, and for years after, I thought I was the only one who remembered the film about robots falling in love. It became a touchstone where I would ask people my age if they remembered it, and until I was given. VHS as a present when I was around 20, I thought it may have been an invention of my little mind. However, it was real, and imagine my surprise when I found out it starred experimental funny man Andy Kaufman, the ravishing Bernadette Peters, Randy Quaid, Christopher Guest, Dick Miller, and even Jerry Garcia as the voice of the baby robot. This was Andy's bid for big screen fame, and while his robot comes off a bit like an 8 bit Latka, I find the romance story heartwarming. Alan Arkush's Heartbeeps was a bomb at the box office, but I was a seven year old that thought it was an Oscar winner. And I still kind of do. 

5. Cannibal Girls IMDB Rating 4.2 

What do you get when you combine Ivan Reitman, Eugene Levy, and Andrea Martin for a horror spoof about buxom gals with a craving for human flesh? You get 1973's Cannibal Girls, the first offering from the SCTV alums and the future director of the king of horror comedies Ghostbusters. From the campy William Castle-esque warning bell to the tongue in cheek urban legend feel and Levy's impressively large head of hair, Cannibal Girls entertains on every front while showing signs of both a first time director and the promise of things to come. Comic actors Levy and Martin actually won the acting prizes at Spain's International Horror Festival when the film was released, and while Martin would appear in Black Christmas, Eugene has pretty well stuck to comedy. Or should I say Levy-ty? After finally getting an official release a couple of years back, Cannibal Girls is a great flick to check out to see the roots of what would become the boys in Ecto-1.

4. Hearts of Fire IMDB Rating 4.2

Bob Dylan and Rupert Everett co-star as rival rockers (one washed up and one riding high) who vie for the affections of teen pop sensation (and one named wannabe) Fiona in Hearts of Fire. Yep, you read that correctly. After being documented by Pennabaker, making his own meandering film with Renaldo and Clara, and appearing in a memorable cameo as Alias Alias in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Dylan signed on to this piece of 80s cheese because.... Well, because he's Bob Dylan, and like a honey badger, Dylan don't care. Intoning lines like, "Sh*t, I love you." and throwing the world's worst movie punch, it's impossible to tell if Bob is taking it all too seriously or with a grain of salt. Everett makes for a good foil for Bob, and Fiona, who never became a real pop star, entertains simply because she has to act like she’s into old Bobby and foppish Rupert, a tall order. Filled with great Dylan tunes (many of which would make it to his album Down in the Groove), this unlikely romantic tale is one of the more bizarre entries into the 80s rock movie lexicon, and it's a must see for fans of cheese, Dylan, or rock films in general.  

3. Who's That Girl?  IMDB Rating 4.1

Speaking of one named pop sensations, I love Madonna. I always have and I always will. In fact the first two albums I ever bought with my own money were Like a Virgin and Weird Al's Dare To be Stupid. If you know me, that explains a lot. While Desperately Seeing Susan was a better film (and Shanghai Surprise a worse one), Who's that Girl? was a bit of nonsense that captured my imagination as a lad.  Mags stars as an ex-con who enlists a tax lawyer to prove her innocence and hilarity ensues. Who's that Girl? tries to capture the same kind of screwball zaniness that marked classic films like What's Up, Doc? and His Girl Friday, and to a degree it succeeds. To another degree, I just love it because anytime I get to see Madonna before she turned herself into beef jerky is a blessing in and of itself. I also have to add that the title song is a favorite as well as soundtrack cuts Causing a Commotion and the 60s Motown influenced Can't Stop. 

2. Top Cop IMDB Rating 3.8

What if you wanted to make a Bruce Willis style action film crossed with The Boz's Stone Cold, your location was Little Rock, Arkansas, and you had about an eighth of the money that a Hollywood picture might get? Well, then you probably are one time feature director Mark L. Manass and your film is Top Cop. I have to admit that I have a sweet tooth for low budget action, but more than that, I have a constant yen for mullets, bad guys in velour track suits, and people getting shot because.... Well, no one has been shot in at least five minutes. Stuntman turned actor Stephen Sides brings his Loggins beard and Billy Ray mullet to the proceedings, and he's actually pretty fun to watch. He has a certain charisma as he looks to take down the aforementioned Velour sporting drug runner. Filled to the brim with action blockbuster tropes achieved on a five and dime budget, Top Cop brings California style action deep into the heart of the South. In other words, it's a heck of a lot of fun. 

1. Ocean Drive Weekend IMDB Rating 3.2 

As a South Carolinian (or Sandlapper to be technical) I'm kind of thrilled that Ocean Drive Weekend has the lower rating and hence becomes the top of my list because it's one of my favorite films of all time. Made either as an indie feature of a student film (I have never been able to find out which), this film follows a group of students in the army sixties (the film was made in the early 80s) as they descend on Myrtle Beach, SC for a weekend of parties, tom foolery, and romance. Like a low budget American Graffiti, Ocean Drive Weekend looks to capture some of that innocence of the early 60s when Vietnam was just kicking off and The Beatles had yet to hit American soil. Full of silly gags, Carolina beach music, and a plethora of quotable lines which have become time honored classics in my family, OD Weekend is a must watch every summer especially if we’re headed to the beach. Plus, get this, it’s directed by Cooter from Dukes of Hazard’s brother and then distributed by none other than the folks at Troma (with box art that looks like a cross between Revenge of the Nerds and Hardbodies). Also, I should add that some people think Shag is a great movie about the Carolina beach in the 60s, those people are wrong. Shag is a silly little romantic comedy while OD Weekend looks at the future to come, real issues of the day, and it proves that if you drink a fifth of tequila it won’t kill you every time. Wooo wooo! (That last bit only makes sense to the handful of folks who have actually seen this gem.)

So there you have it. Ten more great bouts with badness. I want to thank Rupert for having me back again, and I’ve really enjoyed seeing every one of these lists and filling my “to watch” queue with dozens and dozens of titles. It’s trite to say “so bad, it’s good”, but in a way, isn’t that what so many fans of cult and genre film are looking for? I’m still looking for more, and you can read all about my search at The Lightning Bug's Lair and like me on Facebook and stuff too!


Cary Watson said...

Good list. I thought I'd seen a wide variety of obscure, bad films but Dr. Detroit's the only one I've caught. It's film that confirmed that Ackroyd can't carry a film on his own. You might this list I did on my blog: it's the Ten Good Things In Ten Crap Films list. Link here.

Andrew Nette said...

Nice list. Shark sounds interesting. Is it hard to find?