Rupert Pupkin Speaks: "Bad" Movies We Love Guest Post: Jay Hawkinson ""

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"Bad" Movies We Love Guest Post: Jay Hawkinson

Mr. Jay Hawkinson is a longtime friend of the blog and an aficionado of all types of cinema("bad" films certainly being one group he enjoys). He  can be found at:
@sleestakk on Twitter


I watch a lot of bad movies. It’s true. In fact, I watch more bad movies than good movies. A lot more. Then again what most consider as “bad” really isn’t bad at all. For me the only bad movie is a dull movie. And with that let’s dive into my list of “bad” movies that I love: monsters, mayhem and messages from space…

King Kong (1976)

“He was the terror, the mystery of their lives, and the magic.”

One of the earliest memories of going to the theater with my dad. He took me because I was obsessed with the ape. Prior to its release I poured over static images I saw in magazines anticipating this movie. Don’t recall ever seeing a trailer but I didn’t need to. That gorgeous John Berkey poster art was mesmerizing enough. Still have vivid memories from that experience but that is not why I love this “bad” movie, which currently maintains a pitiful 46% at

I love King Kong ’76 for its ambition, scope and sheer sense of wonder. Exotic yet grounded in a world we know. It’s the mysticism that surrounds the slow reveal where only trees are seen shaking in-between glimpses of those eyes and thunderous footsteps. Finally that pure moment of terror erupts only in screams enveloped by thick silence. Goosebumps! As much as I love and respect Willis O'Brien’s stopmo monster from 1933 I love Dino’s version more. The movie is such a product of its time but none of that mattered. What mattered was the belief that this enormous creature could exist. Never mind the cynicism, these characters feel real compassion for the beast, something the original Kong never touches. It’s palpable and gut wrenching.

Without Warning (1980)

"No chance. No help. No escape.”

My favorite alien invasion movie. Period. Few movies could frighten me at the time like this one could. Emanating from a small color television thanks to HBO I was able to experience this fear on repeat. Never once did it occur to me that this was a “bad” movie. Where it succeeds (beyond David Caruso’s short shorts) is the continual tension from a shadowy figure, flying discs with tentacles, and characters threatened by them. I was terrified and in love at the same time. Add a cranky Jack Palance and paranoid Martin Landeau to stir things up. Beautiful. Was fortunate to see director Greydon Clark introduce a screening of Without Warning thanks to Mike White and Mondo Justin. Owe a ton of gratitude to them for making that happen. Greydon is great guy and a one-of-a-kind.

Trick or Treat (1986)

“It's like you say, rock's chosen warriors will rule the apocalypse.”

A made-in-the-80s, heavy metal movie highlighted by satanic subliminal messages used to raise a demon rocker? Um, yeah. This is an easy one. As much sympathy as I felt for Eddie Weinbauer (Marc Price!), the loser metalhead kicked around by the jocks, I idolized Sammi Curr. The dark arts-obsessed musician brought back from the dead by playing his last recording backwards. I wanted my own Sammi Curr. Tells ya what kind of kid I was. With Judas Priest on trial and the attack of the PMRC, this movie was like a big “fuck you” to all of it. So richly absurd yet laced with the themes we read about every month in Kerrang! and Hit Parader. Plus the reluctant hero teams up with the cute, popular girl, which was like every nerd’s wish fulfilled. Maybe Trick or Treat is a little too close to me but another reason why I love it, Ozzy, acne and all. “Let the big fish hook themselves. You’re the bait. The bait is you.”

Message from Space (1978)

“There’s something wonderful about a storm.”

Shortly after directing the masterful The Yakuza Papers and decades before his sugar-dipped social commentary Battle Royale, Kinji Fukasaku wrote and directed a grand science fiction adventure flick coincidentally released on the heels of Star Wars. A movie called Message from Space. Don’t ask me to explain it. Seriously. Just thinking about the magic seeds and its convoluted plot gives me headache (read it for yourself and try and make sense of it). But when I watch this, I don’t think. I just watch. Oh, the pretty colors. The glorious costumes. The stilted dialogue. Vic Morrow. Sonny Chiba. A very young Hiroyuki Sanada. I’m hypnotized by the laser beams, horned helmets, and majestic capes.

Moonraker (1979)

“James Bond. You appear with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season.”

My birthday movie in the summer of 1979. Often cited as one of the worst Bond films I cannot disagree more. At least when we’re discussing pure fun, Moonraker has it all. It features a goddamn space station housing a master race with a villain set on destroying the world and starting over, fer crissakes. Hugo Drax, people! I’m fairly certain the Reagan administration launched the SDI a.k.a. Star Wars because of this film. Most recent Bond flicks are tame by comparison. Throw in a Richard Kiel, Roger Moore’s cheekiness, and screwing in outer space. This is a champ, folks.

Wild, Wild Planet (1965)

“No, no. It’s awful. It’s inhuman.”

Speaking of James Bond in Space, Antonio Margheriti’s Wild, Wild Planet deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence. The central plot of Moonraker is cribbed from Margheriti’s half-baked spaghetti space adventure (the first in a series of related films). A science team travels into space to rescue abducted humans and defeat an evil scientist obsessed with eugenics determined to create a master race. Or something like that. Sound familiar? First time I watched this I viewed it twice in a row because A) I wasn’t sure what the hell was going on, and B) I was intoxicated by its set design, wardrobe, and gaudiness. Don’t misunderstand; this is no Planet of the Vampires. Not even close. But it delivers the same degree of satisfaction. Give into it and you may fall in love like I have.

The Final Option (1982) a.k.a. Who Dares Wins

“It's a filthy and difficult job. We don't like doing it, but it's our duty.”

When tough guy Captain Skellen in the Special Air Service stages an unceremonious exit to join a terrorist group this sets the wheels in motion. The drama is dry but this only underscores the badassery of the SAS when they do drop in to kill everyone. I’m infatuated with their surgical precision in the final 15 minutes. This actioner slips in some humor between the frames with a couple of foreign outsiders, a U.S. Ranger and GSG9, getting schooled by the SAS but serving to push the story along. Lewis Collins is believable as Skellen. His time spent training with the SAS shows. The Final Option might not be a good film but it has more than enough to make it entertaining.

The Last Dinosaur (1977)

“Marvelous. It’s an absolutely fantastic sensation. Like a rollercoaster ride.”

Yeah, another gem from my youth. Big game hunter, Masten Thrust Jr., commands an expedition to a prehistoric world to bag the biggest game of them all, a Tyrannosaurus rex. The last T-Rex. Did I mention that he uses a giant laser drill to get to this newfound land? A fucking laser drill! Richard Boone as misogynist Masten does his best Rooster Cogburn chewing up every scene with Joan Van Ark by his side. To his credit, Boone is what makes this movie work. One can’t help but watch as his Masten slowly disintegrates overtaken by his obsession to capture and kill the beast. Obviously the real dinosaur is Masten, a total dickbag from the good old boy’s club. Layer on the slippery sci-fi adventure and The Last Dinosaur becomes a film worthy of attention.

 Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)

“Something bad is gonna happen. I can feel it.”

When I flipped the dial onto this flick sometime in the late 90s it was already past the title credits. I knew whatever it was, any film with a girl in a prom dress walking down a dark road had to be horror. Didn’t take long to figure out what I watching. Well, alright, alright. Hello, Matthew McConaughey channeling Frank Booth. So unhinged, so raw and so over the top, I was enthralled by this character. Despite Zellweger’s tough girl it’s McConaughey that glues this trainwreck together and makes it not only watchable but also severely underrated. How a film this damn entertaining only a sports a measly 2.9 rating at IMDB is a crime. As Vilmer Slaughter would say, “Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrn!!!!!!!!!”

King Kong Escapes (1967)

“You underrate what a genius I am. I can control the ape.”

Start with an ape, end with an ape. Ishirō Honda will be forever known as the man that brought Godzilla to the world. He also directed one of my favorite films, Mothra vs. Godzilla, in addition to a stable of daikaiju films popularized throughout the sixties. One of his lesser entries critics have also labeled as one of his worst, Kingu Kongu no gyakushû a.k.a. King Kong Escapes. As a child I probably watched this daikaiju flick more than any of the Godzilla movies that aired weekly on Creature Feature. An evil scientist kidnaps Kong to mine the mysterious Element X because the Mecha-Kong he invented can’t do the job. Mecha-Kong?! Of course, Kong can’t be controlled which sets up the big brawl between man in an ape suit vs. man in a Mecha-Kong suit that had me on the edge of my seat. I saw this film projected on the big screen during a recent G-Fest and fell in love all over again. King Kong, often imitated but never duplicated. Sorry, Mecha-Kong.


guitarbrother said...

Not only a great list, but well written too! I've always intended on viewing Message From Space and now I got to move it up the pile. Awesome.

sleestakk said...

Thanks! Message from Space is still available via Instant Watch. Definitely check it out... it's something.

J Hurtado said...

I watched it during a bout with insomnia and it was pretty crazy. Not as awesome as The Green Slime, but in the ballpark.

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Justin Bozung said...

thanks for the name check!a

Austin Wolf-Sothern said...

I love TCM: The Next Generation! I never understood all the hate it gets. McConaughey is truly amazing in it.