Rupert Pupkin Speaks: "Bad" Movies We Love Guest Post: Witney Seibold ""

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"Bad" Movies We Love Guest Post: Witney Seibold

Witney Seibold is the quieter half of "The B-Movies Podcast"( over on CraveOnline. At that site, he also heads up the Free Film School, wherein he teaches the uninitiated about movies, filmmakers, and subgenres. He also writes for The Series Project, wherein he reviews entire film franchises. He is a gentle fellow who quietly fosters weird and unpopular opinions. He has contributed to various websites, and appeared on several podcasts. He was born in the United States.

Bad Movies I Love
Article by: Witney Seibold

Oh, but there are so many to choose from! I have been asked to give a brief rundown on bad movies I love. This will be easy because I have dubious taste. Seriously, my taste in movies is, I openly admit, a little skewed. While all of my friends were busy watching contraband copies of action classics like “Aliens,” “Beverly Hills Cop,” and “Lethal Weapon,” I was over in my own corner watching Mel Brooks movies over and over again. When it came time for me to focus on movies, and select universal classics, I was already disappearing down the rabbit hole revealed to me by “Eraserhead.” By the time I was in college, I had seen “Pink Flamingos,” “Begotten,” and “Tetsuo: The Iron Man,” but I hadn’t seen “Die Hard,” “Better Off Dead,” “Predator,” or “Pretty Woman.” To my credit, I have, now in my mid-30s, caught up (with the exception of “Pretty Woman”), but the fact remains that an adolescence wallowing in absurd comedies, cartoon shows, oddball horror movies, and the cult section of my local video store, has left my taste in a questionable place.

As such, my own DVD and VHS collection contains some weird-ass movies that none of my friends like. I’m a professional film critic these days, so I like to think I’m discerning, but I admit to a strong affection for many bad movies. Indeed, when asked to contribute to this project, I was asked to come up with only five films. I had to stop myself at 11, for fear of choking the site with the beloved schlock.

Here, then, in no order whatsoever, are some bad movies that I enjoy every time. My guilty pleasure. The pleasures I don’t openly share too often.

“Super Mario Bros.” (1994)

I’m surprised how much flack this film got when it was released back in 1994. So many of my peers saw it, and they all whinged endlessly about different the film was from the game. The film was about a parallel dimension wherein the dinosaurs actually evolved into human-looking beings, and whose lack of natural resources led to a plot to invade Earth. Dennis Hopper, sporting an awesome ruffled hairdo, played the villain. The title characters were played by Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo. I saw the film, and had a wonderful time. It was overdesigned in just the way I like, bizarre, and fun. I loved those rocket-powered boots that the Mario Bros. wore, and I liked the devo guns. My peers complained that it differed from the source material. What source material. The source video game didn’t have a story or characters, really. And while the film has a reputation for low quality and commercialism run amok, I still have a powerful affection for it. I will easily watch this film on a warm Sunday evening, content with the cosmos.

“The Silence of the Hams” (1994)

And while we’re in 1994…

I mentioned above that I was a Mel Brooks addict. Well, few people know about Brooks’ own hand-selected protégé, Italian comedian Ezio Greggio, who was supposed to take over for Brooks in the mid-1990s. Few people know because of the poor reputation (have you even heard of this movie) of “The Silence of the Hams,” a broad slapstick spoof of “Lambs,” but also of “Psycho.” Billy Zane plays Joe Dee Fostar, and Dom Deluise plays Dr. Animal Cannibal Pizza. The director shows up in the Norman Bates role. Every single joke is a hugely obvious and dumb slap in the face… and for me it all works. It’s rare that you see movies anymore that crack the whip on the joke writers, and are so full of funny punsterism. Is it for everyone? Hell no. I think it’s just for me, in fact. I dunno. If you can track it down, let me know if you giggle at this thing as much as I do.

“The Ninth Gate” (1999)

Roman Polanski is such an interesting director, it’s fun to watch any of his movies, even if they don’t always necessarily succeed. When I saw “The Ninth Gate,” I thought it to be a more grown-up version of “Ghostbusters.” Everyone I’ve talked to says it’s a festering piece of crap with a non-committal ending, and stupid conceit. I will concede those arguments, but I will still, at the risk of my already dubious reputation, defend “The Ninth Gate” as a fun little thriller. Johnny Depp plays a rare book dealer who is hired by Frank Langella to find a Satanic tome that is said to summon Satan, and give you superpowers. The ins-and-outs of the rare book business are discussed, and I love it when a movie talks shop. It’s wicked and funny, and has a plinky comic score. Is it scary? Not for a second. I think if you see the flick as a comedy, you might enjoy it more. ‘Cause it is a comedy.

“The Apple” (1980)

One of the holy of holies, Menahem Golan’s “The Apple” is the kind of trash movie musical that completes you’re being in ways you didn’t know it was incomplete. Get this: It takes place in the diustant future of 1994, when the world will be run by an evil music corporation called Boogalow International Music. BIM plays empty, nihilistic new-wave dance music. BIM is threatened by the innocence of a pair of folk singers from Canada (Catherine Mary Stewart from “Night of the Comet” and George Gilmour in his only film role), who are eventually seduced into the evil BIM by a literal apple. It’s the Adam and Eve story, you see. But a disco musical version of it. Vladek Sheybal plays Satan, and Joss Ackland plays God. Loaded with music and face-melting production design, your brain will pop out and go looking for sanity. Glittery chunky mayhem, this. I don’t want to ruin the ending, but suffice to say a golden Cadillac appears in the sky. When contacted to do a commentary track for the DVD, the director claims to have forgotten about the film altogether. Me? I’ll never forget.

“Dreamcatcher” (2003)

More than a failed sci-fi film, “Dreamcatcher” is one of those fascinatingly bad films that could only be the result of many talented people. Stephen King wrote the source, William Goldman wrote the screenplay, and Lawrence Kasdan directed. This film is an epic, 135-minute mess of disparate storylines. There are childhood buddies, psychic powers, a magical retard (Donnie Wahlberg), space aliens, possession, a bizarre chase through a man’s mind (which is visually represented by a metaphysical library), creatures who borrow out of your body through your anus, a government cover-up, and Morgan Freeman sporting a pair of eyebrows that could tear Peter Gallagher to shreds. It’s like all of Stephen King’s obsessions exploded at once. I hear he wrote the source book while doped up on painkillers. That would explain a lot. This film is so disparate and bonkers, I have trouble not enjoying it.

“Uninvited” (1988)

No one’s heard of this one either. This is a cheapie PG-13-rated horror flick from the 1980s about a killer housecat let loose on a yacht. Well, it’s not exactly a killer housecat. The cat has the weirdo ability to cough up what is essentially a living hairball monster, one that looks like a monster cat, that can, itself, go on rampages and kill people. There’s nothing profound about this setup, other than IT’S EFFING WEIRD! And I love it. Throw in some bikini babes, George Gilmour, and Clu Gulager, and you’ve got yourself a classic waiting to be rediscovered, my friend. I saw it as a midnight show at a local L.A. movie theater, and the whole theater was meowing in unison. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard hundred sof people meowing in unison.

The “L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies” movies (1985 – 1998)

I recently watched all 12 of these films, and while there are standouts in the series, I loved them all in their own way. A filmmaker named Andy Sidaris once thought to make an action franchise with some of the best special effects available in the business, namely: bare breasts. He cast Playboy Playmates and Penthouse Pets as spies who took down bad guys played by the liked of Pat Morita and Erik Estrada. And while the films are all pretty dumbly written, and the oft-nude leading ladies can’t necessarily act, there is more earnest desire to entertain in these films than you get from any mainstream Hollywood blockbuster. “The Avengers” can go sit in a corner. Give me “Hard Ticket to Hawaii” any day of the week. Read my articles on all 12 movies sometime. You will be a convert.

All of the latter-day Universal Monster movies

We all love “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” and “The Mummy” and “The Wolf Man.” Those are not guilty pleasures. Those are legitimate horror classics that can still move and frighten people today. What few people remember, though, is that Universal made literally dozens of sequels to those staple characters. And each one was more terrible than the last. The budgets got smaller and smaller, and by the time these franchise characters came limping into the 1950s, they were dried up and laughable. And you know what? I love every minute of those stupid old movies. Old horror and sci-movies possess a low-fi charm that can’t be found in any other era. In their cynical need to cash in on famous monster names, in their scripts that were clearly only written in an afternoon in one draft, in their bad acting and dumb fantasy ideas, there is more charm, more earnestness, more cinematic purity. Time has been kind to movies like “The Mummy’s Curse,” or “House of Frankenstein.” They all play like childhood dreams you half remember. I love horror movies. Old horror movies, doubly so.

“Stunt Rock” (1980)

If you don’t know the name Brian Trenchard-Smith, you should learn. Brian Trenchard-Smith is the Australian mastermind behind classics like “The Quest,” “BMX Bandits,” a few of the “Leprechaun” sequels, and dozens more. He is a B-movie director par excellance, and each of his films is worthy of a look, even if it’s a piece of crap like “Atomic Dog.” Actually, don’t see “Atomic Dog.” That one’s just kinda dumb. But you should definitely track down a copy of “Stunt Rock” if you can. “Stunt Rock” is, as the title implies, a film about a stunt man who hooks up with a rock band. And, uh, that’s it. No real story. They just put on some awesome shows with rock, magic tricks, and dangerous stunts done by a real stuntman, Grant Page. The stunts are all AWESOME. The rock, from a band that was selected over KISS, is provided by Sorcery. Yeah, I think you can still get a Sorcery record somewhere. By getting rid of any story, we are allowed to sit back and just enjoy the theme-park-like spectacle. “Stunt Rock,” man. Grab a beer, punch it in one slug, and throw on the flick. You’ll be cheering within 10 minutes.

“Showgirls” (1995)
And “Road House” (1989)

Two sides of the same coin. One male, one female. Both over-the-top, and living in a heaven state, far above in the schlock clouds. The two best bad movies ever made. I need say nothing. You either haven’t seen them or you already have the divine knowledge.


KC said...

I'm with you on The Ninth Gate. It's a really entertaining, stupid movie. I didn't go into it knowing that, so I hated it for a while, but I loved it by the time it was over.

Anonymous said...

This post is right up my alley. I know both Ezio and Menachem - directors of SILENCE OF THE HAMS and THE APPLE respectively. Heck, I'm even IN the HAMS flick!

Folks in the USA have to understand that Ezio is a pretty famous comedian in Italy. Unfortunately, it's mostly pretty broad TV sitcom stuff, so it literally doesn't translate. The key to good SO BAD IT'S GOOD (SBITG) movies is that the filmmakers have to take the material seriously and not wink at the audience. Menachem doesn't have an ironic bone in his body. I'm sure he made THE APPLE with utmost sincerity. Occasionally, Menachem's method will come up with a LEPKE or a ATTACK AT DAWN, but, when it doesn't work we get THE APPLE!

jack said...

I only know Stunt Rock by reputation - and the trailer, which I've watched/shown to friends upwards of fifty times. The song in the trailer always reminded me of Ween.

Super Mario Bros. is too fun. I love that, while many familiar game elements are there, the filmmakers just decided to make their own thing.