Rupert Pupkin Speaks: July 2012

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Bad" Movies We Love Guest Post: Pat Healy

Pat Healy is a man who exceeds in all things he does. He is a noted film and TV actor, as well as a writer and director. Though you may remember him from his first film role in the now classic HOME ALONE 3(which is on Netflix Instant right now btw), he has also worked with the likes of P.T. Anderson, Werner Herzog, David Gordon Green, Terry Zwigoff and Michael Bay. If you've seen Ti West's most recent effort, THE INNKEEPERS, Pat is really great in that film(if you haven't seen it you should). Pat was also the star of Craig Zobel's GREAT WORLD OF SOUND, and headlines Zobel's upcoming Sundance smash COMPLIANCE (in theatres 8/17). 
He is also masterful and passionate cinephile. He and I connected over a love of movies many years ago and have become friends since. He shares an undying love of DEATH WISH 3 with myself and who can blame him as that movie is amazing. He also likes lots of great movies too, but that's not what we're discussing right now dangit!
Follow his continuing hilariousness on twitter at @Pat_Healy.




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ZAPPED! (1982 - Robert J. Rosenthal) - A staple of late-night 80's cable, this features future 'Charles In Charge' playmates Scott Baio and Willie Aames as a high school nerd and perv, respectively. The duo are growing pot with nutty professor Chachi's special formula secretly in the school's science lab. A late night accident renders Baio's 'Barney Boner' with telekinetic powers. Naturally he uses them to take girls clothes off WITH HIS MIND, wreak revenge on their respective enemies and win the girl of his dreams by basically levitating and date-raping her without the use of his hands. But the film's high point comes when the boys attempt to destroy their pot in the school's furnace. Gym teacher Scatman Crothers inhales the mighty cloud and it leads him to dream that he and Albert Einstein are being chased on bicycles by LaWanda "Aunt Esther" Page, dressed as a valkyrie while she launches salamis out of a bazooka at them. True. I've seen this movie probably 20 times and I've never seen an Ingmar Bergman film.



SUPERFUZZ(1981 - Sergio Corbucci) - Beyond explanation. Spaghetti western mainstay Terrence Hill stars as a Miami cop with an effeminate lisp who develops telekenetic powers(running theme?) while trying to deliver a traffic ticket to an Indian reservation during an atomic blast. Hilarity ensues, mostly due to the horrible dubbing and ridiculous set pieces that include Hill's partner Ernest Borgnine singing and dancing on top of a giant pink bubble gum bubble. What's not to like?



XXX(2002 - Rob Cohen) - I can't defend this. It's awful. But Rob Cohen at times is like the Russ Meyer of big Hollywood shenanigans. It's so over the top, he can't be serious. Vin Diesel(awful and lunk-headed as always) stars as Xander Cage, an EXXXXTREME sports hero recruited by a top-secret government agency to be an international spy. The film's highlight comes during what has to be the most idiotic and physics-defying action set piece ever. Cage escapes a compound on motorcycle which he's able to maneuver and make fly in whatever direction he decides. He even outruns a veritable mushroom cloud, which Cohen shows every possible angle of, cutting back-and-forth from his twenty set-ups to make it even more ludicrous. Followed by the nearly-as-enjoyable XXXX: STATE OF THE UNION. Ice Cube replaces the 'I'm above this but I'll come back to it later when I need the money' Diesel. The film is most notable for informing us that The White House has a bullet train in an escape tunnel beneath 1660 Pennsylvania ave. 




DREAMCATCHER(2003 - Lawrence Kasdan) - This has many of the 'deal-a-meal' hallmarks of Stephen King's work: Group of best friends as kids reunited as grown-ups to face a common fear, telekinesis(AGAIN!), ESP, Alien invasion. Except, wouldn't a group of guys who share the same ESP powers be able to predict THE ALIEN INVASION IN THE WOODS NEAR THE CABIN THEY'RE RENTING??? Not to fear, warmonger Morgan Freeman is on the case. Freeman's general dons spider-like giant eyebrows and an Arsenio flattop, as if to say 'We're not supposed to take this shit seriously, are we?' His right-hand man is played by Tom Sizemore, in an apparent attempt to tone down Freeman's crazy. The aliens plant their seed and bloodily launch out of their victims buttonholes, leading one to believe perhaps both Kasdan and screenwriter William Goldman(!!!!) were battling intense hemorrhoids during the creation of this epic. It simply must be seen to be believed. And I haven't even mentioned Donnie Wahlberg's 'magic retard' Dudditz who uses his psychic ability and love of Scooby Doo to defeat the alien nemesis. Wow. This movie is really something. There are ten other amazingly stupid things I can think of off the top of my head that I can't fit here. You'll be pleasantly surprised!



HARDLY WORKING(1980 - Jerry Lewis) Even we dedicated Jerryphiles can't get over how intensely inept and creepy this film is. And yet, it might be the most watchable of them all. For Lewis acolytes know better than anyone that his best work is equal parts genius and garbage. Jerry's return to the screen after a self-described exile has him taking on the late 70's/early 80's hot topic of unemployment. He plays a clown that, for reasons only known to him, people find hilarious. However, he loses his job and must become a 'working stiff.' His attempts at a gas station attendant, porthole salesman and racist caricature Japanese chef fail both as jobs and sources of humor. He finds himself at the post office where he successfully delivers rabbits that overrun the city for reasons that escape me at this late hour. This movie is painfully unfunny and hilariously painful. I could watch it over and over again. Lewis is an endless source of fascination for me. No matter how bad or how good his films are, they are always a window into his whacked-out, tormented soul. This is certainly no exception.







Monday, July 30, 2012

"Bad" Movies We Love Guest Post: Michael Nazarewycz

Michael Nazarewycz is a US-based Writer for UK-based Filmoria. He is also a contributor to LikeTotally80s and CinemaSentries, and he blogs about classic film at ScribeHard On Film. He can be reached via Twitter @ScribeHard.

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BAD MOVIES I LOVE

We've all been to restaurants where the food was bad but the waitress was great.  We've all had a job where the boss was a monster but the work was rewarding.  We've all had a lover who was grating in public but great in … well, let's just say great in the kitchen.

Call it finding a silver lining in a cloud, or making lemonade from lemons, or Ac-Cent-Tchu-At-Ing the positive; whatever it is, it is evidence that we are inclined to find some kind of good in any mostly-negative situation.  We know many things in life are bad, so we instinctively want to find anything good in a bad thing.  Why should our approach to movies be any different?  Why shouldn't we look at something that is, on the whole, less than optimal, and find in it something positive for us?

The answer is we should, and most of us do.

And what makes loving a bad movie for its bright spots better than loving a bad restaurant for its great waitress or a bad boss for their rewarding work or a bad lover for their delicious … omelets … is that without the bright spot, a bad movie cannot hurt us.  Take away the waitress, the work, and the eggs, and all you have is pain.  Take away the bright spot, and all you have is a movie.  And there's never anything wrong with having a movie, no matter how bad it is.



Bugsy Malone (Alan Parker, 1976)
The premise of this film is relatively straightforward.  It's a gangster movie.  How hard is that?  Oh, except the gangsters are children.  Really.  In fact, everyone in this movie – from the goons to the gun molls to the flappers to the cops – is a child.  No kidding.  But don't worry.  The McSpeakeasies sell no liquor, the cars are operated by pedal-power, and the weapons?  Guns that shoot custard; kind of like throwing a pie in someone face, but instead of throwing it, they shoot it.  Honest.  Could it get any better than that?  Of course it could!  It's a musical!  This is the first movie I remember watching in heavy rotation via a fledgling entertainment delivery mechanism they called "cable," on a fledgling movie-centric channel they called "HBO."  Yet for as ridiculous as it is, with its pre-Happy Days Scott Baio and its pre-superstardom Jodie Foster, I loved it from the first frame and I have loved it ever since.



Sun Valley Serenade (H. Bruce Humberstone, 1941) and Orchestra Wives (Archie Mayo, 1942)
It's easy to look back at the Golden Age of Hollywood and romanticize that all of the movies made back then were good, because so much of what is fed to us today, whether via TCM or Blu-ray releases or rep house screenings, is only the good stuff.  But don't be fooled!  For every CITIZEN KANE there were dozens of clunkers that the studios churned out in an effort to satisfy the increasing demand for product.  A pair of those makes my list because, while they might be bad movies, what's good about them is GREAT.  Sun Valley Serenade and Orchestra Wives are two films that star Glenn Miller and His Orchestra.  You read that right.  The films don't just feature the band's music, the band is actually the centerpiece of both films – and they should stick to playing music, not playing pretend.  As for the plots, they really don't matter because, like porn, the only purpose the plots serve is to advance us from good part to part.  In this case, the good parts are when the orchestra showcases its greatest hits across the two films, and every performance is glorious.  And, as an added treat, the famed Nicholas Brothers, along with Dorothy Dandridge, make delightful special appearances.



Streets of Fire (Walter Hill, 1984)
A gun for hire is … well, hired … to save his old girlfriend from the clutches of an evil no-goodnik.  This film has several things wrong with it.  Mainly, it tries to be a four-color comic book but it's not colorful enough for that, and it tries to be a film noir yet it's too colorful for that.  Also, underachiever Michael Paré is the star; Willem Dafoe is great as the villain, but he isn't in the movie enough; Rick Moranis tries to play tough; Amy Madigan is actually tougher than Rick Moranis (and so is Elizabeth Daily, for that matter); and the final confrontation between Paré and Dafoe is a snoozer.  But the film has three things that redeem it.  The score is by Ry Cooder, the soundtrack features a lot of catchy numbers, including Dan Hartman's hit "I Can Dream About You," and, most importantly, it stars Diane Lane.  Like most teen boys in the 1980s, I fell for a lot of pretty stars, but not as hard as I fell for Diane Lane.  She plays the lead singer of Ellen Aim and the Attackers.  She is also Paré's kidnapped ex who happens to be involved with Moranis (another head-scratcher).  She doesn't sing her own songs, but she doesn't have to.  All she has to do is throw that hair around (which she does), keep those lips painted red (which she does), and sell it to the microphone stand (which she does, and then some).



Light of Day (Paul Schrader, 1987)
I suddenly realize there is a music-based theme to this list.  Light of Day tells the tale of a small-town band fronted by siblings trying to make it to the big time while being judged by each other and their overbearing mother.  Oasis: The Movie?  Not quite.  For starters, the band's name is The Barbusters, which already handicaps their chances of success.  The siblings are played by Joan Jett and Michael J. Fox, and this turns out to be the problem with the film.  While Jett can rock with the best of them, she also has to act, which she really can't do.  And while Fox can act with the best of them, he also has to rock, which he really can't do.  And yet.  The music really does make the movie, especially the title track, which was written by some fella by the name of Bruce Springsteen.  Also helping the film is the casting of Michael McKean as a member of said Barbusters.  Oh, and be on the lookout for a young Trent Reznor in the band The Problems.



Barb Wire (David Hogan, 1996)
As a fan of films from Hollywood's Golden Age, I'm always curious when an attempt is made to modernize a classic.  In the hands of a skilled screenwriter/director like Nora Ephron, a movie like You've Got Mail works incredibly well as a modern interpretation of The Shop Around the Corner.  In the hands of … hmmm … "lesser" … uhhhh … "talent" like screenwriters Chuck Pfarrer and Ilene Chaiken, and director David Hogan, well, an attempt to modernize a just any old classic will come under scrutiny, but an attempt to modernize one of the greatest films ever made, Casablanca, will be impossible to pull off.  I give you Exhibit A: Barb Wire.  This film is more than just a modernization of the classic Humphrey Bogart film, it's a post-apocalyptic version, with Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson in the Bogie role (!), but running a strip club instead of a gin joint.  The comparisons only devolve from there.  And yet.  Okay.  I’ll say it.  It's Pamela Anderson.  In saucy outfits.  And in a bubble-bath.  Don’t judge me.





Road House (Rowdy Herrington, 1989)
What goes great with ass-kicking?  Awesome hair, that's what!  One cheesy Patrick Swayze movie, coming up!  In this totally pointless yet insanely quotable ("Pain don't hurt.") action-ish flick, Swayze play a Cooler, which is like the middle-management of the bouncer industry.  He is hired to middle-manage bouncers into cleaning up the clientele of a dive bar that has aspirations to be not as dive-y as it currently is.  He does this with the help of his bromance life-partner (before such a term even existed), the Michael Jordan of Coolers, played by Sam Elliott.  Heap on healthy doses of so-called philosophy, and I cannot NOT watch, even if I stumble upon it with five minutes remaining and in its most edited, basic cable rendition.



Purple Rain (Albert Magnoli, 1984)
And now it's time to bring both the music-based theme – and my list – to a close.  In the 1980s, Kenny Loggins was considered the king of the movie soundtrack, charting hit records from the films Caddyshack; Footloose; Rocky IV; Top Gun; Over the Top; and Caddyshack II.  But all of that work on all of those movies couldn't match the greatness of one soundtrack from one movie by one purple master, Prince.  And thank God for that, because when Jerome is the best actor of your cast (and really, all he does is dance around and hold mirrors for Morris Day), you know your movie – about a musician trying to make it to the big time – is in trouble.  But the music is more than irresistible; it’s undeniable, with all nine songs worthy of a greatest hits collection, let alone a single soundtrack album.  From the opening blasts of "Let's Go Crazy" to the closing anthem of the title track, His Purple Badness doesn't let his art suffer at the hands of his folly.







Sunday, July 29, 2012

"Bad" Movies We Love Guest Post: Austin Wolf-Sothern


Austin Wolf-Sothern is a projectionist and stand-up comedian who really likes movies. He likes them likes them. He is upset that 35mm film is being replaced by digital because 35mm is tactile, and digital is way harder to have sex with. He reviews movies at wolfsothern.blogspot.com, and infrequently posts jokes on Twitter at twitter.com/wolfsothern, where he also retweets and responds to celebrities who mention the city of Austin, as if they are talking about him. It’s the dumbest thing in the world.

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My personal gauge for how good or bad a movie is is directly proportional to how much I enjoy watching it. So by these standards, if I love a movie, it’s a great movie. A bad movie is one I don’t get anything out of. But I apparently love quite a few bad movies. You can’t really tell, but those are italicized quotation marks to emphasize how subjective it all is. There are plenty of movies I can acknowledge have technical flaws, are plot-structurally-challenged, have less-than-convincing acting or special effects, or are just plain incompetent behind the camera. I get why someone would call those “bad”. But oftentimes, people have broader definitions, and I’m actually shocked by their definition of “bad”. For the puposes of example, I’m going to single out comedian Doug Benson. Doug Benson is one of my favorite comedians of all time, and I’ve been a huge fan of his podcast, Doug Loves Movies, for years. I love him. But he infuriates me. His taste in film is traditional, and very much in line with the average film critic. And he will occasionally mention a film, and refer to it as bad, and frame it as if it’s an obvious statement that even fans of the said film would agree with, and it will be a film that literally would never have occurred to me as something that could be regarded that way. The best examples of this I can think of are Fright Night and Total Recall. Total Recall is a perfect film. It’s a smart, complex plot, flawlessly executed, with brilliant special effects that still hold up. Is it not popularly accepted as the greatest sci-fi thriller of all time? Seriously. I had always just assumed that it was. I’m using Doug Benson here because he is not a film critic, but he is also not a casual filmgoer. He’s more a “casual film fanatic” if that’s not too contradictory, and I think that’s an interesting starting point for what could be a general defintion of what good and bad is. And by “interesting”, I mean depressing. The reason Doug Benson doesn’t like Fright Night is because he’s not a fan of horror films. Horror is a very distinct genre, that people tend to either love or hate. No self-professed horror fan in the world would ever say Fright Night is a bad film. It’s a bonafide classic. The casual film fanatic, though, has more in common with film critics and the Academy. Which means if we’re using their opinion as our “general” gauge, no horror or action or even comedy film can ever truly be great cinema (with a handful of exceptions). Even the greatest sci-fi thriller of all time is still a “bad” movie because it’s not a fucking drama. We’re still at a point where dramatic storytelling is the only thing that gets any real respect. Which is extremely unfortunate. And it’s all Doug Benson’s fault.

On the bright side, I actually think things are changing for the better. It all depends on where you’re looking, I suppose, but in the last couple of days, I’ve been looking at a website called Rupert Pupkin Speaks. And it’s been extremely refreshing to see the sheer number of guest writers who have insightful, fresh things to say about the absurdity of “so bad, it’s good”, and embracing a more open-minded way to view cinema. I want to single some people out again, but this time for the good that they’re doing. Jesse Hawthorne Ficks in San Francisco, and Zack Carlson and Lars Nilsen in Texas, have been showcasing underappreciated films for quite some time now, and introducing them with a sincere respect that audiences weren’t necessarily prepared for. They’re doing their part to redefine “bad” and eliminate cynical, ironic attitudes toward films that may affect you in unexpected ways. There’s still a ways to go certainly, but I think their efforts are truly making a difference.

What I’m establishing here is that taste is subjective. Jesse Ficks (whose events I have the most familiarity with, being from SF) would sometimes appreciate movies so hard that I would find myself wondering, “Are any films bad?” So this is what I grappled with in coming up with this list. What set of standards am I using to categorize “bad” movies I love? For the most part, I went with the movies I feel are the most underappreciated. The ones I rarely see anyone else praising. So Showgirls may be my favorite movie of all time, but it's not on the list because lots of other people appreciate it at this point. Likewise, Troll 2 or The Room, even though I think I still view those in a different way than most of their fans. The only way I’m willing to watch The Room is alone and sober, and it still blows me away. The other restriction is that I need to have heard or read at least one person shitting on it. My second favorite movie of all time is Dream to Believe, but the only people I know of who have actually seen it are those I’ve personally shown it to, and they all loved it. So it’s hardly a “bad” movie. In essence, I’m not sure any of this preamble has anything to do with my list. My apologies to Doug Benson, who I really do love, and is not actually at fault for the world’s dismissal of genre films. And my apologies for writing way more about the negative side of the “good or bad” argument than I did about the positive side. I hate doing that. I much prefer to celebrate things. Like the following ten films.  


Aerobicide, a.k.a. Killer Workout (1987) Members of a gym are being killed off by someone with a giant safety pin, and it may have something to do with a girl who was burned up in a tanning bed incident. Normally, I don’t like it when movies are repetitive, and throwing things in excessively just to pad out the running time, but when the thing that the movie goes to every other scene is girls in spandex aerobicizing and humping the ground to 80s-tastic jams (I’d say there’s at least 40 minutes of this), I can’t help but be charmed and entertained. Then there’s blood, and nudity, and amazing acting and macho posturing, and burn victim nudity, and an attempt at mystery, and seriously incredible music. Every moment of this movie is perfection.


The Amazing Transplant (1970) An impotent man gets a penis transplant from a recently deceased friend of his, and starts to develop his friend’s sexual habits, which mainly consists of raping any women who wear gold earrings. It's a little slow at times, and the sex scenes go on way too long, but every single thing about how this movie is put together works for me. The bright cinematography (specifically the inappropriately luminous rape scenes), the stilted acting, the dialogue, the many shots of people awkwardly reacting to whatever is being said to them, the frequent shots of inanimate objects and feet, the cheesy music, the bizarre sequence of events, the explanation of the plot in the last few minutes, the sleaziness, and of course, the phenomenal final shot of the newspaper where we (don't) find out the fate of the film's killer. My favorite Doris Wishman movie. Every second of it validates my love of cinema.  


Deadly Friend (1986) A brilliant teen, with an understanding of neuro-science and robotics, has built an adorable robot named BB who rambles nonsense in an adorably demonic voice. But the robot is destroyed by a vicious neighbor (Anne Ramsey), and shortly after that, the girl he has fallen for (Kristy Swanson, also quite adorable) dies. Sad and desperate, he does the only practical thing. Brings both of them back at the same time by putting the brain of BB into the body of Swanson. Things don’t work out exactly as planned, though, as his new Friend... turns out to be... The plot may have some absurd elements, but if you can embrace it, this is one of the saddest, most touching movies you will ever see. I was genuinely distraught by the end of it. Basically, it’s a horror movie that manages to combine a plethora of cuteness with heart-breaking tragedy, centered around a robot and a pretty girl, with moments of disturbing cruelty, some gory effects, and one of the best kill scenes of all time (it involves a basketball). In other words, this movie was made for me personally! The film’s been criticized and largely dismissed because it jumps genres a bit, and sometimes seems like it was made for kids, but other times is clearly intended as adult horror, leaving people wondering what audience it’s meant for. Well, it’s me. I AM THE AUDIENCE. It really delivers on so many levels of what I desire out of a film, and it’s unbearably appealing. It is literally the opposite of what I would personally consider a bad movie, and I loathe that it’s a "bad one (in emphasized quotes), but I had to include it because it’s so widely misunderstood.


 Elves (1989) Elves is about an elaborate plot cooked up by the Nazis to breed a superhuman by having a teenage virgin who is the product of incest mate with a weird-looking, killer elf (which there is only one of). It’s kind of a bad plan on the Nazis part, and takes forever. One of the soldiers has to have a daughter, wait until she’s breeding age, rape her and get her pregnant, to produce the child of incest. Which, they’re trying to create superhumans, and last I checked, incestuous reproduction is not the secret to stronger, more evolutionarily developed stock. Right? So then the Nazi has to wait for the incest baby to be born, wait for her to become a teenager, and then just hope that she and her friends accidentally summon the elf during a witchy anti-Christmas forest ritual. Which they do, but regardless, it’s already 1989. The war is long over, and this killer elf is no match for an aspiring department store Santa (he can’t seem to actually get the job) played by Dan Haggerty, who helps the teenage incest daughter fight the elf and her Nazi grandfather/father. I don’t want to offend anyone, but those Nazi folk had some terrible ideas. And I am absolutely blaming the fictional Nazis in the movie for such bad plotting, and not the filmmakers, who made an amazingly entertaining film.


 Fear (1996) Nicole (Reese Witherspoon), a sweet high school girl, starts dating the slightly older, handsome, and seemingly kind Mark Wahlberg. They grow close quickly, but Nicole’s father (William Petersen) has reservations about Walhberg, who seems too good to be true. Turns out he’s onto something. No matter how romantically Wahlberg fingers Reese on a rollercoaster, it can’t make up for his psychotic jealousy (he brutally attacks Reese’s gay friend for putting his arm around her) and insane possessiveness (he carves “NICOLE 4 EVA” into his chest). When Reese tries to break away from him, things go off the rails as Wahlberg and his friends invade her family’s home. It’s campy at times, but it’s also legitimately suspenseful and upsetting. Wahlberg and Petersen are both amazing in their vigorous battle of macho intensity. An extremely underrated, sexy rollercoaster ride of a thriller. FEAR 4 EVA.  


Gang Boys (1994) Linda Blair's gay son gets raped by Nazi skinheads, so she tracks down the father, played by Wings Hauser (who also directs), and helps him deal with his alcoholism, and eventually they kind of fight back. It’s a gritty, harsh film about a family coming together over their hatred of hatred, and I love to love it. Some weird family dynamics behind the scenes, too. Wings’ son Cole Hauser stars as the skinhead gang leader, and there’s a scene where his character beats up then pees on Wings’ character. Not sure if the Hausers were trying to work through their own familial issues there, but it’s a bit off-putting to watch. In a charming way! An uneasily cathartic family film onscreen and off.  


The Final Destination (2009) A guy has a vision about himself and his friends getting killed at a racetrack, so he drags them out of there, along with a few other people. But Death is still after them, and it’s going to get them in the most absurd ways imaginable, usually through something flying at them or by something long and pointy, using the film’s 3D to it’s full potential. I adore the entire Final Destination series, and this entry stands tall as my favorite because it’s the breeziest and the trashiest. The plot rushes along, reaching the incredibly satisfying climax in a mere 80 minutes, not wasting time with things like character development. The film is strictly concerned with just one thing, creative and knowingly hilarious death scenes. Like a pebble shooting through a woman’s face, a man being sliced up through a fence, or a pool drain sucking out someone’s insides through their asshole. More than any other film in the series, this one joyously celebrates it’s absurd deaths. I saw this in the theater when it came out, and there is a sequence that takes place in a movie theater showing a 3D movie, where a character exclaims “This is where I’m supposed to be. I was meant to see this movie.” mimicking my exact feelings in that moment. This movie seemed to have been made just for me, and I was meant to fucking see it. It does lose something on video without the 3D (and I swear the effects looked better in the theater), but it still can’t be beat for its sense of brilliantly lighthearted, gory fun.



Killer Condom (1996) This film is notable, firstly, because it takes place in New York City, but is spoken entirely in German, and the lead character is supposed to be Italian. But perhaps more importantly, this film is notable because as far as I know, it is the very first overtly gay horror movie. Many people may be thrown off by the cheesy title, and although it is quite literally about condoms with teeth that bite off men’s dicks, usually causing them to bleed to death, it actually plays out fairly straight-laced (for lack of a better term), with minimal campiness. There’s no hammy overacting or bad slapstick here. It’s a regular detective story, clearly rooted in film-noir, with a sharp comic sensibility, and a lead character (a tough, chubbier Dirty Harry type) who happens to be gay. The killer condoms seem to strike exclusively at a seedy hotel frequented by various sexual deviants, and the detective takes a special interest in the case when he has a personal encounter with one, while in a room with a male hustler. It all ends with a heartfelt speech about being yourself, and a happy ending for the lovestruck detective and the hustler. Go ahead and watch this one barebacked, because all it tested positive for is Extremely Underrated.  

Mac and Me (1988) A young, grotesquely adorable alien is vaccuumed off his home planet, separated from his family, and planted on Earth, where he befriends a boy in a wheelchair, who helps him hide from NASA by dressing him up as a teddy bear and taking him to a McDonald’s dance party. There are a lot of other crazy and bizarre things that happen, but I feel it may be best to go in unprepared, and let it’s many delights unfold upon you naturally. Part of the reason I defend seemingly-misguided movies like this, is because I admire any movie where you have no fucking clue what’s going to happen next. Even being a rip-off of another film (the inferior E.T., which I also really love, but not as much), there is literally no way to predict what you’re about to see on a scene-to-scene basis in Mac and Me. But trust me, every moment is compelling, and for me, that makes it a brilliant and unique film. And also, I don’t care what anyone says, Mac is adorable. The adult aliens (his family) not so much, and the scene where his naked alien dad is waving a gun around in a supermarket is a little creepy, but overall it’s a cute movie. And one of the best I’ve ever seen.



Nail Gun Massacre (1985) After a woman is gang-raped, someone goes “plum loco with a hammer and a box of nails,” donning black jeans, a black motorcycle jacket, and a black helmet, and quips indecipherable one-liners through a voice distortion box after pumping them full of nails (which is actually done with the titular nail gun, as opposed to killing someone by individually hammering each nail into people’s bodies as the sheriff theorizes in the quote above). Do the people being murdered have anything to do with the rape scene the movie starts us off with? Probably. I guess. She was raped by construction workers, and it seems to be mostly construction workers who the killer is targeting, but it’s also anyone who just happens to be near a construction site, or pretty much anyone who lives in that town. The kills are pretty amazing, and basically every single thing that happens in this movie is hilarious, especially the one-liners, on the rare occasion they can actually be understood through all that distortion. Simply superb.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

"Bad" Movies We Love Guest Post: Karl Brezdin

On fistofblist.com, Karl Brezdin takes on the martial arts b-movie, one generic henchman at a time. The blog is dedicated to uncovering lost gems in Western martial arts cinema and other films with lots of fake fighting. He is also a contributing member of the Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit and occasionally writes for The Gentlemen's Blog to Midnite Cinema.

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The Paperboy (1994)
Written by Sam Peckinpah's nephew, David, this film was every bit as cringe-inducing as his uncle's vengeance opus STRAW DOGS. Just for entirely different reasons. It tries to walk the line between psychological thriller and horror, before tripping on said line and falling off a cliff into a valley of unintentional comedy and continuity errors. Marc Marut alternates between creepy and laughably bad as the teenage antagonist, and breaks at least three food platters during tense moments (in slow motion, naturally).


Drop Zone (1994)
Where else can you find Wesley Snipes in his cinematic prime, Corin Nemec playing a rebel skydiver named Swoop, and a pre-Witchblade, pre-substance abuse Yancy Butler? Did I mention that Gary Busey plays the main villain? He spends 40% of the film in loose-fitting tank tops, 60% of the film verbally abusing poor computer nerd Michael Jeter, and 100% of the film as a crooked DEA agent leading a gang of renegade skydivers. As you might have guessed, this slice of 90s action cheese was directed by John Badham, who brought us SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER and SHORT CIRCUIT.


Hercules in New York (Dubbed) (1969)
Poorly dubbed movies were one of my true joys during my early years of seeking and collecting. The films of Arnold Schwarzengger were another. I came across the dubbed version of this movie on a premium cable channel some time in the early 1990s and a close friend and I found it to be endlessly quotable. There are absurd action set pieces for Arnie, the voice actor for him is atrocious, and the hammy overacting of Arnold Stang is almost as grating as the plot is preposterous. A fine chariot, but where are the horses?


Final Score (1986)
Arizal rides again in yet another Indonesian adrenaline kick, this time with star Christopher Mitchum. Godfrey Ho favorite Mike Abbott stars as the villain and sports some of the most unique facial proportions this side of Robert Z’Dar. The entire stunt crew basically fucking dies in every scene for the last 40 minutes. While it doesn't quite reach the epic heights of The Stabilizer in terms of memorable dialog or general goofiness, the spirit is the same and it's an enjoyable piece of action trash.


Hard Target (1993)
Yancy Butler makes yet another appearance on the list and I'm not sure why this is significant. Girl had to make a living, I guess. She plays the love interest to JCVD's brooding, mulleted Cajun asskicker in John Woo's American debut. Come for the legitimately good action set pieces and Lance Henriksen feasting on the scenery. Stay for the constant reliance on slo-mo, often terrible dialog, and Wilford Fucking Brimley's archery prowess.


No Retreat, No Surrender (1986)
I fought hard to keep any of my obvious nods off the list, but NRNS was the match that lit the fuse which detonated a trash heap of thoughts on bad martial arts movies and spread them across the Internet. Continuity errors, bad dialog, miscast stunt doubles, the ghost of Bruce Lee, pool party brawls, terrible fashion, awful dance sequences, and Jean Claude Van Damme's first speaking part in an American film combine for this absolute gem of "so bad it's good" filmmaking.

Friday, July 27, 2012

"Bad" Movies We Love Guest Post: Jeff Williams

Jeff Williams, aka Shiftless, is a man who understands the concept of movies as "deep cuts" along the lines of music. He has knowledge of so many underappreciated gems and I am quite happy to have this list from him. Read his blog - Scared Shiftless in Shasta!


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Like a high school prom queen who just can't resist the bad boys, most cinephiles cannot resist bad movies. We know they're flawed, thoughtless and will probably abuse us at some point, but we can't help it - they're bastards but we love them anyway. And at the end of the day, there really are no such things as bad movies, only enjoyable and unenjoyable. With that in mind, here are my top ten enjoyable bad boys:

10. The Young, the Evil and the Savage (1968) aka Naked You Die 
Directed by the underrated Antonio Margheriti (as Anthony Dawson), this is a relatively light, demure, early entry giallo with little sleaziness or explicit violence. I actually like the heavy borrowing from other thrillers and horror films that takes place and the near-cartoonish, Nancy Drew-like lead character of Jill (Sally Smith). To add to the fun, there's the always welcome Luciano Pigozzi and the oddly cast Michael Rennie as the chief detective. Best of all, there is a solvable mystery, which isn't always the case in this genre.

9. The Giant Gila Monster (1959)
Long before Joel and the 'bots joked about the 'raised knee' method of shot blocking, I was enjoying this 50's, low budget, forced lizard perspective schlock directed by Ray Kellogg and produced by Ken Curtis (Festus of Gunsmoke). The lead actor, Don Sullivan, is so earnest, as the not-so-young teen heartthrob Chase Winstead, it's impossible not to love him even when he's singing his annoyingly repetitious songs. The film also has an amazing amount of drunk driving (that's played for laughs!), an unintelligible, eastern european love interest, a sheriff named Jeff and white people attempting to dance. How could I not like this? Jim Wynorski has done a remake called Gila! for television that's set for release in September in which Don Sullivan has a cameo. I'm so in.

8. Sisters of Death (1977)
Robert Rodriguez had a school bus, a guitar and a turtle. Joseph Mazzuca had a tract house, some wire mesh fencing and a gatling gun. What tickles me most about this is not the gatling gun, but the fact the movie was shot in Paso Robles which is like a not-quite-as-classy, more remote version of Bakersfield. A less likely place to hold a college reunion does not exist. When the former sorority sisters receive their invitations (hand-written in magic marker) to the swanky affair, presumably to be held in the convention room of the Paso Robles Ramada Inn, I could not stop laughing. There are many enjoyable moments of bizarre inexplicableness in the movie such as, how can a killer hide from a large group in what is essentially a four-bedroom house; who in their right mind would use a gun for a sorority initiation, and why would one enter a suspiciously remote property surrounded by an electric fence in the first place. Save for one sister, who was having paranoid attacks early and often, the rest of the ladies seemed to have no danger barometers. But it's the last ten minutes where the film is at its most jaw-dropping and enjoyably bad.

7. Heartbreak Hotel (1988)
Chris Columbus brewed up some treacle, put on his kneepads and paid tribute to The King in this nauseatingly sweet bit of fluff that Roger Ebert "hated, hated, hated". Poor Rog, he doesn't know good candy corn when he sees it. The premise of kidnapping a celebrity to "give" to the kidnapper's mother has to be one of the oddest (and disturbing) concepts ever. What makes it even more surreal is that the kidnapped celebrity is Elvis as played by David Keith. In other hands, the idea could have been played for edgy laughs and worked, but Columbus plays it without irony - straight, sincere and sacchariney. But despite it all, I still got sucked in by this wildly overly sentimental homage. "Wise men say only fools rush in..."

6. Human Animals (1983) 
Spanish post-apocalyptic movie featuring just three actors directed by Eligio Herrero who had only this film and one other to his credit. The story, written by Herrero as well, is quite simple, after the world is destroyed, only two men, one woman and a dog survive. The two men vie for the woman... and so does the dog. The main reason I like the film is that it's dialogue-free. It comes close to being a halfway decent piece of art house cinema, but the dopey dog angle sinks it. I still enjoy it for its strangeness though.

5. Sloane (1986)
Meet Philip Sloane, the most obnoxious, fratboy-like, action hero of all time. He's the kind of man who will kill his enemies, blow up their dead bodies, then yell at them. He's just that much of a douche. Say his name. Now say it again. Now say it 58 more times and you still will not have said it as much as the other characters did in the movie. Sloane! Neither cobras, pygmies or inappropriate liaisons with young girls in Manila brothels can stop him. Sloane! He likes playing with toy trains and a B.A.R. Sloane! He may mess around with  a woman one night, but it don't mean anything. Sloane! He'll kill without warning or reason. Sloane! He'll jump on top of his love interest and scream in her face. Sloane! ....

4. Humongous(1982)
This is one I have trouble explaining my love for, even to myself. It reminds me of The Boogens as it has a decent set up, believable characters (especially the ladies) and a spooky remote location. The problem is the creature, and latter part of the film, are both kind of weak and wildly under lit. Still, I really like character actress extraordinaire, Janit Balwin, who plays the preppie sister, along with Janet Julian and Joy Boushel as the girlfriends. Julian looks and acts like a better version of Jessica Harper and Boushel is, um,  very healthy indeed.

3. Young Lady Chatterly (1977)
A so-called "soft X" film from the late 70's, Young Lady Chatterly was in heavy rotation on Cinemax for what seemed like most of the early 80's. The women in it are naturally beautiful especially Mary Forbes who plays Lady Chatterly in flashback. The lavish estate setting and UK actors like Ann Michelle kick the film up a notch and give it an English feel even though it was shot in America. The humor is heavy-handed at times which probably earns the film its bad movie reputation but it accomplishes the goal of being innocently erotic quite well. There are certainly better adaptations, but none so fun, naughty and bad.

2. Survival Quest (1988)
 No one can ever accuse Don Coscarelli of being unoriginal and Survival Quest is another unique offering from the guy who made Bubba Ho Tep and Phantasm. The Outward Bound-type group led by tough, (but gentle!) Lance Henriksen is a likable, if predictable, bunch. If the film had focused only on these characters, it would have been like an old Disney, or Sun International picture - a light, breezy trip where everyone learned a lesson about teamwork at the end. However, it is the always enjoyable bad-ass Mark Rolston and his near-fascist, fanatical crew that make the difference and send the film over the top for better or worse. Rolston's Jake Cannon character is so hardcore, he makes Martin Cove's Kreese from The Karate Kid movies look like a class-I, Earthday-loving puss. Needless to say, at some point, the paramilitary, testosterone-filled, warmongering teens Rolston is leading go off the rails and after Henriksen's group of peacenik, environmentalists. It's ridiculous fun and I'm getting the urge to watch it again just from writing about it.

1. The Lonely Lady (1983)
 First off, all Pia Zadora movies are bad. And by bad, I mean fantastic. I only wish she'd made hundreds more most of which based on Harold Robbins novels. Every aspect of this film is campy, horrible and great. Pia looks too old to play her teenaged character and too young to play a seasoned writer. The fact that she's playing a writer by itself is so, so wrong. Her wardrobe and hairstyles are pretty off-kilter, confusion-inducing creations as well. The story felt wildly dated back when it was released and it's only aged like fine, moldy cheese since then. Everything about this movie, including the faux Oscar set, screams tacky. Which is why I love it most of all.

Honorable Mentions



Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Bad" Movies We Love Guest Post: Scott from Married With Clickers

Scott and his wife Kat run the Married With Clickers podcast. A fun show that I am absolutely a fan of. Check out their latest episode covering one of my favorites, LITTLE DARLINGS:
http://marriedwithclickers.libsyn.com/webpage/married-with-clickers-episode-81-little-darlings

Scott can and should be followed on Twitter @scottclickers.

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Impact Point (2008)
I find tremendous comfort in the fact that there’s someone in Hollywood still willing to green light beach volleyball thrillers starring 90210 alumni. This one stars Brian Austin Green as a reporter named Holden. This at least serves as evidence that the screenwriter got to the 10th grade. BAG is wooing a beach volleyball player who is rising through the ranks due to a tragedy involving her nemesis. It turns out that Holden may not be an angel. This is a cheese fest from start to finish with clichéd dialogue and plenty of gratuitous T&A. For a 2008 film, it feels very mid-90s. It is a very fun time waster.

 Terror of Tiny Town (1938)
This one is quite infamous but still has to be seen to be believed. Ok, you really don’t need to sit through the whole thing, but a good 10-15 minutes should plant your jaw firmly on the floor. I understand that the world was less politically correct back in 1938, but this is still unbelievable. The film itself is pretty dull so the 60 minute run time is a blessing. This one is in the public domain, so there are likely plenty of bad prints out there, but a decent print shows up on TCM from time to time so keeps your eyes peeled.


The Concorde: Airport '79 (1979)
I saw this for the first time recently and, although it did not knock my socks off, it certainly tried its best. The special effects are embarrassingly bad, especially considering we’re in post-Star Wars era. Essentially, it’s a Love Boat episode set in the air. In fact, I did a quick survey and the majority of the cast took at least two voyages on the Pacific Princess. You’ll cheer for George Kennedy, who does it all here, from bedding a French prostitute, to doing barrel roles at supersonic speed. At the same time, you’ll feel pity for Alain Delon who must have lost a bet and wound up in this fun turkey. 


  Black Dog (1998)
After Swayze’s death, I noticed the lack of clips fromBlack Dog in all those video tributes. That’s too bad, as this has Swayze chewing scenery with abandon. Can you blame him? He has to compete with the likes of Meatloaf and Stephen Tobolowsky. This movie checks almost all of the boxes on the ‘So bad it’s good’ survey form.  It may be the last of a dying breed: a trucksploitation B-movie that actually got a theatrical release.  If you like vehicular destruction, this is the movie for you. It many ways, it is a spiritual sequel toRoadhouse and would make an excellent double bill.


  My Demon Lover (1987)
I could almost make a list of films featuring Family Ties alum (Satisfaction,Mikey), but I’d like to focus on this forgotten gem showcasing the talents of Scott Valentine (‘Mah-Luh-Ree!’).  This one never gets mentioned when Horror-Comedies from the 80s are discussed, perhaps because it is more of a Horror-Rom-Com.  It’s a very high energy bit of silliness with great, but cheesy special effects. Like many 80s comedies, it takes a scattershot approach but between the clothing, the NYC street scenes and the New Jersey jokes, there’s a lot to love.  


 Ferat Vampire (1982)
This one falls into the ‘must be seen to be believed’ category. What we’ve got here is a 1981 Czech horror/sci-fi flick about a blood sucking rally car. Yup, you read that correctly. This film includes tons of stiff acting, Iron Curtain 80s fashions, Cronenbergian gross outs and two of the nerdiest heroes you’ll ever meet (picture Czech versions of Woody Allen and a bearded Alan Alda). While sitting in a screening at the TIFF Bell Lightbox last winter, listening to puzzled laughter from the audience, I could not decide whether it was a po-faced misfire or a brilliant black comedy. Does it really matter?

 Treasure of the Four Crowns (1983)
In January of 1983, I was an Indiana Jones obsessed 10-year old. My parents were out of town, so I convinced my grandmother to take me to see this movie. She likely exited the cinema feeling very concerned about my mental health. In an effort to distract the audience from a convoluted plot and terrible special effects, Tony Anthony threw in everything; including the kitchen sink. He then proceeded to throw it all directly at the camera. It is absolutely terrible, but manages to entertain despite itself. I’d love to see a film festival dedicated to the early 80s 3-D revival.

 Ernest Goes to Camp (1987)
In the distant future, I believe that aliens will visit the desolate remains of our planet and discover a box set of Ernest movies. Even if they do not understand a word of dialogue, I have no doubt in my mind that they would agree with me that turtle paratroopers are awesome. This film would also likely leave them with the impression that Ernest was an important political leader, but let’s just stay focused on the turtles. If you are ever in the mood for something really, really, really stupid then I highly recommend this film, if only for the scene of turtles in parachutes attacking evil construction workers, accompanied by a medley ofRide of the Valkyries and a military march version ofHappy Together.  If that’s not enough, you can also smile at the karma that brought Lyle Alzado, Iron Eyes Cody and Dean Wormer together in the same movie. KnowhatImean?
 

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