Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cinema Magnifique

"From the Producers of..."

The moment your hear these four words spoken you know you're in for a treat. They will always precede a movie trailer  for an upcoming film, one that the creators know is horrible. However, since they are a business they want you to see the movie anyway. From the producers of is code for:

1) We couldn't get the big star
2) This movie has no script
3) This movie has no stars AND no script.

The producers of the movie are essentially saying "Remember the last movie we paid someone to make? well, that was good, so go and see this new movie that has nothing to do with that other movie whatsoever." It is an admission of guilt before the movie even hits the big screen.

Today I want to talk about bad movies but I'd first like to educate/commiserate with you my loyal followers about how to spot a bad movie. You probably know to steer clear of movies that feature musicians just like you would avoid music made by actors but do you know the subtleties of spotting a bad film?

When it comes to sequels it is easy. If none of the original cast returns the movie is terrible. This means that that the production company didn't want to shell out the dough to make the movie properly or that the script was so poor that the actor decided to abandon ship.

Any actor who is referred to as a poor man's version of another actor is a movie worth skipping. For example: "Dennis Quaid is a poor man's Kevin Costner." Now, you may recall seeing a Dennis Quaid movie that you liked, let me assure you that was a mistake on your part. Often in our lives (self included) we are tricked into believing that we liked something the first time we saw it. Sometimes a movie has some sort of sentimental appeal that strikes a nerve, but go back and watch that same movie with a clear head and you'll realize how terrible it was all along. Also, if you are being compared to a star who performed in turds like Waterworld, The Postman and most recently Mr Brooks with a tour de force performance by "comedian" Dane Cook,  it probably isn't a good thing.

Finally, get to know your second rung actors. Every once in a while a second rate actor will get an Academy Award nomination. Reporters will often say that Clooney or Pitt passed up the opportunity to play the role which catapulted the then unknown actor into superstardom. It is very seldom that an A-list actor refuses a good script. Generally, a marquee actor will pass on a film because the script looks horrible and doing the movie would damage their career.

Do you know Paul Walker? His acting talents involve having blue eyes and a "Did someone just fart look on his face. Every movie he stars in reads like a who's who of bad movies. From the fast and furious series to Into the Blue with the equally untalented Jessica Alba. every movie is a sure misfire. The list goes on and on: Taye Diggs, Channing Tatum, Hayden Christensen.

Last but not least I want to talk about a few movies that I have had the pleasure of seeing that were so bad I actually enjoyed them in some way and had to watch them again. For the record there are hundreds that I could have chosen. In fact I'm sure that there are 100 B movies that are far worse than the ones that I am about to mention. What is important to note however is that the ones I am going to talk about were green lit and fully backed by a major production studio. Let's begin.

1) Extreme Ops

Hopefully The only excuse I have for seeing this movie is that it was released in the summer and I paid the matinee fee in order to use the theaters air conditioner. If not that then there was a time in the past where my older brother and I would go to see whatever was playing at the local theater to stave off the boredom of small town living. If you've had the pleasure of seeing this movie there is no valid excuse as to why anyone would see it on the big screen unless you like a lot of leg and arm room from all the empty seats around you.

The premise of the movie as I recall was this. A bunch of college aged kids who are into X-games style XTREME sports go to the top of a snow capped mountain for some reason I can't remember. Little do they know that the mountain top is the hideout of some war criminal/terrorist. Unfortunately for the kids they get some of the big bad's antics on film and they get caught doing it. The evil guy then assigns his henchmen to murder the kids and get the footage back. Little do the terrorists know, these kids are highly skilled skiers/snowboarders and getting the tape back will be harder than they think. Cue 60 minutes of guys/gals doing somersaults on ski's while bad guys shoot machine guns at them and that just about sums up the entire movie. Delightful.

2) The Order

The Order is a movie that almost killed Heath Ledger's career long before he killed himself. Frankly, I can't remember a lot about the movie but I can recall enough to intrigue you, I think. The final words of the trailer remark "What's going on here?" and it couldn't be put more aptly than that. The movie presents itself as some Da Vinci Code-esque thriller about a dark papal secret. I don't remember what the secret was or how it was uncovered, what I do remember was that Heath was a sin eater?!! What's a sin eater you say? I believe the idea is that before you die you can ritually have a specified member of the clergy literally eat your sins to absolve you so that you can go to heaven. For what feels like the next 3 hours you watch Heath walk around and make Hors D' Oeuvres out of peoples sins by wrapping them up in little body of Christ sized pita's and jam them into his mouth.

3) Mortal Kombat : Annihilation

Admission: I liked the first Mortal Kombat movie. An obsession of my brother and I as kids was with playing the game. Naturally when they made a big screen version of it we were thrilled. At the time we were able to overlook a few of the bad special effects namely a character named Goro who had four arms. We overlooked these bad special effects because the first film had a few charming elements and it was our first experience into seeing the game world actualized in real life. Needless to say we watched the original several times and were even excited when we heard that there would be a sequel, that was of course until we saw the sequel.

As stated earlier, in part two almost none of the original cast returned. In fact, a new actor was hired who looked like one of the original actors just so they could kill him off and continue the story without any script hiccups. I don't know why they even bothered as the film is abysmal from minute one to minute done. From the lazy CGI where you can clearly see a white outline around all the characters who look like paper cut outs moving in stop motion animation to even worse than anticipated acting the movie is a flawless victory.

4) House of the Dead

Last but certainly not least is another video game to movie adaptation. The game as expected by its title pits the player in a life and death battle against a house filled with dead things. Your only objective in the game is to shoot the dead things until they are redead.

The premise of the movie would follow then that the characters go to a large mansion and encounter strange dead things that they try to kill right? wrong. Instead of a house the characters go to an island. It's not even a strange deserted island stuck somewhere in the middle of the Ocean like lost. Nope, these youthful twenty somethings are going via boat to what appears to be cottage country in some North East state to what is supposed to be the rave of the century. What they don't know is that while there will be bodies movin' and shakin' it won't be due to copious amounts of ecstasy, alcohol and techo music. 

As predicted at some point someone goes swimming or someone goes off into the woods alone and eventually they discover that the island is not infested with glittery good time girls but flesh eating zombies. Without reason or explanation the group of athletic and apparently gun trained kids find a wealth of weapons and use them to blow the whole island to smithereens (whatever those are).  This movie is truly fascinating because it had at least a 7 million dollar budget and it appears to have taken measures to do things purposefully wrong. The singular thing that sets this movie aside from a parody is that it takes itself seriously. It becomes apparent that the only thing the movie shares with the video game is its the title, well that and a few horribly pixelated game images that they spliced into the movie afterward between scenes. I highly recommend this movie for the amusement factor alone.

So that's it for today's really long post. If you have any movie that you watched that was surprisingly bad but you found yourself wanting to re-experience it please feel free to comment below. 


  1. When you mentioned the Quaid thing I immediately thought--but I love(d) Jaws 3-D!

  2. Drone - great article! Your observations are spot on. However, I have to take exception to your critique of Hayden Christensen. That young man can act! George Lucas did this series of films where he satirizes his Star Wars universe, and Mr. Christensen deconstructs Vader, taking the character from the mythic to the pathetic in a performance that is sublime.

    As for bad films, my wife and I had some fun MST'ing First Knight many years ago.

  3. you had me at heath ledger.
    what a shit actor. yeah yeah yeah, he's dead. so? doesn't mean he can act. especially in bareback mountain. what a first-rate piece of flaming shit.
    any time a straight fuck plays a gay or quasi-gay- or any time some "actor" plays a retarded person- i smell an oscar.
    fuck that.
    i'd rather watch tommy boy. at least i know what i am in for.
    grab a sixer and roll a fattie-cause beverly hills ninja is on!

  4. oh- just a fun-fact p.s.- the captcha just read "peneses." phonetically perfect for after discussing dicks in hollyweird.

  5. I patiently await the words, "from the producers of The Goonies."

  6. I can't believe you left out Showgirls. theat's the BEST worst movie EVERRRRRRRR

  7. I can't believe I never saw any of your creep show A-List.
    Consider it my fortune, but these movies are awful even from conception. Sometimes I just peak because I have little time to go to the theatres and undergo torture.
    Great post btw, can't agree with your more.

  8. Nicely said. There is an odd little line between unwatchably bad and campy bad.

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  10. Awesome post! I just watched 'The Order' the other night on TV. I really can't believe that I sat through the whole thing...

  11. Dennis Quaid...Enemy Mine.
    It's old with terrible special effects but I love that film.

  12. Instinctively I know you don't like the word nicely describing your writing. Well said is what I meant. And, I like Enemy Mine, also

  13. Enemy Mine is 'the bee's knees'! Don't know why I love that movie, but I do. Really cheesy like a 2 hour long episode of (the original) Star Trek. Who can resist Louis Gossett Jr. in a bad alien costume giving birth?