You think that movie is bad?

Posted: May 18, 2010 in Article
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I always get a little annoyed when I see a worst ever list. Mostly because what people call the worst is rarely anything like as bad as they think it is. Best of lists can be either a matter of taste or an educated guess as to what’s expected to be there. Take for example if I wanted to write a list of the ten best Sci-Fi movies. I could easily write that up by taking a couple of recent favorites like Avatar and Iron Man, a couple of classics like The Day the Earth Stood Still and War of The Worlds, a couple of things from my childhood like Star Wars and Blade Runner and I’ve got six right there. Then a nod to some obscure foreign film like Alphaville, a quick nod of something that people might not agree with but is still good, say Rollerball and a big time action movie like Total Recall. Then I just need one solid hit of pure nostalgia in the form of E.T. to make everyone feel warm and cuddly as number one and I’m done. The problem that I haven’t seen two movies on this list, that I don’t like three of them and I’m indifferent to two of them doesn’t matter. Everyone would say it was a good list or go on to chatter about how the remake of Rollerball sucked in the comments. While this list is formed in a cynical mind, it’s not invalid, it just shows that I’ve been paying attention to how top ten lists work.

I didn’t come here to talk about top tens though. OH NO! I cam to talk about how people register bottom tens. See, I can do one of those two, and be just as cynical. Catwoman and one of the Matrix sequels, whichever one of the Star Wars prequels I think slagging off would get me the most hits, the remake of Rollerball, something of Corman’s from the 50’s (probably It Conquered The World) and Alien Vs Predator would get me through the first six without even trying. Then just throw in something like V The Final Battle, which is cheating because it was a Mini-Series on TV, along with Robo Cop 3 and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Somewhere in there, you need one movie that most people think is pretty good and claim to hate it thereby establishing cool cred by being an outsider. Let’s go ahead and put Independence Day in that list. Now, again, I like some of the movies in this list. I have no feelings for other items, but a lot of people will nod along and some might even cheer if they see something they really don’t like being called a “Worst Film Evar” by some guy on the internet.

Now, the problem there is that NOT ONE of those movies belongs on a worst list. If you think any of them do, I can show you what a really bad movie is like. People talk a lot of crap about Roger Corman, but he’s a masterful filmmaker. Man’s worked in movies for his entire adult life and as far as I know, he always turned a profit. I still put his Poe movies up as some of the best low cost horror movies ever made. His work is also always professional and complete. He might pad scenes on occasion, but that’s nothing compared to the horrors I have witnessed.

I have seen things that make Ed Wood seem competent and compelling by comparison. My youth was spent sitting up with my father watching Cinemax, viewing movies that were shown late at night not so much because of content but because Cinemax was ashamed to have them out in the light of day. I’ve seen movies so incompetently made that you actually wonder if this was some student project where the guy who was handling the sound flunked out half way through production and they just never bothered to replace him. I’ve seen entire movies that were out of focus, had bad lighting, or had actors that were making up the script as they went along.

And yet, these movies garnered a distribution deal. Someone looked at these projects and said “I will buy this movie! I will put it on a screen somewhere and get some schmuck to watch it!” Were they cheap to buy? Probably. When I grew up and hunted some down, they certainly proved cheap to buy on DVD. Well, except the Deathstalker Movies. Can’t get those on disc because they went OOP and now they want big bucks for them. The thing is, even the Deathstalker movies are really good productions when you put them next to some of the crap I was prepared to watch back in the day. Way back, like… last week. I’ve spent enough time during my childhood watching bad movies, made worse by Channel 20 slicing them up for commercials and cutting out the good bits for broadcast standards to know bad when I see it.

I mean… that whole Worst Ever list and not one Bruno Mattei film? No Reb Brown? Not even a Godfrey Ho flick? For shame! Hell, there are even worse than those guys out there, but I don’t want to get bogged down in minutia. When one is a true cineaste, which is a fancy word meaning “A person who has to watch movies alone because his friends won’t watch them with him anymore”, one has to take all that the screen has to offer. I’ve been told by some people who are as into music as I am into movies that even Muzak has some merits and should at least be listened to once in a while. All things should be studied, so that we know real quality and can spot complete garbage. That’s the excuse I’ve been working under anyway, and most people seem to accept it. The truth is, that I enjoy watching cheap movies because watching someone with no money but a lot of heart make a complete piece of shit is far more entertaining than watching someone make something that’s just not very good but had a ton of money. People spending $100+ million to make me go “Eh” makes me hate them way more than someone who spent $100k and leaves me with “What the hell did I just watch?” ever will. Why yes, I am thinking of a certain Mister Bay there.

My point is you should never take a “Worst Movie Evaaaar” list at face value. Best has a limit for most people. I will probably never see a “Gather some guys together and do a job” movie that surpasses Seven Samurai. I’m ready to watch one if such a thing exists, but I’m guessing that The Expendables is just going to be a some good fun with a touch of the old ultra-violence. Worst though, worst takes some doing. You’ve got to have real ineptitude for me to agree that what you’ve got going on is the worst. Most the time what you really have is the worst movies that these people have seen. Sometimes, that’s either not really a lot of movies, or it’s just a cynical list written with things the writer is hoping you’ll recognize and agree with.

Simply put, any worst ever list that doesn’t have Crazy Fat Ethel II on it is going to leave me suspicious.

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