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Posts Tagged ‘so bad it’s bad’

Good…Bad…I’m The One With The Shark

July 30th, 2014 No comments

A recent installment of the YouTube video series PBS Idea Channel asked whether it was possible to deliberately make a movie that’s so bad that it’s good. Now, as this series is made for hipster doofuses, annoying jargon was required: “nanar” is French for “good bad” movies. I will not be using that word here.

Sit back and allow Mike Rugnetta to assail you with his ADD-friendly words and images for a few moments, then rejoin me below.

I’m going to agree with Mike here; you can’t intentionally make a “good bad” film. Many people have certainly tried, and some have even made a career of it. But these movies are at best pastiches and at worst, failed comedies.

Because, let’s face it, it’s easy to make a bad film. Even highly talented people do so. These days, any wiseass with a video camera and a few willing friends can haul down to Bronson Canyon and churn out a crappy sci-fi/horror flick.

What separates Plan Nine from Outer Space, Birdemic and The Room from the wannabes is the most important ingredient: sincerity. The directors of these films were passionate, and they inspired others to share that passion for a time. They didn’t set out to achieve badness; badness came to them. Ideally, the truly “good bad” movie ought to have something to say, being said by someone in no way qualified to get that message across. Birdemic wants to be an ecological parable, Plan Nine wants to warn stupid humans about the dangers of the arms race (also, exploding the sun). Their spectacular failure makes them all the more endearing.

Now, it’s entirely possible to make a good movie that emulates a bad movie. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is a very funny pastiche of ’50s sci-fi, but it’s not a bad film by any means. It’s written and performed by people whose understanding of such cheap genre fare goes beyond the “look, you can see the strings” level of japery. My favorite scene is a pure comedy set piece: a dinner featuring a scientist and his wife, two aliens attempting to pass as human, and a villain whose “wife” is a feral amalgamation of “four different forest animals.”

And that brings me to the reason for today’s post, Sharknado.

For the uninitiated, Sharknado is one of many B-movie pastiches produced by The Asylum, a film studio that specializes in poverty-row “mockbusters” and exploitative monster flicks, most of which show up on the Sci-Fi SyFy Channel. They’re the people who create such artificially-induced “good bad” films as Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus, which promise ludicrous spectacle, but are mostly kinda dull.

Sharknado is literally about a tornado full of sharks, and it ends with Ian Ziering chainsawing his way out of the stomach of a Great White.

davenado01

My Lego tribute to “Sharknado.”

And I will make the case that Sharknado is a good movie. Not “good bad,” but one that is largely successful at what it’s trying to do, which is to take The Asylum’s favorite formulas of aquatic monsters and city-leveling disasters to a logical, ridiculous conclusion. It’s not two minutes of “money shots” surrounded by 80 minutes of tedious dialogue. The shark attacks come early, often and in the least likely of circumstances. It’s the movie that¬†Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus¬†wanted to be.

Tonight sees the premiere of Sharknado 2, which I am approaching with trepidation. Everyone appears to be in on the joke now, and I fear that the sequel will fall into the category of failed comedy. After all, it’s far too easy to make a bad movie.

Breaking Good

September 30th, 2013 No comments

I’ve been looking forward to this day for months, if not years. What’s so special about this day? Well, it’s the day after the Breaking Bad finale aired, aka the Day that We Can Begin Shutting the Fuck Up about Breaking Bad. Oh, I’m sure that the next week or two will be full of breathless dialogues about whatever wacky misadventures Walter White got up to in his final hour, but this, baby, is the beginning of the end.

As someone who has spent a quarter century peddling quality television, it’s perhaps ironic that I not only have never watched a single episode of Breaking Bad–anointed by all as the Bestest Show Ever–but that I refuse to do so, not even for the purposes of dumping on it.

Because I do not want to spend a single minute with a narrative that in any way glorifies, justifies or another other kind of -fies a murderous meth cooker. I don’t care if he’s the villain of the piece, he’s still the central figure. He’s the one who knocks, whatever the fuck that means.

It’s not that I mind watching bad people being bad. A good villain can be fascinating and even fun. And the heavens know that I have seen more than my share of vampires and Sith Lords. The difference is that vampires and Sith Lords, besides not being real, don’t sicken me the way that meth dealers do.

I was originally going to post some before-and-after meth photos here to help illustrate the point, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Those images disturb me in a way that a thousand fictional monsters never could, and I don’t want them on my blog.

Instead, I will post a photo of one of the adorable, ironic plush dolls sold by Mezco Toys. It’s part of an array of Breaking Bad merchandise large enough to fill a blood-spattered RV. (Use the coupon code “breakingbadfinale” for 10% off your purchase from the official online store!)

There are lots of ways to hurt people, but the ones that horrify me the most are those that linger, that turn real people into shambling wrecks for the rest of their shortened, miserable lives. All for the sake of cheap thrills and a few bucks.

Meanwhile, miles and miles away, some rich and handsome people turn off the Klieg lights, send away the craft services van, and go home to admire their golden statues.

So, goodbye, Breaking Bad. It’s been great not knowing you.

31 Monstrous Failures #21: It’s Alive!

October 21st, 2011 No comments

Thinking back to my youth, I realize that I spent a great many nights staying up well past my bedtime. Late night TV was when the weird stuff was on. One could catch reruns of Kolchak and The New Avengers, old movies based on ’40s radio shows,* and even some latter-day exploitation quickies.

Naturally, nothing attracted my attention so much as the promise of a prehistoric monster. Which certainly explains how I managed to stay awake through…

It’s Alive!

This is not the one about the killer baby. This It’s Alive! was released five years earlier and is unrelated except that both films feature creatures which are (SPOILER) alive.

It was directed by Larry Buchanan, who is known to B-movie fans for his uncredited remakes of Invasion of the Saucer Men (The Eye Creatures), The She Creature (Creature of Destruction) and It Conquered the World (Zontar, the Thing from Venus).

Unlike those, It’s Alive! wasn’t based on a previous American International Pictures release. Which is not to say that it’s particularly original. It’s pretty much your standard stranded-couple-captured-by-redneck-who-feeds-them-to-his-dinosaur plot.

The monster is curiously hard to pin down. The costume (pictured above) is recycled from Creature of Destruction, where it was used to portray a gill man ala The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Since it’s obviously a guy in a rubber suit, and is shot mostly in close-up, it’s easy to assume that it’s supposed to be more or less man-sized. Except when Buchanan goes to the trouble of staging a forced perspective shot, when one realizes that it’s actually meant to be a giant dinosaur. With ping-pong ball eyes.

*I blame my dad for my youthful interest in movie adaptations of The Great Gildersleeve. He bought a big stack of 8-track tapes of old radio shows from Stuckey’s, and would play them whenever we were on a long car trip.