We all remember this time last year, when all that was keeping us going was the promise that 2010 would be better than 2009.
Okay, it didn't quite happen, but still, 2011 has to be better than 2010, right? Right?
Yeah, I'm having the same thought myself. 2011 could, in fact, suck even harder.
So, let's find something to be cheerful about.
Did you ever wonder why there haven't been more Dr. Seuss adaptations? Dude wrote a lot ofover 9000 books, but comparatively few movies and teevee shows have been based on them. Indeed, his largest body of filmed work is probably the Private Snafu series during World War II:
The reason being, Seuss trusted very few people (Chuck Jones being one of those few) to not fuck up his work when adapting the books. How's that for integrity? Granted, it helped that he was already wealthy and didn't need the money, but still. He was very particular about who got to adapt his work, and even then he would only allow them to be animated. (Yes, I know about the live-action 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, but that doesn't count because it's an original script and not based on one of his books. So there.)
So, in 1991 Seuss shuffled off this mortal coil. By the end of the decade, his widow decided to give the live-action thing a shot and allowed this week's feature to be made in 2000. And then, in 2003, this happened:
Whoops. And it's rated PG for "Mild Crude Humor and Some Double Entendres." Because when you think of Dr. Seuss, you think of dick jokes, right? Right.
Thanks to what Mike Myers did to the characterand she awesomely called out Myers in particularSeuss' widowdecided not to let any more live-action movies be made out of her husband's books.
So...um...there's that to be happy about, yeah?
See you in 2011.
Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and Tristan Buckner aren't letting Jim Carrey off the hook.
December 26, 2010
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Seriously, Jim Carrey. Just leave Christmas alone. Put it down and walk away. (You too, Robert Zemeckis and Ron Howard.)
Pandemonium two sizes small reigns.
Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, Tristan Buckner and other roast beasts.
Rather than a guy in a Santa suit killing people, like in Silent Night, Deadly Night this time it's Santa himself, played by a professional wrestler.
That's progress, I guess.
There are also bare breasts and Hasidim, which pretty much covers the bases.
If this sounds like your kinda thing, you know where and and when to be.
Most importantly, it allows me to link to my favorite band's second best xmas song, which perfectly captures the underlying dread of a large bearded man breaking into your home:
Oh, I almost forgot: the movie is produced by Brett Ratner, who directed the Rush Hour movies as well as the crappy third X-Men movie.
Yeah. This one is gonna hurt.
Though The Dark Room is not BYOB (so please don't try, mmmkay?), here's a little tip: knock back a couple beers before you come to the show.
Trust me, you'll enjoy this movie a whole lot more.
Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Zeke Tyrus and Mike Spiegelman will keep their milk and cookies to themselves.
December 19, 2010
A charming Yuletide slasher film by the producer of the Rush Hour films and the cinematographer of Chinatown. (Oh, "slay" sounds like "sleigh!" I get it now.)
Jingling wackiness ensues.
Sherilyn Connelly, Zeke Tyrus, Mike Spiegelman and other slayers.
As usual, the San Francisco Weekly's repertory calendar said it best a few years ago:
Yeah. What's wrong with these people? Which is to say, us?
How can we make fun of a movie that's so beloved, that's unquestioningly revered by so many people, so much so that we evidently aren't supposed to...well, make fun of it?
Well, have you tried to actually watch the damn movie recently?
If notor even if you havecome on down and watch it again. By the time it's over, you'll feel just like the kid at the bottom of the picture with his hands on his face.
Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Tim Kay and Jason Wiener will not be getting their wings.
December 12, 2010
It's a Wonderful Life
Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart spare every sitcom for the next sixty years from having to come up with an original idea for a Christmas episode.
Suicidal pandemonium reigns.
Jim Fourniadis, Tim Kay, Jason Wiener and other wingless angels.
Because it applies just as much to this movie as it did to The Polar Express last year, I have to ask: does anyone else wonder what the hell happened to Robert Zemeckis?
He was easily the most protigious of Steven Spielberg's proteges, clicking with him in a way that (for example) Poltergeist director Tobe Hooper did not. But Spielberg and Zemeckis had a thing, and it's a testament to the power of the thing that when Spielberg's first big flop (1941) was based on a Zemeckis script, they kept working together.
While Spielberg wisely never directed a Zemeckis script againthough, for my money, 1941 is underappreciated masterpiece which will hopefully someday receive the critical reapprisal it so richly deserves, probably when it inevitably hits Blu-Rayhe did produce Zemeckis's first few directorial efforts. There was I Wanna Hold Your Hand (featuring Eddie Deezen, as all movies should), Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future...
...which are all fine and good, and despite its low budget I Wanna Hold Your Hand is clearly the work of an auteur seriously, track down a copy of the VHS tape, and notice how clearly the action scene involving the radio tower resembles the climax of Back to the Future among othershe also made one of the best smart-raunchy comedies of the early eighties: Used Cars. The awesomeness of this movie simply cannot be undestated. I Wanna Hold Your Hand isn't available on DVD and you're already sick of Stone and Future, but get Used Cars from Netflix right now, damnit.
The trailer doesn't really do it justice, as is the case with most movie trailers, but oh my lord is this a funny movie. Still the best thing Zemeckis ever did.
Which is not to say it was downhill after that, necessarily. He did some damn fine work afterward, including the aformentioned Back to the Future and its sequels, Who Framed Roget Rabbit?, and the movie which perhaps harkened back most strongly to his 1941 / Used Cars roots, Death Becomes Her. Like Used Cars, the movie has heart, but it also has a mean streak a mile wide. And nobody has a funnier mean streak than Roboert Zemeckis.
Then there was something called Forrest Gump. I don't know what that is, either. Sounds kinda retarded. (ZING! Geddit? Because it's about a...oh, never mind.)
As a Carl Sagan fan, I liked Contact quite a lot. It fixed some narrative problems with the book while creating new ones, as is usually the problem with adaptations of novels. (The poster really cheesed me off, though, since it described the movie as being "from the Pulitzer-Prize Winning Author of Contact." No shit? The movie is based on the book by the...the author of the book of the movie is based on? That makes my brain hurt.) The mean streak was pretty well gone, though.
And then...oy. I don't really wanna talk about it, but I'm gonna. He started experimenting with "motion capture," which basically means dressing up overpaid actors like The Green Man (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia fans represent!) and covering the footage with CGI. It's bascially a digital version of the same process which gave us the nightmarish Ralph Bakshi version of The Lord of the Rings. You remember that, right? (And if you don't, we'll be doing it in 2011.)
Yeah. Ick. But it's even worse in this case of this week's feature, because the advanced technology makes the characters look much more human, and indeed that's the intention, but they're not quite there. Something doesn't quite fit. Though his recent movies are based on beloved works (including Beowulf, also coming to Bad Movie Night in 2011), watching them leaves one stranded in the Uncanny Valley, a dark and disturbing place filled with quasi-humanoid creatures like something out of your deepest nightmare.
Huh. Y'know, now that I think about it, maybe Zemeckis's mean streak hasn't gone away after all.
Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Ziad Ezzat will beat this movie with its own CGI crutches.
December 5, 2010
A Christmas Carol (2009)
Remember all the goodwill you felt towards Jim Carrey after his heartbreaking performance in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? Yeah, that's pretty much gone now.
A wackily terrifying trip into the Uncanny Valley ensues.
Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Ziad Ezzat and other fragments of underdone potato.
Though I exert an unyielding, tyrannical grip on it now, and I was one of the guest hosts on the first night way way way back in 2005, I did not start Bad Movie Night. I can't claim it was my idea, which is almost embarrassing, because it should have been, since Mystery Science Theater 3000 is my favorite teevee program.
But it's just as well that I didn't create the show, because if I had, I probably wouldn't have called it "Bad Movie Night." Left up to my own devices, it would probably be "Mission Science Theater 2263," because The Dark Room is at 2263 Mission and OMG isn't that just the CLEVEREST THING EVER?
Yeah, exactly. Thank goodness people far wiser than myself called it Bad Movie Night, which is direct and to the point. I promise the name ain't changing anytime soon.
Though it's occasionally annoying how provocative the name is, because people get very protective of the movies they like, and there's no greater affront than calling their favorite movies "bad." They take it very personally, especially when we do culturally beloved movies like It's a Wonderful Life. Hell, someone took umbrage that we did Firestarter last week, for pete's sake. The words "Hey, Firestarter's not a bad movie!" were actually spoken to me with utter sincerity. For that matter, a girl who works at a store in my neighborhood is still cranky at me because we made fun of Xanadu.
I guess I kinda get it, because I also feel passionately about my beloved pop culture. But I learned from a very early age that most people aren't going to like the same things I like, and that's okay. Hell, being a kid in Fresno in the eighties who liked The Beatles and Star Trek was an outright social liability. I got endless reams of shit for being into things the other kids weren't. Even amongst other fans I'm out of step, what with Star Trek: The Motion Picture being my favorite Trek movie, or Landing on Water being my favorite Neil Young album. Everybody else thinks that movie and album suck, but that doesn't make me enjoy them any less.
Anyway, whenever someone's looking at our schedule, I invariably hear "Hey, [insert title here] isn't a bad movie!" It just comes with the job.
But nobody's said that about The Running Man, which blows my mind. C'mon, folks, The Running Man is so much fun! It's easily the most entertaining movie we're doing this month.
Is it a bad movie? Is it good?
That's ultimately a matter of personal opinion, and frankly, it doesn't matter. The Running Man is fun, and that's enough.
Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and Maura Sipila would like to point out that [your favorite movie] sucks.
November 28, 2010
The Running Man
This movie only bears a passing resemblence to its source material, but King didn't sue. Why? Because it's actually pretty awesome. Also: Maria Conchita Alonso in spandex FTW.
Pumped-up pandemonium reigns.
Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, Maura Sipila and other joggers.
I love books about movies. They're pretty much porn to me, because they combine my two favorite things: movies and reading. I've long had a reputation for having seen every movie ever made, and it's not remotely true. I wouldn't want to see every movie ever made. Hell, that means I'd eventually have to see Bride Wars, right? Never. Gonna. Happen.
But I have a near-eiditic memory for pop culture, especially movies, and since I stopped working at video stores in the nineties, Bad Movie Night is the closest I've ever come to doing anything worthwhile with it. And that's also the closest I'll ever come to implying that Bad Movie Night is worthwhile, since we all know that it's a waste of time which makes us all that much more stupid.
Anyway, one of the best movie books ever is screenwriter William Goldman's 1983 Adventures in the Screen Trade. It's essential reading if you have any interest in filmmaking, and specifically about screenwriting. His followup, 2000's Which Lie Did I Tell?: More Adventures in the Screen Trade covers the time since the original book and is also required reading. His overall mantra is "Nobody Knows Anything," the self-evident fact that Hollywood really has no idea how to produce successful films, critically or commercially. It's all a crapshoot, just a lot of guessworkjust like life. (I blew your mind a little, didn't I?)
Goldman is brutally honest about the movies he's written and why so many of them turn out horrible, both in terms of external pressurethe egos of Chevy Chase and Val Kilmer brought down Memoirs of an Invisible Man and The Ghost and the Darkness, respectivelyas well as his own weaknesses, like getting caught up in his own cleverness, especially in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which, though a classic, he now admits is overwritten and too joke-heavy.
He doesn't actually bring up that point in this clip, but it's fascinating nonetheless:
Also great is his commentary for this clip of Butch Cassidy, in which he explains in no uncertain times why movies are so terrible these days:
Anyway, Goldman wrote the script for this week's feature (adapted from Stephen King's novel, of course). By my math, Goldman is also long overdue to write a third book about screenwriting, covering the past decade. I hope he writes it soon, because I'm dying to find out just what the fuck went wrong this movie.
Though, really, all you have to do to find out is watch it.
Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and Tristan Buckner don't know anything, either.
November 14, 2010
One the shittiest King adaptations ever, scripted by William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Princess Bride) and directed by Lawrence Kasdan (Body Heat and The Big Chill). Seriously, guys, what the fuck?
Weasely pandemonium reigns.
Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, Tristan Buckner and other dreamkillers.
This is one of the more infamous Stephen King movies, in that it shows the absurd lengths moviemakers will go to in order to exploit his name.
Because though it was marketed at Stephen King's The Lawnmower Man, and alleges to be based on the short story of the same name, the movie has fuck all to do with the story in question.
It's basically "Flowers for Algernon" (dumb guy gets smart) done with the super-futuristic technology of VIRTUAL REALITY ZOMG, and a post-Remington Steele / pre-James Bond as the sexily stubbled scientist. (I don't care for boys, unless they're bald in the Michael Stipe way, or stubbly like Pierce in this movie or Ralph Fiennes in Strange Days. I'm weird.)
Depending on who you ask, the computer effects were either taken from or later used in Beyond the Mind's Eye:
Not caring to see his name attached to a movie that he had nothing to do with, King sued and was eventually able to get his name taken off the movie. Took a while, thoughas I recall, the original VHS release still had the words "Based on a short story by Stephen King" on the cover. Yeah, whoops.
This all raises the question: what if it had been truly faithful to the original, very short story?
This faithful adapation is the answer:
Suddenly, gratuituous 128-bit graphics aren't looking so bad, huh?
Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Jim Fourniadis and Tim Kay are gods in here. Sorta. Not really, actually.
November 7, 2010
The Lawnmower Man
This movie has so little to do with Stephen King's original story "The Lawnmower Man," he sued to have his name removed. From the movie, that is. Not the story. Though that would have been a good idea, too.
Weed-whacking wackiness ensues.
Sherilyn Connelly, Jim Fourniadis, Tim Kay and other cybergods.
Do you know that feeling? If it hasn't happened to you yet, it will. Just you wait and see.
I'm childless and intend to stay that way, but my girlfriend is seven years younger than me, which is long enough that she doesn't get a lot of my older pop culture references.
For example, she has no idea who Wolfman Jack is.
I mean, I guess it's no surprise that kids these days (and the kid in this question is just shy of thirty years old) wouldn't have quite the same cultural knowledge as us fogeys. But still. Wolfman Jack!
Then again, it does mean that she'd never been exposed to, say, Journey singing "The Midnight Special." It was on a teevee show Wolfman Jack hosted in the seventies called The Midnight Special, which makes it clever:
Huh. On second thought, I kinda envy her naivete right now.
Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and Jason Wiener will center this movie's square.
October 24, 2010
The Wolfman (2010)
Starring Benicio Del Toro, seen here without makeup. ZING! (Thank you! Tip your waitress!)
Reimagined pandemonium reigns.
Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, Jason Wiener and other dogdudes.
There's a lot to talk about in this movie. Stephen King wrote the script based on his novella Cyle of the Werewolf (which I guess wasn't a good enough title for a movie), and it stars Corey Haim in a wheelchair and a pre-accident Gary Busey. I mean, Jesus Christ, that's plenty to work with right there.
But, y'know what? I simply canot discuss anything Busey-related without dredging up his best line reading ever, at the very end of this clip:
"Utah! Gimmie two!" I don't even know why that's so funny. The hand gesture, maybe? (Seriously, that's some Stanislavsky-level shit right there.) Or maybe it's that the words "meatball sammich" are never not funny. Nor can I adequately explain why there are at least two tributes to it on YouTube, except that everything eventually gets a YouTube tribute:
This one's a little better, because everything's better with Australian accents:
Though it's ironic that there's two of them, I guess. You know, becuase of "two" all.
Anyway! Gary Busey and Corey Haim and Stephen King and a werewolf (just one).
That's all you really need to know.
Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Zeke Brett Tyrus would like you to bring them a certain number of meatball sammiches.
October 17, 2010
The full title is Stephen King's Silver Bullet, and even though he wrote both the script and the novella it's based on, King would really prefer you didn't call it that.
Haimy wackiness ensues.
Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Zeke Tyrus and other Buseys.
I used to like CGI. I used to get excited about it. Not anymore. Which means I'm old.
I grew up at the right time, admittedly. My father was a computer programmer in the seventies, and we got both an Atari 2600 and 400 around the same time. (And yet, I'm a lousy programmer, Go figure.) I was six when The Black Hole came out, and though I didn't actually get to see it in the theater, I still love the raster wire-frame model in the opening credits:
I was super-excited about Tron a few years later, but, once again, I didn't get to see it in the theater. (What the heck, mom?)
Other movies like Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and 2010: The Year We Make Contact used bits of CGI here and there, and The Last Starfighter used a whole bunch:
It wasn't realistic, but it was fun, y'know? CGI used to be fun.
Before long you had Jim Cameron's The Abyss and Terminator 2: Judgment Day and stuff like that, it CGI started getting more "realistic," and for me, the fun kinda went away from it. (And as we established last week, we're all about the fun.)
Which leads us to this week's feature. There's a ton of CGIit wouldn't really exist without the CGIbut there ain't a damn bit of fun in it.
Don't worry, though. We'll bring the fun. That's what we do
Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mikl-Em and Maura Sipila will try not to make any "liken" or "lichen" jokes. No promises, though.
October 10, 2010
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
Look, I appreciate the idea of Kate Beckinsale in black leather as much as the next girl who like seeing other girls in leather. But even Kate had better things to do than appear in this CGI stinkburger.
Pixelized pandemonium reigns.
Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, Maura Sipila and other leatherfolk.
Really, people? Are you going to make me state the obvious? Because I will. Don't think I won't.
Without fail, every movie we do has someone who loves it and considers its presence on our schedule to be a grave offense.
Like this week's feature, which has inspired more "Hey, that's a good/fun movie! How can you show that at Bad Movie Night?" complaints than I've received in a while.
The short answer: repeat to yourself, "It's just a show, I should really just relax."
The long answer: well, yeah, it's a fun movie. We like doing fun movies. Fun movies are fun. Movies that aren't fun aren't fun, so we try not to do them. (I'm not saying unfun movies don't slip through with alarming frequency. Fuck you, Jaws: The Revenge.)
As for whether or not a particular movie is good, who said it wasn't? We certainly never said that [insert name of whatever movie you like] is bad. That's not what "Bad Movie Night" means.
See, this involves subjects and objects and participles and shit, but try to follow along: Bad Movie Night is a bad night watching a movie, what with us yahoos in the front rows on microphones making fun of the movie and the audience joining in too and everyone munching on the free popcorn and just having the best time that $5 can buy on a Sunday night in the Mission. And some people think that's bad.
For us, it's all about having fun, as we intend to with this week's soldiers versus werewolves movie.
We like to have fun. What, you don't?
WHY DO YOU HATE FUN?
Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Tristan Buckner were going to invite you to the afterparty, but decided not to because YOU HATE FUN.
October 3, 2010
Soldiers versus werewolves. Geddit? The soldiers aren't actually dogs, but the werewolves are dogs, and...oh, never mind.
Hirsute wackiness ensues.
Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Tristan Buckner and other lycanthropes.
He was never anyone's idea of a great director, necessarily, but by god, his movies were fun. They were reliable.
I've followed his career with bemused interest since I saw his first movie on cable in the eighties, Born American:
And this was 1987, so, the whole concept of being captured by Commies was scary. I guess. I still thought Red Dawn could happen.
Anyway, I never saw his next movie, Prison. But we had a standee for it at my video store for the longest time, and it sure looked scary.
The first film of his I saw in the theater was Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, because at the time, seeing Nightmare on Elm Street movies in the theater seemed like a good idea. It wasn't quite as awesome as Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors, but what was?
1990 was when his career really kicked in, with both Die Hard 2: Die Harder and The Adventures of Ford Fairlane. I never cared for Andrew Dice Clay, but I strangely enjoyed the latter:
1993 brought Cliffhanger, which may be where he peaked creatively. (See what I did there? "Peaked!" Like mountains! Which have peaks!)
After that, he fell into the Peter Bogdanovich trap of putting squeeze into this next two movies, Cutthroat Island and the The Long Kiss Goodnight. Cutthroat is one of the most notorious flops in movie history, costing a zillion dollars and roughly zilch. Goodnight was actually a pretty nifty thriller, but by that point nobody cared.
Next up was this week's feature, and I'm still not sure who decided to give him the money to make it. I'm glad they did, mind you, but I actually enjoy this movie a lot. As far as I'm concerned, it's the last truly entertaining movie Harlin made.
(A note on the standard "That's not a bad movie!" complaint. I don't necessarily disagree. Not every movie we do is bad (though that's a subjective concept anyway). Heck, I don't think Deep Blue Sea is a bad movie. But that's not the point. It's a fun movie, and damnit, we need those every so often, especially after sitting through dreck like Jaws: The Revenge.)
Anyway, after this movie, it was all over for ol' Renny. Oh, he kept making movies, but wanna know what the next one was after this week's feature?
Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and Ziad Ezzat refuse to acknowledge The Covenant. It did not happen. Period.
September 26, 2010
Deep Blue Sea
Samuel L. Jackson takes on motherfucking sharks.
Pandemonium which must keep moving forward (or it dies) reigns.
Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, Ziad Ezzat and other scymnodon squamulosus.
They're the folks who made this week's feature, the preview for which was all over the Internets last year (even if some people inexplicably didn't come across it until this year) (yeah, I'm looking at you, Peaches), and they're also responsible for the more recent buzz-magnet Titanic II.
Let's enjoy the trailer, shall we?
Yes, it's a goofy concept. Yes, it's clearly low-budget with crappy special effects. Yes, it's probably not a "good" movie by any known definition of the word.
Here's the thing: it's not supposed to be.
D'ya follow what I mean? The people who make these movies, the folks at The Asylum, they get it. They're in on the joke. They're doing it on purpose, okay?
And I respect them for that. They know they're making crap, but they're trying to have as much fun as they possibly can making crap. (Y'know what happens when you make crap but don't have fun? Jonah Hex.) And they have a a brilliant marketing sense, with the balls to just flat out make movies called Snakes on a Train or Transmorphers. That's moxie, is what that is.
In a way, I almost feel like we're cheating by doing one of their movies. Indeed, it may be trickier than usual, since (much like why we tend not to do comedies) it's difficult to make fun of a movie that's already making fun of itself.
But what the hell. It's Shark Month, it's fucking Mega-Shark vs. Giant Octopus, and most importantly, it stars Debbie Gibson.
Oh, right! That's something else I admire about them: they hire people who may not be getting a lot of work otherwise. To me, that's great. People like Debbie Gibson, Bruce Davison, Tiffany (!), and Jaleel White (he played Urkel (!!)), who's in the upcoming sequel, Mega-Shark vs. Crocosaurus.
Gods bless you, The Asylum. Keep fighting the good fight.
hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Tristan Buckner will still bring their mega-snark.
Oh, Jaws. It's a great movie, but it has such a tricky legacy. And I don't mean just Jaws: The Revenge.
In addition to creating the template for the modern blockbuster filmcan you believe Jaws was the first movie to be released everywhere at once?it also spawned a horde of imitators and ripoffs, some more obvious than others.
Now, it was by no means the first "nature goes berserk" movie. Those date back to the fifties, and Hitchcock's 1963 The Birds arguably being the most famous example. And the genre was still showing singns of life in the early seventies before Jaws with movies like (ahem) Frogs. (Didn't say they were good movies, did I?)
But then Spielberg's movie came out, and the genre exploded.
There was, for example, the way-back-when Bad Movie Night killer whale feature Orca:
That one was clever because "Orca" also happened to be the name of the boat in Jaws. See what they did there?
Something that always bothered me about the title Jaws was that it felt misleading. It wasn't the jaws that got you, y'know? It was the fuckin' teeth.
More to the point was the Italian octopus movie Tentacles:
Though "Shelley Winters" would have been an equally terrifying title. (Zing! Take that, dead lady!)
Sometimes it got a little too obvious, and Universal Pictures would get pissy. Like what happened with the also-Italian Great White (original title: L'ultimo Squalo), which Universal sued right the fuck out of the theaters:
Bad Movie Night's forefathers, Mystery Science Theater 3000, even did one of the plethora of Italian jobs, Devil Fish:
And they weren't all set in the water. I have great love for (the extremely American) Day of the Animals, in which a bare-chested Leslie Nielsen wrassles a bear in the rain:
I got to see that movie at The Castro Theater. You are so fucking jealous of me right now.
Anyway, they tapered off a little after the mid-eighties before a resurgence in the late nineties. Thanks for that, SciFi Channel.
Which leads us to...
hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and Dan Foley will wrassle this movie like a bear. A bear-shark. Or something.
September 12, 2010
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
The film which answers all your questions left over from Shark Attack 2: Regular Lodon.
Hammerheaded pandemonium reigns.
Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, Dan Foley and other centrophorus isodon.
Yeah. The fourth film in the Jaws serieswhich, like most film series, shouldn't have been a series at all. Except the first one made money, so another one was made, and when that one made money...okay, you get.
Fun fact about movie sequels then and now: they used to cost less than the originals. The Planet of the Apes series is a famous example of this, as the studio kept slashing the budgets, spending far less on the final film than they had on the first.
Things have changed quite a bit. The '07 Alvin and the Chipmunks movie cost $60M. The '09 sequel cost $75M. Combined, they grossed over $400M.
Shame on you, America. SHAME ON YOU.
Anyway, this week's feature is from a different era in filmmaking, when sequels cost progressively less, and whooboy, it showed on screen.
Now, let's enjoy Siskel & Ebert's review:
Notice that at 3:20, ol' Roger describes riffing at a preview screening.
So, money. That's why any movie is made, and especially sequels, and everyone involved in it is there to make a buck. Period. Deal with it.
Michael Caine certainly did.
He won for Best Supporting Actor in '97 for Hannah and Her Sisters (great movie, by the way), but couldn't be at the ceremony because he was shooting this stinkburger. Here's the clip from that show, which I can't embed because the Academy's a bunch of dickweeds. (Also, how hot is Sigourney? I know it's just some sort of ribbon, but damn, that looks like kitty ears to me.)
Michael Caine was philophical about it all, hence his famous comment about the movie which prevented him from accepting his Oscar in person: "I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific."
And we love ya for that, you Cockney bastard you.
hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Tim Kay will punch this movie right in the nose.
September 5, 2010
Jaws: The Revenge
Back in the Eighties, Michael Caine never said "no" to a script, which is why he was out of the country filming this when he won the Academy Award for Hannah and Her Sisters. Seriously.
Great white wackiness ensues.
Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Tim Kay and other sphyrna zygaena.
If you read the intertubes, you know he's supposed to be, like, the worst director of all time. He's not, because Hal P. Warren once existed. If you went back in time and killed Warren with a shovel, then maybe Boll might conceivably be the worst director. But you aren't going to, so he isn't.
But Boll ain't a good director, and the movies that he makes are very bad indeed. Indeed, this week's feature is the one that really introduced him to American audiences.
What makes him so much fun to hate is that he gives as good as he gets, like challenging his critics to boxing matches:
So that's kinda cool, we'll grant him that. It doesn't change the fact that his movies are shit, though.
But watching shitty movies is what we're all about.
hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Ira Emsig and birthday boy Tristan Buckner have lousy left jabs, but great snark.
August 29, 2010
House of the Dead
A first-person shooter by Uwe Boll, the most hated director in the world whose name isn't "Michael Bay."
Teutonic wackiness ensues.
Sherilyn Connelly, Tristan Buckner, Ira Emsig and other deadites.
I grew up playing the Atari 2600, and while I eventually graduated (sorta kinda) to Nintendonot to mention playing damn near every game ever made for the Apple ][, thanks to my older brother's network of copying confederatesI stopped playing video games after that. Stopped playing them as much as I once did, anyway.
Mind you, I was in college during the mid-nineties, which meant I played Doom on my computer, but I never had another console system. I would occasionally pick up a discount computer game in the bargain bin (usually anything Star Wars or preferably Star Trek-related), but otherwise, I fell off that wagon.
And then, in 1999, my brother turned me on to emulationrunning old software on new systems. Specifically, MAME (for playing old arcade games), and Stella (for playing Atari 2600 games). Opened up a whole new world for me, by allowing my already deeply ingrained Gen-X nostalgia to calcify.
Now, I should point out that emulation across the board is considered a criminal act by the Entertainment Software Association. So, whatever you do, do not follow this tutorial about using MAME so you can enjoy games from years past that are otherwise dead and buried. It would make the ESA cry!
I've sort of moved forward in the meantime, having finally downloaded a Super Nintendo emulator, and discovered that Donkey Kong Country is a pretty fun game. (Who knew?) And I remember being at someone's house sometime in the late nineties and seeing this one Star Wars game on what I eventually deduced was a Nintendo 64. I thought about it occasionally, but even during that absurd dot-com period where I was making entirely too much money, buying one of the machines never seemed worth it. Still doesn't.
But, by gods, I can emulate it. (Probably. Haven't tried that system yet. Have I mentioned how much fun Donkey Kong Country is?)
Anyway, it's been getting me to thinking that in twenty years, someone is going to fire up an emulator on whatever brain-implant computer they're using (an iBrain, no doubt), and they're going to play the games that were popular today.
I just can't see Hitman being one of them, though. I just can't.
I wasn't really a big fan of the gamesI enjoyed them well enough, but they weren't my life or anything, and Nintendo never really shook my stubborn, doomed loyalty to the Atari 2600and yet I was compelled to pay good money and plunk my ass down in a theater. (A theater which, for reasons I do not understand this day, showed the trailer for Wim Wenders's Until the End of the World beforehand. I was already a Wenders fan because of Wings of Desire and was going to see World anyway, but seeing its trailer before a video game movie was odd, to say the least.) The main reason I went to see it was
Well, first, I have to ask: do you remember Max Headroom?
It's hard to believe, but some people don't. Or even saw him in the first place My girlfriend, for example, is twenty-nine and a half years old, seven years my juniorborn in 1980, if that helps with the mathand when I showed her this video, she really wasn't at all sure what she was seeing:
(He's not wrong, you know. T is for Tommy.)
I tried explaining it to her, especially getting across how awesome it was at the time and the deep love it instilled in many of us for Matt Frewer (who else was thrilled to see him in Watchmen last year?) (oh, and keep an eye on our schedule for Watchmen next year), but I think it was a you kinda-had-to-be-there sorta thing.
Anyway, for me, the best part of the whole Max Headroom deal was the original British teevee movie, Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future. The American teevee series that followed was pretty great, too (and it comes out on DVD soon!), but you just can't beat the wonderfully weird, Gilliam-esque textures of the original, not to mention it's all prescient and cyberpunk and shit:
The show, and the character of Max, were created by Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel. I was a credit-watcher in those days (as I still am), and I also made a point of reading the credits of every movie poster (as I still do).
So, way back in 1993 I saw that this new movie based on a video game (!) was directed by the people who created Max Headroom, I figured, heck, it had to be good.
hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Bryce Byerley something something something Mushroom Kingdom something something.
August 1, 2010
Super Mario Bros.
Samanatha Mathis (not pictured here) is quite hot in this movie. That's all you need to know.
Powered-up wackiness ensues.
Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Bryce Byerley and other Bowsers.
It always cracks me up when fans get all worked up over casting in movies.
One of the most famous examples was the casting of Micheal Keaton in Tim Burton's Batman. Holy jeez, did people go batshit (geddit?) carzy about that one. "Beetlejuice as Batman? Mr. Mom as Batman? That one guy who wasn't Fonzie in Night Shift as Batman? MICHAEL KEATON WILL RUIN BATMAN!"
As they are wont to do, a letter-writing campaign was launched. Fifty-thousand letters were allegedly sent to Warner Bros., who gave not half a shit.
The movie of course went on to be the biggest hits of 1989 and more or less began the wave of superhero movies which we're still drowning under today. And Michael Keaton himself was unflappably cool about the whole thing:
There was slightly less vocal complaining about Prince doing the music. I remember at least one of my friends saying "I really liked the movie, except for the Prince music." Which I can only say now, twenty-one years later: oh, shut up. Besides, the "Batdance" video was awesome, even if Prince forced the music to come down because the internet is over:
Anyway, the next big collective panty-bunching was a few years later when this week's feature was being cast. Even the author of the original book was outraged, though to her credit (I guess), she admits she was wrong about the role of Lestat:
And the movie was a pretty big hit. Funny thing, thoughwhere Michael Keaton was asked to reprise his role as Batman in Batman Returns, the sequel to this week's feature (Queen of the Damned, which we did last October) featured someone else entirely as Lestat.
hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and Ira Emsig still think that casting Mickey Rourke in anything at all will ruin it.
As I've mentioned more than once, perhaps the greatest scourge of movie advertising is the Giant Floating Head.
It's a comparatively modern phenomenon. Once upon a time, how a big star someone was could be determined by the size of their name in relation to the name of the film. Sylvester Stallone's career is a classic example of this.
In more recent times, however, as the salaries of stars began to grow to match their egos, they began to demand not just their name be big, but their face. The earliest example I can find of this is the poster for this week's feature:
Though there's some streaky cars down below, it's quite obvious that the raison d'etre of this film is Tom Cruise's pretty, pretty face.
But at least the poster has some style to it, what with the bluishness and the oranginess (well before that color scheme would be abused in posters and the movies themselves). The reigning champ of the Giant Floating Head has no such artsy-fartsy pretensions, of course. Before you blow him, lose yourself in Mel's big beautiful Jew-hating eyes:
Eventually, it stopped being reserved for just high-paid stars, and the Giant Floating Head became a common design even for movie starring people who don't make $20M a picture. The heads are just a little smaller, perhaps filling only three-eights of the vertical space, and they may not have the star's name in ginormous type, but they're still giant heads and they're still floating.
I used to think, hope, pray that this horrible design motif would fall out of favor, that eventually Hollywood would move away from its sterile, genetic mug-obsession. And the sameyness isn't always just Giant Floating Heads, eitherjust look at Jason Statham movie posters. But the floating heads are the worst, and I came to realize that the only way they'd go away is if people stopped going to the movies in question. Maybe if enough of them flopped, we'd finally get some more original posters, and the heads would float no more.
And then this happened:
hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Tristan Buckner and Zeke Tyrus have giant heads, but they do not float.
July 18, 2010
Days of Thunder
Tom Cruise is a handsome maverick race car driver who plays by his own rules.
Forumula 1 wackiness ensues.
Sherilyn Connelly, Zeke Tyrus and other Sunday drivers.
In 1986, Top Gun fundamentally changed the face of movie distribution, and how we think about movies.
Not just because it was a big hit and made Tom Cruise into a bankable movie star for the next twenty years. Heck, this was even pre-Scientology, if you can believe that. It has to do with home video, and the death of movies as events.
Though they weren't referring to this movie in particular, Robin Bougie and his wife Rebecca Dart summed up it nicely in the ninth issue of Bad Movie Night's favorite zine, Cinema Sewer:
Do you know that feeling? Home video kinda destroyed the concept of movies as something special. Sure, they still get all the money and attention for the most part, and in spite of the incursions made by teevee and Betamax and downloading and everything else which was supposed to kill off the industry it's still going strong, but the magic is gone. It's been gone for a long time.
Used to be, you could only see a movie either when it was originally in the theater, when it was teevee, or when it was re-released to theaters. Major theatrical re-releases have been largely unheard of since the early eighties, and only Disney really carried the torch into the nineties, though they've
shifted that particular business model to DVDs.
And network teevee premieres were once a big deal. I still have fond memories of Superman being shown on ABC in 1982. I was nine, and the Atari logo appearing over the explosion of Krypton at 2:54 was the coolest thing ever:
I'm thirty-seven now, and I still think it's one of the the coolest things ever.
Anyway, in its first decade or so, home video was a rental industry. The movie companies sold the tapes to the video stores (often for a hundred dollars or more), and the stores turned around and rented them to customers. The stores would often sell used tapes, but except for a few crappy things like children's movies or concert videos, new and unwatched videotapes were not sold to customers. If they really wanted to they could special-order a new copy through the video store, but few movies garnered that kind of devotion in their fans. Mind you, several months after the movie had been out and the stores were sufficiently gouged the companies would often release them "Priced-to-own!" but if you wanted it as soon as it came out, you'd pay a hefty fee.
With Top Gun, however, they tried something new. They released it at what they called "sell-through" pricing right off the bat. To push it, they even distributed buttons for video store employees to wear: "Top Gun for $24.95? Ask me how!" (Yeah, I know what you're thinking. "A VHS tape for $24.95? Fuck that!" Hey, this was the eighties. We didn't know any better, alright?) The risk was partially subsidized by the presence of Diet Pepsi commercial at the beginning of the tape, another (sad, sad) first:
This was at a time when, say, twenty minutes of commercials before a theatrical movie was unthinkable. See what I mean? Everything changed.
Now the notion of collecting movies is commonplace, of building one's own video library. I'm no less guilty of it than anyone else. Hell, I'm more guilty of it. I'm a rabid media collector, and between the ability to copy DVDs and the advent of broadband and BitTorrent, I have more movies and teevee shows than I could ever reasonably expect to watch. Heck, I hardly ever go to movies anymore, both because of the cost (yay funemployment!) and because I know they'll be available soon to watch at home in super-high quality. And there's thousands to choose from, at the tip of my fingers. Movies just aren't special anymore, and it can all be traced back to Top Gun.
Mind you, none of this has anything to do with this week's feature, which came out five years earlier and features Tom Cruise is in a supporting role.
Still, though. Makes you think.
hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and Maura Sipila would like to remind you that copyright infringement is your best entertainment value.
July 11, 2010
Tom Cruise is a handsome maverick military cadet who plays by his own rules.
Staccato pandemonium reigns.
Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, Maura Sipila and other grunts.
Most people today tend forget not only how popular they were in the mid-sixties, and how influential. Indeed, more and more band over the past decade have been open in acknowledging their debt to The Beach Boys, but at the time, they had a friendly rivalry going on with The Beatles, and the bands inspired each other's greatest work.
Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys heard The Beatles' Rubber Soul and realized The Beach Boys had to step up their game, and the result was Pet Sounds, misunderstood at the time but now rightfully considered their masterpiece. Paul McCartney heard Pet Sounds and realized that The Beatles had to step up their game in response, and the result was Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, rightfully considered one of the best albums ever made. But Pepper wouldn't have happened without Pet Sounds. And when Brian (who was pretty much the driving force of The Beach Boys in the studio) tried to step up his game once again in response with an album called Smile, he accidentally broke his brain. It doesn't help that he had undiagnosed mental illness, admittedly. (Don't tell Tom I'm talking about mental illness. That makes him cranky.)
The Beach Boys certainly never recovered financiallyunlike with The Beatles, their audience never really followed them when they attempted to matureand while they never quite topped or replicated Pet Sounds on any level, they still managed to squeak out some great music now and then. The problem was that by the end of the seventies they were an unfashionable relic, and their name was a stigma they could not escape. I steadfastly believe that if "Slip on Through" from 1970's Sunflower or "Trader," "Big Sur" or "Steamboat" from 1973's Holland had been released by anyone else, they would have been big hits. Actually, on second thought, there's no way "Steamboat" could have been a hit, but that just makes it even better.
Holland was their last attempt at making a truly great album. It succeeded in being a great album, but failed in getting anyone to actually buy it, and after that, they accepted their fate as an oldies act. It was all downhill from there.
Except that somehow, they kept making money. And in the eighties, they surprised the entire universe by not only scoring their first Number #1 single since the sixties, but by having it eventually covered by The Muppets:
Suck it, Sgt. Pepper.
hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Ira Emsig will get there fast and then take it slow.
July 4, 2010
Tom Cruise is a handsome maverick bartender who plays by his own rules.
Mixed wackiness ensues.
Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Ira Emsig and other barflies.
I've gone on record more than once as saying that I don't mind remakes. Every time a remake is announced, there's always a great gnashing of teeth from the geekerati, and the same old tired lament: "Why can't Hollywood do something original for once?" They always think that they're the first ones to say so, even though (as usual) The Onion had the last word on the subject over a decade ago. These also tend to be the same people who actually go to see a Transformers movie in the theater, thus continuing to validate the whole economic system which thrives on sequels and remakes.
There are few better examples of the Hollwyood remake/sequel machine than the Planet of the Apes series.
It went like this. The original 1968 Planet of the Apes (which was based on a novel, I might add, and therefore not strictly "original") was a big hit, and followed in 1970 by Beneath the Planet of the Apes, one of those sequels which is more like a remake with a different cast. After that came Escape from the Planet of the Apes in 1971, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes in 1972, and closing out with Battle for the Planet of the Apes in 1973. Think about it: they shit out one of these movies per year for four years, a record which pretty much stood uncontested until the Saw movies (for which "shit" ceased to be a metaphor).
Of course, even though the film series ran out of gas there was always television. In 1974, there was a live-action Planet of the Apes teevee show:
It flopped because nobody cared, but that was okay, because in 1975 they tried again with a cartoon, this time called Return to the Planet of the Apes, since "return" was the only verb left:
It died after one season, but that was okay too, because what really mattered were the money-making toys:
And that was more or less it in terms of new productions, but the movies played forever on teevee, and the first film was firmly lodged in the public consciousness. A remake/reboot/relaunch was inevitable, though director Tim Burton (what happened to ya, Tim? Seriously, what the fuck?) called his 2001 mess a "re-imagining" rather than a remake. Because that makes a difference, somehow.
The movie was a flop and nobody liked it, and that was more or less that.
That's right, bitches: a prequel to a remake that nobody liked.
Don't ever change, Hollywood.
hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and Phil Darnowsky will not keep their stinking paws off this damn dirty movie.
June 27, 2010
Planet of the Apes (2001)
Remember when Tim Burton's movies were creative and interesting and usually didn't suck? This film is not from that time period.
Wackiness ensues in a madhousea madhouse!!!
Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, Phil Darnowsky and other damn dirty apes.
Man, can you imagine cutting Rosario Dawson out of a movie?
I can't. I mean, jeez, why would I want to do that to my girlfriend? (Not that she knows she's my girlfriend, but someday...)
Rob Zombie did, though. He cut her out of The Devil's Rejects, his sequel to House of 1,000 Corpses. Her performance was fine, and of course, she was breathtakingly gorgeous as always, but the scene she was in just didn't work for the film. The tone was completely wrong, and he recognized that and did what had to be done.
House of 1,000 Corpses was a colorful, at times garish film, kind of a mash-up between the old DC Horror Comics and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and it devolved into full-on comic bookiness at the end with the final reveal of Dr. Satan.
The Devil's Rejects drained out all the color and garishness and went into straght-on Chainsaw territory, tone-wise. For my money it's ultimately the better film as a result, but in the long run, they're so different they almost can't be compared, even with the same characters.
Which is where Rosario's scene comes in, featuring the return of Dr. Satan:
Zombie said he cut the scene because "seeing Dr. Satan in this film would be like seeing Chewbacca in Bonnie and Clyde." Which pretty much nails it.
House of 1,000 Corpses was cartoony, and The Devil's Rejects was (for want of a better word) realistic.
It's kinda the opposite of what happened with this week's feature, the sequel to Pitch Black, which was (for want of a better word) realistic.
But this time, the director doesn't know better than to keep Chewbacca out of it. If you know what I mean.
hosts are Jim Fourniadis, Dan Foley and Tim Kay and no wookiees. (Probably.)
June 20, 2010
The Chronicles of Riddick
Vin Diesel (again with the baldies!) makes a horrible career choice, making this sequel to Pitch Black instead of the sequel to xXx or The Fast and the Furious. (Then again, maybe he was screwed no matter what.)
Gleaming wackiness ensues.
Sherilyn Connelly, Tim Kay, Dan Foley and other chromedomes.
June 13, 2010, 6pm
rhiannon and sherilyn's
star wars trilogy
I had a horrible realization yesteday. It's been festering in the back of my mind for a while now, but I finally got to the point where I couldn't deny it.
I was leaving the Pharmacy at San Francisco General Hospital. They're good people doing a tough job, but holy jeez, there's so much red tape and miscommunication and just generally bad vibes there, and they manage to goof up something regarding my prescription every time.
I was in a tizzy as I left because I was going to have to return in a few days to get the prescription which should have been ready by now, and I tweeted thusly:
And that's when it hit me: I'm a Star Wars fan.
I've always claimed not to be. Part of it is my pride in being a lifelong Star Trek fan, what the the faux-rivalry between the two camps. But the simple fact is that I've always liked Trek better (in spite of their attempts to lose me as a fan, such as Nemesis and Enterprise). And while I certainly didn't dislike Star Wars, I was not fan.
But I know way, way too much. I have opinions about it. I can make esoteric references like the above tweet, and I can discuss at some length why the Bea Arthur scene in the Star Wars Holiday Special may well be the emotional backbone of the show, or why the contributions of Irving Kershner and Genndy Tartakovsky are easily the high-water mark for the entire franchise.
I have a stuffed bantha, for pete's sake. Rhiannon gave it to me for my birthday last year.
So, yeah. It's time to come clean.
My name is Sherilyn, and I'm a Star Wars fan.
And hey, speaking of Star Wars and birthdaysin honor of the birthdays of The Dark Room's favorite Geminis, Rhiannon (June 12) and myself (June 16), we're riffing on the first three Star Wars movies, the ones that weren't lousy. (Not as lousy as The Phantom Menace, anyway.) In a row. Back to back.
It's more Harrison Ford than you can shake a stick at. And why would you want to shake a stick at someone his age, you insensitive bastard? He's, like, eighty! And he starred in Firewall, so he's already traumatized! Damn, you suck.
But that's okay, because you're still our BFF, and we totally want you to come to our birthday party, okay? It's going to be a total blast, we swear. Our parents are out of town and you can stay over and we have the keys to the liquor cabinet (aka "the liquor store across the street") and it's just going to be a whole lot of fun and you don't have to stay for the whole
time if you want to and just please show up, okay?
We know it's a schoolnight for a lot of you, so we're starting early: 6pm. That's when we're going to watch the original Star Wars, with Mikl-Em co-hosting. At 8pm we'll watch The Empire Strikes Back with Mike Spiegelman, and at 10pm Ziad Ezzat will help us close out the night with The Return of the Jedi.
By the way, we're going to be watching the original theatrical versions. No CGI, no Jabba or Boba Fett in Star Wars and no Hayden Christensen as a ghost at the end of Jedi, and you'd best believe Greedo doesn't shoot first.
Oh, and presents? Don't worry about it. Your presence is your present.
If you really wanna get us stuff, here's Rhiannon's Amazon wish list, and this is mine, though blank DVD-Rs always make me happy.
Though nothing would make me and Rhiannon happier than you joining us this Sunday, 'kay? 'kay.
(Be sure to get there at 6pm if you wanna see Han shoot first.)
June 13, 2010, 6pm Special Event (in a box!):
Rhiannon and Sherilyn's Star Wars Trilogy Birthday Sleepover!
To celebrate Rhiannon and Sherilyn's birthday(s), we're going to riff on the first three Star Wars movies, the ones that (mostly) didn't suck.
And we're riffing on the original theatrical versions, with no CGI, no Hayden Christensen, and you'd best believe Han shoots first.
Bring your jammies and blankets and get cozy. Necking with the birthday girls encouraged.
Forceful wackiness will ensue. SHOW BEGINS AT 6PM, BITCHES.
Then there's the truism which, in spite of how it's spelled, is not true: the Star Trek moives which end in even numbers (or, at least, are even-numbered in order) are good, and the odd-numbered ones are bad. The "odd-numbered movie curse," it's often called. It's another example of humies looking for patterns in chaos, and as a result, at least one really good movie has gotten the bum's rush.
I first heard the theory after Star Trek Generations was released. I actually liked it quite a lotJohn Alonzo's cinematography was wonderful, especially in the early scenes when the Enterprise-D was lit from the Amargosa star (seriously, mute the volume if you have to, but go back and watch those scenes again just for the lighting)and it made a lot of money, but the general consensus was that it sucked.
Then First Contact came out, with lots of bang-bang action and shit blowing up, and everyone was all "Hey, this awesome! And if it had a number, it would be even, therefore the even-numbered Star Trek movies are great and the odd-numbered movie are awful! Because we're simple-minded fanboys who can only think in oversimplified dichotomies which don't allow for nuance or shades of gray!" It was as simple as that (minus that final sentence, which was the subtext).
Now, it's true that nobody but me and KrOB like Star Trek: The Motion Picture, as I explain in my Medialoper article on the subect, and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was a disaster thanks to a weak script and a slashed budget and a bad director. Though I will say that in Star Trek V's defense, it's the classic so-bad-it's-good movie. There's something wrong with every frame of the movie. It's like a car wreck with bad special effects and worse toupees, and it's endlessly entertaining as a result. (If you want to commit a Leaving Las Vegas-style suicide via alcohol poisoning, play the "Take a shot every time you see something wrong in Star Trek V" drinking game. Your liver will crawl out of your esophagus and try to knock the bottle out of our hand.)
So everybody liked First Contact and nobody liked Insurrection (the ninth film), so once again everyone was all "Odd-numbered movie curse!" Funny thing was, when this week's feauture flopped hard while sucking bigger and hairier donkey balls than anything else in the franchise, I never heard anyone say "Oh, I guess that breaks the curse, and maybe there never was a freakin' curse to begin with, therefore perhaps certain of the odd-numbered movies have their strong points and should be considered on their own terms." Nope, nobody said that. For that matter, when last year's new Star Trek came outthe eleventh film in the series, even called Star Trek XI in preproductionand all the fans gushed over it, nobody said "Hey, that odd-numbered movie was great! I guess that breaks the curse, and maybe"...well, you get the idea.
Here's the thing: for as much fun as Star Trek II is (though I consider it a tad overrated, with flat direction, a dull color pallette which trades the gray of the previous film for beige, and horrible sound recording which renders much of the dialogue inaudible), and as popular as it's always been with the fans and the general public and how it's pretty well responsible for the dumbass "odd-numbered movie curse," what nobody remembers is that when Star Trek III: The Seach for Spock came out two years later, it was an ever bigger critical and financial hit. Indeed, it was considered better than Star Trek II. I still think it it's the superior film, but nooooo, conventional wisdom is that it sucks because the it's the third movie, rather than the second or fourth.
Even though, as previously stated, this tenth film is really, really bad.
Bleh. Fans are such big dumb stupidheads sometimes.
hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Ziad Ezzat would like to point out that fans of Bad Movie Night are
exempted from the "big dumb stupidhead" comment above.
June 6, 2010
Star Trek: Nemesis
A bald guy fights his clone, who is also bald. Which makes them both like penises (like Swayze's sword!). What we're trying to say is, it's pretty gay.
Wackiness boldly ensues.
Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Ziad Ezzat and other new lifeforms.
It's a truism which happens be to true, which is why they call it's spelled that way. (Duh, people. Keep up!)
Movie comedians always want to play serious parts. Them clowns, they're always crying on the inside.
If their career is going well enough, they'll inevitably use their clout to finally make that financially risky heavy-drama movie.
One of the more notorious example of this is Woody Allen, who, after directing a string of wacky comedies which culminated in the the biggest hit of his career with the Oscar-winning (and really quite brilliant) romantic comedy Annie Hall, next made Interiors, a quiet drama in the vein of his hero, Ingmar Bergman.
When people complained about how we wasn't being funny anymore, he responded with the meta and gorgeous Stardust Memories, one of my most favoritest movies ever:
In more recent years, the most obvious examples of the Sad Cinematic Clown are Jim Carrey and Will Smith. Sometimes this results in excellent movies, like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind:
And sometimes...well, let's just say that sometimes, jellyfish are involved.
hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Dan Foley are free-swimming members of the phylum Cnidaria.
May 30, 2010
Will Smith battles...um...well, we're not really sure. Existential ennui or jellyfish or something. But he does it with sass!
One hundred and twelve ounces of wackiness ensue.
Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Dan Foley and other stingers.
Again: books are not movies, and I'm okay with that. I get that.
And some books aren't cut out to be made into movies, at least not without some major reworking.
I, Robot is a classic example of this.
Isaac Asimov's work in general doesn't fare too well on screenI'm looking at you, Nightfallbut I, Robot is a special case, because it's not a single narrative. It's a collection of short stories. There are some recurring elements, like (SPOILER!) robots, and it all takes place within the same universe and with at least one constant human character, Susan Calvin.
It also fared pretty well on teevee, oddly enough:
But there was never any real chance of a big-budget film getting it right (whatever "right" means), especially as the years went on and Asimov's fame dimmed.
Which is why I wasn't as bothered as some people about the release of the big-budget I, Robot in 2004, even though it was obvious from the get-go that it would use the name and little else. (Susan Calvin is in the movie, but, well, she's not the hero. Go figure.) Whatevs. No biggie. As they say, the movie didn't do anything to the bookit's still right there on the shelf at the public library.
Ultimately, the reason I can't hate on the movie too much (at least, not until I have a microphone in my hand) is because it saved me from a fate worse than death. Worse than death, I say!
I was in Hollywood on a spoken word tour in July of 2004, and my tour companion was all excited about seeing a movie at Grauman's Chinese Theatre. I was initially intrigued for historical reasons, what with how many famous movie premieres have taken place there, but my enthusiasm dropped sharply when I discovered that it had become a googolplex. That just hurts. That the tickets cost eleven dollars hurt even more. Bear in mind, this was 2004. For that matter, it was eleven 2004 dollars! That's like fifty dollars now!)
Still, I didn't want to let him down, so I said yes. My companion was also focused on one particular movie: White Girls. Did you ever wonder who actually goes to those fucking movies? It stings to discover it's someone you otherwise respect.)Thankfully, it had already been playing for twenty minutes, and I, Robot, so I was able to convince talk to him out of White Girls.
Thanks, I, Robot. I owe ya one.
hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Tim Kay are boys, and they're bad. But they're not bad boys. It's weird.
May 16, 2010
Will Smith battles robotswith sass!
Positronic wackiness ensues.
Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Tim Kay and other Uncanny Valley-dwellers.
I know I just blew your mind with that one, so I'll give you a moment to recover.
See, even when they're telling the same story, they have to tell them differently, because each medium has its own demands, and what works in one format doesn't necessarily work in the other. Being strictly faithful doesn't always help, eithercheck out the first two Harry Potter films, for example, or the miniseries version of The Shining from the late nineties. Faithful to a fault, and pretty lousy as a result.
Godsdamnit, though, how come nobody can get Richard Matheson's 1954 novel I Am Legend right?
It was filmed rather faithfully as the unsubtly titled The Last Man on Earth in 1964, in Italy starring Vincent Price:
There was a lot about it which didn't quite work, mostly owing to the difficulty in showing a city devoid of humans on a low-for-1964 budget, but the film has its charms, and feels like the only version that really gets it. Then there's the original Night of the Living Dead from 1968, which director George Romero fully admits was influenced by I Am Legend as well as The Last Man on Earth:
Of course, it narrows the story down to the core elements of being trapped in a house with the undead trying to get in. Which is plenty right there, and it does it fantastically. (Hey, did you know I starred as Barbara in a 2003 stage version of Night of the Living Dead? I sure did!)
A few years later, I Am Legend was adapted a bit more faithfully during the early seventies wave of dystopian sci-fi films, this time called The Omega Man and starring Charlton Heston and his hairy chest, as a disproportionate number of dystopian sci-fi films did in the early seventies:
When advances in special effects began to make plausibly deserted cities a possibility, a new, keeping-the-name-and-everything version of I Am Legend went into production. Sorta. It took another ten years to actually get a director and actor for real, which is probably just as well, since CGI improved a great deal in the meantime. The heavily I Am Legend-inspired 28 Days Later showed how well it could be done. And that was fucking British movie, for pete's sake. If they could do it, we could do it, right?
Of course, play Brian Eno's "An Ending (Ascent)" in the background, I'll buy whatever you're trying to sell me.
So, anyway, I Am Legend finally came out in 2007, and...gah. It hurts. It burns, almost as bad as those horrible CGI vampire-zombie things (which are called "darkseekers" if you believe the dialogue and "hemocytes" if you trust the subtitles) burn in the sunlight.
They got it wrong, again. Will Smith is actually really good in the lead role, but they threw out so much of the plot and character motivation and reason for the title and...
Let's put it this way: if there were a menu item at Cafe Gratitude which summed up my feelings about this movie, you wanna know what it would be called?
I Am Disappointed.
hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Jason Weiner are not legend. They are, however, Legion.
May 2, 2010
I am Legend
Will Smith battles vampires in post-apocalyptic New Yorkwith sass!
Fabled wackiness ensues.
Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Jason Weiner and other myths.
Before his career-resurrecting death last year, we tended to forget what a big deal Michael Jackson was in the eighties. The mid-eighties, to be precise.
I was ten and a half when his megastardom hit. I didn't listen to Top 40 radio and my mom couldn't afford cable, so the I first heard about the "Thriller" video the next day when all the kids were talking about it on the schoolbus. I'd never heard of Michael Jackson, nor was I aware of MTV, so all I knew was that I was missing out on something big.
Some months later, my mom started dating a guy who was a bit more culturally aware than the both of us combined, and, more importantly, he had a beautiful daughter upon whom I'd developed a crush. I'd actually met her, or at least seen her from afar, the previous summer at camp. Neither of us was more than twelve it and seems awfully weird now, but it felt real enough at the time. (Which sums up the eighties, now that I think about it.)
To bring us up to cultural speed, my mom purchased the Thriller album, inadvertantly helping it to become the best-selling album of all time. The guy and his daughter didn't stick around very long, though at least my mom and I started paying more attention to current pop culture.
Which was a good thing, I guess, at least until "Baby Love" by Regina came out a few years later.
God, that song is SO BAD. It drove me to the relative comfort of classic rock stations, where I'd hide for the better part of the next decade.
Anyway, Michael Jackson never came close to reaching the success of Thriller, which is understandable because it would have been impossible. But nobody bothered to tell him that, and worse, as the money and fame and ego-stroking hooha piled up, he began to self-aggrandize himself in increasingly broad and downright ways.
Which leads us to this movie.
This was intended to be a theatrical release, and it did play in theaters all over the world, except here in Ronald Reagan's America. The problem was, Michael could never get a domestic distrubtion deal to his liking, so it skipped theaters and went straight to video.
Remember that part in The Matrix where Morpheus tells Neo that he can't be told what The Matrix is, he has to see it for himself, which turns out to be bullshit because twenty minutes later he sums up The Matrix in one line of dialogue?
In this case, it's true: you can't be told what Moonwalker is. You have to experience it for yourself. Though we will tell you right now that it features nightmarish claymation, Michael indulging in some seriously weird transformation fantasies, and far beyond the legal limit of Joe Pesci.
In the context-free words of Gwen Stefani, this shit is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S, it is.
hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Maura Sipila and Bryce Byerley don't care if Annie is okay.
April 18, 2010
Michael Jackson's Moonwalker Gwen Stefani was rightthis shit is bananas. Sure, she was referring to something else entirely, but it doesn't change the fact that this movie is B-A-N-A-N-A-S.
Wackiness which is neither bad, dangerous nor invincible ensues.
Sherilyn Connelly, Maura Sipila, Bryce Byerley and other Neverlanders.
Man, Artists for Haiti came and went quick, didn't it?
That "Huh?" reaction you're feeling right now is exactly my point. After the earthquake in Haiti (backstory: there was an earthquake in Haiti), a bunch of people who pass for celebrities got together and recorded a benefit song. And since the earthquake was considerate enough to happen twenty-five years after USA for Africa's "We Are the World", they decide to rewrite that song and call it "We Are the World 25: For Haiti," by Artists for Haiti.
Now, I'm no patriot, but I'm actually kinda glad that they didn't call it USA for Haiti, because I'd hate for my country to be associated with that song. On the other hand, considering that the first singer is Justin Bieber, it's clear the word "Artist" has been greatly devalued.
Anyway, it came and went. It's on YouTube, but so are eight trillion other things (including my old public access show kittypr0n, plug plug plug!), and nobody seems to remember it just a few months later.
Part of this is because the collective memory is so shallow these days, and part of it's because these group celebrity wankoffs have been done so many times, it's kinda impossible to take them seriously. As with so many things, The Simpsons pretty much nailed the coffin shut:
That said, there have been a few benefits of interest. For example, I'm still fond of the "Give Peace a Chance" remake which Sean Lennon organized to protest the Gulf War:
It starts off with Peter Gabriel, so it can't be all bad. (Again: Justin Bieber? Really?) Not to mention Adam Ant, Randy Newman and Iggy Pop are also involved, so the cool points are undeniable. Since we all know that peace is unpatriotic, a counter-song was released called "Voices that Care," featuring such luminaries as Michael Bolton and Jean Claude Van Damme and starting off with some guy from New Edition:
Little Richard, it should be pointed out, is in both vidoes. Please make up your own joke about him going both ways.
Anyway, it started with USA for Africa. (Actually, that's not true. It started the with Band Aid's horribly imperialist "Do They Know It's Christmas?" from the year before. But for the purposes of this writeup, it started with USA for Africa.) And unlike every other benefit that followed, they really did get all the day's major stars, and a few people who weren't so big commercially but were still legendary and gave the project a gravitas it might have lacked otherwise. Especially Bob Dylan, seen here being taught how to sing like "Bob Dylan" by Stevie Wonder and Quincy Jones:
As a huge Dylan fan, I cannot even begin to express how much joy that clip gives me. I also love the footage starting at :45 of him rehearsing his solo line, which really gives a sense of his contempt for the whole process. Even though he has the lyrics right in front of him, he gets it wrong, singing "It's true we make a better day, for you and me" rather than "It's true we make a better day, just you and me." And ol' Zimmy knows that one word makes all the difference.
Or this clip of Ray Charles starting an impromptu singalong of "The Banana Boat Song." While it's actually sweet and touching in its own right, the fact that Dylan is a) almost always on camera because he's right behind Ray and B) so clearly just wants to go home makes it a slice of fried gold. He cracks a smile now and again, but otherwise, he's just there, and he's the same way in the official "We Are the World" video. In moden parlance, he's photobombing:
I'll bet I know what Dylan was thinking, too: Prince had the right idea.
Conspicuous in his absence from "We are the World"(then and now) was Prince, who, along with Springsteen and Michael Jackson, was one of the biggest stars in the world. And why wasn't he there?
Because he hated Michael Jackson.
Prince was not lured by the incredible free publicity, the allure of which had even ensnared Dylan, a man who was far beyond needing publicity. Nope, Prince didn't want anything to do with Michael Jackson, so he kept his fucking distance. He did contribute a song to the album itself, but otherwise, he stayed at home.
Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and Dan Foley do not make a better day for anyone.
April 11, 2010
Animals strike curious poses, what with the heat between me and you.
Paisley pandemonium reigns.
Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, Dan Foley and other glam slammers.
Seriously. The Fifties: postwar propserity leading to a xenophobia-induced, stifling conformity. Sucked at the time, but it makes enough sense.
The Sixties: a time of social upheaval, rebellion against the societal repressiveness of the Fifties, aided by the advent of readily available contraception and a public outcry against a war. Gotcha.
Then, the Seventies. And this movie.
The Bee Gees and Peter Frampton as the band of the title, singing post-Revolver Beatles songs which have nothing to do with each other thematically or narratively, with George Burns (!) narrating the film as the Mayor of Heartland (!!), and even singing "Fixing a Hole" (the exclamation points have gone on strike).
Steve Martin singing "Maxwell's Silver Hammer." Alice Cooper doing "Because." The detective from all the Halloween movies singing "I Want You."
All of this and more in 1978, the most Seventies-ish year of the Seventies.
What the hell? Seriously, what the hell was going on back then?
Besides the cocaine.
Actually, that explains everything. Forget we asked.
NOTE: The DVD didn't work, so we watched Can't Stop The Music instead.
hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Andy Wenger are not guaranteed a splendid time.
April 4, 2010
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
The Bee Gees and Peter Frampton in a very, very seventies movie sorta kinda not really based on Abbey Road. Or maybe it was Pet Sounds? One of those Rolling Stones albums.
Bell-bottomed wackiness ensues.
Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Andy Wenger, and other lovely meter maids.
On March 27, 2005, Jim Fourniadis and Ty McKenzie unleashed Bad Movie Night on an unsuspecting world.
Damn. Five years of bad movies on Sunday nights. That's, like, two hundred and fifty weeks of copyright violation love.
No one thought it would last. Some of you were hoping it wouldn't. You know who you are.
One former Dark Room regular actively boycotts it, claiming Bad Movie Night "just makes us all that much more stupid." To that, we say...um...er...your mom!
Someone else allegedly said that we should burn down for making fun of It's a Wonderful Life, as we do every December.
But the scorn fueled us, like the blood of Christian babies. That fuels Sherilyn, anyway.
In honor of the haters (hello, haters!), and to help inaugurate the new era of Stalinist tyranny that is Obamacare, we're once again showing the flick that started things off in those sepia-toned days of the mid-Aughts: the 1984 paramilitary
fantasy Red Dawn, in which multicultural Commies take over the US. Or at least a budget-friendly midwestern town.
Come on down and take over The Dark Room as we celebrate five years of Bad Movie Night
making the world stupid for everyone. Especially your mom.
Your hosts will be Sherilyn Connelly, Jim Fourniadis, Tristan Buckner and ZOMG
Bad Movie Night's Fifth Anniversary!
March 28, 2010
Red Dawn Patrick Swayze (not pictured here) plays a high-school football player leading a bunch of kids in a battle against multicultural commies.
Fun fact: being our anniversary show, this will be the sixth time we've done this movie.
Socialized wackiness ensues.
Sherilyn Connelly, Tristan Buckner, Jim Fourniadis and other Wolverines!!!11!!1
Which brings us to the post-Mad Max apocalypse film.
Actually, they're technically the post-Road Warrior films, since that film (called Mad Max 2 internationally) spawned the imitators, not the original. Kinda like how Dawn of the Dead launched the zombie movie genre, not Night of the Living Dead. (The More You Know!) Sadly, there's no -ploitation word for this genre. Which is weird, because the choice is obvious: Maxploitiation!
Equally obvious is the appeal of this genre, at least to the filmmakers: it's dirt cheap. All you need for a location is a desert or other brown terrain, and the costuming doesn't have to be fancy, nor is there really any need for special effects. Just guys in makeshift armor and funky haircuts fighting each other. And cars, of coursethe more pointlessly tricked out, the better.
Much like how the majority of the post-Dawn of the Dead zombie films came out of Italy (cf. Lucio Fulci), Maxploitation was also popular with the folks in The Boot. And the classic era of both genres was the early eighties, concurrent with the rise of video stores and the need for more and more product to fill shelves. People renting the movies knew that, if nothing else, the movie would be batshit crazy and therefore entertaining. A classic example of Italian Maxploitation is 1982's The New Barbarians, aka Warriors of the Wasteland:
Does that not look like the most awesomest movie ever? You know it does. That same glorious year, Italy also gave us 1990: The Bronx Warriors. It's not strictly post-apocalpytic, falling more into the Dystopia categorythere's been no war or apocalypse to speak of, merely social collapsebut it's Maxploitation all the same, and besides, who's writing this? Me or you? Exactly. Anyway, the trailer:
Those movies at least tried. Some Maxploitation couldn't be bothered with French nonsense like mise-en-scène, and instead just shoot wherever they can, including lush green settings which don't appear to have gone anywhere near an apocalypse, such as the Mystery Science Theater 3000 classic Warrior of the Lost World:
If you've watched each clip all the way through (which you have, right? Right!), you've noticed a common actor: Fred Motherfuckin' Williamson. The ol' Hammer himself. He spent much of the seventies and eighties making movies in Italy, and producers loved him, because he was inexpensive, available, thoroughly awesome, and give the films an international marketing hook. (He was in the original Inglorious Bastards, which was recut and marketed in America as G.I. Bro) So, if a Maxploitation film was from Italy and/or featured Fred Williamson, you knew there would be some entertainment value.
This week's feature is not from Italy, and Fred Williamson is not in it. You do the math.
Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Dan Foley will Hammer this movie themselves.
March 21, 2010
According to the movie poster, he is the desert warrior, carving the future with his sword. I'm pretty sure the sword is his penis.
Phallic wackiness ensues.
Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Dan Foley and other road warriors.
American pop culture is in a weird place. On the one hand, it's more fractured than ever, with the internet and hundreds of cable/satellite channels and the means of production and distribution being affordable to the average schmoe. At the same time, it's also more homogenizedthe same movies get shown everywhere at the same time.
Once upon a time, a movie would be opened in just a few cities, and if it did well and the buzz was positive, it would go into wider release. This still happens with much smaller films (one of my favorite movies from last year, Big Fan, didn't play theatrically much outside of San Francisco), but the majority of mainstream movies open everywhere at once.
Right now, you can go pretty much anywhere in the country and find a Best Buy, a Marshalls, a Starbucks or twelve, and a movie theater playing Tim Burton's new crappy-looking Alice in Wonderland. The first movie to open wide, in fact, was Steven Spielberg's Jaws.
Up until the seventies and Jaws and the birth of the modern blockbuster age, movie distribution was a much more regional affair. Movies were created and sold to specific markets, to exploit what those audiences wanted to see. Ah, the golden days of the exploitation film. Anyway, the first five minutes of this clip from Tim Burton's Ed Wood (his best film ever, thank you drive through) is a decent summary of the system:
"I already presold Alabama and Oklahoma. Those repressed oakies, they go for that twisted, perverted stuff."
True then, and probably true now. At the time, however, the South was a major market for exploitation movies, and more than that, they liked seeing movies about the South. Movies made for these audiences seldom played in the rest of the countrywho would want to see themand are referred to as Hicksploitation. (I actually don't know if that's what they were called at the time. Probably not, because it feels kinda retconny, like something a modern writer coined to be clever. But it's an awesome word either way.)
The great explotation director Herschell Gordon Lewis ("great" in the sense of that he was prolific and groundbreaking, not in the sense that he was any good as a director, because he wasn't) knew this market well, and his followup to his groundbreaking gore film Blood Feast was a classic example of selling to that audience while still having a broader appeal. It also has the best theme song EVAR. I refer, of course, to his 1964 masterpiece Two Thousand Maniacs!:
Indeed, though he's mostly remembered today for his gore films, Lewis's very next movie Moonshine Mountain (also 1964, because why wait?) was pure Hicksploitation minus the blood:
(Quick poll: who else will always associate moonshine with The Dukes of Hazzard? Yeah, i knew I wasn't the only one.)
Hicksploitation continued on into the seventies, though the budgets got slightly bigger and some of the actors became movie stars, like ol' Burt:
He was also in what's probably the last great Hicksploitation film, and certainly the most in famous one, the mainstream Deliverance. Yeah, the one with the squealing.
Thanks to video and the end of regional film distribution and a general changing of the American cultural tide, the genre was pretty well dead as a genre by 1989, when this week's feature came out.
And if it hadn't been dead, this movie would have killed it.
Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Tristan Buckner and Wylie Herman will make sure the South doesn't rise again.
March 14, 2010
Next of Kin
Patrick Swayze and Liam Neeson as avenging hillbillies who...wait, what?
Inbred pandemonium reigns.
Jim Fourniadis, Tristan Buckner, Wylie Herman and other moonshiners.
During the early nineties, the Video Zone chain in Fresno prided itself on having one of the biggest selections in town. By gods, if it was ever out on VHS, one of our three stores carried it.
My store (at Shaw and Marks next to Target) didn't have the biggest selection of three, but it was still pretty great, with thousands of movies to choose from. Even better, we got to watch whatever we wanted on the row of teevee monitors above the counter, provided it was PG-13 or below. After 10pm we could watch music videos or R-rated movies. Miller's Crossing was a favorite late night selection, and before long we all knew the movie by heart. Still do.
With all the movies there were to choose from, we kept coming back to a pool of about a dozen or so. Kinda like how there are thousands of songs on your mp3 player, but, really, you only true like about a couple hundred of them, top. That's the thing about choice: it's nice to have, but we almost never use it.
Anyway, one of my favorite before-10pm selections was an obscure sci-fi/fantasy/comedy called The Wizard of Speed and Time, by one Mike Jittlov. The film is a low-budget, high-energy labor of love about a special effects wizard (Jittlov, playing himself) trying to make it in Hollywood:
Such a great movie. As I say, it's low-budget and as pre-CGI as it's possible to get, and that's part of its beauty. Its also prescient, as in the film Jittlov is screwed by producers and distributors, which is exactly what happened to the real-life Jittlov and his movie. It got quietly dumped onto VHS and laserdisc, and has been out of print since then. You can find it online if you know where to look, and I stongly suggest that you do. It's worth your time, and deserves your love.
Oh, and when it was (barely) released, the fact that a pre-Miami Vice Philip Michael Thomas had a bit part trumped up in the promotion. Those of us who've seen the film know that the truly magical cameo is from Stephen Stucker, Johnny from Airplane! None of his Wizard scenes are on YouTube, so Airplane! it is:
"There's a sale at Penney's!" Heh.
Sadly, Jittlov hasn't done a whole lot else in his career since then (then again, what have you done with your career since then?), though his website doggedly retains its awesome mid-nineties feel. Oh, yeah, and I read somewhere that he did the effects for the sort of demon ghosties that pull people down to Hell in this week's feature, but he didn't enjoy the gig because he doesn't like making evil things.
That, friend and neighbors, is integrity.
We miss you, Mike Jittlov.
Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Ziad Ezzat and Tristan Buckner will bring their pottery wheels. You know, just in case.
March 7, 2010
Admit it: this movie made you cry way back when. ADMIT IT!
Ectoplasmic wackiness ensues.
Sherilyn Connelly, Ziad Ezzat, Tristan Buckner and other psychic friends.
As you may remember, there was a big foofaraw last year when an early version of this film was leaked to the internet, and...
What, you don't remember?
That's okay. Neither did we, at first. Hell, we're having a hard time even remembering that this thing existed. If not for all the press about the pirated copy showing up onlineor maybe it was just some footage, who knows or cares?odds are nobody would have been aware the film existed in the first place.
Huh. Makes you think, doesn't it?
Didn't think so.
Anyway, after exhaustive research (about thirty seconds on YouTube, but we were really tired at the time), we've dug up the illicit footage and present it to you now:
And it makes Hugh Jackman so sad, he has to take off his clothes. Or something:
Uh-huh. Sucks to be him, I guess.
Almost as much as it'll be suck to be us when we watch this crappy movie.
Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and Maura Sipila will not say "Bub," because that's just stupid.
February 28, 2010
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
The prequel to Red Dawn (which we'll get to next month).
Adamantium pandemonium reigns.
Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, Maura Sipila and other mutants.
There's something magical about movies made in New York in the seventies.
The best of themyou can pretty much start with Taxi Driver and circle outward from therehave a certain grit about them, a certain seediness and danger which pervades every frame. Pre-Giuliani New York itself was gritty and seedy and dangerous, and no amount of onscreen gloss could hide that. They have a genuine texture, and they're time capsules in a way that films shot in Los Angeles (as the majority of films are) never can be.
Even the most beautiful films shot in New York during the seventies, such as Woody Allen's Annie Hall and Manhattan (both lensed by the great cinematographer Gordon Willis, and the latter in breathtaking anamorphic black and white) have this quality
about them, this texture. Hell, the Metropolis scenes in the big-budget fantasy Superman feel dangerous.
I was seven when Superman came out, but I knew that Metropolis was really New York. Remember that scene where Clark and Lois are walking down the street, and a mugger sticks a gun at them from out of an alley? That became my vision of New York: you could, nay, would be mugged just walking down the street. And unless you were Kryptonian and/or could stop a bullet with your bare hand, you were pretty much fucked.
I couldn't find the mugging scene on YouTube, so instead, let's enjoy the opening promo of the network teevee premiere of Superman on ABC in 1982. Tangent: I was nine, and the Atari logo appearing over the explosion of Krypton at 2:54 was the coolest thing ever:
I'm thirty-six, and I still think it's cool. And while we're at it, here's the trailer for Manhattan:
Such a great movie.
Also a great movie is a little heist caper called The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. It stars Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw (Quint from Jaws, yo) and Martin Balsam and Jerry freakin' Stiller. With the exception of Shaw, that's pretty goddamned New Yorkish. And it's from the director of the underrated (though not at all New York-related) Colossus: The Forbin Project.
This week's feature lacks any sort of grit or grimeit's all gloss, no texture, it stars John Travolta and Denzel Washington, and it's by the director of the overrated Top Gun.
Damn you, Rudy Giuliani. Damn you.
Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Jim Fourniadis and David Capurro will take the 14 straight to Snarkham.
February 21, 2010
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
John Travolta steals a subway car, which probably means Muni's going to increase the fares again. Fuck!
Wackiness ensues, but safety requires avoiding unnecessary conversation.
Sherilyn Connelly, Jim Fourniadis, David Capurro and other fare jumpers.
Originally, The Transformers was a cartoon teevee show which existed solely to sell toys. Refer to our writeup on Masters of the Universe for more on this particular phenomemon, plzkthx.
In 1986, The Transformers: The Movie came out while the series was on the air. It wasn't great, but it was better than one might expect for an animated movie based on an animated teevee series which existed solely to sell toys.
It got a PG rating, the hero died, and Orson Welles did a voice. Oh, remember that "You Got the Power" song from Boogie Nights? That's from The Transformers: The Movie.
We kid you not:
Twenty years later, the director of Pearl Harbor and Bad Boys II (coming to Bad Movie Night this May) makes a live-action version, simply calling it Transformers, in keeping with our post-literate times.
It was a big hit. (Which is not so much the fault of Hollywood so much as it is everyone who paid ten bucks to see it, but pick pick.) So he makes a sequel, this week's feature.
It's also a big hit, grossing $400M. If not for James Cameron's 3-D smurf movie, it would be the highest grossing movie of 2010. Also a big hit in 2010 was Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. USA! USA! USA!
Anyway, Michael Bay is now making the third live-action movie based on a twenty year-old animated teevee series which had already spawned one animated movie.
The third one.
Fuck Hollywood. Fuck Hollywood so hard.
Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Jim Fourniadis and Maura Sipila don't actually hate Hollywood. They just want to see it burn.
Man oh man, it was fun to watch this movie flop, wasn't it?
Okay, it technically made its $200M budget back with a worldwide gross of $372M, but these things are ultimately measured by domestic gross, and it was so very satisfying to see it stall out at $125M. Couldn't have happened to a douchier movie.
I mean, even by summer blockbuster standards, this movie had no reason to exist, none at all. Original Terminator director James Cameron is, at best, ambivalent about it. Though let's face it: we all know he wishes it wasn't made, and would have stopped it if he could. hell, you gotta figure that with that phat Avatar cash he's rolling in now, he could easily buy the rights to the series, if not every fucking copy of every single Terminator movie ever.
Anyway, then there's the fact that it was directed by the guy who did the Charlie's Angels movies, and worse, he goes by the douchey name of McG, which he actually makes people call him.
And then there's Christian Bale. Oh, Chrissy, what the hell happened to you? You were so great in Velvet Goldmine and American Psycho, and...yeah, we're gonna have to go there. You were great in Newsie. Fucking NEWSIES, Baley:
You were so young and sweet and pretty back then. (Not as pretty as you were in Velvet Goldmine, but hey.) And then you became a big action movie star, and then...then...this:
With this much positive energy going into it, how could the movie not succeed, huh?
You should come with your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Tim Kay and Dan Foley if you want to live. Or not. It's up to you, really.
January 31, 2010
Batman vs. The Terminator! Sadly, it's nowhere near as awesome as it sounds.
Fucking distracting pandemonium will reign. (What the fuck is it with you?)
Jim Fourniadis, Tim Kay, Dan Foley and other tantrummers.
I still have not read a Dan Brown book. Have you? Do you know anyone who has?
He's one of those big phenomenons which somehow manages to slip under my radar until, like, movies start getting made from his books. But evidently he's a big deal out there in Flyover Land, the same place that's made Jeff Dunham and Thomas Kinkade such big deals, the same place that somehow made Susan Boyle's debut the top-selling album of 2009.
(You'll tell me if I start getting classist, right? Okay, good.)
Anyway, he's a big enough deal that the movies based on his books get released during summer blockbuster territory, and are made by such high-profile Hollywood talent as Opie and the guy from Bosom Buddies. Which is what passes for "prestige" these days.
Seriously, though? I have no fucking clue. What this movie is about. I've read some of the reviews, and I still can't figure it out. The word "antimatter" has popped up a few times, and it even has "demons" in the title, and yet I strongly suspect it's nowhere near as awesome involving demons and antimatter should be.
Maybe this will clear it up:
Yeah, not so much.
Let's just keep our fingers crossed for killer albinos. Those are always awesome.
Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Tristan Buckner know that snark is more powerful than antimatter.
January 24, 2010
Angels and Demons
Remember how cute that one French chick was in Amelie? Yeah. She sure was something.
Apocryphal wackiness ensues.
Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Tristan Buckner and other killer albinos.
Not that Michael Bay directed this moviewe'll be getting to his work in a few weeksbut he's responsible for this movie getting made.
See, his first Transformers movie demonstrated that big dumb action movies based on toys from eighties could be big hits. Which led to this movie being made.
Though I should also point out that Michael Bay is not wholly to blame. The people who actually went to see it in the theaters should bear the brunt of the guilt. He just knows what a vast segment of the moviegoing public wants to see, because a vast segment of the moviegoing public is really, really stupid.
Anyway, did you know that G.I. Joe has actually been around since well before the eighties? It was a term often used to refer to soldiers (I'm pretty sure it was mentioned a few times in M*A*S*H), and the first line of toys was introduced in the sixties:
Like the guy says at the end of the commerical: "Remember...only G.I. Joe is G.I. Joe!"
I have no idea what those words mean, but they're words to live by all the same.
And I'm pretty sure this movie ain't G.I. Joe.
Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and Ziad Ezzat are not real American heroes. Hell, one of them is Iraqi.
January 17, 2010
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
The origin story of the loveable comic character from the bubblegum wrappers. Find out how he got his bazooka and eyepatch!
One-eyed pandemonium reigns.
Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, Ziad Ezzat and other merchandisers.
Except that it's pronounced "trek," with a short E, not "trak."
Man, I hate that.
The mission of your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Jim Fourniadis and Tristan Buckner is to boldly split infinitives.
January 10, 2010
Star Trek (2009)
A reboot of George Lucas's venerable franchise. This time, Spock has pouty lips, Kirk has a Southern accent, and there are no lightsabers. What the hell?
Transwarp wackiness ensues.
Sherilyn Connelly, Jim Fourniadis, Tristan Buckner and other blobs of red matter.