IMDb Bottom 100: Chairman of the Board

Chairman of the Board

“Chairman of the Board” is a movie starring the infamous prop comedian known as Carrot Top. It is exactly what you expect.

Do I need to keep writing? Yes? OK, fine.

This is a movie that had absolutely no chance of succeeding, because its fatal flaw lies in its premise: it is a movie that (I assume) was designed around Carrot Top. There are lots of reasons that can lead to a movie falling on its face, but typically there is at least the nugget of an interesting movie idea buried at the core of a bad movie. This is not one of those cases.

I would actually be interested to know more about the story of how this movie got made. Who pitched it? Who put their money into it? More importantly, who greenlit this script when the only other credit to the writing team at the time was the atrocious “Leprechaun 2”, the worst of all of the Leprechaun movies (an impressive feat)? From some cursory IMDb digging, I noticed that the director of the film has a screenplay writing credit, which makes me wonder if he may have had a heavy hand in some rewriting. It clearly didn’t help much, but maybe there was an attempt to fix the unfixable.

There is unfortunately not much information out there about this movie that I can find. Most of what is out there is related to a Conan interview in which comedian Norm Macdonald lambasted the film’s premise prior to the release, and correctly labeled it “box office poison”. Apart from conjecture, there isn’t much solid information to be found. The IMDb trivia solely mentions that this was Carrot Top’s only starring role in a movie. Thank goodness.

Let’s get started with the plot autopsy (Plotopsy?).

Carrot Top’s character is introduced to the audience as an irresponsible man-child who spends all of his money on funding moronic personal inventions (props) instead of paying his rent. He refuses to get / hold down a job because…reasons. He likes to use his infinite free time to surf, which he also incorporates his props into. If I recall correctly, he invents an emergency break for his surfboard. I’ll let someone else figure out the physics on that one.

The plot appears when it is made clear that Carrot Top’s character, Edison (ugh), is about to get rightfully evicted by his landlady. He fails to hold down a series of jobs over the course of a montage, during which I assume the audience is expected to laugh. He also has all of his useless inventions rightfully rejected by a representative of an invention firm of some sort. At this point, it seems like Edison is going to hit rock bottom, and may be forced to mature in order to start piecing his life together as an adult.

Instead, he serendipitously befriends the head of a major research and development company, who then promptly dies for the convenience of the plot. For the further convenience of the plot, this well-regarded and now-dead businessman decided to leave his legacy and the future direction of his company to the strange person he met at the beach recently, and decided to change his will to reflect this fact just before his death. And so, Edison gets a job as the head of a major corporation.

Most of the rest of the movie could be summarized as “Carrot Top won’t shut up, and shenanigans ensue.”

Through those various shenanigans, Edison acquires a love interest (one of his employees) and sews the seeds of his destruction through being massively incompetent and trusting someone who clearly despises him. He does have one “brilliant” invention: a frozen dinner that comes with a television screen and a feature program. Yeah, it is a TV dinner. Yeah, it is a bad idea. Yes, they play it off as a good idea that is wildly successful.

The next section of the movie can be summed up as “Sabotage and just desserts.”

In this section of the movie (my favorite), all of Edison’s incompetencies and his ill-placed trust come back to ruin him. He is ultimately betrayed, fired, evicted, and left unconscious on a beach. Unfortunately, the movie does not end here.

The movie ends with the corporate antagonist being exposed for his sabotage of Edison, the board overthrowing him, and Edison turning down the only job ever genuinely offered to him in his life. He recommends his love interest take over his position at the head of the company (the board does so), and instead of ethically deciding to find employment elsewhere or remain an unemployed dreamer indefinitely, takes a job underneath her in the R&D department, maintaining the dodgy nature of their professional/personal relationship. They joke about this in front of the entire board of the company, and everyone laughs and plays along.

In case you were curious, all of the writers of this movie still get work in television as of 2013, and the director is attached to the already much anticipated “Jingle All The Way 2” starring Larry the Cable Guy, which is slated to go straight to hell DVD next year.

I can’t recommend this movie. It is almost worth seeing just for the spectacle of its strange and unlikely existence, but not quite. This movie is actually out there in a bunch of “family fun” DVD compilations, so it is shockingly still getting circulation after all of this time. Unless you have a high tolerance for both bad movies and the constant, nail-on-chalkboard sound of Carrot Top’s voice spewing nonsense dialogue, when you should really never seek out this movie.


IMDb Bottom 100: I Accuse My Parents

I Accuse My Parents

I think that I have lost count of how many times I have watched this movie. Just to be clear, it isn’t because I like it. This is one of those movies that is so boring and forgettable that I keep forgetting about major aspects of the movie, so I wind up watching parts of it again. As I write this, I watched the movie most recently within the last week. However, I don’t recall a pretty important aspect of the ending. Still, I’ll do what I can to lay this one out for you all.

“I Accuse My Parents” is framed around a court case, in which a young man is on trial for a murder. We open with the judge prompting the accused to give testimony in his own defense, to which he dramatically claims, well, “I accuse my parents”. Then he poorly defends the claim through recollections, and that is our movie.

First off, the setting has the potential to be interesting. There are some great movies out there that use the progress of a court case to tell the story, and they often go to interesting places where they play with unreliable narrators as they are put on the stand. This movie missed a brilliant opportunity to play with the unreliable narrator concept in particular, because it is established relatively early on that the accused is accustomed to lying on a regular basis (he blames his parents for making him pick up that habit, more or less). Despite that, there is no reason given for the audience to be skeptical of any of his testimony, and no one speaks to counter his recollection of events. Basically, the entire courtroom takes the testimony of the accused, a self-admitted grandiose liar, as gospel recollection of all events. Admittedly, this is a simple message movie that isn’t going to delve too deep into anything, but this is one of the most ridiculous courtrooms I’ve seen in a film.

The characters are all very one-dimensional and flat, which contributes greatly to the difficultly of sitting through the movie. The lead character is the only one who really changes in any way, and even his developments are shallow. He goes from being an ace student to a charlatan quasi-gangster and back again over the course of what I believe was only a handful of days, and there is only one scene where we actually see him reconsider his actions. All of that said, the accessory cast are all similarly dull. It is possible that the poor portrayals should be a criticism aimed at the script and the director, because it almost seems like they were instructed and boxed in to acting like they were in a cheesy PSA (this was the 40s, I assume they didn’t know any better). Regardless of where the fault lies, the characters come off as very uninteresting and unconvincing. The only exceptions to this are the parents (the ones he “accuses”, if you recall). The mother character is an alcoholic party animal, who is played up to the maximum. I really wish she had more screen time, because the scene where she drunkenly crashes a PTA meeting is one of the only thoroughly watchable bits of the movie. There is also a great segment early in the movie where the mother and father bicker after coming home in the evening. The father character is a biting, sniping, sexist, miserable suit of some kind. He fires a few verbal darts at the mother, but he generally just blends into the background with the rest of the accessory cast outside of a select scene or two. In his case, the character is supposed to be generally absentee, so I can kind of understand him not standing out or getting a ton of time on screen. Still, I doubt it was a creative decision to make him particularly dull.

So, here comes the bit I don’t remember. As the plot progresses, the lead character gains a love interest while in the midst of one of his lying binges. She is connected to the owner(?) of the club where she performs (yeah, we get a musical number in this) semi-romantically, who also is into organized crime in one way or another. This mob dude recruits the protagonist into doing some sort of menial criminal work (you can tell how well I am remembering all of this, I’m sure). Mob dude connects that there is romantic shenanigans a-brewing between protagonist and the club singer, and decides to remove our “hero” from the equation. At this point, something happens. The love interest breaks off from the lead at the behest of the mobster, and other things happen. Protagonist-liar-pants runs away, and unsuccessfully attempts to rob a diner in one of the worst attempts at a criminal act ever played out on screen. The cook manages to talk him down (and subsequently hires him as an assistant) over the course of the attempted robbery. Good work there, ace.
After hanging around in the diner for some unclear amount of time, he returns home. Things happen, and he ultimately faces off against the mobster character. If I recall correctly, the mobster is killed over the course of the altercation, which is the reason for the trial.

That is the best I can recollect of this movie without looking anything up, and I have probably watched this 6 times, and 3 for sure within the last couple of months. This movie is painfully boring to watch, and the MST3k helps less than you would hope it would. It isn’t as bad of a film as “The Starfighters”, I could compare it more to “The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies”, but without the cheesy effects and hammy acting that provided the few saving graces for it. “I Accuse My Parents” is really just a prime example of the message movies that were popular way back when. They weren’t deep, they weren’t artsy, and there was never much thought put into the acting or the plots in them. Like “The Starfighters” this movie is more like a historical tome than anything: it is an artifact of cinema, which I think would otherwise have been completely forgotten if not for the attention brought to it by MST3k. If watching this sort of cheesy message movie appeals to you ironically, or you enjoy cackling at the outdatedness of these sorts of films in general, then “Reefer Madness” is a much more famous and much more entertaining movie to check out. There are even some more recent edits of it that colorize the weed smoke to be a toxic green (IIRC), which makes the whole thing much more hilarious. That is a fun movie to sit through, “I Accuse My Parents” is not. However, if you are a MSTie, then this is a riff worth checking out. I think it is one of Joel’s best, but I am also firmly on Team Mike.

Oh, and here’s the musical number:


Bargain Binge IV

Attack of the Giant Leeches

My goodness, that’s one hell of a creature design! According the the IMDb trivia, the costumes for the “leeches” are basically thin plastic suits with the “suckers” sewn on. That’s some classic low-budget monster work there, perhaps worthy of Ed Wood. As with many of these movies, there is a fantastic alternate title that was used for some of the foreign releases that I absolutely adore: “The Diabolic Marsh”. There isn’t a whole lot to glean about the film’s plot from the trailer, but there also isn’t much information doled out at all. I think the biggest takeaway from the trailer is getting a solid look at those pathetic leech costumes. I’m willing to bet that those suits see way more time on film than they by any right should. Someone put some time into sewing on all of those suckers after all, and they’ll be damned if those suits don’t get some solid screen time! I’m cautiously looking forward to this one, because I have a feeling that this may be one of those movies that has a dull, dragging plot and way too much overexposure of the monsters. Then again, it looks mighty cheesy, and could make for some good unintentional laughs.

Land of the Minotaur

I’m surprised that I haven’t been able to find a formal trailer or many clips from this. I have heard it mentioned a number of times as one of Peter Cushing’s lowest points, and I was pretty excited to finally find a copy of it in a monster movie collection with the likes of “The Creeping Terror” and “Eegah!”. I’m also eager to see how Donald Pleasence is in this flick, as the last thing I caught him in was the dreadful “Pumaman”, which he apparently said on record was the worst movie he was ever involved in. I guess that means he thought more highly of this movie then? Apparently this was originally titled “The Devil’s Men”, which sounds like a more accurate title from what information I can piece together about the plot. I’m a little surprised they didn’t go with that title, so I have to assume that someone had a hangup about using the term “devil” somewhere along the line. That would be pretty strange for folks making a B-movie, and I certainly don’t see any reason why someone would think a Minotaur title is more marketable that one about the devil. I don’t seem to recall there being a big boom in Minotaur movies at any point.

Star Knight

I was really surprised to find a Klaus Kinski appearance in a bargain bin collection of old science fiction movies. The only exposure I’ve had to Kinski is through his stellar work with Herzog, and those films are about as far as you can get from the movies I typically feature here. Never the less, here he is. After some further reading, it looks like Kinski did a handful of European exploitation films early in his career, but this one was oddly and unfortunately one of the last movies he did before his death. The film seems to be a sci-fi interpretation of a knight versus dragon tale, which seems interesting enough in concept. Kinski plays the “dragon”, and Harvey Keitel stars opposite him as the knight named “Klever”. I haven’t been able to find a trailer or clips for this one, but I did locate the theme song. The writer/director has quite a few credits in Spain, but not a whole lot that stands out or saw much of a wide audience. I’m looking forward to seeing how this movie goes horribly, horribly wrong.

Videodrome Atlanta

For most people, video rental shops are a thing of the past, or at the very least vestiges of a bygone era. At the beginning of the year, I watched one of the last once-mighty American Blockbusters close down, and that looked like just about the last nail in the coffin of physical video rentals as a business model.


However, I recently came across a charming little video rental joint in my travels: Videodrome, a local shop in the heart of Atlanta, GA. I can giddily report that it is just as delightfully dingy and fascinatingly unique as the Cronenberg masterpiece from which I assume it draws its name. And even more excitedly, I can happily report that the business seems to be doing well!

I spend a lot of my time on the road wandering through used DVD shops, and find a lot of interesting and hard to find movies in the process. I even have a section of this blog dedicated to the interesting and obscure stuff I find.

Well, Videodrome knocked them all out of the water. They had copies of films that I though didn’t exist in any kind of physical form. They had a number of movies that I had only ever heard of via Z-movie reviews from folks like The Cinema Snob or the deeper cuts of MST3K. Overall they didn’t have the widest selection out there, but the stuff that they had was impressively off-the-wall. Any place that keeps a physical copy of “Turkish Star Wars” in stock with a warning label that subtitles are not included has my attention.

Personally, I picked up a handful of movies that I had been meaning to watch but hadn’t gotten to: “WestWorld”, “Dead Alive”, and “Time After Time”. If you haven’t seen those three, I can highly recommend the lot, but with a special emphasis on the latter two. I will likely do a full length post on the bizarre creature that is “Time After Time” soon, and I plan to go over all of the early Peter Jackson movies once I can find a copy of “Meet the Feebles” to watch (to Videodrome’s credit, it was present but already checked out when I came in).


I am tempted to pick up a couple of more movies for my last night in Atlanta tonight, because I want to support this lovely, utopic cinematic paradise in any way that I can. Also, because they have some Ted V. Mikels movies that have proved near-impossible to find through any other means, and because I’m hoping “Meet the Feebles” is back in stock today so I can start working on that aforementioned review of all of the early/weird Peter Jackson films.

If you love B-movies and find yourself in the Atlanta area for a few days, you absolutely must check out Videodrome. They are open daily from noon to midnight, which are business hours I can totally get behind. Videodrome Atlanta is an amazing video rental spot that is surviving through their focus on the rare and obscure entries into the history of cinema, and can use the support of local film buffs and transient bad movie enthusiasts alike to keep being awesome.

IMDb Bottom 100: Ed


“Ed” is a thoroughly incompetent piece of work, but not any less watchable that the countless other dumb animal-centric family movies out there as far as I can tell. The effects are all a bit worse than you might expect (all of the chimp effects are embarrassing), but the jokes are exactly the sort that you should anticipate from a movie like this. Poop jokes and pants getting pulled down are pretty standard fare throughout, and cracks about back hair pop up constantly. Real deep stuff.

The writing beyond the jokes is horrible, with things happening with very little set up or explanation. For instance, the chimp knows how to play baseball because he was owned by Mickey Mantle apparently? Did Mickey Mantle train chimpanzees as a hobby? There is also a point towards the end of the movie where the team’s owner sells Ed to a circus on the eve of the championship game. Why throw a serious wrench into your team’s championship run, and give up the established staple of your marketing to boot? At least, why do it at that time? Wouldn’t his value go up even more if he had a pennant to his name? Was he a pending free agent aiming to test the waters of the open market? Also, the movie opens with Matt LeBlanc’s character at an open tryout for minor league baseball. He states that he never played baseball on any level, yet he clearly loves the sport and is very capable of playing. How? When did he gain these talents? Why is he trying out now after all of these years of zero interest in organizational play? Is there a catalyst for his actions? If his parents were about to lose the farm, that would actually put some stakes into this film. But no, the parents just disappear from the film after the opening segment. They don’t even show up to any games, shockingly.

The acting didn’t actually seem all that bad outside of the token child actor and the eponymous chimp. Let’s be honest, what on earth could any actor have done in a movie about a baseball-playing chimp?

I’m not sure how this director wound up with this job. There is bound to be a bizarre story behind it, because he has exclusively worked on documentaries outside of this movie. Honestly, this would have had more potential to be funny if it were played out as a sports mockumentary about the rise and fall of a third base playing chimp’s professional baseball career. Anyway, the director’s experience at least explains why the whole film just seems…off.

Last huge problem with this movie: the title. Give me a pun. Give me a dumb joke. Give me something relating to animals, chimps, baseball, sports, or anything actually relevant to the movie. Don’t just make the title the chimp’s common, human name. How is that going to trick anyone into watching this movie? Come on, put in a little effort here folks.

When I froze the Bottom 100, this was sitting low at #85, which I was somewhat surprised by. This movie has problems, but I’m not clear on how this is dramatically worse than the endless Air Bud knockoffs/sequels or Cop Dog. Sure, this is the bottom tier of the animal-centric family movies, but you can’t exactly have high aspirations for any of them. That all said, this movie is definitely miserably bad (and one of the worst movies I have sat through so far), but it is plenty possible to sit through if you absolutely must. I just have a particular dislike for family movies, so I am admittedly a bit biased against this thing straight out of the gate.

By the way, it is on Netflix if that sounds like your kind of thing.

IMDb Bottom 100: Final Sacrifice

Final Sacrifice

The Final Sacrifice is one of those perfect B-movies. This is the sort of thing that you hope to find when you take a gamble on an unheard-of DVD or VHS.

I’ve been taking my time writing this review because I really wanted to find an unriffed copy of this film. The MST3K crew clearly dug this movie up out of nothingness and made it into something absolutely iconic. This is probably the best riff of the Mike Nelson era, which is saying a lot. Unfortunately, the popularity of the riff means that it is very easy movie to track down, but not without the charming silhouettes of the snarky trio.

I’m still going to keep my eyes open for a unriffed copy, but I also want to keep moving forward with the list. So, The Final Sacrifice.

The acting is bad, but in a good way. The lead is very miscast for a hero character, but does what he can with it. The villain is outstandingly over the top, and has one of the most ridiculously evil voices you will hear. If anyone actually has a voice like that, there is simply nothing else they can do with their life apart from evil and treachery. Without the riffs, I would be willing to bet that the villain character would be the saving grace of the whole movie. According to the IMDb trivia, none of the actors got paid for this movie, so I have to applaud them for the effort they did put into this thing.

The writing is honestly just really silly. Whoever named the lead character “Zap Rowsdower” need to be given an official award, and subsequently never allowed to write anything ever again. The plot is indescribably baffling, but at the very least the title isn’t completely irrelevant to it. The mystery element of the story isn’t so bad as the movie gets started, but the payoff on it is equal parts predictable and shallow. I really don’t want to spoil the movie, because everyone should watch this thing, but I will say that it is a great, dumb B-movie ending.

Right now this is sitting at #66 in the IMDb Bottom 100. I don’t think this is going to fall out of the Bottom 100, but it has been falling a bit recently. Honestly, I think it deserves a spot on the list just because of the entertainment value of the riff. Without the riff, no one would even know about this movie. At the core, this was a student movie made for absolutely nothing, and probably would never have qualified for such a “prestigious” list without the MST3K attention it received. Once again, I think the position of this movie on the Bottom 100 is a nod the the influence of the MST3K team on the entire hobby of riffing on bad movies.

I can recommend this riff (at the very least) to anyone. I think this is a fantastic introduction to Mystery Science Theater 3000, and an absolutely hilarious job. I might not recommend the movie to Canadians, because the movie may hit a little to close to home. City-resurrecting cults are a very serious concern up there, or so I hear.

IMDb Bottom 100: Epic Movie

Epic Movie

What is there to say about this? The whole run of _____ Movie films are the same in concept and execution. They are parody patchworks that wouldn’t be able to cut it in the deep and prestigious marketplace of ideas that is YouTube. When a “joke” in one of these movies isn’t a direct reference to something in pop culture at the time, it is some sort of gross-out gag or crass visualization. Usually the jokes are an underwhelming and tiring combination of both of those things.

The acting comes off as particularly creepy in this movie, as the leads are supposed to be portraying children in the story. At least, it seemed implied to be the case. There are occasional scenes involving a high school (I think?), which makes things less clear as far as the character ages go.  In any case, it is uncomfortable to picture the characters as children in a number of the scenarios they are put into, and the whole movie gets dark very fast with that in mind.

Not that the filmmakers cared, but there is no way any of these movies can stand the test of time. They date themselves with their references, which as stated before, comprise the entirety of the “humor” in the films. Watching this movie today, I was reminded of blockbusters that have already dropped entirely out of the public consciousness. There was one particular reference to the trailer of the previous Superman reboot, a franchise that has notably already been re-rebooted. A good parody movie can actually stay timeless, even while poking at then-current films. Airplane! is the obvious example of this. The jokes and humor are vastly independent of the movies that are being lampooned, so they stay entertaining through the years. The ____ Movie franchise has clearly failed in this regard, because the films are already incredibly dated only a few years after their releases.

Anyway, this is not an entertaining movie. A failed comedy is the worst kind of cinematic train-wreck, and doesn’t typically have the potential redeeming values that failed dramas and horrors can provide (good practical effects, hammy villains, etc). I don’t recommend this movie to anyone, even if you are the sort that is endlessly entertained by poop jokes.

The one interesting aspect of this film (that gets a disappointing amount of screen-time and really dumb dialogue, as you would expect) is Crispin Glover playing Willie Wonka. I honestly think he fit the role excellently, and firmly believe he would have been a finer casting choice for the character in the remake than Johnny Depp. He is a more genuinely eccentric and unpredictable sort of actor, and that kind of volatility is part of what made Wilder’s incarnation so memorable in my opinion. That sort of makes me even more disappointed in this movie though, because he seems so wasted in this mess. It also reminded me of Burton’s attempted Willie Wonka movie, which isn’t something I am ever going to enjoy. Ugh.

I am a little curious as to how this one in particular has hit the bottom 100 while others in the franchise have not. They have all seemed the same to me, and this one didn’t seem much worse than the others. Maybe the fact that it is such a re-tread on the style is part of why the votes for it are lower. Then again, it might be because all of the primary films lampooned are completely forgettable. Most of the framing of the film pokes at The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, which I don’t recall being that big of a hit. I don’t honestly care why this is so lowly ranked among the ____ Movies, I just know that I want them all to burn in a cleansing fire as a sacrifice to the Comedy Gods.

IMDb Bottom 100: Laserblast


This is one that I actually hadn’t seen before, but proved to be amazingly bad. I have no idea how I had missed this one for so long.

Let’s start with the special effects. The aliens in the movie look completely ridiculous, to the point where rubber suits were genuinely a better option. At the time, the effects might have looked truly grand. But, as we all know, effects from this era have not aged gracefully at all. Come to think of it, the aliens look nearly identical to the animated chess pieces from Star Wars, which is appropriately one of the worst effects in Star Wars. All of the laser effects are pretty laughable as well, though I will give them credit for the many objects they decided to set on fire throughout making this movie. That was pretty awesome in a lowly, Michael Bay sort of way.

However, that is all kind of overshadowed by the really bad makeup and props in the movie. For example, everything about the lead character’s design was horribly botched (we’ll get to that in a minute). The “laserblast” gun looks preposterous, and is clearly a hodgepodge of whatever was laying around in someone’s garage. Given it is the basis of the movie’s title, I think some effort should have been put into it. There is also an infamous sequence where the lead blows up a Star Wars sign on the side of the road. It isn’t a billboard or anything, just a blank sign that said “Star Wars”. Apparently this was added in after the movie was complete, because of someone’s overconfidence I would assume.

The makeup when the lead character goes into…uh…hyper mode(?) is some of the laziest work I have ever seen in a movie. Someone had the bright idea to just paint the guy’s face green, and then leave it at that. How did they think that would be acceptable? His “mutation” while wearing the laser gun specifically turns his face green, with no other physical effects. Brilliant.

Speaking of the “mutation” the lead character goes through, there really is quite a presentation of bad acting here. When he is in this altered state, the lead actor spends most of his time madly flailing his arms. He occasionally fires the gun when he can keep his arms still long enough, but he goes right back to the flapping afterwords. The rest of the acting in the movie is unremarkable, save for the two stoned cops thrown in for comic relief. Speaking of which, does the guy on the right here look like Sean Penn to anyone else ( Anyway, they ham it up a little bit, but the rest of the cast is pretty flat.

The writing isn’t spectacular, but the story idea has some promise I suppose: A kid with a chip on his shoulder finds a superweapon that subsequently corrupts him and leads him to seek vengeance for perceived offenses. I think the ending could have been much more interesting and less anticlimactic, but this was clearly a movie that no one bothered to put  a whole lot of effort into. Why would I be surprised?

It should be no shock that there are a number of other goofs and errors throughout the movie, but I’m not going to put the effort into enumerating them. This movie is bad, but it is definitely the good kind of bad. This is the sort of film that you can watch and laugh at, which is always what you are hoping to find when sifting through bad movies. Again, the MST3K riff is brilliant on this movie, and adds a lot to the entertainment value. I can certainly recommend it if you are looking for an awesomely bad watch.

IMDb Bottom 100: Lawnmower Man 2

Lawnmower Man 2

The trailer has everything you need to see about Lawnmower Man 2. The only thing missing is the cheesy #2 villain who is actually the main antagonist for most of the movie, but overall the trailer hits all of the (very few) highlights to be found in the trash heap of a movie.

Honestly, this movie is horrible. No arguments there. It isn’t, however, the worst I’ve seen, and by a pretty significant margin at that. The acting is hammed up by the bad guys and generally shittily done by the kids, but the writing and the effects realistically killed the film quite thoroughly before the actors ever came upon its corpse. The editing is also exquisitely bad, which was apparently the result of a serious hack job postmortem by producers in a hopeless attempt to make the film semi-marketable. Despite all of that, it is moderately watchable due to a handful of bright spots.

As I mentioned earlier, this came out in 1996. Independence Day and Twister also came out that year. Watch the trailers of these three movies and compare the effects. It is unbelievable that they came out within months of each other. This movie belongs in the 80’s in the worst possible way, and missed it by the better part of a decade. Interestingly, that makes this movie both anachronistically terrible and entertaining at the same time. Something about those crappy early 90s computer effects is just dopily charming, y’know?

I spend a lot of time pondering what makes bad movies bad. I think the biggest issue with this one, beyond the script and even the effects, is the general fact that it is so misplaced in time. It was a relic in regards to special effects when it came off the presses, and to make matters worse, there wasn’t any call or need for a sequel to the original in the first place. No one was clamoring for a follow up to “Lawnmower Man”, and if there were people doing that, no one could hear them from their basements. It was just a bad idea from the start that someone decided to roll with.

Speaking of rolling, let’s compare this to Rollerball (2002), which I can’t help but do for some reason. It was also a movie bringing back a “franchise” that no one ever even sort of cared about, which is a notable similarity. However, the premise of Rollerball actually had some promise for an interesting movie, and it subsequently managed to disappoint every expectation. To Lawnmower Man 2’s credit, at least no one expected anything exciting or interesting from it (at least I hope they didn’t). The two movies also share legendarily miserable story pacing, overly stylized settings, and two of the most boring dystopias in recent cinematic history. So, I suppose they have more in common than they should, given Rollerball came along many years later. You are supposed to learn from the failures of your predecessors, folks.

As a concluding note, this must be in the running for one of the worst sequels ever made. I’ll keep that in mind at least, because American Psycho 2 is sitting on my kitchen table. Not in the bottom 100, but maybe it should be? If you have other recommendations for awful sequels I can watch, I’d love to hear them. However, I’m not planning to watch Christmas Vacation 2.

On Hating Movies

There is a post currently at the top of r/badmovies this morning that caught my attention. The article is from a few years back over at Badass Digest, written by the Film Critic Hulk and titled “NEVER HATE A MOVIE”. I typically loathe reading lengthy things written in all caps, but this is pretty interesting read despite it. The author talks at length about an encounter with Quentin Tarantino, in which Quentin said the following regarding bad movies:

“Never hate a movie

There’s plenty of reasons to not to like a movie. But if you hate them? Meaning if let them bother you? Then they’ll do nothing but bother you. Who wants to be bothered?

You can learn so much about the craft from bad movies…Bad movies teach you what not to do and what to correct in your process and that’s way more helpful.

Never hate a movie. They’re gifts. Every fucking one of em”

People often ask me why I watch so many bad movies, and the answer isn’t just because I like to hate things. There is actually a lot to learn about how movies function from seeing how they can fail, kind of like tinkering with a faulty machine. If you never have a machine break, you may never completely know how all of the pieces work together to make the whole thing function.

When I watch bad movies, the first thing I aim to figure out is what about the film is throwing it off. It is usually a cacophonous mix of problems, but sometimes just one or two cogs are loose and throw the whole project off. The analytical aspect of the bad movie experience is a significant part of how this has become a hobby for me.

That brings me to an issue that I have with the aforementioned article. There is one aspect of a movie that can lead me to unconditionally hate it, given the right circumstances: the writing. I don’t hate writing if it is stale or cliched, mind you: that is a mechanical problem just like any other potential faulty cog in a movie. Sometimes, however, the writing in films is needlessly malignant or harmful without any cause or for any conceivable contribution to the movie as a whole. Writing is in this way unique among the many parts of a movie. It is pretty hard to do societal damage with bad lighting or set design, after all. The writing in movies can influence people and propagate ideas / values that are legitimately harmful. In those cases, ire towards movie writing is absolutely deserved.

Even then, perhaps it isn’t fair to level hatred at the movie in total for harmful writing (the director deserves blame for giving the writing a platform, so the writers aren’t totally isolated in blame). The writing is a crucial part of the whole mechanism, but it isn’t the extent of the machine; which can be very hard to differentiate. The movie “Pledge This!” comes to mind, which has truly loathsome and offensive writing that is not only vapid and immature, but relies on bullying and abuse as plot devices. As much disdain as I have for the script, I can’t say that I hate the work that, for example, the sound editors put into the movie. They inserted those fart sounds like absolute pros, the well-polished brass on a sinking Titanic of a project.

I might still say that I “hate” a movie like “Pledge This!”, but what I mean by that is that I loathe the narrative story that is the bedrock of the film, at least 99% of the time. The screenplay is pretty inseparable from the film itself in the final form, but there are more workings and levels to such a movie that may be functioning up to par or better. So maybe it still isn’t fair to “hate” the movie as a whole, but for practicality’s sake I don’t think it is totally out of line for me to say that I “hate” certain movies due to the harmful writing at their center. A nefarious and famous example that I think clarifies this idea is “Birth of a Nation”. It is an influential part of film history on the mechanical side, but also a rotten piece of racist propaganda at its functional core. I personally would say that I hate that movie, because the intention and writing are ultimately inseparable from the work as a whole. However, I think that it is possible to hate something and still appreciate aspects of it, such as in reference to Hitler’s oratory skills or the Detroit Red Wings’ scouting team. I think the positive influential aspects of “Birth of a Nation” fall securely into that realm.

In any case, I think the point of the “NEVER HATE A MOVIE” article is to encourage people to put more thought into how we all look at “bad” films in general, which I certainly don’t disagree with. A lot of people write off movies without much thought, and fail to see the nuances that actually lead movies into becoming failures. That said, I don’t think sitting through, analyzing, and enjoying bad movies is for everyone, and I can understand why a casual movie watcher would want to generally avoid them.

For me though, this all relates to an important life lesson: you should learn how to read the mistakes and failures of others as a means to improve upon yourself and your work. That seems to be at the core of what Tarantino and the Film Critic Hulk are both trying to get across here, and it is something that I think we should all strive to do in whatever fields we happen to work in.