IMDb Bottom 100: Jaws 3-D

Jaws 3-D

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Over the years, I had somehow forgotten how bad “Jaws 3-D” is. It isn’t just a mediocre sequel to a treasured movie that doesn’t live up to its potential (I’ll get to “Robocop 3” soon), it is an abysmal, lazy, and gimmicky film. It may not be on a “Birdemic” level of  incompetence, but this movie is bad.

Let’s start with the title. In the years since the theater run for this movie, everything possible has been done to officially change this movie’s name to “Jaws 3”. Unfortunately, that doesn’t do anything to mitigate the numerous bad 3-D shots, nor the fact that the entire marketing campaign was centered around the 3-D gimmick. Check out the initial teaser for the film:

Yikes, that is pretty blatant. Now, check out the attempt to retroactively re-title this flick in the opening title card:

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Honest effort, folks. Anyway, there are far more issues with this movie than just the 3-D effects and dated marketing campaign.  For instance, this movie has one of the most perplexing product placements possible for a film about a killer shark: Sea World is absolutely everywhere in this flick.

For the life of me, I don’t understand the logic of Sea World agreeing to have the movie set at a parks with their brand everywhere. Not only is there a shark that endangers guests in the park, but the park itself is wrecked by the rampaging animal over the course of the movie.  Shouldn’t you, a major entertainment park, want people to feel confident in your security and their safety on your grounds? Putting your name all over a “Jaws” movie isn’t exactly the best way to do that.

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On to some mechanical issues: one of the strengths of the original “Jaws” movie was the creative scarcity of the monster. It helped build the tension and a mystique around the shark: a convention still used in many monster movies today. The sequels to “Jaws”, however, fail to follow this principle. “Jaws 2” uses a fair amount of shark stock footage, but that doesn’t compare to how poorly “Jaws 3-D” fails in this department: not only do you see the shark way too much, but there is even a baby shark that is captured early in the movie. At that point, there isn’t any great dramatic reveal when the big shark shows up. Without that tension, there is nothing to make the movie compelling or…well…interesting.

The acting is pretty mediocre all around, so it basically blends into the background. I think this is mostly a problem with the writing as opposed to the cast, because there are some half-talented people in there that may have pulled something off with a stronger script. Dennis Quaid and Lea Thompson both have some capabilities, even though this was early in their careers. Then again, it is pretty hard to act in a scene like this:

Unless you are planning to marathon the entire “Jaws” series, there isn’t any reason to specifically watch “Jaws 3-D”. Surprisingly, this isn’t even the worst of the franchise: “Jaws: The Revenge” consistently gets that honor (stay tuned). Still, the really bad effects, poor writing, and mediocre direction make this quite a chore to wade through. Outside of the unintentional humor of the 3-D shots and the surreal Sea World advertisements, there just isn’t anything to enjoy here.

The good folks at We Hate Movies podcast have a pretty good episode on “Jaws 3-D”, and it touches on some of the behind-the-scenes shenanigans that led to the creation of this movie. Apparently, the movie was initially envisioned as a spoof film, and Spielberg threatened to walk out on Universal if they went through with it.  It is a shame they didn’t just ditch the idea altogether.

IMDb Bottom 100: Glitter

Glitter

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Let’s start this review off a bit differently. Join me, if you will, by taking a look at “Glitter” star Mariah Carey’s IMDb listing as an actress:

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A screenshot of the moment I said “She was in ‘The Butler’? Why?”

You should notice pretty quickly that Mariah doesn’t have an extensive amount of experience in front of the camera. Specifically, check out where “Glitter” is on that list: it was her second-ever acting credit.

Yikes. Well, I think I’ve found your problem, “Glitter”.

Not only does Mariah Carey’s acting inexperience hurt the film on screen, but the semi-biographical nature of the flick means that she is essentially playing herself. That really messes with the film’s tone if you ask me: participating in a movie about yourself is already pretty self-indulgent, but starring as yourself in a biopic? Wow. It also doesn’t help that Mariah’s stand-in character, Billy Frank, has absolutely no flaws. Bad things happen to her, but she has no depth as a character. That, combined with the constant compliments and fawning over Frank by all characters in the film, turns the self-indulgent tone up to 11 and beyond.

The issues with this movie don’t stop at the tone issues and Mariah’s acting: most of the cast seems to be phoning it in, which is more than understandable given the scripts they were working with. Dice, the love interest in the film, is one of the most inconsistently written characters I’ve seen on screen in a good while. He flips from being shown as an openly insulting dick to being portrayed as the perfect heartthrob from scene to scene. After he is killed (spoilers), all of the dick moments and glossed over and forgotten forever. Speaking of his murder, Terrence Howard is the only watchable performer in this movie: he barely gets any screen time, but he totally sells his dingy record producer character. Usually, that means that he stalks around in the background, issuing vague threats while wearing a hat. For this movie, that is A+ work.

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For the life of me, I do not understand how this movie wasn’t just made for TV. I’m guessing the budget necessities prevented that from being a possibility, but this movie honestly belongs on VH1. The quality of the writing and acting is barely passable for TV grade, and it would have been a thoroughly mediocre movie to put on between reality shows and occasional music videos.

“Glitter” is nowhere near as bad as most films on the IMDb Bottom 100, but that certainly doesn’t mean I am going to recommend it. There isn’t much entertainment value here if you ask me, which makes it just a waste of time. However, there is a Rifftrax of the movie out there that is apparently pretty popular. For those unaware, Rifftrax is essentially the heir to MST3k: it is run by the final lineup of the show, and they do independent commentary tracks for movies in the same style that MST3K worked, just without the robot silhouettes. I haven’t seen the whole riff, but the clips I have caught are pretty good. I would give the movie a light recommend with the Rifftrax.

IMDb Bottom 100: Zombie Nightmare

Zombie Nightmare

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“Zombie Nightmare” is a very boring movie. Outside of the near-indistinguishable “Prince of Space” and “Invasion of the Neptune Men”, I haven’t had to rewatch any IMDb Bottom 100 movies as many times as this snoozer. I don’t know what it is about this movie, but the details of it vanish from my memory as soon as I watch it.

After the first time I watched “Zombie Nightmare”, the only memories I retained were disturbing images of Adam West in a creepy mustache, and the sound of a poorly dubbed voice that sounded vaguely like The Penguin.  I tried reviewing it based on those recollections alone, but that wasn’t going to do.

zombienightmare1When I watched the movie for the second time, a few more things stuck with me: really bad 80s fashion everywhere, the zombie’s revenge plot against the unrealistically shitty hit-and-run high schoolers, the origin story of the zombie (and his father’s death in the opening sequence), and one of the slowest chase sequences of all time through what looks to be a YMCA. I half-expected the Toxic Avenger to show up at some point during the pursuit. Anyway, I was pleased to retain details that time around!

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Would I rather watch “The Toxic Avenger”? Sadly, yes.

Then, before I wrote this review, I went on a brief hiatus from the blog. And, of course, I forgot most of those details again. Thus, I watched the damned movie again. This time, things stuck out differently. All of the previously mentioned details were rattled out of my memory, but I caught a few more that didn’t stick with me previously: I’m crediting this to the fact that I had myself glued to my computer for this viewing. Believe me, there is little I want to do less than watch this movie for a fourth time. Anyway, this time I particularly noticed the horrendous overacting  by the voodoo priestess who resurrects the zombie, and caught a lot more details about the subplot of police corruption in the film. The movie almost takes a “Touch of Evil” turn to focus more on the shady police practices by Adam West and the other senior officers than the giant zombie wandering around the town tearing people apart.

Oh yeah, and the zombie drags Adam West to Hell via an open grave. That was actually pretty awesome.

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They used it for the soundtrack cover. Also, “Batman Goes To Hell” has a nice ring to it.

So, do I recommend “Zombie Nightmare”? Honestly, despite the fact it is incredibly boring, it isn’t nearly as bad as a lot of the flicks on the list. In this case, that is kind of a weakness? It isn’t consistently bad enough to be a whole lot of fun. It is certainly incompetently thrown together, but not in a charming or entertaining way. I enjoyed little pieces of it, so I can maybe recommend the MST3K highlights. I certainly can’t recommend sitting through the whole thing, unless you just want background noise of low-quality rock songs. Speaking of which, for a movie that sells itself on the soundtrack, the audio quality is really bad. Seems like a bit of a squandered opportunity, but what isn’t in this movie?

Honestly, I felt like this was a stone’s throw from being a “Maniac Cop” movie. Speaking of which: just watch “Maniac Cop”. You get police corruption, a giant revenge-seeking zombie, better deaths, better writing, and Bruce Campbell. And, if you stick it out to “Maniac Cop 3”, you will even get an overacting voodoo priest. If for no other reason, watch it for Robert Z’Dar’s chin.

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IMDb Bottom 100: Mitchell

Mitchell

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I genuinely feel like there is a good, entertaining movie hidden inside of “Mitchell” somewhere. The idea of an eccentric, schlubby cop with curious and unclear ethical boundaries solving a major crime sounds pretty great to me. Unfortunately, “Mitchell” doesn’t live up to its potential, which is a real shame.

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In the hilarious MST3K riff of “Mitchell”, Joel and the bots have a lot of fun poking at the acting and physique of star Joe Don Baker. For the record, I didn’t think he was all that bad in this movie. I personally feel like he did the best he could with the writing, but it just wasn’t a good enough foundation for the movie.  None of the banter works, particularly the brief interaction between Joe Don and a young child which plays out in an incredibly grating fashion.  Also, there is a serious problem with the tone of the film: it seems like it wants to be an action movie and a comedy movie, but somehow does neither well enough to be an action-comedy. I’m still not sure how the audience is supposed to feel in the infamous sex scene, which features the song “My My My My Mitchell”: a tune as silly as it is catchy.

I think that the MST3K treatment of “Mitchell”, while perhaps unfair at times, is one of their best. It also holds a important place in the series, as it is the last episode to star creator Joel Hodgson.  I recommend the episode highly, though I can’t necessarily say the same for the film on its own. The pacing and editing are almost as bad as the writing, which makes it pretty dull to sit through. Even the ending is anticlimactic, which means there isn’t really any payoff to the wait. There are a few clips, like the sex scene, that are absolutely worth catching, but not much else.

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“Mitchell” has a pretty firm placement in the IMDb Bottom 100, though not as highly as another Joe Don Baker movie: “Final Justice”. Truthfully, it is hard for me to pick between the two of them.  “Final Justice” is probably objectively worse, but “Mitchell” irks me in a unique way in how it squanders what I see as a promising premise. Then again, I might be biased: some of my friends have claimed that my destiny is to successfully remake “Mitchell” into an awesome movie. Maybe I will get to that some day.

Plotopsy Podcast #1 – Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

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Welcome to the first episode of Misan[trope]y’s (Plot)opsy Podcast! My name is Gordon Maples, writer of the Misan[trope]y Movie Blog and a somewhat obsessive film buff.

Here on the (Plot)opsy Podcast, you can hear yet another dude on the internet talk about movies. More specifically, I will be looking at the narratives behind movies: their cultural contexts, the startling personalities around them, and the curious production paths that led to their creation. I am going to focus on memorable films, both good and bad, new and old. I intend to be joined by guests in the future dissections, but today, on the pilot, you just have me. Welcome to the (Plot)opsy. Scrub up.

This first feature I am covering is the smash hit “Guardians of the Galaxy” by Troma alum and generally awesome weirdo James Gunn. Listen to the whole episode below:


Direct Download

Here are some relevant images to go along with the episode:

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“Tromeo and Juliet” was the film writing debut of James Gunn, a Troma flick primarily in iambic pentameter that he wrote while interning with Troma Pictures. Rumor has it that he was paid $150 for the screenplay.

 

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James Gunn co-wrote a book with Troma head Lloyd Kaufman detailing the history of Toma Studios

 

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Yondu from the source comics (left) and the film (right, Michael Rooker)

 

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Vin Diesel’s best known voice work is as the eponymous Iron Giant from the animated cult classic. His part as Groot in “Guardians” is highly reminiscent of the lovable giant robot.