IMDb Bottom 100: Nine Lives

Nine Lives

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Mercifully, “Nine Lives” is the very last Paris Hilton movie I have to cover in the IMDb Bottom 100. I will need to double-check, but I am almost certain that she makes the most appearances of any actor in the list. Lucky for me (I suppose), her role is very minimal in “Nine Lives”. Unfortunately, the movie is still really bad even after her early departure (she is the first death in the movie).

oh good
oh good

Outside of Paris, these are the most British characters I have ever seen. As the movie says, they are “chap(s) of chaps” (that is an actual line). As it interestingly turns out, the nationalities of the characters come into play in the plot (which is actually one of the few strengths of the film).

The nine characters are introduced to the audience as they go on vacation in an inherited Scottish home of one of the their family’s. After way too many slow scenes of small talk, a mysterious snowstorm traps the entire party on the grounds. Killing time, one of the characters discovers an ancient book in the home’s library. If you are familiar with “The Evil Dead”, you should have an idea of where this goes.

I'm sure we will all get out of this just fine
I’m sure we will all get out of this just fine

As it turns out, the book is cursed by an ancient Scotsman who was the original keeper of the lands, but was executed by English who overran his home. For unclear reasons, this Scottish ghost is capable of possessing people, which leads to murderous shenanigans.

The possessions in this story reminded me slightly of “The Horror Express”, which I also recently reviewed on this blog. Not only is the possession transferred in a viral manner from person to person (whoever kills the host is subsequently possessed), but it is always indicated by the discoloration of the host’s eyes. In “Express”, red eyes indicated possession, whereas solid black eyes indicate it in “Nine Lives”. It doesn’t dramatically impact the quality of the film, but it was a small thing that I thought looked pretty good. Credit to where it is due.

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The plot is pretty straightforward once the killings start: their numbers are progressively whittled down, until one three of them remain. At this point, they have figured out how the possession transfers, which creates an interesting scene after the last host is defeated. The character who has mortally wounded the host has to make the decision to kill herself in order to prevent the ghost from continuing its massacre, which would have been pretty cool for a better movie.

I had a lot of good things to say in this particular review, but I want to make something absolutely clear: this movie is insufferably boring. It is objectively one of the least horrible movies I have seen in the IMDb Bottom 100, but the pacing and execution of all of these otherwise pretty good ideas is extremely poor, which makes it all the more frustrating. In particular, it takes way too long to get going in the beginning, with a lot of unnecessary scenes of socializing. the movie also never manages to build a decent atmosphere, and none of the characters ever quite clicked as particularly relate-able to me. Without the investment in the characters or the buildup of dramatic tension, the movie just winds up being slow.

There is way too much of this
There is way too much of this

Overall, I don’t recommend this one. There is very little action or investment to be had in the film, and subsequently not much entertainment value. If the filmmakers hadn’t taken the story so seriously, I think some comic relief would have gone a long way towards humanizing some characters and breaking up the monotony. Still, this is without a doubt the best Paris Hilton movie in the Bottom 100.

I mentioned “Horror Express”, but there is another movie I was reminded of while watching this: “You’re Next”. It manages to execute on a couple of elements that I liked in “Nine Lives”, namely the claustrophobia of the setting and the fear of knowing that the villain is among your party. And, despite the Scottish ghost being supernatural, there were no additional powers given to the possessed, so the battles were always human vs human, another common element with “You’re Next”. So, if you are interested in the plot outline of “Nine Lives”, go throw “You’re Next” and “Horror Express” in a blender.

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Even after being pulverized in a blender together, they are both far better movies to watch than “Nine Lives”.

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IMDb Bottom 100: Copper Mountain

Copper Mountain

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“Copper Mountain” is barely a movie. The run time clocks in at 60 minutes on the dot, and that includes extended credits sequences and entire, unedited song performances. It is astoundingly inept.

The only reason this film has as much notoriety as it does is due to Jim Carrey’s presence, long before he became an A-list comedic acting icon. Much like with Adam Sandler’s early movie “Going Overboard” (also in the Bottom 100), “Copper Mountain” still consistently gets marketed due to the presence of a future A-lister in the cast. That said, I appreciate “Going Overboard” slightly more, if only because it acknowledges its failings out of the gate. “Copper Mountain” is arguably a worse movie (or at least of comparable quality), but everything is played absolutely straight.

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Jim Carrey’s role in the movie is basically a showcase of his ability to impersonate celebrities, making this a “Master of Disguise” years before Dana Carvey created that cinematic travesty. However, when he isn’t hamming up with his impressions, Carrey’s character is an absolute sad-sack, who spends most of his dialogue complaining that he can’t impress women with his frenetic antics. Interestingly enough, his arc concludes with him impressing women with a frenetic antic. Not a whole lot of progress is made.

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Outside of Carrey, “Copper Mountain” also features Alan Thicke, who plays an incredibly pretentious aspiring skier. His arc ends with him losing both of his skiing races, which is theoretically progress according to this movie.

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I mentioned that the movie relies heavily on live song performances. Amazingly, despite this fact, this movie has incredibly bad sound quality in all of the dialogue scenes. Background noise is constant, and most lines that are done indoors are nearly impossible to decipher.

Last but not least, I want to point out the original, official title to this movie: “Copper Mountain: A Club Med Experience”. Basically, this movie exists to promote a resort, making it essentially a tourism video at its core. And, to be honest, I think I have seen higher quality tourism videos.

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There are only two reasons I might recommend this movie: 1) It is incredibly short, so you wouldn’t be wasting much of your time, and 2) The CCR covers that kill time in the middle of this flick aren’t too bad (I think Lodi actually gets played twice…). Overall, “Copper Mountain” just isn’t very fun, so I can’t in good conscience recommend it. If you want to see a low-budget, bizarre bad movie featuring an A-list comedian, go with “Going Overboard”.

IMDb Bottom 100: Popstar

Popstar

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“Popstar” is one of the few movies in the IMDb Bottom 100 that I had never heard of before. I seem to recall Aaron Carter’s very brief celebrity status, but definitely don’t recollect his even briefer acting career.

must have slept through it
must have slept through it

“Popstar” is plagued with some of the same issues that sank “From Justin to Kelly”: namely, the primary acting role is thrust onto a celebrity who is in no way an actor. Carter clearly struggles with all of his lines, and sounds like he is uncomfortable with the pressure of acting (even though he is essentially playing himself). It made me curious as to how he wound up in this movie: was it an obligation, as was the case in “From Justin to Kelly” for Guarini and Clarkson? In any case, his performance is abysmal, and is a major weakness of the film.

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Aaron Carter is only bearable on screen when he is silently smiling, which he actually does a fair bit

I have to say though, I was impressed with the writing on this movie. I didn’t think a high school movie could be more detached from reality than “Bratz”, but “Popstar” manages to do it.

The lead character (Carter’s love interest) is one of the most perplexing piecemeal characters I have run into. She is a superfan of Carter’s whose room is covered in his image, but she is also an academic perfectionist who goes through an ugly duckling arc. She is said to have a perfect SAT score and pending full rides to a number of universities. So, there are a few issues with this: first off, there is just way too much going on with this character, and it is all way overboard. She isn’t just a fan, she’s a superfan. She isn’t just smart, she is supersmart. Also, there’s is the significant issue that most of these qualities are told to the audience instead of shown, so it comes off as even more extreme as it is bludgeoned into your face. Worse yet, her actions don’t actually support the things we are told about her, particularly in regard to her academics. For an example, here is the last shot of the movie:

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This is a story that she writes, that is supposedly a veiled parallel to the romance of the movie. She reveals the story’s existence to Carter in a flirtatious concluding scene, after which the shot fades into this image of the computer screen. Keep in mind, this was written by a character who we have been told has standing offers for full rides to Stanford and UC-Berkeley. Here is the transcript of her story:

“This is the story of a High School Princess and a Pop Star. It ends at magic hour at Westward beach, quite a romantic spot. This story has a happy ending. All stories should have a happy ending; but they don’t.

Anyways they will live happily ever after…Just like in the movies.
He wants her, she wants him…

…AND THEY KISSED!!!”

That’s it. That is the whole story. Again, it was established earlier in the movie that this character had perfect SAT scores, and is basically the most brilliant academic for miles. I just can’t even wrap my head around this. I mean, the existence of the story could have easily just been a veiled metaphor about their relationship for the sake of dialogue and a happy conclusion, but she actually typed this up according to the final shot. She clearly couldn’t have felt too strongly about this tale of love, because that isn’t even a decent plot or structural outline. For a character established as an extreme academic perfectionist, that is some shoddy work to say the least. Does this mean she doesn’t care about her relationship as much as her schoolwork (or even enough so to put forth an effort), or has she learned to sacrifice her perfectionism and just let things in her life be imperfect? Ok, maybe I’m getting it: this is her accepting the reality of a flawed world, and her imperfect place within it. Brilliant.

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I’m not sure what the opposite of explosive chemistry is, but this is it

Adding to the fantasy-world quality of “Popstar” is the central conflict of the plot. Carter has only come to the school and befriended the Super-Genius Girl in order to cheat off of her to pass his classes. When it comes time for the exams, he winds up getting caught. In reality, this result in a failing grade without any doubt. In “Popstar”, Carter is given a second chance due to the persuasive power of monologues, and because he apparently has testing anxiety. As I understand it, having testing anxiety is something that should be divulged to the teacher and consulted on with parents, and ultimately worked out in a way that can alleviate the student. It is not, however, an acceptable excuse for cheating on a test. Regardless, Carter is given his second chance, but this time he is allowed to take his test on a lit stage in the school auditorium, because reasons. Not only does he pass the test, he apparently does better on it that SuperGenius (She didn’t get a perfect score? That doesn’t seem consistent).

The last problem with this movie that I will mention (trust me, there are more) is the cast. Note that the problem here is the cast, not the acting (that is a different issue altogether). There are so many characters in this movie, and barely any of them are on screen enough to matter. I couldn’t keep up with the names or their relationships to the primary characters in the slightest. There were stepmothers, best friends, bullies, mothers, fathers, wise janitors, agents, nerds, and teachers who all just wandered in and out of the movie with minimal introductions and very little to do. This may be the worst job of character introductions I have seen outside of “They Saved Hitler’s Brain”, and there is absolutely no excuse for it.

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The director even cast himself as Carter’s manager, for reasons

Between the abysmal acting, vapid story, and weak writing, there isn’t actually much to enjoy in this movie.  It is certainly incompetently made and generally bad, but it doesn’t have a whole lot of charm to it. It isn’t nearly as contrived as “From Justin to Kelly”, but it is only a stone’s throw away from that level of exploitative garbage. It isn’t a movie I can recommend, but I will say that I had a good chuckle at that last shot of SuperGenius’s magnum opus.

…AND THEN THEY KISSED!!!

IMDb Bottom 100: The Garbage Pail Kids Movie

The Garbage Pail Kids Movie

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Argh. This movie is atrocious, every little bit as much as I was led to believe it was. To start off, I consider Nostalgia Critic’s scathing review of this flick as mandatory viewing:

Honestly, there isn’t much to add to that. “Garbage Pail Kids” is so loosely structured and plotted that there isn’t much to talk about. I will get to review of this film as well soon, but there are a lot of similarities between this and “Blubberella”: they both rely on tired, crass humor, and they both depend far too heavily on improvisation for content. You will notice in clips that the Garbage Pail Kids are constantly just making noise in the background, or filling up their scenes with rambling noise. There is just no way that was all scripted: I can almost guarantee that the voice actors were told to just riff away in the recording booth, and the result is a jumbled mess. Which brings us to the voice acting…

To call the voice acting “bad” is beyond generous. It is a chorus of screeching, wailing, cackling cacophony. To be fair though, I imagine that the voice actors were doing exactly what they were told to do. The Garbage Pail Kids are supposed to be repulsive, which would justify them sounding so horrible. That said, it doesn’t make it any easier to listen to, and the fact that they are usually all making noises at once throughout their scenes makes the experience all the worse. The in-person actors are just genuinely bad in this movie, most notably the child protagonist and the band of (much older) bullies who torment him.

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they are almost certainly a decade older than him

I would be remiss to not mention the nightmarish puppets in this movie. Just take a good look at these:

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I think that is all I have to note about the horrific work on that front.

Last but not least, I have a serious issue with the message of this movie. It claims to be a “beauty is what is on the inside” tale, with the GPKs as an example of good people (creatures? aliens?) who look strange/ugly. The writing has all of the subtlety to take a subplot to break people out of the “State Home for the Ugly”, where apparently all of the greatest minds in the world are held because of physical imperfections. Back to the titular kids, though: there is nothing to indicate that they are, in fact, beautiful on the inside. One of them threatens to eat the child protagonist on more than one occasion, and another one brandishes a knife more than once with minimal provocation. They are just horrible beings, outside and inside.

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The alligator actually eats human body parts on screen

I would never recommend this movie to anyone. The meandering plot structure would make the movie boring even if all other elements were on target. As it is, there is nothing on par about this movie: everything is mediocre to abysmal. I am genuinely shocked that this is no longer in the IMDb Bottom 100, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see it show up back on the list before long. In short, this movie is an assault on the senses in every possible way, as if it were an art project manufactured with the intention to cause cinematic displeasure.

 

Plotopsy Podcast #3 – Maximum Overdrive

Maximum Overdrive

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Episode 3 of the (Plot)opsy Podcast spotlights one of my favorite good-bad movies, 1986’s “Maximum Overdrive”. Stephen King took up the role of director for the first and last time in this cult classic about killer machines possessed by aliens…or a comet…or something. It features some of the most ridiculous deaths in mainstream cinema history, and is a must-see flick for bad movie fans. As it turns out, there are some interesting narratives tied up behind the scenes of this one as well. Enjoy!


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AC/DC wrote a number of original songs for “Maximum Overdrive”, including the hit “Who Made Who”
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Stephen King’s cameo at the beginning of “Maximum Overdrive”, in which an ATM calls him an asshole
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An accident involving this radio-controlled lawnmower took the eye of the Director of Photography on “Maximum Overdrive”. A hefty lawsuit followed.
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One of the most famous sequences in the movie features a murderous vending machine, which attacks a little league baseball team
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“Maximum Overdrive” star Emilio Estevez alongside the Green Goblin truck, which serves as the primary villain of the movie.
DVD cover for “Trucks”, a 1997 movie made from the same source material as “Maximum Overdrive”

The trailer for Maximum Overdrive oozes with hubris on the part of Stephen King, who introduces the film in much the same way that Alfred Hitchcock once did. King does this while simultaneously putting down the many well-regarded adaptations of his works by other film-makers in the past. I’m sure this trailer is one of the more embarrassing entries in the history of Stephen King.

IMDb Bottom 100 in theaters!

The good folks over at Rifftrax are going to be doing yet another live simulcast for the holidays! The former Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang are taking on an old favorite: IMDb Bottom 100 member and cult classic “Santa Claus”, a Mexican-made children’s movie in which St. Nick lives in a sky-castle with Merlin and battles demons for the souls of children.

You can check it out in select theaters around the US and Canada (maybe elsewhere?) on December 4th. To check where it is playing near you, go to the Fathom events page here, and throw in your local ZIP code. Or, if you happen to be in the Nashville, TN area, you can go to the in-person showing at the Belcourt Theater! I went to the live Rifftrax of “Godzilla (1998)” at the Belcourt this summer, and it was an absolute blast. I recommend making an evening of it if you can.

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Also, I highly recommend checking out the old MST3K episode on “Santa Claus”, which is among the best of the series. I’ll be covering the movie later in December here on the blog as well for the IMDb Bottom 100 reviews, so keep your eyes open for it!