After reviewing “Night Train to Mundo Fine”/”Red Zone Cuba” recently (it’ll be up this week), it occurred to me that there are a lot of fantastic (read: awful) musical numbers in the IMDb Bottom 100 movies. So, here is a collection of a dozen songs from 11 IMDb Bottom 100 films. It is by no means an exhaustive list, but this should be a good sampling of what you can expect out of these movies as far as songs go.
Welcome to yet another installment of (God)Awful Movies! This time around, I’m checking out the baffling Christian music video compilation “S.O.S.”, which was brought to my attention through the most recent episode of RedLetterMedia’s “Best of the Worst”. You can check out the whole video below (and you should, it is a great episode).
Something that you may note from the episode is that the RLM gang’s copy of “S.O.S.” is completely in Japanese, so they do their best to piece together the themes from the visuals alone. They also weren’t able to do much research on the video, given the language barrier. Lucky for me, I found an english copy of “S.O.S.” on YouTube, and was able to learn about the video’s background…sort of.
“S.O.S.” was produced by “The Family International”, which is a sort of peculiar hippie cult version of Evangelical Christianity. I highly recommend reading the wikipedia page on the group, as their theology is nothing short of baffling. Here is an excerpt for you:
“[Loving Jesus] is a term that TFI members use to describe their intimate, sexual relationship with Jesus. TFI describes the “Loving Jesus” teachings as a radical form of bridal theology. It is their understanding of the Bible that the followers of Christ are his bride, called to love and serve him with the fervor of a wife. They took bridal theology further than mainstream Christians by encouraging members to imagine that Jesus is having sex with them during sexual intercourse and masturbation. Male members were encouraged to visualize themselves as women, in order to avoid a homosexual relationship with Jesus.”
That’s sure something, isn’t it? The only thing I knew about TFI prior to reading that entry was that River and Joaquin Phoenix were both raised as part of the organization for a time, and that it was a bit out of left field. It looks like there is a deep, dark hole to dig into in regards to some shady practices by the organization, but I’m not going to go any deeper into it here. I’d much rather ridicule some ridiculous music videos.
The first segment doesn’t dig explicitly into Christianity, but does give us a ton of goofy robots and early CGI. Watching it in English, it is clearly a luddite/anti-technology song, which comes back in a big way later on. To my dismay, the title song “S.O.S.” in this segment is ridiculously catchy, so I suppose the people behind this have to get kudos for that. It is definitely interesting that without the context of the later videos, it is easy to think that the “angels” in this section are either aliens, greek god-creatures, or sprites of some sort. Given how heavy-handed the segments get later on, this part definitely feels like a “wedge” or “hook” to get general audiences into the fold.
The second segment is probably the most forgettable of all of them. The first couple of minutes show a band repeating the same two lines of a song about a billion times while a “party” commences in front of them. This bit segues immediately into a romantic song (via some of the worst transitions you will ever see) in which two partygoers leer at each other across a room and fantasize about each other. It is astoundingly uncomfortable to watch.
The third segment is nothing short of a beautiful treasure of nonsense. You could basically boil it down to being a “God’s Not Dead” musical comedy. There are a lot of monkey suits (and monkeys in suits?) involved, and you will be left wondering just how our education system managed to fail so many so completely. They even cap it off with a reference to Charles Darwin’s “deathbed conversion”. Oh joy!
The fourth segment is pretty straight-forward anti-abortion propaganda. All subtleties have long been jettisoned by the time this portion gears up, so this song is written from the perspective of the fetus singing to the would-be mother, featuring such lyrics as “Mother keep me, I’m your baby! / Oh Mother let me live, don’t take away my life”. I was completely unprepared for the lyrics to this one, as I initially just saw clips of the Japanese version on RedLetterMedia. With the translations, this segment is by far the most abysmal. Not only is there nothing to laugh at in it, but the damn thing is just disgustingly predatory.
The fifth segment enlightens the audience to the inherent evils of grocery stores, and encourages everyone to abandon technology entirely in favor of living in the woods to count down to the rapture. Yeah, that’s where this is all going. This may be the best segment, just due to the creepy makeup and baffling premise. Once again, the song is undeservedly catchy for a tune about the evil of grocery store scanners.
Segment six follows up with the same grocery-phobic commune that concludes segment five, and we get to go full-on rapture. There are some lovely interpretive drawings of the rapture featured for some reason, a handy rapture calendar is shown, a lot of vague pointing happens, and Jesus himself makes a fly-by cameo! It all finishes up with the green-screened rapture of the central characters, where they narrowly escape the satanic grocery stormtroopers. It is all quite good fun if you can distance yourself from the fact that people took/take this seriously.
For the record, after a green-screened rapture, anything else is going to be an anticlimax. There’s just nowhere to go from there. Nevertheless, there is a segment seven. Outside of some excellent Rick Astley dancing, there isn’t a whole lot to see in this one. The way this segment is shot is really jarring and unpleasant to watch (odd effects mostly), and it doesn’t have any kind of plot within itself. We get some visual recaps from each section over a song about rebirth and the aforementioned Astley-dancing, and then the YouTube video bluescreens for about five minutes. That was my favorite part.
So, is “S.O.S.” worth watching? Abso-fucking-lutely, yes. This is a mind-boggling experience to sit through. It had me laughing at cheesy effects and dated fashions, creeped-out by the cultishness of it all, furious at the bullshit propagated by it, and confused beyond any measure. This is a golden find. I don’t know how RedLetterMedia came by this thing, but somebody knew perfectly well what they were passing on. I can only hope for something this gloriously awful when I rummage through bargain bins. Knowing more about the organization behind this video makes it all the creepier and more perplexing to watch, so I’m a little sad that the RLM people didn’t try to dig up more info ahead of time. On the plus side, they get completely blind-sided by the content, which is damn entertaining.
If you are interested in watching the full English version of “S.O.S.”, you can find it below:
I love Godzilla movies. I grew up watching both the Hesei and Showa movies on VHS, and actually remember waiting intently for some of the Heisei movies to premiere on video in the US. So, I have a lot of fond memories of watching old Godzilla movies.
With the recent Godzilla movie rocking the box office, a lot of the old flicks have been getting re-releases on blu-ray. Giddily, I’ve been revisiting a good number of them.
One of my favorites of the Showa era is “Godzilla vs Gigan”. There is a goofy human plot, lots of monster fighting action, cockroaches try to take over the world, Godzilla gets lines, Godzilla bleeds profusely, Godzilla loses a fight with a stationary object, Anguirus casually defies gravity, and the be-buzz-sawed Gigan gets introduced to the franchise. There is a whole lot to love/hate.
I can’t recommend this movie enough. Outside of “Godzilla vs. Monster Zero”, this is my favorite cheeseball flick from the Showa era of Godzilla. A lot of people point to “Godzilla vs Megalon” as the best of the worst of Showa, but “Megalon” doesn’t have cockroach aliens wearing human skin, or a Japanese Tommy Chong. It has nothing on this.
Trust me on this one, “Godzilla vs. Gigan” is well worth the watch. Unfortunately, I don’t believe it is on Netflix or online anywhere at the moment, but the DVD and bluray are readily available.
I recently wrote in to the popular bad movie podcast Bad Movie Fiends (BMFcast for short), asking about their general thoughts on the IMDb Bottom 100. I just checked out their most recent episode on “I, Frankenstein” last night, having totally forgotten about the email, and it turns out that they responded to it in the show! It starts just after the 1:24:00 mark towards the end, but I’ll list some key excerpts below:
[on the IMDb Bottom 100]
“It is a good representation of the most publicly well-known bad movies”
“One of the problems with the Bottom 100 is that a lot of people vote MST3k movies on there, but you are watching those movies through different means…if you are sitting in a room with three guys who are ripping the shit out of a movie, it is going to alter your opinion of it a little bit…it bothers me that a lot of that list is MST3k movies, but there is shit like Foodfight and Theodore Rex on there*, which deserve to be there”
“Because of crowd-sourced stuff, an Indian movie called “Gunday” is at the worst spot on IMDb due to a political thing…a twitter campaign to take it to the bottom of the Bottom 100″
“My problem with that whole list is that so much of it is the painful shit that you don’t want to sit through. That is truly the worst, but we look for entertaining bad. That is always our goal”
“It used to be movies like “Plan 9” and “Manos” at the top, and then everyone was like “OMG Birdemic”, and it gets to the top 10. Then it levels out..and it starts dropping out of there.”
“My recommendation to you, Gordon, is do not do this solo. Do not take this journey alone. Don’t. It will only end in pain. When you are solo, it hurts. It hurts bad.”
“I don’t trust [The IMDb Bottom 100]. The community as a whole can’t agree on what a bad movie is…I wouldn’t go by that Bottom 100 list, and watch them just because they are bad movies…those things are pain”
“If you are going to keep on this path, skip the comedies…a bad comedy has nothing left. For the love of god skip comedies. They will all be “Disaster Movie”, don’t do it”
*Foodfight isn’t on the Bottom 100 currently due to not meeting the vote quota criteria. Theodore Rex has a low enough score and enough votes, but is not in the ranking due to unlisted criteria.
Overall, they responded almost exactly how I expected. They brought up the flaws of an open democratic ranking system, the recent “Gunday” controversy (I’ll cover that in a future post), and the over-representation of features from MST3k in the Bottom 100. They also specifically caution against bad comedies, which is something I learned pretty damn quickly (but I’m not skipping them, that’s cheating). Bad comedies are, 99 times out of 100, irredeemably awful with very little takeaway value. Then again, this challenge is supposed to be difficult, after all.
One aspect that I do find interesting about their responses is something I consider a sort of…philosophical difference between what they do and what I do here. The BMF guys are, with their show, specifically chasing down good-bad movies, using their sliding scale of 5 bags (bad) to 5 Jox (good, from “Robot Jox”) to rank everything they watch. They specifically go after lesser-known movies more often than not, and aim to raise the profile of what are basically diamonds in the rough: amazingly good-bad movies that have either been popularly forgotten or overlooked. I think that is a kick-ass goal, and something I am working on doing myself eventually with the Bargain Bin(ge). It isn’t very often that people find those golden good-bad movies, and you never quite know where they are going to come from, so all the more power to them for doing the leg work on digging them up. However, finding good-bad movies isn’t my goal with going through the IMDb Bottom 100. By nature of the voting quota for the list, movies in the IMDb Bottom 100 are already relatively well known, so it wouldn’t really make sense to use the list for that. There is still the chance that I will be surprised here and there (and I have been), but that isn’t the idea behind the challenge.
While the democratic system of the Bottom 100 has significant drawbacks, it also means that this ranking of bad movies is compiled by the quasi-consensus of the internet mob: the list has a zeitgeist to it, and a sense of cultural relevance. The fact that it is constantly updating actually fascinates me, whereas the BMF team sees that as a sort of weakness to the list. I think that it needs to be fluid to keep up with the times: just look at the archive rankings that I dug up from 2004, and check out the immense change that the list has undergone in that time. The will of the IMDb voting mob is ever-changing and fickle, and can be influenced by the times. I don’t think the Bottom 100 should be though of as a concrete and final list, but more like a sort of bad movie barometer for current trends.
So, there is a sense that the IMDb Bottom 100 has cultural relevancy to it, and that definitely influenced my interest in taking on this challenge. However, that’s also not the whole reason why I am doing it. This is where the real philosophical difference comes in: I like watching bad movies. Not just good-bad movies, but all bad movies. If a movie doesn’t have that special charm that makes it so bad it is good, that doesn’t mean I won’t watch it. With that sort of movie (“The Maize: The Movie”, for example), I just take a different approach to it. Instead of enjoying the spectacle like a good audience should, I approach watching these crap movies more like you would approach an autopsy. I want to understand what went wrong with it, and what dysfunctions were fatal to the film. I want to know who/what killed it, the cause of death, and perhaps the motivation (if it is known). I like knowing how movies tick, and there are a lot of aspects to film-making that are invisible to the audience unless something is going wrong. As someone who doesn’t have a film background, I like learning these things by reverse engineering bad movies and poking at their flaws, so I can better understand what makes good movies good. I still absolutely adore good-bad movies, but I’ve learned how to approach bad-bad movies as well. The IMDb Bottom 100 offers a variety of films that have failed in countless different ways, and I’m personally interested in digging into that sort of thing. It may be difficult to watch through them at times, but I always wind up getting something out of the experience when all is said and done.
Lastly, I chose to do this challenge to force me to write regularly and become ever-so-slightly more competent at video editing. And, of course, just to say that I did it. That alone is a good enough reason for me.
Also, I’m over half way done now. Might as well stick it out.
If any of you BMFers come across this, keep being awesome, and thanks for the response!
There are two foreign animated movies about the Titanic disaster that star talking animals. Both movies are, as you would expect, thoroughly bizarre. Due to the similarity of the titles and a mix up on my part, I wound up watching both of them, despite the fact that only one of them is in the IMDb Bottom 100. Interestingly enough, “The Legend of the Titanic” has an overall IMDb score of 1.3, which is well below the 2.4 of “Titanic: The Legend Goes On”, which is actually listed in the Bottom 100. There are more factors that go into the IMDb Bottom 100 ranking than score alone, though, which is why “The Legend of the Titanic” isn’t included. Most notably, there is a minimum quota of votes necessary for a movie to qualify for the list, a number which “The Legend of the Titanic” hasn’t reached yet. Still, given I had already watched the movie and that the score is so tremendously low, I figured I might as well review it in conjunction with “Titanic: The Legend Goes On”. In fact, if “The Legend of the Titanic” qualified right now for the IMDb ranking, it would come in at #1 in the Bottom 100. That is good enough for me.
“The Legend of the Titanic” was a far more entertainingly bad movie than I could have possibly expected. I honestly absolutely loved it. The villains were all over-the-top in the best possible way, including the notably eye-patched whaling baron primary antagonist (who was an absolute delight). The voice acting of the character reminded me of Harvey Korman playing Hedley Lamarr in “Blazing Saddles”, in that it was perfectly seething with high-class malevolence. The character also orchestrated one of the most elaborate and nonsensical plots I’ve ever seen in a movie, which certainly earns extra credit. Somehow, this man devised a plan to work with a gang of talking sharks to sink the Titanic in order to secure a monopoly on the Atlantic whaling market. It is even more ridiculous than what you are picturing.
There are a plenty of other astoundingly nonsensical characters and plots in “The Legend of the Titanic”, including a woman who can talk to animals due to the reflections of moon beams in her tears, an octopus capable of throwing icebergs for miles, and talking Brazilian mice who apparently introduced soccer to the Americas. Needless to say, I can’t recommend this movie highly enough: the constant stream of nonsense in this movie is entertaining throughout.
“Titanic: The Legend Continues” is quite a different case. “The Legend of the Titanic” has an entertainingly nonsensical plot, but it is more or less half-competently assembled. “The Legend Continues” is an absolute wreck (ha) in comparison. The voice acting and animation are both massively jarring and out-of-sync, making the act of watching the movie a chore (more-so than it would have been anyway). It is also a musical, which adds a whole new layer of misery to the film.
The most famous scene of “Titanic: The Legend Continues” is undoubtedly a specific sequence featuring a poorly-animated rapping dog. However, there are two different versions of the movie which feature entirely different songs during the sequence. Both are pretty horrible, but I think there is no doubt as to which one is the worst. Check out this comparison:
Something else that is very clear about “The Legend Continues” is that the animators were not bashful about ripping off other works. There are character designs and sequences pulled straight out of other features unashamedly. For instance, check out a couple of the dog characters from “The Legend Continues”:
One of the other huge problems with “The Legend Goes On” is an overabundance of characters, none of whom get much screen-time to develop personalities or stories. There are countless unnecessary one-dimensional characters in this film, such as the lounge singer, the first officer, the under-cover New York cop, and the jewel thief family. None of them play much into the plot, and those are just a handful of the useless human characters. I couldn’t even keep track of all of the stereotype-dependent animals wandering around on the ship.
I suppose “The Legend Continues” should get points for acknowledging that the Titanic disaster actually happened (unlike “Legend of the Titanic”), but everything was so hastily and lazily thrown together, I can’t help but like “Legend of the Titanic” more. “The Legend Goes On” is a move painful watch than “The Legend of the Titanic” if you ask me, and doesn’t have nearly as many laughs. There are plenty of nonsense moments that are entertaining, but most of the value of “The Legend Goes On” comes from basking in its incompetence in the realms of voice acting and animation. If you don’t get a kick out of watching cinematic failures, it is going to be very hard to sit through. However, I think these two movies go very well together. They are so astoundingly similar in plot and characters that they are very often confused with each other, and they even make a lot of the same mistakes. If you aren’t interested in sitting through them in their entirety though, The Nostalgia Critic has reviews of both movies that hit all of the highlights (below).
Right now there is a lot of buzz in the bad movie world surrounding James Franco’s involvement in an upcoming film adaptation of “The Disaster Artist”, a recent book about the making of cult-classic bad movie “The Room”.
I’m just as excited as everyone else about seeing “The Disaster Artist” translated to film, but I just came across another movie that is currently hitting film festivals about the making of one of the most notorious bad movies from the 1960’s: “The Creeping Terror”
“The Creep Behind The Camera” is a dark comedy docu-drama that tells the story of the people behind “The Creeping Terror”, integrating interviews and stories with live-action reenactments. I’ve come across a few snippets of information about the making of “The Creeping Terror” while reading up on it for the IMDb Bottom 100 (coming up soon), and I am really looking forward to hearing more. From what I can tell, “The Creeping Terror” was a chaotic, low-budget disasterpiece run by a swindler/egomaniac who manipulated people into participating in the film. It also features one of the most perplexing, least convincing monsters that has ever hit the big screen. Needless to say, the “Creep Behind The Camera” crew had plenty to work with.
I highly recommend checking out the trailer for “The Creep Behind The Camera” (below). It doesn’t look like it will shy away from some really dark territory, but it still strikes as a comedic work at heart. Reviews so far look pretty promising, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it gets distributed soon.
PasteMagazine.com recently published a list of the 100 “Best” B-movies of all time. In general, there are some great entries in the list, and it is a great starting point for someone new to the realm of bad movies. There are a few intentionally bad movies and Troma-style films that I’m not typically fond of due to their lack of earnestness, but that’s more of a personal preference. I still recommend checking out the whole list, but here are some particular selections from it that you can expect to see from me soon:
I’ve been holding off on this one, but it is coming. It has cemented itself in recent years as one of the modern paragons of bad cinema, and has built a phenomenal fan base. It has dropped in the Bottom 100 significantly, but it is still on there and I am definitely going to review it.
“Ben & Arthur”
I’ve never seen this one, but I have heard many comparisons of it to “The Room”, so I have high expectations. It is still hanging around in the Bottom 100, so you can expect this one sooner rather than later.
“Mac & Me”
You had better believe that this is coming. It isn’t in the Bottom 100 anymore, but it used to be. That’s enough of an excuse for me to check this out in the near future.
I have a pretty significant BibleMan DVD collection, and I can’t wait to dig into them. I’m focusing on the Bottom 100 first, but expect a bunch of these to show up in my (God)Awful Movies section in good time.
I don’t know much about this one, apart from the fact that I found it in a bargain bin and it is an alumni of the IMDb Bottom 100. Also, the monster looks hilarious.
This is an old MST3k classic with some of the worst puppeteering I have seen since “Elves”. I’ve already watched it for the Bottom 100, but I haven’t written up my review yet.
“Hercules in New York”
Another alumni of the IMDb Bottom 100, known for being The Governator’s hilariously bad film debut. I’m looking forward to checking out this dubbed mess pretty soon.
One of the few things that I disagree heavily with the list’s author on is the #1 selection, “Hard Ticket to Hawaii”. It was featured recently on Red Letter Media’s Best of the Worst, and came in 3rd behind “Deadly Prey” and “Miami Connection” there. I personally prefer both of those movies to “Hard Ticket” as well. I recently watched all three, and while “Hard Ticket” has great inexplicable moments (death Frisbee, the infamous snake), it also has a lot of down time. It is also a movie that was designed to be tongue-in-cheek and is intentionally low quality (it is just barely not a porno), which doesn’t always work for me when it comes to bad movies. Both “Miami Connection” and “Deadly Prey” are, in contrast, honestly made movies, and are even more entertaining for it. If you ask many B-movie fans, earnestness is a really important quality in enjoyably bad movies, and for any “#1 Bad Movie” to lack it would fail to represent a key trait of the nebulous genre.