IMDb Bottom 100: Ed

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.

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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

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 (http://tinyurl.com/lhpltbo)? 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.

IMDb Bottom 100 Challenge: March Update

I started off 2014 with the resolution that I was going to watch through and review the entire IMDb Bottom 100 movie list by the end of the year.

Because I am also a big fan of pilfering through bargain bins for DVDs, I am also doing my damnedest to find hard copies of as many of these movies as possible (not an easy task, I assure you). So far, I’ve found a good number of them, but only because I have traveled through seven states in the last two months for work, and found some pretty damn weird used DVD shops along the way.

Some of the movies on the list are still proving to be nearly impossible to find by any means, either due to a lack of distribution in my hemisphere of the globe, or because there is a lack of circulation of subtitles for them on the internet. Luckily, the IMDb Bottom 100 is a living list, so I should be able to plug up some of the holes with new additions that pop into the rankings once I get down to the wire.

In any case, 2014 has already managed to sneak into March somehow, so let’s see what my progress is looking like at this point. So far, I have reviewed:

(IMDb Bottom 100: The Quarter Mark, Part 1)
-SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2
-Going Overboard
-Manos: The Hands of Fate
-Birdemic: Shock and Terror

(IMDb Bottom 100: The Quarter Mark, Part 2)
-Space Mutiny
-Turks in Space
-Crossover
-Pledge This!

(IMDb Bottom 100: The Quarter Mark, Part 3)
-Pod People
-Girl in Gold Boots
-House of the Dead
-Pumaman

(IMDb Bottom 100: The Quarter Mark, Part 4)
-The Starfighters
-Boggy Creek II: And The Legend Continues
-Devil Fish
-The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies
-Son of the Mask
-Soultaker

18 isn’t a bad start! I already have another 5 reviews filmed that I only need to edit, and I hope to have those up this weekend. If you include the many still-unreviewed movies I’ve already painfully sat through, in total I have made progress on 40 of the IMDb’s Bottom 100 movies!

Here is the whole IMDb Bottom 100 list as I froze it in January, with some handy color coding:

Red = complete
Blue = partially complete
Pink = not yet located

1. Final Justice (1985)
2. Keloglan vs. the Black Prince (2006)
3. The Hottie & the Nottie (2008)
4. Invasion of the Neptune Men (1961)
5. Disaster Movie (2008)
6. Yes Sir (2007)
7. Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (2004)
8. Going Overboard (1989)
9. Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
10. Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010)
11. Die Hard Dracula (1998)
12. Space Mutiny (1988)
13. Turks in Space (2006)
14. Who’s Your Caddy? (2007)
15. Pledge This! (2006)
16. Crossover (2006)
17. Anne B. Real (2003)
18. Daniel der Zauberer (2004)
19. The Creeping Terror (1964)
20. The Maize: The Movie (2004)
21. Ghosts Can’t Do It (1989)
22. The Pumaman (1980)
23. The Wild World of Batwoman (1966)
24. From Justin to Kelly (2003)
25. House of the Dead (2003)
26. Track of the Moon Beast (1976)
27. Girl in Gold Boots (1968)
28. The Pod People (1983)
29. Prince of Space (1959)
30. The Touch of Satan (1971)
31. Zombie Nightmare (1987)
32. Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues (1985)
33. Surf School (2006)
34. Glitter (2001)
35. The Blade Master (1984)
36. Zombie Nation (2004)
37. Eegah (1962)
38. Miss Castaway and the Island Girls (2004)
39. Soultaker (1990)
40. Ram Gopal Varma’s Indian Flames (2007)
41. I Accuse My Parents (1944)
42. Himmatwala (2013)
43. Son of the Mask (2005)
44. The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? (1964)
45. Danes Without a Clue (1997)
46. Tangents (1994)
47. Devil Fish (1984)
48. Chairman of the Board (1998)
49. The Starfighters (1964)
50. Ben & Arthur (2002)
51. The Final Sacrifice (1990)
52. Seven Mummies (2006)
53. Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders (1996)
54. Nine Lives (2002)
55. Leonard Part 6 (1987)
56. Hobgoblins (1988)
57. Santa with Muscles (1996)
58. The Tony Blair Witch Project (2000)
59. Santa Claus (1959)
60. Epic Movie (2007)
61. Fat Slags (2004)
62. Popstar (2005)
63. Car 54, Where Are You? (1994)
64. Monster a-Go Go (1965)
65. Titanic: The Legend Goes On… (2000)
66. A Story About Love (1995)
67. Body in the Web (1960)
68. Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (1996)
69. Alone in the Dark (2005)
70. Mitchell (1975)
71. A Fox’s Tale (2008)
72. Gigli (2003)
73. Beginning of the Great Revival (2011)
74. Demon Island (2002)
75. Laserblast (1978)
76. Dream Well (2009)
77. The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)
78. Baby Geniuses (1999)
79. Anus Magillicutty (2003)
80. The Underground Comedy Movie (1999)
81. Zaat (1971)
82. Simon Sez (1999)
83. Battlefield Earth (2000)
84. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
85. Ed (1996)
86. The Hillz (2004)
87. In the Mix (2005)
88. Bratz (2007)
89. Another Nine & a Half Weeks (1997)
90. Monstrosity (1963)
91. American Ninja V (1993)
92. Tees Maar Khan (2010)
93. Maskeli besler: Kibris (2008)
94. Feel the Noise (2007)
95. Troll 2 (1990)
96. Addiction (2004)
97. .com for Murder (2002)
98. 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain (1998)
99. Night Train to Mundo Fine (1966)
100. Joker (2012)


Pretty cool, huh?

I have a couple of changes that I am going to make going forward with the reviews, just based on some trial and error. From this point on, each film will get a post to itself. I originally thought that grouping them would be easier, but it is really dragging out the pace. I do intend to continue doing video and text reviews for each movie, because I am actually enjoying fiddling with my editing software and learning stuff about it as I go. It is taking longer than I would like to wrap up each review, but it is starting to speed up as I am getting used to all of the bells and whistles.

The only other change goes hand in hand with the one post / one movie rule: I intend to actually schedule these to go up on a regular basis. I’m hoping that doing that will get me to pace the reviews out more sensibly, and get me caught up on reviewing all of the movies I have already watched. I haven’t decided on the frequency yet, but it will at least be a new post every few of days.

Likewise, I have some non-Bottom 100 movies that I have in my queue to review, so I aim to have some more of those out soon. There is at least another Bargain Binge that will be done within the next week, and hopefully I will have my first Wheel to Reel segment up very soon (there will be more explanation on that in the post).

In the meantime, I can generally recommend that you should avoid all of the movies on the IMDb’s Bottom 100, because so far they are all pretty damn horrible. Unless, like me, you are into that sort of thing.

Reviews/Trivia of B-Movies, Bad Movies, and Cult Movies.

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