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IMDb Bottom 100: The Creeping Terror

The Creeping Terror

creeping

Ah, “The Creeping Terror”. This movie has to have one of the worst monsters in cinema history, and that is really saying something.

I’ve already mentioned this flick briefly when I covered the upcoming movie “The Creep Behind the Camera”, based on the bizarre story of how “The Creeping Terror” was made. To be honest, this is one of those rare cases where the story of how the film was made is far more fascinating and entertaining than the film itself. There are some that swear by “The Creeping Terror”, but before I started reading into the back story, I just found it to be another boring, repetitive Corman-esque monster movie. The only things that stood out for me on the first watch were the silly monster design and the inconsistent and perplexing use of narration. However, after learning some more about the behind-the-scenes shenanigans that spawned this film, I am way more intrigued by it. I still think the movie is crushingly boring, but there is at least a fraction  of intrigue as well.

First off, take a good, long look at the star of “The Creeping Terror”:

creep1

creeping1 creeping2

Yeah, that’s the first problem. Carpets are not very scary, and this thing is about as far from intimidating as you can get. However, I believe that you can make a decent monster movie without a decent monster. You just have to be creative with the shots, build tension with the writing and music, and keep the embarrassing rubber suit off-screen as much as possible. Financial limitations can force artists to be creative to make their film work, and some directors actually work best under those limitations (Robert Rodriguez pops to mind). Or, y’know, they can do none of that at all, and make their film as boring as possible. Just like “The Creeping Terror”.

I would be hard pressed to find anything that was genuinely done well in this movie. I guess the infamous dance hall scene is sort of ok…except for the damn music.

…and, of course, it all goes wrong when the monster shows up.

I am not personally a big fan of “The Creeping Terror” as a bad movie, and don’t recommend it for group viewing. However, if you are interested in the machinations behind the scenes that produce crap movies, then there is perhaps no better tale than the spotty information available about star/director Vic Savage and “The Creeping Terror”. It sounds like a delightful brew of fraud, addiction, sex, bribery, and madness went into the making of this atrocious feature. Seriously, I am incredibly excited to hear what was put together for “The Creep Behind the Camera”. It is sure to be a blast, and I bet the trailer can sell you on it if you aren’t already intrigued.

 

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IMDb Bottom 100: Die Hard Dracula

Die Hard Dracula

diehard

“Die Hard Dracula” is an incompetently made movie on every level. The editing is jerky and feels devoid of continuity, the writing is bizarrely inconsistent in tone, the costumes and makeup are ridiculous, the effects are garbage, and all of the acting is either cartoonishly over-the-top or non-existent.

An interesting thing I noticed from digging around on the web is that “Die Hard Dracula” is clearly one of those movies that no one knew how to market (and not just because it is horrible). If you look at any of the posters or covers for the movie, they all portray a typical vampire horror movie. However, the tone of the movie is oddly light-hearted, and at times is a full-on spoof of “Dracula” and vampire movies in general.

diehard9At the same time, it doesn’t go quite so far as to be a “comedy”, so it would be deceptive to market it as such without acknowledging the attempt at horror. I’ve noticed this same trend with other movies that mix styles (whether they are good or not). It is difficult to easily pitch or sell something that has both genuine horror and comedy elements. In this case it didn’t matter all too much, because the movie is astoundingly horrible all-around and fails to blend the genres successfully. However, this problem does affect good horror-comedy movies of recent years like “Cabin in the Woods” and “Drag Me to Hell”.

diehard10
Managed to drag both Joss Whedon and Sam Raimi into this.

I can’t say for sure, but some of the comedic moments in “Die Hard Dracula” seem forced enough that they might have been added in after the fact, perhaps once everyone realized how bad the final product was going to be. In particular, the ending feels very unnatural, jarring, and improvised. Then again, most of the movie feels oddly edited and confusing, so the ending almost blends in. I’m not sure if this is a case where the sudden, whiplash-inducing tone shifts between horror and comedy were intended from the original script, or if they are the results of a flubbed attempt to salvage/redirect the movie. In any case, the writing and editing crash together to turn the film into a complete cinematic wreck. Even if all other elements were average or better, this film would have been a failure due to those aspects alone. Fancy trim on a poorly constructed house isn’t going to make for a good home, after all. Unfortunately for the film, not even the trim-work looks good in this mess.

If you are going to make any kind of horror movie, you absolutely must be able to do makeup and practical effects (unless your name is Uli Lommel and you don’t have standards). “Die Hard Dracula” not only has horrible makeup on Dracula, but it fails to be even remotely consistent with his appearance. The closest thing I can liken Dracula’s ever-changing appearance to is how Jason changes his appearance under the hockey mask from one “Friday the 13th” movie to the next.

diehard1 diehard2 diehard3 diehard4As you should probably expect, the acting in this movie is generally horrible. There is one notable exception: Bruce Glover (“Diamonds Are Forever”) plays Dr. Van Helsing, and is the one saving grace of the movie. He chews the scenery like he is sucking life force out of the props, and actually makes the movie watchable while he is on screen. His performance is perhaps the only reason I might consider recommending this movie. He is at the very least a breath of fresh air next to the fellow playing Dracula. Ugh.

I have really only scratched the surface of the landfill of garbage that is this movie. There are flying special effects worthy of “Pumaman”, and a flying coffin sequence that will make you cringe. Dracula even shoots lightning out of his hands like Emperor Palpatine at one point for some reason.

You may notice that I have managed to avoid the plot of this movie so far. That was quite intentional. Honestly, there isn’t an easy way to sum it up sensibly. There is a young man who watches his girlfriend instantly drown in a water skiing accident, after which he goes backpacking in Europe to grieve. He makes a vague wish upon a star that resurrects a drowned woman in eastern Europe. Meanwhile, Dracula exists and starts creeping out the drowned woman’s town. Protagonist-man shows up in the town while back-packing, falls in love with the formerly drowned woman, and volunteers to help Van Helsing kill the local vampire menace. Shenanigans ensue as Van Helsing repeatedly fails to vanquish the vampire to comedic effect. Ultimately, Dracula turns everyone into vampires and they live happily ever after for eternity.

 

It is all pretty much nonsense.

The thing that really gets me about this movie is that I can’t decide if I hate it or love it. It is incompetent on every possible level, and fails miserably at everything it sets out to do. The pacing slows down quite a bit, and there isn’t much entertainment value to be had, but I can’t help but enjoy it in retrospect. I feel similar about this movie as I do about “Leonard Part 6” I suppose: it is a rare case where I enjoy a failed comedy, in just how miserably it fails to be comedic. I also just love Bruce Glover’s performance, which is probably the tipping point for me. I definitely recommend checking out the trailer above: if that seems like something you might enjoy, then check it out.

IMDb Bottom 100: The Album!

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.

Pod People

Girl in Gold Boots

Night Train to Mundo Fine

The Creeping Terror

The Starfighters

Titanic: And The Legend Continues…

Mitchell

The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-up Zombies

Puma Man

Manos: The Hands of Fate

Birdemic: Shock and Terror

IMDb Bottom 100: Disaster Movie

Disaster Movie

disaster

I would like to say that “Disaster Movie” is exactly what you would expect it to be. For the most part, it is. However, it manages to set itself apart from the typical pack of “Movie Movies” that has flooded theaters since the success of “Scary Movie” in 2000. Even compared to fellow Bottom 100 parody “Epic Movie”, “Disaster Movie” is abysmal. In the case of “Epic Movie”, the over-arching plot lampooning “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” at least more-or-less tied the lazy jokes and sequences together, however loosely.

In “Disaster Movie”, in contrast, the connecting plot isn’t itself a parody of anything at all. In a movie so bloated with dated and unnecessary references, the plot of the movie itself fails to lampoon any specific film, instead opting for a dull and generic apocalyptic scenario. Worse yet, the framing just barely manages to move the action along from joke to joke. Essentially, “Disaster Movie” just follows a group of characters as they aimlessly run from location to location. They have a final destination in mind, but the audience has no sense of how close/far from it the characters are at any given time. It drags down the pacing, and sucks all sense of urgency out of the story. Not that anyone actually cared about the story in “Disaster Movie” anyway, though.

Everything else about the movie is generally exactly what you should expect from a “Movie Movie”. Lazy, crass humor is as rampant as the (dated) pop cultural references as they intertwine and mingle throughout the film. Yet, even the references are lazier than you might expect: the central MacGuffin of the plot is a crystal skull from that “Indiana Jones” movie everyone has tried to forget about. At one point, a man clad in a cheap Iron Man Halloween costume suddenly appears on screen, and is subsequently crushed by a falling cow. As best as I can tell, this is a reference to 1996’s “Twister”, a blockbuster that was released well over a decade before this film. The target audience of “Disaster Movie” may not have even remembered “Twister” when this movie came out.

disaster3Perhaps worst of all, towards the end of the film there is a sequence that references the animated movie “Kung-Fu Panda”. In lieu of awkwardly integrating an animated character into the film, there is instead a man dressed in a panda costume who engages in a martial arts fight. Not only is it an unnecessary reference to a children’s movie in an “adult” comedy, but the lazy costume just looks bad (not unlike the previously mentioned Iron Man gag).

disaster2This sort of low quality is basically even across the board in this movie, but most notably in the effects and the writing. The one instance where the movie tries to actually criticize one of its targets winds up being massively hypocritical and jarring. One of the central characters is a very thinly veiled caricature of Juno, the pregnant teenage lead character in the hit movie of the same name. While she is mostly used to make jokes about pregnancy, the writers also attempt to skewer “Juno” by pointing out the laziness of the movie’s humor and pop culture laden dialogue. It should be pretty clear at this point how that criticism is massively hypocritical for a film that consists entirely of pop culture references.

disaster1It should go without saying that I do not recommend that anyone see this movie. There aren’t any laughs to be had here. The most that you can possibly get out of the experience of watching this movie is the feeling of traveling back in time to 2008, and you will immediately realize that it wasn’t worth the trip.

 

IMDb Bottom 100: Gunday

Gunday

gunday1

Here is a bit of an unusual situation: I’m going to write about a movie I haven’t seen.

“Gunday” is a 2014 Bollywood movie that hasn’t been made available in Region 1 (or in English) yet. However, it managed to sink all the way to the lowest spot in the IMDb Bottom 100 almost immediately upon release. Seems fishy, doesn’t it?

Well, the folks at FiveThirtyEight took notice, and used their beautiful data-mancy to dig into the story of how (and why) “Gunday” has taken a dominating position in the basement of the IMDb Bottom 100. Check it out here.

They are always handy with an interesting graph

First off, the high number of votes on IMDb for “Gunday” is the result of a social media campaign lobbied against the film. Apparently, there is a particularly offensive depiction of the Bangladeshi revolution in the movie that rubbed a lot of people in the wrong way. In order to bring attention to this (?), some activist Bangladeshis tanked the movie’s IMDb page with 1-star reviews by the thousands. From the FiveThirtyEight post:

“Gunday” offended a huge, sensitive, organized and social-media-savvy group of people who were encouraged to mobilize to protest the movie by giving it the lowest rating possible on IMDb. Of “Gunday’s” ratings, 36,000 came from outside the U.S., and 91 percent of all reviewers gave it one star.

This brings up one of the central issues with the democratic, open-to-all nature of the IMDb’s ratings and rankings. What prevents this sort of mob-influence situation from dishonestly inflating/deflating a movie’s score?

Although there have since been numerous complaints about the down-voting of “Gunday,” IMDb doesn’t seem to be discounting the plethora of low ratings, or at least not yet. IMDB’s head of PR, Emily Glassman, told me that while the site has several built-in safeguards to prevent ballot-stuffing, the policy is not to delete or modify individual ratings from registered users.

“Our approach is not to focus on individual titles or incidents, but to analyze this behavior whenever it occurs and to apply any new learnings to strengthen our voting mechanism, so that the resulting improvements affect all titles/votes in our system rather than just the ones specifically affected by these isolated situations,” she said.

That all sounds appropriately vague and mysterious for the IMDb. Their qualifications for the Bottom 100 are still generally unclear, and have apparently changed a number of times in the past based on the archived lists I’ve found. Currently, a set quota of 1500 votes is needed for a film to qualify for the list, but there are other vague qualifiers that are not explicitly stated. For comparison, this is the formula used to determine the other end of the spectrum, the IMDb Top 250:

W = \frac{Rv + Cm}{v+m}

where:

W\ = weighted rating
R\ = average for the movie as a number from 0 to 10 (mean) = (Rating)
v\ = number of votes for the movie = (votes)
m\ = minimum votes required to be listed in the Top 250 (currently 25,000)
C\ = the mean vote across the whole report (currently 7.0)

The Bottom 100 likely utilizes a very similar formula, although I’ve found different rumors about variables. Just as the quote suggests, I imagine IMDb tinkers with their formulas and ranking system quite a bit, so it is anyone’s guess as to just how the IMDb Bottom 100 precisely functions. I am interested to see if any action is taken to prevent this sort of vote-bombing in the future, and whether “Gunday” will hold that #1 Bottom 100 spot long enough for me to actually get a copy of the film. Who would have thought that this shitty movie challenge would tie into geopolitical activism, algorithms, and statistics so heavily?

I’m planning on watching “Gunday” and reviewing it on its own merits once I can get a hold of a copy with subtitles, but I can’t say for sure when that will be. In the meantime, I figured its rapid plummet to the bottom was interesting enough to justify covering.

IMDb Bottom 100: Hobgoblins

Hobgoblins

hobgoblins

“Hobgoblins” is almost certainly the lowest of the low-budget “Gremlins” knockoffs. The cult-classic status it has now can mostly be attributed to Mystery Science Theater 3000, but I actually thought it was one of the better movies they covered on the show. It is clearly an amateur movie, with scenes going on longer than they should and the low budget making itself known at every opportunity. However, it is pretty far from unwatchable given the circumstances. Considering how cheaply this movie was made, it is hard to hold most of the big issues against it. Even then, there is still plenty to justifiably complain about here.

First off, the monsters themselves look horrible. They are clearly mediocre hand puppets, but that is probably the best they could put together with no money. There are some great hammy moments when the Hobgoblins are attacking or being attacked, but they look so goofy that there is no way to be afraid of them. In “Gremlins”, the gremlins at least looked disturbing and vile, and could be bought as evil creatures. The hobgoblins just aren’t convincing enough or treated with significant gravity by the characters for them to be frightening. Consistently, the hobgoblins fail to put up any kind of fight once they are discovered. The only thing they have going for them in the movie is that they are good at hiding, and can disappear(?) when it is convenient for the plot.

Yep.
Yep.

Speaking of which, the plot actually has some promise in this movie. If there had been a better director on board and some money attached, there are the makings for a mediocre movie here. I like the idea of monsters that can manipulate their victims’ perceptions, but the concept is poorly executed here. Something that doesn’t make sense in this movie is why the victims always die at some point in the fantasy. In the beginning of the movie, the first victim appears to die due to tripping(?) while in his fantasy. It is later explained that the victims just sort of mysteriously and coincidentally die while in their fantasies, but there is never any clear connection made as to why the hobgoblins are killing the people (always by proxy). Do the fantasies power them? If so, why kill the people? Are they predators? Then why don’t they eat the victims? Are they just sort of sadistic? Why? In an episode of the show “Supernatural”, the protagonists run into Djinn on a handful of occasions, who induce hallucinations / dream states to lull their victims, during which they are leeched of their blood. They do a much better job in the show of explaining why the monsters are inducing hallucinations (to steal blood), showing how the monsters create the hallucinations (a toxin), and showing how the victims are ultimately killed (exsanguination). Those things are all important for the audience to know, and are all missing from this movie. I think that was a pretty serious error for this movie that shouldn’t be excused as a rookie mistake or a result of the low budget, it was just short-sightedness or laziness on the part of writer/director Rick Sloane.

The Djinn also look pretty damn creepy
The Djinn also look pretty damn creepy.

I’ve already mentioned that there are a handful of scenes that drag on for too long in this movie, but apart from those (Club Scum and the Rake Fight, for instance), I didn’t think the shots were too horrible in general. There was a little bit of creative framing to fit in the hand-puppet monsters at times, but they didn’t exactly have any other options on the table. I do think the director made plenty of errors and failed to make a good movie here, but it did come out more or less watchable. I think the really shallow writing and thin plot were bigger issues (not to mention the budget/monsters), but since the writer was also the director here, all fault goes to Sloane. I am curious as to why there were so many attempts to inject humor into the movie (they all failed), and if that was initially in the script or added in as an audible after the monsters turned out so badly. All of the “funny” moments felt tacked-on / forced, so that would make sense to me. I’m not sure whether that’s worth applauding for trying to make lemonade from lemons, or criticizing for doing so poorly. If the humor was intended that way to start with though, then that is just jarring, crappy writing.

hobgoblins5
The rake fight in this movie makes the Kirk/Spock fight look like “Crouching Tiger”

Speaking of crappy writing, the dialogue in this movie is miserable. All of the characters are unlikable and sound like they were written by a 13-year-old, all with juvenile motivations and the collective depth of a kiddie pool. Characters in this movie can be described as stereotypes straight out of “Cabin in the Woods”, which might be status quo for this kind of movie, but it lazy none-the-less. The actors are definitely not good, but turning any of these lines into something passable would be squeezing blood from a stone.

No actor in the world can make this look believable.
No actor in the world can make this look believable.

“Hobgoblins” may not be the worst of the MST3k features, but it is definitely bad. I’m tempted to say that it isn’t so bad as to justify a Bottom 100 spot in the IMDb rankings, but I think it cuts pretty close. The crappy monsters, bad dialogue, and generally lazy writing/filmmaking are all worthy of it, but I am tempted to give it the same lenience I would afford a Troma movie, just because it clearly doesn’t take itself seriously. That doesn’t excuse the flaws, but it might give it a reasonable pass as far as Bottom 100 consideration. Given that there are no Troma pictures in the Bottom 100, I’m tempted to think that the IMDb masses would agree. However, the MST3k label is guaranteed to take the rankings for any movie, so I think this one is primarily a victim of that stamp of disapproval.

IMDb Bottom 100: The Gaul

The Gaul

To start off with, I am unashamed to admit that I do not hate Christopher Lambert’s acting. He is a one-trick pony for sure, but I always liked him in the otherwise abysmal Mortal Kombat and Highlander movies. He is usually just the right amount of hammy for a B-movie, and can overact with the best of them. So, I was actually really disappointed to see him in this “historical” drama snooze-fest. It just doesn’t suit him, and he doesn’t suit this movie.

Druids / The Gaul is an attempt to adapt bits of Julius Caesar’s tale of his campaign in Gaul, focusing specifically on his relationship and rivalry with the Gaul leader Vercingétorix (played by Lambert). For those unaware, Vercingetorix is a legendary figure in history for uniting the tribes of Gaul to fight against Julius Caesar. There are a number of statues in his image around France today, so it isn’t so far fetched for someone to take a stab at making a movie based on his exploits.

Unfortunately, the people who chose to make this movie did not have the money or skill to fulfill their vision for an epic based on the great Gaul. The entire movie feels like it is aspiring to the successes of movies like Gladiator, but falls far short of the mark. It is clear during the few battle scenes that the film-makers are trying their best to make a “realistic” battle on a budget. There is very little in the way of compelling injuries or fighting, and a lot of clearly improvised spears to the gut. Some reviewers have been particularly harsh towards the costuming in the movie, but that is something I would forgive if they could manufacture a compelling battle. I don’t think I can be so merciful about Lambert’s hair though.

druids2

Despite Lambert’s uninspired performance and the budgetary issues, this movie still might have been decent if there had been an impressive script beneath it all. Unfortunately, it is at best mediocre. The dialogue isn’t horrible, but it certainly isn’t good enough to impress or make up for the other issues in the movie. Worst of all, the pacing of the film is very slow. I’m not sure who to blame that on exactly, but I am tempted to say that in this case it was a cacophonous concert between the directing, writing, and editing. I assume that they all wanted and expected a long-ish run time, because this was supposed to be an epic tale on screen. Unfortunately, it just comes off as boring instead of grand, because there isn’t much sense of motion or driving force in the film.

Overall, this is just sort of a boring, under-performing film. There are nuggets of a potentially good movie here, but no aspect of the movie is done well enough for it to get there. Everything is just shy of average, from the acting to the directing. It is certainly more watchable that a lot of Bottom 100 fare, but it is a long-shot from a good movie. It also isn’t bad enough for there to be unintentional entertainment value, so there really isn’t much of a reason for anyone to watch this movie. In general, I would recommend that people skip this one and watch something else, either something better or something worse.