Perhaps you are a new kid on the block and missed my earlier article on the best of BAD cinema – Part 1. So please, pause your smart phone for just a minute while I catch you up on yet another batch of movies that are So bad: It’s good!™ While these dozen flick are not quite as gloriously awful as Apartment Zero, or as hilarious as Johnny Guitar, they manage to come close. It hardly needs to be mentioned that you should keep the DVD or TV remote-control handy while enjoying Bad Cinema. In fact, I suggest you keep a trigger finger hovering over the fast-forward button on select movies in this list. Not to worry; I’ll cue you in. Enjoy!
1. The Eyes of Laura Mars 1978 suspense thriller
The movie is about a fashion photographer (Faye Dunaway) and her psychic visions in which she sees her friends and colleagues being stalked by a killer. The moments of grim suspense are not the only reason to watch this flick. The high fashion photo shoots are particularly weird and fun to watch; in one scene, shot in midtown Manhattan, shapely models wearing only garter belts and fur coats, engaged in hand-to-hand fighting while a burning car crash blazes in the background. With Faye busy snapping photos, a crowd of NYC commuters watch the catfight in stunned silence. The casting of real life fashion model Lulu is brilliant. She naturally has that vacant look on her face that says to many people, “Does the elevator go all the way to top?” Lulu’s press conference is played totally serious, but is the funniest part of this strange movie. This movie is also an amusing time capsule of Seventies style: clothes, the hair, disco music, and décor.
2. 1941 1979 comedy war
This movie is a diamond in the rough. After many viewings, I concluded that the movie has one major flaw: Poor Editing. A myriad of comical subplots mesh together cleverly, with the exception of one: Wally the dancer. Take my advice and fast forward thru the Wally scenes, you will not miss anything funny or interesting. Set in southern California, soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, this movie captures the war jitters and media hysteria of the early days of WW2. This underrated flick features some of the best SNL comedians in their prime with strong support by Hollywood veterans Warren Oates, Slim Pickens, and Robert Stack. The opening scene parodies the director’s (Steven Spielberg) hit movie Jaws, and is well worth the price of admission. Also the climactic Battle of Los Angeles is one of the most bizarre battle scenes ever filmed. It has to be seen to be believed. Where else can you watch a submarine fighting a Ferris Wheel? This is a true collector’s item that would not be made today.
3. Spies Like Us 1985 comedy
Hey guys, remember Emmett Fitz-Hume and Austin Millbarge? Of course not, the cinema in 1985 was dominated by Rambo, Rocky and Marty McFly, making this odd couple - screwball comedy mostly overlooked. The movie is set during the good old days of the Cold War when the USA and Soviet Union bristled nuclear weapons at each other, threatening mutual assured destruction (affectionately termed MAD). SNL stars Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd team up to save the world, and find some humor about nuclear Armageddon. Bob Hope pops in for a quick cameo in Pakistan, but the best comedy scenes are when the movie pokes fun at the sacred cows of the mammoth American military-industrial-CIA complex. A solid cast of B grade actors, cute girls, and a fast moving script keep this flick from getting stuck in the numerous plot potholes.
4. Matador 1986 drama crime foreign
This movie answers that perplexing question on everyone’s mind: What happens when two serial killers meet and fall in love? This is a very strange movie with no discernable plot, yet has some interesting characterizations. This movie is for fans of Spanish avant-garde films featuring a mix of philosophy, religion, psychological disorders, and occult powers. Contains sex scenes, nudity and extreme violence; a unique movie. Spanish (subtitled in English).
5. From Dusk Till Dawn 1996 crime horror
I watched this movie with stunned fascination - like seeing a horrific car wreck. Yes, this is jaw dropping, low-brow entertainment, of the crudest variety, and the Gecko brothers have that unmistakable flair and style of born losers who never fail to have the black cat of Bad Luck as a constant companion. The Gecko boys are evil to the core and go on a crime spree with armed robbery, murder and kidnapping. Then we hop in the RV with new friends and off we go to Mexico to a biker bar for more fun and games and a few vampires. What could go wrong? You can guess the rest, or maybe not.
6. American Strays 1996 drama suspense
This mostly unknown movie is a surreal journey into the deep desert of the American southwest where all roads, or least the only paved roads, leads to Red’s Desert Oasis Diner. The script veers miles away from the mainstream; I'm not going to explain the weird plot, even if I could. Suffice to say that the acting by a cast of B actors is excellent, and I was mesmerized watching Jennifer Tilly and John Savage. How often does a film have not one, but two people who are bat-shit crazy about vacuum cleaners? A touching romance blossoms out there in the desert, meanwhile violence lurks just down the road. No spoilers.
7. On Line 2002 drama romance
This odd, unknown movie has the potential to be an excellent romantic comedy, but the suicide chat room sub-plot is just horrible and kills the flow of this uneven flick. I suggest you do some serious fast forwarding to skip the subplot, and go straight to the silver lining. The highlight of the movie had to be when computer-nerd John emerges from his techno-bubble world and goes on a date with internet porn queen, Jordan. After fixating for endless hours over virtual, web-cam girls, can John handle a girl in real life? Watch the mismatch unfold with fumbling and bumbling and sex on the bathroom sink – it is comedy gold. This was the debut film for Vanessa Ferlito (Jordan) and she is wolf-whistle sexy.
8. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind 2002 drama
What if the creator and host of two popular television game shows (circa 1970s) was also a part-time CIA contract killer, and used The Dating Game & Gong Show as a cover to stage assassinations in the netherworld of Cold War espionage? Utterly ridiculous, yet that's exactly what Chuck Barris claims in his autobiography (of course his story was denied by the CIA). The movie director accepts Chuck’s claim carte blanche as the premise for his screenplay. The film plays it straight up as if Chuck was telling the truth. This is one of the most offbeat flicks I have seen in years. The movie should probably be titled, Confessions of an Old Con Man.
9. Team America: World Police 2004 comedy
Released a year into the second Iraq war, this was the first and most subversive of Hollywood's early reactions to the reckless G.W.O.T. (pentagon speak for Global War on Terror). The story is based on a simple concept – an action movie with militaristic puppets. Thus our heroes are wooden-headed idiots to the core who spout mindless nonsense while battling Islamic terrorists, F.A.G. (Film Actors Guild – headed by Alec Baldwin), and North Korean nutcase dictator (what’s-his-name). This is rude and crude humor by the raunchy South Park gang – you have been warned.
10. Hitman 2007 action adventure
A full disclosure right off the bat – I do not play Hit-man video games, so I miss the gaming-movie connections that are often commented about in many Hitman movie reviews. No bother, suffice to say I sometimes enjoy watching a good mindless action movie, and Timothy Olyphant, playing Agent 47, delivers enough havoc and mayhem to please even a jaded movie fan like myself. The film is not without a love interest for our hero to pursue. Agent 47 meets a Russian beauty named Nika (played by Olga Kurylenko), and he throws her into the trunk of a stolen car on their first “date”. Guys, be careful with that romantic move until the second or third date. The two unlikely love birds go on the run with Nika providing her own visual impact. Avoid the sequels and watch this original.
This slow-paced, Australian flick is about Lucy (Emily Browning), a young, pretty girl lured into the sex industry. The movie succeeds in keeping your attention more for its oddness rather than originality and insight. While the subject matter is about sex, the flick is not especially sexy or erotic. Why Lucy is attracted to dangerous risk taking is not elaborated. It just happens. The flick is mostly occupied with voyeuristic tendencies – it has nudity but is not raunchy. There are a number of unintentionally funny scenes. The first is an 8-man black tie, gourmet dinner party catered by a bevy of tall, attractive, topless waitresses. If you think this fantasy dinner party is wild, it is tame compared to the sleep-over pajama parties. Emily Browning delivers a bold performance as a self-destructive adventuress with the face of an angel and the heart of a truck stop whore. The movie makes you wonder, "What's up with that girl?" and brings out the amateur psychologist in all of us. I never figured her out, maybe you can.
12. Whiplash 2014 drama music
Welcome to the Studio Jazz Band at Shaeffer University, the best music school in America. Unfortunately, nobody measures up the standards of the sadistic music director, Mr. Fletcher. He is especially tough on the drummers. The practice sessions are so over- the-top crazy that it is totally unbelievable. But still amazing to watch and wait for the next eruption of the maniac music man.
Below are some lines from the film that you can use to improve your people skills:
Fletcher: Are you rushing or dragging?
Fletcher: Hmph, not quite MY tempo.
Andrew: I’m upset.
Fletcher: We are gonna stay here until one of you faggots can stay in my tempo.
Bass player: What are doing, man?
Fletcher: I’ll cue you in. Caravan!