Category Archives: Bad Movies

Terribly Fun Films: Sinbad: Beyond The Veil Of Mists

 sinbad3Let’s start with a thought exercise.

Imagine all the “so bad, they’re good” movies you possibly can. Now, focus only on those that are important to the history and advancement of cinema. Have that handful in mind? Good. If any you’re picturing are live action, trash them. How many does that leave you? Be honest: probably none. This brings us to today’s review: Sinbad, Beyond The Veil Of Mists. It was the first animated movie to be made entirely with motion capture. Without what was learned during the making of this movie, we wouldn’t have Gollum from “The Lord of the Rings,” nor Robert Zemeckis’ career from the last decade. It’s peculiar that all of these much better movies hinged upon a movie this patently ridiculous.

Sporting an impressive cast — Brendan Fraser as Sinbad, Leonard Nimoy as the villainous wizard Baraka, John Rhys-Davies as King Akron, Mark Hamill as Captain of the Guard, and voice actress extraordinaire Jennifer Hale as Princess Serena — it’s surprising that this film didn’t have a wider release, or that it isn’t better known.

With a severely truncated production time, things were rushed during the production and several key members of the crew were fired during the all important post. The co-directors wanted two years for the film, and the producers gave them six months. However, due to a critical lack of cameras available to handle the performers (the cameras could only process four actors at a time, thus several action scenes were shot multiple times) or delineate the sets properly, and even fewer capable of ‘digital puppetry,’ the production went over schedule by a year. During that time though, higher quality, quicker cameras that were compatible with timecodes were created based on what the production had to overcome.

With its cast and importance to cinema history, just what makes this movie so bad? Some unwieldy dialogue, a seemingly confused performance, and the biggest sin of all, character animation. With all the technological issues, the terrible animation is understandable. But it’s also what makes this so much fun.

The plot is your typical Sinbad yarn: the evil wizard, saved from near death by the naive Princess Serena, trades bodies with the king. Serena hires Sinbad to help discover how to reverse it. It’s not dissimilar to Harryhausen’s last Sinbad hurrah, the under-appreciated “Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger.” And in several respects, this movie does things right. First and most importantly, the title character is quite spot on.

“I don’t know what books you’ve been reading, but the world isn’t flat. Hasn’t been for years.”

“You’re asking me, I’ve been lost since the manta ray cave.”

These two lines from Sinbad show a real understanding of how to create a true adventure story. The background designs and level of detail are also good, often overshadowing the lumbering character animation. Footprints left in the sand and reflections in the water add a weight to the world not found in the character animation.

But when a character grips anything — a rope, or a sword — there’s clearly a void between the item and the hand itself. Whether they’re dancing, running, or jumping, there’s a disconnect between the characters and the ground. The level of detail in the character animation is hilariously non-existent.  Elbows resemble silly putty, a detail that makes every scene amusing . Each movement is jerky and awkward. Considering that this production was created to show off what mo-cap can do, it’s notable that when there isn’t enough money or technology available, the final product stalls out despite the best of intentions.sinbad2

While little gestures that’d be almost unfathomable to render using typical animation techniques are captured, all the characters look clumsy and unrealistic. During the establishing shot of a tavern, it appears as though the character animations are looped. This gives everything a jarring, rigid look that is pretty ludicrous. The shape interpolation, used to render facial expressions, was either barely used or so rudimentary that it couldn’t help but pale in comparison to the well-crafted backgrounds. For instance, a desperate plea for help (“I just want my father back!”) is severely undercut of any emotional resonance due to the severely limited facial range. The characters have nearly the same expressions whether they’re meant to be scared, awed, frustrated, or happy. Couple that with the unimpressive voice acting from 95% of the cast and you’ve got a real groaner.

All of the minor characters sound as if they were rushed through the ADR to free up time for the bigger actors. This leads to some confusion, especially aboard the ship, since many of them sound indistinguishable from each other.

On the other hand, Nimoy overacts like a true champ and infuses his scenes with a breath of life that’s missing from many other parts. Fraser fares the absolute best. He injects humor, warmth, and a sense of thrill seeking that illustrates just how much everyone cared about this film. John Rhys-Davies and Mark Hamill are good, but if you didn’t know it was them, you probably wouldn’t guess it.

This leaves poor Jennifer Hale. As great as she has been throughout her career, she’s god awful here, sounding like someone doing a bad valley girl impersonation as opposed to a naive princess who wants to genuinely help.

The script doesn’t give Hale anything to work with, as her character has very little development. Aside from a few blunder-headed lines, the script’s big issue is its focus on showing Sinbad’s progression at the expense of the other characters. It’s too bad too, as with one solid rewrite this could have been an almost perfectly written adventure.

While terribly animated, the action scenes have a frantic, kinetic energy that leads to some fun. They’re also surprisingly bloody, especially during a demonic bat fight. The bats look gnarly and straight from the mouth of hell, which keeps things engaging.

Later a mystical underwater race is revealed, and they’re badass. A decent amount of thought was put into the design of their civilization and language. But those elements aren’t given enough time to be explored. At 85 minutes, and feeling quite rushed (especially closer to the end), time to slow down and explore what this new world means for our characters would have not only been welcome, but could have provided some necessary gravitas.

The ending is especially rushed. The climax involves Sinbad and Serena getting to her kingdom in time to stop the execution of King Akron (still body switched as Baraka), getting everyone to their proper bodies and living happily ever after. All of which happens in five minutes or less. This demands a solid ten minute sword fight scene, with rope swings, near misses, and the like…but we don’t get that. No thrills are to be had there.

In spite of honorable intent, some truly inspired moments, and my own personal preference for the adventure genre, the technology and time just weren’t present to make this film a success. The terrible character animation, bad lead performance, and rushed pacing do provide plenty of laughs, though. I hope “Sinbad, Beyond The Veil Of Mists” takes its rightful place upon the mantle of “so bad, they’re good” movies soon.

Bobby Lepire

About Bobby Lepire

Bobby LePire will watch anything once, much to his chagrin. He also hosts an annual "Bad Movie Party".

Terribly Fun Films: Pegasus vs. Chimera

M2203753Pegasus vs. Chimera is a ridiculously reworked Greek myth that lives up to its title. There is a Pegasus and there is a Chimera, and they fight, often. We have reimagined myths all the time, so what makes this title stand out? Well, as it turns out, just about everything!

In the prologue, we meet a teenage Belleros and his father hunting for some dinner. They stumble across a dragon and it attacks. Young Belleros acts quickly, but fumbles. The dragon charges, and the dad sticks an arrow right into its abdomen. After an awkward delay- the first telltale sign of the enjoyment to be had- the dragon goes down, and the father makes sure it’s dead. No wings, forked tongues, clubbed tails, nor any fire breathing. Looking like a mix of a hyena and a crocodile, the dragon is pretty neat from a design standpoint. The CGI however, is very sub-par, as it is throughout the movie; more on that in a bit. The opening ends with some of the emperor’s guards arbitrarily accosting the duo. The dad is killed.

The way it’s shot and edited makes this sequence so entertainingly bad. Implementing the oddest use of slo-mo for no reason, coupled with the worst shaky cam I have ever seen, the action is impossible to follow. There’s no sense of geography, and everything is shot so tightly that it’s quite hard to make out anything. Then there’s the aforementioned delay. The father shoots the dragon, and then we have a cut to the dragon running for two seconds before it falls down, severely injured. Finally, the CGI creature is infrequently in the same shot as the humans. The editing going back forth between the two disparate focuses of the scene just emphasizes how the humans and dragon aren’t sharing the same space, thus ruining the illusion of credible threat.

Having only gotten two or so minutes into the movie this far into a review might seem a tad off. But the opening exemplifies almost everything wrong with the movie: if you don’t find yourself smiling at the described goofiness, then this movie isn’t for you. If you are amused, or interested in how a movie can get bungled by a tweaked out editor, you are in the right place!

The bulk of the story takes place “many years later.” Belleros, now a grown man played with surprising dignity by Sebastian Roche, runs a blacksmithery. He and his young apprentice, Tello, are hired by Princess Philony to create weapons for an uprising against the evil emperor. In order to quell the rebellion before it gains momentum, the emperor has his wizard conjure up the Chimera to go around the countryside and destroy absolutely everything and everyone.

To combat this, the rebels go to the witch Mayda. She is given “a gift from the gods:” the Pegasus. Philony and Belleros travel around on Pegasus to find and stop Chimera and his evil overlords.

That’s the plot (in a broad sense), with some twists and turns left out so there are some surprises lying in wait for you. Clearly, it’s nothing special, but that in itself doesn’t make this bad movie worthy. But with lines like, “Now both our fathers have justice,” the dialogue by scribes Jeremy Levy, Angela Mancuso (one of my personal favorites for this type of fun schlock), and Kevin Commins is too kooky to ever sound believable.  And then there’s this bit:

Belleros asks Philony why she wants to help the rebellion: “For vengeance or justice?”

The princess replies: “Both.”

Which is forgotten as soon as it’s spoken. Yay for abandoned characterizations!

The direction is even more hapless than the script. In a nighttime sequence that is almost too dark to see, Philony murders a traitor. The emperor’s guards are maybe seven feet away and they completely fail to hear anything. It’s a wonderfully silly scene. The arty flourishes are just the cheez-whiz on the cheese cake! The poor use of speed ramping, combined with the piss poor editing just keeps things supremely riff-able throughout.

The best bits come when John Bradshaw’s attempts at stylish direction and the amateurish script converge into a glorious mishmash of stupidity. Belleros wakes up early in the morning to groom and feed Pegasus. They go from the secluded, sheltered woods, into a flat, open field. Belleros discovers how dumb that is because he’s immediately taken by surprise and captured. The action here uses the weird slo-mo and overwrought editing; between that and the stupidity of the script causing him to venture into the field, this might be the silliest scene in the movie.

Well, almost. Mayda, to help buy the leaders of the rebellion time, builds a pentacle out of twigs that Chimera can’t cross. After one attempt to do so, the monster pushes a tree down, which breaks the twig star, and bam: Mayda is defeated by a falling tree. Her magic was just successfully used to ward off one of the cruelest creatures ever summoned from the underworld, and it can’t handle a small tree. It’s a face palm moment, but it’s an amazing face palm moment.

But what of the title creatures? Chimera looks terrifyingly demonic with its burnt, scarred face. The horns are imposing and the tail is used as a weapon often, but the CGI is super cheap. Pegasus is a real horse when on the ground, sans wings. The wings are magic and only appear when needed.  They appear at the 20 and 30 minute marks, and they do get plenty of use, so one shouldn’t be disappointed there.

As I’ve mentioned continuously since the beginning of this review, the special effects are awful. The CGI creatures, mainly the Chimera, never seem to have weight or actually touch the surface of the various terrain they encounter. The flying Pegasus looks like a poorly stop-motioned Play-Doh model. The green-screened close ups of the flying are so ridiculously fake I laughed every time they occurred. With the CGI being so bland, the Chimera is rarely on the same screen as the human actors, so we get lots of POV shots from the monster’s vantage. During this, it’s quite clear the actors are just swiping at the air. It’s hilarious, and happens enough that it’s a constant source of entertainment.

As the evil King Orthos, Carlo Rota is an overacting genius. He’s almost on a Nic Cage level here: “Ooo, the man who wants to kill me!” is uttered with such delightful glee that no scenery is left unchewed. He’s the movie’s secret weapon. On the other hand, Nazeen Contractor as Princess Philony is just monotone. Whether she’s being flirty, revealing how her dad was killed, or feeling relieved at seeing her mom alive, Contractor has exactly one tone of voice- flat and disinterested. Luckily, she never gets boring, as it’s clear that she’s trying so damned hard. The extras fare even worse, especially during the action.

Between all the goofs, bad editing, and terrible cinematography, Pegasus vs. Chimera never failed to make me grin.

Bobby Lepire

About Bobby Lepire

Bobby LePire will watch anything once, much to his chagrin. He also hosts an annual "Bad Movie Party".

Before Ninja Rap, There Was…Turtle Power

There was a magical time in our history – from roughly 1982-1998 – where it seemed every movie was required by law to have a bumping rap song in it, most often playing over the end credits. On paper, you can almost see how it makes sense.  Hip hop was big. Releasing hip hop tracks could broaden the appeal of a picture, and lead to greater profits. But, as we all know, if there’s one thing studio big wigs are fully in touch with, it’s youth culture.

Turtle Power!
Turtle Power!

Which leads us to 1990’s Turtle Power, by James Alpern and Richard Usher: better known as the rap duo Partners in Kryme.

It’s okay that you’ve never heard of them: Turtle Power was their only hit, peaking at #2 on the US Hot Rap Singles chart, and hitting number one on the Singles Chart for a month in the UK in the summer of 1990. But a track about the Heroes in a Half Shell charting so highly isn’t necessarily the weirdest thing about this song. It’s no Disco Duck, after all.

The strange thing, the thing that really elevates Turtle Power to the mind-bogglingly puzzling, is how the song is a beat for beat breakdown of the film’s plot, all while having no idea of the turtles’ role in their group.

Let’s take a look at the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFsTr0kGAqU

Did you catch that? Let me break down the lyrics of the section starting at the 02:30 mark.

TurtlePower3-18-2014-4.02.36 PM
The turtles help display…Turtle Power.

Now this isn’t something open to interpretation: they straight up call Raphael the leader of the Turtles.

Just to refresh our memories, let’s take a look at how the world had known the turtles’ roles from 1987 on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDQzALOH9iU

Unlike the animated theme song, Turtle Power isn’t just the constant repetition of the name brand, but the whole plot of the movie.

Now our ace reporter was hot on the trail.
Determined to put these crooks in jail.
She spied the bad guys and saw what happened,
But before she knew it, she fell in a trap and got caught.
Yeah, she was all alone.
With no friends, and no phone.
Now this was beyond her worst dreams,
‘Cause she was cornered by some wayward teens.
Headed by Shredder they were anything but good,
Misguided, unloved, they called them The Foot.
They could terrorize and be angry youth, and
They mugged the people. Who needed proof?
Then from out of the dark came an awesome sound!
Shouted “Cowabunga!” as they hit the ground.

And a bit later in the song:

Back to the story, it’s not hard to find.
Ninjas not just of the body but of the mind.
Those are the words that their master instructed,
But a letter from Shredder had Splinter abducted.
That was the last straw, spring into action.
Step on The Foot, now they’re gonna lose traction.
Now this is for real, so you fight for justice.
Your shell is hard so you shout; “They can’t dust us off!
Like some old coffee table.”
Since you were born you’ve been willing and able,
to defeat the sneak, protect the weak,
Fight for rights and your freedom to speak.
Now the villain is chillin’ so you make a stand.
Back to the wall, put your sword in you hand.

Hey dude, this is no cartoon.
Hey dude, this is no cartoon.

If it’s been a while since you’ve seen TMNT (1990), don’t worry about it. That’s it. That’s the whole plot. And this song was obviously written with full knowledge of the plot and characters. In the grand scheme of things, calling Raphael the leader is a small mistake, but the curious thing is how many people had to sign off on this song. At some point Partners in Kryme must have turned in a rough draft of the lyrics to New Line Cinema, director Steve Barron, Eastman and Laird maybe, and a dozen other agents, producers, and big wigs. Not a single one of them either cared enough to change the line (you can swap Leonardo and Raphael’s names in that line, and the song still totally works), or perhaps they just didn’t notice.

Partners in Kryme released one more single after the smash hit that was Turtle Power, but it failed to chart. Having released zero albums, and having their one big hit, the duo broke up shortly thereafter.

This song will still pop up from time to time. It was included on the third Ninja Turtles movie soundtrack in 1993, and is slated to appear yet again in the upcoming reboot of the series. Interestingly enough, while the ‘93 version still called Raphael the leader, there is an edit of the song, which appeared on the poorly received Out of the Shadows game, that describes Raphael as the ‘bad boy’ of the group.

 

About Charley Macorn

Charley Macorn bows down to the Monster Mash, and pledges her allegiance to the Graveyard Smash. Sometimes she gets drunk and yells at the Simpsons online. Join her on Twitter at @CharleyMacorn, won't you?

In Theaters: Is Need for Speed So Bad, It’s Good?

Need for Speed
Need for Speed

Need for Speed, based on the video game series of the same name, is now in theaters. By most accounts, this isn’t an Oscar contender, or even a good film. It is, like most video game adaptations, rather poor.

But is Need for Speed so bad, it’s good? Such movies do hit theaters reasonably often: had this website been up and running a couple months earlier, I certainly would have highlighted Winter’s Tale as a film that might be well worth a bad movie fan’s time.

Right now, Need for Speed has some rather middling scores from critics: Metacritic has it as a 40 (out of a possible 100), while Rotten Tomatoes shows only 23% of critics giving the film a positive review (making it downright rotten in their book).

But none of that tells us whether this tale of a cross-country race between super-fast cars is worth our time as an enjoyably bad flick. For that, we’ll need to dig further into some individual reviews:

  • Over at Forbes, Scott Mendelson gave the film a “so bad, it’s good” designation, which is what caught my attention in the first place. According to Mendelson, “If you can ignore or embrace how cartoonish and self-sabotaging the characters are and how moronic the screenplay is, there is fun to be had to this old-school 1970′s-style throwback.”
  • Luke Hopewell of Kotaku Australia had a different take. While he agreed that Need for Speed was “one of the most entertaining bad movies I have ever seen,” he went a step further and outright praised the film for car lovers, saying that “If you love a driving movie and adore exotic cars like we do, it’s a must-see, despite how cheesy it can be.” He did, however, criticize “the odd undercurrent of sexism” that pervades the film.
  • Not everyone was entertained, though. While Mathew Buck (aka Film Brain) thought the movie was decent by the low standards of video game adaptations, he also found it to be “grotesquely overlong” at a running time of 130 minutes, which could certainly take some of the bad movie fun out of sitting through this one.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a split decision! Need for Speed isn’t something that caught my eye as a particularly entertaining bad movie, but it looks like at least some people are getting some fun out of it — both as intended and in an ironic sense. I’m not planning to head out to the theater to see this one, but if you’ve seen it (or plan to), feel free to leave a comment below and let the rest of us know if this movie deserves the so bad, it’s good moniker.

Ed Scimia

About Ed Scimia

Ed is the author of "So Bad, It's Good" and the upcoming "So Bad, It's Good 2: Electric Bookaloo." He also serves as the Chess Guide at About.com.

Bad Movies You (Probably) Haven’t Seen: Doom House

The Doom House DVD menu screen.
The Doom House DVD menu screen.

Doom House isn’t the type of film you’d normally see me writing about. For one thing, it’s certainly not “so bad, it’s good” – this is a film that knows it is bad from start to finish. That can make for a poor viewing experience if the film tries to pass off its errors as unintentional mistakes. There needs to be sincerity in the attempt to make a good film in order for a bad film to be unintentionally hilarious; after all, if you were to wake up tomorrow and find out that The Room was all a big joke, it would certainly take a lot of the fun out of it (if the film even remained watchable at all) even though nothing about the movie itself had changed.

But purposefully bad movies can work if they’re legitimately funny in their own right. Much in the way that bad comedies are rarely watchable even for their mistakes, good comedy can come from anything – even a movie that’s “intentionally bad.” The most famous example of this may be The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, a hilarious spoof of the pulp science fiction movies popularized in the 1950s. While plenty of other movies spoof the conventions of a given genre (think The Naked Gun or the Scary Movie franchise), the Lost Skeleton films also satirize the filmmaking process by using intentionally silly props and effects, hokey acting and terrible dialogue – essentially creating a homage to “so bad, it’s good” films of the era that’s actually good.

And so that brings us to Doom House, a short horror film produced for Something Awful and released on DVD in 2005. Of course this movie is a spoof. Of course nobody involved is trying to make a good film. But who cares? It’s not like they’re pretending or trying to fool you into thinking its anything other than something Richard “Lowtax” Kyanka and Kevin “Fragmaster” Bowen put together on a whim. Yes, it’s stupid, but you’re in on the joke, so it’s okay – and it’s hilarious if you’re willing to go along with it.

Why write about Doom House? Well, I saw it on my bookshelf the other day, and realized I hadn’t watched it in a long time. Seems like a good enough reason to me.

I’m lucky enough to have this award-winning piece of cinematic history on DVD, so I can take you through all the very special features available. But let’s start with the film itself. You might be intimidated by the lengthy 17 minute runtime, but don’t worry: some of that is taken up by a credits sequence that lets us know that Kyanka may have had a hand in the production of the film.

Kyanka also stars as Reginald P. Linux, a man who has been suffering from depression ever since his wife died. Now he’s looking for a new house to call his own, and it looks like he’s found the home of his dreams. But he warns us:

“As a philosopher once said, be careful what you dream for…because you JUST…MIGHT…GET IT!”

DoomHouse3-16-2014-5.16.39 PM
That’s one evil figurine.

Entering the house, Linux finds that the home has already been furnished and decorated, much to his delight. But there’s also a mysterious figurine that seems strangely out of place. And possibly evil. Yeah, Definitely evil.

As anyone who has ever had to move knows, unpacking is hard work, and having a figurine that seems to move around your home of its own volition just makes that job harder. Linux doesn’t want to put up with this and tosses the doll into the backyard, surely getting rid of it forever.

But, oh no, it shows up again! How will Linux ever get rid of this devil doll? His next effort is to put it in the garbage disposal unit of his sink, which seems like a pretty permanent solution to any figurine-based problem a man might encounter.

With that issue seemingly resolved, Linux decides that it’s “time to hit the old bedstack,” and wanders off to bed. Sharp viewers may notice some continuity errors here, as a small amount of light suggests that this scene may not have been shot at night. More importantly, Linux finds that he’s not sleeping alone – the doll is back, sitting right on the pillow that once belonged to his late wife!

Whyyyyyyy??
Whyyyyyyy??

Linux frantically runs through his new home, but no matter what he tries, he cannot escape the doll. He then receives a mysterious phone call from someone threatening to take his hair and put it in a bowl – a horror movie staple if ever there was one.

At this point, Linux knows it’s time to call the police. A police officer (Kevin Bowen) quickly stops by to investigate the incident, and makes a frightening discovery: based on his expertise, he declares that the house is a “Doom House!”

DoomHouse3-16-2014-5.19.33 PM
A policeman arrives on the scene.

“A Doom House?” asks Linux, seemingly in shock over the turn of events. The officer suggests that Linux’s only course of action is to move out as quickly as possible before the house kills him.

Later, the officer stops by again (and again, and again) to see how Linux is doing. As an officer of the law, he is shocked that the “doom house mystique” has not yet forced Linux to move out. He once again gives the new homeowner some advice:

“My advice to you is to move out of the doom house. Maybe get a doll house – which is like a doom house, but the doll isn’t as mean.”

Adding:

“If you don’t move out of the doom house, it could spell your doom!”

But does Linux listen to the kind man? No, of course not! During a late-night video game session, the doll appears on the television screen – something that’s not supposed to happen in most console games I know of. Just then, the officer shows up again to try and convince his new friend to leave the doom house. But Linux doesn’t want to give up the house: after all, he got a great deal. And besides, the doll and him have come to a gentleman’s agreement! It looks like things are going to turn out just fine for our hero.

"My displeasure for America has reached a simmer!"
“My displeasure for America has reached a simmer!”

But then we come to the shocking twist of Doom House: the officer is actually the villain! Worse still, he’s inside Linux’s basement…and inside his mind. It turns out that he’s a terrorist, and the house was build over a terrorist burial camp, which explains why he’d want Mr. Linux to clear out as soon as possible.

But Linux knows he can’t give up his home – after all, he got a fixed rate mortgage. He throws the doll at the evil terrorist, knocking him down the stairs, back into the basement and under a piece of wood, allowing the terrorist to recite his final words:

"I'm so...board!"
“I’m so…board!”

Finally, free of the evils of the doom house, Linux relaxes, knowing he can move on with his live and enjoy his brand new home.

While I could spend several thousand words trying to catalogue every “mistake” in continuity of writing this film contains, that’s a waste of time, as the production choices are a huge part of the fun. But I would like to praise at least one thing this film did well that might not be immediately obvious. It would have been easy to simply have both actors play their roles in an over-the-top, absurdist manner. But while Kyanka’s Linux is played precisely this way, Bowen takes the opposite tact with the police officer, instead delivering all his lies flatly and playing the character as flatly as possible. It’s a great contrast, and seems to play to Fragmaster’s strengths (though if you’ve ever seen his Bill Fillmaff poker videos, you know he can play outlandish characters, too).

But wait, there’s more! If you can track down a copy of the DVD (which may be tricky: the link I found no longer works, and I don’t see any copies on eBay at the moment), you’ll also be able to enjoy all of the following special features:

Mood House

This is Doom House in reverse – naturally, since mood is the polar opposite of doom. The roles are reversed. The sequence of events is reversed. Most of the dialogue is designed to convey the opposite meaning from the equivalent lines in Doom House. The cat becomes a dog. Linux has been hoodwinked into an adjustable rate mortgage and hates the house. The cop exclaims that “My pleasure for this country knows no bounds!” Linux is falling in love with the doll. The officer/marriage counselor desperately wants him to stay in the house. You get the idea. It’s ten minutes of the exact opposite of the movie you just watched!

Animated Doom House

This film was supposedly completed in one day, and I have little trouble believing this. Featuring the voice work of Kevin Bowen, this animated feature is just under five minutes in length. The plot is similar, except that it’s a couple that moves into the house, and there is a spooky ghost! The ending is also slightly different.

Doom House Done Quick

Under four minutes with a whole new cast at a new house. And there’s a stuffed monkey in place of the figurine. Perfect if you don’t have enough time to sit through the slog that is Doom House.

Doom House Director’s Cut

This director’s cut has very little to do with the standard version of the film. The new cut is completed in just under three minutes, including a lot of credits and a sequence in which a plastic fish tries to eat the head of the figurine. In fact, this might just be a sales pitch for the fish.

Subtitles

The subtitles of Doom House show remarkable attention to detail.
The subtitles of Doom House show remarkable attention to detail.

As with any good DVD, you’ll have the option of turning on English subtitles. These subtitles have occasional grammatical and spelling errors, and may sometimes disagree with the actors about the contents of the script.

I’ve known about Doom House for about ten years now, and while it’s not something you’re going to pull out every time you have friends over to watch some bad movies, I know I go back to it every year or two – and I always have a good time, even if the replay value isn’t really there. And while the DVD might be tough to track down at this point, you can still enjoy Doom House online – it’s available on YouTube (albeit without the intense credits sequence that was added for the DVD release).

Ed Scimia

About Ed Scimia

Ed is the author of "So Bad, It's Good" and the upcoming "So Bad, It's Good 2: Electric Bookaloo." He also serves as the Chess Guide at About.com.

Five Bad Movies for: The Polar Vortex

My fellow Americans: you may have noticed that it’s pretty cold out there. Oh, it wasn’t so bad the first time the polar vortex came to visit. We all reminisced about winters past, when sub-zero temperatures were an annual visitor and we expected snow because, well, that’s what winter meant. But now it’s March, and that means our patience for cold air ran out about a month ago.

It also means that you probably don’t want to go outside much, giving you more time to stay inside and watch terrible movies. While you’re at it, why not watch something that’s thematically appropriate? Here are five terrible movies dealing with cold temperatures that might just help you survive until the snow melts…probably sometime in June or so, if you live up north.

Absolute Zero

Absolute-zero

In this 2006 disaster movie, the Earth’s poles shift 90 degrees on a single day, turning the equatorial regions of the world – including Miami, where the events of the film take place – into frozen hellholes in a matter of hours. You might be thinking that this sounds scientifically shaky, but I’d ask you to temporarily suspend your disbelief.

Save your incredulousness instead for the fact that the temperatures in Miami are said to fall to absolute zero (hey, that’s the title!), a temperature at which not only no life should survive, but in which everything – including the gasses making up the air we breathe – should have long since liquefied and then solidified. This, as you might imagine, would have made life a lot more difficult for our heroes. Yes, this movie may have even less of a scientific basis than The Core.

Jack Frost

jackfrost

Just to be clear here, we’re talking about the 1997 movie about a serial killer who is reanimated as a killer snowman, not the 1998 movie about a dad who is reanimated as some sort of snowdad.

Really, whether you want to watch this movie or not depends heavily on whether the idea of a killer snowman who humps Shannon Elizabeth to death with his carrot is something that makes you laugh or not. If it is, this is the film for you! With lots of ridiculous snow-related deaths and classic low-budget special effects, this film has become a cult classic for lovers of schlocky horror flicks.

Battle Queen 2020

BattleQueen

In this post-apocalyptic b-movie, the world is suffering through a new ice age caused by a meteor crash in Florida. What’s left of civilization is divided between the Elites, an all-male group that manages to live a pretty comfy life above ground, and…well, everyone else, who pretty much die in the cold and live underground. This results in a group of rebels trying to take down the Elites and end their reign of terror.

The movie stars Julie Strain, who starts the movie as an unwilling mistress serving one of the Elites but eventually becomes the Battle Queen (2020?) of the film’s title. Not that you’ll actually see much in the way of battling; Strain throws a few punches, but there are no full-scale battles to speak of. In a shocking twist that you’ll never have guessed, though, you will see a lot of breasts.

After Last Season (2009)

AfterLastSeason

After Last Season isn’t actually about the cold. In fact, it’s hard to say what exactly it is about, though it does involve psychic connections, killers, ghosts that have trouble picking up large objects, and the locations where certain women say their husbands saw coyotes in the past.

Watching the film, you will notice a lot of snow in the exterior shots, which helps explain why the actors give such cold performances: it’s because they were working on unheated sets in the middle of a northern Massachusetts winter, which caused at least one actor to slur words due to his lips being too frozen to speak normally. That doesn’t explain the paper MRI machine or the amazingly bad CGI sequence, but it might make you more appreciative of the heat being on in your home.

The Christmas Consultant

christmasconsult

Does the cold have you down? Do you need someone in your life that can bring you a little cheer? Then David Hasslehoff is the man for you! In this Lifetime Original Movie, The Hoff plays Owen, a man who will consult with families to plan every aspect of their Christmas celebrations for them. If you think this is an odd casting choice, that’s only because you don’t appreciate that special brand of Hasslehoff insanity that he can bring to any role.

This movie is really a lot more fun than it has any right to be, and it’s mostly because of the insane (and sometimes creepy) way in which Hasslehoff plays his character. But there are other amazing moments as well, including a morbid little girl, a reference to the JFK assassination that comes out of nowhere, and everyone’s favorite character, the fat, lecherous relative! This movie is also available in Germany as “The Christmas Planner,” because of course it is.

 

 

Ed Scimia

About Ed Scimia

Ed is the author of "So Bad, It's Good" and the upcoming "So Bad, It's Good 2: Electric Bookaloo." He also serves as the Chess Guide at About.com.

Bad Movies You (Probably) Haven’t Seen: The Gremlin

The Gremlin
 Gremlin7-22-2013-6.21.25 PM

Oh dear lord, The Gremlin.

Here’s the story behind this one. I was hanging out with my friend Dave, and we wanted to watch a movie. We looked through the free streaming videos available through Amazon Prime, and found what we thought would be a hilarious bad movie called The Gremlin. We weren’t disappointed…for the most part. Even at 78 minutes, the movie has more than its share of boring moments, but it is still both intentionally campy and unintentionally hilarious in equal parts. Just don’t show it to your friends unless you’re sure they’ll enjoy it, because the wrong crowd might kill you before it ends.

The movie begins with us hearing a story told by this guy:

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The story is about a “man” known as The Gremlin who lived peacefully in the woods…at least for a while. See, now he’s a spook, who goes around spooking. But before that, he was a prisoner in some guy’s house. Naturally, The Gremlin manages to escape, during which we get to see more of his ass than we do Tommy Wiseau’s in The Room. He eventually finds an appropriate outfit though:

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The Gremlin makes it out to the woods, then appears to kill a couple camping there. We then meet our main cast: five crazy kids who are spending their last summer together before going away to college or whatever. They probably have names, but who cares? Your cast photo:

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In case you’re wondering, the one dude’s shirt says “Things to Do: 1) Your Sister 2) Your Mom.” He’s the asshole! He uses lots of gay slurs! We also have the straight shooting leader and the funny guy. Oh, and the girls, who are girls.

Actually, despite what I said earlier, these characters have some great names. Our main cast includes Steve Duke Chochington III, Arnie McGuilicuty, Becky Stromboli and Pete Peterman. Later on, we meet a character named Mark Just Mark. It doesn’t get more creative than that.

The group heads to a gas station to fill up for their trip. They pick up a box of Gremlin O’s, and they have the story of the Gremlin told to them by this winner:

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We’re not even 15 minutes in yet.

The group makes it to the woods and takes their gear to the campsite before it gets dark. There, they meet the old man from the start of the movie, who warns them of the dangerous Gremlin that resides in the forest. Here’s a nice close up of the costuming you’ll come to expect from this fine production:

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He warns them that they will be “spooked to death,” but the kids don’t believe him. Except for one of the girls who suddenly decides she’s too spooked and wanders off. Bye, character!

The remaining four kids reach the campsite and have a camping montage, complete with the campiest camp song that ever did camp. The lyrics, as best I could make them out:

Summer camping, with my friends
And we’re driving along pitchin’ a tent
Yeah we’re pitchin’, pitchin’ that tent
Roastin’ all those mar’los
On the campfire that we just built
And we’re roastin’, and just hangin’ out as friends
Hangin’ out as friends, driving along and
roastin’, All those wieners,
Under the summer sun and the night sky,
Hangin’ out, maybe crack a few beers and hang out,
With my friends, under that summer night
Oh the stars are bright!
Out under the woods of Springfield, Ohio
Oh we’re hangin’ out, eatin’ wieners and mar’los
With my frieeeeeeeends
Oh we’re drivin’ around with my friends!
Oh my friends!
It’s a glorious summer! Summer of friends! We’re all friends! And it’s the summer of friends! With our wieners! And mar’los!

The old man meets the Gremlin, who is upset that he couldn’t get spook the kids to get them to leave the woods. This movie really likes the word spook, by the way. The Gremlin kicks him out of the forest, and resolves to take care of the unwanted campers on his own.

As night falls, the kids begin telling stories. One talks about “Zoe, the Tree Woman,” who is some sort of mischievous forest spirit who kidnaps dogs, then returns them two days later with notes. He really wants to sleep with her, of course. Then she shows up out of nowhere!

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Just roll with it – it’s that kind of movie. I originally thought Zoe was played by the same actress that played the girl who wandered off earlier, because that girl’s name was Lindsey, which is also the name of the actress who plays Zoe. But nope: completely different actress. I guess they just decided to write Lindsey out of the movie after 20 minutes or so.

Chochington tells a story about the Gremlin, which Zoe confirms to be true, making everyone else wonder why he waited until the middle of the night to tell them this. Pissed off, he wanders off to have a beer, which leads to our first Gremlin attack: he sneaks up on Choch and uses his crotch to push the beer can into Choch’s throat, slicing him open. Then he says that he just wants the kids out of his woods for good. For good. For good. For good. Here’s a file photo of the Gremlin celebrating:

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The Gremlin then literally dances on some graves while doing a little beatboxing. Yup.

Arnie and Zoe start to get it on in the tent while Pete and Becky take a lake walk, conveniently leaving everyone vulnerable to Gremlin attacks. Sure enough, the Gremlin sneaks up on Arnie, managing to slice him clean in half with some kind of wire. This leads to an extended sequence of the Gremlin vomiting. You know, that one is really your own fault, Mr. Gremlin. Then, to show the kids he doesn’t want to hurt them, he tries to glue Arnie back together.

But Zoe wants revenge, leading to a duel for the woods! Despite her cool sais, Zoe is no match for The Gremlin, who manages to kill her in under a second by ripping her heart clean out of her chest. Granted, she’s clearly still breathing while she’s lying on the forest floor, but she’s supposed to be dead.

Most of the rest of the movie features Pete and Becky attempting to escape from the woods before the Gremlin can kill them. Well, there’s also an interlude where The Gremlin learns he has “lost his spook,” and gets the crap kicked out of him by Pete, and so decides that he needs to “get his spook back.” Just like Stella got her groove back, he says.

How does he do this? By going through a training montage where he receives lessons from “The Ghouls” a group of three spooky creatures who can apparently teach him how to spook again. The trio includes a mummy, a vampire and a werewolf, all of whom can traditionally be found in the woods of Ohio.

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That’s right, the werewolf is teaching him how to box. Why not? It worked in Teen Wolf Too! After about three minutes, the sequence ends with a freeze frame and its own credits sequence:

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I know this review is incredibly disjointed, but that’s nothing compared to the way this film plays out. I’ve left plenty of stuff out, including talking trees, repetitive sound clips and some of the worst effects you’ve ever seen. The characters watch some strange television interview with a serial killer through a window. At one point, The Gremlin delivers the only quote listed on the IMDb page for this movie:

“Wish I had a flashlight…but I don’t.”

Becky wonders why The Gremlin talks to himself, to which Pete says “I think that’s just what dryads do.”

So, yeah, The Gremlin is dumb and absurd, filmed on a super-low budget and intentionally designed to be bad. But while this is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, it still made me and my friend laugh more than a few times. And when I showed The Gremlin to my bad movie group, there were just as many people who loved it as hated it. In fact, I’ve had more than a few requests to see it again, though I haven’t agreed to do so yet – and I’m not sure I ever will.

I can’t say I recommend The Gremlin, because objectively, it’s just a terrible movie – and the fact that it is intentionally bad really doesn’t allow it to qualify for “so bad, it’s good” status. But if you’ve read this far and the screencaps above made you laugh, it’s probably worth investing a little over an hour to check it out. Just remember, kids: stay spooked.

Ed Scimia

About Ed Scimia

Ed is the author of "So Bad, It's Good" and the upcoming "So Bad, It's Good 2: Electric Bookaloo." He also serves as the Chess Guide at About.com.

Five Bad Movies for the Perfect Valentine’s Day

We’ve all been there: it’s Valentine’s Day, and you’ve been putting off making plans with that special someone. Buying them flowers? Cliché. A romantic dinner? Too expensive. A terrible movie? Now we’re talking!

But not every bad movie is right for this most romantic of holidays. You have to find a film that oozes with love and romance, one that will speak to your relationship and set the perfect mood for a great night. With that in mind, here are five wonderful bad movies for you and your significant other to watch this Valentine’s Day!

The Room

The Room

Is there any bad movie couple more beloved than Johnny and Lisa? These two know the secrets to a successful Valentine’s Day: he makes sure that Lisa never forgets how beautiful she is, and she orders in a pizza they’ll both love (half pesto and artichoke, half pineapple and Canadian bacon). Add in those romantic love scenes, and you have the perfect bad movie for Valentine’s Day.

At least until the ending. That’s slightly less romantic. And you may want to look away when Johnny starts making love to Lisa’s red dress, too. Ladies, you may not want to pretend to be pregnant, either: that’s a Valentine’s Day faux pas.

Ben & Arthur

benarthur

Do you need a movie that proves love has no bounds? Then Ben and Arthur is the film for your Valentine’s Day! This touching story about a same-sex couple trying to have their relationship recognized by their friends, family and government shows us that we’ll do anything for the ones we love. Including murder or burning down a church. And if you need some vacation ideas, take a look at the beautiful shots of scenic Vermont, known for its palm trees and tropical climate. Enjoy the beach, love birds!

Birdemic: Shock And Terror

Birdemic

Romance is really about getting to know someone, and Birdemic is all about the growing relationship between Rob and Nathalie. You’ll spend the first 45 minutes of this film watching as these two soul mates grow not only as individuals, but also as a couple. It’s a true testament to how two lovers can be more than just the sum of their parts.

Then there are some exploding birds and shit. That stuff’s less important, though.

City Dragon

city dragon

Sometimes we must fight for love. Who better to do that than MC Kung Fu? This rappin’ man learns that it can be better to settle down with that perfect woman than picking up a different girl every night. Plus, he’s a songwriter who understands the importance of chemistry with his life partner. Plus, when he has to fight to save his family, he gently places the baby on a roof and barely even nudges it while engaging a crazy man in a fight to the death just feet away. He’s a provider and a caretaker!

Cool As Ice

coolasice

The best romances always pair two partners from vastly different backgrounds to show us that ultimately, love conquers all boundaries. Cool as Ice asks us the question: can a rich, white, studious girl truly fall in love with a rich, white rapper? The answer may surprise you! Vanilla Ice shows every inch of his acting talents in this heartfelt love story about dropping that zero and getting with the hero…of your heart.

Ed Scimia

About Ed Scimia

Ed is the author of "So Bad, It's Good" and the upcoming "So Bad, It's Good 2: Electric Bookaloo." He also serves as the Chess Guide at About.com.

Fateful Findings: The Best Bad Movie You’ve Never Seen?

I can’t even remember where I first heard about this film, but somewhere along the line I learned of the existence of Fateful Findings, an independent low-budget “thriller” from Neil Breen. From what I’ve read, Breen is a Las Vegas architect who – much like Tommy Wiseau – wrote, directed, starred, produced and funded his own feature-length movie.

As far as I can tell, Fateful Findings is a “paranormal thriller” about a writer who becomes a hacker and breaks into government and corporate computer systems, revealing some sort of horrible truth along the way. Also, he gains magic powers at some point. Just check out this trailer, for goodness sake:


My goodness, can that man throw a book! You might also want to watch this riff of the trailer from Isle of Rangoon.

By and large, the comments I’ve seen about the movie say that it’s highly entertaining, with some apparently loving it more than The Room – or at least saying that it’s a better film in an objective sense. A few people seem to question the sincerity of the film, though it seems that this is similar to the James Nguyen issue: many people have trouble believing Birdemic is for real until they actually meet or listen to Nguyen, after which it all becomes clear.

The sad part is that I have no way to see this movie – at least until there’s a screening near me – and you may not be able to either. According to an article at deadline.com, Breen turned down some specialty distributors and instead went with Panorama Entertainment, which seems to be focused on limited engagements at film festivals and the like. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any plan to release it on DVD or in a digital download or streaming format, at least for now. That article also suggests that Breen, unlike many who have made similar films, is a bit sensitive about the “so bad, it’s good” reputation of the film.

But the good news? According to Neil’s Twitter feed, Fateful Findings will be hitting New York City theaters (or a theater, at least) in March. I may just have to head down to the city to check this one out. Meanwhile, I’ve also discerned that there are screenings coming up in Chattanooga (2/15), Cincinnati (2/21), Columbus (2/22) and Tucson (2/21, 2/22). If you get a chance to see this film, let me know what you think of it!

Ed Scimia

About Ed Scimia

Ed is the author of "So Bad, It's Good" and the upcoming "So Bad, It's Good 2: Electric Bookaloo." He also serves as the Chess Guide at About.com.