Sunday, January 4, 2009

Bad Movies

I haven't posted in quite a while, in part because we spent Christmas vacation in San Diego with family. I'll leave it to my wife to give the details on the vacation.

Anyway, for Christmas my mother gave me the Mystery Science Theater 3000 20th Anniversary Collection (this was merely Volume 13 of the series, but I guess they decided that "20th Anniversary Collection" had a certain ring to it). Before I left for college my mother and I would watch MST3k on Saturday mornings on the Sci-Fi Channel.

For those who aren't familiar with it, MST3k is about a human (Joel for the first five seasons and Mike for the last five) and two robots (Tom Servo and Crow) who are trapped on a spaceship and are forced by mad scientists to watch bad movies in an attempt to drive them insane. To keep their sanity, they continuously comment on the movies.

Recently had an article on the worst movies of 2008. This list even included Cloverfield, which was pretty good except for the motion sickness it can induce in viewers. I find declarations that 'such-and-such current movie is really bad' to be absurd; clearly these people have never seen Manos: The Hands of Fate. Here's a list of some of the worst movies I've ever seen. All of them I saw with the benefit of commentary by Mike or Joel and the 'bots on MST3k. To watch these movies in any other way is to risk madness.

Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
A man, his wife, his daughter, and his dog get lost and ask to spend the night in a stranger's house. Unfortunately, the house belongs to "The Master", an undead something-or-other, his equally undead wives, and his large-kneed servant Torgo. The Master has a giant red hand printed on his black cloak (no, it's never explained). Poor sound quality, lousy acting, and poor editing truly make this movie. Ironically, the plot could have been made into something good in the hands of a talented cast and crew (this film had neither).

Laserblast (1978)
A teenager who can't seem to be able to button his shirt finds an alien laser weapon that turns him into some sort of laser blasting zombie when he wields it. Stop-motion aliens (that look like shell-less turtles) retrieve the laser as a completely undeveloped CIA/FBI/MIB-type character looks on. Cameo by an embarrassed Roddy McDowall! This movie is so aimless and inane it's impossible not to laugh at it, even without the MST3k riffing. The movie seems to be unable to explain the purpose or position of the omnipresent federal agent and the movie's climax makes absolutely no sense. I loved it.

Space Mutiny (1988)
Our heroes must prevent a mutiny on a generational starship. Who knew they made movies this bad in the late '80s. The spaceship special effects are pretty good since they used old Battlestar Galactica footage. The beefy hero with a high-pitched voice, the heroine that looks to be about 20 years older than she's supposed to be, the ship's captain who looks like Santa Claus, and the villain who really needs a mustache to twirl make the movie hilariously funny. The "climactic" chase scene involving armed vehicles (which appear to be golf carts or floor buffers with plastic missiles attached to the sides) is utterly sublime. I have never heard my mother laugh so hard in all my life.

Invasion of the Neptune Men (1961)
Aliens from Neptune in a ridiculous spaceship attack earth (i.e., Japan). Only Space Chief and his flying car can stop them. The movie is dominated by the standard Japanese schoolkids in shorts (who populated the 1960s and 1970s Godzilla and Gamera movies, too). The hero is the goofy Space Chief who employs the typical "karate" moves on the aliens and flies a spaceship that looks like it should have a big wind-up key sticking out of it. An extended scene of Space Chief's spaceship fighting Neptunian fighter craft, with the requisite destruction of a model Tokyo, is utterly painful. It's during this scene that both Mike and Crow actually walk out of the theater (this is forbidden on MST3k; the two were forced back into the theater when the mad scientist turned off the life support in the other parts of the spaceship).

The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (1964)
An aimless teenager visits a carnival where he becomes the hypnotized assassin of a gypsy fortune teller. By the end of the movie he joins her other acid-deformed servants in a disappointingly short five minute rampage. While the point of the movie is supposedly the zombies, they take up only a few minutes of screentime. Various dull carnival performances actually take up most of the movie's running time. The movie is made even worse by horrible sound quality (the "hero's" foreign friend is almost completely incomprehensible).


  1. WARNING: SPOILER ALERT! Cloverfield. Not a fan. There wasn't a plot besides finding the one chick and everyone else dying. In fact, everyone dying. And you never really get a good look at the monster thing. That really bugs me. And what happened with the chick in the other helicopter? I didn't mind the hand cam too much, except when I wasn't able to see what I wanted to see.

  2. I didn't mind the lack of a plot, or the deaths of most (or all) of the characters, but I did mind the fact that you never got a good look at the monster. There are a couple scenes early on where you can tell the camera is deliberately avoiding the monster (to add to the suspense, I suppose), whereas any normal person would be unable to focus on anything but the monster.



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