Monday, December 6, 2010

Cool Ass Cinema Book Reviews: Bad Movie Edition!

This entry we look at books on Bad Movies and what makes them so much fun to watch. One book is brand spanking new, another that's sorta recent and another that's a blast from the Bad Movie Past...



By Steve Miller

Softcover; 290 pages; B/W (2010)

Over the years there's been numerous books on bad movies with such titles as Clevenger and Zollinger's BETTER LIVING THROUGH BAD MOVIES, Ebert's YOUR MOVIE SUCKS, Mike Nelson's MOVIE MEGACHEESE, Marguiles and Rebello's BAD MOVIES WE LOVE and Morse's VIDEO TRASH & TREASURES 1 and 2. Michael Medved (along with his brother, Harry) was likely the first critic who made poking fun of bad movies a popular tradition with a series of books in the late 70s and early 80s such as THE FIFTY WORST FILMS OF ALL TIME in 1978 and THE GOLDEN TURKEY AWARDS in 1980.

Now, Steve Miller, a prolific writer of pop culture paraphernalia has delivered his own tome on some of the best barrel scrapers and head scratching cinematic blotches the world has ever seen. It's quite a fun read peppered with various funny movie lines and trivial annotations. It's all written in brevity briskly moving the reader from one review to the next. Those expecting meat with their mud will not find it here (Medved's books do that just fine), but bad movie buffs get a mouthful just the same. The rating system may prove confusing to some, at least to me it was. It's a "thumbs down" approach ranging from one to five thumbs aiming downward per each film in question. The fewer the thumbs down, the more watchable the movie is. It's sort of a backwards approach to the more popular "fewer stars equals crap" methodology. Still, it's a safe assumption that if your movie is in a book on celluloid crud of the lovable sort, you're not expected to find Oscar winning material.

The one part of the book I took issue with (and it's one of the more apt reasons to read critical notices on films with differing opinions) was the inclusion of certain titles that, at least to me, were anything but bad movies. Granted, ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES (1978) is a bad movie. But that was the intention with the picture. I just find it hard to poke fun at a movie that is extremely self aware of its inherent awfulness. The inclusion of movies like SUSPIRIA (1977), CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980), MY BLOODY VALENTINE (1981) and CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954) were a bit perplexing to see wedged in among the usual suspects like PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1956), SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS (1964) and MONSTER A GO-GO (1965). There are others, too, like Bava's DANGER: DIABOLIK (1968), Argento's DEEP RED (1975), Peter Jackson's DEAD ALIVE (1993) and even Norifumi Suzuki's THE STREETFIGHTER (1974) that are on the chopping block! Still, these are all fun mini dissertations even if a few of these titles may boggle the mind by their inclusion.

I must say, though, that I think DEMONS (1986) is unfairly judged regarding how the demon plague escapes the theater. The car load of punks who manage to break into the multiplex inadvertantly let the plague out through the side door they left open. The Godfrey Ho entries bring the bad movie vibe full circle and act as a teaser for what could be an entire volume devoted to Ho's "accomplishments". Aside from some minor cumbersome contrivances, Millers book is a great read and it's obvious from the start he genuinely loves the movies he's playfully lambasting. There's also explanations why a particular entry "sucks", trivia games regarding stars from the pictures and humorous dialog exchanges from the films in question. The cover is very attractive and oddly enough, the poster for VOODOO ISLAND is featured among other bad movies, but it's nowhere to be found in the book. Likely it would fit in among the flurry of foppish films that make up the gist of this enjoyably fun read. It's affordability is also a plus and the books size will easily fit inside a satchel, or purse without any trouble for reading on the go. Definitely one for the shelves in my book (haha). You can read Steve Miller's Bad Movie blog by clicking HERE.


By John Wilson

Softcover; 380 pages; B/W (2005)

The Golden Rasberry Awards was created in March of 1981 by John Wilson, the very author of this book. A yearly event to coincide with the Oscars, the Razzies (as they are more popularly referred to) take place on the eve of the Academy Awards show and pay tribute to the best of the worst in Hollywood. The most notable difference between the Razzies and other books on this subject is that nearly every film featured within these pages belongs there. There are a few that are questionable, but for the most part, every film is pretty much justified by its inclusion. Like Miller's book reviewed above, Wilson's giggle guide is a fun read.

The movies are contained within genre specific categories such as musicals, disaster epics, monster movies and other types of bad movies made good by virtue of sheer mediocrity. The films availability is noted as well as a plot synopsis, critical reaction, hilarious dialog exchanges and also what generally qualifies the picture as Razzi-licious. There are also two appendices--the first one tells you how to obtain the films (as some of them are not on DVD) and the other offers up the entire history of The Razzies from its inception up to 2003. The Razzie website offers up to date information on all things awful in the world of Hollywood movies. The Razzie Guide is only slightly bigger than Miller's book and will also fit snugly in a satchel, or purse for those wishing to read on the go. One for the shelves for bad movie lovers.


By Harry and Michael Medved

Softcover; 219 pages; B/W (1986)

There are a lot of people out there that HATE the Medved's (particularly Michael) for their books on what they perceive as bad movies. Granted, many of the motion pictures featured in their handful of books belong there, but I think it's the way in which they mercilessly slander a particular movie, or star. Sometimes, it seems a movie gets pie-faced for no other reason than to sound cool doing it. An example of this are the nominees for 'The Most Preposterous Pairing In Movie History'. One of the selected pairs is Grace Jones and Arnold Schwarzenegger from CONAN THE DESTROYER (1984). This particular pairing would make sense if it were true. Medved's description makes out as if the two are romantically involved in the movie and they are not. Another example is Gordon Scott, the star of five Tarzan adventures and a score of Italian muscleman movies. He's poked fun of when the photograph in question features Steve Reeves and not Scott.

Still, the book is quite a lot of fun, if frequently pretentious. Some readers may even find themselves incensed at some of Medved's analysis. One thing I can say for the book's author is that he doesn't discriminate. You'll find the usual suspects like CAT WOMEN OF THE MOON (1953), MESA OF LOST WOMEN (1953), Ed Wood's catalog of criminally bad movies, gory exploitation pictures and big budget, bloated Hollywood productions. There's also a lot to be learned about the side of Hollywood many would find offensive today in reference to black actors like Stepin Fetchit and Sleep 'N Eat. Aside from that, pretty much every other major Hollywood personality gets the royal dissing treatment. As the back cover states, "No one is safe". Medved's book isn't without its virtues, but one may find themselves both in awe and angered at the same time. It's still a humorous, if occasionally misguided forum for those who love throwing tomatoes at their favorite bad movie. If you can still find it, it's worth a place on your shelves.


Related Posts with Thumbnails


copyright 2013. All text is the property of and should not be reproduced in whole, or in part, without permission from the author. All images, unless otherwise noted, are the property of their respective copyright owners.