Monday, April 14, 2008

Movie Mon. - Worst. Movies. EVER.

Slow movie watching week, as I spent the bulk of my free time reading. The only two new movies I got to watch this week were:

Water Horse: Legend of the Deep: A surprisingly engaging family-friendly film about a young Scottish boy who discovers the egg of the magical water horse near Loch Ness during World War II. Sometimes the cuteness of the baby water horse was a bit much, but the film was quite a bit darker than I had originally anticipated. Not too dark for the young ones, I hope, but dark enough to keep it from being cloying.

The Deaths of Ian Stone: One of the selections for the most recent "8 Films to Die For" movie festival, this film follows the inexplicably American* Ian Stone being murdered time and time again, only to wake up in a new life each time. Let me put your fears to rest right now: this is not one of those "He's dying in the real world and this is all just a fantasy sequence" films, or even a "this is a huge mind-fark and the truth is never revealed" films -- there is a concrete reason for Ian's multiple deaths and life-changes, and what's better, the reason actually makes sense . . . for the most part. Not quite what I was expecting, but an enjoyable enough diversion.

Since the actual movie reviews as sparse, and since I've been lax in blogging recently, I figured I'd fill out this post with something I promised one of Li'l Random's friends I'd do after I commented on her MySpace blog** about the five worst movies of all time; post my own Five Worst list.

The problems with such a list*** is deciding precisely what is meant by "worst movies." I mean, does it hinge on the quality of the acting, or the quality of the plot, or the quality of the directing, or something else? I mean, if you're talking from a purely technical standpoint in terms of the craft of filmmaking itself, yeah, something like Plan 9 from Outer Space or Manos: Hands of Fate is going to qualify as one of the worst films; and yet, for films with that sort of low caliber pedigree, I can harbor no hate in my heart, as their horrible lack of skill somehow transcends normal definitions of "good" and "bad," catapulting them into their own category. A recent article in The Guardian tackled this idea, coming up with the following strict criteria:

  • Must have been made with the belief that it would actually be good
  • Cannot just be an obscure student film
  • Must feature real actors
  • Must generate negative buzz before hand, and then live up to the negative buzz
  • Must create genuine fear in a viewer at the thought of having to watch the film again
  • Must become worse every time you see it
All in all, not a bad set of rules for determining "Worst of All Time," but to attach such a strong label to my list seems a bit too much for me; if I've learned anything over the years its that taste in movies/TV/books/etc. is so subjective that one man's Citizen Kane is another man's White Chicks. But for me, movies that I tend to think of as "the worst" are the ones that conjure up not just fear at having to sit through them again (in which case, Meet the Parents would top my list by a factor of a gazillion) but at the total amount of frustration, disgust, and outright anger the film engenders in me, whether it be at the sloppy direction, horrible plotting, idiotic characters, or mishandling of source material. There are films that I hold in my mind as some of my worst viewing experiences which can be seen as competent films by others, but which for one reason or another drive me into a murderous rage. Here, then, are the Top 10 Worst Movies in Cap'n Neurotic's Mind:

1. Batman and Robin. It amazes me how a director responsible for films I genuinely enjoy (Lost Boys, Flatliners, Falling Down, Flawless) can also be responsible for this horribly misguided trainwreck. Granted, a large degree of my hatred for the film can be laid at the feet of my geeky fanboy nature; I totally cop to that. I mean, when they turned Bane, an intelligent and crafty villain in the comics, into a mindless Incredible Hulk rip-off, the comic geek in me cried foul, and when bad guys being tossed through the air were accompanied by cartoonish sound effects which smacked of slapstick and Adam West-era Batman , the champion for "comic books aren't just for kids" side of me wanted to scream in frustration. But I'd like to think that even without those slaps in the face of comic book fans everywhere, this uneven piece of crap would have earned my enmity.

2. The Family Stone. If you want to know why this film made the list, please read my previous screed against it. Man, just re-reading that post got me all tense and angry; boy oh boy, did I hate that film.

3. Do the Right Thing. I haven't seen this in forever, and it's possible I might be more forgiving of it now, but the fact that Mookie never expresses remorse for depriving Sal of his livelihood is one of those rare instances where the ending actually did ruin the movie for me.

4. House of 1,000 Corpses. Its rare to watch a horror film where you're hoping and praying that every character in it dies soon because they're so incredibly grating, but Rob Zombie manages to pull it off here.

5. A Sound of Thunder. Trust me, I know how difficult it is to make a time-travel movie that doesn't trip all over itself in terms of paradoxes; the biggest problem I had with this movie wasn't that its time travel rules weren't logical, it was that they were inconsistent and contradictory. I spent a good 90% of the film shaking my head in frustration because the latest bit of time travel techno-babble completely negates the previous bit of techno-babble. So many plot holes and idiotic actions, so little time to comment on them.

6. White Man's Burden. The first film of the post-Pulp Fiction Travolta Renaissance to make me realize that John really, really needed somebody to help him pick out his scripts. What frustrated me about this film which was supposedly intended to showcase the shocking reality of racism by having race be reversed was that all of the horrible things that happened to Travolta's character weren't because he was in the minority, it's because he acted like he was functionally retarded.

7. Very Bad Things. I remember very little about this film, other than the fact that every single character in it was so self-centered, shallow, and obnoxious that it was a chore to make it through.

8. John Carpenter's Vampire$. The film that caused Bubblegum Tate to declare "I want my dollar back!." Slow, plodding, soul-draining, dreadful . . . pick a negative adjective, and I'm pretty sure it applies. Again, how can a director responsible for so many films I love (Halloween, The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China) create something that is such soul-killing dreck? The mind wobbles.

9. House of the Dead. It was a bit of a struggle to decide which Uwe Boll film to include here, but as pitiful as I found Alone in the Dark and BloodRayne to be, neither one of them caused me the mental anguish that having to deal with the moronic characters spouting idiotic dialogue of this movie did, and so it takes the cake.

10. Soul Plane. No. Just . . . no.

Now, one caveat that I have for this list is that I only included films I was able to make it all the way through; so, the movies that caused me so much anguish that I couldn't finish (The Medallion, Johnny English, Slipstream), while probably much worse than any of the above, aren't listed because I'm unable to make a fully informed report on them.

*Movie's set in Britain, everyone else is British, and not a single comment is ever made about the protagonist being a Yank, a fact that becomes even more perplexing as the secrets are revealed.
**Which I would link to, but she has it set to private so you have to be on her friend list to view it
***Oh, come on, you didn't expect me to make this simple, did you?


iamam said...

The only ones I have seen are Very Bad Things, which, I, too, remember very little about, other than the fact that I though it was waste of good title, and Batman and Robin, which I thought was a waste of George Clooney. :)