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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bad Movies-- Not Like In Bad, But Not Very Good

          When I'm talking about bad movies in this article, I'm not necessarily referring to rated X, or evil, or morally offensive, although it could also be any or all of those.  I'm talking about that genre of movie that is sometimes referred to as "so bad that it's good".  These "bad movies" are the ones that become standards by which we measure how bad a movie can be.


          One of my favorite good movies of all time is ED WOOD with Johnny Depp and Martin Landau, who won an Oscar in this film for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi.  This film is a bio-pic based on the life of bad filmmaker Ed Wood, who has been often referred to as the worst filmmaker of all time. The film ED WOOD is one of the best films about optimism ever made. If you have not seen this film, I would highly recommend it for the acting and story. The film certainly paints a far brighter picture of the character of the real life Ed Wood, but in essence I think Tim Burton, the director, accurately captured the spirit of the early years of this bad film director.


         Ed Wood the director made a lot of bad movies.  As far as I know he never made a good movie,  but his movies were so bad that he has earned a place in cinema history.  The most well-known film that Wood made is certainly the science fiction absurdity PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE.  I recall seeing this as a child back in the late 50s and being quite frightened. The movie impressed me so at the time that it stayed with me for many years, but I never saw it again until the 90's. Watching the film as an adult I realized how absurd  and unrealistic were the acting, dialogue, and special effects. This is why the film has achieved cult status.  If you've never seen this movie and you like campy, 50s sci-fi, then you might get a kick out of PLAN 9.  This is not my recommendation, I'm just saying some of you might get a kick out of it.

            What has made me think about Ed Wood is a film that I saw recently called THE ROOM.  I had read an article in the Los Angeles Times about this film and became curious. The Times story told about how this film had achieved cult status and was playing to sell-out midnight movie audiences. The article went on to compare the status of the film to ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW , a schlocky rock musical from the mid 70s. Most people are now familiar with ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW but if you're not the film has been playing to midnight movie audiences for over 30 years now. It is not so much of a movie that you would go to see as it is an event that you dress in costume for and you participate along with the film when you are in the audience. If you watch it at home you're not going to have the same experience as you would when seeing it with an audience.  You really have to attend a showing to get the full effect, but if you're like me it shows past your bedtime.  If you have never been to a showing of ROCKY HORROR , and can stay up that late and enjoy utter wackiness then you might like to check it out.

             Now comparing THE ROOM, which was first released in 2003, to ROCKY HORROR I do not understand.  Maybe it's a new generation thing.  The schlock-rock musical is a fun fest where you can dance, sing, and act along with intentionally hokey dialogue.  THE ROOM was originally intended to be serious. After it was released some critics were calling it the worst movie ever made.  Wikipedia states that at it's premiere "people in the theater began laughing at the film within the first ten minutes, and by the end, some of the crowd were "rolling around" and "crying with laughter"." 

           Tommy Wiseau was the star of the film and also wrote the screenplay, produced,  and directed it as well.  He states that everything he did in the film was done intentionally, however his attempts certainly did not come out as he planned.  He was attempting to make a Tennessee Williams style drama filmed ala David Lynch.  Unintentionally he ended up with an absurd film with which a certain segment of movie audience became endeared.  So after having read the Times article I felt compelled to see this movie for myself, especially being a big David Lynch fan.  I won't say it's the worst movie I have ever seen by a long shot, but it's pretty bad.  The dialogue and acting are pretty laughable and the story is rather peculiar to say the least. I guess I'm glad I watched it to satisfy my curiosity about what I'd read. I would not recommend it to anyone unless they were a fan of bad movie-making.

           I'm not sure what it is about camp, schlock, and bad movies, but some people just love them.  And I guess it's especially more fun when you're in a crowd and everybody's laughing and having fun with it.  I don't know how Tommy Wiseau really feels about the reception to his film, but I guess he's thankful that he's making money with it and apparently has been pretty good-natured about the whole thing.

          If you've seen THE ROOM what did you think of it?  Do you like to see bad movies?  What particularly bad movies have you seen and what made them so bad?  How do you think you would feel if you created a work that you deemed very serious and instead it was received with such ridicule that it gained notoriety?  If you have to pick one, what's more important to you: the status of your work or the money you make from it?

          One final note--at the beginning of November I stated that I was hoping to gain 100 followers by the end of the month.  At last count I had 57.  After a little over two months of blogging, I guess that's really not too bad.  I'm not displeased with the count at all and I am quite thankful for all those who have signed on to follow this blog.  And if you don't follow yet then how's about you clicking on that little ole follower button there on the right?    

10 comments:

  1. Though I’d probably be crushed, publicity, good or bad, sells books and gets people to the theater, so to me it’s better to have people discussing your work even if it is with ridicule, then to have it exist in obscurity where no one reads or sees it.

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  2. 57 followers is something to be proud of. I love your blog :)

    LoL bad movie post. so now to be famous we should be bad, as is sucking rocks kind of bad. Cult followings are unpredictable at best aren't they?!

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  3. I know what you mean about "bad" movies. Good recommendations here - thanks, I'll check into them. Well, I've seen Rocky Horror show already but the other ones.

    Marvin D Wilson

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  4. In my younger years, I gathered with a group of friends every Friday night to watch good "bad" films. We voted week to week which was the best bad movie and one called "The Shout" came out on top and never was booted off the top of the pile. LOL. I'd LOVE to see that thing again.

    If I was the director or producer, say, of "The Shout", I guess I'd get used to being the worst film maker in history, but it sure would sting.

    Great post! (I've been blogging for months and still haven't reached fifty subscribers-LOL. You're doing great!)

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  5. Dee-- I'd never heard of "The Shout" so I looked it up. I found one from 1978 with Alan Bates starring. Is that the one you're talking about? It gets some pretty high ratings and won some awards. That doesn't necessarily mean anything, I know, but it's weird how some things get acclaim in some quarters and others of us think they're awful.

    I offhand can't think of an example, but I know I've seen some movies that have gotten absolute raves and when I see it I have to wonder if I saw the same movie I disliked it so. Then I have heard films totally panned that I have loved when I've seen them. I guess it has a lot to do with personal taste and how we feel and who we're with when we see them.

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  6. rLEE-b ~
    PLAN 9 is one of my Top 25 favorite movies ever, and I mention it and quote from it often. In fact, I'm a semi-proud owner of the Ed Wood (faux) Pink Angora Box Set. I also own the Tim Burton movie and a couple of documentaries about Ed Wood - the funniest being "Look Back In Angora."

    Ed Wood is actually part of my Litmus Test: anyone who isn't amused by Ed Wood, Roger Miller, Jim Stafford, and The Andy Griffith Show is probably never going to like me very much. I'm just THAT sorta guy. But I'm OK with it.

    ~ Stephen
    <"As a dog returns to his own vomit,
    so a fool repeats his folly."
    ~ Proverbs 26:11>

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  7. I remember watching Ed Wood when I was younger, but I liked it. We owned it and I believe we watched several times. Did you think it was that bad?

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  8. Emilee--- I said the movie ED WOOD was good and it's one of my favorite movies, but it's a true story about Ed Wood, a bad director who made some of the worst movies ever.

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  9. Let's do the Time Warp again!! :)

    A friend dragged me to a showing in high school - I'd never heard of it. So much fun!!!

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  10. I took my oldest daughter on a daddy-daughter date night to see Rocky Horror when she was about 13 or so. We went to a 50's retro diner for a late dinner and then to a midnight showing of Rocky Horror at a theatre in West Hollywood. She loved it and nearly 15 years later still talks about it.

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