Thursday, February 11, 2016

GUEST POST: A Quest for the Greatest Horrible Movies.

When I found out that my friend Monika (a fellow writer) has a competition with her family to find the most groan-inducing movies, I asked her to write a guest post about their experiences.  You can read more of what Monika has to say about movies, books, writing and the universe at her blog, Glorified Daydreamer.

 Michael has asked me to write this post about my family and movies; in particular, about our love for bad movies and our competition to out do each other on the horribleness of bad movies.

I am the youngest of six kids (four sister and one brother). My oldest sibling is seven and a half years older than me, so we were very close growing up. We are also very competitive with each other. Then I went to college in Michigan. Two of my sisters (Amy and Amber) came with me to work and go to school. Instead of dorms, we got an apartment together. I am a socially awkward person, so I began to gravitate to movies and movie theaters. There’s no social faux pas, ridicule, or judgments made there. Amy and Amber would come with me.

 We grew up loving Stand By Me (, Beetlejuice (, The Goonies ( , Adventures in Babysitting (, and Jaws ( to name a few. We like well-loved movies like The Godfather (, Ever After (, Never Been Kissed (, 10 Things I Hate About You (, Clueless (, Scream (, While You Were Sleeping (, Fright Night (2011) (, and Sleepless in Seattle ( Then in the early 2000s, we noticed that many of the movies that were coming out were down right terrible. That is when our competitive selves came out. We started to pick out horrible movies that are just plain groan worthy.

We have learned that movie critics aren’t always right, and sometimes the most entertaining movie deserves a Razzie. Some of the best movies and books I have gotten to know aren’t critical successes, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have value. While Amy and Amber do not like to read, because, “Reading the book ruins the movie,” they also believe that critics aren’t to be trusted as they are paid to find fault with other people’s works. The point is, movies are subjective and to us, there is nothing like a good/bad movie that makes us laugh and/or groan.

Some of the movies are so terrible that we refuse to watch them again. The worst of the worst include, Xanadu (Olivia Newton-John on roller stakes) (, Birdemic (, Grease 2 (, and Sleepover (

There are other movies that are pretty rotten, but they is something about them that we love just love. It could be a scene. In Cursed ( where the werewolf gives the middle finger to the humans below, and the way Jennifer Coolidge says moist (like she is having an orgasm over a cookie) in A Cinderella Story ( It could be the movie is so terrible that it is fun to watch; for example, Troll 2 (, Cherry Falls (, and Combat Academy (starring a young George Clooney) ( has made their list and so have we. Here you go.’s list:

My top 10 favorite “bad” movies are:

1. Austenland

2. Battleship

3. Just Visiting

4. Empire Records

5. From Prada to Nada

6. A Princess For Christmas

7. Eight Legged Freaks

8. Chasing Liberty

9. Bride and Prejudice

10. Evolution

Amy’s top 10 favorite “bad” movies are:

1.              Funny Farm

2.              The Buttercream Gang

3.              Leap Year

4.              The Stupids

5.              The Covenant

6.              The Day After Tomorrow

7.              Beastly

8.              The Fog

9.              Cherry Falls

10. Combat Academy

Amber’s top 10 bad movies are:

1. The Stupids

2. Aquamarine

3. Split Infinity

4. Masters of the Universe

5. Invaders From Mars

6. Monster Squad

7. Spy Kids

8. Daddy Day Care

9. Housebound

10. Dick

Our Honorable Mentions:

1. She’s The Man

2. She’s All That

3. Head Over Heels

4. American Outlaws

5. The Replacements

6. It! The Terror From Beyond Space

7. The Trilogy of Terror: Amelia (AKA: The Terror of The Doll)

8. Critters 3: You Are What They Eat

9. A Christmas Kiss 2

10. Armageddon

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Running Time: 98 Minutes (of off the wall fun).

Directed by: Stephen Chow

Staring: Stephen Chow

“In Shanghai, China in the 1940s, a wannabe gangster aspires to join the notorious ‘Axe Gang’ while residents of a housing complex exhibit extraordinary powers in defending their turf.” –IMDB

How I Discovered It: I saw the trailer below when I went to see V for Vendetta with my good friend, Chris.  About halfway through the trailer I thought to myself, "I have no idea what is going on but I love it."

My Iconic Scene: Which one do I choose?  I'll just stick with the scene where two hustlers in search of a free haircut pretend to be members of the feared Axe Gang.  Of course the actual Axe Gang inevitably shows up and then comes a sequence in which we discover that three of the slum's tenants are more than know what, I'm not doing it justice.  Just watch the movie.  

Who Should Embrace This Movie: The preview above is probably one of the most honest movie trailers in terms of capturing the spirit of the movie it's advertising.  If you've watched it you have probably already decided whether you want to run out and grab it (by "run out" I mean put it on your Netflix queue) or just go on with your life.

This is a movie for people who love cult films.  Particularly the kind that exist in a reality all in their own and don't provide any explanation as to why laws of physics suddenly revert to that of a Bugs Bunny cartoon.  The ideal audience member will just shrug and play along with the movie simply because it's so darn fun.

That being said, Kung Fu Hustle is far from being an underground film no one "gets."  When it was first released it was the highest grossing film in Hong Kong history. 

One of the things I love about this movie is that it's one of the few films I have ever seen that combines essentially every genre you can think of.  Just looking at the trailer we have Western, Musical, Fantasy, Film-Noir, Martial Arts (obviously), Slapstick Comedy, and War (the movie itself also gives us smatterings of romance, coming of age and horror).  All of these elements are mixed together to create a fever dream hodgepodge that never becomes so overwhelming you stop having a good time.

So at the end of the day, even if you prefer your movies to be a little more down to earth, check out this one because there are so many ingredients in the stew there will probably be something you like.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

"True Romance (1993)

I recently asked one of my cousins, Lauren, which movie she thinks more people should watch.  She suggested the neo-noir romantic comedy, True Romance, which (for some stupid reason) I had never seen before.  

 Running Time: 118 Minutes (of early Tarantino dialogue).

Directed by: Tony Scott

Written by:  Quentin Tarantino

The movie also has an excellent supporting cast: GaryOldman, Val Kilmer, Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken, and Samuel L Jackson in a microscopic part. 

Plot: “Clarence marries hooker, Alabama, steals cocaine from her pimp, and tries to sell it in Hollywood, while the owners of the coke try to reclaim it.” –IMDB

(Just watching this preview makes me nostalgic for VHS)

How I Discovered It: I have no idea when I first heard of this movieI think it was  when I first became a fan of Quentin Tarantino back in high school (when else does one become a Tarantino fan?).  I'd heard that he wrote the screenplay for "some movie" called, True Romance but had no idea what it was about.

My Memorable Moment: The conversations that Clarence (Christian Slater) has with an apparition of Elvis Presley.  We don’t know if these are daydreams or hallucinations, but they complete the character.  Of course Clarence would be the kind of guy who stands around the bathroom taking advice from The King. 

Who Should Embrace It: Little known fact about me: My favorite movie genre is neo-noir*, those quirky, violent movies from the 1990’s that included Pulp Fiction, The Big Labowski, The Usual Suspects and Fargo.  Basically, the movies Tarantino and the Coen Brothers were coming out with when I was in middle school.  They featured a wide cast of larger-than-life characters, mythological and pop culture themes and humor that made you feel like a bad person.  Taking that into consideration, I don’t know why it took me so long to watch True Romance (thank you Lauren for giving me the push). 

So the short answer to who should embrace it: If you're a fan of any of the movies listed above check this one out.  It'll probably be your cup of tea.

Even if you're not a fan of Pulp Fiction don't write off True Romance entirely.  The movie is more than just another entry into a '90s sub-genre.  Overall, it's a very well made film.  The two leads have spot-on chemistry (something that has become increasingly rare in Hollywood) and you believe how much the characters mean to each other.  All of the actors are perfectly cast. The writing is crisp, hilarious and fun.

One caution I would give is that the violence is brutal.  Yes of course you're going to get an epic gun battle in a Tony Scott movie but there is one scene halfway through the film that some viewers might want to fast forward through.  It does push the story along, but I can see how some might find the brutality drawn out and just unpleasant.

There are a few moments when the tone can be a little uneven, but for the most part I had a blast watching this gem from my favorite movie genre.  Looking back, I probably should have bought this one all those times I spotted it in the $2.99 bin in Target.

*This list is a little loose in it's definition of "neo-noir" but I think it still gives some great examples.