Bad Movie Palate Cleansers for Dark Times
The Trump Administration is about as dystopian as it’s gotten in my lifetime (I’m an 80’s baby for perspective) and I came to the horrific epiphany earlier this year that the evil chaos promulgated by the festering pustules in our government isn’t going away anytime soon, so I had better stop drinking as a coping mechanism and find healthier ways to buckle in for the horrific turbulence we’re going to experience for the foreseeable future.
One of the things that has become extremely apparent to me since I began to write for Pajiba is that I have objectively terrible taste in movies. The Overlord Slack Channel is full of insightful comments on movies that are well loved, that leaves me sort of bewildered, because the older I get, the worst my taste becomes. In general, the better a movie is, the less I want to see it. To paraphrase Tolstoy, to me good movies are all the same, but terrible movies are beautifully unique in their own special way. They will make you feel dumber for having watched them, and are a fantastic respite in these otherwise dark, trying times.
Finding a new bad movie is one of my favorite things, and I wanted to put together a short list of a few of my favorites to share with you all. Now, I will not insult your intelligence to list The Room, because by now, everyone and their mom should know about it. I’m going to dig deep into my arsenal and share truly the worst of the worst in the hopes that one of these can brighten you day like it has mine.
I’m not even going to try to explain the plot to you, because it doesn’t have one. It’s so inept in its execution that this one should be watched to marvel at the ability of a car crash to last for 100 minutes. The main character is a successful author, who’s also a world-class hacker, who also has some weird mystic abilities that are never explained, who also makes the ladies panties incinerate everywhere he goes. You know, the usual stuff. The main character is played by Neil Breen, who also wrote and directed the film. Breen was a Las Vegas real estate developer which is basically the same as getting an MFA, so he’s uniquely qualified to make this art.
(FYI, there’s cussing in that clip, so, uh, don’t blare it on your office speakers.)
If you watched the clip above, you probably think that it was comprised of multiple jump cuts to pack in all the worst parts of the movie. Not so my friend, that is the scene in its entirety. Crude, god-awful, and violent, Samurai Cop has it all! This is the best kind of bad movie because it’s clear that everyone was trying to make a good action movie, they were all just woefully ill equipped for the task. The main character is Joe Marshall, an all-American cop who just happens to have been trained in Japan by the “masters” (whatever that means) and wields a mean sword. A renegade with a mission, Marshall is hell-bent on stopping the Japanese gang known as Katana from painting Los Angeles white with their cocaine. Will he be successful? You’ll have to watch it and see.
True fact if you thought “Star Wars” was just a movie about an epic space saga with an oversized bear, you’d be wrong. It’s also the top-secret American government satellite monitoring program, with a home base location that must reside in the fictional country of Parmistan. You’d know this if you’ve seen Gymkata. What is “Gymkata”, you ask? The combination of gymnastics and karate that is required to pass the fabled obstacle course in Parmistan and win the favor of the king. No one has ever accomplished it before or made it out of the village of crazies alive. Will Jonathan Cabot (played by Olympic gymnast Kurt Thomas), whose father disappeared in the same obstacle course 20 prior, be successful? If fate is not a cruel mistress, I hope so. Yakmala!
The Miami Connection
Ninjas were a real problem in the mid-to-late eighties in central Florida. The only ones to be able to stop them is Dragon Sound, a rock band comprised of tae kwon do practicing hero orphans who must balance their busy college schedules (despite looking like they range in ages from late twenties to early forties) while fighting the evil that plagues their fair town. Despite truly terrible acting and a nonsensical plot, the two songs that Dragon Sounds plays are pretty solid, and are pretty good at explaining the plot of the movie, especially “Against the Ninja.”
Joe Piscopo. Treat Williams. Zombie Cops.
I’m not even going explain this one further, other than to urge you to watch it.
A sequel that has nothing to do with its original source material? A script written by someone without a firm grasp of the English language, and a director who insists that actors speak the lines in the script verbatim? An entire cast of amateur actors, who have never worked in film before (or since, probably)? Does any of this sound like a good idea to you?
No? Me neither. It sounds like a GREAT idea.
For a true connoisseur of bad movies, this may be the only one on the list that you may not have heard of. I only recently discovered the magic of Rockula, and it’s one of my favorite movies ever, now.
Rockula is about a virgin vampire who is doomed to repeat watching the love of his life get murdered in front of his eyes every 22 years, by a hambone, at the hands of Thomas ‘She Blinded Me With Science” Dolby. Have you ever wanted to watch Toni Basil, who plays Rockula’s mom, rap while a kilted wrestler in sequins looks on and claps? Guess what, this movie is for you! It’s a magical combination of “WTF” and “Did That Just Really Happen?” all wrapped up with an amazing supporting cast that includes Bo Diddly (I mean, why not?) and Susan Tyrell. I won’t give away anymore, because Rockula is the one movie I feel no one should walk into spoiled, and I say this as someone who truly loves spoilers.
That’s my unofficial top list of terrible movies. I’m sure I’m leaving something out, mainly because Lorenzo Lamas isn’t in any of them, and he’s the crowned king of terrible films. Please feel free to share your own picks in the comments, especially if you’re seen Rockula, because I have many theories on it and I’d like to discuss them with likeminded people.
Header Image Source: Cannon Films