SEPTEMBER 19 ― Watching and enjoying “bad movies” has been a favourite pastime of mine since I was 16 or 17.
I can't really remember how or when it started, or even which movie started my soft spot for badly-made movies (whether intentional or not), but I'm pretty sure those Troma movies were part of it.
One of the movies I absolutely loved recommending to friends and strangers back then was Sgt Kabukiman NYPD.
Quite how I was first seduced into watching it, back in those days of no internet and surely zero coverage of movies like this in mainstream media, I'm not so sure myself, although I suspect the zany VHS cover art (and the even catchier title) had something to do with it.
This then led me down the Troma rabbit hole where I discovered trashy movies with colourful titles like Class Of Nuke 'Em High, The Toxic Avenger, Surf Nazis Must Die, Chopper Chicks In Zombietown and loads more.
The so-called “death of physical media” in the last few years has somehow resulted in smaller home video publishers, previously relegated to the margins by virtue of the niche markets they were serving, ironically gaining more and more strength.
Fans of those niche markets continue to show their unwavering support, even attracting new ones with their enthusiasm as long forgotten titles from the VHS era are being resurrected and produced in limited quantities (a necessity to lower licensing fees from the films' copyright owners).
With the internet making it easier and easier to watch films, especially the more mainstream ones, it's actually the forgotten and rubbish ones, the ones we never rented from the video store back then, that have become the objects of our desires.
This is to help quench the film geeks' never ending thirst for never before heard or seen movies.
And so I found myself delving more and more into these “terrible” movies whenever there's a shortage of something new and good to watch, and with the help of boutique labels like Vinegar Syndrome, Severin Films and MVD Rewind, there will never be a shortage of films like this to watch.
Here I've picked out a few highlights I saw in the last few weeks.
One of the hallmarks of “bad films”, even the “so bad it's good” ones, are the many interminable dead spots in between the fun stuff.
This is usually made up of meandering dialogue-heavy scenes that are just there to pad up the running time.
Right from the get go, L.A. Wars, a film about a disgraced cop going undercover to infiltrate the mob and prevent a gang war in Los Angeles, proves a glorious exception to this rule.
If someone or something is not being blown up, there’ll be an awkwardly edited shootout to maintain the excitement, if not then the film will find any excuse to stage some badly choreographed fights, and if they can't find that excuse, they'll throw in some nudity or sex scenes instead!
In short, this is, hands down, one of the most exciting “bad movies” I've ever seen.
The pacing doesn't let up, the violence and carnage impressive in its abundance (despite the clearly low budget), and even the acting is of the enthusiastic, community theatre kind instead of the usual deadpan and wooden delivery that we often find in movies like this.
You can clearly see that the actors here are truly feeling it, believing in every line they're uttering (no matter how corny) as if their lives depended on it, and it is this overall enthusiasm from everyone in front and behind the cameras that will prove too infectious to resist.
I dare you to not be entertained by this. This, folks, is the stuff bad B-movie dreams are made of.
Franky and His Pals
Most probably a regional home video oddity that only a lucky few managed to rent/see during its VHS era release, it is quite incredible how this little film that no one’s heard of before Severin Films announced its release via its sub-label Intervision, sold out its 1,000-copy limited numbered DVD edition in what looked like just over an hour back in July.
I’m guessing that Universal monster movie fans, especially those who loved The Monster Squad, just couldn’t resist another “unofficial” gathering of classic monsters like Frankenstein, the Wolfman, the Mummy, Dracula and the Hunchback of Notre Dame (in this movie renamed Franky, Wolfie, Drak, Humper, for copyright purposes I guess).
But seriously, aside from that marketing hook, everything about Franky and His Pals just screams amateur hour, from the boring, TV-like staging and framing to the flat and wooden acting from almost everyone involved.
And I haven’t even started in on that biographical “rap” song about 10 to 15 minutes into the film which sums up all the monsters’ characters in a hilarious spoken word “performance” that likes to think of itself as “rapping.”
To be truly honest, I almost turned the DVD off after 30 to 40 minutes, because this really is scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of incompetence, but I’m glad I didn’t because slowly but surely, that incompetent charm began to win me over.
The film can’t seem to decide whether it wants to be a goofy children’s film or a Halloween horror flick.
What this ended up being is more or less a PG-friendly Halloween flick for kids, with plenty of fart jokes, even some innocent dick jokes too, with a healthy number of the jokes missing the mark so badly that it became funny in itself.
Watch this with the right friends tuned into the right frequency, and you might just find in your hands a perfect party movie.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.