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Sunday, December 27, 2009


Let's talk, for a moment, about the auteur theory.

Of course, I don't mean Cahiers du Cinema-level shit, because we're all a bunch of savages and don't understand such lofty film concepts as that. I mean, jeez, we make fun of movies, which you aren't supposed to do. This show should be like, boycotted and stuff, and she would all stay watching our Seijun Suzuki DVDs and complaining about how the Castro theater's programming isn't as cool as it used to be.

Right, where was I?

Oh, yeah. The auteur theory, as best as I can remember it without actually bothering to look it up online, means that the film's director is the auteur, which is Spanish for the "writer." In other words, the director is solely responsible for the content of the film, the same way that a writer is solely responsible for the content of a book.

Of course, this theory kinda ignores how almost every single book ever written, at least in its published format, is a collaborative effort. If you have any books on your shelf, pick it up and read the acknowledgments—usually they'll thank their agent and their family and especially their editor. Unless your name is J.K. Rowling, no book springs fully formed from the brain of its writer. (And if you've read the last few Harry Potter books, you know sloppy they were and how desperately they needed an editor.)

And it's much more true with movies that they're a collaborative effort. Even the most prominent example of the auteur theory (and one of my personal favorite movies) Citizen Kane, though it's as close as Orson Welles ever got to putting his vision onscreen, screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and especially cinematorgrapher Gregg Toland are equally responsible for how great the movie is.

The trailer is pure Welles, though:

Anyway, the closest time a director gets to total control over a movie these days—usually in the form of the much desired "final cut"—is when they're coming off a string of hits, and/or they make the movie with their own money. Then it's still collaborative, but there's nobody above them telling what to do.

Examples of movies made with the director's own "fuck-you" money include Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and George Lucas's Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. Though both made a shitload of money, they're both also poorly conceived, unwatchable trainwrecks.

Anyway, in the late eighties, director Barry Levinson was coming off a string of hits like Tin Men (what?), Good Morning Vietnam and Rain Man, and to slightly lesser extent Bugsy and Avalon. When that happens, studios realize they have a golden goose on their hands. Rather than kill the goose—they know their Aesop, yes they do), they stuff a bunch of laxatives down the goose's throat, go to work with a specula and let it shit out gold to its heart content.

In Barry Levinson's case, the golden droppings he'd been holding in for years was a whimsical story about a toymaker who...well, you see, and Robin Williams will play the lead role, and...

Yeah. You see why it took so long for them to let him make the movie.

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and Mike Spiegelman
will yank this movie's string.

December 27, 2009 Toys
Robin Williams in (yet another) horribly misconceived movie which, if nothing else, features the most listenable Tori Amos song this side of "Spark." So it has that going for it.
Wind-up pandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, Mike Spiegelman and other playmates.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

(santa's slay)

Rather than a guy in a Santa suit killing people, this time it's Santa himself, played by a professional wrestler.

That's progress, I guess.

There are bare breasts and Hasidim, which pretty much covers the bases.

If this sounds like your kinda thing, you know where and and when to be. Most importantly, it allows me to link to my favorite band's second best xmas song, which perfectly captures the underlying dread of a large bearded man breaking into your home:

Oh, I almost forgot: the movie is produced by Brett Ratner, who directed the Rush Hour movies as well as the crappy third X-Men movie.

Yeah. This one is gonna hurt.

Though The Dark Room can no longer allow you to BYOB (so please don't try, mmmkay?), here's a little tip: knock back a couple beers before you come to the show.

Trust me, you'll enjoy this movie a whole lot more.

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mikl-Em and Tristan Buckner
will keep their milk and cookies to themselves.

December 20, 2009 Santa's Slay
A charming Yuletide slasher film by the producer of the Rush Hour films and the cinematographer of Chinatown. (Oh, "slay" sounds like "sleigh!" I get it now.)
Jingling wackiness ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Mikl-Em, Tristan Buckner and other slayers.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

(it's a wonderful life)

As usual, the San Francisco Weekly's repertory calendar said it best a few years ago:

Yeah. What's wrong with these people? Which is to say, us?

How can we make fun of a movie that's so beloved, that's so loved by so many people, that we evidently aren't supposed to...well, make fun of it?

Well, have you tried to actually watch the movie recently?

If not—or even if you have—come on down and watch it again, by the time it's over, you'll feel just like the kid at the bottom of the picture with his hands on his face.

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Dan Foley and Tristan Buckner
will not be getting their wings.

December 13, 2009 It's a Wonderful Life
Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart spare every sitcom for the next sixty years from having to come up with an original idea for a Christmas episode.
Suicidal pandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, Dan Foley, Tristan Buckner and other wingless angels.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

(the polar express)

First off: with all due respect to our friends at the SF Weekly, whom we love (and we certainly want them to keep covering us)—we must respectfully disagree. The Wizard of Oz is a lot of things, but "badass" ain't one of 'em.

Anyway! Moving forward.

Robert Zemeckis. Does anyone else wonder what the hell happened to him?

He was easily the most protigious of Steven Spielberg's proteges, clicking with him in a way that (for example) Poltergeist director Tobe Hooper did not. But Spielberg and Zemeckis had a thing, and it's a testament to the power of the thing that when Spielberg's first big flop (1941) was based on a Zemeckis script, they kept working together.

While Spielberg wisely never directed a Zemeckis script again—though, for my money, 1941 is underappreciated masterpiece which will hopefully someday receive the critical reapprisal it so richly deserves, probably when it inevitably hits Blu-Ray—he did produce Zemeckis's first few directorial efforts. There was I Wanna Hold Your Hand (featuring Eddie Deezen, as all movies should), Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future...

...which are all fine and good, and despite its low budget I Wanna Hold Your Hand is clearly the work of an auteur —seriously, track down a copy of the VHS tape, and notice how clearly the action scene involving the radio tower resembles the climax of Back to the Future among others—he also made one of the best smart-raunchy comedies of the early eighties: Used Cars. The awesomeness of this movie simply cannot be undestated. I Wanna Hold Your Hand isn't available on DVD and you're already sick of Stone and Future, but get Used Cars from Netflix right now, damnit.

The trailer doesn't really do it justice, as is the case with most movie trailers, but oh my lord is this a funny movie. Still the best thing Zemeckis ever did.

Which is not to say it was downhill after that, necessarily. He did some damn fine work afterward, including the aformentioned Back to the Future and its sequels, Who Framed Roget Rabbit?, and the movie which perhaps harkened back most strongly to his 1941/Used Cars roots, Death Becomes Her. Like Used Cars, the movie has heart, but it also has a mean streak a mile wide. And nothing's funnier than Zemeckis's mean streak.

Then there was something called Forrest Gump. I don't know what that is, either. Sounds kinda retarded. (ZING! Geddit? Because it's about a...oh, never mind.)

As a Carl Sagan fan, I liked Contact quite a lot. It fixed some narrative problems with the book while creating new ones, as is usually the problem with adaptations of novels. (The poster really cheesed me off, though, since it described the movie as being "from the Pulitzer-Prize Winning Author of Contact." No shit? The movie is based on the book by the...the author of the book? Ugh. My brain hurts whenever I try to wrap it around that logic.) The mean streak was pretty well gone, though.

And then...oy. I don't really wanna talk about it. He started experimenting with "motion capture," which basically means dressing up overpaid actors like The Green Man (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia fans represent!) and covering the footage with CGI. It's bascially a digital version of the same process which gave us the nightmarish Ralph Bakshi version of The Lord of the Rings. You remember that, right?

Yeah. Ick. But it's even worse in this case, because the advanced technology makes the characters look much more human, and indeed that's the intention, but they're not quite there. Something doesn't quite fit. Though his recent movies are based on beloved works, watching them leaves one stranded in the Uncanny Valley, a dark and disturbing place filled with quasi-humanoid creatures like something out of your deepest nightmare.

Huh. Y'know, now that I think about it, maybe Zemeckis's mean streak hasn't gone away after all.

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Phil Darnowsky (f'reals!) and Mike Spiegelman
will not drink this movie's hot chocolate.

December 6, 2009 The Polar Express
A terrifying CGI train ride deep into the Uncanny Valley, where lifeless collections of pixels take on a vaguely human form to haunt your deepest nightmares.
Dead-eyed wackiness ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Phil Darnowsky (really!), Mike Spiegelman and other valley-dwellers.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

(the wizard of oz)

It's a remake, y'know.

1939 is often considered the best year ever in movies—Hollywood's Golden Year, they call it. Why? Because of both this week's feature and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, which if you sat through it with us this past July, you know ain't so golden. Most people haven't seen it recently, though, so it coasts by on reputation.

But at least people have seen The Wizard of Oz in recent memory, or at least while they were growing up thanks to its annual network broadcast. (That's how I grew up seeing it, and yeah, the flying monkeys freaked me out. Shut up.) The rest of them, not so much: like Gone with the Wind and Stagecoach and Gunga Din, movies which film buffs cream over but the average moviegoer is only vaguely aware of these days. Indeed, like Mr. Smith, Gone with the Wind mostly coasts by on reputation these days, though that reputation has started to take on something of a Birth of a Nation-esque taint in recent years. (Happy now, Spike Lee?)

Anyway: for all the talk and hoohaa about it being the most bestest movie year ever, and how Hollywood doesn't make 'em like they did back then and how everything now is sequels and remakes...well, yeah. That's the thing—Frank Capra originally intended Mr. Smith to be a sequel to Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, but the logistics with Gary Cooper didn't work out so the chracter name was changed. Otherwise, though, he pretty much went to thes same well. God, why can't Hollywood ever do anything original, huh?

So. The 1939 Wizard of Oz was the third (3rd) time it was filmed, after the 1910 or 1935 movies. Fourth (4th), if you count the animated version from earlier that same decade:

What's more, the original novel—oh, right! It was based on a book, because those jackals in Hollywood, they have no original ideas—was turned into a super-successful stage play, leading novelist L. Frank Baum to write a sequel for the singular purpose of it being turned into another hit play. It didn't work, but damned if they didn't keep mining the original book.

In review: Hollywood is as unoriginal as it ever was, and The Wizard of Oz is possibly the most unoriginal thing they've ever done.

Oh, and 1985's Return to Oz is about a zillion times better. Fairuza Balk as Dorothy? Oh hell yeah.

But for now, we have to deal with Lucille Austero's mom.

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mikl-Em and Rhiannon Charisse
represent the snark guild.

November 29, 2009 The Wizard of Oz
The prequel to Wicked.
Hey, this isn't a bad movie! We shouldn't make fun of it!
Wackiness of a different (Techni)color ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Mikl-Em, Rhiannon Charisse and other dissidents.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

(star trek ii: the wrath of khan)

Remember what I said last week, about movies being a product of their time and whatnot? This week's feature is a perfect example of that. Keep an eye out or the awesome sweater-over-the-shoulders ensemble David Marcus rocks in the third act. It's the eighties in space! In the DVD commentary, director Nicholas Meyer attempts to defend the decision, but in his book The View from the Bridge a few years later, he admits that it was just a bad idea. We're proud of you for that, Nicky.

Anyway. Movies often change stature over the years. Films that were ignored or vilifed upon release go on to become classics (Citizen Kane, Duck Soup, the original Wicker Man), others which are huge ginormous cultural watersheds upon release fall out of favor as the culture around it evolves (Birth of a Nation being the most obvious example). And some start out popular, and then grow entirely too big for their britches as a result of a faulty algorithm.

Which brings us to the myth of the even-numbered Star Trek movies, which states that the ones which end in even numbers are good, and the odd-numbered ones are bad. The "odd-numbered movie curse," it's often called. It ain't true, and it's another example of humies looking for patterns in chaos, and as a result, at least one really good movie has gotten the bum's rush.

I first heard the theory after Star Trek Generations was released. I actually liked it quite a lot—John Alonzo's cinematography was wonderful, especially in the early scenes when the Enterprise-D was lit from the Amargosa star (seriously, mute the volume if you have to, but go back and watch those scenes again just for the lighting)—and it made a lot of money, but the general consensus was that it sucked.

Then First Contact came out, with lots of bang-bang action and shit blowing up, and everyone was all "Hey, this awesome! And if it had a number, it would be even, therefore the even-numbered Star Trek movies are great and the odd-numbered movie are awful! Because we're simple-minded fanboys who can only think in oversimplified dichotomies which don't allow for nuance or shades of gray!" It was as simple as that (minus that final sentence, which was the subtext).

Now, it's true that nobody but me and KrOB like Star Trek: The Motion Picture, as I explain in my Medialoper article on the subect, and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was a disaster thanks to a weak script and a slashed budget and a bad director. Though I will say that in Star Trek V's defense, it's the classic so-bad-it's-good movie. There's something wrong with every frame of the movie. It's like a car wreck with bad special effects and worse toupees, and it's endlessly fascinating as a result. (If you want to commit a Leaving Las Vegas-style suicide via alcholol poisoning, play the "Take a shot every time you see something wrong in Star Trek V" drinking game. Your liver will crawl out of your esophagus and try to knock the bottle out of our hand.)

So everybody liked First Contact and nobody liked Insurrection (the ninth film), so once again everyone was all "Odd-numbered movie curse!" Funny thing was, when the tenth film Nemesis flopped hard while sucking bigger and hairier donkey balls than anything else in the franchise, I never heard anyone say "Oh, I guess that breaks the curse, and maybe there never was a freakin' curse to begin with, therefore perhaps certain of the odd-numbered movies have their strong points and should be considered on their own terms." Nope, nobody said that. For that matter, when this year's new Star Trek came out—the eleventh film in the series, even called Star Trek XI in preproduction—and all the fans gushed over it, nobody said "Hey, that odd-numbered movie was great! I guess that breaks the curse, and maybe—"...well, you get the idea.

Here's the thing: for as much fun as this week's feature is (though I consider it a tad overrated, with flat direction, a dull color pallette which trades the gray of the previous film for beige, and horrible sound recording which renders much of the dialogue inaudible), and as popular as it's always been with the fans and the general public, what nobody remembers is that when Star Trek III: The Seach for Spock came out two years later, it was an ever bigger critical and financial hit. Indeed, it was consdered better than Star Trek II. I still think it is, but nooooo, conventional wisdom is that it sucks because the it's the third, rather than the second or fourth.

Bleh. Fans are such big dumb stupidheads sometimes.

The original "we're not really sure how to market this movie, so here's a bunch of special effects with unrelated dialogue" trailer is pretty great, though:

Anyway, yeah. I expect we'll get a lot of Shatner impressions this week, but that's another essay entirely.

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Sherilyn Connelly and Dan Foley
would like to point out that fans of Bad Movie Night are
exempted from the "big dumb stupidhead" comment above.

November 22, 2009 Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Spock dies. (Oh, um, spoiler!)
Hey, this isn't a bad movie! We shouldn't make fun of it!
Green-blooded, inhuman pandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, Sherilyn Connelly, Dan Foley and other KHAN-trarians.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

(pulp fiction)

Ugh. I guess this means I have to watch this fucking movie again, huh?

I first saw this week's feature in the theaters in '94, and I didn't like it much then. I really dug Reservoir Dogs but, wow, Pulp Fiction did not work for me at all.

I did like the one of the trailers that before it, though:

But the actual feature was too long (though I adore Tarkovsky's Stalker and Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odysey, so I don't mind long movies), too talky (again, I generally don't mind talky movies, i.e. David Mamet or the above-referenced Kevin Smith), too smug (okay, that I have a problem with).

Let's just pause and savor the irony of the Bad Movie Night curator tossing accusations of smugness around. Mmmm. Savory irony!

And, of course, Bruce Willis at his most grating and unlikable. Nor did it help that the film came out right as I was entering the Cinema program at San Francisco State University, and it was treated like the second coming of Citizen Freakin' Kane. Or something out of Welles, anyway: after watching Touch of Evil in one class or another, the T.A. suggested we find ways to compare it to Pulp Fiction. That's how much Tarantino's dick was getting sucked in those days.

Of course, being the clever self-aware ironic post-modern sorts that my classmates were (heaven deliver me from those people) (no, I genuinely don't consider myself to be one) (stop looking at me like that!) (it's like this: they found pretty much anything made before 1991 to be absolutely hilarious, especially if it was the least bit sincere, and in that respect my fellow film students were not unlike most movie audiences these days, but made worse because most of them considered themselves knowledgeable—they were studying film, after all, even if they were unwilling or unable to put it in context) (look, every work of art is a product of the time in which it was made, and since by definition it was a time with a different sensibility than the present, there's bound to be a certain disconnect which often translates into either derisive laughter, like when Hitchcock movies are shown at the Castro, or embarrassment and banning, like Birth of a Nation or Song of the South) (and I'm not denying that sometimes movies simply don't age well for assorted reasons; the original Ocean's 11 is quite dated, and, in spite of the canonization heaped upon it when the oh-so-sacriligeous remake and its sequels started rolling out, it wasn't very good to begin with) (and speaking of remakes, I— parenthetical stuff is getting out of hand, isn't it?) (in case you've forgotten, I was talking about my Tarantino-worshipping classmates), they revelled in the well-hyped fact that he didn't go to film school, because like thieves fearing theft, nobody has a looser grasp of irony than the self-consciously ironic.

Me? David Lynch, Oliver Stone, and Martin Scorsese all went to film school, so there I was. Dark Room denizen Bucky Sinister once told me that before Tarantino hit, everyone at SFSU wanted to be David Lynch when they grew up, and I missed that wave by about a couple semesters. Just my luck.

Anyway. Here we are. Let's watch this thing—which, let's face it, will not be remotely damaged by getting the Bad Movie Night treatment, any more that it'll somehow disrupt Tarantino's access to coke to snort or toes to shrimp—and get on with our lives.

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Tristan Buckner
are, of course, just jealous. Happy now?

November 15, 2009 Pulp Fiction
Uma Thurman wears a Louise Brooks wig, which is...pretty hot, actually.
Hey, this isn't a bad movie! We shouldn't make fun of it!
Adrenaline-shot wackiness ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Tristan Buckner and other infidels.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

(terminator 2: judgment day)

Oh, man. Where to start.

Doesn't California have elections for governor anymore? Schwarzenegger has been governor since, what, 2003? Six years? How the hell does that work? And I don't know about you, but I still see the words "Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger" and shudder. It's just wrong.

Anyway, this week's feature. A couple things have always bothered me about it.

Like, the title. As previously explained in the mythos (dig me, I'm using duosyllabic words!), Judgment Day is when the machines take over. Which doesn't happen in this movie. So why call it that? False advertising, says I! Though I never saw it, I'm pretty sure Judgment Day actually happens in the third movie, but they couldn't call it Terminator 3: Judgment Day F'reals This Time, so they went with Rise of Machines. I'm kinda surprised the next movie wasn't called The Robots Blow Shit Up. Sounds like a better movie than Terminator Salvation, that's for sure. (And we'll get to that one in January.)

The other thing is, where's the fun? Yeah, this movie is all innovative with morphing and big stunts and stuff, and it arguably needs a heavy tone because it's about the machines rising someday to judge us or something, but, jeez, yawn. I've always found it incredibly tedious. Maybe it's because it came hot on the heels of the bestest, most entertaining Schwarzengger movie ever:

Seriously, that movie is so much more fun—and a lot shorter, to boot. Gimme "My name is not QUAAAAAAAAAAAAAAID!" over "Hasta la vista, baby" any day of the week.

Unfortunately, it won't be this week.

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Tristan Buckner and Tim Kay
are made of mimetic poly-snark.

November 8, 2009 Terminator 2: Judgment Day
California's governor blows shit up.
Hey, this isn't a bad movie! We shouldn't make fun of it!
Mimetic poly-pandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, Tristan Buckner, Tim Kay and other pagans.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

(the dark knight)

Hold on tight, because we're like last week, we're about to drop another truth-bomb on y'all.


This week's feature is not the best movie ever made. It's just not. It ain't even close. It's no more the best movie ever made than Plan 9 From Outer Space is the worst movie ever made, which it isn't. Looked at objectively—which is what we do at Bad Movie Night! (not really)—The Dark Knight is overlong and boring.

On the other hand, it did give us Creed, Kevin and Dwight as The Joker:

"I'm gonna make a pencil dis—oh...disappear." Heh.

So, like Ann Magnuson in the opening credits of last week's movie, at least there's that.

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mikl-Em and Ziad Ezzat
will probably make way too many Brokeback Mountain jokes.

November 1, 2009 The Dark Knight
The guy from A Knight's Tale goes nutzoid at Krylon.
Hey, this isn't a bad movie! We shouldn't make fun of it!
Punch-mouthed wackiness ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Mikl-Em, Ziad Ezzat and other heretics.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

(the hunger)

It's time for some tough love, folks. It's time to bust a myth. It's time to dispel a commonly held notion, becuase, really it just ain't so.

And this isn't just me stating my opinion, which is neither right nor wrong and everybody's entitled to their own rainbows and lollipops 'n shit. Fuck that noise.

The big love scene in this movie? It's not sexy. It just ain't.

It should be. On paper, it makes perfect sense. The theory of Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon having sex should be, well, sexy. It should be damn near the sexiest thing ever. And yet.

It's tempting to be all "It would have been much sexier if a lesbian had directed it," but let's face it, that's not true either. Two words: Go Fish, the all-lesbian-all-the-time movie which had the temerity to cut off Guinevere Turner's hair. EPIC SEXY FAIL.

Though hair is the problem with the love scene in The Hunger, too. It's the problem with the whole damn movie, really, but it especially drags down the sex scene (along the horribly overwrought cinematography and music, of course). Ultimately, I blame the fact that it was made in 1983.

Anyway, starting at 2:15 n this clip from The Celluloid Closet, Susan Sarandon discusses the original concept and the filming of the scene. (Oh, and SPOILER ALERT: Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon have sex in this movie. No refunds!)

Didja notice that? Susan Sarandon, discussing the film twelve years later and not attempting to look particularly sexy, nevertheless is much hotter than in the clip from The Hunger because she doesn't have that awful hair. (Between you and me? Speaking as someone who's had a crush on Susan for about twenty years, her sexiest role is in White Palace. Seriously.)

Anyway, yeah. Bad, horrible, "Fuck you, eighties" hair. Though Ann Magnuson's pretty hot in the opening credits, so at least there's that.

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Dan Foley and Tristan Buckner
probably think the sex scene is hot. (But they're wrong.)

October 25, 2009 The Hunger
Vampires who do not sparkle, specifically some French hottie named Catherine Deneuve, seduce Susan Sarandon. (SPOILER) And they totally do it! Two chicks! It's awesome! Except for their hair. Their hair is pretty eighties-heinous.
Bauhausian pandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, Dan Foley, Tristan Buckner and other dead Lugosis.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Okay. Two things.



Second: fuck you, Stephen King!

"Stephen King is not better than Stephanie Meyer. He will never be better. He is equal to, just as good as, and exactly the same as in almost every single way but differently."

That settles that, pretty much.

Bring on the sparkliness!

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Rhiannon Charisse and Alexia Staniotes
each know that Robert Pattinson likes her the best.

October 18, 2009 Twilight
Vampires who sparkle descend upon a small town in Washington. OMG OMG OMG they are so DREAMY!!1!!11!1!11!!
Dimly lit wackiness ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Rhiannon Charisse, Alexia Staniotes and other heartthrobs.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

(queen of the damned)

Do you remember Aaliyah?

It's okay if you don't. (It's also okay if you don't know how to pronounce her name.) Most people don't, really. (Ditto.) She was an up-and-coming R&B singer who had a string of hit singles, three hit albums, and a burgeoning film career before she was killed in a highly sketchy plane crash.

Because she really never had time to piss any off or tarnish her image—imagine how we'd think of Whitney Houston now if, say, she's gotten hit by a bus right after The Bodyguard came outthe media treated it like one of the bestest, kindest people in the world had died. And who knows? Maybe she was. But her timing was beyond horrible.

First of all, her biggest starring role, what was supposed to be her breakthrough movie, was this week's feature.

Yeah. Not so good, babe. Your agent steered almost as wrong as your pilot did.

The other bit of bad timing is that she died on August 25, 2001, two and half weeks before that unpleasantness in New York wiped everything else off the cultural radar. The Aaliyah-love was just getting ramped up in the media at that point, and then...nothing.

Ouch. What a way to go.

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, A.J. Margolis and Wylie Herman
will crash right into this movie. (Too soon?)

October 11, 2009 Queen of the Damned
Vampires who do not sparkle form a rock band.
Leather-pantsed pandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, A.J. Margolis, Wylie Herman and other godforsaken rulers.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

(30 days of night)

Patton Oswalt has this great bit on his album My Weakness is Strong about how you only have to go back in time ten years now to wow people with how much things have changed—what with iPods, Barack Obama, et cetera.

If I were to go back to 1999, I'd blow minds by telling people that vampires are cool again.

It blows my mind even now. Here's the thing: I became involved in the goth scene in 1999, and holy fucking shit, did those kids dislike vampires. With a passion. Vampires didn't have much cachet in the overall culture anyway, but that was especially true amongst the goths, who hated being associated with them.

I was never really sure why, except that even before Columbine, the scene was going through a major identity crisis wherein the people who dressed all in black and went to goth clubs and went to goth music shows and participated on goth music lists hated being called "goth." Many would angrily describe themselves as "rivetheads," or even more clumsily, "Not-A-Goth." Seriously.

But they were mostly easygoing until you mentioned the word "vampire," and then the spooky shit hit the goddamned fan. Goth, they would insist, has nothing whatsoever to do with vampires. Shut up, no it does not! And if you happened to, say, have in your possession a videotape of them on an A&E documentary about vampires from the year before, one in which they appeared with big fake fangs—well, um, okay, they were younger then, and it didn't count.

So, anyway, yeah. This current vampire resurgence is still a little weird to me.

But I'm happy about it for one particular reason, as the trailer for this week's movie will demonstrate:

That's right: more bad movies for us.

Yay for vampires!

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Ziad Ezzat
will bring 113 minutes of snark.

October 4, 2009 30 Days of Night
Vampires who do not sparkle descend upon a small town in Alaska, but Sarah Palin is too busy shooting wildlife from a helicopter to notice.
Slushy lit wackiness ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Ziad Ezzat and other night owls.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

(dead poets society)

Finally, a story of magic and wonder!

This week's feature is set at a boarding school where the best and brightest young people go to fully realize their potential. There, they face challenges, battle evil, and learn what it means to be heroes.

There are dangers in their path, of course—dark forces who will stop at nothing to...

Wait, what?

Oh. Turns out this isn't about Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It's about some boring-ass prep school in the fifties, and Mrs. Doubtfire plays a disc jokey who inspires a bunch of privileged white kids whose daddies don't love them or something.

Yeah, whatever. If there's no magic involved, I just don't care.

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and Sherilyn Connelly
will kill any living poets they find, just in case.

September 27, 2009 Dead Poets Society
Mork (played by Mrs. Doubtfire) is a teacher who inspires a group of underachieving ethnic kids privileged, lilywhite boys to excel stand on their desks and recite poetry in caves and stuff.
Trustafarian pandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, Sherilyn Connelly and other undead bards.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

(dangerous minds)

The SF Weekly's take on this movie: "Michelle Pfeiffer shoots for Oscar by teaching school. Who hasn't tried this?"

It's totally an Oscar grab on Ms. Pfeiffer's part, but there's a lot more at work, such

Okay, pardon me for being untoward and all, but, damn, she's a fine-looking woman, isn't she? That's hardly an original observation, and most people would probably cite her in the slinky red dress from The Fabulous Baker Boys or latexed out as Catwoman in Batman Returns, and she was plenty sexy in those, but as far as I'm concerned less is more, and overt attempts at sexiness can lead to diminshing returns, whereas when she's just plainly dressed in earth tones without overt makeup, there's something that—

Right, I'm digressing. Anyway: Oscar attempt, no question, but she wasn't the only one. Indeed, when the film first came out the bigger story was the fact that it was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson, who were mostly known for testerone-fueled action movies like Top Gun, Days of Thunder and the first two Beverly Hill Cop movies. They also produced Flashdance, which had a female lead character but was far from a feminist manifesto, and The Ref, which is actually a brilliant, underrated comedy. (Seriously. Rent it now. Don't let the fact that it's set at xmas or stars Denis Leary scare you off.) They would also go on to produce Michael Bay's first two movies Bad Boys and The Rock, so an argument could be made that they caused irreparable harm to the cinema.

So, yeah. This was their first attempt a serious, meaningful movie in which shit wasn't blowing up. And since it was a movie about a dedicated teacher who tries to inspire a group of underacheiving students to...

But damn, a dedicated and beautiful teacher, am I right? And the great thing is, she was in her late thirties when she shot the film, and it's nothing short of a miracle that the Bruckheimer and Simpson went with an actress of Michelle's age, which practically qualifies as dead by Hollywood standards. And I like 'em when they're a little older and have lines around their eyes. It's just how I am, and...damnit, stay on topic, Connelly!

In any event, the awards bait bore no fruit. (Am I mixing my metaphors? I don't know. I didn't do well in school.) Nothing prestigious, anyway. Mostly it was for the hit single from the soundtrack:

Huh. Wow. Michelle Pfeiffer doesn't look very good in that video at all, does she?

Right. Forget all that stuff about being hot for her. I must have been thinking of someone else.

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Jim Fourniadis and Rhiannon Charisse
will try to inspire this movie not to suck so much.

September 20, 2009 Dangerous Minds
Catwoman (played by Michelle Pfeiffer, thank the gods, not Halle Berry) is a teacher who inspires one of Weird Al Yankvoic's best videos. Oh, and a group of disadvantaged ethnic kids to excel.
Risky wackiness ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Jerome Skaggs and other brainiacs.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

(lean on me)

Lean on Me? Really?

It's a seriously weaselly title, but not without precedent. There's a long, stupid tradition of naming movies after pop songs for marketing purposes, whether they have anything to do with the actual theme of the movie or not.

A few years earlier, a Stephen King story about a group of foul-mouthed pre-teens who fire guns, swear and get leeches on their 'nads while on an overnight trip to go see a dead body was called Stand By Me. The hell? And wouldn't you know it, the title song was re-released around the same time, was a big hit.

So, while this movie—starring Morgan Freeman as a controversial real-life principal Joe Clark who cleans up a ghetto high school through intimidation and threatened violence, literalized by carrying around a fucking baseball bat—was being developed, a remake of the song "Lean on Me" was a pretty big hit. This was the song:

You remember it, right? Smarmy, hollow, schmaltzy, feel-good in that faux-gospel way, even though it's drenched in mid-eighties synthesizer. White people love it, because it makes them feel like they have soul. (Spoiler: they don't.)

And this is a fairly typical scene from the film:

Just a little bit of a disconnect, huh? The song is even song in the movie during a school assembly, but, really, no. It just doesn't fit at all.

(Side note: that butterball smokes crack? Um, no.)

Meanwhile, the studio was desperate to hitch the movie's wagon to any star they could. It came out three months before Tim Burton's Batman, which was already a cultural phenomenon. So, featured heavily in the promotion of Lean on Me was this line from the movie, delivered by Morgan Freeman (the future Lucius Fox!) as he holds up a baseball bat: "They used to call me Crazy Joe. Well, now they can call me Batman!"

Subtle, guys. Subtle.

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and Tristan Buckner
will knock this terrible movie out of the park.

September 13, 2009 Lean on Me
Lucius Fox (played by God, also known as Morgan Freeman) is a principal who inspires a group of disadvantaged ethnic kids to excel.
Wobbly pandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, Tristan Buckner and other batters.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

(stand and deliver)

If there's anything Adam Ant has taught us, it's that reinvention is the key to longevity in the music business.

Sure, his career is nothing compared to Madonna (the queen of reinvention), but he's managed to keep himself going over the years, evolving from punk to new wave to adult contemporary. He even got the Reznor Bump in the mid-nineties when Nine Inch Nails covered his song "Physical," and he joined them onstage a few times.

Unsurprisingly, he's best remembered for his early-80s pirate persona, the time of his biggest hits, such as "Goody Two-Shoes" and this one:

I'm more partial to "Strip"—which should have been yet wasn't on the soundtrack to Sixteen Candles—but that's just me.

This week's feature, about a teacher who inspires a group of underachieving students to excel (better get used to that premise), is completely unrelated.

But you, you know, Adam Ant. Just sayin'.

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mikl-Em and Jim Fourniadis
will sit and devour this movie.

September 6, 2009 Stand and Deliver
Admiral Adama (played by Edward James Olmos) is a teacher who inspires a group of disadvantaged ethnic kids (including Ritchie Valens, played by Lou Diamond Phillips) to excel.
Wackiness stands, delivers and ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Mikl-Em,Jim Fourniadis and other cholos.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

(tango & cash)

It's called "range."

Every actor wants you to think they have it, even moreso genre actors.

If they do comedy, they want you to think they can also do drama. If they're primarily dramatic actors, they'll occasionally bust out a comedy. And if they're an action star, then inevitably they'll—well, watch the trailer for yourself:

There! It was quick! Didja see it? Watch the trailer again if necessary.

You may not have noticed, because it's hard to watch the whole trailer since you're laughing so hard from the funny, funny homosexual panic at the very beginning. Hee hee! Sylvester Stallone thought that Kurt Russell was going to give him a rimjob! KOMEDY!

But, anyway—the range. Have you figured out the range that Sylvester Stallone displays?

You guessed it: he's wearing glasses.

Do you think you could be a tough guy and wear glasses? Nope, you sure couldn't.

Because you don't have Stallone's range, bitches.

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Maura Sipila
will watch this movie through snark-colored glasses.

August 30, 2009 Tango & Cash
Sylvester Stallone is a cop who plays by own his rules.
Spectacled wackiness ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Maura Sipila and other waltzing creditors.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

(judge dredd)

You know who the law is, right?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but, um, it ain't you.

I know you thought you were the law, that it was the basis of your personality, how you picked up girls: "Hey, baby. You know who I am? The law. Yep, that's me. I am the law, pretty much."

But it's not you, it just isn't you.

Wanna know who the law is? See for yourself:

That's right: Rob Schneider is law. Or is it Diane Lane? The trailer's actually rather confusing on that point.

But the law ain't you. That's all we're sayin'.

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, A.J. Margolis and Dan Foley
are the law of snark.

August 23, 2009 Judge Dredd
Sylvester Stallone is leatherman (or something) who plays by own his rules.
Gold-shouldered pandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, A.J. Margolis, Dan Foley and other prosecutors.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


If Stallone's career was hitting the skids in 1993—and it really was—then it was borderline nonexistent by 2005.

His last two major starring roles, Avenging Angelo and D-Tox, went straight to DVD.

Never heard of 'em? Exactly.

He managed to find bits of work here and there, including a couple guest spots on the teevee show Las Vegas (ooh, maybe he met James Caan!) and as the bad guy in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (ooh, maybe he met Ricardo Montalban!). Yep, he was the villain in a Spy Kids sequel.

Defeat. Shameful, ignominious.

You know that feeling where you're so desperate to get laid, you considering calling that ex-lover you swore you'd never touch again? Or you're unemployed and broke and are beginning to think that maybe working for McDonald's wouldn't be such a bad thing after all?

That's pretty much where Stallone was when he decided to go back to his old well, the well he swore he'd never drink from again, and made yet another Rocky film. Lucky for him, roman numerals were out of vogue, so instead of calling it Rocky VI he simply called it Rocky Balboa.

(In fairness to Sly, he's not the only action star to return to the franchise they swore they were done with. Consider Terminator III: Rise of the Machines, or perhaps Live Free or Die Hard. But don't consider them for too long.)

Released in 2006, Rocky Balboa was a hit, to Sly's delight and our chagrin. It helped that it only cost $25M, which by today's standard is practically a home movie, and which would have barely covered Sly's salary if his career hadn't been in the toilet.

Anyway, the movie was profitable and Stallone is a businessman first and foremost, so he immediately set to work on a new movie featuring his only other fallback character.

But, was his clout back to where it used to be? Well, consider what we discussed last week—about the size of the actor's face and the size of their name in comparison to the credits—and you tell me:

Not quite, though somebody really likes his ass. The less said about that the better.

Whether because of his ass or in spite of it, this film was a hit, and he's making another.

Just keep poppin' 'em out, Sly, and we'll keep knockin' 'em down.

This time, your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mikl-Em and Wylie Herman
are doing it for the snark.

August 16, 2009 Rambo (2008)
Sylvester Stallone is a steroid-addled old fart who plays by own his rules.
Rambly wackiness ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Mikl-Em, Wylie Herman and other hormone junkies.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


By 1993, Stallone's career was hitting the skids.

1987's Over the Top didn't help, nor did following it up with flops like Rambo III, Rocky V, the underrated Oscar and the not-at-all underrated Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.

Even if you didn't follow the trades or pay attention to box office grosses, it was pretty obvious he was on a downward slide by looking at the movie posters.

Now, you can tell how a big star is by a number of factors: the size of their face on the poster, the size of their name, and where their name is in relation to the title of the film. It's all about getting your name above the title. So long as you get to be above the title, you're doing all right.

For example, the poster for Rambo III, which came out a year after Over the Top:

It's a bit on the artless side, and has that Photoshop-before-Photoshop kinda look to it, but hey, he's huge (not as huge as Mel Gibson, but who is?) and his name is way, way above the title. It's even the same size as the title, which is considered the brass ring of poster placement. The way an actor gets any of this is by being a big box-office draw. If your last few movies made a lot of money, it means your next movie will make a lot of money, and you get demand ego-stroking stuff like the above poster. It's all about clout, baby.

The movie flopped, though, as did Lock Up and Tango and Cash and Rocky V and the underrated Oscar and the not-at-all underrated Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.

With five flops behind him (eight, really—he hadn't had a blockbuster since 1985's Rocky IV), the poster for this week's feature reflected how little clout Stallone had left.

So Stallone was still hanging on (lookit me, I punned!), but things were not well otherwise.

Man, that had to hurt.

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and Ziad Ezzat
will HANG ON!

August 9, 2009 Cliffhanger
Sylvester Stallone is a mountain climber rescue worker (which is evidently a thing) who plays by own his rules.
Vertiginous pandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, Ziad Ezzat and other hangers-on.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

(over the top)

You kids today with your iPhones and your hula hoops and your poodle skirts and your CGI superhero movies may find this hard to believe, but once upon a time, people flocked to see movies where beefy men with guns killed a lot of people.

(Mostly beefy. There were a few exceptions—we're looking at you, Charles Bronson.)

But these movies were a big deal. It was all we had, okay?

Hey, the Eighties were a weird time. Us miserable souls who lived through it—or, worse, grew up in it—still haven't quite figured out what happened.

Like how Sylvester Stallone became one of the biggest action heroes of the eighties. Or why anyone thought a movie about an arm-wrestling truck driver was a good idea.

This was one of the movies which signaled the decline of his career. Really, there's no way a movie about an arm-wrestling truck driver could signal anything else.

Anyway, for a few decades the movies were relics, relegated to video store shelves and the occasional revival at community theaters doing weekly public mockeries of so-called "bad" movies. (Which we don't condone at all! You shouldn't make fun of movies!) But some of the stars are making a comeback.

Such as our ol' pal Sly. But we'll get to that in a couple weeks.

For now, just keep on truckin'.

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Ziad Ezzat and Tristan Buckner
will be sure to turn their caps backward.

August 2, 2009 Over the Top
Sylvester Stallone is an arm-wrestling trucker (arm-wrestling trucker? yes!) who plays by own his rules.
Veiny wackiness ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Ziad Ezzat, Tristan Buckner and other rasslers.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

(the patriot)

Still, some unfinished business.

"Oh yeah? Well, your mom's defensive!"

There. Moving on, for real—

This was not the first example of it—I'd have to go with Days of Thunder as the real pioneer—but this week's feature may well be the ultimate Giant Floating Head poster. Lose yourself in Mel's big beautiful Jew-hating eyes:

Glorious, isn't it? Tells you all you really need to know about the movie: that Mel Gibson has a huge fucking head.

A quick peek at the man responsible for these lovely pieces of work:

Oh, and the movie itself? In addition to being from the director of the Bad Movie Night Classics Independence Day, Godzilla (1998) and The Day After Tomorrow and starring Mel Gibson's big wobbly anti-Semitic cranium, it also features Heath Ledger, making it our first film featuring his dead ass. (Hi. He OD'd on pills a year and a half ago, and he won a posthumous Academy Award. That means we can make fun of him now. Thank you, drive through!) And it'll be our last...until we do The Dark Knight this November.

We're glad we don't have to quit him.

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and A.J. Margolis
won't shoot until they see the white of the bedsheet on Mel Gibson's head.

(We're comparing him to a Klansman because he hates Jews! Get it?)

July 27, 2009 The Patriot
Mel Gibson plays a parent who--oh, there's just no point. USA! USA! USA!
Redcoated pandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, A.J. Margolis and other seditionists.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

(top gun)

First, some unfinished business.

"Oh yeah? Well, your mom's defensive!"

There. Moving on—

This week's feature fundamentally changed the face of movie distribution, and how we think about movies.

Not just because it was a big hit and made Tom Cruise into a bankable movie star for the next twenty years. Heck, this was even pre-Scientology, if you can believe that. It has to do with home video, and the death of movies as events.

Though they weren't referring to this movie in particular, Robin Bougie and his wife Rebecca Dart summed up it nicely in the ninth issue of Cinema Sewer:

Do you know that feeling? Home video kinda destroyed the concept of movies as something special. Sure, they still get all the money and attention for the most part, and in spite of the incursions made by teevee and Betamax and downloading and everything else which was supposed to kill off the industry it's still going strong, but the magic is gone. It's been gone for a long time.

Used to be, you could only see a movie either when it was originally in the theater, when it was teevee, or when it was re-released to theaters. Major theatrical re-releases have been largely unheard of since the early eighties, and only Disney really carried the torch into the nineties, though they've shifted that particular business model to DVDs.

And network teevee premieres were once a big deal. I still have fond memories of Superman being shown on ABC in 1982. I was nine, and the Atari logo appearing over the explosion of Krypton at 2:54 was the coolest thing ever:

I'm thirty-six now, and it's still pretty cool.

Anyway, in its first decade or so, home video was a rental industry. The movie companies sold the tapes to the video stores (often for a hundred dollars or more), and the stores turned around and rented them to customers. The stores would often sell used tapes, but except for a few crappy things like children's movies or concert videos, new and unwatched videotapes were not sold to customers. If they really wanted to they could special-order a new copy through the video store, but few movies garnered that kind of devotion in their fans. Mind you, several months after the movie had been out and the stores were sufficiently gouged the companies would often release them "Priced-to-own!" but if you wanted it as soon as it came out, you'd pay a hefty fee.

With Top Gun, however, they tried something new. They released it at what they called "sell-through" pricing right off the bat. To push it, they even distributed buttons for video store employees to wear: "Top Gun for $24.95? Ask me how!" (Yeah, I know what you're thinking. "A VHS tape for $24.95? Fuck that!" Hey, this was the eighties. We didn't know any better, alright?) The risk was partially subsidized by the presence of Diet Pepsi commercial at the beginning of the tape, another (sad, sad) first:

This was at a time when, say, twenty minutes of commercials before a theatrical movie was unthinkable. See what I mean? Everything changed.

Now the notion of collecting movies is commonplace, of building one's own video library. I'm no less guilty of it than anyone else. Hell, I'm more guilty of it. I'm a rabid media collector, and between the ability to copy DVDs and download movies (I'm currently watching an .mkv rip of the Blu-Ray of the Watchmen Director's Cut which I got from BitTorrent), I have more movies and teevee shows than I could ever reasonably expect to watch. Heck, I hardly ever go to movies anymore, both because of the cost (yay funemployment!) and because I know they'll be available soon to watch at home in super-high quality. And there's thousands to choose from, at the tip of my fingers. They just aren't special anymore.

Thanks for nothin', Top Gun.

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Jerome Skaggs and Tristan Buckner
will ride this movie's tail.

July 19, 2009 Top Gun
Tom Cruise plays a pilot who--oh, who cares? USA! USA! USA!
Tower-buzzing wackiness ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Jerome Skaggs, Tristan Buckner and other mavericks.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

(mr. smith goes to washington)

Movies are not sacred.

They just aren't. Sure, they're an art form, no question there, and some of them are really great, but they're not sacred. And what's wrong with making fun of art? When did art get so sensitive that it needs to be defended from forty-odd people sitting in a small theater cracking wise?

Movies a product, pure and simple. No film which receives major distribution is made for any other reason than to make money.

Sure, the filmmaker may have lofty goals. One can probably argue that Spielberg had noble intentions when he made Schindler's List, but he made it back-to-back with Jurassic Park, and the only reason he got away with Schindler was due to his track record of making blockbuster movies. There's also the fact that Jurassic cost $63M to produce (that was a lot in 1993, honest) and Schindler cost $25M, which is practically free by Hollywood standards. Why did it cost so little?

Return on Investment. They didn't think it would make much money, so they didn't want to spend much money on it. As it happens, the hit the jackpot—Schindler grossed four times its budget back, whereas Jurassic only grossed five and a half times its budget back. Which is still a lot of money, and think about it: Schindler was only a little less profitable than Jurassic.

And don't think they didn't notice, either. Spielberg may have had used his clout (plus the promise to make the dinosaur movie) to make Schindler, but the moneymen still wouldn't have given up the money in question if they hadn't thought the movie would produce at least a few shekels.

Not even for this week's feature. It's a product. Gettit? A product. More than that, it's maudlin, overly sentimental and thoroughly propagandistic. That's a word, look it up.

So whatever you may think, it was always intended as a moneymaking venture, pure and simple. It even still makes money every time somebody gets it from Netflix. The copy we'll be watching came from the library, so nobody's making a dime off it. Take that, capitalism!

Besides, have you tried actually watching this fucking thing lately?

No? Then come on down this Sunday and join us.

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and Wylie Herman
will bust this movie's fili.

July 12, 2009 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Jimmy Stewart plays a congressman who--oh, it doesn't matter. USA! USA! USA!
Filibustering pandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, Wylie Herman and other just plain folks.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

(rocky iv)

Remember Roman numerals?

Some of you youngsters might not remember this, but once upon a time, sequels had Roman numerals attached to them. It wouldn't be Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, it would be fucking Transformers 2 and we'd be happy with it. Granted, some sequels tried to have it both ways, like the Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

These days, though, not only do they not bother with the Roman numerals, they put the subtitles in right from the start. If you'd never heard of the movies before, would you be able to guess what order the Pirates of the Caribbean series goes in? Or The Lord of the Rings, for that matter? Yeah, exactly.

The Star Wars series is a special case, starting out simply being called Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The whole "Episode" business wasn't added to the titles until later. Retcon!

Even the Rocky series nuked the fridge at end, when what should have been called Rocky VI was just called Rocky Balboa.

But back in the eighties, ol' Sly was keeping the faith with the simply named Rocky IV.

Released in 1985, it's quite possibly the most 1985-ish movie imaginable. Something else the youngsters might not remember is that twenty-four years ago, our big enemies did not have brown skin. It's hard to imagine now, this notion that the people who hate our freedom and want to destroy our way of life yadda yadda yadda had white skin and blue eyes.

I mean, they didn't even wear beards and turbans. How scary is that? They looked like us! Like cylons! It's a good thing they talked funny.

So, yeah. Ronald Reagan was president, the Russians were the bad guys, and this week's feature led the charge (we apologize for Burt Young's scary bug-eyes):

Yep, that's Fulbright Scholarship recipient Dolph Lundgren from the Bad Movie Night classics Johnny Mnemonic and Masters of the Universe, making him what The Agony Booth would call a "repeat offender."

We must break you, Dolph.

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Maura Sipila
will go for it.

July 5, 2009 Rocky IV
Sylvester Stallone plays a boxer who--oh, what's the point? USA! USA! USA!
Nationalistic wackiness ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Maura Sipila and other mooks.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


And then there's the strange case of Chuck Norris.

Like most of the big action heroes of the seventies and eighties, he hit on hard times in the nineties, as his type of kung-fooey felt out of favor at the box office. And, really, his movies had long since devolved from chop-socky to shoot-'em-up anyway, which is a shame for someone who once held his own against Bruce Lee.

(Let us pause to praise Jackie Chan. While his American movies have been crap—Rush Hour 4 will happen eventually, just you wait—at least he continues to kick people in the face rather than shooting them. If that's not integrity, it's a reasonable facsimile thereof.)

When movies like Hellbound and Top Dog failed at the box office, it was okay, because he already had Walker: Texas Ranger as a steady gig. It ran from 1993 to 2001 during the last golden age of teevee syndication, and Chucky Baby was pretty much set, while buidling a whole new audience in the meantime.

My girlfriend's mother, not normally a fan of action movies, was very fond of the show because when Chuck beat people up, there was no blood. Yay for violence without consequences!

In 2005, a website appeared on the intertubes with a bunch of fake, allegedly funny facts about Chuck. It became one of those things that everyone forwarded to everyone else (what the kids like to call a "meme"), though it's a safe bet that people under twenty were all "Chuck Who?"

Chuck Norris became sorta kinda relevant again, in that famous-for-being-famous way, what the late, lamented Fametracker would call being a full-time Personality. Which is ironic, considering that in most of his movies he exuded almost no personality whatsoever.

All of which lead to the peak of his lastest, final fifteen minutes of fame (and arguably the nadir of post-modern American politics):

Yeah, that worked real well.

Chuck's newfound public spotlight faded along with Huckabee's, which brings us back to the movies which made Chuck famous in the first place.

As for this week's movie, from the patron saint of Bad Movie Night, Cannon Films? A contemporary Indiana Jones ripoff, back when such things seemed more relevant. And it wasn't Cannon's first one, either. Instead, this came on the heels of the success of King Solomon's Mines with Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone. The mind reels.

Either way, it sucks even worse than a Huckabee Administration would have.

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Sherilyn Connelly and A.J. Margolis
would rather walk through fire than watch this movie.

June 28, 2009 Firewalker
Mike Huckabee's campaign gimmick searches for treasure with the Iron Eagle guy.
Bunion-burning pandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, Dan Foley, A.J. Margolis and other low-budget raiders.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

(lara craft tomb raider: the cradle of life)

Seriously though: Angelina Jolie's breasts.

Do you really think there's any other reason this movie was made?

boing boing boing.

Some people are also really into her lips. I don't get that, either.

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Wylie Herman
are well aware that "the cradle of life" refers to boobies.

June 21, 2009 Lara Craft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
Angelina Jolie's breasts. That's literally all you need to know about this movie.
36C wackiness ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Wylie Herman and other boobs.

Sunday, June 14, 2009, 6pm

rhiannon and sherilyn's
indiana jones trilogy
birthday sleepover!

We take a break from our regularly sheduled month of Indiana Jones ripoffs for the originals. Not much of a break, now that I think about it.

In honor of the birthdays of our favorite Geminis, Rhiannon (June 12) and Sherilyn (June 16), we're showing the first three Indiana Jones movies, the ones that weren't lousy. (Not as lousy as Crystal Skull, anyway.) In a row. Back to back.

It's more Harrison Ford than you can shake a stick at. And why would you want to shake a stick at someone his age, you insensitive bastard? He's, like, eighty! And he starred in Firewall, so he's already traumatized! Damn, you suck.

But that's okay, because you're still our BFF, and we totally want you to come to our birthday party, okay? It's going to be a total blast, we swear. Our parents are out of town and you can stay over and we have the keys to the liquor cabinet (aka "the liquor store across the street") and it's just going to be a whole lot of fun and you don't have to stay for the whole time if you want to and just please show up, okay?

We know it's a schoolnight for a lot of you, so we're starting early: 6pm. That's when we're going to watch the original Raiders of the Lost Ark, with Mikl-Em co-hosting. At 8pm we'll watch Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom with Mike Spiegelman, and at 10pm Tristan Buckner will help us close out the night with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

And you'll be able to say you were there when Bad Movie Night nuked the fridge!

Oh, and presents? Don't worry about it. Your presence is your present.

If you really wanna get us stuff, here's Rhiannon's suggestions from last year, and this is Sherilyn's Amazon wish list, though blank DVD-Rs always make her happy.

Though nothing would make her and Rhiannon happier than you joining them this Sunday, 'kay? 'kay.

Sunday, June 5, 2009

(national treasure: book of secrets)

So. Generations.

You younger kids might not remember this, but once upon a time, when you made copies of something, the quality got worse.

Every copy you made from the original was fine, but when you made a copy of a copy, then a copy of that copy and so on, it got progressively muddier or hissier or whatever. This was a big problem back in the analog days when we would trade bootleg music or VHS tapes. How many generations away from the original the copy was became a major issue.

These days, it's far less of an issue. Sure, there's the question of compression—even the highest quality mp3 isn't quite as good as the original recording, though you often have to be a serious audiophile to tell—but every copy made of that mp3 will be the same quality, and generations aren't an issue. (Indeed, the average mp3 that a friend sends you may well be thousands of generations away from the original, and it makes no difference.) And lossless formats like FLAC mean that there's no loss of quality at at all, and every copy made sounds as good as the original.

This applies to video as well, of course. The most obvious example is the classic short film Heavy Metal Parking Lot. This clip is from a VHS dub probably at least half a dozen generations away from the original:

It's not horribly unwatchable, and I've seen worse (like the millionth-gen VHS copy of The Star Wars Holiday Special which all of us collectors owned in the nineties), but compare it to the trailer for the official DVD release:

See? You can repost that clip, or download it and make copies and send them to other people and they'll make copies ad infinitum and it'll always look that crisp and sharp. I'm not suggesting you do that—though I am suggesting you go to the official site to buy a copy of DVD, and be sure to watch the extras because they track down the girl who made the "Mayberry USA" reference and oh my lord she grew into a stone cold fox, and hey, stop looking at her! I saw her first!—but you see my point.

Which was what, again? Oh, right: loss of quality through copying. Generations.

Creatively speaking, this week's feature is a bazillionth-generation copy of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

There. Aren't you glad I explained it first?

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and Maura Sipila
know that copyright infrigement is your best entertainment value.

June 5, 2009 National Treasure: Book of Secrets
Nicolas Cage must prove his great-great-grandfather didn't conspire to kill Lincoln. Because real people care about that sort of thing.
Conspiratorial pandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, Maura Sipila and the ghost of John Wilkes Booth.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

(die another day)

I'll admit, I was pretty excited when Pierce Brosnan became the new James Bond. My girlfriend at the time was a huge Pierce Brosnan fan—and, judging from the Remington Steele DVD I saw at her apartment the last time we hung out, she evidently still is—and a bit of it rubbed off on me.

He was pretty funny on Steele, we watched all of his movies together, and he was the best thing about The Lawnmower Man. Or, more accurately, his five-day beard was the best thing about that movie, the best onscreen scruff until Karl Urban as McCoy in the new Star Trek (with Ralph Fiennes in Strange Days coming in third).

See? Hot. Not quite Deborah Gibson in Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus-level hotness, but few things are.

Anyway, the formula mentioned last week had been dropped in favor of the unfortunate late-nineties tendency to just make shit bigger and bigger and bigger. And there's no denyng that this movie, Brosnan's fourth and final, is a big piece of shit.

Used to be that whatever else was wrong with the James Bond movies, at least the stunts were pretty awesome, and more importantly, you knew they were real. Obviously it wasn't Sean Connery doing the stunt, but someone was.

No longer. By this movie, it was pretty much all CGI. All the cool-looking stuff, anway, and that's the problem: CGI isn't cool-looking. It just isn't. When you know you're looking at pixels, it robs the image of all its power. A guy in a rubber Godzilla suit smashing a model city may look silly, but at least something is actually getting smashed. Pixels don't even offer you that much.

The one place where they should have used pixels was Madonna's cameo as Bond's fencing instructor (yeah, sure). Sadly, it's really her.

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Ziad Ezzat
will live to snark another day.

May 31, 2009 Die Another Day
James Bond saves the world and bangs chicks in North Korea.
Far too much CGI wackiness ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Ziad Ezzat and other virtual agents.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

(licence to kill)

The James Bond pictures are nothing if not formula—you've got your mad supervillain, your globetrotting, your two Bond girls of varying loyalties (one of whom usually doesn't make it to the final reel), your big battle at the supervillain's lair, your creepy dirty-old-man joke from Q as he watches Bond shag the girl who still has a pulse at the end, et cetera.

By the late seventies, a formula was in place for the alternating tones of the films as well. Moonraker was too big and silly, so they scaled things down in For Your Eyes Only. Then they went broad again in Octopussy, and after that again tried to scale down again with A View to a Kill. (Seriously, that was their attempt at not being silly. Boggles the mind, huh?)

By the time of this week's feature—the second and final with the underrated Timothy Dalton—they tried to go in a different direction altogether: scaling it down, yet cashing in on the already waning "revenge movie" genre. You remember those, right?

Yeah. Good choice, guys.

So, instead of battling a supervillain who's stealing rockets as part of a plan to destroy the world or whatever, James Bond goes on a killing spree in South America to avenge the murder of a friend. As we say, it's pretty much an eighties revenge movie. A classic drive-in movie.

So, the drive-in totals, according to Joe Bob Briggs: No breasts. (Never are in Bond movies.) Thirty-one dead bodies. Two exploding drug dealers. Two shark dinners. One guy forklifted to death. Three motor vehicle chases. Heart ripping. Groady froth-mouth cyanide pellet. Armored-van dunking. Gratuitous iguana. Kung Fu. Maggot Fu. Electric eel Fu. Harpoon Fu. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Timothy Dalton, especially for the scene where he's caught RIFLING THE MAGGOTS; Robert Davi, for actually uttering the line "Drug dealers of the world, unite!"; and, of course, Wayne Newton as Professor Joe Butcher, the evangelist who gets a gun pulled on him and says "Bless your heart."

Come on down and check it out.

May 24, 2009 Licence to Kill
James Bond saves the world and bangs chicks in South America.
Bolivian marching pandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, Maura Sipila and other caballeros.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

(a view to a kill)

And now all of a sudden—and yet not quickly enough—we're at the end of the Roger Moore's career as James Bond.

By this film, twelve years after Live and Let Die, Moore was getting a little...creaky. Long in the tooth. Overripe. Too goddmamned old. Fifty-eight. Fifty-eight!

I'm no ageist—I like my women with a few crow's feet around their eyes, and omigod, have you seen Deborah (nee Debbie) Gibson all grown up and MILFy in the Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus trailer? Smokin' hot. Check it out:

But, seriously, pushing sixty is just too damned old for James Bond. Which is why he was replaced by the bad guy from The Rocketeer in the next movie.

Still, he went out in style. Should have, anyway. I mean, this movie has everything going for it: Dark Room icon Christopher Walken as the bad guy. Scary disco diva Grace Jones as his henchman. Donna's mom from That Seventies Show as the primary girl that has old-person sex with Bond. And it's set in California, for Pete's sake! With a blimp! And it features a big action sequence on the Golden Gate Bridge, just like (wait for it) Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus! There's no way this movie could go wrong!

Oh—did we mention the theme song is by Duran Duran?

Yeah. Exactly. It's all downhill from there.

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Ziad Ezzat
will have a view to a snark. Or something.

May 17, 2009 A View to a Kill
James Bond saves the world and bangs chicks in San Francisco.
Foggy wackiness ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Ziad Ezzat and other hipsters.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

(live and let die)

We all remember our first Bond, don't we?

This is mine, pretty much. At least, it's the movie I most associated with James Bond growing up. What's more, Roger Moore (see what I did there?) was James Bond for me. Sean Connery never seemed quite right.

What can I say? I was born in 1973—the year this was released—so that's just how it timed out. I'm sure if I was born in 1983, Timothy Dalton would be James Bond, and that's more troubling than I care to contemplate.

Anyhow, this was Roger Moore's first Bond movie. It also taps into the current blaxploitation movie craze, meaning it's ultimately James Bond Versus The Blacks. Whooboy. You think maybe it's going to seem uncomfortable and dated now? Just a little?

Well, don't worry—it does have a kickin' theme song by Paul McCartney (Soul Brother Number One!) with a funky faux-reggae breakdown halfway through:

(Yes, the foxy black silhouette is dancing in front of a fiber optic tree. Hey, those were magical and futuristic in 1973.) And the film is still nowhere near as racist and imperialistic as Ian Fleming's original novel. So it has that going for it.

Oh, and these three words in the opening credits: "Introducing Jane Seymour."

Bring it on.

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and Wylie Herman
would be happy to introduce Jane Seymour,
if you know what I mean (and I think you do).

May 10, 2009 Live and Let Die
James Bond saves the world and bangs chicks in Harlem.
The white man's pandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, Wylie Herman and other swingin' cats.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

(diamonds are forever)

So, Mister Bond. We meet at last.

Actually, we've already done a Bond film—the execrable Star Wars ripoff Moonraker—but we've never done a whole month of them before.

A month with five Sundays, no less. Man oh man, this is gonna hurt before it's over. How many jet packs and witty bon mots and causal killings and floozies we take before we go mad?

See, even Sean Connery was over the series by the time this movie came around. He was still over it when he appeared on Jeopardy:

Actually, that's probably unrelated. Please ignore it.

There'd already been one James Bond film without Connery by this point (On Her Majesty's Secret Service starring George Lazenby), and when nobody liked that, they paid Connery a whole lot more to come back and do one more.

Which kinda explains why they obviously didn't have any money for a decent script, or why the usual exotic locations and ditched in favor of Las Vegas. Because nothing's more thrilling than a brightly lit city in the middle of the desert.

Oh, and there's a pair of male killers who are lovers. Or brothers. Possibly both. Proposition 8 was right!

Don't worry, though. Things pick back up next week, when James Bond goes to Harlem! Because that has to go well.

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Tristan Buckner and Dan Foley
know that snark lasts longer than diamonds.

May 3, 2009 Diamonds Are Forever
James Bond saves the world and bangs chicks in Las Vegas.
Wackiness ensues in Vegas, but doesn't stay in Vegas.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Tristan Buckner and other gamblers.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

(in the name of the king:
a dungeon siege tale)

Uwe Boll. Oh, Uwe Boll.

If you read the intertubes, you know he's supposed to be, like, the worst director of all time. He's not, because Hal P. Warren once existed. If you went back in time and killed Warren with a shovel, then maybe Boll might conceivably be the worst director. But you aren't going to, so he isn't.

But Boll ain't a good director, and the movies that he makes are very bad indeed. What makes him so much fun to hate is that he gives as good as he gets, like challenging his critics to boxing matches:

So that's kinda cool, we'll grant him that. It doesn't change the fact that his movies are shit, though.

But watching shitty movies is what we're all about.

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and A.J. Margolis
have lousy left jabs, but great snark.

April 26, 2009 In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
Based on a video game you've never heard of, but given the subtitle so you wouldn't think it was Pac-Man tale. Though that would be awesome.
Cranky pandemonium reigns.

Razzie Nominations:
Worst Picture
Worst Screenplay
Worst Director (Uwe Boll)
Worst Supporting Actor (Burt Reynolds)
Worst Supporting Actress (Leelee Sobieski)

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, A.J. Margolis and other serfs.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

(the happening)

I don't want to be successful.

I mean, seriously. Look at M. Night Shyamalan.

This is what happens when you're successful. After struggling for years, dude emerges from obscurity with a suprise hit movie, The Sixth Sense. Suddenly, he's the shit, and he can do whatever he wants.

Problem is, what he wants to do is more of the same. I don't blame him for that, really. I already know what my first three books are going to be, and they're arguably going to be kinda samey. If the third ever hits the stands, people are going to be all, "Yeah, okay, we get it."

Except that Shyamalan kinda believed his own hype, believed that he could do anything, and what's more, that people would love him for it.

Yeah, not so much. By the time The Village came out, people were getting kinda fed up with his whole "omigosh twist ending!" approach, and Lady in the Water fizzled entirely. Maybe if it had been made by someone else, or if it had been his first movie, that wouldn't have happend. Or maybe it hadn't sucked so hard.

Anyway, by the time this week's feature came out, his success was firmly biting him in the ass.

Kinda like what the movie itself does to people who watch it.

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Wylie Herman
still think trees cause pollution.

April 19, 2009 The Happening
M. Night Shyamalan has a perfectly good idea about suicide (do it! you directed lady in the water! you have nothing to live for!), then blows it by making a movie about suicide instead.
Marky wackiness ensues.

Razzie Nominations:
Worst Picture
Worst Screenplay
Worst Director (M. Night Shyamalan)
Worst Actor (Mark Wahlberg)

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Wylie Herman and other dead people.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

(the love guru)

We don't like doing comedies at Bad Movie Night.

On the surface, they're perfect for us, because bad comedies are the most worst kind of movie. At least with bad action movies you're likely to get some cars and shit blowing up, which is all you can really ask for.

Bad horror movies? Fake blood is cheap and plentiful. If you have a masked guy with a knife, you're set. Doesn't mean it's a good movie, but at least the movie will deliver what it promises.

Bad comedies? Whooboy.

See, the bare minimum you can expect from a comedy is to laugh. But making people laugh is tough. It ain't easy being funny, and more often than not you fail. (Ever seen Sherilyn introduce a movie? QED.)

So, the experience is painful enough just watching a bad comedy. Trying to also riff on it is even worse, since the movie makes the same obvious jokes as we do.

That's why we only do comedies a few times a year. Besides, Jim still hasn't forgiven Sherilyn for scheduling him to host Meet the Fockers last year. Some pain doesn't go away so quickly.

But we can't not do The Love Guru. We just can't. Besides, it won Worst Picture, Worst Actor and Worst Screenplay at last year's Razzies. So we don't have any choice, really.

Come suffer with us.

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mike Spiegelman and Dan Foley
will probably never forgive Sherilyn for making them watch this movie.

April 12, 2009 The Love Guru
Remember how you used to think Mike Myers was kinda funny in the early nineties? That's okay, we won't admit it either.
Hirsute pandemonium reigns.

Razzie Nominations:
Worst Picture
Worst Screenplay
Worst Director (Marco Schnabel)
Worst Actor (Mike Myers)
Worst Actress (Jessica Alba)
Worst Supporting Actor (Ben Kingsley)
Worst Supporting Actor (Verne Troyer)

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, Mike Spiegelman, Dan Foley and other yogis.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

(star wars: the clone wars)

Look, what can we say?

It's a Star Wars CGI cartoon done in a style intentionally reminiscent of the old herky-jerky Thunderbirds show.

There's also a wisecracking Jedi kid, a gay Hutt patterned after Truman Capote, and a level of humor which makes the fart jokes in The Phantom Menace seem like Voltaire.

It's Star Wars.


By the way, Razzie-wise, it was nominated for "Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel." Didn't win. PWNAGE!

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Tristan Buckner
lack midichlorians. Or maybe they have a lot.
Who knows? Who cares?

April 5, 2009 Star Wars: The Clone Wars
A CGI cartoon which dumbs down the already brainless Star Wars franchise, introducing a smart-alecky Jedi kid and a gay Hutt. Yeah.
Twelve parsecs of wackiness ensue.

Razzie Nomination:
Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Tristan Buckner and other sand people. (Is that racist?)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

(red dawn)

Here we go again. It's our anniversary, you guys.

On March 27, 2005, Jim Fourniadis and Ty McKenzie unleashed Bad Movie Night on an unsuspecting world.

Damn. Four years of bad Sunday night movies. That's, like, two hundred weeks of copyright violation love.

No one thought it would last. Some of you were hoping it wouldn't. You know who you are.

One regular at The Dark Room actively boycotts it, claiming Bad Movie Night "just makes us all that much more stupid." To that, we mom!

But the scorn fueled us, like the blood of Christian babies. That fuels Sherilyn, anyway.

In honor of the haters (hello, haters!), we're bringing back the flick that started things off in those sepia-toned days: the 1984 paramilitary fantasy Red Dawn, in which multicultural Commies take over the US. Or at least a budget-friendly midwestern town.

Come on down and take over The Dark Room as we celebrate four years of Bad Movie Night making the world stupid for everyone. Especially your mom.

Your hosts will be Sherilyn Connelly, Maura Sipila, Mikl-Em
and ZOMG Teh Wolverines!!!11!!1

Bad Movie Night's Fourth Anniversary!
March 29, 2009 Red Dawn
Patrick Swayze (not pictured here) plays a high-school football player leading a bunch of kids in a battle against multicultural commies.
Fun fact: being our anniversary show, this will be the fifth time we've done this movie.
Socialized wackiness ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Maura Sipila, Jim Fourniadis and other Wolverines!!!11!!1

Sunday, March 22, 2009

(from justin to kelly)

I've never watched American Idol. Honestly.

It's been on since, what? 2002, something like that? I canceled my cable around that time, and where I live the teevee reception is for shite, so I've never had the opportunity to watch it. And I wouldn't if I could. Because I don't care.

It's inescapable, though. I know who Simon Cowell is, I know that it's provided Paula Abdul with an unlikely late-career renaissance, I know that one guy turned out to be gay (which is like saying the sun turned out to rise in the east), I know that one girl who didn't actually win went on to being nominated for Oscar (or did she win? I haven't watched the Oscars since a couple years before I cancelled cable) and as more recently been involved in a tragedy regarding her family, and I know Kelly Clarkson was smoking hot in a photoshoot for Blender a few years back. I even put the cover on my cubicle wall without having heard a note of her music, because shame and I parted company a long time ago.

justin loves him a good shoulder, yes he does.
All this without ever watching the show, which is super-popular and woven into the fabric of our stupid, stupid society. It isn't merely part of American pop culture. It IS American pop culture.

In spite of that, nobody went to see this movie.

They tried to emphasize the connection—the working title is From Justin to Kelly: The Tale of Two American Idols, geddit?—but to no avail. People weren't really caring about musicals when it came out, and were caring even less about one involving these two people in particular.

It also didn't help that movie was a deliberate homage to the forgotten genre of the sixties beach party movie, which makes it about as fresh and timely as a fart trapped in Lincoln's coffin.

One awesome thing did come from the beach party movies, though, twenty years later:

Good ol' Back to the Beach. That was such a fun movie. Not a great movie by any means, but entertaining.

Too bad we're watching From Justin to Kelly.

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Damien Chacona and Andy Wenger
are going to vote this movie off the island.
(That's what they do on American Idol, right?)

March 22, 2009 From Justin to Kelly
That one kinda hot chick and that guy with the bad 'fro from American Idol in a musical based on the sixties beach pictures, but updated to include text-messaging. Because that's what the world needed.
SMS pandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, Damien Chacona, Andy Wenger and other graven images.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

(michael jackson's moonwalker)

We tend to forget these days what a big deal Michael Jackson was in the eighties. The mid-eighties, to be precise.

I was ten and a half when his megastardom hit. I didn't listen to Top 40 radio and my mom couldn't afford cable, so the I first heard about the "Thriller" video the next day when all the kids were talking about it on the schoolbus. I'd never heard of Michael Jackson, nor was I aware of MTV, so all I knew was that I was missing out on something big.

Some months later, my mom started dating a guy who was a bit more culturally aware than the both of us combined, and, more importantly, he had a beautiful daughter upon whom I'd developed a crush. I'd actually met her, or at least seen her from afar, the previous summer at camp. Neither of us was more than twelve it and seems awfully weird now, but it felt real enough at the time. (Which sums up the eighties, now that I think about it.)

To bring us up to cultural speed, my mom purchased the Thriller album, inadvertantly helping it to become the best-selling album of all time. The guy and his daughter didn't stick around very long, though at least my mom and I started paying more attention to current pop culture.

Which was a good thing, I guess, at least until "Baby Love" by Regina came out a few years later.

God, that song is SO BAD. It drove me to the relative comfort of classic rock stations, where I'd hide for the better part of the next decade.

Anyway, Michael Jackson never came close to reaching the success of Thriller, which is understandable because it would have been impossible. But nobody bothered to tell him that, and worse, as the money and fame and ego-stroking hooha piled up, he began to self-aggrandize himself in increasingly broad and downright ways.

Which leads us to this movie.

This was intended to be a theatrical release, and it did play in theaters all over the world, except here in Ronald Reagan's America. The problem was, Michael could never get a domestic distrubtion deal to his liking, so it skipped theaters and went straight to video.

Yeah. Exactly.

Remember that part in The Matrix where Morpheus tells Neo that he can't be told what The Matrix is, he has to see it for himself, which turns out to be bullshit because twenty minutes later he sums up The Matrix in one line of dialogue?

In this case, it's true: you can't be told what Moonwalker is. You have to experience it for yourself. Though we will tell you right now that it features nightmarish claymation, Michael indulging in some seriously weird transformation fantasies, and far beyond the legal limit of Joe Pesci.

In the context-free words of Gwen Stefani, this shit is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S, it is.

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Wylie Herman and Dan Foley
don't care if Annie is okay.

March 15, 2009 Michael Jackson's Moonwalker
Gwen Stefani was right—this shit is bananas. Sure, she was referring to something else entirely, but it doesn't change the fact that this movie is B-A-N-A-N-A-S.
Wackiness which is neither bad, dangerous nor invincible ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Wylie Herman, Dan Foley and other bad touchers.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

screenshot ganked from retrospace

(sgt. pepper's lonely hearts club band)

What the hell was the deal with the Seventies?

Seriously. The Fifties: postwar propserity leading to a xenophobia-induced, stifling conformity. Sucked at the time, but it makes enough sense.

The Sixties: a time of social upheaval, rebellion against the societal repressiveness of the Fifties, aided by the advent of readily available contraception and a public outcry against a war. Gotcha.

do you
feel like
he does?
Then, the Seventies. And this movie.

The Bee Gees and Peter Frampton as the band of the title, singing post-Revolver Beatles songs which have nothing to do with each other thematically or narratively, with George Burns (!) narrating the film as the Mayor of Heartland (!!), and even singing "Fixing a Hole" (the exclamation points have gone on strike).

Steve Martin singing "Maxwell's Silver Hammer." Alice Cooper doing "Because." The detective from all the Halloween movies singing "I Want You." All of this and more in 1978, the most Seventies-ish year of the Seventies.

What the hell? Seriously, what the hell was going on back then?

Besides the cocaine.

Actually, that explains everything. Forget we asked.

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Geekboy and Sherilyn Connelly
are not guaranteed a splendid time.

March 8, 2009 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
The Bee Gees and Peter Frampton in a very, very seventies movie sorta kinda not really based on Abbey Road. Or maybe it was Pet Sounds? One of those Rolling Stones albums.
Bell-bottomed pandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, Geekboy, Gerri Lawlor and other lovely meter maids.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

screenshot ganked from the agony booth


And here we are, finally. Hard to believe it took four years to reach this point.

This week's feature was nominated in seven categories at the first-ever Razzies, though it only won for Worst Director. Some say this movie is the reason why the Razzies were created, though considering this was also the year of Can't Stop the Music and the Neil Diamond remake of The Jazz Singer, it's clear the Razzies needed to exist either way.

Can't Stop the Music actually got more nominations and won more awards than Xanadu, which makes sense if you've seen both movies.

And if you've seen both movies, you have our sincerest condolences.

(I'd like to take this moment to publicly confess that I have a thing for Soul Kiss-era Olivia Newton-John. There, I said it.)

Anyway, for as legendarily bad as this movie is—and it ain't good, we'll tell you that much up front—it's a whole hell of a lot more fun than Can't Stop the Music, which is far more leaden and boring than a musical starring The Village People should be.

Something else Xanadu has over Can't Stop the Music? Broadway, baby!

That's right: it was turned into a Broadway musical. A big hit, too.

And when it inevitably comes to San Francisco, we're all goin'. It'll be a Bad Movie Night Field Trip!

But until then...

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mikl-Em and Mike Spiegelman
have lost their muse, but still have plenty of snark.

March 1, 2009 Xanadu
Olivia Newton-John plays an angel or something who helps a guy with feathered hair open a roller disco joint. It's even gayer than it sounds.
Neon wackiness ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Mikl-Em, Mike Spiegelman and other muses.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

screenshot ganked from videogum

(johnny mnemonic)

Look, we know it's impossible to predict the future. Even the greatest prognosticators (that there's a fancy-pants college word for "people who predict the future") get it wrong most of the time.

Seriously, though?

This movie's not even trying.

But never mind that: CAPTION CONTEST!

Let's see...

"But with the blast shield down, I can't even see! How am I supposed to hack?"

"I vant to suck your bandvidth!"

"Wow! In Virtual Reality, there are monitors over twelve inches wide!"

...that's all we've got for now. Bring your caption to the show this Sunday. Best one gets a free bag of popcorn. (Well, you know, a second free bag.)

Oh, and be sure to ask Sherilyn to show you her Lawnmower Man keychain.

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Geekboy and Wylie Herman
will try to remember this movie after it's done, but probably won't.

February 22, 2009 Johnny Mnemonic
In a wondrous far-off super-science future where the internet is composed of Amiga graphics, Keanu plays a guy who can hold 320GB in his head. He's like the most awesome iPod ever!
High bit-rate pandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, Geekboy, Wylie Herman and other terabytes.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

(the matrix)

Without a doubt, the most influential movie of the past decade.

It spawned countless imitators and parodies and homages and ripoffs, and raised the bar for modern action movies.

Well, it moved the bar a few inches to the left, anyway.

Here's the thing, though: the movie's kinda dumb.

It's entertaining, sure, the special effects are swell, the chick from Memento looks good in PVC (even if she can't act her way out of a paper bag), and it uses "Clubbed to Death (Kurayamino Mix)" by Rob Dougan which is an awesome song, but overall the movie is very dumb.

And we like the fact that it's dumb, because that makes it great for us.

Even better, it thinks it's smart, which is the best thing that a dumb movie can do, because then it makes its fans think they're smart when in fact it just makes them a little dumber. And here at Bad Movie Night, we are dedicated to our mission of making us all that much more stupid.

What matters most is that it has the best actor of our generation: Mister Joe Pantoliano. That's right, Joey Freakin' Pants is in The Matrix.

Hrm. Maybe the movie's not so dumb after all.

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Tristan Buckner and Jerome Bragg
will take both the red and the blue pill.

February 15, 2009 The Matrix
That chick from Memento wears PVC. We're not sure what else the film is about.
Polyvinyl chloride-clad wackiness ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Tristan Buckner, Jerome Skaggs and other agents.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

(the devil's advocate)

It's hard to believe, but once upon a time, Al Pacino was considered a subtle actor.

Paramount originally didn't want to cast him in The Godfather because they felt he was too quiet and timid, that he lacked dynamism.

Pacino went on to be one of the best American actors of the Seventies, often for the understated emotional depth he brought to his characters, conveying more with his eyes than most actors can with full page of dialogue.

He disappeared in the mid-Eighties, finally re-emerging at the end of the decade.

Let's just say something changed while he was gone.

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em and Geekboy
will not rule in this movie's favor.

February 8, 2009 The Devil's Advocate
Keanu Reeves (pictured here with Aileen Wuornos) joins a law firm run by Al Pacino, played by the Devil.
Scenery-chewing pandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, Mikl-Em, Geekboy and other infernal proponents.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

(point break)

This, for better or worse, is where the Keanu we all know, we all know came from.

Though he was already a star thanks primarily to his goofy turn in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, he was mostly known for doing heavier drama, stuff like River's Edge and Dangerous Liasons. To hear him tell it in interviews, he had no interest in big dumb action movies.

"whoa? whoa."
Then Point Break came along. He also did My Own Private Idaho and Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey that same year, but Point Break was the big smash. (By the way, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey is one of the most underrated comedies of the early nineties. Get it from Netflix right now, damnit.)

Speed came along a few years later, suggesting that Point Break wasn't entirely a fluke, and we don't need to tell you what era-defining movie he made in 1999. If you're not sure, check back in two weeks.

Even though it launched Keanu's action career, this movie is really made by everyone else involved: the direction by Kathryn Bigelow, Gary Busey as Keanu's meatball sandwich-loving partner ("Utah! Gimme two!"), a remarkably hirsute Lori Petty, and of course Patrick Swayze's shaggy surfer dude mullet.

Still, if this movie hadn't been made, we might have been spared Johnny Mnemonic and The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Dare to dream huh?

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and A.J. Margolis
will find this movie's breaking point.

February 1, 2009 Point Break
Cop infiltrates adrenaline junkies to catch thieves. It's kinda like The Fast and the Furious, except instead of Vin Diesel and that one guy, it's Patrick Swayze and that one guy.
Mulleted wackiness ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, A.J. Margolis and other beach bums.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

(the chronicles of narnia: prince caspian)

You're on the internets, so obviously you know the Germanish word schadenfreude. It means deriving pleasure from the misfortunes of others. And when those others are ginormous multinational corporations, it's even more awesome.

Like Disney. Wanting a piece of that sweet, sweet Harry Potter slash Lord of the Rings franchise action, they turned to the C.S. Lewis's Narnia series. And they liked what they saw.

It involves children, it's seven books long, and is set in fantasy worlds with magic and monsters and shit which could only be rendered in CGI, thus making it all a spectacle never possible to see anywhere before ever! (If you forget about the 1988 BBC miniseries, that is.)

Even better, C.S. Lewis was a noted Christian apologist and the Narnia books were rife with unsubtle Biblical parallels, meaning they wouldn't have to deal with conservative religious nutbags getting all worked about the aforementioned magic and monsters and shit. Indeed, they could market it directly to the conservative religious nutbags, who embraced it as being a sign that good Christian values had finally come to Hollywood.

Which worked for the first movie in the series, which was a huge hit both because the conservative religious nutbags went to see it and because the American public on the whole is kinda stupid. As I write this, Paul Blart: Mall Cop is the highest-grossing movie over the past weekend. QED.

The second one, about a pretty boy with long hair and thing for wearing metal, didn't do so well. It wasn't a flop, but it wasn't the ginormous hit that the first movie was, either, not even with the support of the conservative religious nutbags.

So Disney said fuck it and decided not to make any more of them, since good Christian values are only worth the trouble if they'll make their investment back.

Which makes me happy. And that's schadenfreude.

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mikl-Em and Geekboy
will dethrone this crappy movie.

January 25, 2009 The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
The second film in the Narnia series, and since it's a godless universe, it won't be the last.
Update: there is a god.
Pevensie pandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Mikl-Em, Geekboy and other orphans.

Sunday, January 19, 2009

(the incredible hulk)

The funny thing about superhero movies is about how much they suck, yet they keep getting made. (Come to think of it, that's the funny thing about non-superhero movies, too.)

What's more, if the first one doesn't really work, they can keep trying until they get it right, or at least until people stop buying tickets. Note to people: stop buying tickets, plzkthxbai.

Such as the Punisher movies. There was the crappy one with Dolph Lundgren (which almost doesn't count because it came out in 1989, and everybody knows the eighties sucked), then there was the crappy one five years ago with that guy you've never heard of and John Travolta as the villain, and then there was the crappy one last year with another guy you've never heard of and yet another guy you've never heard of as the villain.

Then there's the Hulk movies. There was Ang Lee's underrated 2003 version, which was reviled for trying to put a brain where a brain doesn't belong. Superhero movies are not smart. No, not The Dark Knight, either. (And while we're at it, it isn't the best movie ever made. It just...isn't.)

So, it didn't make much money and everyone hated it. While that would be the kiss of death for most movies—c.f. Speed Racer, another underrated bomb which will neither be sequelled nor remade for decades, because the rules are different for movies based on obscure Japanese cartoons—it's a superhero movie, so the studio gave it another shot.

This time they put a biggish name in the lead role, and promised that bigger fight scenes and more Hulk-smashiness than the first time around. Except the biggish name co-wrote the script and tried to make the movie more cerebral and character-oriented. The studio balked, and they ended up getting persnickety at each other.

As for the movie itself?

Well...let's just keep our fingers crossed that the fourth time's the charm with The Punisher.

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman and Geekboy
won't like this movie when they're snarky.

January 18, 2009 The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Edward Norton hits the steroids.
Smashy wackiness ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Geekboy and other puny weaklings.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

(indiana jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull)

Okay. Try to ignore everything that's wrong with his movie.

I know it's tough, because there's so damn much, starting from the very first shot—dissolving the Paramount logo into a CGI gopher hole? Seriously?—to the very end, what with that whole X-Files deal. And between all that, there's Shia LeBouf.

So, yeah. Ignoring that stuff is tricky.
if only firewall had been a hit...

But here's the thing I can't get past: the movie shouldn't have happened at all.

Not because Harrison Ford is the AARP poster child, or the fact that the Star Wars prequels proved that George Lucas should never be allowed near a movie ever again plzkthxbai.

It's because Indiana Jones would have to be the same age as he was in The Last Crusade. Remember that business where he drank from the Holy Grail, which gives "eternal youth" and shit?

Oops. That means no sequels, since Indiana clearly won't be aging anymore.

Maybe this movie takes place in, like, an alternate universe or something, one where he didn't drink from the Grail.

If only it was a universe without Shia LeBouf...

Your hosts Jim Fourniadis, Sherilyn Connelly and Mikl-Em
will blow the damn fedora off this movie's head.

January 11, 2009 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
George Lucas and Steven Spielberg dip back into the well, and the results feel more like The Phantom Menace than Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Shia LaPandemonium reigns.

Hosts: Jim Fourniadis, Sherilyn Connelly, Mikl-Em and other mutts.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

(snakes on a plane)

You heard about it. You laughed about it.

You probably even blogged about it, you motherfuckin' nerd.

But you didn't actually pay ten bucks to see it, did you?

spot the phallic symbol!
Didn't think so. You probably barely even remember that it existed.

But that's okay. We here at Bad Movie Night exist to make sure you get a chance to see internet-famous financial flops which you'll probably never get around to putting in your NetFlix queue.

It's our tradition here. It's how we started 2008, after all.

And that year turned out great, huh?

2009 will be better. We promise.*

*promise not valid

Your hosts Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Speigelman and Geekboy
have not yet had enough of the motherfucking snakes.

Annual Kickoff Movie!
January 4, 2009 Snakes on a Plane
The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by motherfucking snakes.
Slithery wackiness ensues.

Hosts: Sherilyn Connelly, Mike Spiegelman, Geekboy and other bad motherfuckers.