Saturday, October 11, 2014

Movies I Shouldn't Watch (But Do Anyway)

I love October.  It's all about Halloween, except at WalMart, where it's all about Christmas.  But I digress.  Most of the cable channels start up with the horror movies, most notably SyFy, Chiller, AMC and TCM.  During October, especially when the Yankees are not playing post-season baseball, I watch a steady diet of horror movies and shows, like The Walking Dead and American Horror Story, to name just two. 
But some of those movies I like to watch suck.  I know they suck.  I've seen them several times and I'm convinced of their suckiness.  For every Thing From Another World there are endless showings of Friday the 13th Part 7 and Saw 3.  This blog isn't about those.  Those movies are so terrible I can't bring myself to even turn them on.  But there are some movies that suck and I force myself to watch them, anyway.  I've seen them a dozen times, I know they're awful, but if they're on, I watch them.  Quite a few movies fall into this category, unfortunately.  I'll talk about a few of them.
The first is Event Horizon (1997).  It has a cool premise.  A ship with an experimental engine reappears after seven years and a rescue ship is sent to find out what happened.  The cast is awesome:  Lawrence Fishburne, Sean Pertwee, Sam Neill, Joely Richardson and Jason Isaacs, to name a few.  With a cast like that, it should have been awesome.  It isn't. 

The effects are pretty good, the Event Horizon itself looks great, the dialogue isn't even that bad.  But this is a definite case of the sum being less than its parts.  I'm not even completely sure why it sucks, but it does.  The plot is okay but the execution is dreadful.  Some of the characters seem to have less than realistic reactions to what is happening around them.  And the movie commits one cardinal sin that is all too common in "cheap-scare" movies:
Joely Richardson's character, first officer Starck, has a nightmare at movie's end.  In the nightmare she sees Sam Neill's character with his face all fucked up, as it is the last time we see him.  But she was not present in that scene.  She has never seen him (or anyone else) with those ridiculous facial scars.  But we have and so the moment is meant to scare us.  But it doesn't make any sense from a storytelling standpoint.  That kinda thing drives me nuts. 
I really wish Event Horizon had been a good movie.  I wanted it to be good, I expected it to be good and it sucked, instead.  And when it's on TV you can bet I'll be watching it.
Let's talk about another piece of shit that I should know better than to watch.  Deep Rising (1998).  A band of mercenaries hires another band of mercenaries with a boat to take them out into the middle of the ocean. The goal of the first group is to raid a new cruise ship, and then to sink it (with the owner's approval) for the insurance money after the passengers and crew have taken to the lifeboats.  But before they arrive a sea monster attacks the cruise ship and kills almost everyone aboard.  I wish I was making that up.
This is another shitty movie with a decent cast: The king of the scenery chewers, Treat Williams, plays the main character, Finnegan.  Famke Janssen, Wes Studi, Jason Flemying, Djimon Hounsou, and Cliff Curtis (so awesome in Sunshine) fill out the cast.  I admit they do a decent job with the lousy dialogue they're forced to recite, and a few of them manage to look serious during the scenes that call for them to act so, but, wow, does this movie suck.  When we finally see the sea monster behind it all, it looks like this:
It's ridiculous, of course.  Something that size that allegedly lives at very deep depths but has very sharp teeth (indicating it is a carnivore) would need to eat an awful lot of fishies to attain that size.  And if it does live that deep how does it survive the pressure at surface level? And how can it exist in an oxygen atmosphere, as it does inside the bow of the cruise liner?  Granted, these are serious questions for a movie that can't be taken seriously, but still, give the audience a little credit.  Awful, just awful.
Let's turn our attention to another less-than-stellar effort, The Mummy Returns (2001).  It's not as bad as the others we've discussed so far.  Most of my problems with this movie are how it relates to the its predecessor, The Mummy (1999).  I liked the first one. I tried not to.  It wasn't at all like the original from 1932.  This one was more like What if Indiana Jones fought the mummy?  But I did like it, in spite of myself. I liked it a lot.  Don't judge me!  But the sequel?  Meh.
Most of the cast from the first came back for the sequel.  They need better agents.  My problems with TMR started right off the bat.  The first 10 minutes managed about 20 thefts from the first movie, and they all fell flat.  I'm thinking the producers looked at what the audience liked from the first and simply brought them over for the sequel.  But TMR is a different kind of movie from the original and it shouldn't have been treated the same way.  And would it have killed them to have any original ideas for this one?
Yes, Imhotep is back (again). Yes, Anck-su-Namun is back (again).  We see the dead city of Hammunaptra (again), despite its utter destruction at the end of the first movie that resulted in it being buried under a billion tons of sand.  Someone opens the stupid chest and brings the curse of the mummy upon themselves (again).  Imhotep takes control of water (instead of sand) to swat a flying machine from the sky.  And we have the soldier mummies (again) who are used mostly for comic relief this time around.  WTF.
The one new aspect the creators tossed at us was the revelation that Evie (Rachel Weis) is the reincarnation of Neferteri, an Egyptian princess.  What???  Okay, even if we pretend that makes sense, it brings up some problems for the previous movie.  Since she knew Imhotep back in the day, why didn't he recognize her during the events of the first movie?  Shouldn't he have said something like, "Hey, Neferteri, how ya been all these years?"  And since we also learn that she and Anck-su-Namun were enemies back then, their struggle during the first movie's climax should have had her much more aggressive.  Here, look, they fought each other 5,000 years ago:

With Japanese sais, no less!  They seem to have to correct amount of hostility toward each other this time around, at least, but I think this should have been addressed in the prior movie.  Except no one had thought of this stupid plot twist at the time. 
Then we have The Rock.  He's the Scorpion King.  Whatever.  He sucks in this.  Plus, when he makes a dramatic return during the climax he's in really shitty CG that I don't feel like screencapping so look it up yourself or take my word.  Two years after The Matrix and The Phantom Menace, I would have expected better CG from a Universal flick.
Then there's the 2004 remake of Romero's brilliant Dawn of the Dead.  The original rocks in every sense of the word.  The remake sucks balls.  The premise is basically the same:  Zombie outbreak, civilization crumbling, survivors find relative safety in a mall.  Except these survivors are assholes who are just about impossible to root for.  And director Zack Snyder committed the ultimate sin: He gave us fast zombies.  I fucking hate fast zombies.  (The sole exception to this is 28 Days Later, since those weren't true zombies, just infected people, which I can buy into.)  As far as I'm concerned, Romero's zombie rules cannot be broken except by the man himself.  Snyder isn't even close to Romero.   
The cast was okay but nothing special.  Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames and Ty Burrell are probably the most-known of the cast.  They at least try to convince us they're taking this whole end-of-the-world thing seriously, but either they weren't good enough actors or the director didn't do his job.  Either way, this movie sucks.
Slow the fuck down, assholes.
Let's do another one.  Night of the Creeps (1986).  Awful? Yes.  But I doubt anyone connected with this movie thought they were making Casablanca.  If a movie is intentionally cheesy and awful, is it fair to lump it into a list of others that tried to make something of quality?  I don't know.  Probably not.
Yes, this movie is terrible.  Bad acting, bad makeup, bad dialogue (dreadful dialogue, in fact) but it's so much fun I can't stay mad at this.  I laugh at all the wrong spots, and cringe in others.  This is one of those It's-so-bad-it's-brilliant movies, like Plan 9 From Outer Space.  In fact, I think Ed Wood would have made this if given the chance.  That's not usually a compliment but I think this time it is.  I'd watch NotC right now if it was on. 
 Yes, this really happens!

One last one before we call it a day.  Virus (1999), starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Sutherland and Cliff Curtis (maybe he needs a better agent, too).  This is definitely the shittiest of these movies.  Almost nothing works here.  The story is adapted from a comic book that I read and liked.  The movie sucks.  An alien made of energy finds its way down to a Russian research ship and turns the crew into half-human/half-machine drones.  It's even worse than it sounds. 
Our heroes are the crew of a tug boat who come upon the ship and try to take it for salvage, seeing a big payday for themselves.  Things quickly go south when the alien wakes up and starts turning the tug crew into cyborgs.  I hate when that happens.
Resistance might not be futile because this is a dumb movie.
The makeup effects aren't too bad.  They're not great but they're watchable.  The dialogue sucks, the sets suck, the acting sucks, just about everything sucks.  This is probably the movie I'm least-inclined to watch of those on this list.  There's at least a little fun to be had with the others but this is a joyless, colorless movie that lacks even a single redeeming quality.  Come to think of it, I should probably take it off the list.  It's so shitty I really have no desire to ever watch it again.
There are others, I'm sure.  Plenty of others.  These are the movies that I came up with after about 10 seconds of thought.  What about you?              



  1. Dawn of the Dead is awesome! It's the best movie Zack Snyder has managed to make in his carreer. I can see, as a lover of Romero's original, that you didn't like the running zombies, but aside that, the whole movie is highly enjoyous. Like the game "Left 4 Dead", it's nothing special, but everytime i play/watch it, I have hell of a lot fun.

    Virus... ha, that's the one which Jamie Lee Curtis even publicly mentioned as the worst movie of all time. Hm, probably guerilla marketing, huh!? ;)

    1. I'd say Zack Snyder did better work with 300 and even Watchmen, but that's just my opinion. I know his remake of DotD is well-liked by many. I'm just not one of them. I did like the idea of Andy at the gun shop across the street communicating through big whiteboards, and the rescue mission to find him and that chick who went after the dog. Those scenes were enjoyable. But really, the whole fast zombies thing ruined it for me right out of the gate. Again, just my opinion.