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Thursday, March 17, 2005
DWNTACBW: Bad Movies I Love
Phantom of the Paradise: What does a horribly disfigured song-writer do when his music has been stolen and he's been framed for a crime he didn't commit? Apparently he puts on a fruity costume and hides out in a theater, continuing to write music for the guy who robbed him and occasionally killing untalented nostalgia acts. This Brian De Palma directed feature contains a lot of the filmic styles he would later go on to build something of a reputation on, and it stars Paul Williams, and features a full rock sound-track by Paul Williams of excellent songs. It's no damn good, and you'll probably be laughing as much at it as with it, but it is still a thing of utter beauty.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: I actually think this is a pretty good movie, all things considered. The music is fantastic, the actors are top notch, and it's got an absurd and surreal sense of humor running through it. Of course, to appreciate it on its own merits, you have to be clued in to that sense of humor, and the general American film-audience never seems to have been. So the real fun, now, is the midnight showings of the film with full casts. I used to be involved with my local cast. Those were good times in my mis-spent youth.
The Apple: And this is what happens when a film studio deliberately attempts to replicate the success of Rocky Horror's midnight shows. The plot is, well, we won't get into the plot over-much. There's much made of two virginal singer/songwriters who get seduced by the dark side of the music biz, in a film that heavily mixes right-wing Israeli political sentiment and Adam and Eve allegories into a confused and jumbled mess. The songs aren't even very good, just sort of passably there. But, there's still something about it that compels me to watch every time. I'm not the kind of person who slows down to look at car crashes, but the joy I get out of viewing the sheer terribleness of this film must be something akin to the sensation car crash fans feel. "It's a natural, natural, natural desire/To meet an actual, actual, actual vampire!"
Wet Hot American Summer: It might be cheating to put this film on the list. Here at least the intent was to deliberately create a bad movie. Specifically, a remake/tribute/homage to all those cheap 80s teen sex comedies (a lot of which seem to have been produced by the same people who made The Apple...weird). From most of the people who brought us the late, lamented The State (and damn the music rights issues that are keeping that show from coming out on DVD), this is almost an exact replica of those Porky's and Meatballs knock-offs that my parents for some reason thought it was okay for me to watch. There's a deft blend of replication and satire going on here, and I love the way they subvert the obligatory sex scene paradigm in this. Plus, you've got Chris Meloni proving he can do comedy, David Hyde Pierce uttering Mike's favorite expletive, and Janeane Garofalo before she got kind of shrill and annoying. Oh, and Paul Rudd is kind of pretty to look at, but that my just be me.
Super Troopers: A film that I do actually feel vaguely guilty for enjoying from time to time. But it's a damn funny film. Again, you sort of have to be on the same wave-length of humor to appreciate it. Like Wet Hot American Summer, it blends both homage and satire to a kind of comedy that's no longer around, but unlike that other film it brings something new to it as well. There's an actual narrative plot to this film that makes the humor work, within the film's own twisted logic. The follow-up feature, Club Dread, isn't as strong, but is still worth checking out, and I curse that rights issues are keeping Broken Lizard's first film, Puddle Cruiser out of circulation. The only thing that gives me hope that the upcoming Dukes of Hazzard film won't be a total, unmitigated disaster is that these guys are behind it, and director Jay Chandrasekhar knows how to bring "the funny."