Terrible Movie Marathon #9

(Jeff Kanew, 1989)

From the director of Revenge of the Nerds, Gotcha!, and Tough Guys comes an equally 80's-bound comedy I'm going to call the finale of the Shelly Long cycle, following such films as Irreconcilable Differences (84), The Money Pit (86), Outrageous Fortune (87), and Hello Again (87). You could include Terrible Movie Marathon entry #2 The Boyfriend School, but that would break our vow to never speak of it again (despite not being able to get the insipid theme song "Don't Tell Her It's Me" out of our heads). At the end of the 80's there was a lot of trash that didn't know the 90's was coming, from Tango & Cash to Teen Witch to Troop Beverly Hills, a movie that can't decide if it's an adult divorce/rom-com about shopaholic Phyllis Nefler (Long) and her philandering muffler mogul husband Freddy Nefler (Craig T. Nelson), or a "bad news bears"-ish romp about a Girl Scout Troop coming together to win a cookie-selling challenge that ends with some kind of race through the wilderness (honestly, it was way easier to follow than Battlefield Earth, but I found it very difficult to attend to over an hour in). The highlight here is young Jenny Lewis as the Nefler's daughter Hannah, who lands the only laugh-worthy line in the film:

Troop Leader:   "I won't let you take the girls out there alone." 
Phyllis Nefler:   "Why not?" 
Hannah Nefler: "Because you get lost in your walk in closet."

The deadpan delivery by Lewis sums up everything terrible about this movie: the central character is very difficult to care about, much less root for, given her general ineptitude and class-ist superficiality. You begin to wonder why Hannah doesn't just break at some point and lead the troop herself, especially since Long makes them lug around collapsible Gucci camping gear. At one point Long goes full Jerry Lewis at the sight of a snake, and you kind of want Jenny Lewis to slap her. The "overcoming obstacles in the woods" finale is less than thrilling, and the subsequent romantic conclusion is troubling, at best. 

Jen's Award for Best Dialogue

(Troop Chant)

"Beverly Hills! What a thrill!"

We continue to sift through the litter box of crap cinema.


Terrible Movie Marathon #8

A Very Special "Earth Day" Edition of the Terrible Movie Marathon

(Roger Christian, 2000)

From a director whose art direction credits grace such disparate films as the 1968 Carol Reed musical Oliver!, Ridley Scott's Alien, and Monty Python's Life of Brian comes a movie that is far more terrible than all of those. Released in 2000, adapted from the novel by Scientology overlord L. Ron Hubbard, Battlefield Earth features Barry Pepper (earthling from the year 3000 Jonnie Goodboy Tyler), John Travolta (aspiring galaxy conqueror Terl of planet Psychlo), and Forest Whitaker (Terl's right-hand-Psychlo, Ker). I missed Battlefield Earth upon it's initial release, so as a home-bound Earth Day celebration, Jen and I decided to give it a spin (3.99 on Amazon Prime, that is). 20 years on, could it really be as bad as they say? Sure, it tied previous "Terrible" marathon entry Showgirls for all-time highest number of Razzie awards...but that could mean that, like Showgirls, it's a delightfully repeatable, if not reprehensible, misunderstood masterpiece of maverick cinema? Right? As it turns out, Battlefield Earth is fairly reprehensible, but mostly just to those who appreciate the simple pleasures of cinema: story, design, special effects, un-canted camera angles, knowing where the characters are and what's going on, etc. Over-stuffed with some of the worst pseudo-sci-fi babble in cinema history, all you man-animals out there will need a bright green glass of kerbango to get your breath-gas back and your skull bone on straight after this one. 

Of note: this is the second film in the "Terrible" marathon to feature a giant tongue sequence, featuring Travolta's bride, fellow Scientologist, and The Experts co-star Kelly Preston (she-Psychlo Chirk) doing a possible homage to Gene Simmons in Never Too Young to Die

Jen's Award for Best Dialogue

(Chirk to Terl)

"I am going to make you as happy as a baby Psychlo on a straight diet of kerbango."

Next up... Another fucking Shelly Long movie? What type of sadist is curating this shit-fest?!


Terrible Movie Marathon #6 + #7

A Terrible Movie Marathon Double Feature!

(Menahem Golan, 1987)


(Thomas J. Wright, 1989)

From Menahem Golan -- the director of The Apple and Enter the Ninja -- comes the film that began and ended the competitive arm-wrestling movie craze of the late 80's, Over the Top. Stallone penned this picture with screen and TV scribe Stirling Siliphant, most noted for In the Heat of the of the Night, but who also worked with a few other tough guys: Bronson, Eastwood, and Bruce Lee among them. Is it the best arm-wrestling/truck driving/father-son road movie I've ever seen? Sure. Honestly, the writing, while not inspired, is lifted some by the committed performance of Robert Loggia (as the relentless, growling father-in-law), and Stallone (errant father/pro-wrist grappler Lincoln Hawk) somewhat successfully goes for the understated approach that made Rocky Balboa such a memorable piece of character acting a decade earlier. Unfortunately, Linc's son, played by 80's TV vet David Mendenhall, is less convincing as the military brat resistant to the unhealthy eating habits and filthy truck driving ways of his long absent father. Then the arm-wrestling starts, and the boy's heart begins to melt. And while the battle for custody over the weepy brat continues, Linc has the amazing good fortune to compete in the ultimate Vegas arm-wrestling championship where first prize is...a new semi truck! Stallone and Siliphant were, at least, smart enough to script his primary competitor -- Smasher -- as a fellow truck driver, but just assumed the audience would have no problem believing any winner of the World Championship of Arm Wrestling would be happy with a new Mac truck. Over the Top features numerous needle drops so drenched in 80's schmaltz that by the time you hear Kenny Loggin's "Meet Me Halfway" for the eighth time you'll be turning your hat backward and and grunting through the tears.

Jens Award for Best Dialogue

(Linc, while executing his signature "over the top" move)


Next up: from Thomas J. Wright, the director of such TV movies as Snow Kill, The Fatal Image, Hell Hath No Fury, Deadly Game, and Chrome Soldiers comes a World Wrestling Federation Motion Picture featuring Hulk Hogan as "The Ripper" -- No Holds Barred. In 1989 the world called out for a Hulk Hogan movie, evidently, and No Holds Barred was the answer to that plea. Unbelievably, the movie looks to be made by people who have neither the resources to make a wrestling picture or the know-how. Once you get over the jarring performances, the unrealistic and cheap set design, and the action/romance scenes pitched somewhere between "I Love Lucy" and Death Wish IV--once you get past the scene with the snorting waitress, the dwarf in the cage, the most revolting urinal scene ever committed to film, the untenable haircut/costuming on Hogan, and the rewind-worthy "dookie" scene (you'll know it when you see it)--only then will the question begin to sink in: is this the best the WWF could do? In 1989 did they have no resources to make a wrestling picture? The final "Battle of the Tough Guys" sequence (yes, that's really what it's called) takes place on what appears to be a reconfigured "Let's Make a Deal" set with about forty people in attendance. Where Over the Top believably posits a world where a Vegas arena is brimming with arm-wrestling fans, No Holds Barred--a movie made by the WWF!--couldn't get enough wrestling fans together to shoot a Hulk Hogan movie? Make no mistake: Over the Top is a terrible movie, but pairing it with No Holds Barred makes it seem like beautifully wrought melodrama.

Jen's Award for Best Dialogue

(Ripper to Chauffeur)

Ripper: What's that smell??

Chauffeur: D...d...d...dookie!

Ripper: Dookie?!?!

Up Next: An Earth Day Celebration


Terrible Movie Marathon #5

(Paul Verhoeven, 1995)

The progression of the Paul Verhoeven filmography goes as follows: Robocop (87), Total Recall (90), Basic Instinct (92), and Showgirls (95). This incredible run would be followed by one of my personal favorites, Starship Troopers, and one I've never seen (and may need to add to the marathon), Hollow Man. As many highlights as there are along that small stretch of his cinematic journey, nothing hit theaters with the impact (or thud) of Showgirls. Written by Joe Eszterhas (Flashdance, Sliver, Jade), Showgirls continues to be a phenomenon of cult cinema like no other. Elizabeth Berkley as the erratic and intolerable Nomi Malone gives a performance that can only be the product of some strange alchemy. Verhoeven has taken credit for the pitch of Berkley's acting, but his directing combined with years of Saved By the Bell-seasoned acting chops results in a performance so volatile it nearly tears through the screen with a switch blade. Cheers to Nomi, and all my friends who used to play our patented Showgirls drinking game where any comment you had to make (or monkey or airborne-on-a-pole dancer) was rewarded with a "drink!" An enduring, depraved, hysterical, awful classic featuring the most laughable pool sex ever committed to film. If you haven't seen it...what are you doing with your life?

Jen's Award for Best Dialogue

(Al Torres to Nomi)

"Must be weird not having anybody come on you."

Next up: Headed back to Vegas for Wrestling two ways!


Terrible Movie Marathon #4

(Fredric Hobbs, 1973)

From the director of Alabama's Ghost comes Godmonster of Indian Flats: equal parts western, atomic age monster movie, race-conscious allegory, psychotronic freak-out, and rambling history of Virginia City, Nevada (where the film takes place - home of auteur Hobbs). Yet, a litany of categorizations somehow fails to capture this roaming beast of a movie. Clearly made by someone with conviction, artistic vision, and access to a community theatre costume room, Hobbs had already been a person of note on the "avant-garde scene." Alabama's Ghost eventually made it into a series of Elvira-hosted horror VHS tapes. The American Genre Film Archive along with Something Weird Video has now rescued this gem, and it's among the most unique in the SWV catalogue, in my experience. The story arc is convoluted and the pace excruciating. Godmonster has a frustrating amount of plot for a so-called monster movie. The titular "Godmonster" - a lumbering, deformed sheep - only shows up fully formed over an hour in. Hobb's final film, it effectively straddles the fence of artistically engaging curiosity and uniquely dull genre mash-up. The finale is worth it: like Al Adamson directing the final sequence of Zabriskie Point

Jen's Award for Best Dialogue

(Post-dubbed Boy about to be attacked by the Godmonster)

"Mmmm, these are good hot dogs!"

Tomorrow: Can you ever really "know" Nomi?


Terrible Movie Marathon #3

(Amir Shervan, 1991)

One way to explain the astoundingly inept Samurai Cop is to chalk it up to first-time film making. But, according to IMBD, this is Shervan's final film. After twenty-eight films. Wow. Featuring Matt Hannon as the titular Eastern-trained officer out to stop cocaine, and Robert Z'Dar (Maniac Cop 1, 2, & 3; Beast Master: Through the Portal of Time) as his nemesis. The final battle between these two actors with enormous craniums is unlike anything in cinema. The same can be said for Matt Hannon's wig. Supposedly, months after the film wrapped, the director called Hannon in to re-shoot "a few scenes," but the film was mostly incomplete and shot out of sequence. The result is this: Samurai Cop makes for the best drinking game movie since Showgirls, based on the alternating wig shots alone. In one fight the wig nearly comes completely off, but I guess the result of the re-shoots were already ridiculous enough the editors stopped caring. Every scene is framed like garbage and edited horribly, frequently with actors not on set at the same time.  The "soft core" portions of Samurai Cop seem to feature actors together on set, but even that is difficult to discern as they sleepily writhe in a sub-Wiseau flesh ballet. It all makes you wonder how this group of people got together and DIDN'T try to make porn...but, instead, made Samurai Cop?

Jen's Award for Best Dialogue:

(Grizzled Police Captain, after Samurai Cop leaves his office)

"I feel like someone's stuck a big club up my ass. And it hurts. And I gotta figure out a way to get it outta there."

Tomorrow things get much weirder...


Terrible Movie Marathon #2

aka Don't Tell Her It's Me

(1990, Malcolm Mowbray)

From the director of the Teri Garr vehicle Out Cold comes the greatest romantic comedy of 1984 to be released in 1990: The Boyfriend School. It's a Rom-Com where a schlubby cartoonist named Gus (the Goot!) transforms himself into a macho New Zealander biker with the help of his romance novel author sister, Lizzie Potts - aka Vivica Lamoreaux (Shelley Long) in order to romance news reporter Emily Pear (Jamie Gertz) who is still hung up on her boss, Trout (Kyle MacLaughlin). The lack of momentum is astounding, as the story begins with Gus post-chemotherapy, working on his "cartoons" for an obscure magazine...which, I guess, explains why he lives in a ramshackle pier-end house? It's not until MINUTE 38 that we get to his transformation into "Lobo" and his subsequent romantic entanglement with Emily "Paaaaiiir" (which is said way too often - we get it - her name is Emily Pear!). As lazy as they come in terms of piecing together Rom-Com cliches, the movie culminates in a "don't go!" airport scene that is tired even by it's own standards...but, somebody gave up on making this movie coherent long before we get to that scene. Shelley Long verges on being genuinely funny, but doesn't quite get there. Gertz hasn't been this good since Solarbabies, and Guttenberg's acting chops have only slightly improved since his nuanced turn in Can't Stop the Music. Also, it appears that Gertz and the Goot have the same stunt double in long shots of the motorcycle, and that person looks nothing like either of them. Maclachlan and Madchen Amick are the winners here, since this is the same year Twin Peaks premieres, making everyone forget about Don't Tell Her It's Me.

Jen's Award for Best Dialogue

(Gus to Lizzie)

"I'm your brother, not your retarded son!"

Yep, it stinks.


Terrible Movie Marathon #1

From the creators of the "12 Terrible Movies of X-Mas" comes ...

Terrible Movie Marathon: 
Quarantine 19 Edition

19 Terrible Movies. Two isolated viewers. 3 indifferent cats. 
Play along at home!

#1 - Never Too Young To Die 
(1986, Gil Bettman)

From the director of one episode of The Fall Guy, two episodes of Night Rider and two episodes of BJ and the Bear comes this batshit beautiful ode to James Bond, Mad Max, hermaphrodites, biker bars, desert warfare, and gymnastics - featuring John Stamos and Vanity as lovers who would nearly be the same person by just changing their hair a bit. Also, George Lazenby (the only one-off Bond) as Stamos's father, a super-spy named Stargrove. But, the real reason to watch NTYTD is Velvet Von Ragner, the He-She super-villain who just wants to poison the water supply, played by Gene Simmons (and, yes, there are multiple gross shots in the film centered around his giraffe tongue). The best dialogue is delivered by Velvet to his inexplicably Road Warrior-ish gang of assassins, who he addresses as "my little turdlings."

Jen's Award for Best Dialogue

(Velvet to his minions):

"Betterzy, betterzy, you slugs!"
"Orgasm, you turdy revelers!"

What terrible turdling of a movie will tomorrow bring? Stay tuned!