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Sean S. Cunningham
Jay Michael Ferguson
Amiable cop Eddie Burke and his clumsy partner Burt Honneger get the impossible job of coaching a little league baseball team called the Tigers that's made up of assorted losers and misfits. Can Eddie and Burt whip the Tigers into shape and get the motley crew of oddballs to start winning games so they can have a real shot at the local championship? Written by
Call it morbid fascination, like motorists slowing down to get an eyeful of a bad wreck on the side of the road, but I cannot to this day get over how fascinatingly awful Sean S. Cunningham's "Here Come the Tigers" is. For years I've wrestled over which is the worst film I've ever seen, "I Spit on Your Grave" or this, with "Ernest Goes to Camp" running a close 3rd. I finally came to the conclusion recently that despite it's amateurish look and sadistically glorified rape scenes, "I Spit..." was, at the VERY least, original (compared to "Tigers"). Don't get me wrong. That's the only defense the trashy, stomach-churning "I Spit..." will EVER get from me.
Come to think of it, "Tigers" is *such* a blatant Bad News Bears ripoff that it makes ANY film look original in comparison. I don't know how Sean S. Cunningman and AIP got away with it, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone got hold of a BNB script and went through it page by page and simply penciled in their characters' names over the Bears' names. The two films are SO alike (squatter's rights going to TBNB, of course) that for me to compose a laundry list of similarities would be futile. To see "Bears" but not "Tigers" is an impossibility, because if you have seen "Bears", you've also seen "Tigers". If this formula happens to be reversed for you, my condolences.
I remember when the film came out, back in March 1978. Oddly, its short-lived and subliminal theatrical run seemed limited exclusively to the drive-in circuit. Not knowing any better, I was curious to see it since, at the time, Bad News Bears flicks were all the rage amongst my 5th grade peers. My curiosity, however, quickly turned to disinterest when the majority of my classmates universally trashed the film. I knew it had to be bad, particularly since at that age kids tend to buy into and gobble up anything thrown our way.
It wasn't until 1985 that I finally saw the film on TV. Packing as many bleeps as a typical "Osbournes" episode of today, I sat with mouth agape, bewildered at how the word "plagarism" held such new meaning for me. I taped the broadcast and held onto it for many years, dusting it off every now and then and popping it in to satisfy any bad-movie urge I may have been craving at the time.
Then just the other day, I purchased a pre-recorded uncut copy off of Ebay. I tend to keep a soft spot in my heart open at all times for certain bad movies. "The Crater Lake Monster" and "Squirm" hold permanent residences, along with "Empire of the Ants" and the first "Police Academy". "Here Come the Tigers", however, is in a class all its own. Here is a film so sloppily made (continuity gaffes and sound-looping blunders at every turn), so lazily written, so contrived and intelligence-insulting, not to mention unoriginal... that I cannot get enough of it. Call it what you will, but perhaps my fascination lies in the fact that here is a movie so bad that it's actually, well, bad. Really bad.
Echoing back to my opening analogy, I am not a motorist who'll slow down in traffic to get a better look at some roadside carnage. I am, on the other hand, one who subjects himself to repeated viewings of stinkers like "Here Come the Tigers". And even though I have yet to see it, I eagerly await the arrival of my Ebay purchase of Cunningham's follow-up kiddie-sportster, the sure-to-be-a-dud "Manny's Orphans" (1978), with soccer the subject this time around, and featuring a good deal of the "Tigers" cast.
To quote a certain Linda Blair movie: "Mother? What's wrong with me?"
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