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Some of these movies could also be placed in the closely-related category, ‘So-Bad-It’s-Good’ (e.g., Pieces and Blood Feast). I prefer the term ‘So-Bad-It’s-Entertaining’ since, really, how can a movie be good if it’s bad? I find the ‘So-Bad…’ type of movie to be exceedingly rare. Most really terrible films are also very, very boring.
They're roughly ranked by preference starting with my favorite, Mommie Dearest. I'll add to this as I see (or think of) more. Guilty pleasures don't come around very often but when they do they should be savored.
Others (blacklisted films): Score (1974, Radley Metzger) The Raspberry Reich (2004, Bruce La Bruce) Femmes de Sade (1976, Alex de Renzy)
Swept Away (2002)
Oops, she did it again
*May contain spoilers*
I bent over backwards to be fair to this film. I knew it starred Madonna. I knew it lasted a whole week in theaters. I knew it got a lot of bad reviews. I wasn't expecting a deep and thoughtful examination of class, culture and sexuality like we got in the Italian original. The benefit of the doubt lasted a whole ten minutes.
Madonna plays a rich, pretentious, nit-witted Gorgon who goes on vacation with her henpecked husband and flippant friends (the brunette woman is as bad as Madonna, exhibiting some really dumb facial expressions). Adriano Giannini plays the ship's first-mate who the Madonna character delights in humiliating and treating like dirt in every scene they have together. Why is she such a bitch to him? Simply because the plot requires it so that later when the two of them get marooned on a deserted Mediterranean island the tables will be turned and he will teach her a lesson. Just as inexplicable is how they fall in love despite having nothing in common and having abused each other for two-thirds of the movie.
"Swept Away" is a silly, simplistic, superficial movie from beginning to end. Madonna gives a typically wooden performance. There are many dumb scenes: Madonna singing and dancing atrociously at the demand of Giannini, a fantasy scene with Madonna and a lot of scenes where he slaps her and kicks her in the butt. Guy Ritchie does his "stylish" editing which is laughable here. The film contains some of the worst dialog I've heard in a major movie in several years. The ending is sappy and implausible. It's basically "The Blue Lagoon" meets "Overboard" minus the nudity of the former and the sense of humor of the latter.
Maybe Madonna's ego is so big that she insists on continuing to prove herself as a competent actress. Please give it up, Madge, for our sake as well as yours. This isn't her worst movie though. That distinction still belongs to "Shanghai Surprise". She hasn't made anything worse than that...yet.
Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 (1983)
Bad enough to be "Smokey and the Bandit Part 12"
I admit that I kind of like the first "Smokey and the Bandit." It was an entertaining 'guilty pleasure'. The second one was pretty bad but, as they say, 'you ain't seen nuttin' yet'. "Smokey and the Bandit Part 3" is the nadir of crash-and-chase films. And remember this obtuse genre includes the awful "Cannonball Run" movies.
This movie is a humorless mess of overacting, a bird-brained plot, witless would-be comedy, badly edited and photographed scenes usually involving cars crashing into each other in slow-motion, dumb dialouge and the sloppiest of scripts. The plot is so lame that even Jerry Reed looks as though he can't wait until it's over so he can cash his check. But what I hated most about this stupid movie is the racist caricatures of black people.
Burt Reynolds, notorious in the 80's for starring in bombs, even had the good sense to pass this one by. I guess he was busy making "Stroker Ace" which was a dud, but at least it was better than this turkey. Is there anything good to say about "Smokey and the Bandit Part 3"? Well, yes, just one thing: it was so bad that they never made a "Smokey Part 4".
The Dark (1979)
wake me when it's over
"The Dark" is an exceedingly dull thriller from the late 70's. It concerns a series of murders in Los Angeles committed by an alien creature. Unlucky people wander alone into dark places and end up having their heads ripped off by the "mangler". Cathy Lee Crosby stars as a newswoman and William Devane plays the father of one of the victims. They team up to try to catch the creature.
The writer, director and editor were so lazy they didn't even attempt to make a watchable film. They only have about 15 minutes of movie but insist on padding it out with lame claptrap so we're stuck watching it for 92 minutes. The R-rating is inexplicable. It's so tame it could have easily gotten by with a PG or maybe even a G. If you can make it that far, the cheesy special effects at the end provide limited entertainment value. Double-blind studies have shown "The Dark" to be superior to both Ambien and placebo in the treatment of insomnia. Barely rates 1/2 star (of four).
Flawed but unique
I loved "Phantasm" when I saw it in 1980 on a double bill with "The Fog" at a drive-in. I've seen it a few times over the years and while it's not a particularly good film, it's pretty inventive. I know the acting is poor, the script doesn't always make sense and there's quite a few dull spots but give them credit for doing something different. The pacing is often slow but it has an effectively creepy atmosphere and a lot of nice touches (the silver sphere, the dwarfs, that fly creature). Angus Scrimm is wonderfully menacing as the Tall Man. The late 70's/early 80's were the last golden era of horror films. "Phantasm" is one of the more memorable ones and if it had been better written it could have been a classic. Followed by several inferior sequels. **1/2 (of four).
From Justin to Kelly (2003)
a movie that achieves the impossible
After 23 years a movie comes along and achieves what I previously thought was impossible. "From Justin to Kelly" usurps "Can't Stop the Music" as the worst musical of all time. It even surpasses such landmark musical turkeys as "Grease 2", "At Long Last Love", "Staying Alive" and "Lost Horizon".
The two "leads" have no charisma, no screen presence and no acting ability. Their first movie will probably be their last. Just because a person can be successful in music, doesn't mean they have talent in the acting department. Madonna has proved this theory.
The movie contains some of the most banal dialogue in film history. The screenplay isn't underwritten but unwritten. Calling the music "forgettable" would be a kindness. The choreography is also inept.
After rubbing my eyes in disbelief and removing my earplugs, I was astonished to note that film's running time was only 81 minutes. However, it felt like 3 hours. Needless to say I will not be subjecting myself to the "extended version."
"From Justin to Kelly" is simply a slapdash quickie designed to cash in on the success of 'American Idol.' The movie is an insult even to fans of the TV show.
Because I generally only give 'zero stars' to movies I find offensive, I will award "From Justin to Kelly" 1/2 star (out of four).
Baby Geniuses (1999)
#1 Turkey of 1999
I must admit that I don't like 'talking baby' movies. They're innately weird. This stupefying mess is the nadir of this tiny genre. Kathleen Turner has given some fine performances particularly in the 80's in very good films like "Body Heat", "Prizzi's Honor", "The Accidental Tourist" and "The War of the Roses". Christopher Lloyd has done well in films and on TV's 'Taxi'. So what they're doing in this moronic junk is anyone's guess. This was the worst film of 1999 and a top contender for the worst films of the decade. At least "Look Who's Talking" was good-natured and had a few laughs. "Baby Geniuses" is just two big spoonfuls of idiocy, peppered with ineptitude, on a plate of vapid nothingness. Zero of ****.