Every other Thursday a group of friends get together for Bad Movie Night. Tonight, we had a new person enter the fold, full of questions about what it is exactly that makes a “bad movie” good; what criteria should she be looking for should she ever be up to curate? Excellent questions, I’m glad you asked.
Although we’re dealing in relatively subjective territory, here, there are some key elements that can guide you, aspiring curator, to a crowd-pleasing, successful exhibition.
Unintentional Comedy – If the filmmakers were trying to be funny, they either succeeded or they didn’t. Bad jokes are not funny, QED. Good jokes are usually the product of adept filmmaking, i.e. good movies. So they’re disqualified. What you’re looking for is the joke that was never supposed to be a joke. The line of dialogue that was written and delivered with the utmost gravitas and passion, but is so unwittingly bogged down by cliche or oblivious self-delusion that one can’t help but laugh. (e.g. “They only live to get radical.”) And sometimes all you need is…
Bad Acting – The more exaggerated, the better. One of the reasons Troll 2 is considered one of the worst movies of all time? A cast full of people who’d never acted, doing their absolute best to pretend to be scared of vegetarian, burlap-sack-wearing, trick-or-treaters with a fondness for green icing. That’s one of the reasons. Seriously, watch Troll 2. (Spoiler: there are no trolls.)
Nudity – Can never go wrong with some chesticles and/or testicles. Barbarella’s opening credit sequence is just Jane Fonda getting naked in space. Can’t ask for much more.
Compelling plot – Heavily underrated element, here. Maybe the most important, actually. A good bad movie has to actually, on some level, be good. It has to be entertaining. We’re all crowded into a room, watching a movie for two hours; even though we’re yelling, and making jokes, and getting drunk, if we don’t care what happens, if we’re not compelled to keep watching, then there’s no point. The film ceases to be entertaining. Don’t make this mistake, young aspiring curator. This is my Thursday night! I demand to be entertained!
Which brings me to tonight’s tragic failure, Drop Dead Fred. A terrible film from 1991 that actually fails to live up to any of the Bad Movie Key Elements listed above. The humor, such that there was any, was intentional. Terrible, but intentional. Unless, of course, you’re really into boogers – in which case, I’m sure you found this film (or will find, if you’re yet to watch it) fucking hilarious. The numero uno gag of the titular character just so happens to be picking his nose and wiping it on Phoebe Cates. I don’t even…
But hey, Phoebe Cates! And, shit – Carrie Fisher! Carrie Fisher!?
Yeah, I don’t know.
Also Marsha Mason and Tim Matheson. The acting in this movie is good, unfortunately, which is most definitely one of the reasons this movie sucks so hard. See, Phoebe Cates’ character, Lizzie, has been so mentally and emotionally abused by her mother (Mason), that she’s created this psychotic imaginary friend. When she grows up to find herself the weak cuckold of her cheating husband who abandons her, she moves back in with her mother which catalyzes her regression and sparks the reappearance of her long-repressed delusion, Drop Dead Fred (Rik Mayall.)
Hahahahaha! Isn’t that funny? No? You’re right.
It’s fucking terrible.
And the actors, of course, ate that shit up. I mean that’s some deeply disturbed psychological drama, right there. Marketed as a slapstick comedy for kids! Hey, did you know Drop Dread Fred at one point gets his head stuck in a refrigerator which flattens it like a pizza!? Hilarious!
Right, so, no nudity. Not even a nipple slip or a dick joke. Not that Cates’ pool scene from Fast Times could have saved this trainwreck, but it sure would have been a welcome respite.
As for the plot, the movie became less compelling with every nose pick. In fact, I just watched the damn thing and I can’t even tell you what happened, though I did spend most of my time getting drunk. I’m pretty sure Lizzie figured out how to stand up to her mother and then Fred went away, because I guess that’s what he was there for. Who knows? Who cares? My computer is spinning. I’m going to bed.
Young aspiring curator! You can do better than Drop Dead Fred. That movie sucks.
This has been your Drunken Bad Movie Night Review.