Movie Night – Embrace the Schlock.
In High School, my good friend Eric and I spent enormous amounts of time watching movies at his house, and they weren’t always good movies. On any given Friday afternoon, Eric and I would head to our local video rental store, Video Magic, to grab a stack of movies for the weekend. At the time, VHS was the predominant format, most video rental stores were still locally owned, and Video Magic was just such an establishment. We’d spend a half hour or so cruising the shelves full of empty poster-board boxes picking out some of the worst movies ever made, or pick up the stack of tapes that the hair-rocker clerk had already picked out for us based on our previous rentals.
We had a finely developed taste for movies that most other people would either leave on the shelf, or return to the store in person with a lengthy rant and a demand for a refund. Who in their right mind would pay money to rent movies with titles like The Toxic Avenger, The Kentucky Fried Movie, Amazon Women on the Moon or one of my favorites Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-rama? Us, that’s who!
We had already seen all of the mainstream movies that we cared to see, and like a junkie looking for the next bigger high, we needed something different. We saw a lot of truly horrible movies. Empty plots, poorly written dialog, sub-par acting and god awful special effects were par for the course. But hidden in those movies we found moments of brilliant comedy, action and even some pretty darned good cinematography.
Some of our favorites include early works by now well known producers and directors. Many know Sam Raimi from his work on Spider Man 1-3, Drag Me to Hell and other newer films, but a few of us know him from his earlier, much lower budget works like 1981’s The Evil Dead. The Evil Dead was filmed on a budget of $375,000, compare that to $140 million for Spider Man! On the surface, this film shows all the signs of that measly budget, it was predominantly filmed on one set, an abandoned cabin in the middle of the woods. But for those willing to use a little imagination, The Evil Dead is perhaps one of the best examples of a great bad movie. It’s full of some great horror moments, witty dialog and hilarious quotes. Joel Coen even served as an assistant editor on the film and went on to work on films like Fargo, The Big Lebowski and No Country for Old Men.
We did watch some bad bad movies too, and it would take a much longer post to explain those. It takes some patience to sift through the crap to find a few gems, but the prize can be worth the effort.
EDIT: And if you need further guidance in the world of bad movies, you absolutely MUST check out the Bad Movie Fiends Podcast (BMFCast). Every episode Harlo, Macky and BJ watch and rate a crappy movie.