I guess you could call this sort of anti-Oscar post. Not as in against the Oscars, which I watch faithfully every single year, both for the dresses and the awards. I love film. ’31 Days of Oscar’ on Turner Classic Movies is one of the high points of my year.
And then there are those movies referred to as guilty pleasures. Sometimes they’re called camp classics. I just call them bad movies I love, because they are so, so cheesy and delicious.
Van Helsing, 2004: A mashup of Dracula and Frankenstein saved by the presence of Hugh Jackman in a sexy leather coat. Jackman plays the vampire hunter, who is sent by the Vatican to save the lives of the last two members of a family of vampire hunters, one of which is Kate Beckinsdale in skin-tight pants and high-heeled boots and the other of which is her brother, who becomes a werewolf partway through the movie.
Still with me? I didn’t think so. Really, the plot doesn’t matter much since it gets lost pretty quickly among baby vampires (world’s ugliest babies), a not actually evil Frankenstein monster, anorexic winged vampire chicks, and the requisite sidekick, a bumbling monk played by David Wenham (who would team up with Jackman later in Baz Luhrmann’s Australia.) Forget trying to follow what’s going on. Just let the badness flow over you and focus on Jackman in that coat.
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, 2003: Based on a dreadful comic book series, an alternate title could be Famous Victorian Fictional Characters Stop World War I. Allan Quartermain, Captain Nemo, The Invisible Man, Dorian Gray, Dr. Jekyll (plus his alter ego Mr. Hyde), a grown up Tom Sawyer and Mina Harker (of Dracula fame) must seek out and destroy a group of anarchists led by the unidentified Fantom (as in ‘of the Opera’, one presumes). Their handler, by the way is known only as ‘M’. Groan.
Sean Connery as Quartermain leads the group as they travel to Venice in Nemo’s HUGE GIANT submarine that somehow manages to escape notice in both the Thames and in later in Venice. The sub is the best part. Seriously, it shouldn’t even be able to fit in the Thames, much less narrow Venetian canals. I rewatch the movie in hopes figuring out how that works, but so far, no luck.
Mystery Men, 1999: Stupid comedy, yes. But it’s quality stupid comedy. A bunch of delusional or gallant (depending on your view) collection of wanna-be superheroes try to imitate the derring-d0 of their role model, Captain Amazing. Sadly, their super powers cover things like impotent rage (Ben Stiller), throwing silverware (Hank Azaria), shoveling ditches (William H. Macy), thinking one is invisible (Kel Mitchell), bowling (Janeane Garofolo), and extreme farting (Paul Reubens), only the last two of which could be considered serious weapons. Captain Amazing, in fear of losing his lucrative sponsorships, arranges for his arch-enemy, Cassanova Frankenstein (Best. Villain. Name. Ever.) to be paroled and tries to cut a deal with him. Frankenstein harbors a grudge and captures the Captain, leaving the unlikely wannabes to step up to the plate.
Classic scenes include superhero auditions, the appearance of the pompous Sphinx (Wes Studi), anything with Geoffrey Rush as Cassanova Frankenstein, and William H. Macy delivering the line, “We’ve got a blind date with destiny… and it looks like she’s ordered the lobster.”
The Fifth Element, 1997: It’s the special effects and supporting roles that make this movie. Bruce Willis plays the same guy he does in the Die Hard movies while Milla Jovovich runs around half-naked. But Sir Ian Holm plays a priest with secret knowledge of how to defeat evil aliens bent on attacking earth and Gary Oldman is one of the most original bad guys you’ll ever see. Totally the best part is watching Chris Tucker as a drag queen intergalactic talk-show host suffering a permanent panic attack.
A convoluted and not terribly coherent plot, characters that have fuzzy motivations, and clichés everywhere. I love this film’s awfulness with every fiber of my being, perhaps because of what the Fifth Element turns out to be in the end.
Mine are all less than 20 years old, but I know Hollywood has made plenty of other bad movies to love in the last 84 years. What are your favorite movies that are so bad they’re good?
Picture from from http://www.moviescreenshots.blogspot.com
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