Friday, January 14, 2011

The Worst Movie Ever?

Last weekend a few intrepid friends and I sat down to my husband’s stellar waffles and watched what some folk call the Worst Movie Ever. This was not my first experience with a movie that had laid claim to that disreputable title; I have sat through many a Worst Movie Ever in my day.

Brave, you say? Not really. I can’t make it through one of these cinematic turds without the help of the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000, or one of their current incarnations (Rifftrax, Cinematic Titanic). Take away the constant humorous riffing from those professional Bad Movie Watchers, folks with much stronger constitutions than yours truly, and I’d be rendered a quivering pile of goo, all sense of beauty, truth and artistic integrity forcibly drained from my very cells.

But I digress.

In this particular instance, the Worst Movie was Troll 2, an experiment in, let’s for the sake of argument call it ‘filmmaking:” that fails so extraordinarily in its efforts to be remotely good that it ends up being bizarrely entertaining in its own right. We watched the Rifftrax version. A few highlights:

  • It’s a movie called Troll 2 that not only is not subsequent to a Troll 1, but also contains no trolls.
  • It features one of the hammiest performances in the history of the universe, in the form of the actress playing the goblin queen. Even if the film had been made on Planet Pig, with sets carved from pure Cumberland Gap spiral bone-in ham, she’d still be the hammiest thing around.
  • And speaking of ham, the makers were clearly anti-vegetarian, or at least anti-eating your veggies, because the goblins (not trolls) turn all their victims into trees or vegetable goop before consuming them – and our young hero saves the day (spoiler alert!) with a double-decker bologna sandwich. That’s right. You heard me.
  • And then there’s the PG sex scene featuring a young man and the goblin queen both biting a corncob, which then (presumably due to the heat of their encounter) explodes into popcorn. The scene, incidentally, has no relation whatsoever to the rest of the story, except perhaps a tenuous tie to the fact that the goblins do love them some veggies. Even in the boudoir, it seems.

Here’s a sample: Troll Clip

Truly awful? Yes. But I have to say that Troll 2, popcorn sex notwithstanding, is a little too snappy and cheery to honestly deserve the Worst Movie trophy.

So then, what constitutes a truly awful movie?

The obvious: Bad writing. Acting so terrible it barely counts as acting, and actors that are inherently unappealing. Incompetent directing. Abysmal, laughable special effects. Lack of continuity.

But what constitutes the Worst Movie of All Time? To qualify, the movie has to have that certain something extra. In my mind, it’s a pervasive atmosphere of depressive creepiness: not the creepiness derived from good horror writing and cinematography, but that icky, dirty feeling you get when you realize you’re witnessing actors as puppets, forced to perform the director’s particular twisted proclivities for his own titillation. (Honestly, I get this feeling from Tarantino’s films too, although in every other respect they’re exceptionally well done).

Ed Wood films fit this profile, except there’s something so gleefully innocent about his strange quirks (not the least of which was his desire, against all reason, to be a filmmaker), that I never feel creeped out by them.

There are two movies that I feel might qualify for Giant Turd Trophy (I just made that up, but I think it needs to happen) and both have been given treatment by Mystery Science Theater 3000. The first is Eegah – a picture from the 60s featuring Richard Kiel (Jaws from the James Bond franchise) as the last surviving caveman, and a pie-faced squishy, greasy, whiney young male ‘star’ (the director’s son, natch). Eegah contains a truly repulsive sequence, in which the young hot female lead is trapped in Eegah’s cave with her father, played by the director, where she performs a series of humiliating tasks, including sitting on her daddy’s lap and shaving him. *Shiver*

The second, and probably champion, is Manos, Hands of Fate (or, translated, ‘Hands, Hands of Fate"), a dank and depressing devil story, in which an entirely incompetent family is trapped in a desert hotel by a big-kneed manservant. The movie features a scene where dead, ensorcelled gossamer clad devil slave ladies have a big old pile-up girl fight accompanied by ghastly saxophone music. The scene goes on and on and on. And on. Also, the female lead gets repeatedly (and very awkwardly) pawed by Torgo, he of the big knees. There is something so horribly weighty and depressing about Manos, that after watching it, one is left with a sense of ennui that lingers for hours, much like that feeling you get after waking up from a really oppressive, really stupid dream.

So then, now that I’ve thought it through, I highly recommend throwing a Troll 2 party (Rifftrax style): sure it will hurt your brain, but feed your friends waffles and plenty of mimosas, and eventually they’ll forgive you. After all, it isn’t actually the WORST movie ever made.


J said...

Oh yes! Troll 2! Have you seen the documentary about it? I haven't yet, but would like to.

Have you seen, "The Room?" It's definitely a contender.

Qlaudie said...

I haven't seen the doc yet, although it looks great. ("The Best Worst Movie")
I've been saving The Room for the right time, right group, right place.

Surprised by Witches said...

They're eating their vegetables . . . oh, my, gawwwwwwd!

I might argue that movies that actually pretend to be good, and aren't, are contenders as well. Anything Nicholas Cage has starred in recently might qualify. And I'm still, yes, still angry about that stupid waste of time known as Undercover Blues. Also, Fred Claus, but I knew going in that was a mistake.

Qlaudie said...

Agreed. I believe that category is "Movies made by people who should know better."

Mark Teats said...

I will avoid these movies. Another I'd also recommend you stay away from: Recently watched "Valhalla Rising." A story where Vikings (and some Christians) try to travel to the Holy Land, but instead seem to end up in America. It has excellent creepy atmosphere, but most scenes in the movie are groups of people sitting around staring either in a boat or in the woods, interspersed with violent, bloody battle scenes, then back to more people sitting around staring and looking depressed. Terrible.

Jon said...

Yeah, how about that disemboweling scene. Yeesch!

Leanna Renee Hieber said...

Wow. Just. Wow.

My response to Eegah would be exactly that: "EEGAH!!!" *retch*

O Manos. Oh Hands, Hands of Fate. I have to say that next to "Mitchell" (one of my personal "faves") I think I laughed more at MST3K's Manos than any other film. The silly poncho with red hands on it... the strange female wrestling scene... The servant with the strange knees for no apparent reason... all burned forever in my memory.

Qlaudie said...

@Leanna - Mitchell is my ALL. TIME. FAVORITE.

Shawn Enderlin said...

ennui - that must have been what last night's frakking zombie dreams left me with

Jon said...

My favorites were Village of the Giants and, of course, the Giant Gila Monster.

"You got anything around here a fella could put his knee up on?"

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

I haven't seen this one, but as a fan of the 'so bad you enjoy it' film genre, I'll have to look for it! Thanks for the Twitter follow, and I'm glad to have found another great blog to follow along the way!

Have a great Sunday :))

Qlaudie said...

Thank YOU, Nicole, and thanks for reading!