Just for the hell of it, and because I need a bit of a writing exercise to get going, I decided to list my favorite awful movies. There are awful movies, and then there are awful movies that are kind of awesome. Some of these become known as cult classics; others are just a shameful IMDB entry actors hope interviewers never ever ask about. Generally the ones I like are ones no one has ever heard of, sometimes not even my own friends. And I don’t really mean that in a hipster sort of way. Sometimes these movies are such utter crap, I wouldn’t even ask my best friends to watch them, but they hold a mysterious sort of charm for me anyway.
Occasionally, these movies are ones I have made my friends watch. In fact, I’m shocked that I’m allowed to rent movies without input from these friends sometimes. I’m sure the only reason I was allowed to choose movies regularly was because I was paying and my best friend had a small child at the time so it was harder for her to pack up and leave the house to pick a movie than for me to just pick one up on the way over. I’d bring over John Waters flicks like Pecker and A Dirty Shame or flicks like Slums of Beverly Hills because I inexplicably like Natasha Lyonne.
1. Who brings us to my first favorite awful movie. Modern Vampires. This delightfully awful flick stars Casper Van Dien (who, despite being fairly hot, has never starred in a decent movie, ever *coughStarshipTrooperscough*) I mean, just look at his imdb page. If his role in the upcoming Sharktopus Vs. Mermantula doesn’t tell you everything you need to know, I don’t know what will. This flick also stars Natasha Gregson Wagner (daughter of Natalie Wood) who… just really isn’t a great actress. Not really in this, nor in Vampires: Los Muertos (yeah, the vampire flick with Jon Bon Jovi). She hisses. It’s hilarious in a campy sort of way, but… well, let’s just say that it’s unlikely the director was going for any sort of gritty realism anyway, shall we?
This flick also boasts a cast of vampires played by recognizable names, if not big names. Natasha Lyonne, as I’ve mentioned, Craig Ferguson, Kim Cattrall, Udo Kier, Rod Steiger, and Robert Pastorelli (who, if the name is not familiar, played Eldin, the painter on Murphy Brown)(and he plays Count Dracula in this, which is freaking funny as hell).
The vampires are hilariously psychopathic without really being scary in the least. Gregson Wagner (there are three Natashas in this flick, and a Boris!) plays a vampire made by accident who has been living in a dump and dressing like a prostitute to kill her johns. The other vampires want her dead because she’ll bring notice upon them (typical) but her maker, Van Dien, tries to bring her into the fold and teach her the less white-trashy way to be a vampire. This involves shopping for clothes (killing the store clerk with much hissing and growling), having Cattrall scrub her down in a tub with a wire brush and a harsh German accent, and using the Count’s affordable body-removal service. And lets not forget the whole subplot with Van Helsing (Steiger) recruiting a bunch of gang members to kill the vampires.
It’s campy, but not in that terribly amazing way. Still, I love it. Maybe, not as much as I love #2, though.
2. Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat. Yep, another vampire flick. I love this one so much, I think I bought it three times. I’m pretty sure my first VHS copy wore out, bought another one, and I also have a DVD. I think I first saw it when I was babysitting in the very early 90s, back when I’d get to watch USA’s Up All Night because the people I sat for had cable and I didn’t.
This flick has David Carradine (you must know who that is), Maxwell Caulfield (Michael Carrington in Grease 2, for those who’ve watched it, and Rex Manning in Empire Records for anyone else), Morgan Brittany (who I just cannot believe wasn’t on a soap opera for 20 years or Dynasty or something… OH, there it is, Dallas, that makes sense), and lastly, but most importantly Bruce Campbell! He plays a Van Helsing character here, fruitlessly trying to kill Dracula, even though all the vampires in this town drink artificial blood from the blood factory they’ve built (looks super gross and chunky like banana vomit). They also wear sunscreen so they can walk around in the day.
This one is delightfully cheesy, with the occasional bat with a white beard and Puritan hat, a dramatic moment on a wind-swept hill (turn on ALL THE FANS), and poor, misguided Bruce crowing in ecstasy when his vampire love interest gets permission to turn him into a vampire. Awww, so sweet.
3. Hmmm, what to put here? A quick glance at my pile of VHS tapes (yes, I still have lots of them, shove it!) tells me Sugar & Spice. I have a weird thing for cheerleader movies. Not sure why. Perhaps it has something to do with the only sport I ever really liked to watch on TV was gymnastics. And American Gladiators. The Bring It On series of flicks has pretty impressive dance routines, for instance. Oooh, and Gimme An F, while not as gymnastically entertaining (it has its moments, but it’s more an early 80s summer camp sex comedy), could also have made this list. Heck lets just make number 3 a category: Cheerleader flicks.
Back to Sugar & Spice, however, a combo cheerleader/heist film. It’s so cleverly ridiculous in all its moments. The main couple is Jack and Diane, star quarterback and head cheerleader. They meet, instantly fall in love, and Diane is quickly pregnant. They decide to move out on their own and have their own little family, but between work and school, they’re both exhausted. Diane comes up with a scheme to rob the bank branch she works for and her cheerleading squad decides to help.
The squad itself is stereotypically diverse, from the tough chick whose mom is in jail and is amazed that she wasn’t the first one pregnant, to the virgin who loves to ride horses way too much. They finally enlist the help of awkward-girl Fern, whose father can get them guns (which arrive in pieces, but Diane refuses to see it as they’ve been ripped off, but instead, a craft project in her bubbly, dippy way). I almost expect this to have an incredibly dark ending, despite the dizzily happy tone it has throughout, just for something completely unexpected. The heist goes off, but not without a hitch, and the squad is saved with a clever twist.
4. Lone Star State of Mind is my number four choice. I can watch this movie just about any time at all. Earl (Joshua Jackson) and his step-sister/fiancée Baby (Jaime King) have to rescue her cousin Junior (DJ Qualls) from his own stupidity before they leave for L.A. so Baby can become a soap opera actress by sweeps week. This may be the best of the bad movies on this list, objectively, because it’s not really bad. I just feel like people haven’t really heard of it, nor do they appreciate it like I do. This one makes me want to pop it into the VCR (yes! alright, another one I only have on VHS) and watch it again right now. And it would be a far better choice than Mortal Kombat, which has, for some reason, been floating around my head lately.
Junior goes out to rob a pizza guy with his friend Tinker and they accidentally rob one who is carrying a ton of money for a drug dealer. Earl has to somehow return the money and straighten it all out while Baby is planning for their move to L.A. and his own father’s killer has been released from jail and is looking for him. Example of how dumb Junior is? He can’t remember if Tinker said to get “panties” or “panty liners,” to which Tinker explodes, “Panty HOSE!” which he wanted to use for a mask for the robbery. Junior promptly sticks a maxi-pad on his face with holes cut out for his eyes.
5. I’m going to wrap this up with this choice, Drop Dead Gorgeous, the 1999 flick with Kirsten Dunst, Kirstie Alley, and Denise Richards. They do the same sort of accent as in Fargo, which is desperately funny. I still hear Kirsten Dunst’s voice in my head when I think of Alabama or Alaska (she was asked by the pageant panel to spell the names of the states in alphabetical order). Crossing Fargo with a teen beauty pageant results in a dark but hilarious movie. Just reading the quotes on imdb is making me laugh. I mean, the Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club? :)
I’d go on, but this has taken a surprisingly long time already! I haven’t been watching movies very often lately (been addicted to tv show seasons on Netflix) so perhaps I’ll have to take some time to revisit my old favorites. Let me know if you love any of these like I do, or any other awful/fantastic flicks, so I know I’m not alone! It was nice knowing, for instance, that one of my friends at work had seen the movie Tuff Turf more than I had! That could have made the list as well! James Spader, Robert Downey Jr. and a wig made out of mop for the dancer-double! Fantastic!