Bad Movie Club: The Galaxy Invader

1985 science fiction movie

Rating: 3/20 (Josh: 1/20; Fred: 11/20; Libby: 14/20; Jeremy: no rating)

Plot: An alien fireballs to earth for reasons that are never fully explained, and some rednecks decide they can profit from it. Meanwhile, an archaeologist and his former student try to save it while also maybe saving the hillbillies from themselves. And I just put more thought into this plot synopsis than the screenwriters put into this movie's screenplay.

There were certainly a lot of Dohlers involved in the making of Galaxy Invader. Ok, so there's really only four of them including writer/director Don Dohler, but that still--obviously from the results--exceeded Hollywood's Dohler limit. It probably exceeded it by tfour actually. One of the Dohlers, Pam Dohler, plays "People at Table" which seems like a pretty neat trick. I looked the Dohlers up, and they've all three been in other movies which were either all directed by the same Don Dohler or, in some wild coincidence, a guy with an identical name. Actually, I'd forgotten the name Don Dohler, but I really enjoyed another one of his movies a while back--Nightbeast. That's memorable for a great performance and scintillating sex scene featuring a guy named Tom Griffith. This movie's got its own fantastically awful performance by a a guy named Richard Ruxton who runs around wearing about half a t-shirt and yelling like a demented low-budget Jimmy Stewart. No, there's not a sex scene, but he does attempt to rape somebody at a time that doesn't make a great deal of sense. Watching Ruxton's performance, you really can't tell if he's got an authentic accent or not. In fact, you might have trouble even figuring out if he's an actual human being. It's the kind of performance that seems like a miracle, and I'm serious, Jimmy Stewart Fan Club--you need to check this movie out and pretend it's a long-lost performance from the Hollywood icon. There are loads of colorful characters, none of them with dialogue that makes much sense (most of the lines, I believe, are repetitious mentions of "the green man" or lines about money) or with cigars that stay the size they're supposed to. That cigar belonged to another fine character played by Don Leifert who also shone in Nightbeast. An action figure of that guy would have to come with cigar and beer can accessories. Bad movies get magical when it seems like it was written by a person who has never actually seen human beings interact, and this movie could have been written by the titular galaxy invader who, by the way, just kind of stumbles around with no clear intentions and doesn't look capable of even finding himself a galaxy. Here's the galaxy invader:

The green man! He's played by Glenn Barnes who was also in Nightbeast and--this is going to shock you--is the half-brother of Don Dohler. I'm surprised Barnes wasn't invited to play a monster in any other movies because his pigeon-toed trot looks just like an alien's should. This movie feels made-up-as-the-Dohlers-go, the characters never feel like real people, and the pacing feels awkward. But it all leads to a climax that will leave you stunned an unable to sleep for days (Hint: It features a dummy!), so it's all worth the time invested. A fun bad movie.


1975 war movie

Rating: 16/20

Plot: A guy goes to war and [Spoiler Alert!] gets himself killed.

The half-documentary/half-fiction approach to this and the cinematography make this worth watching although it's a little boring. At a smidge over 80 minutes, this isn't a long film at all, but some of the fictional dramatic scenes still make it drag a bit. It's darkly poetic, however, and the weaving of the fiction and archive footage is seamless. It's tough to tell what imagery is real and what was filmed in the 1970s, and that archival stuff gives the whole thing a weight that it otherwise wouldn't have. I'm not generally a fan of war movies at all, but this one's more interested in detailing the war inside one soldier rather than showing off grand battle sequences or making grand statements. And because of that, it makes the experience a very personal one. You don't quite become the main character in this, but you can't help connecting with him intimately, almost in an abstract way.

Hot Fuzz

2007 comedy

Rating: 16/20

Plot: Cop Nicholas is transferred against his will from London to a seemingly-quiet village. He realizes soon enough, however, that his initial impression was wrong. Trouble's afoot!

Vivacious, very funny, unapologetically gruesome, extremely English, clever. This is a very poorly written review. I didn't even use the word titular in this anywhere.

Everything Is Terrible!: The Movie

2009 documentary

Rating: 15/20

Plot: The title says it all.

This doesn't feel as cohesive as its sequel or Doggie Woggiez Poochie Woochiez!, but the uncovered and unleashed idiocy is more likely to drop your jaw and make you shit your pants than anything James Cameron will ever make. If you spend any time with the Everything Is Terrible people--and you really should--you'll recognize snippets of things they've played around with in shorts, snippets tossed in the ol' blender. The results don't make as much of a statement as these guys have in the other two longer things, more of a dada-rific, loosey-goosey tornado of silliness, but they're still just as funny and just as disturbing. You'll ask, "Why has society allowed this to happen?" You'll simultaneously fall in love with humanity all over again while being convinced that we're all absolute lunatics. It's the kind of beauty that can drive a man insane.

Bad Movie Club: Deadly Blessing

1981 horror movie

Rating: 10/20 (Fred: 2/20; Jeremy: 3/20; Libby: 3/20; Johnny: 1/20)

Plot: A prodigal Hittite man is killed by his own tractor, and his wife and her two friends are tormented by some Amish guys and maybe an incubus.

Maybe there's just something wrong with me, but I didn't think this was that bad while my fellow Bad Movie Club jockasses rated it very lowly. This is a Wes Craven jam, and at the very least, he's got some ideas. There's a foreboding setting (Amish country--yikes), some suspenseful moments (including an extended scene with Sharon Stone in a barn, one of those maybe-classic horror sequences with a spider, and a great scene with a snake and a bathtub), and a pair of weird twists at the end that make the thing memorable. And it's got this guy:

Michael Berryman, one of those guys who walks around with his own special effects. I looked him up--he's got something called Hypohidrotic Ectodermal Dysplasia, a condition which means he can't have hair, fingernails, teeth, or sweat glands. Let the records show that I had a joke there but edited it out because I didn't want Mr. Berryman coming along and seeing this. This also has the great Ernest Borgnine who is once again giving it his all in a bad movie that features a little religion. We enjoyed his work in Devil's Rain, too. Here, he snarls about somebody being "a stench in the nostrils of God" which is sort of thing that makes these movies worth it for me. There aren't many scares here if you're looking for that in a horror movie, just that sense of foreboding. The biggest problem, however, is that the whole thing just doesn't make that much sense. I had to look up and read a plot synopsis to even understand what happened during the first of the movie's twists, and the second, although it contained a shot that was kind of cool, seemed tacked-on because it was tacked-on. So I would recommend this movie only to Ernest Borgnine or Wes Craven completists and not necessarily to somebody looking for a movie that is either good or bad. I did like that scene with the snake quite a bit though.


2013 post-apocalyptic action movie

Rating: 14/20

Plot: Humanity lives on a train that circles the globe once again after the dumbasses shot chemicals into the sky and caused a new Ice Age. Folks in the back of the train--where the underfed and miserable poor people are packed--decide that it's time for a coup and make plans to rush to the front to take over Snowpiercer.

Snowpiercer's kind of a dumb name for a movie, so I was skeptical when I heard that this was good. I guess that's what the train is named, but I don't remember it being mentioned in the movie. The titular train is all CGI when they decide to show it off, which isn't very often. Around 97% of this happens on the inside of the train cars, and when there are exterior shots, they seem to be there just to show us that we shouldn't complain about all the train interior action because they're a little dopey. Some of the iced-over views from the train windows are interest and strangely beautiful though. I ended up liking this movie after thinking I'd hate it after the first ten minutes or so. However, it really is uneven with all kinds of cool ideas mixed in with a lot of dopiness. The general idea, though it seems somehow derivative, is fun in that depressing kind of way, and a lot of the ideas for what was going on in the train cars--especially the education one--were inspiring. There's a little dark humor in this that keeps things interesting even when it threatens to just devolve into a bunch of scenes featuring slow-motion, close-quartered brouhaha-ing. A somewhat fearless script, the kind where every character possibly expendable except for the one you know isn't expendable, keeps things realistic. The cast is impressive for a movie called Snowpiercer that is all about a train called Snowpiercer, too. John Hurt gets a memorable and complex character to chew on, one that at least has half of his appendages. Ed Harris pops in to do his typical Ed Harris thing which I typically don't care that much for. Tilda Swinton pours it on pretty thickly, easily portraying one of the most interesting characters in the whole thing, and Chris "Captain America" Evans not only makes for a hunky action superstar but has the acting chops to pull off the more emotional stuff when things get a little more complex. This is an ambitious offering from Joon-ho Bong, the guy who brought us The Host, and is the kind of movie you are forced to think about no matter how stupid the action on the screen seems. It's a post-apocalyptic action movie that tries to say something about society, and that's probably the exact reason why it ends up kind of messy. You have to appreciate the effort to stuff a bunch of action movie cliches into something kind of original though, and if I saw this again, chances are the allegorical nature of it might click and cause me to like it more. I'll still hate that title though and the ending, possibly indeterminate and featuring what seemed to be Coca Cola product placement.

The Nutty Professor

1963 comedy

Rating: 16/20

Plot: A socially-awkward science professor concocts a concoction that transforms him into a swingin' and more-than-obnoxious Buddy Love, a character he uses to attract the attention of one of his students.

Because if blowing up your classroom doesn't get in you fired (I've definitely heard "People just don't like teachers blowing up their kids" before), banging one of your students probably won't either. With this sort of barely-more-risque-than-Disney comedy, you've got to suspend disbelief and just enjoy the gags and performances. Lewis, who also directed, reminds me a little of Jim Carey in this, but I don't mean that as a bad thing. There's also some nods to silent comedy gags--a door gag, a sinking chair gag, an elongated arm gag--and there's some interesting pacing at times. Lewis definitely isn't afraid of a little dead air, and that really gives the humor some space to breathe. I really like the look of this movie, too. There are all kinds of great colors with the Edith Head wardrobe, the dancing chemicals in the titular professor's lab, the purples and pinks of that night club. I also like the transformation scenes, borrowing from past werewolves perhaps, where there's more great uses of color and terrific music. And a revolving camera during a dance scene in the club where Buddy Love and the lovely Stella Purdy dance is really cool. Man, that Stella Stevens. A guy could fall in love with those legs and eyes. Add to all that the cool jazzy score from Walter Scharf and Les Brown and His Band of Renown during the prom scenes and hip renditions of "I'm in the Mood for Love" and "That Old Black Magic," two standards I've always loved from listening to Spike Jones and the City Slickers so much as a teenager. Buddy Love handles the vocals on those, and Lewis is as impressive as an actor playing two drastically different parts as he is with the direction. The transformation's so skilled, especially when the streams cross during "I'm in the Mood for Love." There's also a great hangover scene with some ridiculous sound effects and a great dance sequence at the prom.

Which reminds me--this was supposed to take place at a college, right? Did colleges have proms? If not, how is anybody getting away with Jerry Lewis playing a high school teacher who wants to date a student?

Anyway, this is a hip little comedy that only squares are really going to like. I'm going to be watching a bunch of Jerry Lewis movies in the next few weeks actually because somebody told me that Bob Dylan was into them. If it's good enough for Dylan, it's good enough for me.

The Rainmaker

1997 court movie

Rating: 14/20

Plot: A rookie lawyer and his greasy little person sidekick open up their own practice and take on an insurance company and their big-shot lawyers for their first case. There's also a romantic subplot because every movie needs that.

Rainmaker? I don't even remember a scene in which it rains during this movie, so who's the titular rainmaker? Maybe I needed to watch this a third time. That's right--Josh loaned me this to watch and insisted that I watch with the commentary from Francis Ford. That's what his other friends and I call him--Francis Ford. Turns out, he actually wanted me to watch a 15-20 minute "making up" extra instead. I usually don't watch any bonus features on dvd's unless I'm guaranteed nudity, if Nicolas Cage is involved, or if there's both Nicolas Cage and nudity, but it was Josh who's somewhat trustworthy. I did appreciate the insight, I suppose, and enjoyed hearing details about how Francis Ford had his actors circle-up and toss an imaginary ball around or the difficulties of raising and lowering the courtroom ceiling to make Jon Voight more imposing. Voight's plays smarmy so well, but maybe it is that lowered ceiling or Francis Ford's balls or the low camera angles. I actually think everybody's really good here--Stockwell, Glover, Damon, Devito--even when the story gets a little tacky or if the characters are essentially cartoons with good guys and bad guys who are a little too well-defined. I also thought chunks of the Claire Danes subplot didn't make a lot of sense, and it climaxed in an apartment-demolishing clash of fisticuffs that was a little over the top. And I kind of hated the music. I can't decide what's grosser--Danny Devito or the Farfisa organ. And think about this one, if you've got the stomach for it: Danny Devito playing a Farfisa organ.

That actually gives me a terrific idea--a movie called Danny Devito Playing a Farfisa Organ. It's probably a horror film, at the very least a vaguely-horrifying film, and I'll put "from the makers of Paranormal Activity 5" in the trailer so that people will remember to shit before the movie starts instead of during the moment where Devito's chubby little fingers first touch those keys.

"From the makers of twisted minds that brought you Paranormal Activity 5, comes a nightmare so real. . ."

(one of those echoing footsteps sound effects accompany this image)

". . .so skin-crawlingly terrifying. . ."

(another echoey footstep noise)

". . .that you'll be not even be able to smell the shit in your own pants over your screams." 

But I digress. Aside from those caricatures and the aforementioned tackiness in storytelling, this really is sprinkled with a lot of great moments, mostly the ones where a too-cool Damon is calling Voight on his shit. The characters are likable, and the story's got the right amounts of drama and humor although I didn't understand most of the humor until after Francis Ford explained them to me in the commentary. The Rainmaker is doe-eyed and oozing with Hollywood sensibilities, but that's really part of its charm. It goes down smooth. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to throw an imaginary ball at my wife and make a bird noise. 

Special Feature: Top Ten Movies That You Might Be Surprised That I've Never Seen

I haven't seen all the movies. Here are the ones that I'm surprised that I haven't seen:

13. Braveheart, 1995

Why I haven't seen it: I was watching movies at this point, but it's too long, I was not much of a Mel Gibson guy, and the title is dopey. Braveheart? Sounds like a fucking Care Bear, doesn't it? I don't think I'll ever see this movie because I really have no interest in watching a half-assed Tobias Funke battle a Care Bear with a phallic symbol.

12. The Jazz Singer, 1927

Why I haven't seen it: I'm not sure because, as the first talkie, it's historically important. Plus, I love blackface. Maybe I subconsciously blame this for filmmakers deciding that all films needed talking characters even if they didn't have anything interested to say. Words are overrated, and I can get away with saying that because I'm an English teacher. Anyway, if the poster is accurate at all, this is a movie about a contorted gentleman singing to an elderly women while accompanying himself on a piano and therefore something I should see immediately.

11. The Apu Trilogy, 1955-59

Why I haven't seen it: I can't find Bengali on a map. Roger Ebert, right before he died, told me to watch this, but I just haven't gotten around to it. Satyajit? How's that even pronounced? It looks like it might be the Bengali word for jism. I think I've probably not seen this because I've always been afraid it would be a little boring. I doubt there's a single car chase in this thing. Maybe there's a defecating elephant, but a "maybe" isn't quite enough to get me to give it a chance.

10. All the President's Men, 1976

Why I haven't seen it: I have no interest in politics. I don't vote or listen to Rush Limbaugh. I think I also kind of thought this was a non-funny Starsky and Hutch. Or maybe it's because I went through an "egg thing" as a child and can't think of the title of this without thinking of eggs. Eggs, Starskys, Hutch, Limbaugh. I'll probably see this before I'm 50.

9. American Graffiti, 1973

Why I haven't seen it: Despite being directed by the guy who gave us Star Wars, I fear this doesn't have a single lightsaber battle or mention of Toshi Station anywhere in it. Also, graffiti is a crime, and I can't watch a movie that supports that no matter how patriotic that graffiti might be. If somebody told me that there was a Wookiee in this movie, I would dive right in without hesitation. 1973 was the best year ever for movies. In fact, there isn't a single movie released in 1973 that is not good. So I should probably see this sometime. But seriously--is there a Wookiee?

8. Intolerance, 1916

Why I haven't seen it: Maybe I just don't like silent movies?

7. Once Upon a Time in America, 1984

Why I haven't seen it: This is a weird one. I like Sergio Leone, of course. I'm not always in the mood for gangster flicks, and that's not exactly my favorite genre. I think the main reason I've never seen this, however, is that I've just not heard anybody talk about it. This one just doesn't get mentioned. Plus, this--like a lot of movies in this list--is really really long. I'm not sure because I've never seen it, but I'm pretty sure this movie is over 17 hours long.

6. The Bridge on the River Kwai, 1957

Why I haven't seen it: It's a war movie, and I'm a pacifist. But the main problem is that the River Kwai places this movie in Vietnam, probably during the Vietnam War since that's really the only movie-worthy thing that's ever happened there. But the Vietnam War didn't even start until the late-70's, about 600 years after the great Care Bear War in Scotland or wherever the hell Braveheart takes place, and this movie was made in the 50s. That seems like it could be more confusing that Inception, and I'm just not sure I could handle that.

5. Pocahontas, 1995

Why I haven't seen it: I love Disney as much as the next guy, but I don't necessarily trust them to accurately portray Native Americans. I don't think I can stand seeing a watered-down version of a history that is already watered-down. I haven't seen Poke a Hot Ass either, and I'm sure it's about as historically accurate as this. Maybe even more historically accurate actually, and more than likely with less songs. Also, I remember thinking the McDonald's Happy Meal toys for this movie looked pretty stupid.

4. All Quiet on the Western Front, 1930

Why I haven't seen it: It's in that awkward movie time between the silents and talkies, and I don't really like many movies from that era. And I just can't imagine this is as good as the book, something that I probably haven't even read but will pretend I've read because people will think I'm smarter for it. Actually, I might have seen this a long time ago. It was either this or a Laurel and Hardy movie where they're in the army. I should probably count it either way.

3. Greed, 1924

Why I haven't seen it: Ok, so I do like silent movies, but they're not something I can watch all the time, and when I'm in the mood for a silent movie, I lean toward the comedies or horrors more than the dramas. This is on lists of best silent movies, so I should probably see it. I tell people I've seen it because I want people to think I'm some kind of silent cinema aficionado and be impressed, and that's really about the same thing as actually seeing it, isn't it? No? Well, I'll check it out then. The problem is that it's really long, even longer than Once Upon a Time in America.

2. Ben Hur, 1959

Why I haven't seen it: I'm actually pretty sure I have seen this. I think my dad must have tried showing this to me when I was a little kid, but I don't actually remember watching this and can't imagine it's the sort of thing that would have held my attention when I was that young. I'm not a big fan of period epics anyway, almost never in the mood for them. I doubt that I ever actually watch this, but if anybody asks me to my face, I'm going to just pretend I've seen it and say, "Yeah, that chariot scene is amazing! And how about Charlton Heston's nipples? What a movie!"

1. On the Waterfront, 1954

Why I haven't seen it: I have no idea. It might be because of that hideous poster. Or maybe I'm too busy watching movies like Eegah and The Room multiple times. This is a movie I've had in my house on several occasions but have, for whatever reason, just not felt the need to watch. I once stared at the cover of the dvd case for over three hours though.

So there you go. My top ten movies that I'm surprised I haven't seen. Next time I make a list, it's either going to be my top ten favorite moments from Wes Anderson movies or my top ten favorite bad movies. Of course, you shouldn't wait around for those because I also said I was going to watch 12 Angry Men back in October.

Doggie Woggiez! Poochie Woochiez!

2012 work of art

Rating: 20/20

Plot: It's a remake of The Holy Mountain apparently.

Ladies and gentlemen, humanity has reached its pinnacle.

This is from the Everything Is Terrible! people. I'm not nearly a good enough writer to write about this. If I tried, it would only be an insult to what might be the greatest work of art that man and dog has ever produced.

Bad Movie Club: Robo Vampire

1988 science fiction horror "movie"

Rating: 3/20 (Libby: 2/20; Johnny: 1/20; Josh: 1/20; Fred: 1/20; Jeremy: no rating)

Plot: Yeah, I'm not even going to try. There's a Robocop-type character, a bunch of hopping vampires, a ghost woman in a sheer nightgown, a guy in a gorilla mask, drugs, shady criminals. Honestly, I'm not even sure who or what is supposed to be the titular robo vampire.

Look at that fucking poster. You're thinking to yourself: There is no way this movie can fail. A Robocop rip-off is fighting Japanese helicopters? And there are helicopters? No way this movie isn't the greatest thing human beings have ever accomplished if that poster is even halfway accurate. Well, that movie is accurate although I don't remember a single helicopter. And hopping vampires, even if you've seen them in other movies and even if they're actually more like zombies, always bring the funk. And that's especially true if they've got sparklers up their sleeves, a special effect that gives the monsters the ability to put sparklers up their sleeves. There's kung-fu action, explosions, guys with mustaches, visible nipples, weapons, guys with mustaches exploding, more kung-fu, and a guy stumbling around in silver sweatpants. This was our second Godfrey Ho movie in a row for Bad Movie Club, and that guy's notorious for splicing together movies. This feels like about four different movies thrown in that Godfrey Ho blender and mashed together into something completely incomprehensible. Character motivations are impossible to discern, seemingly-important plot points completely disappear, people who seemed dead pop back into the picture, and--probably the most unfortunate thing--the movie really doesn't end. This will be frustrating to anybody looking for a good story, but people probably don't watch movies like this for their stories anyway. They watch it to see zombies hopping and ridiculous action sequences, and this has both of those things covered.

Youth in Revolt

2009 romantic comedy

Rating: 15/20

Plot: An awkward but intelligent teenager deals with life and sexual frustrations. He develops an alter ego who is a little more uninhibited and mustached to help him win the heart of a new love interest.

You want to know the only thing better than one Michael Cera in a movie? Two Michael Ceras in a movie! And when he gets lines like "Not until you sink your dick into this filthy tomato" or "I want to tickle your belly button. . .from the inside," you're very likely to have yourself an overdose on Michael Cera. And trust me, people--that's definitely possible. This movie actually begins with the sound of Michael Cera vigorously masturbating, and I'd be interested in meeting the man who can keep his shit together after experiencing that. I was immediately won over at that point, literally 5 seconds into the movie, and I feel the need to point out that this was before the claymation fun during the opening credits. Nick Twisp (and, I guess, Francois Dillinger) is a likable enough character although he's the type of whimsically angst-ridden character who can only exist in a movie or a book written just after the turn of the millennium. You know the type. And this movie is beyond quirky, with unrealistic dialogue and an almost magically-realistic set of actions that could only exist in the little world created for these characters, coincidentally the only type of world that could survive narration by Cera. For me at least, that makes the whole thing endlessly likable although I could definitely understand if some people found this sort of thing appalling. There's a great cast inhabiting this little world though, the exact type of performers you'd expect to see there. Zach Galifianakis plays it calm even though at one point he's wearing a shirt with at least five wolves on it and says (probably ad-libbing) "Shit on a Goddamn dick!" at one point. Ray Liotta plays a funny cop character, Fred Willard (ironically, not masturbating) gets some topless scenes, and Steve Buscemi makes his eyes bulge. Oh, and Justin Long's in there, too. Justin Long and Michael Cera. I think that's referenced in Revelation as a sign of the apocalypse, but it's been a while since I read that. Portia Doubleday is fine as the love interest, the other titular youth in revolt. This movie made me laugh and want to read the books. And there are two Michael Ceras on screen at the same time, one with a mustache. Come on!

The Machinist

2004 nightmare

Rating: 17/20

Plot: A skinny guy, the titular factory worker, suffers from insomnia while his friends desperately try to get him to play Hangman or thrilling games of Find My Arm and eat pie.

I'll tell you what. These actors and actresses amaze me with their abilities to change my mind about them. I really hated Christian Bale without knowing that much about him. I'd never even heard of this movie because I'm really not qualified to even have a movie blog. I only watched this because my research for my Top Ten Imaginary Friends in Film list that nobody seemed to care about made me think that I needed to check it out. Bale was a good Batman and was good in American Hustle, and this performance from an earlier movie impressed me. And it wasn't just because he lost beaucoup weight and played a shell-of-a-man-type character who weighed about as much as my penis. There are times when I think the extreme weight gains or losses are cheap ways to turn in good acting performances, but there's no denying that what Bale does with his body is impressive here. The guy creates this natural special effect, and there are certain shots of his skeletal body here that are hard to watch. But it fits with the overall mood of this movie about a character doing his best to survive in this bleak purgatory. This is really the most black and white movie that isn't actually black and white that I think I've ever seen, and Bale's machinist has either a physical presence or a complete lack of physical presence that makes him its most suitable inhabitant. The storytelling is all mystery and nightmare, and you have to credit Bale with creating a character who you can sympathize with even if it's impossible to understand what's going on with him or even understand what's real and what's just figments of the imagination of a possibly unreliable movie narrator with a damaged mind. John Sharian brings a deep Southern accent, a big bald head, a creepy grin, and occasional goggles to that imaginary friend (that might be a spoiler) and really does a good job creating this great auxiliary character. And Jennifer Jason Leigh plays a prostitute. The real star of this movie, however, might be the Roque Banos score which sounds like it belongs in a Hitchcock movie and fits perfectly since this really is a neo-Hitchockian thriller. The score just feels classic, and then there's a theremin which I'm a sucker for anyway. Tons of fishing references are pieces to this puzzle that I just can't figure out, but I like 'em and they make up for bad CGI in one scene. So do Ivan's toe hands which just might end up being the most important part of my Halloween costume next year. I'm going to start eating now to put on enough weight to have Ivan's shape. If Bale can lose this much, surely I can gain that much. Oh, and that Route 666 ride? Holy hell! It's as if Coffin Joe had his way in an amusement park. This movie's really about as happy as Eraserhead, but folks who appreciate a generous helping of bleakness in their art will really like this.

The Bridge

2006 documentary

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Over the course of a year, a bunch of people jump off the Golden Gate Bridge because they've decided they don't want to live anymore.

I really had mixed feelings about this one. Part of me saw a poignant beauty in this whole thing; another part of me thought it might have been a little exploitative. Part of me was troubled by watching so many human beings' final moments, and part of me was a little annoyed with added splash sounds. This is one of the more poetic documentaries you'll ever see. I'm fairly positive that I'll never take my own life--though you can never completely rule out something like that, can you?--but if I had to pick the way I had to go, I'd want to go in a way as poetic as this. There's a seven-second dance through the mist, but then it's juxtaposed with a violent crash into the waters and what has to be a great deal of internal violence. There's something very Zen about that contrast, isn't there? The titular location itself is pretty damned poetic, too, and a lot of the shots we get of the bridge force the viewer to be reflective or meditative or whatever the right word is. Of course, the money shots here are the ones with these souls leaping to their deaths. The very first one, following some light piano and time-lapsed shots of fog of clouds engulfing the bridge and its pedestrians, is one of those impossible images to shake. You know the guy's going to jump because you know what the movie's about, but that doesn't lessen the impact of seeing a guy--almost impulsively--climb over and leap. The numerous chilling shots of people climbing over that railing, looking around like they're searching for somebody to do something, and then leaping just aren't shots that you get used to. And there's one profound image of a person standing and looking--even from that distance--obviously distressed while a bunch of other people just whisk on by. Interviews with the dead's family and friends only deepen the impact. There's also a story with a guy who survives because he changed his mind and was then saved by a seal sent from God which does sound exactly like the sort of thing God would do. The central figure in this is a guy with a leather jacket and Tommy Wiseau hair who appears like he's being filmed for an hour and a half before he--spoiler alert--makes his plunge in what can only be described as a flamboyant manner. It's fascinating, a little beautiful, and heart-breaking. I'm not sure what this all adds up to or what it all means.

My biggest gripe: I don't like lyrics in my documentaries.

An American Werewolf in London

1981 horror comedy

Rating: 16/20

Plot: A pair of tourists from the United States travel to England to demonstrate just how uncouth Americans can be.

"A naked American man stole my balloons." That line might sound comical, but you'd be surprised just how many times somebody in Europe says that daily. Not the same somebody, various Europeans who are having naked American males absconding with their balloons. That's the metaphor at the heart of this movie's message--a too-obvious anti-American one about how if you let Americans run amok, we'll violate your nurses and probably your zoo animals, steal the coats of your women, and bite our your throats. Here's some little known etymological information for you, and you don't have to pay me anything extra for it. Did you know that the phrase "to run amok" actually has to do with Americans misbehaving? AM, of course, is short for American while the OK part basically means "probably from Oklahoma." I almost want to give this a bonus point for being so blatantly anti-American, and that's not because I don't like America or anything but more because I just don't like the country or its people very much at all.

Anyway, the movie. In order for a horror-comedy to work, it really needs to satisfy in both of those categories. Special effects maestro Rick Baker handles the scary bits as predictably well as you'd expect. There's gross Jack, some zombie guys with firearms, and that transformation sequence which contains some effects that you'll never forget. The latter works even better because of the creaking and cracking sound effects. I love that effect because it's not hidden in shadows at all, just in your face and more chilling because of it. And it's long! It's like Landis et. al. are saying, "You knew this was going to happen. Now we're going to force you to see each agonizing detail of the protagonist's transformation into this titular monster!" And it kind of hurts a little bit, you know. There's another great horror movie scene with the werewolf escaping from the theater and a bunch of car crashes, a scene created with a great combination of stunts and some terrific editing. I also liked the first werewolf attack shown in this movie with some fast-moving-through-the-woods camera work a la Evil Dead. And then, there's the comedy. The rapport of the two buddies ("You have lovely sheep") is fun, as is the local flavor of the Slaughtered Lamb Pub where Drop Dead Fred (R.I.P., Rik Mayall) plays chess with a curmudgeonly guy. Then, there's a great moment where the horror and comedy come together beautiful during a scene in a porno theater where corpses converse with the protagonist with orgasm sound accompaniment. Throw in the ever-fetching Jenny Agutter, an appearance from the Muppets during one of the most weirdly-chaotic dream sequences that turns into a dream-within-a-dream, an impressive performance by a cat, and a good Bernstein score, and you've got one entertaining horror-comedy. "Blue Moon" (during a great opening with shots of foreboding landscapes at dusk and almost inappropriately bom-bom-bomming after an abrupt ending) and "Bad Moon Rising" might seem kind of easy, but who's going to complain about a little Creedence?

I first saw this movie when I was about ten and watched it with a dog named Gretel.

Special Feature: The Ten Greatest Imaginary Friends in Film

I was perusing another blog--a defunct blog, it seems--and the guy was doing a top-ten list of some kind every Tuesday. I like the idea and will now steal it. Except I'm not doing one every Tuesday. In fact, I might just do one and then forget about it.

Suggested by Josh and probably inspired by my relationship with an imaginary friend named Chauncey Decoupage, here are the top ten imaginary friends in movies. Whether or not some of these are truly imaginary could be argued, and you should feel free to make that argument in the comments.

Lots of spoilers below.

Top Ten Imaginary Friends in Movies

Number 14: Francois Dillinger, Youth in Revolt

I just saw this movie as part of my research for this blog post, so don't you say I don't put in the time for this thing. I prefer imaginary friends (more an alter-ego here) who are bad influences, I think, and Francois--Michael Cera with a mustache and cigarette--ends up getting Nick--Michael Cera with no mustache or cigarette--in a lot of trouble. I can barely contain my excitement when there's one Michael Cera on the screen. Try imagining what happens when there are two of them, especially when one of them gets a line like "I want to tickle your bellybutton. . .from the inside." ! That's Michael Ceralicious!

Number 13: Mickey Goldmill, Rocky V

Now it's entirely possible that I'm misinterpreting Rocky V and that Burgess Meredith wasn't actually a imagined zombie version of the titular boxer's trainer. However, that's the interpretation that makes me the happiest, and one could probably argue that all the characters in the Rocky franchise--at least Rocky's II-IX--are just figments of the brain-damaged boxer's imagination. Dude's swinging at specters and shadows with only a zombified Mickey telling him, "Get up, you son of a bitch, because Mickey loves ya," to keep him going. Mr. T, Talia Shire, and Drago are great imaginary friends and fiends, but Mickey was my favorite character from those movies so I'll go with him.

Number 12: Gusteau, Ratatouille

A portly French ghost chef who talks to a rat? What's not to like? This is an inspirational imaginary friend, one who helps the protagonist realize his dreams and become who he is supposed to be. Arguably, he's got ulterior motives, but I won't let that stand in my way. I mean, he gets so many great little inspirational snippets, things that you could easily put on a poster and hang in your gym to keep you going when you're training to fight a Russian guy. Oh, sorry. Wrong movie. "If you focus on what you left behind, you'll never see what lies ahead." "You must try things that may not work, and you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from." "Your only limit is your soul." "There is excellence all around you. You need only to be aware to stop and savor it." That's good stuff, and Ratatouille is good stuff, a sort-of overlooked Pixar classic.

Number 11: Gooby from Gooby

I thought about just including Gooby with the assortment of figments in The Shining (see below), but I had to give him his own spot because he gets his own movie. As far as I can remember, this is the only imaginary friend who farts and then uses his hand to waft it in the direction of the person imagining him. And that's worth something, readers. We'll definitely throw Gooby in the mischief-making imaginary friend category. And we can blame him for what ended up being a really terrible movie. Here's another picture of him:

Obviously, using Gooby is just an excuse to throw that picture from The Shining on my blog again. Please don't hold that against me.

Number 10: Mugwump, Naked Lunch

And there's a picture of William S. Burroughs shaking hands with a Mugwump. Sometimes, our imaginary friends represent our obsessions, and this alien-reptile guy definitely does that as William Lee begins imagining it after too much exposure to bug powder. When you've got the combined imaginative powers of Burroughs and David Cronenberg designing your imaginary friend, you know you're in for something unique, and the Mugwump doesn't disappoint. The thing gives solid advice, too: "Homosexuality is the best all-around cover an agent ever had." If I had a nickel for every time that helped me out of a jam!

And remember, Mugwump jism can't be beat.

Number 9: Ivan, The Machinist

I don't think this even qualifies as a spoiler since it's pretty obvious this dude's not real from the get-go. As a sinister side to Christian Bale's Trevor, Ivan is one of the coolest imaginary sidekicks on the list. This is another movie I watched solely for the benefit of this top-ten list, and I'm really glad I did because I loved it. But that thick southern accent, those goggles, that giant bald head, those boots, that smile, that cut-throat gesture. Ivan's the menacing daydream of a damaged mind. Creating an imaginary friend who becomes the main character's antagonist is a neat idea but nothing special. Transforming that imaginary friend into the character's savior, however? That's pretty cool.

Number 8: Humphrey Bogart, Play It Again, Sam

You know how much easier my life would have been if I had Humphrey Bogart as an imaginary friend to give me advice? At the very least, I would have used the word "dame" more. Also, I would have understood how dames understand a good slap in the mouth or a slug from a .45 much earlier in life. Jerry Lacy's Bogart in this is just good enough, and Allen uses the character to humorously allude to Casablanca and pay tribute to the late actor.

Number 7: Mother Bates, Psycho

"A boy's best friend is his mother." The only thing worse, according to Freud, than having an imaginary friend who is your own mother? Having an imaginary friend who is a cigar. Ah, maybe the best imaginary friends are the ones that are obviously products of diseased minds. And not many minds are more diseased that that of Master Bates. So diseased that the dude becomes both his own imaginary friend and his own mother simultaneously. And you have to love when a character's invented an imaginary friend who criticizes him so sharply or argues about having to stay in the cellar. Perhaps that's the difference between healthy and unhealthy minds. Healthy minds invent pleasant imaginary friends. Unhealthy ones invent argumentative ones who kill women in showers.

Number 6: Captain Howdy, The Exorcist

Maybe it's just that this one's fresh on the mind. Or that his name is Captain Howdy. More likely, it's the voice work of Mercedes McCambridge and all the fun Captain Howdy and Linda Blair have in this movie. Captain Howdy is not a good influence on that poor girl, but their exploits help create some of the funniest scenes in the history of horror movies. Just imagine Captain Howdy returning and reminiscing with Linda Blair. "Hey, remember when you were a kid and you violated yourself with a crucifix." "Oh, Captain Howdy, you are such a motherfucker!" This one's definitely not the most pleasant imaginary friend, but in small doses, he could be the life of your own little personal party.

Number 5: Elliott, Pete's Dragon

It's been a while, but I believe this is the only imaginary friend on the list who has a sexual relationship with the person imagining him. Well, I guess we don't really know what's going on with Norman Bates, do we? And you never know what's going on with Gooby. And no, it's not on-screen, you sicko, but there's definitely a pedophilia subtext with this one, isn't there? Watch this thing again and tell me it's not there. And just look at Elliott. If that purple coiffure isn't pedophile hair, I really don't know what is. On the surface, this dragon is the imaginary friend every kid would love to have. If you ignore the more sinister aspects of this Disney mix of live-action and animation, you've got yourself a sweet relationship. But I can't pretend that subtext isn't there which keeps this away from the top spot.

Number 4: Grandpa Seth, Troll 2

"I had an imaginary friend when I was young. But it wasn't your dead grandpa!"

Oh, Grandpa Seth. The only imaginary friend I've got on my list who wears suspenders. An imaginary friend who can help you understand the powers of a double decker bologna sandwich. An imaginary friend who can persuade a kid to piss on hospitality. A lot of the magic of this imaginary friend is the great acting by Robert Ormsby in his only role, and a lot of it is the poetry of Claudio Fragasso's script. And it's just refreshing to know that no matter how bad a situation, how terrible your own personal Nilbogs can become, there's always a Grandpa Seth out there ready to help you through your troubles.

Number 3: Tony, The Shining

Maybe it's lame when your imaginary friend is your own finger. I don't know anymore. All I do know is that when I was a kid, I carried around a stuffed Sugar Bear, the mascot from the Super Golden Crisp cereal or whatever that was called. And he spoke to me, friends, giving me advice throughout high school about life and women that wasn't nearly as valuable as advice given by Bogart or a mustachioed Michael Cera. Or even a Captain Howdy. But the voice this little Sugar Bear had, believe it or not, was the same voice that Danny used for Tony. The Shining is actually filled with imaginary friends, and I could have easily picked Lloyd the bartender or Scatman Crothers. Oh, wait. Scatman Crothers' character was real. Or was he? Doesn't matter. Tony the finger is the imaginary friend I most identify with which earns him the number 3 spot.

Number 2: Tyler Durden, Fight Club

Well, this one's obvious, but I love the movie and I love the character that Brad Pitt was seemingly born to play. And you've seen Tyler Durden without a shirt, right? That's all you need right there, isn't it? You know Norman Bates would agree with me. Tyler Durden is that little voice in a lot of our heads that tries to get us to break stuff, sometimes ourselves. He's the little devil sitting on our shoulders, but sometimes--sometimes--that little devil is right. As mischievous as imaginary friends come, Durden's both cool and trouble incarnate, the perfect foil for Norton's character. And this imaginary friend gives us such a terrific movie twist. Such a memorable imaginary friend!

Number 1: Harvey, Harvey

And no, I'm not talking about that hideous thing in Donnie Darko, a movie I don't really remember. I'm talking about the original imaginary rabbit friend of Jimmy Stewart. I haven't seen this in a while, but it reminds me of a movie idea I had a long time ago, a movie about a rabbit who has an invisible Jimmy Stewart as an imaginary friend. Harvey's probably the quintessential imaginary friend, isn't he? Another obvious choice, but he deserves the top spot here even if we don't get to see him. Maybe it's because of how Jimmy Stewart says "Harvey" in this. And I know what I just said about Pete's Dragon, but is the relationship in this one sexual, too? I can't remember.

Here are some imaginary friends I left out:

Elvis in True Romance
Charles in A Beautiful Mind (probably worthy of making the list, but I don't remember the movie well enough)
E.T. in E.T.
The titular girl in Lars and the Real Girl
Mel Gibson's beaver puppet in Beaver
That creepy kid in The Orphanage
Noah's friend in Aronofsky's Noah
The Great Gazoo in the Flintstones sequel where they go to Rock Vegas
Fred in Drop Dead Fred (haven't seen this in a really long time, but he seems like an obvious choice)
Wilson, Tom Hanks' pal in Cast Away
Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense
The mannequin in Mannequin
Fozzie Bear's Mr. Bimble, a cute little Shining reference in Muppet's Treasure Island
Snuffleupagus in Follow That Bird
And I wanted to fit Ferris Bueller in because I like that theory about the character being Cameron's imaginary friend so much. I just don't buy the theory unfortunately.

So, who did I miss?

Bad Movie Club: Undefeatable

1993 action flick

Rating: 6/20 (Libby: 5/20; Fred: 5/20; Josh: 7/20; Jeremy: no rating)

Plot: Following the death of her sister, a tough kung-fu broad seeks revenge on a guy who's named either Stingray or Death Matches. Regardless, he's killing women and ripping out their eyes, neither which is as much of a crime as his mullet.

Everybody--and I mean everybody--was kung-fu fightin', and some of these cats were fast as lightning. Seriously, the fight scenes in this weren't too bad. There were just too many of them, making this a practice in redundancy, and not nearly enough plot. And it is a little ridiculous that every single character in the movie knows kung-fu. I mean, I suppose it's that way with the genre, but when the psychologist in this starts kicking people, it just made this otherwise realistic and gritty crime drama a little too silly. It's still a lot of fun though. I'd been trying to get these Jockasses in the Bad Movie Club to watch a Godfrey Ho movie for a while, and it finally happened. The bad guy's menacing enough, and Don Niam is the type of actor who thinks he can do it all with nothing more than his eyes, maybe ironic since he ends up gouging out the eyes of his victims and keeping them in a fishbowl for reasons that are never fully explained. My guess would be that they needed a reason to have the exact climax that they did because the writers of this had some really good "eye" puns they wanted to use. An early rape scene--right before a scene where Niam eats some meat like he's a caveman and a few scenes before one where he hurls meat at a wall--was described by Libby as "the funniest rape scene ever." And that's saying a lot because there are a ton of funny rape scenes in cinema. But this character isn't all eyeball-gouging and brawn and mullet. Oh, no. This is a villain with depth. Well, if you can call a lot of mommy issues depth. Of course, you really have to assume that Stingray is hearing the same exact unchanging song that makes up the "score" of this movie, and maybe that's what has driven the poor guy crazy. Anyway, he meets his match in our heroine played by the nimble Cynthia Rothrock. I'm assuming she's the one who's "undefeatable" in this. Most of her fights are arranged by a triad of buffoons for money, and the first one has enough rhythmic clapping during it to embarrass the cast of West Side Story. Generously peppered with numerous fight scenes, general weirdness, and very poor acting, this turned out to be a very satisfying chunk of kung-fu cheese. Highly recommended, especially if you actually are high like Josh was for this one.

Bad Movie Club: Zombie Nightmare

1987 horror movie

Rating: 4/20 (Fred: 14/20; Josh: 12/20; Carrie: 20/20; Libby: dozed off)

Plot: That guy from Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare is resurrected as a zombie by a voodoo lady and gets revenge on the teenagers who ran over him with their car.

That's right, Jon Mikl Thor fans! The big guy's in this one. Well, at least the first fourth of it. Once he's hit by a car, he's replaced by another guy (Emmy Award winner Peewee Piemonte) playing the zombified version of himself--the titular nightmare, I suppose--presumably because the bulge in Thor's capri sweatpants was a little too distracting for the camera crew. His brief performance is, just like in that aforementioned movie, a work of art. And Adam "Fucking" West. What can you say? I'd be in favor of Adam West being in every single movie. Here, he's sporting a mustache and chomping on a cigar, the latter which I'm guessing was part of a contract. "Sure, I'll be in your fucking movie, but I'm going to need a supply of Walgreen's best cigars." Imagine that in an Adam West voice. West delivers and might be sober for some of his scenes in this movie, but this is really Dean Hagopian's time to shine as a medical examiner who serves no other purpose, it seems, but to make me giggle with every line he says in this faux-Columbo accent. The character's 100% extraneous; however, this is not the same movie without him popping into the scene to work his magic on this abysmal script. This one has all the elements you need for an enjoyable bad movie although the story's pedestrian and predictable. Great ending though!

Halloween Movie Fest: Pin

1988 killer mannequin movie

Rating: 14/20

Plot: Following the deaths of their parents, a brother and sister live in a home with the titular medical mannequin who the brother is convinced is alive. Pin starts acting strangely. Or maybe the brother does. Anyway, there's definitely some strangeness in this.

How can you not like a movie that features ventriloquism with an anatomy dummy in a doctor's office? That's just awesome. I'd never heard of this movie, sort of a B-grade psychological drama a la Psycho, but it's definitely worth watching for a pervading creepiness and subdued dark humor. Actually, I wouldn't bet money that it's supposed to be funny at all, but there is a scene where a nurse has a sexual encounter with Pin while Leon, as a child, looks on. That's as fantastic as you're imagining, but surely these medical mannequins don't have erect penises. It makes you wonder what's going on there. There's also a "Take the towel off my lap" scene--you probably need context here, but I'm not giving you any) that makes you think I might. Being eyewitness to a woman having sex with the thing and Pin, voiced engastrimythically by the kids' father, giving the birds-and-bees speech? No wonder Leon grew up so troubled. I identified with the kid, probably because I currently have an imaginary friend named Chauncy Decoupage. But Leon also wore his pants a little too high on the waist and had a severe part, and with the other kids calling him a spaz or a faggot, it takes me right back to my childhood. That, and my only friends were dummies. This starts to get a little soggy with its predictability, but a twist at the end still manages to work. It's an interesting little horror film from Canada.

I'd like to see Maltin use a word like "engastrimythically" in a movie review. That bitch!

Halloween Movie Fest: The Changeling

1980 horror mystery

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Following a tragic accident, a composer decides to live in a house that is way too big for him. He's immediately haunted by a ghost.

Less a horror movie and more like a creepy but classy mystery, The Changeling works mostly because it's got a great house. There's just something about a camera moving slowly through a big house with just the right music. This really is a lot of house for one guy, even a guy like George C. Scott, but that just gives it more angles, more shadows. There are beautiful shots of a staircase where, Escher-like, you have trouble figuring out if you're looking up or down. A lot of my favorite horror movies are the kinds that would give architects hard-ons. This movie certainly looks better than it sounds. The sound effects always feel a little random, and it's hard to tell what the protagonist is hearing and what is just there for us. Scott, as that protagonist, is good, except (or especially?) when he looks a little too much like Bob Uecker. His deliver of "God damn son of a bitch!" is so terrifically delivered, however, that it doesn't matter which former baseball catcher he resembles.