Bad Movie Club: Fateful Findings

2013 masterpiece

Bad Movie Rating: 5/5 (Josh: 5/5; Jeremy: no rating)

Rating: 2/20

Plot: An author becomes a hacker after being struck by a car and damaging one side of his face, a part of him that couldn't have been hit by the car. Meanwhile, his wife develops an addiction to pain medication and their friends struggle through their marital problems. Also, an old flame--a gal who the author-turned-hacker has been in love with since he was 8 or 9 depending on which part of the script you ask--comes back into his life. A magic shiny rock gives him dreams about being naked inside a room made from garbage bags.

"A paranormal thriller where a computer hacker exposes worldwide secrets." That's what the poster says up there. I'm not sure anybody would figure that out until 95% of the movie has already passed them by. The preceding chunk of film is a rambling glimpse at a man struggling to find a plot. There's so many loose ends with this movie. There's the love triangle that doesn't really need to exist. There's the sometimes-topless daughter of Breen's character's friends, a subplot that enters awkwardly and is never really resolved. There's the friends' marital issues which never really go anywhere at all except for where they do go which doesn't make any sense. There's Breen's character's magic powers, the ability to disappear on one side of a door and reappear on the other side which takes slightly longer than just opening the door and walking through would. There's a kidnapping with a peroxide-soaked handkerchief over a face that never makes much sense and is quickly resolved. There's unseen book publishers who apparently pressure Breen's character, but none of that seems to matter. It all leads to a point where Breen, green-screening himself in front of some government building, "exposes worldwide secrets," an act which leads to a shocking and shockingly funny climax, but there's really not much to lead up to any of that.

Neil Breen is an auteur. He's like the bad movie equivalent of David Lynch. And you hopefully know me well enough to know that I mean this as high praise. I love this man and his willingness to throw himself into these projects as producer, writer, director, editor, star, and musical director. It's a lot for one real estate agent to bite off and chew. Out of the numerous hats he wears, it's likely the director one that he wears most competently. I'm willing to bet that if the guy had a decent script and a nice budget to work with, he'd wind up with something halfway competent. Instead, he does it all, and it really only works in Neil Breen Land which is located somewhere behind his captivating eyebrows and between his ears.

The hat he wears the most incompetently would either be the acting hat or the storytelling one. I know there are limitations created by a lack of budget as Breen funds his own films, but that doesn't explain why there are so many threads in these movies. Not that that's anything I'd want him to change. The shambling world of Neil Breen's movies are places that I'd want to visit again and again. But they frustrate anybody looking for a coherent story with characters responding in ways that make sense. And Neil Breen the actor? He's fine when he's not required to deliver lines or do things like throw a book in anger, kiss a woman, or wake up from a coma like a normal human being would. But watch him do any of those things here, and you're going to be confused about why anybody would even put this guy in a movie. Well, unless that person making a movie is Neil Breen himself. Then, it all somehow makes sense.

I Am Here....Now was my first Breen movie, and I'm pretty sure whatever Neil Breen movie a person watches first will be the one they end up loving the most. However, this movie is almost up there with The Room as one of the most hilariously awful dramas ever made. It's really really special and very highly recommended.

Neil Breen is one of my favorite human beings. I want to make that perfectly clear.

Bad Movie Club: Masters of the Universe

1987 action movie

Bad Movie Rating: 2/5 (Fred: 4/5; Jeremy: 3/5; Josh: fell asleep; Kristen: 3/5; Libby: no rating)

Rating: 9/20

Plot: He-Man and a few friends are whisked to Earth because it's much cheaper to film at music stores than it is to construct sets that are supposed to be on Eternia. Skeletor's crew chases them down because they want the little fellow's synthesizer. Earthlings, including one of the Friends, get involved.

I'll start with the positives. Dolph Lundgren was probably born to play He-Man, and Frank Langella is bad ass as his nemesis, even with that rubbery skull of his. Billy Barty, maybe the little person actor  has been caked with the most make-up and prosthetics out of all little people actors, stands tall as Gwildor, a character who shouldn't even exist because he wasn't a Masters of the Universe character. Teela looks pretty good in her costume even if it doesn't look anything like Teela's actual outfit, and Man-at-Arms, one of the lamest Masters good guy characters, and Beast Man, one of the lamest Masters bad guy characters, both look fine.

So how did they mess up Masters of the Universe so badly?

At the top of the list, you've got the settings. There are essentially four in the entire movie. You've got one exterior shot of Castle Greyskull that is used once because they probably realized it wasn't good enough to show twice, and you've got several scenes in Skeletor's immense but sparsely-decorated throne room. You've got scenes on earth in a high school gymnasium and a record store and the street outside the record store. That's pretty much it. And that's not a lot of variety, people. I'm not sure who asked for a movie about He-Man and friends that doesn't take place on Eternia, but they definitely got it. It just sort of takes the wonder out of the whole thing.

Second, you've got the characters. He-Man and Skeletor had to be in it, of course, and their aforementioned right-hand men Beast Man and Man-at-Arms also needed to be there. Teela makes sense, too. Skeletor's a classic villain but those other characters? Dull! Even He-Man was always sort of dull. With a collection of characters that include a guy covered in moss, a smelly skunk man, guys who use their heads as battering rams, bumblebee guys, reptile people, men with metallic hands, and guys with many faces, you've got this colorful and interesting world. There's loads of potential for some interesting characters in both this movie and later sequels. Instead, we get just a few original characters and a bunch of other half-assed guys created just for this movie. You get some robot guys who shoot a little worse than Stormtroopers. And you get Billy Barty who could have played Orko but is playing this Jar-Jar Binksian thing instead:

Gwildor's in the movie way too much, something I almost never say about little people, and he's got way too many lines. And the writers gave him a name that Dolph Lundgren can't even pronounce. But believe it or not, there's a character who's even dumber--Karg. Here's Karg:

And nothing more needs to be said about that.

Oh, Evil-Lyn. I forgot that she was in there, only she wasn't yellow. I always wondered as a kid whether or not Skeletor was banging her. And now I'm distracted and really want to make a boner joke.

The human characters are as boring as you'd expect them to be in a Masters of the Universe movie except for James Tolkan who plays a detective. He was actually my second favorite character behind Skeletor, and that's probably something that should be considered criminal for a movie based on these characters.

We Bad Movie Clubbers argued over whether or not this movie was even bad. A Masters of the Universe could have gone both ways. It could have been pretty good or it could have been hilariously awful. But there's one thing it couldn't be--boring. And sadly, that's what it ended up being. Not even Dolph Lundgren, who I heard has the power, could save this one.

Bad Movie Club: The Karate Dog

2005 action movie

Bad Movie Rating: 4/5 (Fred: .5/5 ; Josh: 3/5; Melissa: no rating; Jeremy: no rating; Kristen: 4/5; Libby: .5/5; Johnny: 4/5)

Rating: 4/20

Plot: A detective and a karate dog take on bad guys.

For sentimental reasons, this is one of my favorite Bad Movie Club experiences.

This one had been on my "Must See" list for a couple of years, and when you look at the poster up there, you can probably figure out why. Not sold? Well, what if I told you that the dog was voiced by the incomparable Chevy Chase? Maybe you're sold just knowing that the voice not only knows karate, thanks to Mr. Miyagi who is in this movie for about five minutes, but also speaks. Well, "speaks" isn't the most accurate word I can use. No, this karate dog cracks wise! Obviously! After all, he's voiced by the incomparable Chevy Chase!

I'd never wish harm on anybody, even retroactively, but Pat Morita should have died a few years earlier to avoid having to be in this movie.

There's a lot going for this movie although there's not a lot of karate in there. If you're just watching this for the kung-fu action, you might want to watch only the beginning and the climax. Now, that climax is something to behold, a fight to the death on a rooftop. It combines Matrix-style action sequences with idiocy to create something that will have you holding your breath.

Bad comedies are difficult to watch. Bad movies are funny because they're not supposed to be funny. A bad comedy is supposed to be funny and bad because it's not funny. So where's the entertainment value in that? Karate Dog uses almost every dog pun you can think of, and the comedy is nearly painful. I know--it's surprising knowing that Chevy Chase was involved. If this was just comedy and a smattering of action scenes, it wouldn't be worth your time, bad movie aficionados.

It's worth your time, however, solely because of the performance of Oscar-winner Jon Voight. I have no clue why he decided to get drunk and be in this movie or what the heck he thinks he's doing in this movie, but the performance is a special one. He adopts this Texan drawl reminiscent more of a Looney Tunes character than a flesh 'n' blood human being. But enough of my words. Watch this and tell me this isn't the greatest thing that human beings have ever created:

Bad Movie Club: Jurassic Shark

2012 horror movie

Bad Movie Rating: 3/5 (Josh: 4/5; Fred: 2/5; Tami: no rating; Libby: no rating; Kristen: 2/5; Jeremy: no rating, but called it an "awful experience")

Rating: 2/20

Plot: Killer prehistoric shark in a lake eats people, including art thieves.

Here's everything you need to know about Jurassic Shark:

1) The shark is indeed in a lake, and it doesn't even appear to be a large lake.

2) The shark doesn't look "Jurassic" at all. It just looks like a regular shark. Well, actually it looks like a CGI shark. You can't blame the CGI for the movie ending up terrible though. It's seamless.

3) This had the distinction of being the lowest-rated movie on when we watched it. Right now, it's number 2 (a big number 2) because it's been replaced by something called Kartoffelsalat. I'm sure they're both right around the same level of "offel" though.

4) This movie is 75 minutes long, and I'm pretty sure 40 minutes of that involved walking through the woods.

5) It took two people, according to the credits, to cast this movie. My guess--one casting director didn't have enough friends to put in the movie, so they had to get a friend-of-a-friend to find some more friends to put in there.

6) The movie also had three sound recordists which probably explains why it sounded so good.

7) Dynamite is used, hilariously. The explosions look great, at least as good as the CGI blood splattering on the camera, but where there's dynamite, there has to be a lighter. And I believe half of the budget was spent on one lighter. I have no idea what the other half of the budget was spent on.

8) The movie ends with "Fin" because. . .well, I don't know why it would do that.

9) Brett Kelly directed this, and we Bad Movie Clubbers had seen his work before in the awful Thunderstorm: The Return of Thor. I wonder where this guy gets his ideas!

10) There's an action sequence in this where the shark leaps from the lake over two characters (in slow motion, of course), sails over a pair of characters, chomps a woman from the knees up and leaves only her boots on the shore, and somehow winds up back in the lake. I've actually lost sleep trying to figure out the physics of this one. Josh said the attack was "Free Willy style," if that helps you imagine it.

11) Vin Diesel might be in this movie.

12) There's an extra ending scene featuring some beer guzzlers sitting in lawn chairs on a giant rock. Yes, it does set up a sequel, probably something called Son of Jurassic Shark, and the way they introduce the idea manages to be juvenile, pervy, and idiotic simultaneously.

13) Cleverly, they added a reference to a painting by John Singleton Copley. This one:

Get it? Brett Kelly might be a genius.

14) Nobody ever stays wet in this movie.

15) The best performance (and by that, I mean the worst performance) is by Angela Parent as the leader of the band of art thieves. She's over-the-top in all the right ways and has an unexplainable accent. I think it might be a Canadian accent.

16) There's nothing else you need to know about Jurassic Shark.


2014 absurdist comedy

Rating: 15/20

Plot: A director pitches a movie to a film producer and is given a deadline to find the perfect groan of pain. Meanwhile, a little girl discovers a VHS tape in a boar. People dream.

I'm of the opinion that the release of a Quentin Dupieux movie should be celebrated like a holiday, yet even I'm not sure what I just watched. Sure the face of Eric Wareheim, the non-sequiturs, and the absurd tone are all familiar enough, but I'm pretty sure this is a puzzle with pieces that don't even fit together. If you like clean resolutions in your movies, you might be frustrated by this. And if you're Christopher Nolen, you might think Dupieux is poking fun at your little Leonardo Dicaprio dream movie. There's part of me that still thinks Dupieux is a complete hack and that his movies are absurdist for the sake of absurdism, but something like Reality still feels so original and is so funny that it doesn't really matter.

This might be the type of movie that would grow on me even more if I watched it again.

Bad Movie Club: Uninvited

1988 straight-to-video horror release

Bad Movie Rating: 4/5 (Fred: 4/5; Amy: 5/5; Libby: no rating; Josh: fur/5; Kristen: no rating; Jeremy: no rating)

Rating: 6/20

Plot: A demonic cat puppet inside of a regular cat finds itself on a yacht where it starts killing people.

Fred found this one. It might have the ugliest collection of posters ever. Check these out:

This is your standard killer-cat-on-the-loose-on-a-yacht-while-some-sleazy-criminal-masterminds-one-who-looks-a-little-like-Hall-of-Fame-pitcher-Dennis-Eckersley-attempt-to-follow-some-sketchy-plan-while-some-scantily-clad-college-kids-also-wind-up-on-board movie. What elevates it to near classic good/bad movie status is a wildly-silly climax and the embarrassing puppet. Or, more accurately, the embarrassing puppet-within-a-puppet. Look at this fucker:

That's not as grotesque as a couple performances here. Alex Cord plays Dennis Eckersley and has a strange rhythm to his speech. Even worse was former Oscar-winner George Kennedy who had to have been embarrassed if he ever saw this. His death (sorry, spoiler alert) is straight-up comedic.

This is definitely a bad movie worth checking out.

Wild Tales

2014 anthology movie

Rating: 16/20

Plot: Six stories all sharing themes involving rage.

This comedy from Argentina is as black as comedy gets, so if that's your thing, you should definitely check this out. With a film that's an anthology of short, unrelated stories, there are bound to be some that are less satisfying than others. In this one, that's probably the one with a demolitions expert and one that takes place in a restaurant, the latter because it's more mean-spirited than it is fun. Actually, these are all probably mean-spirited, and maybe that is part of the fun. Szifron, a name I can't even try to pronounce, has some visual flare and a sick humor that blends well together. It works best in a story that takes place during a wedding reception, a 20-or-so minute wild tale that has more hilarious twists and turns than an entire season of a sitcom. A escalating series of acts of revenge by road ragers also works perfectly and has a wonderfully poignant finale. I can't imagine that this would be for everyone, but anybody capable of laughing at the darkest and most absurd of flaws in human beings might get a kick out of it.

Bad Movie Club: Birdemic 2: The Resurrection

2013 sequel to one of the best bad movies ever

Bad Movie Rating: 5/5 (Amy: 2/5; Libby: 3/5; Fred: 5/5; Josh: 5/5)

Rating: 3/20

Plot: Birds attack people again, just like in the first movie. Except this time, they're joined by zombies and cavepeople.

I've had a Birdemic 2 t-shirt for a couple years and finally got to see the film. It's tough for a sequel to be as good as the original. This one's just as awkward with it's unearthly pacing, unnatural high fives, and tacky music. There are enough nods to the first movie to make you wonder if James Nguyen, self-proclaimed "Master of the Romantic Thriller," is in on the joke. There are a few minor characters from the first movie that pop in this one to deliver poorly-written lines. And that's right, coathangers. I saw your appearance. The zombies are a nice touch although their appearance doesn't make sense, and those cavepeople are laughably stupid. Our structure is virtually identical to the structure of the first movie. It almost feels like you could lay this movie on top of Birdemic: Shock and Terror and blend it into one coherent movie. Well, one movie that's just as coherent. Things start slowly with characters celebrating success in not-so-humble ways, romance is awkwardly developed, high fives are given, there's a lengthy driving sequence, and then birds start attacking and exploding. Those comfortable with the first movie will find comfort here as the cadence is pretty much the same.

There are a handful of new characters and a pair of new leads although fans of Alan Bagh and Whitney Moore from the first movie (and really, how could a person not be a fan of Whitney Moore?) will be happy to see that they have large roles. Moore's mom also returns for a scene and has a likely-improvised line that might describe the whole movie. Tree huggers ("Trees are cut down to make toilet paper! We haven't used toilet paper in many years.") and a scientist, beloved from the first movie, also pop in to help Nguyen push his environmental agenda, clumsily but majestically. Oh, and Damien Carter's back with a musical interlude for this one.

Speaking of Nguyen, you have to wonder if references to classic cinema mean that the man actually feels he belongs in the same echelon as your Hitchcocks and Wilders. There are numerous references to Sunset Boulevard including an ending--"ending" is used liberally here since this movie doesn't really end as much as it does stop--that directly and obviously alludes to that movie. I didn't get it the first time though. And that's right--I saw this movie twice. I've watched a handful of movies during my hiatus, but this one I somehow caught more than once. Nguyen also makes his Hitchcockian cameo because, honestly, it's not like he's not going to do one.

Early on, it seems Nguyen has replaced the heavyhanded environmental message with some heavyhanded themes about independent filmmaking. That at least makes it feel as if he's trying to make something that he wants us to take seriously, but I still don't know. I'd love to think that the two cameramen I spotted in mirrors, one during your typically-Nguyenesque sex-with-clothes-on scene, were accidental, but who's to know? Anyway, Nguyen's wearing "Indie Filmmaker" like a badge, and you're almost forced to disrespect him for that.

Highlights: An extended date montage which might be the most boring montage ever committed to film, one where everybody else's face is blurred because they apparently didn't sign waivers; cartoon jellyfish, a cartoon ambulance, fake driving, raining blood, eagles being split in two, fake blood, and zombies that once again show Nguyen's brilliance in creating realistic special effects on a next-to-nothing budget; hilariously bad sound, especially the fake crowd noise piped in, although it's honestly probably better than it was in the first movie; Colton Osborne's work as adopted son Tony, bad acting that manages to stand out in a movie filled with inept performances; caveman sex; roundhouse kicks; characters who say "so-and-so is dead" no less than a hundred times in a five minute chunk of this movie. There's plenty to see here, and I'm happy that although I was skeptical going in, this is a good-bad follow-up to one of my favorite good-bad movies ever.

The Boxtrolls

2014 animated movie

Rating: 15/20 (Abbey: ?/20; Buster: ?/20)

Plot: An orphaned boy is raised by subterranean trolls wearing boxes who some ugly guy wants to kill in order to gain admittance into a cheese fraternity.

Well, at least they're not Minions.

Creative, visually wondrous, and oft grotesque, The Boxtrolls was fun even if it didn't have a terrible original story. I liked the humor and the darkness that squished around the corners, and I'm not sure this was really intended for children, like most good cartoons. Buster was bored anyway.

This movie isn't as good as Coraline but beats Paranorman.