The Art of Bad

I love bad movies. I love them so much. And I don’t mean bad. I mean bad. There’s bad like an Adam Sandler Netflix movie, soulless and unfunny but technically sound, and then there’s bad like Birdemic, a movie that is a production disaster in every respect but the creator absolutely put his heart and soul into it.

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HEART AND SOUL

That’s the difference for me. I want low budget bad. I want we tried so hard but it was so bad bad. There’s a charm to an enthusiastically made bad movie than can’t be engineered. Studios try once in a while. Somebody watched a handful of SyFy monster movies and decided, “Let’s do that, but with Sam Jackson and a bigger budget,” and we ended up with Snakes on a Plane. It had a few good Sam Jackson moments, but in no way did it hold a candle to a genuine B movie. If I’m going to watch a churned out SyFy flick, I’ll stick with SyFy. At least they have Sharknado.

But I’m not even talking SyFy. I grew up on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (mostly the Mike years, but I appreciate a good Joel). I didn’t get any of the jokes about current events or politics but I cackled through all the rest. Every Saturday morning there would be a re-run on the Scifi Channel and I’d call my best friend to make him wake up and watch simultaneously from his house. Time Chasers! Space Mutiny! The Final Sacrifice!

This was also the glorious heyday of movie rental stores. My mom let us walk the store end-to-end and pick things out by their glorious titles and cover art. That’s how we ended up discovering gems like Delta Delta Die (a cannibalistic sorority that ate everything but penis) and Anklebiters (that’s right, vampire dwarfs). SO MUCH GOLD.

I all-too-briefly blogged for the film (now pop culture) website, Cinema Spartan. Sam’s Phenomenal Cosmic Movie Column was a whole lot of fun, and I was given free reign to do what I pleased (thanks, Rob!). That meant anything from bitching about action heroes getting kids in the sequels, to listing my favorite vampire movies, to making Arnold Schwarzenegger Christmas cards.

It also meant B-movie reviews! All from my private collection, of course. There you’ll find breakdowns of…

FuturekickTerminator meets Robo Cop meets every shitty kickboxing movie the 80s could offer! There’s a lot of kicking and a lot of increasingly relevant corporate fascism!

Fabio: A Time For Romance! The world’s first (and last?) “VideoRomance novel.” A romance writer gets writer’s block and imagines three different book premises…each starring Fabio, of course. But there’s a TWIST!

Rock N Roll Nightmare! The most enthusiastic Canadian horror film about a hair band jamming in an old farmhouse possessed by Satan that you’ll ever see, I guarantee it. All you need to know is that it stars Jon Mikl Thor, the Legendary Rock Warrior. And Satan.

Starcrash! A mind-boggling Star Wars rip-off starring David Hasselhoff and Christopher Plummer!! I can’t even convey how batshit off the rails this thing goes, but I was absolutely thrilled this week to discover that Starcrash is one of the movies in the new season of MST3K that just dropped on Netflix. You better believe I’m queuing that up.

starcrash

That’s a “laser sword.”

I’ve been thinking of bringing B-movie reviews to Samtastic Books. I stopped because they are surprisingly time-consuming to watch, screencap, and write up, but they are SO MUCH FUN. So maybe I’ll incorporate a monthly movie night. I still have a pile of fabulous flicks that never made it into the Cosmic column, including KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (yes, the band) and Robo Vampire (indescribable).

Believe it or not, there’s a lesson here for people in all creative pursuits, and that lesson is: enthusiasm trumps technical skill. I’m doing all I can to improve my writing and conquer the tools necessary to convey the stories I want to convey. BUT. A perfectly polished manuscript with solid structure and capable prose isn’t enough. That gets you “good but forgettable.” What gets you past “good but forgettable” is enthusiasm, and a willingness to go wild even though you risk falling on your face. Am I there yet? I dunno. But I’m going to try.