Archive for June, 2006

Why I Watch Bad Movies, or: I think this blog finally has a damn point

June 23, 2006

I love bad movies.

And not just so-bad-they’re-good movies, like Evil Dead II (the granddaddy of awesome badness) or Dirty Dancing (yes, I know it is close to your heart; yes, it is close to mine as well; and both of us know deep down this is not because the movie represents a high point in American filmmaking).

If you look at my Netflix queue, you will understand what I mean when I talk about bad movies, for in the past months I have watched such cinematic tasties as: The Wiz. The Brothers Grimm. Death Becomes Her. And, as of last night, the Frank Oz remake of The Stepford Wives. All of these movies–and I can say this with absolute certainty, having seen them–are truly awful. When you watch truly awful movies, the part of your brain that usually registers movie-viewing happiness feels personally affronted, as if this movie was brought forth from the bowels of Hollywood specifically to cause you pain. Generally speaking, they are overstuffed, overthought, overwrought. Their screenplays don’t appear to have been written by people with brains, but rather monkeys by committee. More often then not, they have embarassingly high budgets. And the unkindest cut of all: usually these movies, at some point in development hell, had genuinely cool–or at least interesting–ideas.

J asked me once why I persisted in this particular form of masochism; what was it about my personality that insisted on consuming so much cinematic garbage? For, as a former critic and obsessive movie lover, I’m pretty well-versed in the critical mass. I should know better–I do know better–and yet I keep coming back for one reason: watching a bad movie is an object lesson in how stories go horribly, horribly wrong. And since stories are pretty much my most favorite thing in the world, I find it absolutely fascinating (and educational!) to examine the corpses of stories that die excruciating deaths. Think of it as the forensic science of storytelling: what can be learned from the mistakes of others? What can be illuminated about the human condition (and the rather pitiful state of big-studio Hollywood) by enduring–and actually thinking about–how a movie like The ‘Burbs, with only the slightest tweaking, could have become one of the funniest American dark comedies ever, instead of a mildly diverting Saturday Afternoon Movie on your local Fox affiliate?

Plus there’s also that whole philosophical theory about how human beings are totally obsessed with the revelation and arousal of disgust. (How else do you explain

The point is: from now on, I will be blogging about movies. Specifically, bad ones: so-bad-they’re-good ones (because I believe in reclaiming irony), and so-bad-they’re-cautionary tales to the hopeful screenwriters, authors, and storytellers of the world.

That’s right. I am now officially providing a public service. And if I can bend blogger to my will, I will re-christen this blog (wait for it) “Marquee de Sade”.

I also love puns.