By BabyRuth –
Inspired by my fellow Movieboozers Henry J. Fromage, who tries and tries again in his 365 Days of Movies pursuit, and Movie Snurb, who provides us with monthly themed lists of movies carefully matched with the perfect beer to complement them, I decided it might be fun to start my own monthly column of mini-reviews of the films that are closest to my heart. Those that I devote any and all of my down-time to watching instead of doing something productive. Of course, I’m referring to bad movies. So let’s pour a cold one and give this a whirl.
The Empiricist (2003)- Six Pack
I first heard about this obscure disasterpiece when Rob Hill, author of the most definitive encyclopedia of bad movies, The Bad Movie Bible (which I highly recommend for all fellow lovers of batshit cinema) shared a video of the introduction to this uh, film, in which the writer/director explains that halfway through production the lead actor quit over disputes with the creators regarding the portrayal of his character and was subsequently replaced with another actor. Because they already shot over half the movie, the filmmakers came up with a “revolutionary approach:” Keep all the scenes with the first actor and shoot the remaining ones with the other. So that the audience can follow along, every time the film switches leads, an onscreen graphic notating which actor is playing the character would appear. That’s all I needed to know and I made it my number one priority in life to track this insane thing down.
To my surprise, I was able to purchase a VHS copy on Amazon, a double VHS actually, as this thing is nearly three damn hours. That was the easy part. The hard part was finding a working VCR in the year of our Lord 2019. After striking out with broken thrift store VCRs, I managed to find a TV/VCR combo at my local Goodwill Outlet for the bargain price of $1 and lugged that 50+ lb. thing home. Thankfully, the relic of technology past worked beautifully.
(In case you thought I was making that part up. Props to RCA.)
So, this movie is the product of a quack doctor who has since had his medical license revoked after patients in his care died. The whole film is pretty much a pro-homeopathic medicine propaganda piece. And it’s something.
It’s not so much a laugh-out-loud so-bad-it’s-awesome-fest as much as it is a fascinating mess. Of course, it does have many lol moments (like every time the lead actors switch, which… one is this twenty-something dude-bro with frosted tips who I referred to as Dr. Sugar Ray while watching, and the other one is a fortyish, monotoned, serious guy who I called Dr. Boringpants).
Strangely, you get used to this after awhile. (I grew up on soaps where characters are frequently portrayed by different actors, so maybe that had something to do with it.)
On a technical level, it’s awful—poorly filmed, written, acted, and did I mention nearly three hours long? There are mind-numbing conversations that go on and on and they keep saying “pathology” (and I’m pretty sure using the word incorrectly. I mean, I’m no doctor, but then again, neither is the filmmaker… anymore at least). I live-tweeted this film back on the dark night of August 20th if you’d like to get an idea of my headspace.
Somehow I made it all the way through this one (both tapes!) and lived to tell. I will wear this thing like a medal of honor, right next to my After Last Season badge.
Take a Drink: every time the lead actor changes
Take a Drink: whenever they say “pathology”
Chug: whenever the character of the girlfriend starts talking (trust me)
Things (1989) – Five Beers
The cleverly-named Things is an ultra-low budget horror movie made by a couple mega-fans of the genre who one day thought “why not just make our own horror movie?” and grabbed a camcorder.
This one often comes up every now and then by bad movie aficionados as a lesser-known cult classic, third or fourth tier down on the bad movie hierarchy, if you will. I was in the mood for some fun garbage so I threw it on hoping to be entertained by its ineptitude.
While The Empiricist somehow held my interest for two hours and forty-five minutes, I confess that I couldn’t make it all the way through this slog which clocks in at a measly 83 minutes. It’s just painful. It’s basically two guys ad-libbing horribly while drinking beer intercut with a porn star playing a newswoman reading a cue card someone is holding off to the side of camera, and some homemade practical gore. My niece has a slime business. She makes slime and sells it to her classmates. I’m telling you this because that stuff is way better-looking than any of the “effects” in this movie.
Skip this one. It’s bad in the bad way – boring, unfunny, and unwatchable. If you don’t believe me and want to punish yourself, it’s available on YouTube.
Mini Drinking Game:
Drink: until you figure out something better to do with your time
If the Shoe Fits (1990)- Three Beers
I recently learned that Amazon Prime has a fantastic selection of long-forgotten made-for-TV-movies from decades past. I stumbled upon this take on Cinderella starring a post-sex tape scandal Rob Lowe and pre-nose job Jennifer Grey.
Lowe plays a narcissistic fashion designer named Francesco with a killer sequin wardrobe and Grey is Kelly, an aspiring shoe designer who works as his assistant. For some reason she’s in love with him, but he won’t give her the time of day. That is, until, she finds a magical pair of shoes! Whenever she slips them on, she transforms into Prudence, a beautiful model (it’s Jennifer Grey with her hair slicked back and blue contact lenses, but of course no one realizes they are the same woman) whom Francesco falls for and takes on as his new muse. But Kelly wants Francesco to fall in love with the real her…
Now you may ask: Is there a zany scene of Kelly/Prudence switching back and forth multiple times during a conversation to keep up the appearance that they are two different people? You betcha!
I loved this one. It was as silly and cheeseball as I hoped. Perfect for a hungover Sunday afternoon!
Take a Drink: every time Kelly turns into Prudence and vice versa
Take a Drink: for every exquisite sequined ensemble Rob Lowe wears
Do a shot: every time you think Kelly can do better
Goddess of Love (1988)- Six Pack
Another made-for-TV-movie from Prime Video’s extensive collection! This one stars Vanna White (do I need to finish this sentence? That’s really all you need!) as Venus, the goddess on a mountaintop who burns like a silver flame, or rather gets turned into a stone statue by her father Zeus as punishment for refusing to marry a suitor. She must remain in that state until she finds true love. Kind of hard to do when you’re a statue, but many, many years later some dolt named Ted slips an engagement ring on the statue’s finger and Venus is brought to life in the from of Vanna White! Thinking she’s finally found true love, Venus refuses to give Ted back his ring which was really meant for his fiancée played by Amanda Bearse, aka Marcy D’arcy. Hijinks ensue.
Goddess is essentially a low rent version of Mannequin (if there is such a thing) complete with its own Hollywood played by Little Richard! (I am shitting you not.) David Leisure also pops up as a variation of the same slimeball character he made a career out of because this is 1988 and of course David Leisure pops up (by this point John Larroquette had moved on to bigger things. I feel like I’m dating myself here more and more).
It’s a shame that this is not a more well-known camp classic. It is so, so wonderfully awful in the best way. There is a shopping spree montage set to a song called “Shopping Spree” and Vanna delivers this gem: “I am not here for your cold gross chicken, I am here for your love.”
Drink: whenever Ted asks for his ring back
Drink: when Venus turns into the statue and back again
Do a shot: for the “cold gross chicken” line
Identity Theft of a Cheerleader (2019)- Six Pack
From the network made-for-TV movies of yesterday to the closest thing we currently have: Lifetime movies. Lifetime is the Asylum of melodrama. They have fully embraced the ridiculousness and are running with it full speed. If the title Identity Theft of a Cheerleader doesn’t prove that, then take a look at some of the other titles in their “Cheerleader” series : Undercover Cheerleader, The Cheerleader Escort, The Wrong Cheerleader, and The Secret Lives of Cheerleaders. Just the fact that they have a cheerleader series proves they are in on the joke.
Fortunately, in this case, being in on the joke does not diminish the enjoyment of the film. Maiara Walsh delivers an earnest performance as 30-year-old Vicky who is in a dead-end job as well as a dead-end relationship. She blames her failures in life on not making cheer captain back in high school. If only she could do it all over again!
Hey, wait, why CAN’T she do it all over again? After all, Drew Barrymore did in it Never Been Kissed!
Vicky forges her way into enrolling as a senior at her local high school and quickly becomes the popular cheerleader she’s always dreamed of being. But as her master plan starts to unravel like a cheap pom-pom, she must go to drastic measures to stop her secret from being revealed. Those drastic measures include…murder!
This is glorious trash and I am definitely going to check out more of Lifetime’s cheerleader offerings!
Take a Drink: whenever Vicky has a flashback
Take a Drink: every time Vicky tells a lie
Do a shot: for every kill
The Fanatic (2019)- Six Pack
This is one I have been anticipating since I learned about it, and whew boy, was it worth the wait. In case you haven’t heard, The Fanatic is a film about a fan obsessed with a celebrity. Yes, we’ve heard this synopsis before. There was that 1996 movie The Fan starring Robert De Niro and Eminem even had a song about the topic which unfortunately spawned the word “stan,” now used as a noun to describe an obsessed fan and as a verb to indicate one’s fandom of a particular person or thing. (And both uses grate on my nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard).
But this one is special folks. This motion picture is written, directed, and produced by Fred Durst (yup, I did it all for the nookie Fred Durst). And remember that Eminem video for the aforementioned song? Well, get this, the guy (Devon Sawa) who played Stan (the obsessed fan) in that video plays the action star object of obsession in this movie! I know, it’s poetic! And best of all, Moose, our middle-aged, developmentally challenged antihero is played by a barely recognizable John Travolta in a oh you think Gotti was Razzie-worthy? Well, have I got a beer for you to hold! performance that is so over-the-top bizarre, Nicholas Cage himself couldn’t have done it better.
To give you an idea, a mulleted-Travolta’s first line of dialogue is “I can’t talk very long, I gotta poo.” That’s the very first line! You must give the man credit though, he is really going for it.
Oh, yeah, there’s also a part where Sawa’s character is in the car with his son and says the words “You like Limp Bizkit right?” cranks up the stereo and rocks out. I swear I am not making this up.
I can talk and talk about this thing (really, I want to talk and talk about this thing with someone!), but it is one that need to be seen to believed.
This future How Did This Get Made? subject is available NOW on VOD for around $4.99 and it is worth every penny.
Drink: whenever there is stupid narration
Drink: whenever you experience second-hand embarrassment for anyone involved
Do a Shot: for the insane ending
So there it is. My first list of curated films that I am 100% positive have never been grouped together before. Get to watching and let me know if you’ve seen any of these and if you have any suggestions for future lists in the comments. As you can clearly see, I’ll watch pretty much anything. Cheers!