Thursday, January 14, 2016

Guilty Pleasure

The photo above is the movie theater where when I was younger we'd go see movies.   That was the only indoor theater in town, but there were a few drive-ins around town too, and we'd watch movies there as well.  Once my dad revealed to me that he thought about owning a cinema and thought it would be fun occupation or enterprise.  The Arleyne theater above is no longer there and that area of town has been renovated.  This was when I was much younger from the ages of around grade school to early high school.  Sometimes my mom would drop me and my siblings off there, and we'd watch a movie, and call her when the movie was over, or if she wanted to go shopping, she'd find out when the movie ended and would wait for us outside.  I remember seeing Disney films there, Elvis Presley movies, a few horror/SF films there, and some Harryhausen films there, along with 007.

When my family moved to West Texas, we continued our movie going experience to this theater called the Ritz.  It was in the downtown area, and there was another theater close by just around the corner.  Both the Ritz and the Arlyne had balconies, and seemed, at least at the time, fairly plush.  I often wondered where the Arlyne got its name, that just seems an odd name for a theater.  Perhaps it was the last name of the owner, I have no idea.  But we continued watching great movies.  At the Ritz I continued to watch even more Sci-Fi.  I saw 2001, The Planet of the Apes, Fantastic Voyage, A Clockwork Orange, more 007 sequels, and other action films there.  It's odd, but I think between me and my brother I picked out what movies we'd go see, whereas at home he'd pick and choose what TV we watched.  The good thing about that, however, is that we both had pretty similar taste.  That holds true for music and books as well.

Ever so often though, whether you go see a film at the cinema or you just watch them off TV, cable, etc. you are bound to run into a few duds.  Some films are just out right dogs, but a few, although not great films, are entertaining, fun, escapist, guilty pleasures.  I'm not talking about some fiasco like Battlefield Earth that was universally -- and rightly -- condemned on its release, a film that's so bad you wanted to pull out your eyeballs and hurl them at the screen.  I'll further add, this is a subjective  call, because what I enjoy as a guilty pleasure might well be someone's favorite film of all time.  There may be someone out that that actually thinks Battlefield Earth is a great film (I find that hard to believe or that they'd be above the age of six, but I guess it's possible).

The guilty pleasure film is one that isn't that great of a film, more than likely has flaws and plot holes, or is just beyond suspension of doubt, or may even contain all and more of those criticisms.  These are not films that for some imbecile reason you liked, and kept liking, until enough others began to like it as well, allowing you to lie to yourself about how right you were when everyone else was wrong. No, I'm not referring to that. I'm talking about those guilty pleasures that make you so guilty you dare not mention them approvingly in certain circles, since such a confession would mark you for life, scarring your reputation beyond any hope of recovery. I mean those movies that will never develop a cult following, that merit the scorn that's been heaped upon them. Don't pretend you haven't got a few of these in the closet. None of us has perfect taste. No matter how much you educate your taste buds, you still make room for chili fries and pork rinds. I realize that it's mighty tough standing up in front of everybody and saying, "My name is Rupert, and I'm an alco -- excuse me, I actually enjoyed _______________ (fill in the blank)."

I'm gifted when it comes to publicly degrading myself, so I'll start. Here are some of the films I've enjoyed -- there are others -- that I've seen and ENJOYED, even though I know they've gotten criticized and have mixed reviews:

 8MM--with Nickolas Cage--I honestly don't see why some people didn't like this film.  I thought this movie was pretty edgy and dark, and it's not one of Cage's top tier films, but I still enjoyed it.  Granted it reminded me a lot of the George C. Scott film, Hardcore, which is the better film, but I thought 8MM had enough going for it that it is worth watching, and even rewatching again.  I guess it helps if you are into crime picture, mysteries, and that sort of thing.

How about The Avengers with Uma Thurman and Ralph Fiennes?  I used to enjoyed the British TV show, but I already knew going into this film it was going to be a film made for that built-in audience of fans, similar to Charlie's Angels.  So was it a good film?  Heck no.  But for me anyway it was watchable, and after reading a few reviews, I found it more indulging that the critics who panned the film.  Now granted I didn't go to the cinema and pay to see it, I just caught it off TV on a rainy day, but for that it was fine.

I've already posted about the infamous, Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale movie, Val Helsing here.  Is it a great movie?  Not hardly, but it is what it is:  an early CG effects film, that tried to the appeal to a teen horror market.  Depending on my mood, and if it's around Halloween time, I could see watching again if the mood struck me, but I don't think I'd want to watch it again anytime soon.

What about the Popeye movie starring Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall?  Actually I think the movie was pretty well cast, particularly with Duvall as Olive Oyl, but actually the other actors fit pretty well too.  The first time I saw this film, I was on the side of the fence that thought it was a bad movie.  However, I've seen it a few more times, and there is an attraction to the film.  I do think the third act goes on too long, but I like the set-up to the film, but it does wear a bit thin in spots.  For a film made from a comic strip it works okay.  Is it any better or worse than say the Dick Tracy film or The Shadow film?  I guess that's your own personal call.  I actually own The Shadow and the Dick Tracy films, though I'm not a huge fan of Dick Tracy.  I like certain scenes in that film though.  Any film has its acolytes. In a sense, that's what this post is all about.

Road House!  I avoided this one like the plague when it was making the rounds on cable back in the day.  For one I'm not a huge Patrick Swayze fan, and Sam Elliott is about the same for me.  At least Elliott can be pretty good in certain character roles, albeit they are similar badass types.  But the premise, aye yai yai... This came on the El Rey network a few weeks ago, and I just had to check it out.  I was sort of in the mood for a mindless action film, and well, it fills that bill, but it's also pretty doofus on so many levels.  Here's what Leonard Maltin had to say about the film: Bouncer Swayze--an NYU philosophy major no less--is hired to clean house at a hellhole Midwest saloon, and tangles with local kingpin Ben Gazzara, who regards the burg as his own.  One broken limb won't suffice when twenty-seven more will do; braindead yahoo fare is fun for while, until it goes overboard with violence.  I particularly enjoyed the braindead yahoo fare line.  Roger Ebert went on to say:  Was it intended as a parody? I have no idea, but I laughed more during this movie than during any of the so-called comedies I saw during the same week.  For sure it's an eyeroll type movie, or was for me, but at the same time in its own goofy universe, it's watchable.

So what would be your guilty pleasure, Heaven's Gate film?  I could certainly name off more.  Is your favorite guilty pleasure Tomb Raider, Gigli, Ben Affleck in Daredevil, Batman and Robin, or Showgirls?  I guess we all have those secret films that we don't like to admit we enjoy in private.


At 4:46 PM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

Oh yes, at least half the movies I like to watch are guilty pleasures – and they are half the DVDs on my shelf. I like the ones you mentioned. There are scores more of them, but I’ll pick one per decade starting in the 1940s. (The contestants from the 20s and 30s – eg Tarzan and his Mate – fundamentally might be too good to qualify.)

One Million BC – Victor Mature is an alienated teen in the Pleistocene.
Fire Maidens of Outer Space – Brits discover life on a moon of Jupiter and take a couple weeks to build a spaceship to investigate.
One Million Years BC – In this quasi-remake of the 1940 film mentioned above, there are Raquel Welch, an allosaurus, and… well, who needs more?
Myra Breckinridge – the ending is badly mishandled, but in many ways this notoriously awful movie was ahead of its time.
Cherry 2000 – Melanie Griffith as a sort of Mad Maxine.
The Doom Generation – GenXers getting all doom and gloom.
Decoys – hot alien blondes in a Canadian University are cold as ice.
Jupiter Ascending – utterly ridiculous on so many levels, but just sit back and watch the whiz bang effects.

The winner from this bunch, the 1990s entry:

At 7:48 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

I'm right with you there, Rich. How else can I explain owning the first three Star War prequels other than I have a somewhat completest mindset. I'm glad the newer Star Wars film set that franchise back on more firm footing. I've got the first four or so movies of those Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan films as well. Those are definitely memories of childhood, along with the George Reeves Superman box set I bought. I don't know if the Laurel and Hardy films fit in with the Guilty Pleasure niche, but I own some of them as well.

I too own One Million BC, at least the Raquel Welch one, along with many of the 007 movies. I've not seen all the ones you listed however. I'd say half my collection is either Sci-fi, comic book oriented, some action, a little noir, and I have a small cache of animated films. I've got some drama and classic films as well, but it would probably only make up maybe a third. Maybe my biggest guilty pleasure? Hummm, maybe the Howard the Duck film? Of course, I've seen a lot worse and cheesier, but I don't own them, and then as I said someone's cheese is another someone's gold.

At 9:46 PM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

OH man, the boys at MST3K were obsessed with "Road House" back when it was released. They mentioned it quite a few times in several episodes. They even wrote the "Have a Very Swayze Christmas" song based on his adventures in "Road House". That song is one of the highlights of the "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" episode.

Anyway I won't count any MST3K film as a guilty pleasure but here are some of my favorites:

Hawk the Slayer - a mid 80s fantasy adventure with hilarious special effects, super synths music and Jack Palance attempting to be a Darth Vadery kind of villain. As cheesy as "Krull" but with less of a budget.

Hercules - Lou Ferrigno as the Greek muscle man. Oh yeah, and it's somehow 80s and futuristic and disco all at the same time. Wonderfully bizarre robots fight Hercules, and there's Sybil Danning and her chest, and there's King Minos over acting so so much. Just a hilariously wonderful film. But yeah, you've got to have a high tolerance for 1980s fantasy films.

Star Crash - One of those post 1977 Star Wars wannabe movies. But this one with Caroline Munro in a space bikini. It is pretty much as ridiculous as Hercules, but with more 70s and more Hasselhoff and Christopher Plummer slumming it for a paycheck. Both of these films have pretty good scores, lots of adventurous fun. Star Crash's score is by James Bond veteran John Barry, who also wrote the music to "Dances with Wolves" and "Lion in Winter".

Flash Gordon - Again with the 1980s, and again with the outrageous costumes, action and visual effects. I love the cheesy dialogue in this movie and the acting is so perfect. I love that Timothy Dalton is playing it so straight. God bless him. Again a great score by Queen! How can you not love it.

Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Adolescence of Utena - First of all this is a movie retelling of a anime series aimed at pre-teen girls. So um yeah there's that. And I can defend my love for the series, even if it contains so much pink in it that your brain may melt. But I really can't defend the movie. It is a retelling of the series, but a lot stranger. And the television series was known for being really odd. But I can't deny the glorious visuals, the oddly addictive music (which combines classical waltzes, 70s rock opera and gorgeous orchestral symphonies), or the moment where our protagonist turns into a car. No seriously she turns into a car and races a giant car through an apocalyptic landscape. It all ends with two girls kissing as they drive into the sunset. Just plain WTF material, and I love every minute of it.... and yes my wife is very concerned about my love for that film.

And then two modern messes. "The Room" and "Birdemic: Shock and Terror". Both of these are supremely bad movies. But they are so damn funny and bizarre. Lots of fun to watch with Rifftrax, but also just a blast to experience on your own. Just be warned "The Room" has some disturbing nudity in it. You can not unsee it.

At 8:51 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Ah, yes, the sweet sweet smell of a WTF movie. You are right though, it was such a brilliant move for the crew at MST3K to capitalize on something that probably started during late night parties, with people just sitting around still slightly buzzed cracking jokes at the cheesy late night movies. They've been showing MST3K on Saturdays here on the PBS channel, so I've been catching a few of them. Last week was Hercules with Steve Reeves. It made me laugh quite a bit, and I find that some of these more off the wall films make me laugh more than anticipated.

Wow, you came up with some doozy films. I've seen Star Crash, Krull, and Flash Gordon, and they sure qualify. I enjoy Star Crash with all its goofy charm. It's hard to go wrong with some of those SF films. I'd add: Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn--I mean it's gotta be great with a title like that (previously reviewed here), here's one that's not made it to DVD yet (at least not to my knowledge), but I've been wanting to revisit it as I remember seeing it on cable way back in the day, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone with Molly Ringwald.

The other night the El Rey network was running a Godzillathon and showed many of the Big G's films. I saw one called Godzilla vs. Destoroyah. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed all the creature effects. But as you said or alluded to, they still make cheesy, guilty pleasure type movies today. I suspect the new Deadpool movie will fall into this area. I've already seen the ads for it, and it's so over-the-top, well, how could it not be? I guess we'll see. Other genre also have examples, horror can be rife with them.

Having said all that though, it's hard not to love some of these films at times. They can be a lot of fun and entertaining when in the mood.


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