Saturday, March 24, 2018
Book Review: Showgirls, Teen Wolves and Astro Zombies
It's time for another book review! I found this book on the shelf at my local used bookstore and just based on the title, I clutched it with both hands tightly and rushed to the checkout counter immediately. And you can see why. Being a movie masochist, I like to watch movies that others consider to be bad, just to see if my tastes come any where close to the average viewer's. Spoiler! If you haven't read my blog except for the occasional entry, they don't. I absolutely love Ed Wood, and especially Plan 9 from Outer Space, which is on a lot of lists as the "worst movie of all time". Low rent movies, the kind that were made for, like, change from selling scavenged aluminum cans are among the kind I like to watch. I get a kick out of The Brain that Wouldn't Die which a lot of people would probably turn off about 20 minutes in.
Not that all cheapjack movies are gems, though. I watched Teenage Zombies and I thought it was the second most boring piece of crap I ever watched. (Kevin Costner's The Postman still reigns supreme on that list.) My review of Robot Monster and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, although tongue-in-cheek, is a tribute to two low-rent features that can be entertaining under the right circumstances. So needless to say, I was interested in a fellow reviewer's insights into the nadir of movies.
So I bought this movie book last Saturday, and despite having to work a 60-hour work week, PLUS keep up with my regular duties for watching movies I need to review for this blog, I still managed to devour this book in a week. And it was worth it.
Showgirls, Teen Wolves and Astro Zombies: A Film Critic's Year-Long Quest to Find The Worst Movie Ever Made: by Michael Adams
Michael Adams, at the time of writing this book, was a movie reviewer for the Australian edition of Empire magazine. One day, after having seen the then currently released Material Girls, was browsing on the internet sit The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) and found that Material Girls was currently holding the number 1 spot on that site's list of the worst movies ever made.
Inspiration comes at the oddest times. While he agreed that the movie was pretty bad, he wasn't quite so sure it was the absolute worst. So he decided to embark on a year-long quest to find the absolute worst movie. Now if he had watched every movie ever made, he would have still been watching movies and would never catch up. But he limited himself to movies that were on other people's lists of worst movies, and included many of the entertainment people he encountered in his position on the Empire staff during the crusade.
With the initial blessing of his wife Clare (who probably internally thought she'd married a whack job), he began the quest. The biggest hurdle was buying all those movies, of course. (It did occur to me initially that he could probably have used Netflix, but after seeing many of the titles he reviewed, I'm not so sure Netflix would have been much help. Is there a site called "Crapflix"???)
This is sort of a diary of his quest rather than a brief synopsis of the movies. Adams entertains his audience not only with the reactions he had to watching these movies, but some of the friendly (and sometimes not so friendly) interactions he has with his wife and his co-workers about this somewhat insane quest.
He does give some details about the movies, although I suspect he doesn't go into details of ALL the movies he watched. He did, after all, make a goal to watch enough movies to make it come out to be at least one a day for an entire year (in other words, at least 365). I admit I didn't count the titles he mentions, so I can't be sure about that. But he does give us enough details to make it interesting reading.
And what movies! Some of them I have never seen, or even heard of, and some of them, based on his descriptions of the content, I probably wouldn't even watch on a dare. (Some of them are extremely graphic and borderline pornographic. Yes, I did watch and review A Clockwork Orange and Myra Breckenridge and Midnight Cowboy, all of which could fit in that "borderline pornographic"description, but some of these sound even more bizarre.)
I definitely don't envy Adams on his quest. At some point prior to the end I might have conceded the quest, but he kept it up right to the bittersweet end. There were many movies that I had seen that he also watched. I love the fact that almost 10 pages of the book were spent discussing my beloved bad movie director, Ed Wood. How Adams decided what to watch is also interesting. He assigned each bad movie to a category, then assigned each category a number. He used a bingo ball machine which he fired up whenever he had to choose a category, thus letting the capricious hand of fate to determine which movies he was going to torture himself each viewing session.
I must admit I have several of the movies he watched on my radar. You can expect my take on some of them in future blog entries. On the other hand, you can be sure I won't delve into those really bizarre ones I referenced above (the ones that sound as if they are pornographic). The book is a keeper, however, and will be on my shelf for reference in the future.