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A salute to the bad movies

Zach Davis

February 17, 2012
Shepherdstown Chronicle

Being a longtime fan of the cinema, I have experienced many different types of films, and while not all of them can be considered good or even enjoyable, every single one of them has taught many, many lessons about life, love and being human. It is with the greatest due reverence now in this awards season that I salute the bad movies, that so often provide much more valuable lessons than the good ones.

Batman and Robin taught me that there is a limit to the amount of ridiculousness an audience will take before they actively start rooting against the heroes. This movie is relatively unique in that it was very, very expensive, and yet everything about it from the props and sets to the costumes looks cheap, as if they were bought wholesale from a Halloween store in a rundown part of town in a bad neighborhood. There are garish splashes of neon and black lighting in the street scenes. The slums of Gotham City are supposed to be dangerous, full of crime and sleaze, and yet in this movie, they seem about as dangerous as the T-Birds from Grease. In fact, if the T-Birds had decided to sniff paint thinner and buy a lot of glow-in-the-dark sidewalk chalk and white face paint, then they would be the gangs in Batman and Robin. They would also have been roughly 78 percent tougher than the actual gangs in the movie. Remember back in the late 90s when George Clooney was an action hero and not so serious an actor? This movie is the reason he's not anymore. It was so poorly done that it changed the career path of its star. Think about how truly bad a movie has to be for an action hero to decide to delve straight into drama. The dialogue consists almost entirely of innuendo and double entendres. For either of these to be effective, they have to be clever and not entirely obvious. It's not funny if the innuendo is too heavily accented. Nothing that was supposed to be funny about the movie is funny, but everything else is hilariously bad. George Clooney actually apologized for ruining Batman. The movie is so aggressively bad and annoying that the audience actively starts to root against Batman. It's a sad, sad movie.

Jaws the Revenge is the fourth movie in the Jaws franchise, of which the first is a classic, a complete masterpiece and one of the best movies ever made. The sequels are progressively worse. The shark in this movie roars. Sharks, if you were not aware, do not have vocal chords and are incapable of roaring. The shark also-I swear it-stands up on its back fin long enough to get rammed by a ship, and then for absolutely no reason whatsoever, the shark explodes.

Now we turn to Plan 9 From Outer Space, which has earned its reputation as one of the worst movies of all time. It is bad in every way: the writing, direction, acting, special effects and narration. But, the movie itself is too naive and unassuming to be aggressively bad. In an odd way, it's friendly. It's completely incompetent, but strangely sweet. How can you hate a movie with dialogue like this: "Explode the sunlight here, gentlemen, you explode the universe. Explode the sunlight here and a chain reaction will occur direct to the sun itself and to all the planets that sunlight touches, to every planet in the universe. This is why you must be stopped. This is why any means must be used to stop you. In a friendly manner or as (it seems) you want it."

Can you make heads or tails of that? It is completely meaningless and stupidly (and confusingly) written, yet it is charming in its stupidity. The movie possesses an idiot's charm and is probably the funniest thing you could ever watch. This movie taught me the truth of the perennial aphorism "every cloud has a silver lining." Plan 9 From Outer Space is more than a dark cloud; it is a category three hurricane, but that also means that it is packed with more silver than 19th century Colorado.

I have learned a lot from bad movies and I will undoubtedly learn more as time goes on.

It is for this reason that I treasure the opportunity to watch them. I am, after all, an eager learner.

 
 

 

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