After reading Kat Bacon's recent post about "Embracing So Bad It's Good" movies, I've been inspired to take a look at my own personal guilty pleasures and evaluate them properly and hopefully inspire some of you to look at and write about your own.
First of I think it's important that these are not gonna be "movies people just don't like", these may be movies that a lot of you have NEVER even heard of, much less would dream of hunting down but each one has a certain charm and beauty.
We're all a little snobby about films from time to time, but it's not about putting a case for a movie that got a bad rep. It's about a movie you'll tell your buddies about, maybe even try and get a new bf/gf to watch with you. The kind of movie if they don't get it, it's cool but you kind of hope they love too.
These are not ranked, it's just 10 of my favourite #SOBIG movies but some will get a little more "love" than others. Here we go with the first five.
This was a movie I randomly taped off of BBC1 in the early 90's. Weird Al Yankovic had had a minor success in 1983 with Eat it in the UK Charts, but he wasn't really a thing and one Sunday, I decided to watch this random film...and was converted.
The tale of George Newman, a ne'er-do-well and his crazy pals at the UHF TV station was pretty formulaic, but the humor was very much in the vein of another movie I'd recently seen for the first time, Monty Python's And Now For Something Completely Different. That movie was predominantly a skit movie and so was UHF with mock TV shows and commercials making up a large chunk to distract from said "plot".
This is the movie that introduced us to the concept of Conan The Librarian, Ghandi 2, Wheel Of Fish and my personal favorite, Raul's Wild Kingdom. A movie where throwing poodles out of a window to teach them to fly makes you laugh so much you want to pee even though you know you shouldn't? That's this film. A movie where a kid gets blasted in the face with a fire hose as a reward? That's this movie.
Some of it is very bad indeed, the supporting cast are game but they don't work some of the time. I never saw Victoria Jackson in anything else than this and for years I confused her with Ellen Greene from Little Shop Of Horrors.
Kevin McCarthy was playing "slimy bastard villains" as a stock in trade and here is perhaps his worst case, the humor of Innerspace wasn't there, he was just aping Bill Murray from Scrooged in this and on the strength of this movie, I never quite got how Fran Drescher ever got anywhere. She obviously did with The Nanny etc but over here in the UK we never got it, she just came across as annoying.
A lot of the jokes do fall very flat but the ones that hit are real belly laughs and many come from a guy who I will mention a lot in another movie later on... Michael Richards.
It was seeing this guy that got me into the film, this was before Kramer but he had also been in Whoops Apocalypse (more later) and I loved his shtick.
I also recognized Emo Phillips doing his "cutting the fingers off routine" which I'd seen on a chat show and those guys got me into it.
Why do I keep coming back to UHF? It's less knowing than Wayne's World, a bit less mean spirited than Airplane and way better than anything Jim Carrey put out. It's said this movie found it's audience years later on DVD and I can see why, it wasn't ahead of it's time so much as just needed a bit of distance from it's era to be really appreciated, a bit like Weird Al's sense of humor and wacky songs. He's more popular than ever now but steers well clear of movies, probably for the best but I'd be curious to see what he'd do with another chance.
2. Happy Hell Night
As a teenager in my house, we had kind of a weekend ritual. We'd hire out videos and watch them all together. We of course would want the latest blockbusters while my Dad, who always got the casting vote seemed to go for the trashiest, most awful movie possible, usually a Horror. Some on review later turned out to be forgotten classics. Monkey Shines, From Beyond, Anguish were all movies picked out by my old man but one such weekend introduced me to my favourite SOBIG horror and a new family ritual.
The most famous person in this Darren McGavin with Jorja Fox starting her career out. That sums up the acting. It's a pretty standard Haunted House/college film with a not very original killer. However the filmmakers clearly had been studying the Freddy Bible Of Quipdoom. Every kill is met with the most hilarious, high pitched, bizzare quip from the killer such as "Noooo TV".
Any tension disappears and it becomes an unfortunate but hilarious comedy, I've heard the upcoming Tusk apes this a little with a certain big time actor's outrageous french accent.
Forever more in our house, we then got the pick of the video, or at least to be the judge from the case if it was another Happy Hell Night and the power of veto...and all we had to say to my Dad was noooo video.
For that reason even though it's god awful, I'll always love this film.
3. Space Camp
Like many family's did, we reached a point in the late 80's where we ended up somehow with 2 VCR's in the house and that meant buying lots of tapes and copying rented films. The advent of Extended Play meant you'd get 2-3 films on one tape and some of the most played in our house had movies like Big Trouble In Little China, Dirty Dancing, La Bamba and... Space Camp.
As a kid I loved it, the idea you could actually go to a Space Camp, that you could learn to be an Astronaut but to me this was the kind of movie that made me want to live in America, where this kind of thing WAS possible. Here in England we didn't have Astronauts, much less a place you could go to learn to be one, or robots, or Kelly Preston who was a major crush for longer than I care to admit.
Then as I grew older this was a movie I rebelled against, I thought it was stupid, juvenile and not very good. I'm not sure if it was the really bad voice on JINX the robot (same guy as on Happy Hell Night I think lol) that all the characters were basically horrible except for Tom Skerrit who looked embarrassed and the conceit was all wrong.
A couple of years back, I watched it again with my housemates on a random Sunday...and I loved it again, cos finally I got it. I'd wanted to punch Leaf/Joaquin Phoenix for most of my teen years and then realized I also had in Gladiator, so he must have been really good at playing annoying, whiny jerks all along.
I realized that I HAD gotten to go to America, not to train to be an Astronaut but that the tale of that group going to a new place had actually planted the seed in my brain I could do it one day, and I had, I'd planted myself in both Memphis and the middle of India with no real assistance and not only survived but come out better. It was also a pretty enjoyable romp, and not many movies these days can say that. I showed it to my nephew who at 10 is quickly becoming very savvy to movies. He loved it, even though he normally goes for Lord Of The Rings and the like. Hated Max too... called him a brat... so Mr. Phoenix was always going to be a star it seems.
The Good... Kelly Preston and Lea Thompson doing their mid 80's cute thing, Tom Skerrit being the boss like always and Mrs Spielberg was pretty ok in it too.
4. Whoops Apocalypse
This is one of those films that doesn't age well in many ways, it is a movie version of a British comedy series that aired in the mid 80's. The set up is very much a spoof of the Falklands War, with a fairytale princess in peril.
To many this would be a god awful movie, but if you look at it, even today there is still some biting satire that is relevant more than ever on top of some amazing comic performances from true greats.
The cast is a who's who of British acting talent from the last 30 years. Rik Mayall as the OTT, bolshie SAS Commander thwarted by wax works, yep he's here in perhaps his best movie role.
Richard Wilson, AKA Victor Meldrew as the harrassed Deputy Prime Minister, he's here. Herbert Lom is the villain along with Alexi Sayle and Michael Richards as Lacrobat, the most cool but bizarre terrorist you will ever see. Isis have nothing on this guy who can not only act as a master of disguise but use the craziest weapons against his enemies. This isn't Kramer or Stanley Spedowski but it's a great character and done better than John Cleese did in the TV show.
This movie belongs to two people however.
Ian Richardson, the original star of House Of Cards...when it was just a BBC Show is hilarious as the commander of the Naval Fleet. The scene where he reads a dispatch, sent by journos from his ship about an unfortunate accident involving a Princess is almost Shakespearean. His sub plot about his domestic arrangements is 30 years before it's time and the ending...well let's just say if the world is gonna end...it'll be something stupid like that.
But the true star of this movie without doubt is the late great Peter Cook.
Why do I love this movie so much? Cos of his performance as the batshit Prime Minister who convinces his county not only that unemployment is caused by Pixies, that crucifying his cabinet is good policy and that jumping off a cliff to create new jobs will make Britain great again. If you watch this movie for no other reason, or just YouTube some bits, look for Peter in this film. It really is genius and very scarily like a certain soon to be ex-leader.
But this movie would go in the trash pile for most who saw it. If you're mid to 30 something and British though, you'll really appreciate it more.
5. Holy Man
To most critics this is the beginning of Eddie Murphy's downward spiral, like the Love Guru a comedian's attempt to ape spirituality.
This is not a great movie, but it's far better than it's been made out to be over the years and that's mainly due to what is in reality an excellent cast.
Eddie in this is funny, but not the main comedy beat. He's in essence playing the straight man who cracks the odd joke but is just so innocent compared to the rest of the world that he comes across as taking the pee out of the world.
It's actually Jeff Goldblum who handles a lot of the comedy and he's always been VERY good at that. It's a partnership that really does work with both getting time as the straight man and joker.
The whole cast is strong, Kelly Preston (again, she seems to crop up a lot), John Cryer and Robert Loggia are all great, even Eric McCormack is great as a sleazy "villain".
The joke of this movie is not religion or spiritual people, it's consumerism and I think many people missed it. The idea of a Ghandi type chainsawing a picnic table or electrocuting Morgan Fairchild and it encouraging people to buy is the gag, not the Holy man himself.
This is one of those films most people will either avoid like the plague or catch on TV randomly, if you do, give it a shot. It's definitely not Eddie's worst and it's better than a lot of stuff he did after his mid 80's peak.
So that's the first 5... 5 more to go including a movie with the small guy from Smokey & The Bandit as The Devil, Mike Myers as a childhood story gone awry and a trip to retrieve a naughty tape that involves a sperm bank, Tom Green and stealing a bus from a blind Chloe from 24...
Feel free to leave your comments on these or share your own #SOBIG movies.