too much typing—since 2003


so bad it's...

I've always been just a little troubled by the vogue for "bad movies." The quotation marks are important - since the tendency isn't to watch just any bad movie, but only those that try to be more or better than they are. (Anyone can make a truly bad movie, especially if they try to do so.) On one level, of course, it's easy to see the appeal: the sheer incompetence of the work on many of these movies is stunning to behold, as is the frequent "what the fuck?" of why anyone ever thought this plot, these actors, that camerawork could possibly make a passable movie. But that's my problem: at least those folks were trying, and at least they had some sort of ambitions. They may (okay, they definitely do) overshoot the limits of their talents, but that does not mean they're utterly talentless. (And if they were, why would that make the movie more laughable, rather than merely more pathetic - in the original sense of the term?)

In fact, the more popular "bad movies" tend to have, at their core, some kernel of quality that makes the badness that surrounds it ooze forth all the more prominently. But here's the problem: film is, of course, an intensely collaborative medium. "Collaborative," here, is often a synonym for "expensive," where money buys talent, or at least access to decent equipment, actors, and technical people. As far as I'm concerned, the big-budget Hollywood film that, despite its millions of dollars spent, still manages to blow continuity, be rampantly implausible, or just be massively uninteresting is far, far worse a movie than anything Edward Wood ever did. What would Wood have been able to do with Kevin Costner's budgets?

All of this is brought on by having viewed earlier this evening Roy Dennis Steckler's Rat Pfink a Boo Boo. What's wrong with this film is a long list - we can start with an absurdly inconsistent tone, terrible sound that necessitated blatantly uncoordinated dubbing, and a lack of material that caused even an hour-long movie to be full of padding. But least in the first half of the movie, Steckler displays an interesting eye, framing shots rather dramatically, and effectively creating a mood of creepiness around his bizarre trio of amped-up criminals (one of whom seems to have borrowed Willem Dafoe's teeth). Of course (and apparently Steckler and crew simply got bored with the drama), the second half descends into a light-hearted but rather less inspired and more sloppily edited "Batman" parody - even if the absurd appearance of "Kogar" (a man in a carefully groomed ape costume) and his bizarrely large-assed and tight-pantsed trainer up the ridiculousness quotient to hitherto-unexpected levels. (Incidentally, this movie features quite a large number of close-ups of tightly packaged butts, male and female. I'm just sayin', if you wanted to know.)

But give Steckler more money, a better cast and script, and the courage of whatever convictions allowed him to begin filming a semi-avant-garde, creepy crime drama, and he might actually have made a decent b-movie - at least at the level of something like Carnival of Souls, and possibly better than that. Still, even with all its considerable flaws, given that it was made for about $5,000, this movie certainly isn't ten thousand times worse than some piece of $50 million dollar Hollywood crap.

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