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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Classicly Bad?

The Blob was not a great film by any standard but it did star a young Steve McQueen and had many cheesy yet entertaining aspects to it that allowed it to become a classic in its own right. Classically bad? Oh, yeah you better believe it. And that’s one of the reasons it’s so beloved by film fans today. This very concept gave me reason to send Carrie (the editor of this site) the following email:

"Have watched a movie so bad I couldn’t look away – like a train wreck that just keeps getting worse. Alien Trespass (link). A rip off on The Blob (link), and whatever that Michael Rennie one was (The Day the Earth Stood Still), and two or three other Sci Fi films all shuffled together and so badly acted not a one of them would have made the cut in a JR. High production. Then there was the “monster” – the bad alien as opposed to the good alien. One step above silents - no I take that back. It would have been right at home in a silent movie or on Sesame Street. The movie did not have one redeeming scene and yet I watched, fascinated by the awfulness".

Carrie answered back that the next time I encountered such a bad movie I was to call her and she would join me (Her in Hollywood, me on the Oregon coast) as friends don’t let friends watch bad movies alone.

That got me thinking… can a “bad” movie also become a classic movie. Well, of course there is always The Rocky Horror Picture Show, so I guess the answer is yes - a prime example of a bad movie being shared among friends becoming a seriously good entertainment experience (note - Carrie actually links this movie very much and doesn’t understand why Amanda doesn’t like it). And there is a wide variety of bad films out there. There are good scripts that are burdened by poor direction and/or bad acting. Great actors are sometimes drug under by impossible story lines. Great stories have been directed into mediocrity. Scripts get produced that big name actors and fabulous directors can’t save.

For every Little Shop of Horrors there are dozens of films that made it to the big screen only to languish, quite rightly, on video tape on the shelves in the dark corners of Movie Rental stores right next to the early Schwarzenegger films – great bodies in a minimum of clothing may sell films initially regardless of the gender of the great body, but eventually one does notice the absence of acting talent or reasonable story line. Let’s face it, despite the huge number of films shot (all those Tarzans and Janes did look tasty running basically bare through the stickers, snakes, and tree tops), the only Tarzan films likely to make it on to a classics list are the first one and quite likely the Disney version.

Not sure exactly how many other perfectly terrible movies are out there in line to amaze us with their imperfection, but I must say Alien Trespass is as perfectly off the mark as a film can get. The script is not good enough to be called doggerel, but then every writer drops a clunker on occasion. The actors (and I use the term loosely in this instance) gave what is fervently hoped is their worst performance bar none and they will either improve by leaps and bounds or go back to wherever they came from and become dentists, doctors, waitresses, street sweepers - something that better fits their various talents. We are not going to go into the direction. If he was present he must have been impaired. Ill? Drunk? And somebody actual produced this perfect storm. Was it meant to be a tax loss? Then I must say, unlike Zero Mostel (in The Producers) he succeeded.

However, I may be missing it - was it tongue in cheek? Will it, despite its perfect imperfection, or because of it, become a beloved and much watched classic? I suppose time will tell. I was unable to change the station and take my eyes from the sheer awfulness. Perhaps it will strike others – you? – that way too.

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