Carlo's Corner: Worst Movie Ever?
Okay so here’s the thing: I watch a lot of garbage. Well, relatively so. I’d like to think I don’t do this ironically, but who knows really? I often feel like the difference between enjoying something ironically and sincerely is just a matter of ego, whether or not you believe you're above conforming to certain standards. The “Worst Movie Ever” monicker in particular is problematic in its short-sightedness, and one I’d like to shine a different light on. Maybe I'm too invested in movies, but I don’t believe in taking anything at face value. I trust you guys have enough ~imagination~ to fill in the gaps of something superficially cheap-looking, or lacking the budget to match otherwise fresh ideas. I’m not saying every movie has redeeming qualities, but being a cynic is bush league.
If you've read my essays on Superman IV and Mac & Me a common thread should start emerging, neither of them takes the art of film very seriously but they also don't wink at the camera at every turn. How harsh can you really judge something that’s so harmlessly unpretentious? And I want to make it clear that when I call these movies “garbage” I mean that in the most loving way possible. Like in a “I’m Oscar the Grouch and garbage is my sustenance” kinda way. I think the only movies that can legitimately be considered “The Worst” are the ones that try to hammer home a point or a punchline that everyone's heard already. But then I’m sure even those have an audience.
I'm the kind of person who appreciates audacity over playing it safe. A prime example of something that wasn’t thought all the way through is The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987). That’s right, someone came up with the idea to make a movie based on those gimmicky trading cards that came out at the height of gross-out comedy in the '80s. Was it a smart decision? History says no, and the upcoming release of The Emoji Movie means no lessons were learned. The Garbage Pail Kids trading cards were originally created as a spoof of those "cutesy" Cabbage Patch Kids, and that's all there is to them in terms of a backstory. But hey, that’s what those screenwriters with their fancy Harvard degrees are for, right?
This movie imagines The Garbage Pail Kids as a troupe of magical creatures who travel around in a garbage can spaceship, and can be summoned by removing the lid (much like a snot-faced genie in a lamp). Which is of course what happens, when a youth by the name of Dodger knocks it over in the midst of being assaulted by his bullies, and the Garbage Pail Kids come to his aide. Later on Dodger recruits The Kids as work-for-free fashion designers in his little sweatshop to impress the girl of his dreams, Tangerine, who has a little racket on the side selling clothes at a night club. Don't these kids have parents?! Anyway, it’s not a good movie, but y’know it kinda could’ve been? Like it has some annoyingly catchy songs, pretty good puppets (with barely functioning faces), and a very commendable underlying theme about not being a discriminating, superficial sack of shit. I mean, just peep these lyrics of the theme song:
“Whenever them normies started comin around
Laughing and pointing and putting us down
If they think we're ugly, they should look in a mirror
It's not how you look, it's what you got in here
We're all special, yeah, special in unique design
Everyone's a reflection, reflection of these crazy times”
Heck yeah, girl! Embrace that hairy wart on your nose! You do you! Ultimately Tangerine ends up stabbing Dodger and The Kids in the back, so homeboy decides to cut ties with her with the iconic words, “I don’t think you’re pretty anymore.” As supremely dorky as that line is, I like to think it's kinda legit in its message of inner beauty, especially considering this is supposed to be a kids movie.
Another example of a movie that's been unfortunately maligned, and embraced by ironic fuckboys, is Troll 2 (1990). Troll 2 is a weird ass movie, I’ll give it that. But it’s actually not that weird when you know where it’s coming from. That place being Italy, and more specifically the collective minds of director Claudio Fragasso and his wife Rossella Drudi. Troll 2 is for all intents and purposes an Italian rip-off sequel. It has zero ties to the first Troll movie (starring Julia-Louis Dreyfus and one of my favorite character actors: Michael Moriarty), which wasn't too unusual for exploitation cinema in Italy throughout the '80s. Just ask me how many unofficial Evil Dead sequels there are if you go by its Italian "La Casa" title, and I'll Wiki it for you. (That number is seven, including the original two, somehow leaving out Army of Darkness.)
Troll 2 is about a family who goes on a home swap vacation to a rural town by the name of Nilbog. (Side note: the production title for Troll 2 was “Goblins.” You're smart, you'll get it.) There’s some truly bizarre shit going on in Troll 2, not in the least an infamous sex scene involving a literal truckload of popcorn; but a lot of that can probably be attributed to cultural differences and an on-set language barrier. But what actually stands out the most to me are its anti-vegetarian themes, intently (and rather bitterly) injected by screenwriter Rossella Drudi. Early on, the family’s son gets visited by the ghost of his grandfather, who warns him that they’ll be turned into plants by vegetarian goblins if they go to Nilbog, and at the end he eats a “double-decker Bologna sandwich” to gain immunity against the goblins' poison.
Worst movie ever? Hardly. Troll 2 is too much of a goof to be considered a bad time. The performances are far from traditionally “good,” but they are anything if not colorful. In fact, when Claudio Fragasso attended a Q&A screening of his movie a few years back, and got interviewed for the Troll 2 documentary Best Worst Movie (2009), he clearly wasn't in on the joke. A rather painful, and telling example of the ironic embracement of unconventional movies, if you ask me. There’s a fine, but distinct line between a hearty laugh, and a sly snicker meant to hide embarrassment at watching something you think is beneath you. Don’t be above things, ya dingus. What is this, the Razzies? Man, fuck those guys. Yeah, that's a good place to end it: fuck the Razzies.
Think these movies are bad? Think again: Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994), Grease 2 (1982), Cool As Ice (1991), Problem Child 2 (1991), Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996), Rhinestone (1984), No Holds Barred (1989), Judge Dredd (1995), Sleepwalkers (1992), Tammy and the T-Rex (1994), The Return of Swamp Thing (1989), Knock Off (1989), Samurai Cop (1989), Freddy vs. Jason (2003), Mortal Kombat (1995), A Return to Salem’s Lot (1987), Over the Top (1987), Sleepaway Camp II (1988), Cyclone (1987), and so forth...