Saturday Art: Essential Movies (So Bad They’re Good)
I’m coming to the end of this series of Saturday Art posts so it is time now to cover the movies that are So Bad They’re Good. What makes a Bad movie? In my eyes, there are a variety of reasons for movies to be on this list. Many of the movies had a good cast but things just didn’t come together. Of course, many of the actors involved seem to have done these movies as pay days more than for any ‘artistic’ values. Supposed action and supposed comedies dominate so that might signify a trend. I don’t know if they still do this but the Boston Globe used to rate movies coming on TV as:
1. Worth staying home to watch.
2. Worth watching if staying home.
3. Worth watching if staying home sick
4. Not worth watching.
Most of these movies fit into the latter two categories. At best. Nevertheless, they offer, if not redeeming features, at least an occasional chuckle or two, even if the laugh occurs in spots that were not supposed to be funny. Oh well.
Any list of movies so bad they’re good pretty much has to start with The Conqueror. John Wayne as Ghengis Kahn. Susan Hayward as Bortai “The Tartar Woman.” Agnes Moorehead as the mother of Wayne’s “Temujin” (Ghengis Kahn). Sample dialog:
Bortai: For me, there is no peace while you live, Mongol.
Temujin: You’re beautiful in your wrath.
This movie is often called the “cancer” movie as 91 members of the 220 member cast and crew had gotten cancer with 46 of them dying of cancer, often believed to be because of filming in the Utah desert, downwind of above ground nuclear tests in the ’50s.
Next up are the early movies of Steven Seagal. I have no idea why I enjoy so many of these early movies from Seagal but I do, excess violence and all. Above the Law. Hard to Kill. Marked for Death. Out for Justice. Under Siege and Under Siege 2: Dark Territory. And finally Fire Down Below. I guess after Fire Down Below I finally got burned out with watching Seagal but it was fun while it lasted. And I still watch all of these (assuming nothing better is available of course – that is a primary caveat for the movies on this list; I’m not watching them if there’s something available from my earlier lists or next weeks either.)
Maybe there’s a trend but Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, Dan Aykroyd, Burt Reynolds, Richard Dreyfuss, Kathleen Turner, and Tommy Lee Jones all have at least two movies each on this list.
Stallone is here with The Specialist (with Sharon Stone, James Wood, Rod Steiger, and Eric Roberts), Tango & Cash (with Kurt Russell, Jack Palance, and Teri Hatcher) and Demolition Man (with Snipes). Snipes other movies on the list are Passenger 57 and Money Train (with Woody Harrelson and Jennifer Lopez. Bruce Willis is here with The Last Boy Scout (with Damon Wayans), Striking Distance (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Sunset (James Garner and Mariel Hemingway).
Patrick Swayze is here with Roadhouse (Kelly Lynch, Sam Elliott, and Ben Gazzara), Next of Kin (Liam Neeson and Helen Hunt) , and Point Break (Keeanu Reeves and Gary Busey). Dan Aykroyd makes it with Spies Like Us and Dragnet (with Tom Hanks and Christopher Plummer).
Burt Reynolds is here almost as often as Seagal, though he has a lot of ‘accomplices’ in many of these. The Cannonball Run and Cannonball Run II. Striptease (with Demi Moore). The Crew (with Richard Dreyfus). Switching Channels (Kathleen Turner and Christopher Reeve). Turner’s other movies on this list are V.I. Warshawski and Undercover Blues (with Dennis Quaid). Dreyfuss’s others are Moon Over Parador (Raul Julia and Sonia Braga) and Let It Ride ( Teri Garr and David Johansen). Tommy Lee Jones, in addition to Under Siege with Seagal is here with Man of the House.
John Goodman is here for King Ralph (Peter O’Toole and John Hurt). Down Periscope (Kelsey Grammar, Bruce Dern). Cocktail (Tom Cruise and Elizabeth Shue). The Shrimp On the Barbie (Cheech Marin and Emma Sams). Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (Fred Ward and Joel Grey). PCU (Jeremy Piven). Coyote Ugly (Piper Perabo, Maria Bello, John Goodman). Steal Big Steal Little (Andy Garcia) and finally Steel (Shaquille O’Neal, Annabeth Gish, and Judd Nelson).
I would like to emphasize that this list does in no way imply that the actors haven’t done other Bad Movies; these are just the list of movies I think are so bad they are good in their own special ways.
Other posts in this series are Essential Movies, Westerns, Historical Settings (pre-1500), Historical Settings (post 1500), Sword and Sorcery, Science Fiction, War Movies, Crime and Punishment, Music, Song and Dance – and Elvis, Sports, Spies, PI’s, Comic Heroes, Cartoons Plus, and Romantic Comedies.
And because I can: