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Crap-Makers and the People Who Hate Them

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in the film world lately, that being the continual production of terrible films.  Now, this is nothing new, surely.  Awful movies date back to the creation of cinema and have peppered the landscape all along.  I have nothing against bad movies; quite the opposite in fact.  I have a well-documented love of the loathsome flicks and have spent

Sharp, pointy teeth!

many a drunken evening with friends lambasting the most ludicrous of the bunch.  But in all or most of these cases, the films in question are what I call “glorious failures.”  These are the movies that were made with every intention of being masterpieces, or at least decent, but during production or editing missed the mark by a thousand miles.  There’s so much pleasure to be had from these movies, like “Night of the Lepus,” an overly-ambitious turkey about attempts to curb the rabbit overpopulation that result in school bus-sized critters demolishing a town.  It’s awful, but delightfully so.  The kind of bad films I object to are the ones that are terrible deliberately for the express purpose of making money off of the morons who see it.  They are what I like to call “Crappy Crap from Craptown.”

I have the utmost respect for people who make glorious failures. Say what you want about movies like “Death Bed: The Bed That Eats,” or “Manos: Hands of Fate,” the filmmakers had a vision, albeit an inept and unintelligible one.  On the other hand, I have nothing but contempt for people who happily produce subpar drivel.  I do not see the point of spending the time to write, fund, cast, produce, shoot, edit, and distribute a movie knowing from the word “go” that it’ll be shit.  These people baffle me, people like the makers of the recently released “Vampires Suck.”  I did not see this movie; I had no desire. I have never read nor seen anything in the “Twilight” series and don’t plan to start, so a movie spoofing it held no appeal to me.  But the trailer conveyed nothing but poorly-constructed jokes and sophomoric sight gags and I registered it as something that probably won’t make any money. Imagine my dismay when the film opened and had a higher first weekend box office take than the infinitely funnier and better “Scott Pilgrim vs The World.”  That day I knew I had a heart, because it was broken.

Who are these fiends that have created such wanton horse pucky?  The blame goes to the filmmaking team of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer.  Who?  Exactly.  They are two of the geniuses behind the “Scary Movie” franchise who decided to form a splinter group and make deplorable spoofs of their own.  To date they have co-directed five films – “Date Movie,” “Epic Movie,” “Meet the Spartans,” “Disaster Movie,” and now “Vampires Suck.”  None of them are rated higher than a 3.4 on IMDb and “Epic,” “Spartans,” and “Disaster” sit firmly in the illustrious Bottom 100 list.  Most filmmakers try to live down one such dubious honor, but these clods have managed to make three.  How do they keep getting to make movies?  The answer, unfortunately, sits right above the number 4 on your keyboard.  $.  None of these movies boast a budget over $30 million and only “Disaster Movie” earned back less than it spent.  They’re cheap to make and garner a profit.  It’s a relatively small gamble on the part of the producers.

So, we know why and how these movies get made, but why does anyone go see them?  The answer, sadly, has become so very apparent to me since living in LA: young moviegoers are stupid.  Abysmally stupid.  Appallingly, abhorrently stupid.  Now, I say “young,” which makes me feel crotchety at 26, but it’s unfortunately true.  The people who go to movies the most and in the greatest numbers are the 16-25 year olds of the world who have disposable income from working at Jack in the Box and get a huge group of their friends together to see whatever tripe happens to be out at the multiplex.  This explains why most movies, even horror movies, these days are rated PG-13; they want to reach the widest audience possible. The heartbreaking thing about it is that this group truly is the only one who still view the cinema as a communal experience.  Too bad they’ve chosen to commune over piles of burning refuse, figuratively speaking.  To prove my theory, go to the theater on a Friday or Saturday night and see whatever big movie is opening.  It’s going to be full of teenagers and college students chuckling and saying “aw shit” when something blows up.  Movies I would never deem worthy of my $15 are the very movies this demographic think look “funny as hell.”

"It's a parody, but that's not important right now."

Still, when the day ends, I hold the filmmakers the most responsible.  They know their movies are stupid and they’re perfectly content and happy with it.  Mr. Friedberg and Mr. Seltzer have made a career, a successful one it seems, out of making movies unfunnily lampooning cultural phenomena, which in itself is a retread of movies like “Airplane!” and “The Naked Gun.”  They’re popping out derivatives of derivatives and can’t even do it cleverly.  They’re in it solely for the buck. They’re the worst kind of Hollywood player.  They’re passing off their obvious, humorless shit as “satire.”  Holden Caulfield would call them “phonies.”  The people in the movies have a reprieve because everybody has to work.  I don’t begrudge Friedberg and Seltzer their livelihoods, but them having a career and having movies in the megaplex means that some independent think piece goes direct to video.  Vampires do suck, sirs, but so do you.  So, I’m offering this plea to the pair of them, and others of their ilk who know who they are and will go unnamed: Try.  For the love of Rassilon, just try to make something worthwhile.  And if you can’t, at least you tried.  It’s better to be a glorious failure than a mediocre success.

Yours faithfully,
-Kanderson

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15 comments

  • You’re so right. The difference between the Friedberg and Seltzer garbage and people like Roger Corman or Ed Wood or the filmmakers you mentioned, is earnestness. These guys did their best, without looking down on their audience. Friedberg and Seltzer couldn’t care less–they get their names in lights, buckets of money, a studio that keeps them going, and a not very bright under-24 crowd, that might as well just light their $10 on fire instead of giving it to the box office. It would probably be more interesting to watch than the hour and a half they’ll spend in the theatre, and it would stop funding Friedberg and Seltzer.

  • I disagree with Molly. I saw ‘The Lost Skeleton’ and found it incredibly forced. The trailer was hilarious; unfortunately the trailer was much funnier than the movie. Camp of that sort is only funny if it is unintentional.
    My favorite bad, ‘oh my god what am I watching,’ unintentionally bad movie is ‘The Apple,’ released in 1980. It is the Citizen Kane of bad movie musicals. It is a must.

  • “an overly-ambitious turkey about attempts to curb the rabbit overpopulation that result in school bus-sized critters demolishing a town”

    Yes… that… fake movie that was fake. Was not real. Don’t believe that scenario, as it is impossible and will not happen on Dec 31, 2012.

  • well i think most kids around my age (14) would rather go see a movie like vampires suck because they don’t really care weather or not a movie has a good plot line. heck the movie could basically have no conflict and a few gags and they’d still go see it. (Grown ups) most kids want to see a movie that makes you laugh if even only for a little bit.

    While Scott pilgrim is amazing i don’t think it appeals to your average teen. As a society we aren’t nerdy enough to accept it yet. in ten years we probably will and it will become a cult classic. just saying

  • I’m in college. A few weeks ago a friend decided he wanted to see Vampires Suck for his birthday. I helped persuade him to see Scott Pilgrim instead and, uh, I’m pretty sure that was the BEST DECISION I EVER MADE. Saw it again two days later.

  • Very good point about stupid young moviegoers. However, its not so much that they are less intelligent and therefore want to see bad movies – instead they have less resistance to peer pressure and advertising. Ultimately these younger movie goers will end up filling seats on a crappy movie, for the simple reason that it had good marketing, and their friends told them to.

  • of course, this is all true. I am also the mother of 2 of the aforementioned movie-going idiot children. we try hard to instill our boys with a sense of what’s good cinema & what sucks dreadfully, it’s working, but slowly (I had to sit thru 35 minutes of Meet the Spartans. and I still ain’t right.)
    ps heh, Rassilon.