My Ten Worst Films of 2017

My Ten Worst Films of 2017

2017 has come to a close and now is the time to sift through the films left in it’s wake. With the Academy Awards less than a month away the time has come to discuss what films will leave an impression behind and be heralded as classics in the years to come. Unfortunately, now is not the time for that. We’re here to look at the films that will either be (hopefully) forgotten or stay stuck in pop culture as floundering missteps by their respective studios. Yep, today we look back at the ten films that I watched and regret wasting my time on. I’m sure there were worse films made this year, but I tend to ignore films I have no interest in watching. You won’t be seeing Fifty Shades Darker or The Emoji Movie on this list. So, without further ado let’s begin discussing my questionable film choices of the year.

10. Transformers: The Last Knight

Michael Bay’s Transformers series turned 10 years old in 2017. That’s one film every 2 years. In that time span the series has gone from a mildly fun adventure to bloated ‘splosion fests that are in dire need of an editor. At this point we all know what to expect from these films, but I am holding out hope that the Bumblebee spin-off will breathe new life into the series

9. Snatched

I really wanted to enjoy this film. I think given the right material Amy Schumer is a talented and funny comic. Pairing her with Goldie Hawn was a brilliant idea. If only the writer had given two shits about the story. This is as bad and disappointing as Hot Pursuit.

8. Flatliners

What was suppose to be a sequel to the original film got edited down into a bland and by the numbers remake. I can not believe so many talented actors (Ellen Page, Diego Luna Kiersey Clemons) got wasted. Niels Arden Oplev got lucky with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I’m thinking if I re-watch that film I’ll see the only reason it’s good is because of the story and leading actors. I really have no interest in seeing his career progress.

7. The Dark Tower

I’ve never read any of the Stephen King series this film is based off, so I’m sure I was let down less so than many people. Idris Elba tries to make the best of what he’s given and we’re left with a jumbled film that trips over itself and runs way too short for the story they need to tell in spite of feeling longer than it actually was. Funny, my worst film of 2016 was Cell. It’s almost as though some Stephen King stories are best left on the page.

6. Amityville: The Awakening

It has been an abysmal year for horror franchises. This and the Texas Chainsaw prequel Leatherface were terrible. I’m not going to pretend that the Amityville series is any sort of Holy Grail of cinema, but Blumhouse has had a decent track record in recent years. This felt like a cynical attempt to ‘modernize’ the franchise while retaining the rights to the series. Honestly, I think humanity will survive if this is the last Amityville film. I doubt that will be the case. But I remain optimistic that this year’s new entry in the Halloween series will be good… hopefully.

5. The Bye Bye Man

So what happens when you want to make a Slenderman film, but can’t obtain the rights to the character? You copy and paste some of his attributes onto a generic script and hope releasing the film in January will get you a decent return on investment. There is nothing enjoyable about this film. It doesn’t even work as an unintentional comedy. This ranks beside The Devil Inside as one of the worst January horror films to date.

4. CHiPs

We’re at that point where studios are so desperate for brand recognition we got a film based off CHiPs. A cop show made during the late 70’s and early 80’s that has aged horribly. But hey, if you can’t do a proper adaptation of the material make it a spoof. That worked for Starsky and Hutch, right? I really wish Dax Shepard the best of luck going forward, but this project was a mistake on his part as a director, writer, and actor. At least Michael Pena has some fun moments, so there’s that.

3. The House

I genuinely believe that this film was originally conceived to be a dark comedy. A couple from the suburbs teaming with their degenerate gambling addict of a friend to open a casino and go down a dark path in order make a better life for their daughter. Eh, that doesn’t work for our actors, so let’s re-tool it to suit their comedic sensibilities. What we got was a tonal mess where almost everyone involved appears to be phoning in their performance.

2. American Anarchist

If I wanted to watch an old man be berated for his past mistakes I’d go to a family reunion. All joking aside, Charlie Siskel could’ve made a wonderful documentary about William Powell’s life, but instead went for the low hanging fruit of attacking him for all the evil deeds attributed to The Anarchist Cookbook. I hated this documentary for being manipulative and downright offensive to the interviewee.

1.Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Paul W.S. Anderson’s reign over the Resident Evil films has come to an end, thank you Lord! This series has been a disappointment from the get go. Sure, the first film is mildly enjoyable as an early 2000’s dumb action romp, but these films are so far divorced from their source material it’s infuriating. Afterlife and Retribution tread water in the plot while Anderson and his wife Milla Jovovich cashed paychecks, but this one tried to tie it all together and provide a satisfactory ending. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Reboot this franchise and stick closer to the video game’s tone and story please.

So there you have, another ten films I’ve watched and am now hoping to scrub from my subconscious. In the coming weeks I will also post my honorable mentions and Ten Best Films of the Year lists, so keep an eye out. I’ve also been asked by a friend and fellow film lover to do a guest spot on his podcast wrapping up 2017. I’ll provide a link in an upcoming article. These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Did you see any of the films I’ve listed? What was the worst film you saw this year? If you’re interested links to my previous worst of the year films lists can be found below. Remember you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @sdfilmthoughts. As always, thanks for reading.


Looking Back at my #1 Films from the Past Decade

Looking Back at my #1 Films from the Past Decade

2017 is over and while I still have a lot of work ahead in prepping my 10 best and worst films of the year I had an idea. Over the past ten years I’ve published a top ten list of my favorite films from each year. I decided, why not dig back through my number one films from 2007 to 2016 and take a look at these movies? Do they still hold up? Have any lost their sheen in the years that have past? Without further ado, let’s find out!

2007 – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

It truly is a shame that Andrew Dominik seems to have been getting brushed over by Hollywood. While I enjoyed Chopper and thought Killing Them Softly was terribly underrated I still hold The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford in high esteem. Of course it’s still considered a good film by many, I’d say it’s one of the best westerns ever made. The sheer beauty of Roger Deakins cinematography is enough to keep you mesmerized, but Brad Pitt’s commanding performance and an ensemble that’d be the envy of others takes the script and turns it into art. It definitely is a film you have to be in the mood to watch. But it was a theatrical experience I will never forget.

2008 – The Wrestler

I’ve been called a Darren Aronofsky apologist by a few friends for my defense of his work ranging from The Fountain (one of my favorite films) to this year’s mother! He’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. The Wrestler stands as probably his most accessible film. It’s a straight forward story of a man who’s glory days have faded and how he looks back on the good, the bad, and the weird of a career often mocked. Professional wrestlers aren’t exactly considered thespians (aside from Dwayne Johnson), but they put their bodies through trauma to entertain the masses. Pairing the story with Mickey Rourke, an actor who knows a thing or two about being a forgotten relic of the 80’s made you root for the protagonist in spite of his numerous flaws. This will be the role Rourke will forever be remembered for and with good reason. It’s raw and painfully honest.

2009 – (500) Days of Summer

This film has definitely seen it’s share of backlash in the years after it’s release. Marc Webb’s bright and quirky take on the beginning, middle, end, and aftermath of a relationship has been scrutinized by many online writers. Is this film nothing more than hipster trash showing beautiful people with beautiful people problems? Is Tom a creepy weirdo who should know the world he’s crafted is built on bullshit? Is Summer portrayed too much as a cold hearted bitch to exercise some demons of the writers’ previous relationships? It all seems like over-analysis to me. I still think the film grapples with some strong emotions in a lighthearted fashion. Tom comes into the story naive to true love, but after taking some hits gets back up a little wiser. It’s a shame that Sony didn’t loosen the reins on Webb with The Amazing Spider-Man films. If he’d gotten to throw in more of the flare he exhibited here they might’ve turned out a little better.

2010 – Black Swan/Inception

I copped out this year. I enjoyed both of these films immensely and couldn’t choose between them for the number one slot. Well, it was my list so they got to share it! I’ve written previously about how the films of underrated director Satoshi Kon influenced both Darren Aronofsky and Christopher Nolan. These films are the biggest pieces of evidence to back that up. Black Swan has a story slightly similar to Perfect Blue while the idea of exploring a dream world was the crux of Paprika. Both of these films owe a huge debt to a brilliant (and unfortunately dearly departed) filmmaker. And while I will say that both films have rotated around my favorite list for each respective director I still enjoy them. Both have the typical strengths and weaknesses of Aronofsky and Nolan.

2011 – Drive

Oh Nicolas Winding Refn, one of the most divisive filmmakers of recent years. Some people love him for his stunning visual style and low key storytelling. Others call him a pretentious artist who can’t grasp narrative to save his life. I fall somewhere in the middle. Pusher and Bronson are fantastic. Only God Forgives is a film I keep coming back to and appreciate more with every re-watch. Valhalla Rising has it’s moments, but for the most part left me indifferent. And The Neon Demon is a weird beast that every time I watch my feelings toward it change. Drive definitely stands (beside Bronson) as my favorite of his works. On paper this story could’ve been directed by Olivier Megaton, starred Jason Statham, and been a so so action film. It became a love letter to genre archetypes and beautiful one at that.

2012 – ParaNorman

When I saw the first teaser trailer for ParaNorman I was excited. The visuals looked amazing, the story sounded intriguing, and all around I expected something different from the typical animated fare Disney and Dreamworks had been pumping out. It definitely lived up to my expectations. Laika has continued to deliver fantastic films that keep getting ignored by general audiences. I hope one day this studio will get the Oscar they so deserve.

2013 – Mud

While this film was listed as a 2012 film it got it’s wide release in 2013, so it counts. Jeff Nichols had caught my attention with Take Shelter a few years before and Matthew McConaughey was working his way back to building a respectable career. I love the very Mark Twain vibe of the story with a slightly sinister undertone.

2014 – Wild

I was not familiar with the story of Cheryl Strayed or the PCT when the film came out. I walked into this film based off a trailer and my enjoyment for Jean-Marc Vallee’s previous film Dallas Buyers Club. I walked out feeling emotionally drained. This film surprisingly hit me in the feelings from the gut wrenching opening scene (I have a huge fear of losing toe/fingernails) and didn’t let up. I’ve always been a little indifferent towards Reese Witherspoon’s acting, but this film proved to me she’s got talent that can not be ignored.

2015 – Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

As someone who grew up in the midwest the story of Fargo has always hung in the local pop culture. To this day I’ve met people who firmly believe that the film is in fact based on real events. I remember hearing about Takako Konishi and found it fascinating how she let the power of belief push her to travel across the world in search of riches. While the film is only very loosely based off actual events it’s still very engaging. The film hung on Rinko Kikuchi’s performance and she nailed it.

2016 – The Nice Guys

I’ve always been a fan of Shane Black. How can you not love Lethal Weapon? While some people have mixed feelings about The Last Boy Scout, The Long Kiss Goodnight, and Last Action Hero I’m a fan of all three. I grew up seeing those VHS boxes on the shelf of my local video rental store and rented them often. Then came his directorial debut Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and I loved it! The Nice Guys is a fantastic spiritual sequel and stands on it’s own two feet based off the acting, look, and script. It’s a shame this film didn’t make more at the box office.

In conclusion I think all these films hold up. To this day I watch them regularly and would recommend them to anyone. These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Are any of the films listed are ones you enjoy? Do you dispute any of these being my top film from that year? Remember you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @sdfilmthoughts. As always, thanks for reading.

Heads Up

Hey Everyone,

Just wanted to give a heads up that this week I won’t be posting an article. Due to other writing projects (and a small case of writer’s laze) I didn’t have enough time to think up an idea and write an article. I hope to return next week with something informative and interesting. So stay tuned.

As always, thanks for reading.

Jameson P

What Does the Box Office Success of IT Mean for Filmmaking?

What Does the Box Office Success of IT Mean for Filmmaking?

We are currently heading into the second week of It’s theatrical run and it looks to be like there will be little to slow it down. Between the critical and audience success what could this mean for the future long and short term of the film scene? Today I’m going to throw my two cents forward and see if any of it pans out. So, without further ado let’s dig in.

-Chapter Two-

This is probably the most obvious of all things being considered. It only covered about half of the original novel and the follow-up hinged on the success of part one. Director Andy Muschietti has already stated that the script is coming together and they’re hoping to start shooting next spring. In the meantime there has been speculation of which actors will play the adult iteration of The Losers Club. This itself could be a huge win or lose for the film. As most readers and anyone who has seen the 1990 miniseries know the latter half of the story isn’t quite up to par with the first. Finding the right actors for the respective roles will be a big hurdle the filmmakers need to clear. Fingers crossed everyone will measure up to the fine performances the kids gave in Chapter one.

-Stephen King Remakes/Adaptations-

It has been a mixed year for Stephen King on the big screen. While It proved to be a hit The Dark Tower landed with a bit of thud a little over a month ago. King’s works have always been ripe for adapting to the big screen, but this hit will guarantee stalled productions are going to move forward ASAP. There has been rumblings of Cujo and Pet Sematary getting updates and odds are last week meetings were held about getting them in front of the camera right away. As well there are quite a few other stories that King has written. Odds are they’ll soon get optioned and head into production. So, let the avalanche of Stephen King films begin.

-More Horror-

A major rule in Hollywood is that horror films are one of the safest bets at the box office. They’re made cheap and can translate across most cultures. With It bringing in record numbers for horror/an R rated film/and a September release studios are going to take note. Any upcoming horror film will look at It’s marketing campaign and step up their game. Blumhouse has been working hard to make sure our local multiplexes are well stocked with decent horror and The Conjuring Universe doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. But to find another horror film that will do as big of numbers as It remains to be seen.

-Resurgence of the R Rating-

R rated films are still getting made, but there has been a rather sharp decline in their numbers. The PG-13 rating is far more profitable as it opens a film up to a wider demographic. It’s a simple fact that teenagers tend to have disposable income and are not likely to check reviews before purchasing a ticket. If The Bye Bye Man had an R rating odds are it wouldn’t have made nearly as much money as it did last January. And with DVD and blu-ray giving filmmakers a way to release a “harder” cut of their respective films it allows studios to appease filmmakers and double dip into consumer’s pockets. But with an R rated film being at the top of the box office for two weeks in a row studios might be more willing to let films get R ratings instead of cutting a scene or two to get that PG-13 rating from the MPAA.

-More Mid-Budget Films-

This is my biggest wish from It’s success. As of now a there is a huge gap that seems to widen every year with the films released. Either studios will craft blockbusters that have robust budgets somewhere in the area of 100-250 million dollars. Or they will go the polar opposite and make micro budget films with budgets between 1.5-10 million dollars. The idea is that blockbusters will be crowd pleasers pulling in 800 million to a billion plus in box office grosses. Whereas the low budget films are such small bets that if ten are made only one or two of them have to be hits in order to justify all ten getting made. In the meantime films with budgets between 20-80 million dollars are a dying breed. It’s hard to justify the budget when you tack on the marketing budget which can often cost nearly as much as the film being made. On a thirty-five million dollar budget It burst out of the gate and became a bona fide success. With a few mid-budget films being successes in recent years (i.e. Straight Outta Compton grossed 201 million against a 50 million dollar budget. Deadpool grossed 783 million against a 58 million dollar budget.) there is a chance that studios might understand that if a film is based off a property with recognition amongst most filmgoers they’d be willing to make films with these budgets. This would give filmmakers a chance to have a bit more money to make their films and give them a little more edge. On the plus side for studios, it would not be a large risk financially to make these films. Fun Fact: It, Straight Outta Compton, and Deadpool were all R rated. A little creative freedom within a reasonable budget could be a win-win for everyone involved.

These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Do you think It’s success was deserved, or were you letdown? Are you looking forward to seeing more of Stephen King’s stories getting adapted to the big screen? Are there any of his stories that you would like to see get a remake? Do you think we’re in a golden age for horror films? Who would you cast as the adult version of The Loser’s Club? Let me know. Remember you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @sdfilmthoughts. As always, thanks for reading.

What’s Up With My Annabelle Creation?

What’s Up With My Annabelle Creation?

Just under a week ago RedLetterMedia’s Half in the Bag episode for Annabelle: Creation dropped on YouTube. What’s more fascinating than the review of the film itself is Mike and Jay talking about the My Annabelle Creation contest. The idea of the contest was for up and coming filmmakers to craft a short film set within the “Conjuring” universe. The winner of the contest was awarded a meeting with New Line execs and director David F. Sandberg about developing the short into a feature length film in the vein of the Conjuring film universe. On the surface it sounds like a fantastic idea, until Mike pulls out some of the fine print from the contest’s rules and found some pretty shady details. In this article I wanted to take a look at this controversy, what’s been said by others since the RLM review, and what it all could mean. So, without further ado let’s get to it.

-What’s the Big Deal?-

Within the rules of the contest the studio is given a three year option to make a feature length version of the film for fifty dollars. If the option is exorcised with the three year time frame another fifty dollars will be paid to the creator. This in and of itself is a rather shady deal. A typical option on other material (i.e. A script, novel, comic) lasts from twelve to eighteen months with a claus to extend the option by three to six months. Even if a film has an eighteen month option extended for the additional six that’s a still a year less than the contest’s.

In addition to the exclusivity of the option let’s look at the monetary amount provided for said option. Fifty dollars is not only insultingly low by typical standard option prices, but it makes the purchase price even worse. A typical option for a non-WGA affiliated writer tends to be around a couple thousand dollars. Not much, but still more than fifty. But an option’s price is often a percentage of what the purchase price will be. Example, your option could be $1,000 or ten percent of the purchase price. Making the script’s sale around $10,000. That mean’s that Annabelle: Creation’s option is 100% of the purchase price.

-What are the Best/Worst Case Scenarios?-

From the looks of everything presented New Line holds all the cards in this deal. Although if we play the Devil’s advocate there are “potential” perks for winner Julian Terry and his short The Nurse. The best case scenario would be that Terry gets to move forward crafting a feature length film based off The Nurse. Along with his debut film being studio produced it could include a strong marketing campaign and wide theatrical release. Not bad for a director’s first feature length film.

Even if the studio decides not move forward with the feature that doesn’t mean Terry is out of luck. Winning this contest has raised his profile to the point where he has been in contact with multiple talent managers. Anyone struggling to break into studio filmmaking knows how big of a coup it is to get a manager. This gives Terry the ability to get other projects he’s working on off the ground. I have no doubt other studios/producers have seen The Nurse and would be interested in bringing Terry in to direct a film for them. Still not a bad deal.

The worst case scenario would be to see New Line take The Nurse and develop the feature length version without Terry’s involvement. In that case he’s left with a hundred dollars and watching from the sidelines as The Nurse gets made. The cynic in me sees how this could happen, but the optimist in me wants to hope that Terry has an ally in his corner. David F. Sandberg has come out after the controversy stirred up stating that he’s talking with New Line to clarify the agreement. Sandberg’s short Lights Out was optioned by New Line leading to his own feature film debut. His hand in this contest feels like a genuinely good guy who caught a break wanting to help another filmmaker catch a similar break. Although he may not be a big name (yet) he’s made two films for New Line that have grossed over a hundred million dollars on relatively small budgets. If New Line wants to stay in business with Sandberg they’ll listen to his concerns and make sure Terry comes out of this contest with a good deal.

These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Do you think that all this controversy is warranted? Or is this just the Internet blowing things out of proportion? Would you be interested in seeing The Nurse become part of the Conjuring universe? Let me know. Remember you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @sdfilmthoughts. As always, thanks for reading.

Dissecting the Low Box Office of Summer 2017

Dissecting the Low Box Office of Summer 2017

With the summer film season pretty much over there has been a lot of talk about the low numbers at the box office. We’ve heard the trouble that AMC Theaters is facing with a huge dip in their profits and Wanda Group buying up a large chunk of their stock. So in an age when we’re seeing more films break the billion dollar mark how is there such a huge slump? What’s sailing and what’s crashing? Is there any reason besides the quality of a film that is to blame for this? Today I will start sifting through the rubble and give my personal opinions on the matter.

-3D is on the Decline-

Hard to believe that it’s been eight years since Avatar came out with studios taking away the wrong lesson from the film. Since then we’ve seen multiple films that have used this tool as a way to tack a few extra bucks to ticket prices as a means to inflate box office numbers. Over the past eight years I’ve noticed the number of 3D showtimes slowly start to taper off. Most filmgoers (myself included) have been turned off by the over saturation. 3D is no longer something used to enhance a story and people are sick of shelling out for it. While studios don’t care theater chains have taken note and book more 2D showtimes than 3D. I know that personally that it has been over three years since I saw a 3D film (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and I have no intention of changing that anytime soon.

-Franchises/Cinematic Universes Are Not a Sure Bet-

Every year I have to talk about the sequels, reboots, or other franchise non-starters that failed. Why did (insert brand name and number here) not make money? How did Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean go from a billion dollar fourth films to a fifth one that will not crack $800 million? Let’s just state right now that neither of those films were bombs, but they definitely underwhelmed. People are not getting tired of sequels (we’ll come back to that), but they’re tired of mediocre films. Both On Stranger Tides and Age of Extinction coasted off the success of their previous films so who would want to see a fifth film if it’s predecessor didn’t measure up?

Now we come to what has become the biggest detriment to modern blockbusters. The obligatory cinematic universe where movies don’t need to be sequels, but can leech off of each others success to sell tickets. People have seen how Marvel changed the game and now want to copy and paste that style. The biggest faceplant right out the gate was Universal’s Dark Universe with this summer’s The Mummy. Previously Universal has tried to make this idea work with Dracula Untold which didn’t make the money they’d hoped. But if at first you don’t succeed, ignore the previous film and try again. The Mummy tried to right the ship and get this universe on track. Unfortunately instead of telling an entertaining self contained story it put the cart five miles before the horse planting the seeds for films that are still in pre-production. Nobody wants to see a film who’s main goal is to sell us on another story.

-Comic Movies Are Still Successful-

Every year people continue to predict that the superhero bubble is going to burst. While there have been some clunkers in the past few years the majority are making bank. Marvel continues their winning streak with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 pulling in over $800 million. Spider-Man: Homecoming sits at a healthy $700 million with a few major territories rolling the film out in the coming months. The DCEU upped their game with Wonder Woman raking in nearly $800 million. The best part: all three of these film received overwhelmingly positive reviews. Are we going to see superhero films crash and burn? More than likely, trends in films are cyclical as we’ve seen with the western genre. But for now it’s safe to say this genre is bankable.

-New Apparently Isn’t the Answer-

It’s funny how people have spent what feels like decades decrying Hollywood for having no original ideas. In a time when brand recognition is the biggest asset Hollywood can achieve the number of non-franchise films are diminishing. This year we had a handful of original films that had mixed results at the box office. Both Baby Driver and Dunkirk pulled in a decent return on their investment, but let’s focus on Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. An ambitious space opera based off a French manga directed by Luc Beeson. It may be based off a pre-existing property, but pull fifty people in a crowd and ask them if they’ve heard of this manga. The trailers were flashy and they had two young people in the lead. And yet, a so so story really hampered this film. So while it was original it wasn’t fantastic. We need quality to go with originality.

-The Diminishing Importance of Summer-

Once Jaws came out in 1975 and made bank it changed how studios released their yearly slate of films. Since then there has been a very specific pattern in how films are released. January: The dumping ground for films studios have no faith in. February/March: Genre films that have no other place in the year. April: Key up for the summer. May/June/July/August: The moneymaker months! September/October: Comedy and Horror films predominantly. November/December: Films vying for Oscars and a handful of blockbusters released over holiday weekends. In the late 2000’s that thought process changed. 300 was a moderately budgeted film that opened on March 9th, 2007 and made over $450 million. After this studios decided to look at weekends throughout year where there was zero competition from others and popped in films hoping to dominate the box office. Spreading out high budget films has now become a major way to hedge their bets. This year alone Beauty and the Beast, The Fate of the Furious, and Logan all opened before the summer started and pulled in a large amount of money. Had they opened in the May-August timeline odds are their numbers wouldn’t have been nearly as strong.

-In Conclusion-

So while studios try to distill all these problems into one easy answer they miss the point. You can not think one solution will fix a summer slump. And let’s be honest it’s a slump, nothing more.

These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Did you enjoy the summer films? Did you decide to stay home and binge watch Netflix and Hulu? What was your favorite/worst films of the summer. Let me know. Remember, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @sdfilmthoughts. As always, thanks for reading.

PS: I’m working on something special for an upcoming article. If I can crack it be prepared something a little different from my usual style.

No One Sets Out to Make a Bad Film?

No One Sets Out to Make a Bad Film?

Bad films are gauged on a critical spectrum all their own. Whether you have films that are high concept failures (The Last Airbender), low budget schlock (Silent Night Deadly Night: Part 2, Street Trash, and numerous other 80’s horror films), so bad they’re good (Tammy and the T-Rex is a personal favorite of mine), movies that set out to be prestige pictures only to fail miserably (United Passions), and the rare film that transcends it’s terrible reputation to become a cultural milestone (The Room, Troll 2) there is no limit to the long list of bad films. We’re often told with multiple misfires that no one sets out to make a bad film. Ed Wood wanted to craft an important film with Glen or Glenda and 20th Century Fox wanted to reboot a superhero franchise with Fant4stic. Neither of these got the reception their creators had hoped, but what about other films? Have we entered a time where the market for terrible films is now being targeted by opportunistic directors, producers, and studios? Let’s take a look at some of the recent trends in bad filmmaking and how they’re contributing bad films in a bad way.

-The Mockbuster Market-

This is something that truly bothers me. The term “mockbuster” came into the filmmaking lexicon around the mid 2000’s. Basically when a large tentpole film gets released in theatres (Thor) a company will release a low-budget knock-off with a similar title direct to video in hopes of exploiting consumer ignorance (Almighty Thor). The most notable example of this is the production company The Asylum. While they originally made low budget films with original concepts (and still do occasionally) all that changed when their version War of the Worlds was released to coincide with the big budget Cruise/Spielberg remake. With a hit on their hands multiple films got released in this vein (Snakes on a Train, Sunday School Musical, Transmorphers, and numerous more) continuing the trend to this day. While this is by no means a current trend as these kinds of films have been around for ages. In fact: if you look back to the late 70’s early 80’s there were numerous films that tried to capitalize on the success of Star Wars. Some of these films have gone onto be classics in a somewhat odd fashion. Piranha rode the success of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, but in turn launched the career of Joe Dante. Who coincidentally went on to direct the Spielberg produced Gremlins. The difference is now it has become a legitimate industry instead of a one off film from a producer looking to make a quick buck to finance their next project.

-Content for Cable-

My family got cable for the first time when I was a kid and it was exciting. I now had channels like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network at my disposal. Along the way I branched into other major networks. USA was where I initially saw films like Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Critters, but along with them I saw films like Mosquito and the previously mentioned Tammy and the T-Rex. USA created the spin-off Sci-Fi channel (now known as SyFy) and this is where things got interesting. Many numerous bad films found their way onto this channel and developed a niche following. Then came 2013, there was an abnormal amount of buzz surrounding one of these films. Sharknado (a film from the previously mentioned The Asylum) hit Internet forums like an atom bomb propelling the film to a limited theatrical release and became a multi-film franchise. While the original film may have been an attempt at taking a kooky idea and make something from it the three sequels upped the ridiculous factor just to get more from this insanity. So much so that Sharknado 5: Global Meltdown debuted last night and the possibility of a sixth film not out of the question.

-Critics of the Bad-

Oh boy, here is the big factor that for me has shifted bad filmmaking into the norm. Looking back the kickstarter of this trend was the classic (and thankfully still going strong) series Mystery Science Theater 3000. What makes this show so endearing is how relatable it has always been. Who hasn’t sat around with friends and cracked jokes at a film they’re watching? With the rise of Youtube many people flocked to the platform to critique media. I’ve talked previously about a handful of these channels, but I’d like to shift my focus towards Youtuber I Hate Everything. He has a series titled “The Search for the Worst” where he berates some of lowest rent films made. One of his reviews was for the film “The Amazing Bulk”. In typical fashion he ripped the film to shreds. Surprisingly Wide Eye Releasing the company who distributed the film got in contact with him. They thanked him for raising the profile of the film and even sent him a gift. Along side the gift was a copy of their film “Shark Exorcist”. Yep, this is where things have gone. A studio now relishes the attention a bad review can give that they will go out of their way to make similar situation occur with another film. This to me is proof that some bad films are no longer a fluke. And this is what bugs me the most. What’s the point of putting forth any effort if you can film mediocrity and bank on notoriety to sell it?

These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Do people now set out with the intention of making a bad film? Do you think an industry of terrible films is a problem? Or does it just give people more options for their entertainment? Let me know. Remember you can follow me on Twitter @sdfilmthoughts and Instagram. As always, thanks for reading.