December 07, 2003

Note:  I wanted to refer to any shorter pieces as Station Breaks, as an homage to the good folks at teevee.org, who refer to the little pieces they intersperse with larger articles as “station breaks.” But since I don’t yet know my way around copyright law and fair use, and since their copyright citation says that one of their writers is a hungry lawyer, I will refrain from stealing their nomenclature.  If you’ve never been to teevee.org, go visit them as soon as you have at least three hours on your hands, because once you start reading them, you will want to dip into the archive.  Trust me.

Normally, I don’t hold much truck with people who complain about cheesy horror movies.  I’m not talking about people who legitimately don’t like them; my beef is not with you.  I’m talking about people who should know better, people who should be skilled at watching a trailer, or reading a movie poster, or, heck, looking it up in Leonard Maltin or on imdb, recognizing that they are in the presence of something terrible, but hey, sometimes you’re in the mood for two hours of something laughably terrible, watching it and still complaining about it.  When I was a retail bookselling wage slave, one of my coworkers said she couldn’t understand why Lloyd and I were such big fans of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, because “the movies are so terrible!” Well, yes.  Considering that the story of MST3K is of a guy who is marooned in space and is forced to watch bad movies as part of a lab experiment, we weren’t tuning into it looking for The Thin Man, or Local Hero, or even Death in Venice—although, come to think of it, the Best Brains crew would probably make a nice tasty hash out of Death in Venice, and I for one would tune in.  (The real reason I am an MST3K fan is that I am convinced that Michael J. Nelson is my twin brother, from whom I was separated at birth, and whose existence my parents still deny, but they can’t fool me.  We have the same evil dark side, we both enjoy a good hot dish, and we look almost exactly alike, which is fine if you’re a guy like Mike, but not exactly attractive if you’re a gal like me.)

Today, though, I’ve found where to draw the line.  Two sweet hours of my life will never be reclaimed, because I gave it up to Frogs.  Even though I knew, nay, embraced the potential for badness as soon as I saw on the screen “Samuel Z. Arkoff presents an American International Picture,” even though I knew that there would be improbable events aplenty to drive the plot along (one of the characters is killed in a greenhouse after a malevolent gila monster—I am not making this up—deliberately knocks a bottle labeled POISON off a narrow shelf), I still found myself feeling dirty at the end of Frogs, to a degree that bad movies don’t usually leave in me.  I think it was watching Ray Milland, who I loved so in Dial M for Murder and The Lost Weekend and Reap the Wild Wind, playing the cranky old Southern patriarch who sets the murderous amphibian rampage in motion by having chemical waste dumped in the bayou.  In fact, the last time I felt this dirty was watching Ray in The Thing with Two Heads, which is so horrifying-but-not-in-a-cheesy-fun-way that I cannot speak of it further.  If you love Ray Milland at all, stay far away from these, as they’ll just make you wonder in how much debt he was when he consented to make these.  If you’re not familiar with his work, start with Dial M for Murder.  Ray would thank you for it, I’m sure.

I will admit to one laugh:  We were watching this on Showtime Beyond, one of the zillion channels we picked up when we switched to digital cable and high-speed Internet.  Showtime Beyond bills itself as a vaguely sci-fi/fantasy/horror/Tales of the Unknown type of channel.  After Frogs ended, the next film began immediately:  Mr. Destiny, a shameless It’s a Wonderful Life-style knockoff starring Jim Belushi and Michael Caine, who really should have known better.  I thought that whoever decided to put these films back-to-back was a genius, and I finally knew the answer to the question “you know what you should do?” Yes, I do!  I should be a program planner for a cheesy pay-tv network!  Sign me up!  Sign me up now!

Posted by Bakerina at 05:54 PM in stuff and nonsense • (1) Comments
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