One of Portland’s liveliest (and most ecumenical) art blogs – entitled Art Scatter, how’s that for eponymity – recently had a fun exchange of list makings, concerning movies that have moved us. I noted with some surprise that the first three that came to mind for me were, well, I guess, perhaps, you know, shall we just say…..not very good, in terms of production values, etc. And yet they were very effective, gauging by what they set out to do with their constituencies.
The spectrum between effectiveness/affectivity of an artistic product versus its score on the art-o-meter may be cause for a different posting. But Arts Scatter made me realize there are a lot of “bad” movies out there I’m very fond of. Such as:
1. Shock Treatment. Word is that the producing studio decided to dump Richard O’Brien’s ostensible sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show by slashing its budget so drastically that the whole thing had to be shot on the same studio lot. And voila, a concept was born. You’ll have no idea what’s going on for nearly the entire film – but not to worry, ultimately it rewards you for sticking with it. BTW, in the photo? That’s Barry Humphries seated with Patricia Quinn, pre-Dame Edna.
2. Liquid Sky. Send-up of trendy new-wavers or dead-on allegory? This is the story of a spaceship full of itty bitty aliens who come to earth because they get something they need the energy emitted from human orgasms. They start hanging around a rag-tag group of libidinous junkies (now there’s an oxymoron for you), and every time an orgasm somehow happens, the climaxing human vanishes. Considering the film was made when so-called “gay cancer” was only a rumor (it wasn't released until 1983), the story is eerily prescient.
3. Brother Sun, Sister Moon. The word for this film is…………sweet. When I saw it, as a mere slip of a lad, I was seated between two strangers. Some guy on my left was laughing derisively at the pan shots of the Florentine hillsides (underscored by the exceptionally sappy Donovan song in the video below). At the same moment, a woman sitting to my right was sobbing uncontrollably, she was so transported by Zeffirelli’s vision of young sainthood. Catholic propaganda or high art? You tell me.
4. The Exorcist. If this kitschfest actually frightened you, we cannot be friends. How anyone could be scared by such uproarious fun is beyond me. Back when the movie was first-run, and was regarded by some as a kind of inverse gospel, I nearly got thrown out of a Santa Barbara movie house because I couldn’t keep my guffawing to a subvocal level. PLEASE.
5. No list like this would be complete without mention of The Bad Seed, a movie that succeeds because it knows it’s schlock and plays it straight anyway. My favorite moment of many in this film occurs when a besotted mother invades the McCormack household to accuse cute little Rhoda of murder. The woman can barely stagger around the room, but when she demands a drink, Mrs. McCormack pushes out a fully stocked drink cart and begins preparing her a cocktail!
I could go on. And on and on. But I’d rather read about your guilty pleasures. So come on. Spill it. You know you want to.