The year 2019 is nearing its end and I’ve been thinking about writing a retrospect for quite some time. My big plan for this year was born from a stupid post on /r/movies. Someone posted happily that he wanted to watch one movie for every day of the year, but instead got to an average of two movies per day and some idiot simply answered him that he could have used his time better and could have gone hiking for those three hours per day.
So on January 1st I set myself a target; watch at least 750 movies. I also wanted to go slightly bigger and force myself to write at least one review per day, though I didn’t want to force myself into lengthy reviews for those so some of them turned out to be barely two or three sentences long. And these 750 movies? That target is long crushed and by the time of writing this (11th December), I’m sitting at a comfortable 1085 movies watched. I basically raised the target and really want to crush the 1100 movies now. Because bullshit reasons.
Of course, when watching that many movies, you definitely gonna have some great moments and some that are purely dreadful. I had wonderful moments, like this year’s Canne d’Tuna: A bad-movies themed short-film festival our Reddit group created, during which we worked together with the wonderful JTro and Michael Rousselet. We also started a new regular weekly screening with Fuck You Friday, where I try to find something absolutely awful to torment everyone on a Friday night.
Looking back on the year, I want to talk about a few things. I want to look at my favourite movies, The Best of each month, though I’m going to obviously exclude anything that I’d consider actually good. I also want to look at The Worst movies, as I hope to give some good ideas on what you never should watch, unless you want your own friends to suffer. There are also those movies that had flaws, but which I genuinely liked, and since that’s often on the weirder side I will simply call those The Oddity. And then there are those movies which I wanted to be good but which sadly are just shit, which shall fall under the category of The Disappointments.
To make this a bit easier for myself and for you guys, I will first look at each month on its own. Of course I will not only talk about one movie for each category, but might give some other short recommendations on the side. As this also turned out much longer than expected, I will release the whole thing in parts, so that each part is about a quarter of the year and parts will be released in a weekly schedule. When I am finished with this, I will have a last part in which I will look back a last time at the year and will crown the definite winners and losers, check out some statistics for the year and what I’m looking forward to for 2020.
With all that said, how about we finally start with our tour through the year?
January still had much overreach from 2018 with me watching tons of repeats from before. Those were movies I loved, like Suburban Sasquatch, Empire of the Dark, Ryan’s Babe or Geteven, but I wouldn’t want to call a repeat the best movie of the month. Surprisingly this didn’t leave me with any movie, that I rated a full five stars, though it still leaves us with other great movies.
The FP is one of those. It’s a brilliant love letter to Dance Dance Revolution and post apocalypse movies. Great characters like JTro and BTro fill up a world of crazy, that uses rhythm games to solve gang fights. Another highlight would be Monster High. A High school monster movie with aliens and a doomsday device, that is incredibly funny. Both are wonderful movies, but as my favourite, I would choose something else.
Enter American Cyborg: Steel Warrior. A sci-fi actioner that rips off anything from Terminator to Blade Runner with a main character, who obviously is a cyborg, but doesn’t know about it. Fantastic action is combined with wonderful costumes and cheesy acting. It’s a forgotten classic, that should be named together with movies like Nemesis.
Unlike with great movies, we had more than a few bad movies in January and I actually gave the lowest possible rating to eleven movies, all of them being shitty in their own right. The awful art-house superhero spoof Hectic Knife had a few good ideas but those didn’t help, as they had to go against awful humour and way too much wannabe art-house crap. It tried to be intelligent, while not being able to say anything interesting. Then there was Corey Feldman’s dreadful comedy movie Busted, which had not a single working joke.
And yet the worst of the worst is easy to name, because there is no way in hell that I wouldn’t call Zombie Gang Bangers out. A dreadful piece of shit about a woman who gets raped by zombies. The police doesn’t believe her and even her therapist thinks she talks bullshit. And while I could accept that so far, the movie goes above and beyond, trying to make you feel as dirty as possible. It’s not that no one believes her, but that everyone takes the very believable step in… also raping her. There’s dark movies and then there is this piece of shit.
Not every movie is great or awful and most of them land somewhere in-between. Some of them have clear faults but can still be charming, and after watching thousands of Bad Movies, something like Troll 2 or Plan 9 From Outer Space just doesn’t have the same effect any more. I still like both of these movies, but even as Bad Movie diamonds, I would call them flawed.
Going a bit more into the direction of my personal preferences, I want to look at some rough diamonds. Movies I subjectively adore, that still have some flaws that can make them less enjoyable to other people. Movies like Nudist Colony of the Dead, a musical about Christians that visit an old nudist camp, in which everyone committed suicide after closure. It is cheaply mad, with some really bad humour and songs that most people might hate, but I honestly love that movie.
I happen to be a massive musical fan, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that my first choice for the oddity of the month would go to a musical. And not only is Adventures Into The Woods a musical, it is a softcore musical. As this was actually produced as one of those late Emmanuelle movies you would expect much softcore and maybe one song, but apparently the director/writer really didn’t want to do that any more and instead went full on musical.
Softcore elements still exist, but they mostly only appear in the form of people being naked. There is one furry sex scene with Red Riding Hood and the wolf, but that’s pretty much it. There also is pretty much not a single person who is actually able to sing, dance or act, but everyone clearly has fun. Combine all kinds of fairy tales, add shitty songs and nudity and you have this movie. It might not be the easiest recommendation, but it’s your only chance to ever see Ron Jeremy dressed as Merlin have his own rap song. Yes. Seriously.
Thinking about a disappointment can be even harder than remembering something you actually liked. Most often my expectations of a Bad Movie are already at the bottom and you simply hope that the movie doesn’t suck ass. It’s much rarer for me to expect something to be great, unless it’s something that was recommended to me. So I wouldn’t call The Gingerdead Man a disappointment, because I never expected it to be good, and while I at least hoped that Tarzan in Manhattan would not be a total train-wreck, it wasn’t a surprise when I nearly fell asleep during it.
Instead my biggest disappointments are movies that I actually kinda enjoyed to some degree, but that have too many missed opportunities. One of those would be The Jitters, a horror comedy that finally brings the Chinese hopping vampires to America. That alone should be a reason to love it, because Jiangshi are just a fantastic thing to exist. With James Hong in one of the lead roles, this should have been a great movie, but sadly there isn’t much happening in this and it misses the special something that makes the Asian movies so interesting. And as it also doesn’t try new things by reinventing them for the American audience, it simply turns into a normal horror comedy but with hopping vampires.
February is the month of love, so of course one of the more important screenings was Twin Dragon Encounter, the action masterpiece of the McNamara twins. It’s a wonderfully bad movies of two idiots who see themselves as amazing action stars. But having those seductive superstars fight against a shitty punk is what makes the movie so wonderful. Then there was Magic Lizard, which is about a giant lizard who does bullshit for ninety minutes. Like massaging women. Or stealing bikes. Or fighting alligators. What should be a kids movie, also offers tits and gore. So it’s basically the Asian version of Tammy and the T-Rex.
But the prize for the best movie goes to Bollywood masterpiece Sivaji. Our hero moves back to his parents as he wants to find love and build a hospital with twenty million dollars in his pocket. How would he find love? The Bollywood way, of course…by harassing the lady until she accepts his love. But, building a hospital isn’t as easy for Sivaji. Corrupt politicians and an evil hospital owner work against him. Sivaji wants to help the poor, but these don’t want to lose money. So suddenly Sivaji has a meltdown and commits suicide. But then he comes back in bad make-up (read: he has a baldcap) and starts murdering the bad people, just like any decent person would do. It’s a three hour movie that starts funny, turns romantic, then dramatic and then into a full on action movie. It’s crazy and never gets boring.
Somehow February wasn’t filled with garbage with the worst films being some boring as fuck zombie movies. One of them was Pot Zombies 2: More Pot, Less Plot, because all great movies come with shitty subtitles. It’s exactly what the title promises and that might be enough for some, but for me it was not.
And then there was Dead Walkers: Rise of the 4th Reich. Again with the shitty subtitle. Again with no budget. But this time with nazi-zombies, because that shit is hip. It’s incredibly boring and I’m pretty sure that those visual filters can lead to eye-cancer. If you are into the idea of hurting yourself, then do whatever floats your boat, but we honestly watched better stuff during Fuck You Fridays and there I actually tried to find crap.
Let’s be perfectly honest here: Most Troma movies are shit. I’m not talking about those movies that Lloyd directed himself, but the movies they only distributed. In a hundred movies you have one that is fun, like Cannibal: The Musical, and then you have twenty which are shit. Like the earlier mentioned Hectic Knife or COONS!. So it comes naturally, that my expectations of Troma movies are already rock bottom.
Then along comes Actium Maximus, a movie that shouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable as it is and actually made one of our group rage quit. It’s tagline “War of the Alien Dinosaurs” tells you everything you have to know, though the movie offers slightly more.
At least if you accept slimy handpuppets as more. The whole movie has the slimiest monsters look right into the camera, talk some shit and then fight. The talking always appears in alien gibberish with subtitles, that use different fonts and dialects for each monster type. The fighting is more of monsters growling at each other and then explosions and shit happen.
This definitely isn’t a movie for everyone and even with it’s short running time, the movie hasn’t got the best padding, but if you can accept those problems and you want the alien wrestling from Arena condensed into an 80 minute crapfest, then give this one a go.
Is it a good thing that I couldn’t come up with an actual disappointment for February? At least there weren’t any actual movies around this time. Instead I watched The 50 Best Horror Movies You’ve Never Seen, which contained not a single movie I haven’t seen. I didn’t expect much as I’m a massive horror fan, but I wouldn’t call Wishmaster, or Re-Animator unknown movies. It disappointed me so much that I wrote my own list (and then never shared it with anyone).
March was an incredible month for action, as there wasn’t just one wonderful action movie around. First we had Action U.S.A. a movie that had to be done by a stuntman as the action was insane and contained all the great thing about the genre. Burning guy jumps from a bridge? Check! Car jumps over bus, just to land on top of other cars? Check! Defenestration? CHECK!
Then we had Deadly Spygames, which is one of these wonderful vanity projects of some deluded idiot. Our lead is basically a chubby James Bond. The movie starts with him banging an Asian hottie who turns out to be an assassin trying to poison him. Too bad for her, as he finishes before her. Then his robo-butler comes into the room and kills her. The movie also wants you to know that his mission is supposed to prevent World War 3. But instead he has to find a video tape, which shows the son of the Russian president be a psychopath. We also get to see that video, which is just another short movie the director did before. A Friday the 13th rip off, that even steals the Ki Ma whispers.
But both of these movies didn’t have shit against what bollywood had to offer with Eega. The first thirty minutes are just a love triangle between lead guy, bad guy and lady. Lady chooses lead, so bad guy obviously kills him. Lead resurrects as a fly to get his revenge, which just starts with him buzzing around the dude. But as that is not enough, our fly is convincing lady that it is murdered lead guy and they start working together. And how would you work together with a fly? By making tiny armour and weapons for it, like wolverine claws. From here on out, the movie goes all the way and offers slight parodies of Matrix and Jaws, while being incredibly fun.
I only rated three movies as low as possible during march and one of those I didn’t even remember. As it turns out, that one, Reel Horror, was pretty much just a clipshow, barely even held together like an anthology movie. The other two movies were garbage comedies, so the bottom of the barrel. First there was Ski Trippin, one of those Maverick Movies with barely any budget. It’s about a group of friends, who go on a ski trip (duh) and has basically not a single joke working.
Somehow much worse was National Lampoon’s Dirty Movie, because not only is it bad comedy, but bad meta comedy. A producer wants to make a comedy only containing the most offensive jokes ever told and that’s also what you get when watching this. What makes it even worse is that the normally wonderful Christopher Meloni not only played the lead, but also directed it. It’s the shitty version of Kentucky Fried Movie. And please don’t tell me that that’s Movie 43, because that has at least an interesting backstory. This has only dread waiting for you.
Christian movies are most of the time either annoyingly preachy or batshit insane, or both at the same time. Gramps Goes to College is more on the preachy side, though not really on the annoying side and instead pretty laid back. As the title suggests, it is about an old guy who suddenly starts college and everyone just believes that he wants to visit someone. And, like in all of those movies, he gets into a fight with the science teacher, because GOD.
Even though this is a Christian movie and he mentions his beliefs constantly, he never actually tries to turn people into Christians. Some of course follow his views, but those are all people that were interested in Christianity before and just do it because they kinda like the guy. So this is definitely leagues ahead of something like God’s Not Dead or your typical Pureflix shit. It’s not a movie I would call great, not even something I really liked, but it is definitely an oddity among the Christian movies. Unless you look into the weird ass Christian horror with The Lock In, which is about some guys who find a porn magazine and release a porn demon during a church lock in. Or Invisible Enemies, which is basically They Live but with porn demons. What the fuck is it with Christians and porn demons?
There was one movie in march that would count both as an oddity and a disappointment, because when I found out that there is a musical about 9/11 I just had to watch it. Then I found out that it was about eleven survivors and that the actors actually wrote their own songs and my expectations skyrocketed. So when I actually watched Clear Blue Tuesday it turned out to be a big disappointment. Yes, they wrote their songs themselves, but besides the musical bits, this was a straight forward indie drama that was mostly boring. I seriously wanted to love this and was sad that I just couldn’t.
But that still wasn’t my biggest disappointment. Instead that honour goes to Neil Breen and his latest movie Twisted Pair. I’m a big fan of his earlier work, but sadly his newest movie reached the level of self-referential bullshit that I can’t accept any more. Breen finally figured out why people watch his movies and he doubled down (He He) on that.
He tried to capture that magic and of course that didn’t work out. Instead we got a movie with a budget of $50,000, which looks more like it cost $500, as Breen mostly spent the money on shitty stock footage and special effects. I could accept the cheapness, but this just doesn’t feel as honest as his earlier works.
That’s it for part one of my 2019 retrospect, so stay tuned for next week as we are going to look at April, May and June.