Shiori Darkship and the Revival Fires

The truth won't save you now.

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In which JT watches horrible films so you don't have to!
Eternal Sunshine: ___littlehope
In 'Ghost Shark 2: Urban Jaws', a deliberate attempt at making a naff movie, the directors amuse themselves by arranging a scene in which Juliette Danielle from 'The Room', Alan Bagh from 'Birdemic: Shock and Terror' and George Hardy from 'Troll 2' interact. The three are cast solely on the strength of their CV: the three films are notorious for being the worst movies ever made. But which of the three is actually the worst? Let's find out.


Premise: Johnny (Tommy Wiseau) seems to have it all: lovely house, attractive fiancee and good friends. Financially comfortable, he can afford to set Denny, a young protegee of sorts, up in his own flat. Yet, unbeknownst to him, his fiancee Lisa (Juliette Danielle) finds him boring and has embarked upon an affair with his best friend Mark (Greg Sesetro).

Who's responsible?: Tommy Wiseau, a sort of Edward Scissorhands meets Bela Lugosi. He acts as writer, director, star, producer and executive producer of the film, and is no good at any of them. Wiseau may not be a real person; it's possible that his look, accent and incomprehensible personality are a Kaufmann-esque spoof. Assuming he is real, the Johnny character is clearly an author avatar for some sort of heartbreak which he explores passive-aggressively in his film.

How did this film get made?: Most things about 'The Room' defy explanation and Wiseau refuses to elaborate. His Q&A sessions notoriously remove the 'A' from 'Q&A'. As far as can be established, Wiseau is a self-made millionaire. Rather than investing the money wisely, however, he blew much of it on this film's $6million budget. He then hired a cast of mostly unknown actors, employed his best friend to play, er, his best friend, and replaced the crew twice. The first scene Wiseau filmed was, apparently, one of the numerous sex scenes which pollute the film.

So what happens?: The film's key point is the love triangle outlined above. Johnny is seemingly oblivious to it all. Mark is conflicted. Lisa's actions are inexplicable: she seems to be most clearly defined as an attention-seeker. She alternates between talking about how great Johnny is to accusing him of domestic violence, all the while continuing her clandestine affair with Mark.
The film's climax is always going to be Johnny finding out, but the story is hardly pacy. To fill out the rest of the film, Wiseau introduces a truckload of subplots concerning the various other characters. There's no point emotionally investing in any of them: none of them last more than one scene and none are ever concluded. Denny gets mixed up in a mysterious drug deal and has a confrontation on the roof. Johnny takes on an unexplained customer at the bank. Lisa's mother is diagnosed with cancer. Some couple break into Johnny and Lisa's flat and have sex. The film fails to explore any of these angles.

What's so bad about it?: 'The Room''s plotline would not be out of place on a Channel Five TV drama; incredibly, though, the script fails to reach even those lofty heights. The dialogue is nonsensical and/or awkward; in the sex scenes (there are four, one of which is simply a repeat of an earlier one) the actors don't even position their bodies realistically, let alone look as if they're having a good time; the subplots are, again, pointless; the acting is almost entirely dreadful; the allure of the jezebel Lisa is mystifying. The set dressing includes a framed photo of a spoon. Some of the scene-setting outdoor shots last 30 seconds. There's a bit in which the guys are playing football while wearing tuxedos, for no reason. The film keeps going out of focus. Most of Wiseau's lines are dubbed, but haven't been lip-synched properly. Pick an element of film-making: it's done badly in 'The Room'.

Why does this film stand out?: Initially ignored by critics and audiences alike, the film's main advertising at the time was one billboard poster which stayed up for four years. Its subsequent fame is almost entirely the responsibility of Michael Rousselet, whose ironic appreciation for the film and subsequent word-of-mouth publicity led to its resurrection on the midnight circuit, at which point it started to attract celebrity attention. The TV show 'Veronica Mars' referred to it constantly. International publicity means that most people who catch 'The Room' at screenings now have at least some inkling of what goes on: you shout abuse, clap along with the slow jams that soundtrack the sex scenes, throw spoons every time the framed spoon photo appears, and so on. At the screening I went to, 70 minutes into the film, someone mournfully shouted "WHEN WILL IT END?! IT'S A SCHOOL NIGHT!!"

What happened next?: Wiseau and Sestero continue to tour the film on the aforementioned midnight circuit and conduct Q&As in which they avoid answering the questions. Sestero, who has an Australian soap actor hunkiness to him, continues to model to some success. Danielle, unsurprisingly disillusioned with acting, now works for a real estate developer. The film may well have recouped its budget, but don't ask Wiseau.

Conclusion: On the list of bad movies, 'The Room' strides the list like a colossus. Catch this with a large group of friends or at a late-night screening: like wrestling or football, shouting and laughing at it with a group will immeasurably improve the experience. I went with my cousin Graeme and his buddy Ben and it was probably the most fun I've had in a cinema despite how dreadful the film is.


Premise: A couple of former high-schoolers begin a budding romance. However, they've barely consummated their love before their town- nay, the planet- is invaded by dive-bombing, poison-spitting birds.

Who's responsible?: James Nguyen, a Vietnamese writer and director who also did most of the camerawork for the film. He is, according to the trailer, the master- and trademark holder- of the Romantic Thriller.

How did this film get made?: Inspired by 'The Birds' and 'An Inconvenient Truth', Nguyen wrote the film during a holiday in California. The film's five-figure budget meant that it had to be filmed at weekends over seven months, as Nguyen had a day job.

So what happens?: Rod (Alan Bagh) spots Nathalie (Whitney Moore) at a restaurant and remembers her from school. Oddly, he doesn't approach her there, but follows her down the road and accosts her, at which point he delivers lines with all the smooth-talking social grace of Norman Bates in 'Psycho'. Inexplicably, Nathalie agrees to see him again, which leads to an awkward-seeming date in which Rod mostly talks about his job. Rod seems to be successful in his work in software sales, but, as a stockholder, is just waiting for the company to be taken over so he can escape it.
Fortunately, the company, which looks like a corridor with a cubicle in it, is taken over in a scene which includes about five minutes of clapping and Rod is rich. He starts his own business selling renewable energy, while Nathalie becomes a Victoria's Secret model. Nathalie, who is smoking hot, becoming a model is the most plausible thing in this movie. Less plausible is their budding romance, which is mostly constructed around bird-brained dialogue about how successful Rod is, walks along the beach which feature uncomfortable sightings of decimated eagles, and a double date in which Rod and his best buddy (Danny Webber) take their babelicious girlfriends to go to see 'An Inconvenient Truth'. Way to romance the laydeez, Rod!
Anyway, we're over 45 minutes into the movie and Rod and Nathalie have just had sex (well, sort of: neither of them take their clothes off) when birds finally attack. For reasons which are never explored, the birds can spit some sort of acid, and zoom around accompanied by World War II jet fighter sound effects. Rod and Nathalie flee, in the company of a Marine and his girlfriend, chasing the birds away with coat hangers (?!) before settling on the arsenal of guns that the Marine has at his disposal. They pick up some children whose parents have been killed by the birds and set off on a road trip to... somewhere?
At this point, the film runs out of steam, or perhaps ideas, and trundles from scene to scene of bird attacks. They meet a biologist who blames the bird invasion on pollution and global warming. They try to save a busload of tourists from an attack, but the idiot Marine gets covered in bird-acid and dies. They meander around the forest but are chased off by a mountain lion. Eventually, even the film gets bored, and the birds just fly off, at which point the film thankfully ends.

What's so bad about it?: In the opening five minutes, literally nothing happens other than driving shots. When the first scene of talking comes up- and it's only Rod ordering some food at a cafe- it's so poorly acted and shot that you're nostalgic for the opening five minutes. There's no secondary sound- all the sound was recorded on location, using one camera- and the alternating background noise makes that obvious.
The film comes across as nothing more than an exceedingly tedious romantic drama for the first 45 minutes, despite being called 'Birdemic: Shock and Terror'. Alan Bagh, as Rod, is absolutely atrocious at acting. Whitney Moore would probably be poor in most movies, but she's Charlize Theron in 'Monster' compared to Bagh. Not that it's entirely the actors' fault: Orson Welles would struggle with lines like "it's the human species that needs to quit playing cowboy with nature. We must act more like astronauts, spacemen taking care of Spaceship Earth."
When the birds finally turn up, they're so poorly-animated that they wouldn't make for a convincing screen-saver. At times, the birds are literally static in mid-air while synthesized bird noises squawk on. Nguyen decided to use CGI for all the birds- who knows why, since toy birds on fishing lines would have looked better than this.
The film has absolutely no idea what to do with the plot from the point that the birds attack: Rod and Nathalie seem to have no plan whatsoever so they're just wandering about.

Why does this film stand out?: Oblivious to how rotten the film was, Nguyen took his film to Sundance in the hope of finding a distributor. Of course, Sundance refused to show it. Undeterred, Nguyen made some signs advertising '' and asking 'Why did the eagles and vultures attacked?' and drove round in a van blaring synthesized bird sounds. Severin Films eventually picked it up. Their distribution costs exceed the cost of the movie's production.

What happened next?: Nguyen is making 'Birdemic 2' and confirmed Bagh and, later, Moore would be onboard for it. Moore continued her studies, but occasionally voiced some film shorts and appeared in other minor films. According to Wikipedia, Bagh supposedly played a "Dying seal due to environmental damage" in something called 'Such as Seals', and is himself a model.

Conclusion: Even in this company, 'Birdemic' is a disaster. While there's something quaintly naive about Nguyen and his message, a bunch of ten-year-olds with a mobile phone would create better production values and the CGI would embarass an i-Phone game. The crushing tedium of most of 'Birdemic' makes it one to avoid for even bad movie fans.

TROLL 2 (1990)

Premise: The Waits family travel to the mysterious village of Nilbog in the hope of a relaxing holiday of self-sufficiency. They're accompanied by Jason Wright, who is dating the daughter, and his Winnebago full of idiotic losers. However, they soon find that the town is full of lunatics, a sinister cult and goblins- and worse, they're all vegetarian. What evil plan do the Nilbog residents have in store?

Who's responsible?: Director/screenplay writer Claudio "Drake Floyd" Fragasso and his wife and storywriter Rosella Druidi. Epic Productions are responsible for the 'Troll 2' title, hoping to get away with marketing it as a sequel to relatively successful cult film 'Troll' (whose hero is called Harry Potter, oddly).

How did this film get made?: Druidi didn't like that her friends were turning vegetarian and, as a way of dealing with it, wrote a film full of evil vegetarian creatures. Fragasso had made some reasonably successful horror movies and, presumably for that reason, received some funding for this film. None went on casting actors or on wardrobe- the cast had to provide their own clothes, hence the unusual proliferation of branded clothes on display. The goblins themselves seem to be played by children wearing sacks and Hallowe'en masks.
Casting included George Hardy, a dentist, as the father of the main family, and Don Packard, a mental hospital patient on day release, as a drugstore owner. Neither had acted before and both were hoping for roles as extras.
None of the crew could speak English, none of the cast could speak Italian. Despite this, Fragasso insisted his script (which the actors only saw one page a day of) was read verbatim. With hilarious results.

So what happens?: The Waits family agree to a house-exchange holiday with some residents of Nilbog (population: 27). The children, Joshua (Michael Stephenson) and Holly (Connie McFarland) are reluctant: Holly wants to spend time with her deadweight boyfriend Elliott (Wright), and Joshua keeps being haunted by his dead grandfather (Robert Ormsby) who warns him against it. The parents (Hardy and Margo Prey, who looks like a possessed Helen Lederer) ignore them though, and turn up to Nilbog in "the middle of the night" (although it's broad daylight). In the meantime, Elliott has persuaded his loser friends to join him in Nilbog, on the 'Inbetweeners'-esque pretext that it's full of hot babes.
Things seem wrong from the outset in Nilbog: the family whose house the Waitses are staying in are all wandering around like Lurch Addams. The neighbour, Creedence Leonore Gielgud (Deborah Reed) looks and acts like Kate Bush playing the Wicked Witch of the West in a village hall play. The fridge is curiously lacking in food other than rancid milk and a mysterious vegetarian banquet. However, only Joshua seems bothered by this and even this is because he's haunted by his dead granddad. Believing that the food is evil, he sabotages it by weeing all over the table, which doesn't impress his family.
Meanwhile, annoyed by the lack of food, Elliott's mates explore Nilbog. One of them, Arnold, rescues a hot babe from dangerous goblins only to blunder into Creedence's house, at which point the babe gets turned into plant slime and he is turned into an immobile plant. Turns out Creedence is the queen of the goblins, and is the holder of the Stonehenge Magic Stone. Another attempts to free Arnold, but is killed by Creedence. The third is prevented from saving the day by... well, I won't spoil it for you, but it features a hot babe and popcorn.
Convinced that the town is evil, Joshua spies on a church sermon about how evil it is to eat meat. Capturing him, the villagers attempt to make him eat their vegetarian food and contaminate him with evil, only for his father to save the day. The villagers attempt to atone by throwing a welcome party for the family, but it isn't long before they're revealing their true colours, racing round as goblins and attempting to turn the family into plants. The family hold a seance, resurrect their dead grandfather, and save the day by destroying the magic stone and running away. However, they've managed to infiltrate the Waits family's house and the film ends with them eating the mother, offering poor Joshua a slice.

What's so bad about it?: Most of the acting is outstandingly terrible. George Hardy has Hollywood good looks and does his best given his lack of previous acting, Michael Stephenson is no worse than most child actors and Don Packard, who looks like a cross between Randall Flagg and Bob Dylan, is a hoot in his scene; everyone else in the film, though, is awful. For example, Arnold's key line ("They're eating her- and they're going to eat me! OH MY GOD!") is delivered with all the passion of someone browsing the Yellow Pages. Mind you, it's hardly the actors' fault exclusively: they were in a hopeless situation, trapped in a film where nobody who could explain what was going on was able to speak English, and seeing one page a day of a script that is nonsense.
The plot of the film makes no sense, is riddled with errors (Creedence is "from Stonehenge") and has dialogue like "You can't piss on hospitality!".
Although the film has a higher special effects budget than, say, 'Birdemic', the goblin costumes are, frankly, atrocious. They remind me of 'The Giant Leeches', a Roger Corman film in which the leeches are literally holding their costumes on at times.

Why does this film stand out?: Because MGM and 20th Century Fox have some sort of involvement here, the film did the rounds almost constantly on the sci-fi channels, at which point it attracted the attention of MST3K-type ironic horror geeks. Hardy, encouraged by occasional patients recognising him, started to do the sci-fi convention circuit, as did some of the other actors. Fragasso, either in character or genuinely, continued to insist the film was a masterpiece and claimed the actors were liars and idiots.

What happened next?: Stephenson made a film called 'Best Worst Movie' in 2010 about Troll 2's fanbase. McFarland continues to act. Wright is a blogger and best-selling author. Hardly anyone else in the film acted before, or since. Fragasso directed some other horror films, mostly in Italy, but never reached the dizzy heights of T2.

Conclusion: There's simply too much going on in 'Troll 2' to get bored. Most of it is absolute nonsense and the film's comprehensibility completely evaporates at the 60-minute mark, but at least it isn't dull. Blessed with production values which, although littered with continuity errors, at least elevate it to the level of a Disney TV movie, and with an awesomely naff 80s synth soundtrack, 'Troll 2' is awesomely bad rather than irredeemably dreadful.


Congratulations 'Birdemic'! Looking forwards to the sequel!

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I adore 'The Room' and 'Troll II', was it tearing you apart making the decision.

I shall have to check out the others now :)

'Birdemic' definitely lacks in the awesome-badness of the other two: it's merely tedious when the birds aren't there. I certainly enjoyed myself more watching the other two!

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