So it’s been a long drive back from my D&D gathering. There were many traffic. And it’s hot out. And I had to return the rental car to the airport. And it’s hot out. And I had to cadge a ride thereby inconveniencing my favorite introvert. Did I mention it’s hot out?
My point is, I have a post to write, and I’m so not feelin’ it. I just don’t do my best work in any context when it’s over 72 degrees Fahrenheit (cuz this here’z ‘murica & ta hell with y’all’s centigrades & metric systems). My point is, I’m in, at best, a listy mood, and this is one that’s been simmering for a while, so it won’t impose much of a cognitive burden on me.
I’ve already listed a number of movies that people would be surprised I love. Along those lines, here are my Top 5 Guilty Pleasures.
#5 St. Elmo’s Fire
Wow this is a terrible movie as well as a fairly cynical cash grab banking on the post-Breakfast Club popularity of Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, and Emilio Estevez. Great googly moogly this movie is awful. And yet, if I’m flipping around on the TV looking for some background material to accompany whatever I’m doing around my place, I will assuredly leave this on if I come across it. Best Scene: Billy (Rob Lowe) and Wendy (Mare Winningham) at dinner with her parents. Best Line: Kirby: “I understand the fold, but what’s the fluff?” Kevin: “Fluff’s what I write for the paper.”
I mean, I had to put at least one horror movie on here, and this one surely ranks as sinful. It definitely falls under the “Nature’s Vengeance” heading, taking the classic animals turning on the peoples approach. Some of it’s genuinely creepy: spiders, snakes, etc. Much of it isn’t. One guy dies because a bunch of lizards knock over some noxious chemicals in a green house but don’t actually attack. One person is done in by tarantulas which generally can’t kill you and aren’t hugely aggressive. But the ultimate “Huh?” has to be the frogs. How does someone get done in by bunches of frogs? Plus there’s Ray Milland. Oh, and Sam Elliott. We’ll see him again soon. Best Scene: The post-credit animated frog. Best Line: From the trailer- “Frogs lay hundreds of millions of eggs each year. What if they all hatched?”
I know. In 1956 when DeMille made this, it was a spectacle on the grandest of scalese. For one thing, everybody was in it: not only Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner, but Anne Baxter, John Carradine, Yvonne De Carlo, Debra Paget, Vincent Price, Edward G. Robinson. And that’s just a short list. Also, as special effects go, the tower of flame writing The Ten Commandments, to me that’s still pretty damn cool. But holy crap does this movie show its age. Not just that it’s so white, but that its whiteness is soo white, the most egregious example probably being the very Queen Of Egypt herself, Nefertiri. Best Scene: The aforementioned writing of The Ten Commandments. Best Line: “So let it be written. So let it be done.”
#2 Kill And Kill Again
Back when I was a young, impressionable lad, one of the things besides cute girls and horror that I couldn’t get enough of was martial arts flicks. My best friend Dan and I thought we were just a few karate lessons away from becoming kickass dispensers of vengeful vigilante justice. This was the “magic hour” between the demise of Bruce Lee and the rise of folks like Van Damme, Seagal, and Jet Li. The high point was probably Jackie Chan, but the lows were so good. Enter Kill And Kill Again, James Ryan’s sequel to Kill Or Be Killed. Woof. You could smell this from inside its video rental case. So much badness, not the least of which being its flagrant rip off of Enter The Dragon. Best Scene: Blocking a bullet. Best Line: “The mind that leads the feet must be wise.”
#1 Road House
And speaking of bad martial “arts” flicks, let’s talk Patrick Swayze. Ain’t no apologies for this one. This movie is just bad on every level: acting, action, writing, character, anything you can think of. And yet. And yet. I will drop everything I’m doing, almost invariably, to sit down and watch it no matter where I come in on the movie. I own it, and I’ll still stop everything and watch it on TV. Best Scene: The arrival of Sam Elliott. Best Line: Sam Elliott kicks some big dude’s knee in and says, “Damn that hurts, doesn’t it?”
And now you know. Don’t judge me too harshly. We all have our little quirks and shortcomings. In fact, why not share yours in the Comments?