What would you define as a good movie?
Award Winning? Critically Acclaimed? It has your favourite star in it? All your friends like it?
For me, it’s a movie that entertains me, plain and simple. Now, entertainment is a broad term that can be very subjectively defined. For instance, I never let professional critics’ opinions sway me from watching ‘bad’ movies — in fact, more often than not I find these bad movies to be highly entertaining, and yes, even good.
There’s a special type of ‘bad’ movie I love, that doesn’t follow any rules or logic and usually makes it to people’s ‘Top 5 Worst Movies’ list. These are movies that are so off-the-wall, so zany and silly that they put off most people, but I’m forever glad that someone had the good sense (or a lapse of it) to put some money behind them and get them made. These are the kinds of movies that, even on paper, don’t sound like a good proporistion.
These are also some of my favourite movies, and here’s my top 5 list. If you’ve never heard of them, or have heard of them but in a negative way before, I hope this list will do a little to change your mind and get you to see them:
Ringo Starr, Dennis Quaid and Barbara Bach as cavemen — sorry, cavepersons. If that sentence alone wasn’t enough to convince you to go out and find this movie right now, then may I urge fans of special effects (especially of the Ray Harryhausen kind) to give it a watch purely for the great stop-motion animation, or the laugh-out-loud hilarity?
This Python-esque send-up of One Million Years B.C. (set, of course, in One Zillion B.C.) scores over that movie because of its sheer chutzpah. While I will admit that the Raquel Welch movie does more immediately spring to mind when thinking of caveman romps (well, that’s purely because it has Raquel Welch in it!), Caveman! is as if not more memorable, and if you’ve seen the former you owe it to yourself to watch the latter.
Because any movie that features both the invention of music and the discovery of fried eggs just deserves to be a classic.
2. Danger Diabolik
Mario Bava may have inspired many great filmmakers with his horror and weird movies, but this will always be my favourite. From its psychedelic title sequence (and even more drug-fueled title song) to its zany lead character, Diabolik is the kind of movie that runs on cool and cool alone.
Forget the plot (hint: there isn’t one), forget the acting, and instead surrender yourself to the amazing sets, the fast car chases, the byzantine capers and the women — Oh! the women — who could only have existed in the 1960s.
Watch this movie and you too will, for a moment, wish you were a man in a tight black catsuit zooming around the countryside in an E-Type Jaguar. Any movie that can put you in that frame of mind is surely evil in all the right ways!
3. Party 7
Katsuhito Ishii’s follow up to his hit Sharkskin Man and Peach-Hip Girl is an odd film that takes place almost entirely in one hotel room. While the sprawling Japanese countryside from his first film is gone, the long, strange and rhythmic dialogue is still there, the characters’ quirkiness magnified even more by the confines perhaps, and the film builds to a cracker of an ending. It’s not as sublime as his follow up, The Taste of Tea nor is it as affectionate as Sharksin Man…, but I’ve rarely seen someone pull of such relentless strangeness with such aplomb.
Also, it features a costumed hero named Captain Banana and his sidekick, the yellow-jumpsuited Captain The Yellow (“Captain Yellow?” “The, The! Captain The Yellow!”).
Long before Jane Fonda was a ‘serious’ actress, she made this, the best film of her career. A free-wheeling, free love space adventure with enough weird special effects, shagadelic sets, white-winged underwear models and strangely named characters (the band Duran Duran took their name from one of the characters in this film) to fill five movies, Barbarella stands the test of time admirably.
One part Flash Gordon plus one part Flesh Gordon and ten parts madness equals tons of pure, unadultarated fun.
If you want to watch this with your girlfriend and she’s old enough to remember there being James Bonds before Daniel Craig, you can probably convince her by saying that this movie features Sean Connery running around in what basically amounts to boots, gun belts and a thong. Handlebar mustache notwithstanding, Zardoz is a fantastically weird examination of secluded future society.
By director John Boorman’s own admission they were probably trying to juggle one too many themes, but I can’t fault this film for ambition or ingenuity (all the special effects were done on-set and in-camera). It may look and feel strange, but that is what good Science Fiction is all about.
Also, Sean Connery in a thong.
(Darren Rowse at Problogger.net has been running a Top 5 competition, more a forum for exchanging and finding blogs. This is my contribution to the effort)