TOP TEN “WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!?” Movie List

Remember the first time you watched a movie that was SO BAD, SO MISGUIDED IN EVERY WAY, that your jaw dropped lower and lower until it hit the ground? Well, here are ten of those movies, each misguided in so many ways that you just had to wonder “what were they thinking?!?” Let’s examine the cinematic evidence…

10- From Justin To Kelly. In 2003, American Idol exploded on television as one of the biggest hits of all time. So what was the misguided idea that resulted? How about taking winner Kelly Clarkson, along with her runner-up, heart throb Justin Guarini, and rushing a “beach blanket bingo” movie into theaters to capitalize on their new found fame. The plot is clearly NOT the point here–Kelly and two gal pals go to the beach for spring break, where one of her friends gets jealous of Kelly and tries to ruin her budding romance with Justin–the point was to jump on the Idol wave and ride it to box office gold. No such luck. This bombed spectacularly, but don’t worry – there is actually a “special edition” version of the movie on DVD!

9- Gigli. 2003. Here is the plot as explained by Amazon: “The violent story about how a criminal lesbian, a tough-guy hit-man with a heart of gold, and a retarded man came to be best friends through a hostage.” Um, WHAT? This was the movie that almost torpedoed Ben Affleck’s career – “Bennifer” was the running joke, the couple becoming Page Six fodder and a running joke. And rightly so: this is a movie so bad that it is now considered the punchline for atrocious films – “so bad it’s a Gigli!” As we know, JLo wound up on American Idol, and Ben came back with two outstanding directing efforts, including last year’s terrific “The Town.” All is forgiven, just never forgotten.

8-The Brave. You love Johnny Depp. We all love Johnny Depp. So did you see his 1997 directorial debut, with Depp also starring as a down-on-his-luck American Indian recently released from jail, who is offered the chance to “star” as the victim of a snuff film…convinced that he has nothing to offer this world, he agrees to be tortured to death by a gang of rednecks in return for $50,000. OK, you can ask: “WHAT THE F?”

I saw this film at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 and Alex interviewed Johnny at the time, but nothing could change the fact that this was, even as sincere as he was, one of the most misguided movie ideas EVER. It didn’t help that Marlon Brando had a small cameo as the man who offers him this chance…”The Brave” was never released in the United States, although it has finally shown up on DVD…and I really admire Johnny Depp…but this is a tough tough tough film to watch, and if you can make it through the scene where he builds an entire amusement park overnight while his kids are asleep inside the trailer – yes, an entire amusement park – well then I salute you.

7-All This and World War 2. You ever hear of The Beatles? Great music, right? Makes you think immediately of World War 2, doesn’t it? NO? Well, in 1976 these geniuses decided to take the Mop Tops greatest hits and, you know, cover it with documentary footage of World War 2! Bad? Beyond! Oh, and did I tell you that they got stars of “the moment” to lend their talents? Well, Helen Reddy sings “Fool On The Hill” while Hitler relaxes at Bertchtesgaden, and Rod Stewart husks “Get Back” while Nazi troops goose step. Yes, it really is as bad as it sounds!

6-Sextette! In 1978, legendary sex kitten Mae West decided she need to make a comeback, so she would get Ringo Starr, The Who dummer Keith Moon and Dom DeLuise to star with her. Yes, you can take a moment to consider what I just told you. As Amazon describes it: “It’s a musical comedy like no other when Mae West and Timothy Dalton wed, but put their honeymoon on hold while West saves the world! This outrageous comedy-musical features an all star cast that includes Dom DeLuise as Mae’s personal manager, Ringo Starr as her fourth husband, George Hamilton as her fifth husband, Keith Moon as Mae’s coiffure, Tony Curtis as her Russian ex-lover, Alice Cooper as a singing waiter, Walter Pidgeon as a Congressman, and Regis Philbin as what else? Himself!”

Take another moment, as this synopsis alone is enough to cause heart palpitations…and thanks to DVDs, you can own this! Just a warning: the vasoline on the lens is so thick that, while it was unsuccessfully trying to cover up Mae West’s age, it also made it impossible to see her! This movie is a lot like being forced to make out with somebody’s grandmother – with tongue.

5-Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Yes, as if “All This and World War 2” didn’t defile the Beatles quite enough, Producer Robert Stigwood dug the knife in deeper with this amazingly misguided attempt to bring the Pepper Band to life, courtesy of the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton! Look away children, look away! Steve Martin, Alice Cooper and Earth,Wind & Fire also share the blame for agreeing to star in this 1978 disaster.

4-The Sinful Dwarf. I have written about this legendary and recently uncovered 1974 film before, so I will let Amazon’s product description do the rest: “A young bride,” promised the ads, “left alone to the lewd passions of an evil dwarf!” Severin Films is officially going to Hell – and taking you with them – with the first time ever in America DVD release of what may be the sleaziest film in EuroCult history: Diminutive former kiddie-show host Torben Bille – who looks disturbingly like Jack Black in a trash compactor – stars as the pint-sized pervert who imprisons drugged teenage sex slaves in the attic of his drunken mother’s decrepit rooming house… and that’s just the first ten minutes! The delicious Anne Sparrow – in her first and understandably only screen role – co-stars in this towering achievement in graphic depravity, now fully restored from a 35mm print discovered hidden in a janitor’s closet at the Danish Film Institute!”

That’s right – this movie was not only found in a janitor’s closet in Denmark – but they chose not to throw it out! You will never see a more bizarre film…this is grindhouse at its best – or worst!

3-Can’t Stop The Music. Hey, hipsters. Let’s capture this disco craze by doing a musical starring the Village People and Bruce Jenner, then get aging “character actress/never-directed-before so let’s have her do it” Nancy Walker get behind the camera! For the first ten minutes your guests will tap their feet and hope for the best, by the halfway point, clear the bathroom!

Let’s just rundown the highlights:

1) Bruce Jenner (PLAYING A STRAIGHT MAN, I must reiterate), running around New York City in Daisy Dukes and a bare midriff, shrunken tee shirt.

2) A group of little boys in full VP drag, including the Leatherman’s get-up. (It’s for a milk commercial. Don’t ask.)

3) David Hodo’s (the Construction Worker) big solo number, “I Love You to Death,” which, to be fair, seems to have been conceived as an intentionally comic parody. (However, the same could be said of the entire film.) At any rate, David can’t sing, but he’s really hot jumping around in his skintight jeans, while being clawed at by overly-made-up mannequins in Halston knock-offs.

4) The “YMCA” production number, which is a hysterically inept homage to “Million Dollar Mermaid” and “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”–but you do get to see a lot of bare, buffed skin.

5) The finale ultimo, with the VP is sequined versions of their uniform drag–prior to going onstage, they’re visited by “special guest star Leigh Taylor-Young.”

And yes, those highlights are from the amazon description of the DVD release…see, I not only share this misguided efforts with you, I help point you to the place where you can buy them for your very own!

2-PSYCHED BY THE 4D WITCH. That’s right: PSYCHED BY THE 4D WITCH. Never heard of it? Well, I PAID TO SEE IT ONCE! Thanks to our friends at Something Weird video, it is still around to steal you blind. Say you have some b-roll of a city, AND you get your girlfriend to wander around a bit – film her. Then shoot her taking her clothes off and writhing around on a bed. Then shoot a couple of shots of an eerie face int he mirror. That’s it, you have a film! Don’t worry about dialogue, just record your girlfriend’s vacant, mono tonal voice for 90 minutes while you cut together this footage with no rhyme or reason. Get it? This is movie making so lazy and cynical, it was destined to take $5 out of the pocket of a young kid who would pay to see anything! You know – ME! Now I can return the favor, and help you clear out a party that just won’t stop on its own. The worst indignity is that “4D WITCH” is actually the second feature on this dvd double bill, behind the black’n’white nonsense called “Monster A Go-Go!”

1-The Day the Clown Cried. That’s right, the legendary, never-released movie from master Comedian Jerry Lewis! “Clown” is apparently unfinished and of course unreleased. Jerry Lewis starred and directed this 1972 lost masterwork, which is all about a circus clown who is imprisoned in a Nazi camp. He entertains the children who are there, and in the rumored finale, finally leads them in full clown makeup into the gas chambers. Nice.

Now you are thinking: is this somewhat similar to “Life Is Beautiful”, Italian rubber-faced funnyman Roberto Benigni’s critically-acclaimed 1997 film? As reviews said at the time: “Benigni accomplishes the impossible in his World War II comedy Life Is Beautiful: he shapes a simultaneously hilarious and haunting comedy out of the tragedy of the Holocaust.” And he won Best Actor for it! So why not Jerry? Why has this never been released? We will never know, but can only imagine….

Most of these movies are easy to find on TV and DVD, so dip your toes into the world of misguided movies and let me know what you think!



Categories: 70's Cinema, Grindhouse, Movies

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