Re-Discovering My Love for Awesomely Bad Movies

8:03:00 PM

Years ago, one of my favorite besties gave me a book called Bad Movies We Love. The authors preach about the best of the worst - from scenery chewing to ironic life imitates bad art characters. I have had it for well over a decade and it has seen a lot of use! I have read and re-read it. I have highlighted it to keep track of the films I've seen. I've used it as my bible to all things camp. I have worn my original copy down so much so, that it's missing the cover and a few pages. My boyfriend found a new, inexpensive copy on Amazon for me for Christmas this year.
So flash forward to January. I kicked off the New Year by having a much needed surgery. For someone like me who is self employed, this was the perfect time to take some down time and heal without missing too much work and project time. Unfortunately we are now into February, and I am still healing. After some unexpected complications, I am still running on the slow side. It has been rough.

In my search for something to keep me entertained while I heal, I picked up my beloved movie guide and began to criss-cross through the reviews looking for things I've never seen, or need to see again. I landed splat on the movie that started it all for me.

I had to be maybe 7 or 8 the first time I saw Xanadu. I have mentioned in previous posts, I was a kid who loved musicals! I had no idea it was a bad movie. It wasn't until years later that I was finally in on the joke. That I saw how awesomely bad Xanadu was. And my love for it transcended. According to my Bad Movies bible, Xanadu was the creme de la creme of the Slay it With Music musicals.  I taped it off of TV (because that's what us old folks had to do back in the 80s!) And watched it to death. Olivia Newton John was this beautiful wholesome beacon on roller skates. She was one of the 9 Muses who came to Earth and decided she quite liked it. It made me wish for my own Muse. She falls for Swan from the Warriors (also an awesomely bad movie) and inspires he and an aging Gene Kelly to open a night club together. Swann quits his career in fine art as a painter for album covers (what's that?) They open their club, where they blend the 1940s and the 1970s in a train wreck - just - can't - look - away musical number, I shit you not. It's unreal. Watching this while stuck home in bed was such a positive for me. Not only did I relive my childhood, but I laughed my ass off.

Lady Sings the Blues
Oooh you are certainly getting schooled now children! This movie was my next must see! Another one I remember loving in my youth and yet again, had no clue it was a bad flick. Even now, I still think it walks the line. It has moments of amazing, this was Diana Ross's first movie role, and she took it very seriously. Also Richard Prior's first film, and he practically walks off with the whole movie. But it also has high camp moments, Diana Ross has a very big problem keeping those crazy eye balls in check. Not quite bugging all out like in another favorite, Mahogany, but dang close. There is a fine line between scenery chewing and acting your ass off. She walks it quite a bit as Lady Day, aka Billie Holiday. The story is a tragic tale full of sadness, rascism, rape and drug abuse. There are moments where you go from laughing at the movie to crying. But I guess that's what makes it such an interesting pick. Also this film features Mr. Billie Dee Williams, who I am a sucker for no matter what he's in. Watching it you can see why he was the Denzel of the 70s. He also worked with Ross again in the forementioned Mahogany. Give this one a real watch. Try and see both the camp and the love put in this flick. At the very least you may find Diana Ross dropping the N word over and over a little jaw dropping. I know I was scandalized.

Shanghai Surprise
Oh my God, I can hear the groans from here. In the mid 80s, Sean Penn and Madonna were the ultimate power couple. This movie seemed unstoppable. It was produced by George Harrison (I know right!) Who also provided some soundtrack goodness. The screenplay was written by infamous Algonquin Round Table author, Robert Benchley. This marriage of everything that should go right, but goes terribly, hilariously wrong, is my favorite kind of bad movie. Big Budget Flicks That Fall Flat on Their Faces. You can find my beloved Showgirls as the reigning queen of this category. This movie, set in what I think is the 1920s Shanghai, features Penn as a drunk swindler and Madonna as (hahahahahahaha) a virginal missionary nurse trying to find Opium to help her patients. Madonna whines and stamps her way through the flick, as Penn gets dirtier and drunker (method acting).  It ends in a train wreck that involves a dude named Joe Blow, porcelain hands, fake outs, explosions and waving goodbye like a psycho. You'll be glad it's over when it comes. Worth watching just for the sheer madness that was the Madonna / Penn marriage. It's like a peek inside a window of what brought them together and what made it fail. Get your popcorn!

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  1. You've got some good "bad" movies here! But ... I loved Lady Sings the Blues!

    1. Bonnie I love Lady Sings the Blues too! I bought it , which prompted the review. 😊

  2. I too have a penchant for awesomely bad movies. Shanghai Surprise is definitely on my list too - total train wreck you can't stop watching.

  3. Xanadu is one heck of a ride, especially the last part of the movie. Surprisingly, the Broadway musical was pretty good.


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