Friday, July 29, 2005

"And remember, my friends, future events such as these will affect you in the future."

I blame cable TV. And reading.

I am addicted to watching bad movies. Calling them bad isn't fair, exactly; some of them are quite entertaining. But they aren't quite "Citizen Kane," if you know what I mean.

Unless "Citizen Kane" featured a drug-addicted blood-sucker with a turkey's head.

In the early days on HBO and Showtime, the catalog of movies for whatever reason, was a little limited. Thus, certain movies were shown ad infinitum. So I have a soft spot in my heart for such films as "Xanadu," "Super Fuzz" and "The Beastmaster."

Also in the mix was a little flick called "It Came From Hollywood." It starred Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Gilda Radner and Cheech and Chong. And in those pre Mystery Science Theater 3000 days, this was the first place I saw people making fun of cheesy horror and sci-fi flicks.

At that point, the only chance to see those kinds of movies was on KTVU's Creature Features, hosted by Bob Wilkins and later by John Stanley. It was on late, so I didn't get to see it as often as I'd have liked to.

The movie introduced me to bad brain movies, cautionary drug tales such as "Reefer Madness" and the works of Ed Wood.

Also around this time, I found a book at the library called "The Golden Turkey Awards" by Michael and Harry Medved. While I balked at their inclusion of the 1978 musical "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (I was only a kid, remember...), I was amazed at the whacked-out ideas that some of these movies were based around.

I wanted to see these bad movies because they looked unbelievably odd. But in those days, there just wasn't the kind of access to cinematic dung that there is today.

And that bugged me, because "It Came From Hollywood" featured a clip from a movie that for years was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen. From the movie "A*P*E," a ripoff of the King Kong remake, there were a few scenes of abysmal special effects work -- the trucks the giant ape was tossing around were obviously toys. But the best one is when the ape, apparently upset by the constant attacks from the army, gives them the finger!

Thankfully, the movie is now available on DVD and is now in my Netflix cue. Woohoo!

Over the years, I tried to track down as many movies from "It Came From Hollywood" and "The Golden Turkey Awards" as I could. It wasn't unusual for me to have movie marathons late at night on the weekends (fortunately, I didn't have any kind of social life to get in the way of such academic pursuits), and I made quite a dent in the horror and sci-fi sections of my local video stores.

It's such a part of my life now that my mother- and father-in-law got me "Blood Freak" on DVD for Christmas last year. "Blood Freak" is the film that has that turkey-headed guy I was talking about earlier.

Through the magic of eBay, Netflix and the occasional find at the thrift store, I will be working on what I like to call "Bad Movies A to Z." Twenty-six movies, some bad, some not-so-bad, and even a couple that are pretty good. I picked them based on availability, appeal and, of course, my own gluttony for punishment.

I'd like to say they'll be weekly, but I don't always have as much time to watch movies as I'd like.

The fun will kick off with one of the flicks I learned about from "It Came From Hollywood" -- "The Amazing Colossal Man."

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Dumb things I've done (2 in an occasional series)

Sophomore year, high school:

While discussing the elastic properties of the human body, I volunteer the information that I can stick my legs behind my head (a talent I have since lost). I demonstrate and manage to slide down in my chair, lodging me between it and the desk.

Hilarity ensues.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Dumb things I’ve done (1 in an occasional series)

When I was about 9, I realized that if I slouched a little, I could pull my jacket up and zip it up over my head, thus creating the illusion that I was a headless kid.

This discovery would have played out cooler had I not:

A) Come up with it while waiting in the drive-through at Jack in the Box
B) Gotten my hair stuck in the zipper, rendering me unable to unzip the jacket before we got to the window.

As it is, I had to just sit there and hope that the person giving us our food didn’t notice the headless kid in the passenger’s seat.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

But don't take my word for it...

I got a cool book the other day. It’s called “From Abba to Zoom: A Pop Culture Encyclopedia of the Late 20th Century,” by David Mansour.

This isn’t the first “pop culture encyclopedia” I’ve gotten. I’m a sucker for these things, even though they invariably contain much of the same information.

But this one has quite a bit that others don’t, which I really like.

I give the book bonus points for including an entire entry on Schleprock, the mopey sad-sack friend of the teenage Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm on their cartoon show. Now I know there are at least two people who remember that guy.

I checked the entry for the Wonder Twins, and as I suspected, there’s reference to them touching each other’s rings. I’ve mentioned before that this is one of my pop culture pet peeves. Another minor disappointment is in the entry for the Monkees, where the author repeats the urban legend about Charles Manson being one of the guys who tried out.

But these are really minor quibbles with what is a tremendously fun book to read. I mean, how can you not like a book that gives a shout out to Woodsey Owl?