With instant media content streaming endlessly 24 hours a day, there’s no shortage of entertainment journalism that can be overwhelming at times. And just because you have constant access to it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good or entertaining. There’s those of us that appreciate simpler things in life, like cheap booze, gratuitous nudity, ample gore, cheesy dialogue, and bad movies, preferably on VHS. These things don’t need speed or flashy bells and whistles CGI’ed all over. They are appreciated for what they are, for the time tested ability and characteristics that endure from generation to generation. These tangible qualities are all manifested in the genre-loving Zine publication I LOVE BAD MOVIES.
March is the month that Volume 5 is released to the public, showcasing the celebration of Early & Late Roles for your favorite actors. Think Before & After they were famous in the roles you love to see. Several minds are responsible for this collective effort and now they’re opening up about their publication, their film screenings, and more. Their writers include Christine Makepeace, founder & editor of Paracinema; and writer/blogger extraordinaire Tenebrous Kate, as well as comedian Kevin Maher and the dynamic duo that started it all of Matt Carman and Kseniya Yarosh. Smell the ink and grip the page.
What was the genesis of the I Love Bad Movies zine?
Kseniya: A few years ago, Matt and I were spending a lot of time rifling through the one-dollar VHS box at our local record shop. We found a lot of junk but also gems like Don’t Tell Her It’s Me, Timebomb, and Champagne for Two. Our hobby quickly became a common topic of conversation with our friends; suddenly, everyone we knew was sharing a fond memory of the worst movie they’d ever seen.
I’d made personal zines before and decided it was time to take a plunge into a collaborative project. We made the first issue in June 2009, and are about to release our fifth. We might stop one day, but it’ll be difficult — people just keep making bad movies.
Who is your favorite Bad Movie Actor/Actress?
Matt: Nicolas Cage is like the Patron Saint of Bad Movies. When he’s good, he’s brilliant; when he’s bad, he takes you on a journey you never thought possible. Plenty of actors have starred in heaps of bad movies, but none are as surprising or delightful as Nic Cage.
Kseniya is also partial to the oeuvre of Winona Ryder, and a friend once told me that he was concerned by the number of Lou Gossett Jr. movies I’d been watching.
What criteria does a film have to meet to make it BAD?
Kseniya: Something has to be unintentionally off. We generally shy away from anything conspicuously campy or very low-budget, and focus on movies that flopped critically (The Break-Up), financially (The Island of Dr. Moreau), or both (Gigli). We’re flexible though, and have included more successful movies as well. As long as there’s some element of melodramatic acting, cringe-worthy dialogue, or baffling plot, and the contributor has an interesting perspective on the film, we’re happy to include it.
Writers frequently protest, “But this movie is actually pretty good,” and we have to tell them, “No, it’s really not. But tell us what makes the movie good to you.”
Why did you choose to deliver your writing in a zine format? Does its structure shape your writing style or creative process?
Matt: The Internet itself has an almost-permanent memory, but I can barely recall the things I’ve read online. This is likely some kind of reading disability on my part, but the end result is that I’m drawn to printed matter: books and zines and maga-zines that I can hold in my hands, keep on a shelf, and lend to friends. When text is tactile, I take my time with it, absorbing and really appreciating it.
Our writing styles and editing wands are definitely influenced by the fact that we publish a printed zine. We’ll slave over an issue until everything is laid out perfectly, every word has been proofread, and we’re sure that all the stills are as beautiful or awkward as possible. Creating an issue of I Love Bad Movies is like creating a baby, except it only takes a few months to make and we can give it away if we don’t like it.
What do you hope your readers will take away with them after each issue?
Kseniya: A sense of what a challenge it is to actually make a good movie. So many things can go wrong!
Working on I Love Bad Movies these past few years has been an interesting lesson in film-watching. I have become more forgiving of slight slip-ups and find most ‘good’ (critically-acclaimed, award-winning) movies quite boring now. I seek out more films that take risks and try to surprise me, even if it diminishes their overall quality.
In short, I hope each issue makes our readers laugh but also think deep thoughts.
In your opinion, is there one genre that seems to overachieve at fostering bad movies? Is there a particular decade that is a repeat offender?
Matt: There are plenty of bad comedies, but flat-falling jokes can be pretty hard to watch. (Old Dogs is a rare example of a comedy that doesn’t work at all, but is somehow wildly entertaining.) And for every Troll 2, there are hundreds of other horror movies that are poorly directed, acted, and/or conceived. Personally, we’re partial to terrible romance or action movies. They generally move pretty quickly, play to base emotions, and are about things that most of us are bad at: love and punching.
According to the essays we’ve published, the ‘80s fostered more bad movies than any other decade. This is probably skewed by the fact that most of our writers were coming of age at that time and have latched onto movies from the era, but it might just be that everything was terrible in the 1980s: clothes, music, movies, Presidents. 1987 alone gave us The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, Masters of the Universe, Teen Wolf Too, and Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2. It’s like everyone forgot how to do their jobs for an entire year.
How did you assemble your team of writers? What can you share about them and the contribution process?
Kseniya: I’ve always been very lucky to know a wide variety of intelligent film enthusiasts. It all started with my friends–Daily Show writers and Flop House podcast co-hosts Elliott Kalan and Dan McCoy, film curator Cristina Cacioppo, illustrator Jeremy Jusay, and a handful of other talented folks. They’ve inspired me and I wanted to showcase their work in print form. The circle of contributors has grown through screenings, zine fests, and friends-of-friends; it’s always been a very organic process. We’re fortunate enough to have a rotating roster of amazing writers, comedians, critics, and artists, and we’re constantly impressed by the people who want to work with us.
What goes down with your screenings and special events?
Matt: Our first event was 35mm double-feature of Hackers and The Net at 92YTribeca, where we host almost all of our screenings. Since then we’ve teamed up with our friends from The Flop House to show 12 Rounds and Twin Sitters; put together compilations of VHS trailers for the Doomsday Film Festival; given pseudo-scholarly lectures on Mac and Me and Sweet November; and for the variety show Meet the Lady, we presented video clips/life lessons culled from our favorite Canadian romance novel adaptations.
Live events allow us to share these great-bad movies with other people, and we often team up with I Love Bad Movies contributors to pull them off. We started making the zine so we could collaborate with people we admire. Sitting in a screening room with friends and strangers, laughing at all the wrong moments and having a great time — that’s why we do this. It’s hard to describe to people who don’t get it, but luckily for us, there are plenty of people out there who love bad movies too.
How is writing for a zine different from your experience with Paracinema?
Content wise, I Love Bad Movies and Paracinema are kind of twinsies. The difference with ILBM is I get to write about something fun and then it’s out of my hands. I read every piece that appears in Paracinema a minimum of 3 times; I live and breath each issue until it heads to the printer. It’s liberating to get an awesome theme and be able to run with it without thinking any further than that one glorious essay.
Do you think that men and women have different ideas of what constitutes a bad movie or is crap cinema universal?
Stereotypes will tell us that women may have an easier time sitting through an cheesy romance, and men an action flick. But I think it’s less about gender and more about what we are willing to forgive. If you’re a fan of gialli the most ridiculous, shoddy story and poor editing will give you something you want. “Crap” is totally subjective.
What Bad Movie recommendations do you have? What’s your preferred snack to munch with a Bad Movie viewing?
I really enjoy “bad” slashers. Intruder, Chopping Mall, The Burning… sure they’re not perfect, but they hit my sweet spot.
As for snacks, I have a lot of dietary restrictions, but I love to toss back handfuls of almonds. Oh, and coffee.
As a Comedian, how seriously do you take bad movies?
Probably too seriously. It’s a misconception about comedians — that everything’s a joke. Some comics really invest in the world of the movie, paying attention to the internal logic, backstory, minor details, etc. Anybody can mock some ’80s science-fiction cop movie for the hairstyles, but I find the laughs are much more satisfying if you dig deep and watch closely.
What bad movie directors do you love and which ones do you hate?
I don’t *hate* anybody, but I strongly dislike the approach used by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (makers of Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, and Meet the Spartans.) I’m a fan of parodies where the filmmakers respect the genre, like Young Frankenstein or Hot Fuzz. Edgar Wright is clearly understands the specific tropes, plot points and character types in cop movies, and his movie rewards fans of the genre. But with Date Movie the filmmakers assume you only have the most basic familiarity of The Wedding Planner. They assume you’ve only seen the trailer. Or that you only know Jennifer Lopez has a big butt.
What Bad Movie recommendations do you have to share?
I finally saw Maximum Overdrive for the first time, I can’t believe what I’d been missing. That movie definitely lives up to the hype.
Likewise, Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive is totally bonkers! It’s like a Carol Burnette show parody of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, filled with so much artificiality every step of the way, it’s brilliant.
I’m late to the party, but I just saw Strait Jacket and really dug it.
What’s your preferred snack to munch with a Bad Movie viewing?
It certainly makes any movie more special if you eat custom snacks that somehow relate to the film. My friends Lisa Beebe and Sara Reiss are amazing, they’ll go to great lengths to make custom-snacks for a screening, Tron cookies, shark cupcakes. I’m lucky to be friends with such cool nerds.
You are the brains behind a pretty prestigious blog. What does writing offline for this zine mean to you?
Thanks for the compliment! I’ve been writing for homemade and small-press magazines since I was a teenager. It’s rewarding to work with fellow film fans on a group project that results in a tangible finished product. It doesn’t hurt that having editors and due dates keeps me more disciplined as a writer than the sort of “typing into the void” experience that sometimes characterizes blogging.
One of the great things about I Love Bad Movies is the variety of viewpoints and writing styles that are linked by the singular joy of watching cheesy films. Some authors choose a personal approach, others take a more academic tactic, and then there are those who knock it out of the park with comic genius. It’s pretty cool to share page space with a talented crew like that.
Do you find yourself changing your style or opinions?
For better or for worse, I’m an opinionated individual and that makes it hard for me to reign in my “I’ll Tell Ya What I Really Think” Voice no matter where I’m writing. The good news for me is that the ILBM folks give their writers a lot of freedom when it comes to diversity of viewpoints. As to style… I should probably be embarrassed to admit that I concentrate on writing cleaner prose when it’s going to be in print, right?
What singular element do you see that unites all Bad Movies?
I’m pretty sure that “their general terribleness” isn’t the right answer here! When it comes to bad movies that I find fun and enjoyable, the one element they all have in common is that they’re never boring. Boringness is the cardinal sin for a genre flick. “So good it’s bad” movies never let your brain stop to get annoyed with the stupidity of what you’re watching. The perfect bad-great movie should make you feel like you’re being bombarded with stimulating images, like being Ludovico’ed with silliness.
What Bad Movie recommendations do you have to share?
Horror fans should check out the 1980 serial killer flick Don’t Answer the Phone!. It’s simultaneously stilted, mean-spirited, terrible and hilarious, and ultimately plays out like a retarded cousin to Michael Mann’s Manhunter. For adventurous viewers looking for a real acid trip of a horror movie experience, it doesn’t get much weirder than the filmography of Godfrey Ho. Ho specialized in stitching together Hong Kong vampire and zombie footage with hastily-shot ninja sequences that feature American and European actors. The logic behind this was to capture the overseas market, but the resulting films are so insane that I’m not sure they appeal to anyone except the most devoted bad film lovers.
What’s your preferred snack to munch with a Bad Movie viewing?
I think I read in a fortune cookie that “great beer and bad movies are the keys to a content life.” It’s served me pretty well so far!
All volumes are available online at www.ilovebadmovies.com, and in New York at one of my favorite Comic Book stores, Forbidden Planet near Union Square and Desert Island in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
I Love Bad Movies #1: The grab bag that started it all, spanning genres and themes.
I Love Bad Movies #2: “Love, sex, and relationships.”
I Love Bad Movies #3: “Visions of the future.”
I Love Bad Movies #4: “Kids’ movies, and movies ABOUT kids/teens.”
I Love Bad Movies #5: “Early and late roles” or, “Before and after they were famous.”
Be sure to make friends over at Facebook by clicking here. Reach out yourself with questions and submissions with firstname.lastname@example.org and of course visit the Official I Love Bad Movies site to purchase your own copies of the Zine and find out about upcoming screenings and events.
Tags: Bad Movies, chopping mall, Don't Answer the Phone!, garbage pail kids, Godfrey Ho, Hot Fuzz, I Love Bad Movies, Intruder, Manhunter, paracinema, Silent Night Deadly Night, Teen Wolf, The Burning, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Troll 2, Young Frankenstein, Zine