Monday, September 01, 2014

How to Find Really Bad Movies

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Yahoo! Articles account.


Everyone has a list of favorite movies. Ask a friend and they can give you their top five or ten. Sites like NetFlix and Amazon have top hundred lists. But what do you do if you want to find a really bad movie? There are some that are known for being bad, like many of Ed Wood's films. Plan 9 From Outer Space has become famous just for being bad. After reviewing many, many movies on Epinions.com, I began to wonder where I could find the worst movies.

In case you're wondering, if I see a movie that is truly considered bad, I sometimes have to watch it just to see how bad it is. Some are considered entertaining while others are held up as an example of what not to do. Occasionally, I'll even take it as a challenge. I have to watch the movie just to know and even review, myself.

Neither Amazon nor NetFlix has an official bottom 100 list, which is understandable. Amazon sells movies and NetFlix rents them. I doubt that either site wants to waste their time compiling a list of movies that you probably wouldn't want to watch anyway. One user on Amazon did put together a list of their own, located here. This list doesn't seem to be endorsed by Amazon, though.

Rotten Tomatoes is a good place to start. It's technically a review aggregator, meaning that they compile reviews from other sites and give them a score based on the percentage of positive reviews. I've always had a hard time finding a bottom 100 list, although their Wikipedia page does have a list of movies with 0%, meaning that no one liked them.

One site that I really like is badmovies.org. One man has made it his quest to watch and review bad movies every so often. The reviews are well written and there's a wide variety of bad movies. Some, like Abraxas: Guardian of the Universe, I had already seen. Others, like Winterbeast, I had not and had only found out about through the web site.

Internet Movie Database does have a bottom 100 list of their own, located here. The list is the result of IMDb user ratings, so it will vary from time to time. Right now, the list doesn't seem to have many movies I've seen before, so I can't really attest to how good the list is, but I may get around to renting a few if I run out of stuff from badmovies.org.

If you run out of movies from these sites, you can check Wikipedia's list. This has a few that are considered bad for various reasons, although I think a lot of them appear on other lists. With the Wikipedia list, though, you can get much more detailed information.

If that fails, one good way to get some bad movies is to check your on-demand selection if you have access to that. Check to see if there's a free section. A few of the movies are going to be good, but many of the movies in free section are there because your provider doesn't have to pay much for them if anything.

Likewise, you may also be able to find packs of movies ranging from 10 to 100+ movies. Again, these tend to be public-domain movies that the company selling the sets didn't have to pay for. If you can find one of these at a library or very cheap at a yard sale or thrift store, these may be a good idea. I'd use these if you absolutely have to get them or if you can find a collection of relatively decent movies.

If you're looking for bad movies, these ideas should keep you going for a while.

Forbidden Planet (1956)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.


Every so often, I feel the urge to see a movie that falls just outside of my comfort zone. Sometimes, it’s a romantic movie. Sometimes, it’s a foreign movie. Sometimes, I find a new type of movie to like. Usually, I don’t. I’ll admit that science fiction isn’t that unusual for me to watch and I have nothing against older movies, but one thing caught my attention: Leslie Nielsen was in this movie. I’ve always seen him in comedies, such as the Naked Gun movies. I had to see this movie.

Nielsen plays the Commander Adams. He’s commanding a space ship sent to check up on a colony that hasn’t been heard from in a while. When the ship arrives, the crew finds Dr. Morbius, the only survivor of the original landing party. Morbius warns the ship to stay away at all costs; Adams decides to land the ship anyway.

Shortly after landing, the crew is greeted by Robby the Robot, Morbius’s robotic servant. Adams and two other crew members go back to Morbius’s house to find that there’s one other person on the planet: Morbius’s daughter, Altaira. Morbius reveals that some mysterious monster destroyed nearly the entire colony shortly after everyone set up. Only the doctor and his wife were spared. (The doctor’s wife died a few months later due to natural causes.) For some reason, the monster never attacked Morbius or his family.

Further inspection by Adams prompts Morbius to reveal that there was an ancient race on Altair IV known as the Krell. Having plenty of time on his hands, Morbius spent the past 19 years studying them. He’s unlocked a few of their secrets, but there’s so much more to the Krell that he hasn’t even touched. The Krell were an advanced race, eons ahead of humanity. They could harness great energy and build vast structures, but died mysteriously in a short span of time. Nothing exists above ground, but a great deal of technology exists below ground. Adams and Morbius have differing opinions on whether or not the technology should be brought back to Earth.

I figured that a science-fiction movie released in 1956 was bound to have cheesy special effects, and to a large extent I was correct. However, that’s not to say that I didn’t like the movie. Both the story and the characters were well developed. I don’t know what it is, but it seems like the science fictions movies of today seem to be more about show rather than story. Sure, there are exceptions, but I find that there are a lot of older movies that I find myself interested in because of an engaging plot. I want to know more about the Krell. I want to know more about Dr. Morbius and Commander Adams.

That’s really where a movie stands out. Things like special effects will eventually be replaced by bigger and better. The acting in this movie was great, as were the sets. Both statements will hold true in another fifty years. It looks like people spent a lot of time designing and assembling the underground structures. It’s a shame that we couldn’t get to see more of it. (Since I know someone will ask, Walter Pidgeon played Dr. Morbius and Anne Francis played Altaira. Robby the Robot was credited as himself.)

This movie gets four stars. Most of the material is appropriate for all ages. There are only two exceptions that I can think of. One is where Altaira receives ‘kissing lessons’. The other is a scene where the crew battles the monster. (Only the battle is something that I think young children might have a problem with.) I would definitely recommend this movie. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

iTunes Festival - 30 Nights of Music

I just got a message from the iTunes affiliate program that you can listen to the iTunes Festival live or with a limited delay for free.  I just thought I'd put the links up. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lone Survivor (2013)

WARNING:  I’m going to give away major details about the movie that may spoil it.  You’ve been warned.


I generally don’t like movies that start in the middle or end of the story.  With Lone Survivor, we not only know that one person will survive, but we spend most of the movie knowing that Mark Wahlberg’s Marcus Luttrell, is going to be that survivor.  We start with Luttrell being evacuated and treated, so we have to figure he makes it out alive.

The story is of a SEAL team sent in to kill a Taliban leader, identifiable by the fact that he‘s missing an ear lobe.  Luttrell is one of four men sent in to kill him.  We get to see some SEAL training in the beginning, just to see how tough team members are.  It doesn’t take long for the mission to go south, leaving the team to retreat.

The main problem is that three goat herders happen to find their location, setting up a predicament.  They can’t very well let them go, as the herders could reveal their location before they could get away.  Even keeping them alive could provide them opportunity to somehow get word back.  No one wants to kill three people who did nothing to the SEAL team, so the decision is made to leave them tied up and seek higher ground so that they might call for extraction.

It’s never that easy.  You never have a movie where everything goes right.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t have a movie.  As I said, Luttrell is the only one that survives.  The other three are killed when the locals figure out where they are.   Parents should be warned that there is a lot of fighting and, by extension, bloodshed.  It’s not the kind of thing that children should watch.

This wouldn’t have been my first choice for a movie.  My parents rented it through Netflix and asked if I wanted to watch.  I decided to give it a try and ended up watching the whole thing.  The movie is based on a book, which was an account of Operation Red Wings.

It’s difficult to really go into any sort of detail about the movie because so much of it is the action.  The first part of the movie is getting to know those involved in the mission.  The second part is the team trying to get out of a bad situation.  I probably never would have rented the movie on my own.  It’s not the kind of movie I usually go for.

Most of this is that the story is tenuous.  The entire thing is predicated on one thing going wrong.  If the team hadn’t been discovered, the mission may very well gone off without a hitch.  Yes, this is based on a true story, but how many teams accomplish their missions flawlessly?  How many times does a mission have one or two mistakes, but still work?  As I said, I started the movie knowing something bad was going to happen and that we’ be building up to that.  It’s one of those situations where the title gives away the movie.

Lone Survivor Official Trailer #1 (2013) - Mark Wahlberg Movie HD


Redneck Zombies (1989)

WARNING:  I am going to pick apart this movie and give away major details. If you truly have the urge to see this horrible movie and don't want spoilers, now would be a good time to stop reading.


There are some movies that are so bad that you have to wonder why anyone bothered to waste everyone's time. You have to get the actors, the cameramen, editors, people to hold the props and lots of other people. This is (presumably) after you've put forth the effort to actually write the script. You'd think that someone would wonder if this is really worth the effort. (I'd imagine that a percentage of projects never make it to viewers, but there's no way of really knowing how lucky I am.) When I saw Redneck Zombies on badmovies.org, I knew I had to see it just to see how bad it could get.

The movie starts with some text telling us about some nuclear waste that was disposed of unless it wasn't because all of the waste was disposed of except that there's a barrel that wasn't or something or other. A lone military officer named Robinson is transporting a barrel of the toxic waste in the back of a jeep. There's no backup, no safety gear, no biohazard suits or anything that would protect Robinson or the general public from this toxic material. So, of course, Robinson goes over a bump and loses the barrel on Ferd Mertz's property. (Yes, his name is actually listed as Ferd.)

Ferd isn't the brightest bulb, even by redneck standards, but he doesn't like people trespassing on his property, even if it is to get rid of toxic waste. He chases Robinson off his property and claims the barrel as his own. Being a below-average redneck, he looks at the "Dangerous: Radioactive" warning and reads it as "Do Not Open Until Christmas." (Seriously.)

Before Ferd can do anything with his early Christmas present, The Clemson Clan (Pa, Jethro, Junior and Billy-Bob) come along. Ferd offers them the barrel to settle a dispute over some moonshine, which they accept. Not being much brighter than Ferd, they mix the toxic waste in with what moonshine they have left and distribute it to the townsfolk without even having a sip for themselves.

Meanwhile, a group of random friends is camping nearby. One of them (Wilbur, I think) knows the perfect area for camping. There's even a pond to piss in. (Be prepared; one camper actually does piss in the pond.) This is a pretty diverse group of people. There's pre-med vet student, a heavy drinker and a guy with a USS John F. Kennedy cap to name a few. Most serve as some sort of joke, such as always wanting to wear a new shirt.

Back at base, Robinson reports that he's lost the barrel. His commanding officer tells him to take as many people back as he needs to find the barrel. So what does he do? He takes two of his fellow officers, one of which is a very stereotypical, very effeminate guy who apparently wouldn't mind hearing banjos during a canoe trip. It doesn't really matter because at this point, most of the townsfolk are already zombies. All three officers become lunch.

Most of the campers have survived to this point, but those that have survived know that something is up. Wilbur seems to think it's a local bear or something on the loose. No one really thinks it's serious enough to call a ranger or the police. You'd think that at the very least, they'd head back. If there was something in the area that could disembowel two of my friends, I don't think I'd want to stick around to become number three.

Instead, when the party does finally come across a zombie, they manage to take it down and have the pre-vet guy do an autopsy, despite the fact that he's not studying people in school and his acid finally kicked in. This makes for a very trippy and very funny autopsy. I think it was actually much funnier than was originally intended.

Given the combined IQ of the characters, it's no surprise that only one makes it out alive and unchanged, although she does actually get raped by a zombie. Yes, she falls down and is raped by a zombie. By some very cheesy special effects, I think it's implied that she's carrying the zombie's child, although it's hard to tell. The ending makes almost no sense.

This isn't to say that the rest of the movie is the pinnacle of clarity. The beginning makes absolutely no sense and everything else seems to be designed to segue from one zombie attack to the next. We even have some minor nudity, but it's in a scene that's so bizarre that it has absolutely no erotic effect at all. (We're talking, "Ok... Moving right along" bizarre.)

This literally looks like someone's project for a film class. I think if I had turned this in, I would have run the risk of being kicked out of the school. There are so many things wrong with this movie that I can't even say it was for the sake of moving the story along. I mean, what self-respecting branch of the military would entrust a barrel of toxic waste to one guy in a jeep? You'd think that if it was so important, they'd spring for appropriate transport.

It also looks like it was shot on VHS tape. I don't know if this was done for effect or if was due to budgetary concerns. This may have contributed to how bad the effects were. (Actually, the only effects were when people were tripping on something.)

It looks like very few of the actors went on to do anything else. If you look on IMDb, you'll see a lot of the actors have only Redneck Zombies listed under credits. (This is why I haven't mentioned any actors' names; it's doubtful that you would recognize anyone.)

I was able to stream this movie through my iPod from Netflix, which saved me the trouble of having to wait for it in the mail and send it back. This movie is just weird. We're talking WTF weird. I'm not even going to get into how bad the original music is. Even Robinson didn't like one of the songs. I think this might explain why one of the campers drank so much. It's not that it was written into the script; I think the actor realized what a POS movie it was and just had at it.

This movie gets one star. Only watch this if you're like me and consider a bad review to be a dare.


Official Site (distributor)


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Glen or Glenda (1953)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Yahoo! Articles account.


In looking for bad movies, I came across Glen or Glenda. Glen or Glenda was the first feature-length movie directed by Edward D. Wood, Jr. The movie starts with The Scientist, played by Bela Lugosi, setting up the story. The story starts with the suicide of a transvestite who had been arrested several times for dressing in women's clothing. According to his suicide note, he couldn't bare the thought of going to jail again. One of the officers investigating the suicide seeks the advice of Dr. Alton to better understand what a transvestite is.
Dr. Alton starts by explaining that transvestites, transsexuals, hermaphrodites and homosexuals are all different things. It's possible for a man to want to wear women's clothes without actually being attracted to men. While it's possible that a transvestite may be a hermaphrodite, there are also other causes. Dr. Alton gives the case of Glen as an example. 

Glen is to be married to Barbara. He likes wearing women's clothing and even goes out as Glenda, but is very much in love with Barbara. This causes him a great deal of conflict. He wants to tell her and knows that she deserves full disclosure, but fears that she'll reject him. If he keeps the information from her until after the marriage, he risks making it worse. Worse yet, she's starting to notice signs like his long fingernails. It's only a matter of time before she figures it out.

Dr. Alton also briefly uses the example of Alan, who is actually a pseudohermaphrodite. (A true hermaphrodite has both sets of organs fully developed; a pseudohermaphrodite has one fully developed while the other is partially developed.) Alan grew up as a man, but would dress up as a woman and do housework. He was even sent off to war. When he came back, his true nature was discovered. Alan had surgery to become Anne.

Glen or Glenda is said to be one of the worst movies of all time. While I wouldn't say that it's the worst, it's definitely far from the best. While watching the movie, I wondered if any psychologists or transvestites watched the movie and said, "What a load of crap. Transvestites aren't like that at all." Yes, I know that our understanding of sex and sexual identity change, but it's hard to take the movie seriously. (If anyone would like to comment, I'd live to know the opinion of an actual transvestite about this movie. Also, is that the preferred term?)

Wood, who was himself actually a thing for angora sweaters, seemed to want to paint transvestites in a positive light. Those that don't fit into society's gender roles often face prejudice and persecution. Here, Dr. Alton simply tries to tell it like it is in harsh clinical terms. I can't help but think that the movie could have had more of an impact if it was actually done well. 

The movie was short at 65 minutes and even then had a lot of stock footage. Scenes of traffic were used a lot and lightening bolts were used randomly. There was also a very bizarre dream sequence involving what I assume is the devil. The Scientist also makes a lot of random statements. ("Beware. Beware. Beware of the big, green dragon that sits on your doorstep.") Had a lot of this been taken out, the movie would have been very short, but I think it would have been a lot less confusing.

I do have to give Wood credit for making films that he wanted to make despite not getting much respect in his own time. He made several feature-length films, at least two of which (This one and Plan 9 From Outer Space) were considered to be among the worst of all time. Laugh as you may, here we are more than 50 years later still watching them. I'd say that there's some merit to the films, even as an example of what not to do. At the very least, he had given work to several actors including Bela Lugosi, who apparently wasn't getting much work at the time that this movie was made. 

I'd recommend the movie to someone only to know what they think. I'd love to know what the movie would have been like if it had been properly made. 




Saturday, August 16, 2014

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.



It’s funny how the 80s are full of movies that are basically content to stay there and we, as an audience, are content to leave them there.  Killer Klowns From Outer Space is a movie that I think most people would be happy to leave in the 80s.  Why did I rent it?  I’ll get to that later.  First, I’ll explain what the movie is about.

Mike and Debbie are making out in the back of a truck when they see a streak of light in the night sky.  At Debbie’s insistence, they follow it.  A farmer and his dog find the spaceship first, only to be captured by a giant clown.  As you might expect from a giant clown in an 80s film, the spaceship outwardly appears to be a giant circus tent.  Yes, this might appear odd in a forest if not for the fact that the ship is so deep in the forest that you can’t see it from outside of the forest.

When Mike and Debbie arrive, there’s no trace of the guy that was there earlier, meaning that there‘s no one to warn them not to go in.  What do they do?  They find an entrance and go in.  They find all sorts of things you might expect from a circus-tent-shaped space ship with giant clowns in an 80s film.  They have popcorn and cotton candy.  The thing is that everything has a sinister purpose.

Mike and Debbie soon discover that the alien clowns are kidnapping people and using them for food.  They have to warn someone, so they go to the sheriff.  The sheriff doesn’t take them seriously, of course, but Debbie used to date the deputy.  The three of them go back in an effort to protect the town and, possibly, the whole world.

I don’t think I need to go into detail about the rest of the movie.  Being an 80s B-movie about clowns, there’s a lot of cheesy stuff, a lot of slapstick and a lot of stuff I’ve forgotten about already.  And, of course, the town ends up safe and the clowns won‘t be going on to bother anyone else.  The entire thing comes across as over-the-top cornball by today’s standards.  Even by 80s standards, it would have had to have been very corny.

I don’t think modern writing and effects could have saved this movie.  It’s hard to take the movie seriously as either a horror film or as a comedy.  If you were wondering why I rented this movie, you’re probably still asking yourself the same question.  Why would I sit through the entire thing?  I had actually been looking for another movie.  I’m pretty sure it involved clowns that were used as hit men, but stopped shooting at the main characters because it was time to take a lunch break.  This wasn’t the movie, so if this sounds at all familiar, please leave a comment.

I got Killer Klowns From Outer Space free on demand, so I didn’t really lose any money.  It was entertaining enough that I wanted to see how it ended.  If I had paid money for this, I think I would have felt cheated.  If the movie comes on TV or you can otherwise get it at no cost, go for it.  Otherwise, I’d think twice. 





Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Hangar 18 (1980)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

There are some movies that were destined to be filler.  It used to be that on a Sunday afternoon, you’d turn on the TV and catch some old, generic movie halfway through.  These were the movies that the station didn’t have to pay much for in terms of royalties, so they could easily use a few of them when they didn’t have any original programming to use.

When you have access to movies, either on demand or through streaming, you get a lot of these movies.  I have access to Netflix’s vast selection of movies.  Many are ones that that they didn’t want to (or couldn’t) buy on DVD, but can probably rent the rights to for little or no money.  Customers get access to another title and you don’t have a disc collecting dust on a shelf somewhere.

This is how I found out about Hangar 18.  It’s a movie about three astronauts launching a satellite.  It’s just your ordinary, run-of-the-mill satellite-launching missions until a blip shows up on their screen.  You wouldn’t think a blip would be that big of a deal, except that the satellite crashes into it.  (Oops!)  The blip turns out to be a flying saucer that crashes on Earth.  Two astronauts, Price and Bancroff, manage to make it back safely, but a third astronaut is killed by debris from the actual collision.

At first, Price and Bancroff consider themselves lucky.  That is, until they wake up the next morning to find out that they’ve been blamed for killing the third astronaut.  There are people that can help them, but the conspicuous lack of evidence is a problem.  The wreck has been collected and taken to the titular Hangar 18.  Any data that was recorded has been erased or doctored.  So, the two set off to find some proof.

Meanwhile, the team studying the ship manages to get it open without hurting anyone or doing any serious damage.  By sheer luck, they manage to access the information in the ship’s computer.  They come to realize that the aliens have been gathering information on things like power plants and other important structures.  They even bear an uncanny resemblance to us.  (Yes, there’s a reason for that.)

There’s a lot of evidence that not only are they doing recon on us, but this probably is just a small piece of a large fleet.  Should we be afraid?  Undoubtedly.  Is there a total lack of people wondering where the rest of the aliens are?  Most definitely.  Instead of trying to figure out how to deal with the threat, those in charge go the Marvin the Martian route:  blow it up.

This was not a very good UFO story.  I could see this being the pilot for a TV show, sort of like V or something.  You have an alien race that’s going to potentially destroy us.  Instead, it’s like someone had that idea, but couldn’t get the project going, so they just made the pilot into a movie and ended it there.  We never get to see the mother ship.  We never get to see other aliens trying to find their lost comrades.  The potential for aliens coming later on to finish the job is never really dealt with.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 used this film for one of their episodes, which should tell you something.  I’d be interested to see if I can get that just to see what they did with the movie.  It runs for 97 minutes, which is just short enough that it would work.  It’s not a total waste of two hours, especially if you’re making fun of it.

It was released in July of 1980, right around the time that you had other similar movies, like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T.: The Extraterrestrial.  It also has that dated look that makes you think that the only reason someone approved of this project was to take advantage of the alien craze of the time.  (This movie probably wouldn’t have been released in theaters today. Instead, it probably would have been done by the Syfy channel.)

The movie is safe for teenagers and above.  There is no nudity or cursing, but there are a few gunfights and an accident.  It’s not a particularly exciting movie, regardless.  I’d say if you can get it for free streaming, give it a try.  Don’t waste a queue slot on this if you’re using Netflix.  If you have the one-at-a-time plan, you’ll regret wasting the spot. 



Monday, August 11, 2014

Cheonsamong/Dream of a Warrior (2001)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.


WARNING:  I'm going to give away major details, including the ending.  If you don't like spoilers, now would be a good time to stop reading.



There are some movies that are so bad that they’re worth watching as an example to others.  There are other movies that are so bad that their very existence is inexcusable.  Dream of a Warrior is an example of a movie that defies explanation.

The movie starts off with a woman running from the authorities.  She has a distinctive mark on her forehead.  We don’t yet know who she is or why she’s running, but she’s good.  She even manages to produce a rocket launcher and take out a helicopter.  Ultimately, she meets her demise and we move on to the next scene.

The police chief is watching a news report of a cult that tried to take out some scientist.  The cult members believed that they received a special message from their cult leader, who had died two years earlier while destroying the work of the same scientist.  The scientist’s daughter was apparently lost in the experiment that said scientist was conducting.  (In the aforementioned news report, he’s shown talking about past and future lives and how we can now visit them using his machine.)

One police officer, named Dean, is selected by the scientist to go in to his daughter’s past life/spatial anomaly/pocket universe to retrieve her.  She’s still alive, but the destruction of the original machine left her trapped.  The scientist looked through every law-enforcement and military officer throughout the country and only Dean has the right brainwave frequency to go in and save her.

We are now in some sort of village named DilMoon. A princess is to be married off to a warrior.  There’s another guy that’s interested in her, but is too lowly to be allowed to have anything to do with her.  It’s actually the guy sent back to save the daughter and it looks like the daughter is actually the princess.  Funny thing is that neither of them seems to behave as if it’s the past or some sort of altered reality.  They just play along as if this is normal.

Well, a group of senators want to invade a neighboring village as a preemptive strike.  There’s also a push to move up the wedding date of the princess, although it’s never really explained why.  (Someone mentions the impending threat of invasion as a reason, but I don’t see what that had to do with anything.)  Dean is going off to war with the Grand General.  The movie goes back and forth between showing us how great a warrior Dean is and how much people think that the princess is way out of his league.

Well, lots of people die, no one really makes any plans to move the wedding forward despite people constantly mentioning it and Dean manages to save the princess, although he dies.  When the princess realizes that she can never be with her true love, she commits suicide with a piece of glass, leaving the bad guy to scream.  Dean ends up back in the present/main reality, where the scientist tells Dean that he only has six hours to save his daughter.  Otherwise…

So, he goes back and finds the daughter in suspended animation behind a force field.  Dean distracts the bad guy long enough to cut through the force field, deactivate the stasis unit and take the daughter back to reality.  This is all in the span of maybe five or ten minutes.  I don’t know how six hours became five minutes.  (Then again, this is an altered reality/time warp we’re talking about.)

I can’t even begin to explain the level of WTF this movie deserves.  It’s one of those movies that would cause your head to explode if you tried to wrap your head around.  I can understand the bad subtitles.  (One character says something like, “They will revenge to me.”  There are also cases of the subtitles going too quickly or appearing when no one is talking.)  Maybe they couldn’t afford someone who spoke English.  This did appear to be a low-budget movie.

What got me was that the movie made absolutely no sense.  It actually looks like it started out as two or three different projects that were merged in an attempt to make a whole story.  Well, you can’t just put 83 minutes of crap together and call it a movie.

Was it a time warp she was in?  It was never stated that this was the actual, literal past.  If it was, why did everyone look the same?  We even have the woman from the opening chase scene show up.  She gets some major screen time.  How did that happen?  There are a lot of things that just happen and are never explained.

I also hate it when only one person is suitable for the mission.  It’s not like there were a few people that could have done it and this was the best candidate.  I could understand if there were still possibilities that they hadn’t looked at, but time was an issue.  Dean was the only one with the right brain pattern to go in.  And it just so happens that he’s been having dreams of the woman that he’s supposed to save.  What are the odds of that happening?

I can’t even begin to describe how crappy this movie is.  I don’t know if the people involved were doing copious amounts of drugs or if they were simply inept.  I’m leaning towards drugs mostly because some studio exec should have known to pull the plug after seeing this.  What I want to know is how this piece of crap ever made it to DVD.  I think that with some major rewriting, the movie could have had potential.  This is one case where a remake would be suitable, as there is a great deal of work that could be done on it.


IMDb page
 

Dark Planet = Dealt Prank

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.


WARNING:  I am going to give away details, such as the ending.  If you’re not into spoilers, you might not want to read the review before watching the movie, assuming you can stand watching the movie.



I blame Epinions for a lot of the bad movies I’ve watched.  Go back and look for the reviews of really crappy movies I’ve done.  If there are a lot of them, chances are there was some sort of promotion going on that month.  This month, we have a promotion for first reviews.  How do you get an easy entry into this contest?  Easy.  If you have access to movies, such as On Demand or Netflix, you should have access to lots of movies.  (Your on-demand selection should have a category for free movies.  Netflix has hundreds of movies streaming for members to watch.)

Many of these movies are probably unreviewed.  (The bad news is that you’ll have to check each title manually.)  Just this month, I’ve submitted first reviews on five movies and two Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine episodes.  (It looks like all of the episodes from The Next Generation are already reviewed.)  To be honest, I’m surprised we’re not drowning in movie reviews.

This is how I came across Dark Planet.  I was looking through the selection of movies Netflix has available in sci-fi.  Since it seemed like a b-grade movie, I bookmarked it for later reference and got around to watching it the other day.  I knew it was going to be a stinker since the blurb says that Earth has just gone through its sixth world war.

The premise is that after wiping out a good chunk of the population, two groups are left:  The Alphas and The Rebels.  The Alphas are genetically enhanced and tend to rule things.  As you might expect, The Rebels are mostly humans that either are unmodified or are mutants.  A truce is quickly called so that a joint mission can be dispatched to this mysterious Dark Planet.  The ship is under the command of an Alpha captain, one Capt. Winters.  His second in command is a Rebel, Col. Liz Brendan.  There’s the genetically enhanced Alpha Helmsperson Salera, but only one person has gotten through the wormhole/black hole necessary to reach the dark planet:  Anson Hawke, war profiteer.  (That alone sounds like the name of a bad TV show.)

Mr. Hawke has made it through, but he’s not really sure how.  His wife was killed in the attempt and he somehow mysteriously got back, so he’s not in any rush to try again.  The Captain promises him a nice life in some vegetable farm if he agrees, which sounds, a lot better than Alpha prison, so Hawke comes along.  Anyway, neither side trusts the other and Hawke seems to be distrusted by both sides, except by the women, who seem to come to like him, but that’s a whole other story.

As you might expect, a few random barriers are put up for the crew.  They first have to go through a minefield to get to the wormhole.  (I’ve always wondered why they can’t go over or around.)  After spending a good chunk of the movie floating through the minefield, they meet the pirate ship that probably put it there.  The ship makes it through, but it’s discovered that Capt. Winter has been hiding something.  He has some sort of probe that will restrict access to the planet.

As you might expect, the crew pretty much divides between Alpha and Rebel with Capt. Bad Guy not getting his way.  Hawke, Brendan and Salera all make it to the planet and send a message back that only those willing to come in peace will be welcome.  (How they can tell or what they’ll do about it is unclear.)

My biggest problem with the movie is physics.  We see the crew thrown around.  It’s understandable if someone ends up leaning against a wall.  However, it looks like the artificial gravity shifts and stays askew for a few good seconds.  Also, Hawke has to leave the ship to draw the attention of the mines.  His ship explodes, but he’s able to get back to the ship.  To do this, he’d either have to jettison himself at just the right angle or spend the rest of his life drifting in space.  Add to this that he has to climb the side of the ship to get in.  He’s climbing the ship as if there were gravity pulling him down.  Why would you put artificial gravity on the outside of a ship like that?

The effects look crappy, even by 90’s standards.  The acting is at least someone decent and the script is just good enough that we can follow the story.  However, I wonder if Michael York looks back on this and wonders why he took that bet in the first place.  I am so glad I didn’t spend money to buy or rent this.  I was also wondering what ‘dark’ meant in the title.  I couldn’t find any military parlance that made sense.  I’m assuming it’s dark in the sense of being unexplored, that no one has actually seen it yet.  That’s how this movie should stay.