Friday, June 29, 2012

I Miss Giant Bugs Even More Now That I Have Them

A couple of years ago, I commented on how the Golden Age of Giant Bug Movies was a thing of the past, a relic of a period where special effects didn't have to be believable and process shots of real bugs close up were just fine in the minds of moviegoers who hadn't been exposed to Lucas-level effects magic. But I added the caveat that with the cheapness and ease of use of CGI, we were approaching an era where big-bug movies were cheap and easy to do once more. Many of my commenters pointed out that ScyFyieh (or however they're spelling it these days) is doing just that, with films like 'MegaShark Vs. Giant Octopus', 'Giant Shark Vs. MegaOctopus', and 'OctoShark vs. MegaGiant'. (Or something like that. The titles kind of blur together after a while.) I've since watched a couple of these...

...and I gotta say, the people who make them really don't understand how to make a bad movie.

I know, you wouldn't think of a bad movie as something that takes any particular talent to make, would you? I mean, that's what makes it bad. Lack of talent. But that's exactly the problem with these bad movies. They're not made by talentless people trying hard to make the best movie they can possibly make. They're made by people of modest talent who have decided that there's more money to be made by making a bad movie that they hope people will watch because it's campy, than in trying to make a good movie on a limited budget. Basically, they're bunting.

Take 'Arachnoquake'. It's not the craziest of B-movie ideas; an earthquake in New Orleans unleashes hordes of giant subterranean spiders. You could, theoretically, make a good disaster/horror movie out of that. (Not High Art, or anything, but good.) But when you make them telepathic fire-breathing spiders that can walk on water and have radar senses, you're clearly not even trying. You're just chucking any old thing onto the screen in the hopes that people will say, "Oh, wow! A movie called 'Arachnoquake'! It's bound to be so bad it's good!"

But it's not. It's charmless. The actors are all reasonably talented (with the obvious exception of Edward Furlong), speaking dialogue that was written to sound bad coming out of their mouths. They all cope in various different ways, but it doesn't have any of the silly joy that you get from watching an obvious amateur act to the best of their abilities (like, say, anyone in an Ed Wood movie.) The CGI, while well-executed, feels sterile and uninteresting. Watching the old giant bug movies, you wondered as a kid how they did it. Then as an adult, you wondered how they thought anyone would believe it. A CGI spider just feels like a cartoon with delusions of grandeur.

A truly great bad movie is one that swings for the fences. It's a movie that leaves you with no doubt that this is the best possible movie these people could make, and frequently leaves you admiring their effort even as you chuckle at the gap between their desire and their ability. The new bug movies are made by people who just don't care. And if they don't care, why should anyone else?

3 comments:

Dean Hacker said...

To me, the big difference between an endearingly bad Sci-Fi movie and a painfully bad one is what they are trying to say. The endearingly bad ones always have some kind of message, however ineptly delivered. They are really trying to get that message across using Giant Bugs (or whatever) to illustrate the dangers of radiation (or pollution, or whatever).

Painfully bad movies just want you to know that they are in on the joke. The writing, acting, directing, effects and the rest are lazy and/or inept on purpose.

C. Carter said...

Hear, hear!
Har, har!

Anonymous said...

You need to look up The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2001) -- you will love it!