Hollywood has gone comic book crazy with new comic movies and TV shows premiering every year.
Mostly all of them are good.
But it wasn’t always this way. I lived through the dark ages of the Hollywood comic book era, my friends.
So in celebration of the upcoming New York Comic Con here is my list for my top 5 favorite so bad they’re good comic book movies.
5) Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four
Well you make a movie of course.
But that doesn’t mean we have to release it.
Yes, back in 1992 Constantine Films were in a pickle. They had sat on their asses for so long that the rights to make a Fantastic Four film would expire. They had to make a movie by that December or else they would kiss the possible million dollar franchise good bye. Down in the dungeons of Hollywood a evil terrifying plan was hatched. They would make the cheapest film they could and never release it. That way the rights would stay in their possession. But who would be able to make a movie with a shoe string budget?
Enter the king of b-movies Roger Corman. Roger was infamous for making cheap movies at a breakneck speed. He was also known for making films that were campy and not hits by box office standards (although many of his films became cult classics.) So Corman was hired and he produced probably one of the worst super hero films of all time.
So why does it fall in the so bad its good category?
Well its comedy gold! First off you have actors that could not act out of a paper bag. Second you have horrible special effects, the best example is how they pulled off The Thing, an obvious rubber suit that wouldn’t let the actor raise his arms and a puppet controlled mouth that was never in sync with the dialogue. The production values just get worse, my personal favorite is Doctor Doom who sounds like he is underwater with a mouthful of marbles. Then you have the strange changes like the Mole Man being turned into The Jeweler in order to shoe him into the plot. Or the fact that he has an army of homeless people who he sends to fight Doctor Doom!
Or the looks of unsaid love between Ben Grimm and Reed Richards. The acting is just so hysterically bad, the actress who plays Alicia Masters looks more like she is dizzy than blind. Jay Underwood looks like he is hopped up on speed.
The film has never been officially released although it is probably the most sold bootleg at conventions. Marvel should really put it out on DVD even if it has no special features. If they can produce crap like the Jessica Alba Fantastic Four then why not a Corman classic?
4)The Punisher (The 1989 Dolph Lundgren Version)
It was 1989 and action films were even more blatant in presenting a superficial vacuous excuse to showcase an actor as a edgy bad ass, when in reality he would go into a crying fit if his hair was not perfect. So to the producers, The Punisher looked like the ideal choice for a awesome revenge flick. What we got instead was probably one of the most pathetic excuses for a vigilante in comic book history. Why?
Well what do you do when you get such a simple straight forward popular comic character? You change everything about him of course, because you have to give him depth. So you turn him into a police detective, who carries around water hydrants to give women parking tickets that would lead their mafia husbands to think that they were cheaters and kill them. Wait that’s the wrong crappy film. No you have him look like he is constipated while he speaks to his informant named Shake (like Shakespeare get it?! Ah how freaking stupid) who is a failed actor turned hobo that always speaks in rhyme or “Shakespearean” dialogue. You also ignore the comics by turning him into a rogue cop who doesn’t wear a costume and drives a motorcycle while living in the sewer and spending his leisure time walking around naked covered in filth.
How did this film get on the list?
Well its like watching a train wreck. The plot is laughable as The Punisher gets involved in a turf war between the Yakuza and a mob syndicate. On paper that sounds pretty freaking awesome but its surprising how the film makers take a cool idea and crap all over it. The acting is pretty god damn awful as you have Dolph Lundgren confusing being a tortured soul for being wacked out on horse tranquilizers. Then there is Louis Gossett Jr being the stereotypical angry black man who is always screaming (Samuel L. Jackson he is not.) Or Barry Otto who hams it up on the screen every chance he gets by mugging for the camera and making Pauly Shore look subtle.
The action scenes are pretty much the standard over the top 1980’s exaggeration as folks go flying 10 feet of the ground when they got shot or every Asian portrayed as a Ninja. The fact that it tries to take itself so seriously is what makes this film so freaking funny. You can practically see the actors careers evaporate before your very eyes.
3) Howard The Duck
Based on the same Marvel character created by Steve Gerber, the Howard the Duck comics were edgy and pretty funny with its great use of parody. So I have to admit it was rather brave for Lucas to produce a film about a foul mouth, cigar smoking duck. But it has gone down as one of the biggest flops in film history as Howard laid a large stinky egg. It was such a bomb that theirs a rumor that the two executives who approved it got into a fist fight over who was responsible for recommending it to be made.
The main problem with Howard the Duck was that Howard went from a smart edgy funny character to a 1980’s preppy, unfunny, duck who’s motivation in the film is dealing with selling out to the corporate machine. By a contrived plot mechanism Howard is transported from duck world to earth. Where he meets Beverly a 80’s big haired rock band singer played by Lee Thompson.
Faster than you can say McFly the movie goes off the rails. There are things in this film that I will never be able to remove from my consciousness no matter how much therapy I receive. There are ducks with breasts, a duck condom, and a scene that is basically bestiality.
Howard himself is played by a guy (Ed Gale) in a very very bad duck suit. Not a stretch for 1985 because live action animation was still crude and CGI wasn’t even a glimmer in Lucas’s eye. So to be honest I don’t think the special effects deserve the horrible comments it received by the press and film buffs, because I have seen much worse. So why do I own this film? Well it goes down as one of George Lucas’ biggest failure (Other than the Star Wars Christmas Special).
To say there are some bizarre moments in this film would be an understatement not only do we get the weird sexual jokes but there’s a jumping twitching Tim Robbins (one his first roles) who appears to suffer from some form of mental retardation. It’s pretty fascinating to watch a film that to this day still baffles me that it was ever made in the first place. There are some epically bad lines in this film that I still quote to my friends. One of my favorites is “That’s a duck!!! That’s a duck man!!!” but there are other classics I quote like “I know Quack-Fu” and so many many more.
It’s an example of the insanity of Hollywood.
2) Batman & Robin
When Schumacher first got a hold of the Batman franchise I actually welcomed it. Batman Returns didn’t sit well for me.
So to see someone be a bit more faithful to the 1990’s comic book Batman at the time was a relief from the bizarre and often grotesque Tim Burton’s Batman. Even though I loved Burton’s first Batman film, Returns was just too weird and almost a parody of itself. Forever was okay, a little corny at times but nothing too horrible although the butt close up was pretty weird. So when I sat down to the movie theater after paying $6.50 (boy those were the days) I was looking forward to it.
My geek heart sank once I saw George Clooney smile through his Batman mask. I came out of that theater feeling betrayed and angry. But something happened overtime as the years passed. I now see it as one of the most horribly insanely dumb comic movies of all time. It’s become a classic.
The lines are so stupid that I cant believe someone wrote them let alone speak them. It is hysterically bad, truly one of those movies were you can riff on it all the time and never run short of material: Arnold looks like a moron in his glowing suit of armor; Chris O’Donnell whines so much that he makes an 8 year old look mature; the storyline is ridiculous and has plot holes you can fly a jetliner through.
But that’s not all: there is so much neon that would put Vegas to shame. The costumes look like are nipple-centric and the actors themselves appear to be embarrassed; either cringing when delivering a line or mugging for the camera without any sense of the poor performance that they are giving.
I could see this film 20 times and never get tired of the sheer stupidity of it. I love it and it has become a rite of passage for any comic book geek. Its one of the best superhero spoofs of all time. It’s true Schumacher should be punched in the face from every person that paid for a ticket to see this garbage but at least there is some redeeming value in it.
1) Nick Fury Agent of the S.H.I.E.L.D TV movie starring David Hasselhoff
During my 3 days of unbridled geekiness it was announced that David Hasselhoff would show off his Nick Fury costume.
Fox had optioned the character from Marvel for a possible TV series and some executive who probably had a problem with his perception of reality came up with the idea of casting an actor who’s career was taking a nose dive as one of the most famous spies in comic book history. I knew it was going to be bad, it was just a matter of how bad.
So when Hasselhoff walked out in public dressed as Nick Fury I heard the gasps of horror as we all realized this was really happening. Later that year the movie premiered on Fox and as usual for the network given very little promotion. The Hoff did his usual routine of hamming it up for the camera but at that time it wasn’t charming, it was just bad. Sandra Hess had one of the worst German accents I have ever heard in my life while playing Andrea “Viper“ Von Strucker.
The plot was lazy even by Fox standards Nick Fury gets called out of retirement to stop Hydra who is holding New York hostage by threatening to release a deadly virus. For one billion dollars!!
Can you believe David Goyer the man who wrote The Dark Knight came up with this drivel?
All I thought while watching it on TV was “people actually paid money to make this?”. It quickly has become forgotten by most comic fans but I still show it off to folks when they come to visit. Mostly to see their reaction to see Hasselhoff wear the famous eye patch and munch on a cigar while failing to look bad ass. The acting was pretty much the equivalent of Baywatch with leather jumpsuits.
Some of the lines will make you groan out loud. The action is pretty bad even for Fox television standards. Still, it’s Hasselhoff and he is unintentionally hilarious while trying to play a super spy. Although, she has lips full of collagen and is pretty much 50% plastic, Lisa Rinna was easy on the eyes. So its not so bad to see her dressed in leather head to toe while showing off a fair amount of cleavage.
Of course the planned TV show to spin out of this dog turd, never materialized (did anyone really think it would?) and this is all that is left to remind future generations of another ridiculous idea from Fox.
I wonder how it did in Germany? After all Germans love Hasselhoff.
So those are my top 5 picks. If you haven’t seen some of these then you really should pick them up (All are available commercially on DVD, with Nick Fury being a Best Buy exclusive and the Fantastic Four can be found with a creative Google search).
With more focus on comic book films, it’s pretty hard to find one that’s not well produced and if nothing else, watchable. Although the creative talent involved in my top five might want to edit their Imdb listing, they have regularly been a part of an entertaining movie night filled with laughter for my friends and I.