Welcome to the next CHUD List.
tackled our our disappointments, our essentials list and slowly exhumed
our Kills List from 2003, and now that we’ve begun the beguine, we must
The CHUD.com Top 50 Guilty Pleasures.
all got those little flicks that we know are wrong, but feel so right.
And after our preceding list of disappointment, we decided to cleanse
the palate by honoring our favorite guilty pleasures. These are films
that are flawed and often completely indefensible, but we can’t help but
love them anyway. As before, from a master list of over 100, the
involved parties (Devin, Jeremy, Micah, Russ, and Nick) all killed
off a choice for each one we claimed. As a result, we’ll run a big list
at the end of this of the ‘ones that got away’. So, here are the Top 50
Guilty Pleasures. Two a day, every week day for five weeks. In no
The Avengers (1998, Dir. Jeremiah Chechik)
Why It’s A Guilty Pleasure: This is the most “British” action blockbuster ever conceived. You get extensive fight scenes with umbrellas, canes, and bowler hats. A world-conquering villain with a ludicrous weather-based scheme who happens to be a knighted, withered Welshman living in a huge country estate. Eddie Izzard’s chubby, mute henchman. All-too-brief glimpses of Uma Thurman doing Diana Rigg proud in the black catsuit department. Frickin’ pastel-colored giant teddy bears. It’s all tied together with Joel McNeely’s sumptuous score to great effect.
Signature Moment: No other image endures from this quite like the pastel teddy bear summit in which Sean Connery reveals himself to be the head of the organization, then pulls out the timeworn dirty trick of suckering two squeamish dissenters into admitting their disdain…at which point he throws poison darts into their bear outfits. Hey, it doesn’t adhere to our physical laws or even common sense, but that’s part of the film’s charm.
What’s It’s Missing: Ummm…a lot. As legend has it, Warner Bros. lost confidence in this film at the last second and ordered it cut to ribbons so as to maximize showings on opening weekend in hopes of eeking out whatever profit it could. The 87-minute running time seems to bear this out, and for further evidence, just see….the entire subplot of Uma Thurman’s Emma Peel in the finished film. It makes no sense whatsoever, thus the scenes of her grappling with an evil clone and Connery’s obsession with her are bizarre curiosities rather than gripping plot points. Connery also goes from zero to megalomaniac within 3.7 seconds, and his Dr. Evil-esque plan has more holes in it than Hugo Weaving’s body at the end of V for Vendetta. Best not to overthink this film….or to think about it at all. Just enjoy the great set design, unique sensibilities, and pretty colors.
My Personal Connection To It: As 1998 was a year of bombast (Saving Private Ryan, Armageddon, Godzilla) I always had a special relationship with this most un-blockbuster-y of big budget blockbusters. I found the uniquely British tone to be most refreshing, and seeing the likes of Connery, Jim Broadbent, and Ralph Fiennes cutting up in this foolishness gives me no small amount of pleasure. When everyone else was singing the praises of cult/geek favorites from the same year like Rushmore or The Big Lebowski, I found myself wearing out a rental copy of this film and wondering what could have been had it been left intact. We’ll probably never know.
Watch It With: Your Anglophile friends who actually had a stake in the Blur vs. Oasis feud of the same time as this film.
- Micah Robinson
Phantasm (1979, Dir. Don Coscarelli)
Why It’s A Guilty Pleasure: This is horror/sci-fi as if told by a man who learned storytelling from a blind itinerant Indonesian poet with no fingers. Either through intention or ineptitude it sidesteps every normal movie narrative convention and throws ideas at the screen like rotting vegetables at a shitty vaudeville act. Plus: nekkid cemetery horror sex; rampaging hooded dwarves; Reggie’s ponytail; the severed finger that turns into a puppet fly; and, of course, the ball.
Signature Moment: Forget the ball. It’s not any appearance of the hooded dwarves or the awesome two-pole doorway to another dimension. It’s when Coscarelli cuts from Mike and Jody seemingly defeating the Tall Man to Reggie consoling Mike over the death of his brother. In a moment of seeming triumph, one of the three heroes is killed offscreen. Stunning.
What’s It’s Missing: A better version of Dune’s pain induction box, for one. Alternately, ‘what it has too much of’ would be quaaludes for the supporting cast. Mike’s blonde friend is either highly medicated or acting on a frequency only animals can detect. I’d also take a better mortuary set, hotter cemetery chick, heavier boulders and taller dwarves.
My Personal Connection To It: Nintey per cent of the films I’ve seen, I can remember the salient details of the first time. Not Phantasm. It’s always been there. I could have seen it on cable as a child, on video in high school or college, or at one of the great midnight cult film nights later in life at the Coolidge Corner. More likely, it was projected to me in utero, before the film was even made. That would be just like the goddam Tall Man.
Watch It With: Bearers of bowl cuts and mortuary enthusiasts.
- Russ Fischer