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
D.C. Cab (1983, Dir. Joel Schumacher)
Why It’s A Guilty Pleasure: Well, for starters, it’s D.C. Cab. An ensemble slobs-versus-snobs comedy (with a corrupt hack inspector and a cab company with green cars providing the Dean Wormer/Omega antagonism), this film was a veritable must-see for adolescent boys when it hit theaters in December 1983 based on Mr. T’s involvement alone. The poster shrewdly positioned Herr T as the star in order to capitalize on his A-Team popularity, but the actual protagonist of this R-rated Guber-Peters production was Adam Baldwin, who, at the time, was best known for preventing Chris Makepeace from getting his scrawny ass whupped by Matt Dillon in the charming My Bodyguard. Baldwin is gratingly awful as Albert Hockenberry, a low-expectation-havin’-motherfucker who’s hitchhiked up to the nation’s capital to work for the titular cab company operated by his deceased father’s old ‘Nam buddy, Harold (Max “Wojo” Gail). Albert’s dream is to manage D.C. Cab alongside Harold. In the Reagan era, this kind of bootstrap-pulling pluck was considered admirable (there’s a whole “Be Your Own Boss” subgenre), though the film’s roots are actually in the 1970s, as writer-director Schumacher is essentially cannibalizing his script for Car Wash. And yet D.C. Cab would be risible in any decade – and just as entertaining. This is lunkheaded stuff (and racist… and homophobic, which is strange given the director’s sexual orientation), but Schumacher keeps it moving, while the supporting cast fires off some intermittently clever dialogue. And Bob Zmuda’s in it.
Signature Moment: Mr. T rallying his fellow cabbies to rescue the kidnapped Albert in front of the Lincoln Memorial as “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” kicks in on the soundtrack. It’s in incredibly bad taste; and you’re not sure Mr. T is in on the joke, which only makes it funnier. It’s also the fifth or sixth motivational speech in the movie, and it’s only necessary because Sanford & Son‘s Grady (Whitman Mayo) has seemingly fouled up Albert’s whereabouts. You know you’re watching quality cinema when Sanford & Son‘s Grady motivates a third act plot point. That said, Mr. T’s performance in D.C. Cab offers a wealth of unintentional hilarity; he’s set up as the conscience of the film, and plays every scene like it’s Chekhov.
What’s It’s Missing: A script. I’m fine with D.C. Cab being formulaic; after all, this is a Guber-Peters film released right on the heels of their first soundtrack-over-substance triumph Flashdance. But the assembled comedic talent – Bill Maher, Paul Rodriguez and the late Charlie Barnett (who is highly regarded in the stand-up community) – just isn’t explosively funny enough to compensate for the lack of serviceable gag writing (though Barnett’s “I found that karate motherfucker!” gets me every time).
My Personal Connection To It: The preponderance of boobs, f-bombs and Mr. T made D.C. Cab a childhood favorite. It also got heavy rotation on pay cable, so I probably watched it upwards of twenty times. I’m not proud of this, but I’m not going to apologize for it either. The 1980s were a trip, jack.
Watch It With: Beer. Lots of beer. And friends who worshipped Rocky III and The A-Team with equal fervor.
– Jeremy Smith
Dead Heat (1988, Dir. Mark Goldblatt)
Why It’s A Guilty Pleasure: Can you believe there was once a time in our nation’s history when someone would cast Treat Williams and Joe Piscopo as the leads in a movie? And not just any movie, but a zombie buddy cop film? Dead Heat is a damn strange movie, and not a particularly good one. But oh, how I love it.
Treat and Joe are partners in Los Angeles; Treat is the by the books guy while Piscopo is the loose cannon. The action begins with a daring daytime heist in which the perps and the police exchange copious amounts of submachine gun fire, and, despite taking lots of hits, none of the perps go down. Turns out they’re zombies, re-animated to commit crimes. While investigating the case Treat, whose character name is honestly Roger Mortis, takes the loss and is then re-animated as a zombie as well, and has 12 hours before he decomposes to solve his own murder. Well, who sent his murderer after him – he was killed by an inexplicably two-faced biker zombie. I imagine that if you asked FX whiz Steve Johnson why that biker had two mugs, he’d just say “It was cool looking.” Agreed, Steve. Agreed.
Treat Williams is perfect as the living dead cop – he’s a total fucking stiff in every frame of the movie. But strangely, it’s Joe Piscopo who owns this movie, even though my rule of thumb is that the more pumped up a comedian is, the less funny he is (hey, Ben Stiller). If you just watched Johnny Dangerously and this film, you might be tricked into thinking that Piscopo once had a viable screen career.
Signature Moment: During a chase in Chinatown an entire Chinese butcher shop gets re-animated. I’m talking dead ducks, pigs on platters and even random animal organs that come to life, get upset and launch themselves across the room at people. A complete skinned deer is especially menacing. It’s the sort of bizarre, over the top moment of which Dead Heat could have used a lot more.
What’s It’s Missing: A better script and director. Shane Black’s much less successful brother Terry wrote this one (look for Shane as a cop in the movie), and it could have used more of that Black magic. Piscopo’s one-liners are often golden, but the same spark of life that Roger Mortis is missing is also MIA from the script (to be fair, Mortis’ comeback to “Hey, you’re hurt’: “Lady, I’m fuckin’ dead!” deserves a spot in great 80s cop banter history). On top of that, this was one of the two directorial efforts by Mark Goldblatt, ie, the guy who directed the first shitty Punisher film. Goldblatt’s direction is flat and boring, although it does highlight Johnson’s excellent practical effects.
My Personal Connection To It: This came out in 1988, when I was at the height of my Fangoria reading days. I saw this sunuvabitch at a movie theater in Elmhurst with my best friends at the time, and we loved it. Pictures of the two-faced biker were cut from Fango and added to the collage of gore on the wall next to my bed. Yeah, no girlie pin-ups, just the work of Stan Winston and Tom Savini and the like adorned my walls. I was that kind of kid.
Watch It With: People from New Jersey who have a real affection for Joe Piscopo. Alternately, Joe Piscopo, who will give you a live running commentary if you provide a decent deli spread.
– Devin Faraci