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
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
(1989, Dir. William Shatner)
Why It’s A Guilty Pleasure: Long the most redheaded stepchild of the whole Star Trek franchise, The Final Frontier, frankly, gets a bad rap. Sure, the movie’s nowhere as good as the previous trilogy, and it gets blown out of the water by the next film, but this movie is better than every single Next Generation movie. Why? Simple: it features the original Enterprise crew. There’s a sense of fun here that only comes from the original crew, and in many ways, The Final Frontier is exactly the same as a zillion of the original series episodes: the Enterprise gets hijacked by a small group (in this case religious zealots as opposed to Khan’s men or children or an alien or something) and meets up with an energy being that may or may not be god. Those two basic concepts seriously make up 70% of the original series episodes.
What’s amazing is how not badly William Shatner does as a director. Sure, you get the sense that he thinks the opening scene is something out of Lawrence of Arabia, and that’s embarrassing, but there are a bunch of nice shots here. And while Bill came up with the story for the film, the rest of the cast actually gets some moments to “shine” (let’s face it, this ain’t a crew of remarkable thespians), a nice follow-up to the more crew-centric antics of Star Trek IV. Too often these stories are about Kirk and Spock and Bones, but in The Final Frontier everybody gets a little bit of memorable business, even if it’s Chekov and Sulu taking a hike that’s weirdly dripping in homoeroticism. And I think Bones gets more backstory in this film that in all 80+ hours of Star Trek before.
The film is also full of hilarious little jokes, intentional and otherwise. The jokes wreck the momentum of what should have been a serious film, but if you approach this movie as camp – and how could any movie that has a 60 year old woman doing a naked fan dance that’s supposed to be sexy NOT be camp? “you’ll be rolling in the aisles as Scotty gets knocked out by a bulkhead AND when Bones euthanizes his dad!
Signature Moment: When confronted with the Giant Floating Head of Saint Nick, Kirk utters one of the most famous lines in all of Star Trek: ‘What does God need with a starship?’
What’s It’s Missing: A budget. The planet where God is living (which is oohed and aahed over by everybody) is obviously about six feet to the left of the miserable Neutral Zone planet at the beginning of the film. The special effects are laughable at best, although that does add to the original series flavor of the film. The scripted ending had Kirk battling rock monsters, but in the finished film he’s just being chased by insert shots of God’s face – not the greatest climax of all time.
My Personal Connection To It: I saw this film with my high school friend Brian Scolaro, who has gone on to become a successful standup comedian. I’d like to imagine that us cracking jokes while suffering through this movie the first time helped to give him the kind of comedy chops that have gotten him where he is.
Watch It With: Easily aggravated Trekkies, who will get pissed off when Kirk says he had a brother who died but got him back – Kirk’s real brother died in the original series episode Operation: Annihilate! (exclamation point theirs). Also see this with Next Generation fans to rub their faces in how even this movie is better than anything starring Jonathan Frakes.
– Devin Faraci
Under Siege 2 (1995, Dir. Geoff Murphy)
Why It’s A Guilty Pleasure: Sure, he’s steadily descended into Home Video Cheeseville since his 80s/early 90s action heyday. But there’s little carnage Steven Seagal can unleash upon this planet that would stain his name so as to erase this gem from our collective memory. On paper, it shouldn’t work. Under Siege, as a franchise, was always a Die Hard knockoff, and the cast of rogues opposing Seagal here (Eric Bogosian, Everett McGill, Patrick Kilpatrick) seem like a significant downgrade from the original’s dynamic duo of Gary Busey and Tommy Lee Jones.
But, somehow, we got an endlessly entertaining film full of just enough Seagal stoicism to keep him on his “cool” pedestal while unleashing liberal doses of scenery-chewing from Bogosian as he turns a routine bad guy performance into nigh performance art. And all of the while, McGill simmers quietly in the background, (falsely) appearing to be an equal to Seagal’s Ryback in terms of experience, ruthlessness, and know-how. As a result, the film builds wonderfully, in platform videogame fashion, giving Seagal flunky after flunky to slowly cut through on his way to the two bosses. And the more groan-inducing his one-liners get (After emerging from behind a busty lass to end the existence of a flunky, he quips “Tits to die for.”), the better it gets.
Best of all, he’s enjoyably unstoppable in a way that few action heroes of the era were (Remember, this was the John McClane period, not the Stallone peak era). After getting shot midway through the film, he essentially…ignores it, as does the rest of the movie. You quickly get the feeling that Casey Ryback is some sort of rogue god of murder, so who wants drama where we have to pretend to wonder if he can possibly overcome the overwhelming number of mere mortal terrorists against him? We’re not there for tension…we’re there for bone-crushing judo beatdowns, and because Under Siege 2 is fully aware of this, it keeps the good stuff coming while sidelining Seagal allies Katherine Heigl and Morris Chestnut to nicely (and mercifully) brief appearances. Damn if it doesn’t work when there’s no way in hell that it should.
Signature Moment: We’ve been waiting all movie for McGill and Seagal to “get it on” (and sure, there’s plenty of homoerotic undercurrent to McGill’s pursuit of Ryback, but I digress…), and once Ryback throws his gun, we get it in the form of a knifefight. Alas, nobody reminded Everett McGill of the “You do NOT touch Steven” clause in his contract, so from the very first blade swipe, we’re treated to 5 minutes of one-sided Seagal brutality where he kicks McGill’s ass up and down train cars and kitchens before snapping his neck just for fun…all without McGill landing even a glancing blow. Hot damn.
What It’s Missing: Well, fun aside, it is still a rather creaky Die Hard knockoff, and so we’re stuck with a pretty boring story for all of this to take place in. Bogosian’s cabal is stealing control of a giant space laser to shoot at stuff on Earth in order to blackmail for lots of money and….yawn. Plus, we’re saddled with “military intrigue” up the wazoo, so get ready for Dale Dye and Kurtwood Smith to show up as Rear Admiral Stock Military Character and Captain Serious-looking Guy In Uniform, respectively. It’s not like they have any effect on the outcome, so why spend so much time covering their lame efforts to retake control of the crazy space laser?
My Personal Connection To It: In the summer of 1995, I came to Atlanta for the first time as a student and got a temp job working at a theater. ‘Twas my first, and I was a lowly box office cashier. But damn if being able to see certain action films countless times didn’t make it all worth it. Cheese/crap like Congo and Batman Forever became fun afternoon killers, and Under Siege 2 sealed the deal for me. My greatest times on said job were spent taking in showing after showing of this film with the other guys who worked there and laughing our asses off.
Watch It With: Fans of UFC matches, as Seagal employs kicks, knees, and chokes all over the place. Also, Katherine Heigl completists. Also, Brenda Bakke completist. Yes, I’m referring to you, Herman Peavey, sole owner of the sites that comprise the Brenda Bakke Web Ring.
- Micah Robinson