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 Adventures of Ford Fairlane
(1990, Dir. Renny Harlin)
Why It’s a Guilty Pleasure: Disjointed, misconceived and proudly misogynistic (per the allegedly put-on persona of its briefly popular lead, Andrew Dice Clay), Ford Fairlane isn’t close to being a good movie. It’s so hubristic and so ruthlessly determined to approximate dramatically the caustic disposition of its star, you’re grateful the “Rock and Roll Detective” yarn bombed upon its release in the summer of 1990 (it actually turned up a week after Harlin’s Die Hard 2, another Joel Silver production which he inexplicably landed on the strength of his work in Ford Fairlane). Had the film been released in 1989, it might’ve made some serious coin; for about a year or so, Dice Clay, with his crude collection of naughty nursery rhymes and sub-moronic observations about men and whores (or women – same difference to Dice), was the immensely popular bad boy of stand-up comedy (picking up where the legendary and much, much funnier Sam Kinison left off). And had the film been a hit, we would’ve been stuck with a steady succession of Dice Clay vehicles, each presumably a tad baser and dumber than the last. Given enough autonomy, the guy probably would’ve made the first rape comedy. I ain’t evil enough to be that curious.
By the time Ford Fairlane hit theaters, Dice Clay was good and over: he was banned from MTV, embarrassed on Saturday Night Live (when Nora Dunn and musical guest Sinead O’Connor boycotted his appearance) and fresh out of material (which was stale to begin with). Recognizing this, Fox gave his first and last studio vehicle a half-hearted wide release, hoping to distance themselves from the stinker while not cutting into the box office for Die Hard 2. They succeeded. Suddenly, Dice Clay was the underdog. Watching him frantically cycle through his bizarre collection of nervous tics (seriously, does he suffer from Tourettes?), you almost began to root for the guy. But then he’d go and forcefully spit a foul tasting hors d’oeuvres into Lauren Holly’s mouth or teach a tone deaf pop star how to rock out like a real man with a torturously tone deaf performance of his own, and you’d remember why you hated him in the first place.
So why is the movie so thoroughly entertaining? Strangely, Ford Fairlane‘s wanton misogyny is so over-pronounced, the picture immediately passes into parody; it’s lampooning the idiocy of Dice Clay’s act while taking advantage of his joke-delivery skill. And I think you can credit Daniel Waters for this. Waters was just a year removed from Heathers, and there are a slew of throwaway gags in this movie that are far too clever for the likes of James Cappe and David Arnott. There’s something undeniably liberating about writing for a lout – especially one receiving his comeuppance via his own blind arrogance.
Signature Moment: Ed O’Neil’s Lieutenant Amos reliving his painfully white-bread Disco Express heyday. “It’s Booty Time! Booty Time! Across the U.S.A.!”
What It’s Missing: Restraint, shame and basic human dignity.
My Personal Connection to It: I loathed Dice Clay’s stand-up act not because it was offensive, but because it flat-out wasn’t funny. That said, I enjoyed big, stupid action movies, and figured the Dice Man’s neanderthal personality might work well on film, especially with a gifted writer like Waters penning his banter. Honestly, it was Waters who got me in the theater more than anyone else. Such was the pop cultural impact of Heathers.
Watch It With: Women you’re desperate to jilt. Or a collection of your most obnoxiously latent homosexual guy friends.
– Jeremy Smith
The Sword and the Sorceror (1982, Dir. Albert Pyun)
Why It’s A Guilty Pleasure: The glory of this film can be summed up in watching the titular blade during its propulsion mode, firing its blades in flimsy slow arcs across the screen at bad guys. Were this shot in 1990+, the act of an already cool sword (multiple blades are never not great) shooting its blades would grant the film instant immortality but sadly the engineering behind this 80’s fantasy mini-epic wasn’t up to snuff and what could have been great Lwas lame. That really used to dampen my “Conan vs. Prince Talon” arguments as a boy. It took me a long time to warm to Arnold, settling on the more wiry and functional dexterity of Lee Horsely, God help me. Add to that surprisingly ample amounts of gore and the direction of cinema legend Albert Pyun and the film’s legacy is established.
Signature Moment: Prince Talon, crucified over the bad guy’s dinner table, rips free of the nails and kicks multiple posteriors. Take that, Jesus!
What’s it Missing: Stuntman Jack Tyree, who took the big walk during filming after doing a big jump and hitting hard earth instead of soft mattress.
My Personal Connection To It: A weekly staple, one of few R-Rated movies I was able to spin on VideoDisc [remember THAT? Our Selectavision player was my best friend during the cold nights]. I was happier when that hit DVD than I was when Star Wars did. Then I watched it…
Watch it With: People who like tales of lusty adventure. Richard Moll apologists.
- Nick Nunziata