Welcome to the next CHUD List.

We’ve
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
continue. Behold:

The CHUD.com Top 50 Guilty Pleasures.

We’ve
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
particular order:

 #36

Krull
(1983, Dir. Michael Anderson)




Why It’s a Guilty Pleasure: Like
Jeremy’s Orca pick, this is one that comes a little too close to pure nostalgia
for me – just read that “personal connection” section. But Krull, which is
almost unconscionably crass about shoehorning Star Wars elements
(stormtroopers, lasers) into a fantasy setting, has enough to stand on it’s
own. If I was writing about Hawk The Slayer here (not a guilty pleaure, just
guilty of being unwatchable) then you’d know I was running on nostalgia fumes
alone.

I can
forgive the often threadbare filmmaking (the opening scenes seem shot on sets a
stiff fart would blow over) because the movie is a wealth of nearly-realized
ideas. Take away the blatant theft from Lucas (and Spielberg; even as a child I
thought of this movie’s Beast as an articulation of the one in Poltergeist)
and you’d have an almost credible mythology. The jagged fortress which appears
in a new place each day. A cast of changelings, thieves and fantastic beasts,
including a set of Budweiser horses on speed. The Beast himself, like the
Visible Man after six car accidents. Budget aside, there are some very cool effects on display.

Reading
years later that this once might have become the “real” Dungeons & Dragons
movie, I wasn’t surprised, since the film has the weird, vaguely unpredictable
air of a late-night D&D campaign. That makes it a lot of fun, but also oddly
dry and episodic. There’s no real center to the movie. Lifeless leads keep real
investment at bay, so I’m left to admire the art direction more than desire a
place in the world. And while the supporting cast looks great on paper, Freddie
Jones was past his prime and Robbie Coltrane and Liam Neeson had yet to reach
theirs. Bernard Bresslaw and David Battley are fun, but they’re just holding
back the tide of severe mediocrity that defines most of the film’s acting. But
this was the early ’80s. Maybe the craft service table was stocked with Quaaludes.

Krull is
the sort of movie I love fondly rather than fiercely. It’s not good enough to
inspire any serious devotion, but there’s no way I could possibly turn it off
when I run across it on cable, even though I know that the end is going to put
me to sleep.

Signature Moment:
There
are quite a few possibilities, but I’m going to run with the scenes featuring
the Widow of the Web, because they’re the ones that stick with anyone who’s
ever had even a passing acquaintance with the movie. The set design there is
really wonderful, and for the budget, the realization of the spider works
perfectly. And in the middle of a movie that’s often uncannily hollow, Freddie
Jones and Francesca Annis achieve a stirring emotional moment together.

What It’s Missing:
Feelings.
Go ahead and sneer, cretins. But what stands out about Krull, beyond the
fantastic and superficially sci-fi trappings? The scene where Rell the
Cyclops sacrifices himself, and the sequence with the Widow of the Web. The
rest veers really close to forgettable trash, even with some great creature and
weapon designs. If there was any sort of core in this movie to latch onto, I
wouldn’t fall asleep at the conclusion every single time. Those incessant
inserts of the spinning, cutting Glaive act like Ambien, without fail.

My Personal Connection to It:
This
is one of the films that my very patient mom took me to see when I was about
ten years old. Anything that had the right mix of The Hobbit and Star Wars had
me begging for a ticket, and since Krull seems designed to grab exactly that
blend, I was hooked. I think I even made a more than one DIY Glaive over the
course of my later childhood. The movie might not have stayed in my
consciousness if it weren’t for the arcade game, which I loved despite the fact
that it was total crap. And there are just enough memorable designs and moments
that the movie has almost always been a touchstone of sorts with people I ended
up being close friends with.
Also: there’s a sort of mini-MegaChurch near my house that’s been dubbed the Church of Krull, thanks to a few jagged spires and towers.

Watch It With: Dungeon
masters and Edith Hamilton proofreaders.

- Russ Fischer

http://chud.com/nextraimages/manitou.jpg#35

The Manitou (1978, Dir. William Girdler)

Why It’s A Guilty Pleasure:
A woman gets a pimple that is actually the deformed reincarnation of a villanous Indian medicine man. In my own Stygian alternate world where I was king and head of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, it’d be the required filmic daily dose for the masses, but until that day it must rest firmly as a guilty pleasure. Bitch gets a zit that has no time for pus. It only has time for Misquamicus, a weather-shifting, mind reading leathery gentleman whose makes up for his lack of graceful kickers with evil stares and 70’s special effects. It’s amazing stuff. Enriching even.

Signature Moment: Um, after the shrunken Misquamicus exits his neck bride, freezes a hospital, the Manitou-free chick gets topless and fights the Indian (who has now become an orb) in space. Outer space. In her hospital room. The two heroes of the story watch and I shit you not… dodge meteors while the lady fires lasers back and forth with the cosmic handicapped Indian medicine man. Topless, for no fucking reason. I love an Earth that would allow The Manitou to happen.

What’s it Missing:
Who the fuck do you think you are?

Actually, it’s missing an editor. The film drags so much you’d think it was Harvey Fierstein.

My Personal Connection To It: I actually have read the three (maybe even more) Graham Masterton novels in the ‘Manitou’ canon, so I am a proud fan of the property. In fact, I consider The Manitou series to be the Star Wars of ‘Indian from Neck’ horror stories. Fun Trivia: In 1983 or so, myself as well as CHUD contibutor Sean Fahey and former professional baseball player Brandon Allen played a backyard ‘Manitou’ game. While others played Cops ‘n Robbers or I Hate Black People [I grew up in 80’s suburban Georgia], we played a game where Brandon attacked us while on his knees and all we had was our wits and the power of Indian “Gitche Manitou” spirits. As many of you know, Indian Powers and a buck will get you a cup of coffee.

Watch it With:
Just Watch It.

- Nick Nunziata