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
(1972, Dir. Peter H. Hunt)
It’s a Guilty Pleasure: A musical that is confined to the Philadelphia meeting
hall where the Founding Fathers are hashing out whether or not to officially
rebel against British rule? 1776 proves that guilty pleasures aren’t just
stupid exercises in boy-oriented genres, but that they can also be movies that
appeal primarily to a crowd of gay history majors.
Based on the Broadway show, 1776 doesn’t give us a Disney version of the
argument surrounding and signing of the Declaration of Independence; there are
no singing mice or cutesy supporting characters. The film presents the
delegates to the Continental Congress as they debate – and occasionally break
into song about – what to do about the increasingly bad situation with Britain
(in fact it’s so bad that George Washington is off leading an army against the
Redcoats’ but no formal rebellion has been announced). It’s a movie whose hero
is John Adams, a true hero of the formation of our country but an often
unpleasant man who could be petty and annoying (and played by the guy who
voiced KITT on Knight Rider no less). And it’s filled with true to the people
arguments for and against independence.
And it has songs. As a straight film, 1776 could have been a Twelve Angry
Men-like drama. But with songs there’s something bizarrely heightened about
Thomas Jefferson suddenly bursting into a love song, or about Ben Franklin
arguing for the turkey as the new nation’s bird in rhyming verse. They’re great
songs, by the way – the original show won the Tony award for Best Musical – but
there’s some real cognitive dissonance in having this historically accurate
retelling of one of the most important moments in our history being told with
It’s already tough enough being a straight guy who loves musicals, and until
they make a rock opera out of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, 1776
will remain the nerdiest musical ever. So while I’d argue that the film is
actually pretty great, I always know what kind of looks I’ll get when someone
spies it on my DVD shelf.
Signature moment: One of the most chilling songs in the history of
American musicals, From Molasses to Rum is a dark account of the North’s
culpability in the slave trade. Sung with nasty gusto by South Carolina
delegate Edward Rutledge (played by the same guy who played Holling on Northern
Exposure) the number is the perfect example of how 1776 succeeds in educating
and entertaining’ if you’re really into musical numbers, that is.
What It’s Missing: More songs. There are huge segments of the film where
you forget you’re watching a musical. These periods, which are usually dramatic
arguments, work just fine, but you’re here for the toe-tapping as well as the
My Personal Connection to It: I’m a huge Revolutionary War period buff.
I love the early history of America in general. And I like musicals. I don’t
remember when I first saw 1776, but I do know that I watch it annually (and not
just on the 4th of July) and that the soundtrack keeps popping up on my iPod.
Watch It With: Historians, the effete and Brent Spiner, who recently
played John Adams in the Broadway revival.
– Devin Faraci
Street Fighter (1994, Dir. Steven De Souza)
Why It’s A Guilty Pleasure: It’s no secret that the videogame movie genre has given rise to some of the worst films imaginable. But there’s a rare point where a perfect storm of awfulness travels over warm ocean waters, gathers power, and then hits an unsuspecting theatrical land mass with God-level forces of cheesiness.
Street Fighter was destined for greatness from the start due to several key ingredients being used well past their expiration date (Because when it comes to cheese, the moldier, the better). Van Damme had just finished three serious stabs at legitimacy (Universal Soldier, Timecop, Hard Target) that all fell short of elevating the Muscles from Brussels to Arnie/Stallone levels of Action God perfection. Writer/director Steven De Souza had gone from Hollywood go-to-guy-for-writing-blockbusters to shitting out trash like Beverly Hills Cop 3 and Hudson Hawk. Steven’s crowning achievement here was that he somehow took two-dimensional characters and reduced them to about a half a dimension or so, no easy feat. The story itself was based on a videogame craze that had peaked and showed no real signs of a resurgence. Worst of all was that this was the last film ever for Raul Julia, who, to his credit, went into the beyond with guns blazing, as he masticated scenery with fervor as eeeeeeeeevil dictator M. Bison.
Once the cast filled out with the likes of Wes Studi, Kylie Minogue, and Andrew Bryniarski, there was no stopping this movie. You could only hope to contain it.
Signature Moment: It’s filled with howlingly-bad exchanges masquearding as dialogue, but they all bow to the “inspirational” speech that Van Damme, as Col. Guile, gives to his United Allied Nations troops to rally them when a Chamberlain-like superior tells Guile to order them to stand down so that Saddam Hussein M. Bison can be paid a tidy ransom in hopes of appeasement. As the score swells behind him, Van Damme reaches into all of our hearts and finds the strength to say “Weeell, aaahm not gunna go homh. Aaahm gunna get on my boat, en aaaahm going up reever, and aaahm going to keek that son of a bitch Bison’s ass so haahrd det the next Bison wahnnabe is gunna feel eet. Now…who wants to go home…(dramatic pause)…and who wants to goh wit meh?!?” (If you ever see CHUD’s own Hot Animal Machine in person, fall to your knees and beg him to perform this monologue.)
What’s it Missing: Anything resembling an exciting fight scene or action sequence. It’s a stroke of brilliance to cast people with neither acting ability nor martial arts ability in a film sorely lacking for both. Brilliance, I tell you.
My Personal Connection To It:
Like a lot of dudes my age, I majored in Street Fighter II for the Super Nintendo with a minor in whatever classes I attended in between marathon sessions. And while I didn’t figure a feature-film adaptation would be sweeping the Oscars, I (along with most of my college pals) was pretty excited at the prospect of getting a kickass action film starring Van Damme. But as soon as we sat down and were assaulted by the film’s dayglo palette (and this, kids, is why visually literal adaptations of videogames and comic books is a baaaaad idea) and stilted dialogue, we threw all that away and enjoyed it for the Z-grade goodness it gave us instead. Probably the greatest laughs we ever had in a theater together…
Watch it With: Anyone who asks you what the early 90s were like.
- Micah Robinson