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
Fire and Ice (1983, Dir. Ralph Bakshi)
It’s a Guilty Pleasure: Because it isn’t good. At all.
As a kid, this was deep and dark and profoundly cool. The art of Frank Frazetta married with the animation prowess of Ralph Bakshi set against a smorgasbord of motion-captured actors and fantasy staples. It was the stuff of legend made even more legendary by the film’s out of print mystique. It was a convention staple with bootleg VHS and DVD copies being hawked for outlandish prices.
As adult, this was a generic and shallow and profoundly boring. But it still looks cool and there’s a certain swagger to the project you can’t not love.
That said the guilt outweighs the pleasure, especially after Bakshi showed his ass in response to the Lord of the Rings films.
Signature Moment: The first few moments where the Rotoscope technique makes its presence known, creating a very interesting, albeit stiff new sort of animation Frankenstein.
What It’s Missing: Originality.
My Personal Connection To It: Are you kidding? I thought I was such a badass for having seen this, what with its violence and scantily clad heroine. Of course, Heavy Metal came before and had a lot more of the “useful” stuff in it, so this was just my go-to cartoon movie as a kid [along with Watership Down, which STILL is].
Watch It With: Nostalgia intact.
– Nick Nunziata
10 to Midnight (1983, Dir. J. Lee Thompson)
Why It’s a Guilty Pleasure: Charles Bronson made hay throughout the 1980s as a chronic violator of due process in both his Death Wish sequels and his very Death Wish-like side projects – you know, the ones he did for himself as a respite from all that viciousness. That both kinds of movies bore a great deal of resemblance to each other should give you an idea of how little regard Mr. Bronson had for the American criminal justice system. Bronson and his frequent collaborators, Michael Winner (the Death Wish movies) and J. Lee Thompson (the integrity-ridden personal epics that were, for all intents and purposes, Death Wish movies), made fantasies for middle-aged white men who lived in fear of murderers, muggers, rapists and the liberals who kept them out of jail. Believing the system was failing law-abiding citizens of high moral fiber, Team Bronson saw no other option but to operate above the law and dish out summary executions to scumbags with access to silver-tongued lawyers.
Ideologically, these movies are repugnant. So why do I own so many of them on DVD? Because they’re awesome, that’s why! Most of their appeal is rooted in early-80s nostalgia; these were the movies I had to watch surreptitiously while my parents were out of the room. And while I have a soft spot for the Death Wish series (particularly the third installment, which will receive a special appreciation from Edgar Wright if he knows what’s good for him), it’s 10 to Midnight that delivers the perfect mix of blood and nudity and vigilantism. The whole movie is predicated on nudity: Gene Davis plays Warren Stacey, a creepy kid who’s been jilted one too many times by the girls from the secretarial pool. So he does what any other red-blooded American male would do when their pride and sexual prowess are challenged: he slays the bitches in the nude. Allow me to clarify: not while they’re in the nude (though that’s always a bonus), but when he is, to quote Charlie Murphy, bucky-ass nekkid.
That’s what makes 10 to Midnight so interesting: both Bronson and the killer he’s pursuing court the sympathies of the film’s target audience. I mean, the only people this hung up on sweeping the streets clean of villainy have to be Travis Bickle-style introverts, right? And chances are these guys have done their fair share of stalking – maybe not in the nude per se, but if you’re willing to hide in the bushes outside a girl’s house all night, is the absence of clothing a deal breaker?
I was too young to be that fucked up over girls when I first watched 10 to Midnight – which, for the most part, appealed to me as a slasher/vigilante flick hybrid (i.e. Jason vs. Bronson). And, my, does it ever hold up. The most wonderful aspect of Bronson’s revenge pictures is that guilt is absolute; we see these guys commit the crimes and, therefore, know they deserve a bullet in the head. So when a slick, handsome, Ivy League-educated defense attorney like Geoffrey Lewis comes along and gets the killer off because Bronson’s pansy, by-the-book partner (Andrew Stevens) is going to reveal on the stand that the incriminating evidence has been doctored… why, you’re spittin’ mad! If Stevens had kept his mouth shut, Davis wouldn’t be free to kill off Bronson’s daughter’s roommates one-by-one as they inexplicably sacrifice themselves by not revealing her whereabouts (“Psst, she’s around the corner listening to us die!”).
So, yes, Stevens is punished for sticking to his principles, and Bronson’s daughter heroically hides from Davis as he offs her friends… just so Thompson can film a few more titillating deaths. God, I love this movie!
Signature Moment: A sometimes nude, sometimes jockey-brief clad Davis primping in the mirror prior to the film’s first slaying. Dig how he shakes his ass to the pulsating Robert O. Ragland score.
And, of course, the very end of the movie.
What It’s Missing: A moral compass.
My Personal Connection to It: I kinda blew my wad above. Of all the Bronson flicks that ran at all hours on The Movie Channel and HBO during the 1980s, this was my favorite.
Watch It With: A Saturday Night Special on your lap, and the dead-bolt thrown.
– Jeremy Smith