Disclaimer: Portions of this post were previously written by me and published at Examiner.com. I will use this blog to explore many of the following themes and questions brought forth in this post.
What if a movie is so aware of its badness that it’s actually good at being bad? Is there such a thing as bad when the badness is acknowledged and exploited to the point of transcending badness and attempting to enter the realm of guilty pleasure? Is the portrayal of badness just a ploy to mask actual badness? When badness is a gimmick, is that wrong?
All films have some kind of gimmick, some kind of catch or grab or pull or whatever; whether it be 3D or special effects or excessive nudity or excessive violence or a specific type of performance or genre or anything. It’s all a gimmick. It’s all a show. It’s all make believe. But when the gimmick is intentional ineptitude, is the filmmaker being dishonest? If the filmmaker genuinely sucked, would that make the badness of his film more tolerable? There’s something endearing about certain types of shoddiness. Ed Wood has become an icon of plucky perseverance in the face of an absolute lack of talent and he is now remembered fondly and in some circles, on some levels, celebrated. But Ed Wood never tried to be bad. He simply was bad. He tried to be good but failed miserably time and time again. Because filmmakers like Ed Wood and many others before and after have sucked so profoundly, we now have filmmakers who attempt to suck ironically. Post-modern sucking.
We live in the age of the cohesive, hive-minded interworld. Amateurism is powerful thanks to endless free exposure through Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and blogs. We all have a voice. We all have an opinion. Yet we all remain detached. And thanks to inexpensive digital cameras and home editing software, production methods have been simplified and now anyone can be a filmmaker. And more importantly, anyone can be a bad filmmaker.
Troll 2 is a bad movie but thanks to its Ed Wood-like lack of cynicism and artifice, it has become a beloved cult classic, recently immortalized in the wonderful heart warming/breaking documentary Best Worst Movie. The Room is another recent example of badness turning to greatness, though it has been argued that the badness of The Room could be manufactured badness. Manipulative phoniness masquerading as shoddiness. Tommy Wiseau, the brains behind The Room seems like a legit weirdo, and we all want to believe that his flick is a just a failed drama that evolved into a successful comedy. We want the badness to be genuine because if it was written and directed to be funny, as many filmmakers have stated following critical/commercial failures (Uwe Boll), it would be a fraud and we would have been duped.
After Last Season (which was skeptically covered here by CHUD) is a film that I have not yet seen but its trailer emits such an odor of fake-crappiness that I can’t possibly believe its truly as inept as it seems. And if this is in fact the case, and After Last Season is not a true-blue suck-fest, and it earns the same kinds of “kudos” as films like Troll 2 and The Room, should it be stripped of its, “awesome bad movie” title? Or should it be applauded, for its ability to screw with us?
Following the publication of my previous article I found this nugget in the comment section of my site:
“Full disclosure: I play the doctor and master of the cardboard MRI. I promise you, ‘After Last Season’ is not intentionally bad. It is the sincere work of a monumentally inept filmmaker. Enjoy!”
That comment came from a poster named Scott Winters, who, according to IMDB, is a cast member of After Last Season.
So, if Mr. Winters is to be believed and After Last Season is just simply a really bad, bad movie, is it now free to be loved?
Is being genuinely bad more admirable than intentionally bad?
Is intentional badness okay? Is intentional badness a free pass? Is intentional badness cheating?
Can intentionally bad filmmakers ever be genuinely good?
Is intentionally bad, genuinely good?
What is genuinely good?
As film-lovers we slog through a lot of crap. We should know bad. We probably experience more badness than we do greatness. This is what we do. This is our choice. We’re willing to dig through the crap in the backyard to find that quarter that the dog swallowed because we hear the ice cream man rounding the corner and we really, really want a Choco Taco.
We live for the Choco Taco. We love the Choco Taco. We crave the Choco Taco.
We need the Choco Taco.
Maybe After Last Season is the Choco Taco.
Or maybe, it’s just the crap pretending to be the Choco Taco.
Is there even a Choco Taco?
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Behind every great book adaptation is a forgettable first try. — By Ryan Covey