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Friday Flix: Fatal Flaws

April 15, 2011

Sometimes they say something is so bad it’s good.  Sometimes it is true that a movie is so campy and silly that it’s actually fun to watch.  Other times, I enjoy a bad movie because while it didn’t work out, I respected it for what it tried to do.  By that I mean sometimes the underlying concepts are good, but they get undone by the execution.

I thought of my pitiful DVD collection and the best example I can think of is Darkman.  In it Liam Neeson (who probably hopes no one remembers this movie) plays a scientist who gets beat up, badly burnt, and then blown into the ocean by some Mafia types.  Through vague comic book-type science, he develops super strength when doctors cut some nerves so he can’t feel pain.  Then he decides to take revenge on those who ruined his life in flamboyant, impractical style.  He does this by using the liquid skin he was trying to make to create masks of his enemies.  That way he can infiltrate the organization and bring it down from the inside.  Except the hitch is that the masks only work for 99 minutes in sunlight before melting.

There were a lot of logical problems with the movie.  One:  couldn’t you use rubber masks or other Hollywood makeup tricks?  Two:  if the masks melt in sunlight, why not go out at night?  Three:  how does listening to a tape over and over again allow you to imitate someone’s voice?  (Especially when you haven’t established he has any kind of ventriloquist training.)  Four:  why at the end does he have a Bruce Campbell mask in his jacket to escape with?  He just keeps a Bruce Campbell mask in his jacket for emergencies?  Really?  How’d he even get it in the first place?  He just took Bruce Campbell’s picture and made one to keep as a spare?  Seriously, that bugs me.

Anyway, the point is that despite those flaws and many others, I still like the underlying concept.  Wouldn’t it be cool if you could make masks of anyone you want and impersonate them?  I think I’d go to Bill Gates or Warren Buffett’s house and sign a few checks to Cash.

It’s something that intrigues me and so when I watch the movie I think, “How could I fix this?”  I mean, if I were doing a reboot, how would I do it so that it would actually work?  So sometimes if you’re feeling a little out of juice creatively, maybe watch a bad movie or read a terrible book and think about how you’d fix it and then maybe it’ll give you some ideas.

Monday I’m going to muse about happy accidents…

PS:  I think Darkman is fun just to watch for the carnival scene where he breaks the carnie’s finger for not giving him a pink elephant.  The whole scene is just hilarious from how he goes nuts about the elephant to the cheesiness of the effects.


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  1. I remember liking that movie…then again, I was a kid when I saw it, LOL! Don’t know how I’d feel about it now.

    • I first saw it in the early 90s or so when NBC reran it. What I really liked was that it didn’t all happy. He doesn’t get the girl or fix his face or any of that crap, which I thought was cool.

  2. Lisa Potts permalink

    I haven’t seen Darkman yet, but if it’s on Netflix, I’ll check it out. Sounds like fun.

    • I’m not sure if it’s on Netflix. My brother bought me the DVD of all three Darkman movies a couple years for my birthday.

      What’s interesting is to watch this and then the “Spider-Man” movies Sam Raimi made later. You can see some of the same techniques used in both.

  3. I have a co-worker that despite my showing him what I consider to be quality stuff, he believes that I’m the person to take absolute crap to. He tried to get me to watch Troll 2 and I refused. His selling point was that it got a zero rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Really? No one liked it and you want me to waste over an hour of my life in watching it? No thanks. I remember seeing Dark Man, remember it being horrible, and meh…I didn’t get anything from it. There are just too many good films out there to waste time on the bad ones. For every “Dark Man” there’s a “How To Train Your Dragon”. I’ll be the one that sees “How To Train Your Dragon.” You can be the one that enjoys “The Human Centipede”.

    • I haven’t seen “Troll 2” but I did see “Troll 1” late at night once. What a piece of crap. But sometimes you can’t sleep and that’s all that’s on the TV.

  4. All good vigilantes keep a Bruce Campbell mask tucked away for emergencies. Especially if their movies were directed by Sam Raimi.

    • I have my Bruce Campbell mask on right now! Though what would Bruce Campbell do if he was a vigilante? Wear a mask of himself?

  5. There’s always something to watch. At present I watch House, Being Human, Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Cartoon Network), Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Bones, Camelot, Merlin, Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, Raising Hope, Torchwood from BBC, Reaper on Netflix, Glee, Supernatural and I’m going to add the new Battlestar Galactica series, the new Wonder Woman Series, season two of the Walking Dead, the new Tron: Uprising series, and the Game of Thrones. And that’s just television…it doesn’t even touch movies as we rev up to the summer movie watch. I don’t understand people that say, “There’s nothing to watch”. There’s always something great to watch.

    • Well sure, if you want to put a DVD in or use the On Demand thingy. Back in 2009 I didn’t have cable or satellite, so I watched a lot of crummy movies on a channel called THIS because I hardly had any real channels and I didn’t always feel like finding a DVD to put in.

      Let’s see, I watch “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” “American Dad,” “Robot Chicken,” and “Titan Maximum. All of which air on Sunday night. The rest of the time I watch sports or a movie or just put on some music. Or God forbid sometimes I write something.

      Anyway, the point of the entry is that sometimes you can watch a bad movie (or read a bad book) and it can maybe give you a good idea.

  6. Hooray — someone who agrees (maybe?) with me that it’s way too much trouble to put in a DVD.

    Interesting how the thread turned from “here’s a bad movie that did good things” to “there’s always something to watch on TV.”

    I think bad movies are the most fun when you watch them FOR the flaws. My wife and I recently had such a good time watching “Unstoppable” and joking while it was on that we deliberately began renting campy movies to do that.

    But the idea of “this is bad, how could I fix it up” is actually GREAT advice, not just to get the juices flowing but to review your own work and see what’s bad about it. While I’m generally against editing, I’m right now trying to edit a novel down to under 100,000 words. This morning, I was reviewing a scene where a character isn’t feeling well, and I chopped almost the entire thing out. Why? Because I remembered watching “The Colbert Report” when he was sick, and turning it off thinking “I don’t want to watch someone who’s sick, because it’s making me feel a little ill.” I similarly skipped a podcast from Dan Savage for the same reason. So my repeated descriptions of someone being sick in my book had the same effect on me.

    Not EXACTLY what you were talking about, but close enough, I think.

    On the comments’ point: With DVDs, DVR, cable, and now smart phones and wireless Internet and NetFlix Watch Instantly and Hulu, there literally is always something on… which I take advantage of mostly by watching “Archer” reruns.

    • I cut about 35,000 words last night from a story to submit it to an agent. Major pain in the ass.

      But yeah bad movies are great joke fodder, which was what Mystery Science Theater 3000 was founded on.

      A lot of bad movies I watch late at night, especially on weekends. I don’t have the On Demand in the bedroom and fetching a DVD at 1am, putting it in, fishing out the remote for the PS2 serving as the DVD player, is just way to much work. I could watch something on the computer, but usually by then it’s turned off, so there we are.

  7. I don’t look at bad movies and wonder how to fix them. I find the one thing in the movie that pisses me off. Usually, it’s a decision the MC made somewhere that I think is the wrong move. Then I reimagine the rest of the story as if the correct decision had been made.

  8. I haven’t seen that movie, but the movie that came to mind with this post was Napoleon Dynamite. I think it’s silly, but my boys love it. It reminds me that there’s an audience for just about anything!

  9. I saw Darkman in the theater and can only remember that I didn’t think too much of it then… and I recall one of my friends mocking it in the restroom afterwards, running up to folks and exclaiming he was “blackman”.

    Sigh, unfortunately, we weren’t kids.

  10. I’ve never seen Darkman, but now you’ve got me thinking. I’m putting it on my to be view list.

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