Michael Musto's New York Obsession - 2000
That elaborately sandy epic Lawrence of Arabia won seven Oscars, but kindly get it away from me. That burn-victim bonanza The English Patient was similarly showered with honors, but I'd rather have my legs waxed than ever have to sit through even the opening credits again. Quality filmmaking simply isn't for menot when I can enjoy a good, old, rotten piece of crap that doesn't exhibit any threat of redeeming quality to bring it down in my lowbrow estimation.
I'm not even talking about Russ Meyer flicks and other B gems that tried to be bad and succeeded enjoyably. I'm talking about movies that actually thought they were achieving something, but failed miserably because of too little vision or too much cocaine. I'm talking about the Burt Bacharach musical of Lost Horizon, the Tony Curtis thriller The Manitou (about a woman who becomes pregnant on her neck with the spirit of a Native American medicine man), I'm talking Mahogany! I find there's something so reassuring about the sight of major talents seeming so lost and delusional that they don't even realize their careers will be instantly decimated when this pile of marvelous manure is foisted on an audience (albeit an audience of two).
My friends and I even get together for ritualized viewings of these bombsthings like The Oscar (which didn't win any) and Boom! (even the title sounds nuclear). Obsessive film critic Dennis Dermody supplies some of the tapes, but I also find three neighborhood video stores to be gold mines of schlock mess-terpieces. The 6 St. Marks Place branch of Kim's (505-0311) boasts a healthy array of smelly curios that'll have you puking and cheering at the same time. The best/worst of the bunch is Myra Breckenridge, an inept adaptation of Gore Vidal's sex-change novel and "as bad as any movie ever made," according to Leonard Maltin, who was actually being kind. (Still, I've seen it about seven times.) If you're not horrified enough by that one, please rent Night of the Lepus, with Janet Leigh terrorized by 150-pound hormonal rabbits, or anything with Jill Clayburgh!
TLA Video (52 West 8th Street, 228-8282) has some of the same wonderfully dubious choices, plus that immortal Al Pacino clunker Revolution ("Da British are cummin'!"); Dinner at Eight (no, not the Harlow classicthe TV version with Lauren Bacall and Harry Hamlin); and Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad, a labored farce starring Rosalind Russell as a dragon lady who hasn't gotten around to throwing out her dead husband. The title is way longer than my review: Bleccccch!
Tower Video (383 Lafayette Street, 505-1166) is equally well-stocked with turds, everything from Las Vegas Hillbillys (which makes Hee-Haw look like L'Humanité) to A Star Is Born (the Barbra version, putrefied by her bad perm, hideous outfits, and funky chicken dance). And don't think Z movies have to be restricted to old chestnuts either; failure knows no time frame. Tower also menaces with relatively recent tax write-offs like '93's very sour The Pickle and last year's Breakfast of Champions, which totally spoils your appetite for lunch.
Of course, when I'm craving to see something lousy on a bigger screen, I go to Film Forum (209 West Houston Street, 727-8110), where they primarily dedicate themselves to esteemed art films, but are not averse to showing the occasional stink bomb for diversity's sake. Cineastes can shove stuff like Akira Kurosawa's Ran up their tight buttsI'm hopelessly drawn to the likes of Skidoo, an LSD comedy that culminates in a psychedelic trash-can ballet that has to be seen to be disbelieved. And I will always be grateful for Film Forum's double bill of The Naked Kiss, in which bald prostitute Constance Towers helps disabled children put on a musical, and Who Killed Teddy Bear?, with Sal Mineo as a Peeping Tom who roams Times Square and strangles disco hostesses. Actually, that last one was kind of goodget it away from me!