City Limits (1985, Directed by Aaron Lipstadt) English 2

Starring John Stockwell, Kim Cattrall, Rae Dawn Chong, Darrell Larson, James Earl Jones

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(2-Atrocious Film)

Lousy. Amateurish. Indecipherable.

James Earl Jones’ narration starts. The picture fades in, and we see a post-apocalyptic world overrun with children and teenagers. The remaining population has sectioned itself off into biker gangs, living by a self-made code, mistrustful of strangers. When a big-league corporation tries to take over a nearly deserted city, two rival bike gangs that live there, team up and fight back. City Limits has all the elements of a cult-classic 1980s action flick. True, it’s a little bit derivative of Mad Max, but that’s no great crime. The crime is that this film is an atrocious bore, crudely done, with wasted talent in front of the camera, and no discernible talent behind the camera. The visuals are grimy, under lit in the extreme, the costumes look like the actors brought their own costumes, and the plot unfolds incomprehensibly. It’s astonishing how poorly executed this premise was. Calling this a B-Movie is an insult to a lot of great B- Movies.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Batman and Robin: So Terrible, it’s Amazing (1998, Directed by Joel Schumaker) English 3

Starring George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle

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(3-Horrible Film)

Campy. Goofy. Idiotic.

1998’s Batman and Robin is, simply put, a joke. They notoriously gave Bruce Wayne’s suit nipples, they chose for their lead villain, Mr. Freeze, played by a blue painted Arnold Schwarzenegger, spouting one bad ice related pun after another (“let’s kick some ice”), and made Poison Ivy look like Divine from a John Waters movie (google it). I’d like to catalog for you, the film’s many shortcomings and harebrained moments, though it’s a Herculean task to try and catch all of them, but it’s also important to note and preface this with the truth, which is that I love this film. Definitely falls within the “so bad, it’s good” variety. I think it’s hilarious. I laughed out loud on more occasions during the length of this superhero flick than, let’s say, 95% of the straight-up comedies I’ve seen.

Technically the fourth entry in the pre-Christopher Nolan series of Batman films- it’s amazing how silly all of the Batman movies before Bale and Nolan seem now that I’ve seen their grittier, more realistic take-Batman and Robin stars George Clooney as the billionaire playboy slash caped crusader. It’s incredible, and not enough is said about how Clooney was able to have a career after this film, let alone the Oscar winning, lifetime achievement award receiving career he has had. Bat nipples should have been career ending. I will say that among the cast, who should all feel embarrassed, Clooney comes off the least foolish. He gives the role some gravitas, granted, masked behind layers of inanity, bad dialogue, and bat nipples (I’m going to keep coming back to bat nipples; they color the entire film). I would even go as far as saying that Clooney could make a great Bruce Wayne in a much better, more competent picture. Now, if you think I’m being over dramatic about bat nipples being potentially career ending, take a look at the rest of the cast of then-stars. Chris O’Donnell returns as  Batman’s close ally, Robin. O’Donnell, who’d given a very strong performance six years earlier in Scent of a Woman (1992) with Al Pacino, never recovered from this dud. Neither did Alicia Silverstone, at the time of the film’s release, still riding the waves off of her early success in Clueless (1995). Here, she plays Barbara Wilson, grand-niece of Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred. She appears to be a nice, wholesome girl, but is later revealed to be a hardcore, action adventure heroine, and dons the ready made Batgirl suit Alfred leaves her. Together, Batman (having trouble trusting his young sidekicks), Batgirl, and Robin take on Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Bane (3 on 3) who team up, rather improbably, to take over the world (or at least Gotham) with a telescope Mr. Freeze turned into a freeze gun. The villains are where the film really reveals its suckage. I’m going to address them one by one.

I’ve already referenced Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze, and you probably got the point, but not enough can be said about his puns:

Cop #1: Please show some mercy!

Mr. Freeze: Mercy? I’m afraid my condition has left me cold to your pleas of mercy.

See too, a scene where he sings along to the snow miser song from A Year Without Santa Claus (1974), while his henchman, who dress in fur coats and talk like they’re from the Bronx, provide backing vocals. Where does he get these guys? Honestly? He goes to New York and posts hiring notices? It’s insane. And they help him, why? Then again, Ted Bundy had followers. Perhaps, it’s one of those things that defies explanation. Like when Mr. Freeze zaps Robin with his freeze gun, and Robin’s cemented in a block of ice. The solution: Batman picks Robin up and puts him in hot water, and Robin’s perfectly fine. Science! What’s the point of Mr. Freeze’s gun if it doesn’t even kill anybody? It looks cool on an action figure?

Poison Ivy, as portrayed by Uma Thurman, is, against all odds, even worse. She escaped this travesty thanks to Tarantino casting her in his Kill Bill saga, otherwise, I’m certain this would have been career curtains. Let’s start with her “origin story.” The origin stories in the old Batman movies were the worst/most hilarious parts. She’s working in some kind of lab, minding her own business one minute. She opens a door, and all of a sudden, she’s in some weird underground cult room, complete with evil experiments. That’s it. All she did was open a door. The mad scientist in this new room goes, “how did you get in here? Now, I’ll have to kill you. You know too much.” What do you mean, “how did you get in here?” You didn’t even lock the door. His attempt to kill her somehow imbues her with the power to manipulate plants and toxins, and the sexy ability to kill men with a kiss. Almost lost amid Mr. Freeze’s bad puns are Poison Ivy’s equally lame lines: “They replaced my blood with aloe.” “Animal protectors of the status quo.” Worst of all: “My garden needs tending.” Smh. Uma’s performance is bad too. The dialogue is horrible and does her no favors, but her delivery only compounds the terribleness. She talks like a bad theater actress. And then there’s the striptease she does while wearing a gorilla costume. Has to be seen, to be believed. Yes, someone thought that was a good idea.

Bane, while equaling his compadres in stupidity, has far less screentime, thus leaves far less of an impression. Still, in his rare moments to shine, the filmmakers turn him into a Frankenstein figure; like a campy Frankenstein figure. He starts off as a scrawny child molester or something, and is then given serum that  makes him jacked. How to defeat him? Robin simply pulls the rather large tube from the back of Bane’s head and he disintegrates. So, so bad.

There isn’t much logic to Batman and Robin. Instead there are pointless cameos from Elle MacPherson and Coolio. I’m sure the fimmakers were convinced their target audience wouldn’t notice (their target audience being 8 year-olds), and they were right. There was a solid 3 year period when I legitimately thought it was the greatest film ever made. Now, I see clearly. It’s in my exclusive top ten worst movies ever made list. So many poor choices, lapses of logic, head shaking moments, and bat nipples. Never forget bat nipples.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

Chairman of the Board (1998, Directed by Alex Zamm) English 2

Starring Carrot Top, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Raquel Welch, Larry Miller, Jack Warden, Estelle Harris

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(2-Atrocious Film)

Annoying. Infantile. Repellent.

This isn’t fair, or nice, but I hate Carrot Top. Before his demon clown personality even set in, and cast its stench upon this abysmal movie, I hated him. Before he opened his mouth, and said some lame joke involving some lame prop, I knew immediately that I did not want to see him on screen for another second, but I persevered, watching Chairman of the Board, wherein the “comedian” plays Edison, a dreamer, inventor, and surfer. After a chance encounter with a multimillionaire, Armand McMillian (Oscar nominee Jack Warden in the who cares stage of his career), Edison is left with the majority share of a major company, and uses his newfound power to push out his inventions. He also falls in love with his assistant, Natalie (Thorne-Smith). Carrot Top’s performance and personality justify my bigoted feelings about his appearance. This film is garbage besides him, and something less than garbage because of him.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959, Directed by Ed Wood) English 2

Starring Bella Lugosi, Vampira, Gregory Walcott, Duke Moore, Tom Keene, Paul Marco, Tor Johnson

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A U.F.O, grave robbing aliens that look like humans, and zombies that look like vampires fill the scattered narrative of Ed Wood’s infamous film, but basically it’s about evil invaders from a more advanced planet who want to wipe out humanity. Besides being amateurish and inept in several aspects of filmmaking, Plan 9 is also awfully hard to follow. There’s no discernible character development, introduction, or suspense to speak of, and only towards the end do we get a sense of character motivation. Ed Wood was just as woeful at script writing as he was at directing. Incompetent. Silly. Confusing.

Mac and Me (1988, Directed by Stewart Raffill) English 3

Starring Christine Ebersole, Jonathan Ward, Martin West, Danny Cooksey, Jade Calegory, Lauren Stanley

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A young alien, given the nickname Mac (mysterious alien creature), crash lands on Earth, separated from his family. Discovered and befriended by brothers Eric (bound to a wheelchair) and Michael, Mac looks to reconnect with his family. If this premise sounds awfully similar to E.T: Extra-Terrestrial, it’s because Mac and Me is a blatant rip-off of that classic, released just six years prior. Add to that, Mac and Me is a lousy rip-off, devoid of any imagination, and damned by poor design for the central alien figure. There are two especially bad scenes: one where Eric loses control of his wheelchair and falls off the side of the cliff, and another set in McDonalds, where everyone begins a choreographed dance number. The latter is mind-blowingly bad. Baffling, really, and not the only embarrassing moment of product placement. The former is unintentionally hilarious. Surprisingly, the acting is professional, keeping Mac and Me out of the seventh circle of movie hell where The Room and Troll 2 live. Third-rate. Shoddy. Laughable.

Catwoman (2004, Directed by Pitof) English 3

Starring Halle Berry, Benjamin Bratt, Sharon Stone, Alex Borstein, Frances Conroy, Lambert Wilson

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Patience Phillips (Berry) is a meek, overworked, overlooked artist in the fashion world who gets killed after uncovering a conspiracy within her company. She revives mysteriously, and a Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde situation develops within her, spawning the alter ego, Catwoman. Soon she falls for a handsome cop (Bratt) who seems to be in every department with the police, as he arrives at every crime scene in the film.  An embarrassment for everyone involved, Catwoman’s plot is pushed forward rapidly through a series of dumb moments. The bad guys talk openly about their plot. Halle Berry has a painfully awkward basketball scene with Bratt (Love and Basketball, this is not). The cheesy puns. The catnip scene. It’s not boring. I’ll grant it that, but it’s just so dumb, much too frequently. It’s all a poorly executed excuse for Halle Berry to wear the costume. No need to watch the movie. Google images should suffice.

The Emoji Movie (2017, Directed by Tony Leondis) English 3

Voices of T.J Miller, Anna Farris, James Corden, Maya Rudolph, Steven Wright, Jennifer Coolidge, Patrick Stewart

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In the world of a teenage boy’s phone live the emojis. Ideograms with minds of their own, that exist simply to convey the right message in their owner’s texts. Gene (Miller), a meh emoji, struggles with capturing the emotion he’s assigned, and his mistake leads to an adventure through aps to escape his own deletion. It’s about as good as you’d expect with its premise, which is to say pretty bad. No matter how colorful or skillful the animation (and I will credit the filmmakers with that), you just cannot get past the inane idea that emojis exist and have feelings. Aside from that the adventure is short and boring. The jokes are lame. Not one of the worst films of all time as its single digit Rotten Tomatoes approval rating would suggest, but it is a horrible movie.