Monday, March 21, 2022

Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies: A Film Critic's Year-Long Quest to Find the Worst Movie Ever Made by Michael Adams


There are only a couple ways to be a really good movie, but boy, are there a ton of ways to be a bad movie. And we get to see just how inventive failure lets people be in SHOWGIRLS, TEEN WOLVES, AND ASTRO ZOMBIES, as Australian film critic, Michael Adams, decides to spend exactly one year trying to find the worst of the worst, in his quest to find The Worst Movie Ever Made.

Some movies I really enjoy are considered "bad" movies. Like, Dungeons and Dragons, a schlocky fantasy fest based on the table-top game by the same name and has 90s low-budget effects. Or Glitter, which is Mariah Carey's very very semi-autobiographical movie about her rise to fame, only with toxic romance thrown in. Whatever, my inner-preteen still thinks it slaps. And then there's Batman & Robin, which is like if Batman were filmed at an LGBT+ ball event... and I mean that in a positive way, because it has the over-the-top costumes and drama of performers like RuPaul and I'm still obsessed with it. It's literally my favorite Batman movie.

I think there are good bad and bad bad movies, and I think what makes something good bad is (1) either self-aware or (2) not self-aware at all. The first one gives a movie heart and kind of makes you feel like you're in on the joke. The second one is funny. It's like when you see your enemy do something stupid and you can laugh at them without them knowing. It's malicious and probably makes you a little bit of a bad person, but you can still feel good about it because you convince yourself that they set themselves up for their own fall. 

Adams is a good writer, but the book did come out a while ago, so the movies he discusses peak at the mid-aughts. You can tell when he's having fun and you can tell when he's dialing it in a little. I did some skimming through some of the less memorable passages, but when he really loves or hates something, the pages practically quiver with energy and I liked that. Directors like Ed Wood and Roger Corman are mentioned, of course, but he also talks about bad movies famous actors were in either before they were famous (Angelina Jolie was in a bad cyborg movie) or after they ran through their careers (Mae West was apparently in a terrible erotica, although Adams didn't see that one... yet).

There were parts of this book I loved and parts I loved less. I do think I'm going to keep it around as a reference because some of the movies in here sounded really fun, and at the end of the book Adams includes a list of his Worst of the Worst, along with a list of movies and some notes that he didn't really feel were noteworthy enough to be crammed into a full chapter of this project. If you enjoy books about movies and pop culture, you're going to love this. Especially if you enjoyed THE DISASTER ARTIST.

3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars

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