We Love… Trash – The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

Illustration: Adeline Pericart

There are nights when you look through your DVD collection and none of your favourite films float your boat  – what you need is some serious Trash –  the black sheep of your collection; something so bad that makes you feel good. Warning: to appreciate these films booze is recommended. And so over the next couple of weeks the Film Ireland collection of filmaholics shed their dignity, hide their shame and open their bins to reveal their trashiest films in the latest installment of…

We Love…

Trash

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

(W.D. Richter)

‘… Buckaroo and his band, The Hong Kong Cavaliers, must save the world from an alien race called the Red Lectoids, all of whom are named ‘John’ … ’

David Neary

There’s an episode of the US cartoon comedy series Family Guy in which Peter Griffin, facing certain death along with his entire family, confesses that he did not care for The Godfather. Outraged, the Griffins demand he explain himself, to which he replies: ‘It insists upon itself.’

While The Godfather is hardly a good example, it is fair to say that some perfectly well made films are damaged by ‘insisting upon themselves’ – succumbing to the self-importance of filmmakers or the laboured subtext of writers. For a next-to-great film, insisting upon itself can be fatal.

The opposite is true when the film is actually dreadful. The trashiest of films can be lifted high by ‘insisting’ that they are something great; part of something bigger than just the reels of film. And there is no finer example of this phenomenon than The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, a spoof sci-fi from 1984 that is, on paper, pure and utter nonsense.

The film opens practically in medias res following a brief Star Wars-ian title card that gives simultaneously too little and too much information. Buckaroo Banzai is the world’s greatest over-achiever; he’s a rocket scientist, neurosurgeon and sometime action hero. Plus he’s in a band! He also has a dramatic story of lost love that is never fully explained, only referenced when he falls in love with his lost love’s twin sister (yes, it is like we missed the first film in a trilogy).

So while testing a new rocket car (quite literally a car with rockety bits stuck on the back) Buckaroo achieves a speed that allows him to travel through the 8th Dimension, an other-wordly lightshow of a place. On returning to our world, he discovers an alien creature has attached itself to his rocket car. Shortly afterwards, this creature is never mentioned again.

A somewhat related plot begins in which Buckaroo and his band, The Hong Kong Cavaliers, must save the world from an alien race called the Red Lectoids, all of whom are named ‘John’ (I swear to you I am not making this up). Further nonsense ensues.

Despite the fact that it juggles plot strands like knives and crams in additional sci-fi shenanigans when the film is reaching bursting point, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension is inherently watchable. It doesn’t just commit to its silliness, it forces you to enjoy it.

The style is straight-up 1980s sci-fi action movie. The budget is surprisingly impressive for a film that could never have been a success; although the strings do show, especially in the scene where the heroine is ‘tortured’ by an alien creature that barely moves. But there are a few nifty sets, especially the spaceships, and the hologram sequence looks surprisingly good for 1984.

And then there’s the cast. Buckaroo is played in one of the most deadpan performances ever by Peter ‘RoboCop’ Weller. ‘Excuse me, is somebody out there not having a good time?’ he asks a crowd at a gig when one person fails to applaud his music – yet in some manner he’s almost threatening the audience of the film. Amongst his crew is a Jewish cowboy from New Jersey named New Jersey, who looks strangely like a young Jeff Goldbl- holy crap it’s Jeff Goldblum! He plays the role as he plays all his bit parts; blissfully unaware of the silliness around him or the fact he’s wearing a neckerchief. In addition to Christopher Lloyd as an evil henchman, the main villain is played by John Lithgow. Using an accent that ricochets wildly between Italian and Russian, he hams it up more than John Lithgow ever has – and if you’ve ever seen 3rd Rock From the Sun, you’ll know that’s a lot.

There’s simply no way of making it clear how bonkers this film is. At one point is seems to be implying that Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds broadcast was a real event, at another it appears to be stealing ideas from John Carpenter’s They Live, a film that hadn’t even been made yet!

Without a doubt however, the film’s greatest achievement is during its finale, when the entire cast assembles behind Buckaroo to march heroically – a sequence recycled by Wes Anderson in his 2004 movie The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (which curiously also starred Jeff Goldblum…).

At the close, a title card reads ‘Buckaroo Banzai will return in Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League.’ It never happened of course. But with its cult following growing by the day and most of the cast still going strong, there’s always hope that a film that seemed too silly to get made in the first place might get the sequel it probably doesn’t really deserve, but still should have.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NG8Ipk9CnU

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We Love… Trash: Underworld Evolution

Illustration: Adeline Pericart

There are nights when you look through your DVD collection and none of your favourite films float your boat  – what you need is some serious Trash –  the black sheep of your collection; something so bad that makes you feel good. Warning: to appreciate these films booze is recommended. And so over the next couple of weeks the Film Ireland collection of filmaholics shed their dignity, hide their shame and open their bins to reveal their trashiest films in the latest installment of…

We Love…

Trash

Underworld Evolution

(Len Wiseman)

‘… delivers over an hour and a half of purposely wanton bloodshed, gunshots and carnage … ’

Jack McGlynn

Underworld Evolution couldn’t be better.

No matter which way you slice it, there’s precious little director Len Wiseman could have added or edited to improve on his gratuitously gory monster-melee.

Winged Vampires. Titanic Werewolves. Topless men. Guns. Girls. And to top it off nary a set wall survives for the plethora of rag-dolled combatants continuously punched through them!

It stands proud as member of the coveted genre: Cinematic Trash. And by these very terms, it is pitch perfect.

I’ll grant you, mutating the horror and action genres is an easily overlooked enterprise. However, Evolution rarely skips a beat. Or an opportunity to beat… anything!

At 106 minutes, it’s lean storytelling.

Evolution doesn’t suffer from delusions of grandeur. It knows its audience want to get in, have their fix of violence and leave without their entire evening being bled dry.

And so it delivers over an hour and a half of purposely wanton bloodshed, gunshots and carnage.  As the film churns on it quickly establishes the rhythmic four-step of

Fight-gore-explosion-skin

Fight-gore-exploding wall-skin

Fight-gore-exploding head-skin

Fight.

Fangs for the memories

Capitalising on the intricate lore established in its snooze-fest predecessor, Evolution isn’t shy of introducing legendary figures and having the resident, giant purple Dracula impale them with funky wing-spears wings and bursting their skull like an eggshell.

Delish.

To its credit, Evolution sees no need to flex any narrative muscle, economically laying the framework for the ensuing chaos. While normally a significant criticism, the visceral mix of gothic horror and superhuman brawls are best undiluted by convoluted plot.

WHY hybrid Michael is fighting a three-metre tall snowy abomination of fur, fang and claw is academic. What’s IMPORTANT is that the poor werewolf get’s its head torn straight off its shoulders.

Straight off!

Underworld Evolution is not exactly taxing cinema. It’s not very funny, it won’t challenge you on an intellectual or philosophical level and it lacks any form of expression that could, in good conscience, be considered to register on the emotional spectrum.

But when you have a Hybrid Man-Wolf-Bat thrashing a werewolf with an industrial chain, wrapping a jeep around its broken form and ripping its lower mandible free, you don’t tend to miss them!

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We Love… Trash – The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

Illustration: Adeline Pericart

There are nights when you look through your DVD collection and none of your favourite films float your boat  – what you need is some serious Trash –  the black sheep of your collection; something so bad that makes you feel good. Warning: to appreciate these films booze is recommended. And so over the next couple of weeks the Film Ireland collection of filmaholics shed their dignity, hide their shame and open their bins to reveal their trashiest films in the latest installment of…

We Love…

Trash

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

(Curtis Hanson)

‘… It’s a bit of a pantomime at times as you yell ‘she’s behind you – and now she has a shovel!’ … ’

Emma O’Donoghue

When Claire Bartel (Annabella Sciorra), a young wife and mother, goes for a routine prenatal check-up in the late stages of her second pregnancy, she unwittingly stumbles into a living nightmare. Unfortunately for Claire, her regular obstetrician has retired and his replacement, Dr Victor Mott, is somewhat ‘liberal’ with his hands during the examination. Needless to say, the violation causes the asthmatic mum-to-be to stumble breathlessly out of his office in a terrible state and, after consulting with her husband Michael, she decides to report him. This act of bravery gives some of Dr Mott’s previous victims the courage to come forward and validate her claims. Exposed as a molester, the disgraced doctor commits suicide rather than face imprisonment, leaving his pregnant wife (Rebecca De Mornay) distraught and alone. Upon learning that she does not stand to gain any financial compensation from her husband’s death and will be evicted from their lavish home, the distress causes her to go into premature labour and she loses her baby. Mrs Mott is now out for revenge, and her attention quickly turns to the woman who caused the downfall of her family – Claire.

See that Mrs Mott one – she’s a nut

Mrs Mott’s decision to destroy Claire and steal her family away in order to replace the one she lost is the premise for this gripping, endlessly entertaining and lets face it, pretty trashy thriller. Posing as a sweet and innocent nanny, ‘Peyton’, the bereaved and vindictive Mrs Mott slowly integrates herself into Claire’s family home, cunningly sewing seeds of doubt and resentment into the domestic soil through manipulation and deception. She gets up to all sorts of nastiness, including making Claire suspect Michael of having an affair with her best friend Marlene (Julianne Moore), secretly breastfeeding Claire’s new baby (she is still lactating after being so recently pregnant) causing Claire to think the baby is refusing to bond, piercing holes in Claire’s inhalers and generally causing insidious havoc that gradually worsens throughout the movie. There are many moments where you will find yourself gasping at the pure malice of this blonde-haired, blue-eyed lunatic – but you will probably also find yourself giggling at the trashy excessiveness of it all.  Poor Claire and Michael are a naive pair, they fall prey to Peyton’s charm and allure, all the while the wench is trying to tear their family apart. It’s a bit of a pantomime at times as you yell ‘she’s behind you – and now she has a shovel!’

 

Rearing its head the same year as Single White Female, its safe to say 1992 was a year for the bat-shit crazies. The Hand that Rocks the Cradle is a classic if you like your thrills cheap and your popcorn scattered on the floor. Its plays out more like a made-for-TV thriller than a slick, sophisticated affair, but De Mornay is truly venomous as the psychotic nanny; she grabs the audience by the throat every time she is onscreen, making the best of a fairly convoluted plot. Admittedly it’s pretty dated now, but this movie is a sure-fire way to make anyone double-check their new nanny’s references before letting them set up in the spare bedroom.

 

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We Love… Trash – The Running Man

Illustration: Adeline Pericart

There are nights when you look through your DVD collection and none of your favourite films float your boat  – what you need is some serious Trash –  the black sheep of your collection; something so bad that makes you feel good. Warning: to appreciate these films booze is recommended. And so over the next couple of weeks the Film Ireland collection of filmaholics shed their dignity, hide their shame and open their bins to reveal their trashiest films in the latest installment of…

We Love…

Trash

The Running Man

(Paul Michael Glaser)

‘… so many ’80s action films carried an 18 certificate, yet could only be truly appreciated by children under the age of 13 … ’

Kieran O’Leary

I’ve always felt that there is usually something, even a single moment that makes watching any film a worthwhile experience. Even the trashiest film may hold a few gems of some sort, whether intentional or not. As a child, I adored The Running Man. It was with no sense of humour or irony that I enjoyed it. I thought that it was a brilliant, gruesome, well paced Arnie vehicle. I didn’t realise at the time that it was pretty much trash. I was so in love with the film that I even read the original novel by Stephen King’s pseudonym Richard Bachman.

When revisiting the film as an adult, I was astounded by how terrible it really was. From the tacky costumes, some of Arnie’s most shameless one liners, the poorly executed set pieces to the aimless storytelling, it is often tough to watch. I’ve always found it interesting that so many ’80s action films carried an 18 certificate, yet could only be truly appreciated by children under the age of 13.

Still, there was something about the film that  instantly grabbed me. The lighting, colour tints and general set design are often quite striking early on, and it is reminiscent of the grittiness of  Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo series. The first glimpse of the detention centre is all smoke and sparks, with a few strange oddities earning close ups. It is really atmospheric, and even quite artisic in certain shots. I was surprised to learn that Paul Michael Glaser, who you probably know as the original ‘Starsky’, directed the film. This is where my genuine appreciation of the film ends, as everything else apart from that early scene is trash.

Going to the toilet proved difficult

Arnie plays Ben Richards, who is falsely charged with massacring unarmed starving civilians by a totalitarian regime. He launches a daring prison break, but when the producer of the titular reality TV series sees Arnie’s spectacular physique, he hunts him down and forces him to appear on the show. The show’s premise is very similar to Battle Royale or The Hunger Games. The film has had a brief resurgence recently as a result of the latter’s success.

The film lazily attempts to set up this dystopian world, and even briefly sketches a resistance movement led by Mick Fleetwood. The sets get tackier as the film progresses, and there are even extended dance sequences that have absolutely no function whatsoever. The film drags painfully in between the kitschy laughs

It’s the great flaws that make this film watchable, and it’s why I’m talking about it in this column. The film looks like it could break into a camp extravaganza at so many points, but settles for a more restrained garishness instead. Any of the villainous ‘stalkers’ who Arnie has to tackle  are totally inept, and it’s their own lack of talent which leads to their downfall for the most part. Take Dynamo, for example. We first see him on stage belting out an operatic tune, dressed in blinking LED lights. He then starts zapping things with his electro-raygun. On the battlefield,  he blindly takes Arnie’s not too subtle bait (he screams ‘FOLLOW ME LIGHTBULB’), and flips his vehicle after failing to scale a steep rocky hill. Arnie spares him, but he later meets his doom, with his pants around his ankles, electrocuted by a water sprinkler

His first battle against ‘Professor Sub-Zero’ ends in dramatic silence due to the shocking defeat. The silence is broken by Arnie’s line ‘Here is Sub-Zero, now plain zero!’, which still doesn’t make much sense to me even after all these years. The film is 100 minutes long, and could easily have been trimmed considerably. There is a huge amount of filler, and in a way, it’s probably best consumed as a series of clips on youtube. Schwarzenegger doesn’t even seem very interested, and seemingly puts in very little effort into any facet of his performance. He does show some extended range early in the film, as he displays a rarely seen beard as opposed to his trademark stubble.

If you’ll allow me an anecdote to close this out, I would be greatly obliged. I revisited the film due to Dweezil Zappa’s brief cameo appearance. A friend of mine said he wanted to approach him after his gig in Vicar Street and mention how he watched The Running Man to psyche himself up for the show. Somehow, I ended up meeting Dweezil first, and in a moment of anxiety, I stole my friend’s line. Zappa took it well, but seemed uncomfortable and embarrassed. His drummer came out soon after and threw his snare skin into the crowd that remained. I wasn’t paying attention, and it landed with a surprisingly painful thump right on my head. It was some kind of karmic pay-off for my act of social impropriety, and The Running Man is forever associated with that bang on the head. There was no Arnie-esque one liner after that killer blow, just the jeers and insults of an amused crowd.

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We Love … Trash

Illustration: Adeline Pericart

There are nights when you look through your DVD collection and none of your favourite films float your boat  – what you need is some serious Trash –  the black sheep of your collection; something so bad that makes you feel good. Warning: to appreciate these films booze is recommended. And so over the next couple of weeks the Film Ireland collection of filmaholics shed their dignity, hide their shame and open their bins to reveal their trashiest films in the latest installment of…

We Love…

Trash

Eurotrip

(Jeff Schaffer)

‘… general resemblance to a cheddar factory … ’

Gemma Creagh

Filled with fantastic stereotypes, all kinds of nudity, a rakeload of slapstick and enough rude jokes to make Tara Reid scarlet, Eurotrip is a trashy, road-trip comedy by the makers of, erm, Road Trip.

The tale begins in the familiar setting of a high school graduation, where a lovelorn Scott gets dumped by his long term sweetheart; who, as it turns out, had been openly cheating on him with local rocker (Matt Damon) – to the point where Matt’s band even have song about it. The catchy tune ‘Scottie Doesn’t Know’ crops up just enough so by the time the credits roll around it’ll be firmly wedged in your subconscious. After this very public humiliation, an online romantic proposition means Scott cuts all ties with his long-term Berlin pen-pal, only to find out ‘Mieke’ was not a nerdy German guy as he had thought, but a stunningly attractive girl. Scott decides to blow off his summer plans and go on a quest to find her with the help of his obnoxious BFF, Cooper.

After arriving in London, the boys get dragged by crazed Man United thugs to Paris, where they join forces with their school friends and fraternal twins, Jenny and Jamie. In true National Lampoon-style, everything that can go wrong inevitably does, and the newly-formed gang do the twisty-map-line-thingy, trekking through a host of tourist hotspots such as Amsterdam, Rome and Bratislava in search of Mieke.

After watching Eurotrip, Percival lost all faith in humanity

The main cast is more-or-less celeb free with the biggest name being Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s little sister, Michelle Trachtenberg – however there are a whole host of fantastic B/C-listers: Vinny Jones plays a football Hooligan, Xena W.P. a dominatrix and even the lovely Joanna Lumley features as a mental Dutch hostel clerk.

As you can imagine the overall plot is about as contrived as they come, since 2004 it’s already very dated, plus the main characters are all flat and undeveloped… but the absolute cringiest part of this tack-fest is the fact that on one of the map sequences there is BRITISH FLAG over THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND. This is as disrespectfully idiotic as playing Sacha Baron Cohan’s version of the anthem when a Kazakhstan athlete won gold.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newsvideo/weirdnewsvideo/9163577/Borat-spoof-Kazakhstan-anthem-played-by-mistake.html

*shakes fist at producers*

Despite this Epic Fail and the general resemblance to a cheddar factory, Eurotrip is hilarious enough not only to warrant forgiveness, but also to allow for several viewings to bask in all the terrible/brilliant jokes:

‘I saw a gay porno once. I didn’t know until halfway in. The girls never came. The girls never came!’

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We Love… Trash – Reeker

 

Illustration: Adeline Pericart

There are nights when you look through your DVD collection and none of your favourite films float your boat  – what you need is some serious Trash –  the black sheep of your collection; something so bad that makes you feel good. Warning: to appreciate these films booze is recommended. And so over the next couple of weeks the Film Ireland collection of filmaholics shed their dignity, hide their shame and open their bins to reveal their trashiest films in the latest installment of…

We Love…

Trash

Reeker

(Dave Payne)

‘… what I love to hate about this movie is the simple fact that they are being haunted by what I like to call ‘the smelly ghost fog’ … ’

Ciara Lianne O’Brien

I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I am quite a lover of trashy TV, if it involves people falling over, having outlandish weddings, or being ill-equipped to raise their impending child; I’m guaranteed to love it and tune in week after week. When we move to film, something has changed in the general consensus and somehow the worst of the worst trashy movies we can imagine are the ones we will happily queue up for special screenings of. Whilst we would rarely admit to what we actually watched on television last night, there is a certain pride that comes with our trashy movie loves. The beautiful thing about it is that our fondness for trashy film transcends genre and almost everyone has a new one to add to your ‘must-watch’ list. One of my own personal favourites is the 2005 horror miss Reeker.

Reeker follows a group of strangers inexplicably trapped in an apparently spooky desert oasis. If it wasn’t enough that they are plagued by visions of death, they also must escape a decaying creature that preys on them, hoping to kill them in the most violent of ways. What makes this movie a guilty pleasure trashy film love for me is not the awkward cinematography, the stunted dialogue, or the convenience of having a blind man with a strong nose around while being haunted by something that you can’t see but you can certainly smell, what I love to hate about this movie is the simple fact that they are being haunted by what I like to call ‘the smelly ghost fog’. We see only glimpses of the wispy creature which plagues our plucky protagonists, but we gather that it smells god-awful. I can only hope that the idea was pitched as ‘smelly ghost fog’.

At times Reeker fancies itself as the new Saw, with an onslaught of unlikely and horrifying murders, but it seems unsure of whether or not to throw itself entirely into the newly emerging ‘torture-porn’ genre and, as a result throws a twist in at the end in order to hyphenate its generic status to ‘horror-mystery’. When Saw first emerged, it was the violence which shocked audiences, but there was a certain intelligence to the layout of the film which, like Silence of the Lambs made it even more frightening. Whilst Reeker pulled off the torture-porn violence, it is lacking in that intelligence and elicits more giggles than screams. The twist towards the end is guaranteed to surprise some viewers, but as a lover of the genre, it became glaringly obvious that the entire movie is built around the premise of this twist, which points out major conveniences in the story which I would have been happier without. Whereas I love the strong-nosed blind man chasing the smelly ghost, the twist adds purpose and removes some charm for me.

There is a massive upside to all this mockery, when doing some research for this article I happened upon; No Man’s Land: The Rise of Reeker. That’s right, there’s a prequel and I couldn’t be more excited. Needless to say I’ll be curling up on the couch tonight; I have a hot date with a Smelly Ghost Fog.

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We Love… Trash – The Room

Illustration: Adeline Pericart

There are nights when you look through your DVD collection and none of your favourite films float your boat  – what you need is some serious Trash –  the black sheep of your collection; something so bad that makes you feel good. Warning: to appreciate these films booze is recommended. And so over the next couple of weeks the Film Ireland collection of filmaholics shed their dignity, hide their shame and open their bins to reveal their trashiest films in the latest installment of…

We Love…

Trash

The Room

(Tommy Wiseau)

‘… without a single doubt, the worst film ever made … ’

Brian Lloyd

There are bad films. Some are executed poorly by the director, others are let down by under-performing actors. It can be a case that they’re simply phoning in a role, the material is beyond their range – or that they’re just bad actors. The same goes for budget. Films can be limited by budget, circumstance and time. However, a film is supposed to rise above these and be better than its faults. The Room is, without a single doubt, the worst film ever made. It’s so bad, it’s famous.

For those who are unfamiliar with the unbridled horror that is The Room, it follows a businessman (we’re never really sure what it is he does) and his friends through an increasingly bizarre set of events in San Francisco. I say bizarre – I’m not talking science-fiction. I’m talking actually bizarre. It’s impossible to talk about The Room with those who haven’t seen it. Indeed, watching The Room again with people who haven’t seen it is just as funny as the film itself. People react with a range of emotions – disbelief, horror, confusion, misguided laughter. The film itself is legendary in its awfulness. Without spoiling it, think of a mid-90s porn film WITHOUT the porn. That’s the best approximation of what The Room is like.

 

Warning: watching The Room can seriously damage your health

The script of The Room feels like it was written by someone who doesn’t have a full command of the English language. It’s not that there’s malapropisms or grammatical errors or anything, it’s that it just doesn’t sound how people actually talk. There are subplots that develop up to a certain point and then, quite literally, are never mentioned again in the course of the film. The film is nothing short of insane.

I really can’t do it justice. Naturally, this film wasn’t made by a large studio or featured well-known actors. Indeed, for most concerned, it was their first film. And it shows. Horribly so. We are, of course, talking about the film’s director, writer, producer and star, Tommy Wiseau. The legend surrounding his ability to fund the entire film himself is murky at best. Some believe he was an arms dealer, others that he was a money launderer. His response to forking out FIVE MILLION for the film? He sold leather jackets. Yes, really.

Nothing can truly prepare you for The Room. If you’ve never seen it, it is absolutely worth seeing. If for no other reason that you will never see anything quite like it in your entire life.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCj8sPCWfUw

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