The Fog Recap

Jamie

I guess I’ll start the recap for The Fog by discussing the John Carpenter original a bit. It’s pretty classic Carpenter: great music, good practical effects, and a simple way of telling a story without getting bogged down. Was it scary? Not really. But The Thing wasn’t really all that scary and it’s still the best. I really had only one complaint about the whole thing. It’s that we didn’t really know any of the characters, even by the end of the film. Very little character development to the point where they were hard to distinguish. Case in point, in the A.V. Club’s review of 2005’s The Fog they mixed up the characters that Adrienne Barbeau and Jamie Lee Curtis played. And I don’t blame them. It was hard to figure out their distinguishing features. Besides that it was an alright horror film of the era.

Now how does this all compare to the 2005 film? Well you can think of the 2005 film as pretty much the same as the original except take everything good and turn it into a pile of garbage and take everything bad and turn it into more of a pile of garbage. What I’m trying to say is that the film is a pile of garbage. I experienced Strange Wilderness level despair at having to sit through it. It’s not even a Silent Hill: Revelations or Legend of Hercules where they are so ridiculously off the charts horrible that I couldn’t stop laughing. This was just an assault on my senses. On top of all this it was no doubt the least scary horror film I’ve ever seen and had a couple of the worst horror deaths ever put to film. Was this 70 level BMT? I certainly think so. I honestly just don’t know how enough people watched it to garner a 70.

This film doesn’t deserve a game. Instead I’ll tell you a tale. It was a comedy of errors trying to get Rupert Wainwright’s commentary for this film as it’s only included on the (seemingly rare) unrated DVD release. Netflix claimed to have the unrated DVD for rental, but I saw through their lies and ordered the 1980 original (settling for streaming the remake on Netflix proper). Lo and behold they still mistakenly sent me the 2005 version and my hunch was confirmed when it did not have the commentary on the disc (so it was useless garbage like the film it contained). I then had the brilliant idea to order the disc through my local library system. The great thing about the system is that the details of each disc (including special features) are included when making an order from an outside library. I found a copy of the unrated DVD with the commentary in the system and was on my way to Rupert Wainwright-town. Or was I? When it arrived it was still just the regular DVD without the commentary! Damn public library system. Who would have thought that the wonderful librarians at the Mabel Public Library (Mabel, MN, population: 780) couldn’t figure out my nuanced request for a particular version of 2005’s The Fog? Obviously I want to listen to the commentary! Just like any red-blooded American! Whatever. In the future I’ll have to embarrassingly note the version I would like and make sure the librarians work their arthritis-plagued hands to the bone providing me with exactly the bad movie viewing experience I need at the expense of the taxpayers of MN. Harumph.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! The Fog? More like … y’know what, surprise NY Post headline! There would be a picture of Maggie Grace in a stupid hat with the headline: Lost in the Fog! Anyways, I’m glad Jamie his the big message because I’ve got more important things to attend to. But quick hits, let’s go!:

  • The Good – Um … it was a nice relaxing film. No stress. They didn’t go the cheap route and kill the black guy first, or have him say “Aw Hell Naw!” or “That’s what I’m talking about!”. Good for them (I was seriously considering just leaving this blank, but resolutions and silver linings and all).
  • The Bad – This is literally all that is terrible about late 90s / early 00s horror. It is not scary. All the actors are skewed weirdly young and are awful. The story is convoluted, shock horror abounds, terrible kills, terrible CGI, an unnecessary remake. It wasn’t even so ridiculous you laugh at it, you stare at it in confusion and disgust. Blah.
  • The BMT – 70? Weirdly I say yes, even though confusion still exists about how it ever could accrue the amount of necessary votes. It is quite confusing, it keeps me up late into the night. But the BMeTric I think gets it right, this might be the worst horror film ever made.

Usually here I would play some game, but this upcoming movie has thrown us a little curveball. So we need a little BMT:CSI:SVU (We’re the Special Victims). A long time ago I discussed the BMysTery of the IMDb inflection point (remember? No? Whatever). After solving that I, naturally, took a triumphant seven month long hiatus. But this graph, the ratings / vote graphic for Material Girls shocked me!:

MaterialGirls_RV

Look at that rating trajectory, it climbs over two points! I you were like me (a literal crazy person) you’d know this is absurd. After reading this fivethirtyeight blog entry I could only conclude one thing: Material Girls was tragically brigaded by awful people in its early days and is, in fact, a hidden diamond in the rough for us to enjoy (hooray!). But something I remember from long ago was bothering me … what if it is just regression to the mean. What if whenever I looked at a ratings plot and thought to myself “Huh, I wonder why the rating of The Fog is rising over time? People are dummies” is was in fact me who was the dummy?

So here is the crux of the story: it is totally plausible that this entire time, whenever I expressed mock horror at the rating trajectories rising through time for bad movies, I was a dummy and pretty much exclusively looking at regression to the mean. No joke, just look at this plot!:

RatingsPlot

Basically with such a steep and definitive negative correlation between where a movie’s rating started and how it changes pretty much all of the movement I’ve seen in the ratings of bad movies was due to regression to the mean. Take Material Girls as an example (the blue square). It is a movie that climbed so thoroughly out of the gutter it genuinely shocked me, and yet, it is actually pretty close to what you’d expect from a movie of its initial caliber (it climbs not much higher, although I do think there was some element of trolling on the Material Girls rating when it first came out).

Unfortunately with how I got this OMDb data, as impressive as it was, it isn’t really enough to use this idea for much beyond guessing at what a movies rating might have been when it was first released. But it has inspired me in a way that hopefully will benefit BMT real soon (but that is for a later date). Read the full write up here. Cheerios and back to you Jamie.

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The Fog (2005) Preview

Leaving The Avengers behind, we make our way to the Horror/Thriller category of the calendar. Unfortunately, the calendar is woefully bereft of thrillers so this is really just  a horror category. With that in mind, why not choose one of the worst reviewed horror films released in the 2000’s? That’s right, we’re doing the remake of The Fog from 2005. The original was directed by one of my favorite directors of all time John Carpenter, so at the very least we’ll get to enjoy watching that before being disappointed by the new version. It’s the most BMT film released on October 14th, beating out Elizabethtown, Domino, Exit to Eden, and (most interestingly) the 2011 prequel of The Thing. A different John Carpenter material made (terribly) for the modern world. What are the chances that it would be released on the exact same day 6 years later? Let’s go!

The Fog (2005) – BMeTric: 76.4

TheFog_BMeT

TheFog_RV

(So I have a theory. The past few weeks we’ve hit the 70+ BMeTric hard, and the plots have looked amazingly similar. Cat in the Hat, Taxi, The Avengers, this … they don’t half ass it. They go balls to the wall and hit that 70+ hard. Really I think that is the key. When Jack and Jill came out, for example, everyone knew this was a catastrophe (it sits pretty at 80+ these days). I think that these are movies that just seem like a bad idea on paper and then double down with terrible execution to boot. And yet … out of those four doesn’t The Fog kind of stand out? Seems like an outlier, like it doesn’t belong? For me I barely remember this thing. I wonder why people were so immediately against the film (2.9 rating early on is absurd). I have theories … see the box office section below for more. I finally put the votes/rating chart up because why? Why would The Fog’s rating rise over time? All part of the weird world of IMDb user ratings)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars – A dense fog from the Pacific creeps over a Northwest seaside village, bringing with it murderous, vengeful ghosts. Lame remake of John Carpenter’s 1980 movie alters the plot slightly but is no improvement. Carpenter and his longtime partner Debra Hill produced this. Alternate version also available.  

(This sounds like a 1.5 star review considering Leonard already didn’t like the original all that much (2.5 stars). For those that are interested, the alternate version is an unrated widescreen edition that includes a director’s commentary that I may or may not have ordered through my local library system [Editor’s note: little old library ladies seemingly don’t know what unrated means. I. Am. Furious].)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWH1WlzXbko

(Not sure what I’m supposed to get out of that trailer besides the fact that Antonio Island is perpetually shrouded in darkness. Not even sure who the main characters are.)

Directors – Rupert Wainwright – (BMT: The Fog; Blank Check; Stigmata; Notes: Say whaaaaaaaaaaaat? You telling me staple-of-the-sklogs-childhood Blank Check was (1) a bad movie, and (2) directed by the guy who directed The Fog? Count me in, this movie is definitely amazing. An apparently prolific music video director he was featured on the British Millionaire Matchmaker.)

Writers – Cooper Layne (screenplay) – (Known For: The Core; BMT: The Fog; Notes: Saaaaaaaaaaay Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? You telling me staple-of-the-sklogs-late-night-movie-watching-indulgences The Core was (1) a good movie, and (2) written by the same guy who wrote The Fog? Count me double in, this movie is definitely double amazing. There isn’t much more about him besides that he had a small part in Coneheads.)

John Carpenter (1980 screenplay) – (Known For: Halloween; They Live; Escape from L.A.; Escape from New York; The Fog; Halloween H20: 20 Years Later; Prince of Darkness; Assault on Precinct 13; Assault on Precinct 13; Eyes of Laura Mars; Dark Star; BMT: The Fog; Halloween: Resurrection; Halloween III: Season of the Witch; Ghosts of Mars; Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers; Halloween 5; Halloween; Black Moon Rising; Halloween II; Notes: A lot of these credits are for this kind of stuff, remakes. But BMT classic Ghosts of Mars is pretty special. Honestly, Halloween, Escape from New York and especially his directing credits like The Thing are all remarkable both as films, but also for their mind blowing practical effects. I can say without hesitation he is one of my favorite filmmakers of all time.)

Debra Hill (1980 screenplay) – (Known For: Halloween; Escape from L.A.; The Fog; Halloween H20: 20 Years Later; BMT: The Fog; Halloween: Resurrection; Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers; Halloween 5; Halloween; Halloween II; Notes: One of the most famous female producers of her time she worked with Carpenter on many of his early films. Was serving as producer of The Fog right around when she was diagnosed and subsequently died of cancer sadly.)

Actors – Tom Welling – (Known For: Draft Day; Parkland; BMT: The Fog; Cheaper by the Dozen 2; Cheaper by the Dozen; Notes: Owns (or maybe owned) a house on Martha’s Vineyard (what, what) where he was married. Probably best known for playing Superman on Smallville.)

Maggie Grace – (Known For: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2; Taken; Knight and Day; Faster; The Jane Austen Book Club; BMT: The Fog; The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1; Taken 3; We’ll Never Have Paris; Lockout; Taken 2; The Choice; Notes: Best known for running really weird in Taken… oh and for her work on Lost.)

Also stars Selma Blair who is becoming a BMT staple with The Sweetest Thing and Down to You in her repertoire.

Budget/Gross – $18 million / Domestic: $29,550,869 (Worldwide: $46,201,432 Worldwide)

(Actually looks OK just by the numbers, but it was considered a pretty big disappointment when it came out. Just a year before The Grudge was able to make $187 million worldwide on a smaller budget, so I think that’s what they had in mind. That obviously did not happen.)

#32 for the Horror Remake genre

TheFogAnalysis

(Bam, new plot. I made this to explore my theory on why this movie was so destroyed in BMeTric. Using a windowing method, it sums up the number of theaters showing movies of this genre on a date plus or minus a year from a date in time (blue). And also the gross per theater for these movies (over their entire domestic run, green). The Fog is shown as a dashed red line in time. Hypothesis: This movie was the last straw for horror movie fans for remakes of 80’s films. And the plot bears this out! The genre was almost born in 2000 and grew to a plateau right when The Fog came out. And right as the gross was a-tumbling. It has since appeared to almost die as a genre. But I think this is a product of the blockbuster (Star Wars, Marvel, DC, etc.) dominating and saturating the theaters over the last five year. But we’ll see. Regardless I am convinced this is part of the reason this movie was thoroughly destroyed on IMDb (and thus the BMeTric), horror fans are … particular and love to vote on IMDb it seems. Right around future BMT classics The Eye and One Missed Call as well)

Rotten Tomatoes – 4% (3/68): The Fog is a so-so remake of a so-so movie, lacking scares, suspense or originality.

(I feel like this and Taxi have the funniest RT consensuses. Just very matter-of-fact despite summing up two of the worst reviewed releases of the decade. Maybe it was just a sign of the times. Before they started shoehorning puns into everything.)

Poster – The Meh (C-)

fog

(Just meh. A bit boring, needs to pick a color other than grey, and the font is too easy to turn into the spoof poster of The Sklog. Also, where’s my tagline? Bullshit. I would have put it down into D+ range, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with it, just nothing good.)

Tagline(s) – None. (F)

(There are taglines from DVDs and stuff, but there is no official tagline from the poster or major advertising. Unacceptable.)

IMDb Keyword – fog

(I had to note this little guy. Both of the Silent Hill BMT classics make this very prestige-ish list. Get it? … The Prestige is number one on the list).

Notes – Selma Blair did almost all of her own stunts. For her underwater scenes, she spent 12 hours in a water tank, with only short surface breaks, for two days straight. (… I don’t believe you)

In between takes in Vancouver, press were granted access to the set. During Selma Blair’s interview, director Rupert Wainwright made a joke she didn’t like. In response, Blair reached into her shirt, pulled out a rubber “falsie,” and flung it across the conference room at the director, deadpanning, “That’s the Adrienne Barbeau part of the role.” (wat)

Before Tom Welling was cast, actors considered for Nick Castle included David Boreanaz, Jesse Metcalfe, Matthew Davis, Henry Cavill, Adam Garcia, Michael Cassidy, Oliver Hudson, and Peter Facinelli. Matthew Fox and Ben McKenzie, were also considered for the role and met with the director, but due to conflicting television schedules they did not read for producers. (If only the charmless walking mannequin that is Henry Cavill would have been in this, perfecto)

Fergie (of The Black Eyed Peas) was attached to play Stevie Wayne before a last-minute conflict prevented her contract from closing. (Well they lost a fan here. Everyone loves musicians and especially Black Eyed Peas in any major motion picture. The more the better and this film is worse for that egregious casting misstep. Unforgivable)

Maggie Grace beat Emilie de Ravin, her Lost (2004) co-star, for the role of Elizabeth. (And with that we end, what a loss for Emilie de Ravin)

Maximum Overdrive Recap

Jamie

Hello students. Welcome to Dr. Smadbeck’s lecture on Trucks and its adaptations. I am the foremost authority on this subject as I’m actually the only person currently alive that has read the original short story by Stephen King, watched its first adaptation known as Maximum Overdrive, and the 1997 Canadian TV Movie that returned to the original title of Trucks. Let’s begin.

There is nothing in the short story that screams “I must be adapted.” Nothing. The story simply details a bunch of people hanging out in a truck stop while driverless trucks prowl about outside. People die, they end up pumping gas for the trucks (becoming their slaves), and end the story contemplating whether one day they may once again be free from their new masters. Like most Stephen King tales, the story is somewhat abstract in its creepiness. It makes one confront a fear that they may not have even known they had (like the helplessness that would go along with our own creations turning against us).

So you might expect that Stephen King (the director of his own adaptation) must have looked at this particularly abstract scary story and thought “I’ll have to jazz this up to get this to work on screen.” You would be wrong. As King is wont to do, he instead made an nearly exact replication of his work. Few details were added other than a shitty explanation for why the machines have come to life (answer: Earth passing through the tail of a comet… cool beans, bro). It was boring, it was silly, and it had a terrible ending. Worst of all it just wasn’t any fun, and that’s usually what I love about King. A pulpy 50’s feel.

Anyway, you’d think it couldn’t get worse. You’d be wrong again, because I then watched Trucks, a TV movie adaptation of the same work that originally aired on the USA network back in 1997 (egad! What has my life come to?). Oddly, I had a sneaking suspicion that whoever made the film ripped off Maximum Overdrive as several key elements, which were not in the original source material, appear in the TV movie. How little creativity do you need to have to steal from the adaptation that absolutely tanked? Even odder? I think this absolutely terrible TV movie managed to have a better ending than the major motion picture (double egad!).

I also have a more minor gripe I’d like to voice. Emilio Estevez is understandably cool as ice in this film. He looks cool, he seems cool, he is cool. A short time into the film a girl enters his life. She looks cool, seems cool, and is cool as well. They are basically the heroes. They run around saving people. She seems tough as nails and so does he. It’s perfect. It was one of the few things working in the film. Obviously, though, they end up boning (why wouldn’t they? They are both rad). Immediately after boning our once badass chick is no longer running around saving people. She throws on a short skirt, kisses Emilio, and tells him to be safe. She stays behind waiting for him to come back and kiss on her some more. It’s super duper lame. What happened to the badass chick that I liked so much?! It was really infuriating. From what I’ve read it was actually a conscious choice by the producer Dino De Laurentiis. He told King to stop dressing her in pants and to have her just be a typical girl in a short skirt for guys to ogle. Talk about having an old fashioned feel. Guess Dino never saw Alien.

With that I’ll conclude the lecture. I hope you’ve learned enough to never have to watch either of these films.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Maximum Overdrive?! More like Movie That Patrick Derides! Weak, but I think this is a historic moment, the first Bad Movie Title Pun (BMTP) with my name? Maybe. Anyways, I hated Maximum Overdrive. Oops, spoiled it one sec:

  • The Good – I liked Emilio. I liked Laura Harrington. Some tense moments, although few and far between.
  • The Bad – I hated this movie (there it is). Let’s see. Most of the acting was terrible. The entire movie is bookended by title cards explaining (unnecessarily) an origin for the machines awakening. The movie looks like it was made in 1975. By extension, this movie had the opportunity to have seriously sweet practical effects, but I’m convinced King as director waylaid any hope of pulling off anything interesting. The ending was straight hot garbage.
  • The BMT – Not really. I mean, for street cred purposes sure. But in general I would never really want to watch this film again. Borderline I guess.

But that kind of exemplifies the problems we often have with watching films from the 80s for BMT. Context. In context what did people think of this film in 1986? It really does look like it was made in 1975, it looks like Jaws. Did people notice that? Were 1980s horror fans going in and just baffled by the quality. Or was it just a shrug and a “not very scary, kind of boring” attitude. Without context for me it makes this movie very puzzling. I don’t like the movie either as a movie or as a BMT film. It satisfies Bad Movie Street Cred (BMSC) and nothing more.

Game? I do actually want a remake. I think there is something here with one simple change. Play it straight to start. Hey we can just wait out the trucks. They’ll run out of gas. Whatever is causing this will end. But no. The machines get their energy elsewhere, they don’t need gas. Show them rebuilding their fallen brethren. Evolving into better machines. Until it dawns on our protagonists that they are doomed. This movie comes across as silly without a sad ending unfortunately.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Maximum Overdrive Preview

Alright, for this week’s film we continue on our cycle of one-and-done directors with horror/thriller. While the previous entries in the category typically involve an actor taking a stab at directing, or a commercial/music video/television director getting a shot, this film is one of the few examples where a novelist was given the chance to adapt his own work. That’s right, we are watching Maximum Overdrive! Perhaps emboldened by Clive Barker’s success with Hellraiser, Stephen King decided he really, really, really wanted to direct this adaptation. Then afterwards he decided that he really, really, really didn’t want to ever direct again. Let’s go!

Maximum Overdrive (1986) – BMeTric: 40.8

MaximumOverdrive_BMeT

(While fairly standard I am kind of startled by how rapidly this movie’s rating has risen. You can kind of see it here, but the rating has risen from 4.3 in 2007 to 5.4 now! How?! This is a weird trend I see a lot and I think it is because as the “population” of IMDb increases less discerning people (or at least people less willing to just rip a movie apart) join up. Still weird. But 40+ for a film from 1986? Uh, yes please)

Leonard Maltin – BOMB – Customers and employees at an interstate truck stop are terrorized by the trucks themselves, which have come to demonic life as a part of a global rebellion of machines. Novelist King, making his directorial debut, said he set out to create a junk movie, nothing more… but he made it stupid and boring. Remade as a 1997 cable movie, TRUCKS.

(I searched high and low but can’t seem to find the source for where King implied he set out to create a junk film. I can only presume that it was in some interview lost to time because it is referenced ad nauseum when talking about the film. Patrick and I will have to draw straws to determine who is going to go out of their way to watch the 1997 TV movie.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygWMy-QQNbw

(Is this some sort of sick joke? Stephen King was hopped up on coke while making this film? You don’t say.)

Director(s) – Stephen King – (BMT: Maximum Overdrive; Notes: Nominated for Worst Director, Maximum Overdrive (1986). World famous author. ‘It’ is one of my favorites books. I love it.)

Writer(s) – Stephen King (film by, written for the screen by) – (Known For: The Shining; 1408; The Running Man; Pet Sematary; Christine; Creepshow; Cujo; Salem’s Lot; Stephen King’s ‘The Langoliers’; Stephen King’s ‘Storm of the Century’; Stephen King’s ‘Silver Bullet’; Stephen King’s ‘Cat’s Eye’; BMT: Dreamcatcher; Maximum Overdrive; Creepshow 2; Stephen King’s A Good Marriage; Stephen King’s ‘Thinner’; Stephen King’s ‘Sleepwalkers’; Stephen King’s ‘Graveyard Shift’; Notes: Famous author. Has said the only adaptation of his work he remembers hating is Kubrick’s The Shining. This hatred led to him making his own TV movie adaptation of the film.)

Actors – Emilio Estevez – (Known For: The Breakfast Club; Young Guns; Bobby; St. Elmo’s Fire; Repo Man; The Way; Mission: Impossible; The Outsiders; BMT: The Mighty Ducks; D2: The Mighty Ducks; Maximum Overdrive; D3: The Mighty Ducks; Men at Work; Freejack; Young Guns II; National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1; Notes: Nominated for Worst Actor, Maximum Overdrive (1986). Has not acted in a significant role since 2010’s The Way. Now more focused on directing.)

Budget/Gross: $10 million / $7,433,663

(I heard it was supposed to be a spring film, but King needed a break or something so they moved the release date to July in exchange for him doing a lot of promotion… which didn’t help and it failed miserably. Not the worst release ever for a major Stephen King adaptation… 4th actualy. The worst two are the Mangler and future BMT pick Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace.)

Rotten Tomatoes: 16% (2/12), No consensus.

(Old films never have a huge number of reviews, although RT is getting better at collecting them. I’ll write a consensus: King’s directorial debut proves that if you want something done right, you better not do it yourself.)

Poster – Jeez Louise! (F)

maximumOverdrive

(Holy Moly! That is listed as the theatrical poster! Did Stephen King also make that himself? That is startling.)

Tagline(s) – Stephen King’s masterpiece of terror directed by the master himself. (F)

(There are lots of taglines associated with the theater release/VHS/laserdisc/DVD over the years. I just use the one that’s on the original poster. Obviously it is trash. Nothing more to say.)

Notes – In the movie trailer, Stephen King said he decided to direct the film himself after writing several because he wanted to see Stephen King done right. “If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.” When asked why he hasn’t directed a movie since “Maximum Overdrive”, Stephen King responded “Just watch Maximum Overdrive.” (perfect one and done for real)

Stephen King, being a former cocaine addict, later admitted that he was “coked out of my mind” the entire time he was making this picture and often didn’t know what he was doing. He remarked that he’d like to try directing again someday, this time sober. (This is what I like to hear Stephen. I’m willing to bet a solid portion of weird ass movies from the 80s have a similar origin story)

An accident occurred on July 31, 1985 during shooting in a suburb of Wilmington, North Carolina where a radio-controlled lawnmower used in a scene went out of control and struck a block of wood used as a camera support, shooting out wood splinters which injured the director of photography Armando Nannuzzi; as a result, he lost his right eye. Nannuzzi sued Stephen King on February 18, 1987 for $18 million in damages. The suit was settled out of court. (Yeah, there is a bit of a sad tale there. Obviously losing an eye is not ideal for a director of photography).

The Chamber Recap

Jamie

BMTsolution right off the bat, guys. That’s because The Chamber was actually based on a book and not just on one that exists in my head. It’s a John Grisham book that it quite the slow burn (emphasis on slow), but which grew on me as I understood that it wasn’t a legal thriller at all, but rather a family drama centered around the possible moral issues associated with the death penalty. The main character wasn’t really defending his grandfather to save him (he never had much of a shot) but rather trying to discover his family before his grandfather’s bomb does its final damage. It already destroyed his personal history, it may destroy him, and it may destroy the state that compromises its morals for a notion of justice. It’s a story of how the death penalty is an extension of the crime (or so the main character believes). I liked it quite a bit… which made me nervous for what must have gone wrong for the film to get such bad reviews. The answer? Everything… every… single… thing.

This was the worst. Just the worst. If I had seen this in theaters I would have walked out. I nearly threw my TV out the window for having the gall (the AUDACITY) to dare bring such a thing into my home (my HOME!). It’s like the screenwriters looked at the book and said, “I liked the moral quandary this posed, but what if… it didn’t?” And it’s biggest crime? It wasn’t just a bad adaptation of a book I liked that personally offended me. It was a BORING bad adaptation of a book I liked that personally offended me. So bad that I have to TYPE IN ALL CAPITALS. That being said I thought Hackman was great and the directing good. I also understand that most people who haven’t read the book recently would probably watch the film and be like “Whatever.” Unfortunately I read the book.

A lesser known fact about The Chamber: it’s original working title was MonoSklog Central* and boy did it live up to its name. There were at least five separate MonoSklogs in the film. Some of Hackman’s were quite good. The others, not so much. In the end the best (i.e. worst) is probably Chris O’Donnell’s impassioned speech defending his racist grandfather (which we called Mi Abuelo). Unfortunately there is no available YouTube clip for this monologue. You’ll just have to watch the movie yourself.

*Not all facts presented on badmovietwins.com are true


Patrick

‘Ello everyone. You know what? I’m going to let Jamie’s part stand for The Chamber. He is passionate about it (as disgusting as that it). So just one quick point:

From the perspective of a person who did not read the book the movie was merely boring. You could kind of tell they tried to thrillerize something, but missed on the thrilling part. And O’Donnell was terrible while Hackman was amazing. I think that was sufficiently positive for my BMTsolution.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Chamber Preview

Alright, so we move forward to our Horror/Thriller section. This has always been a troublesome category for thrillers. What makes a thriller a thriller and not an action film? Or when does a thriller become not thrilling enough and float off as the dreaded drama? Hard to tell. For the most part we’ve erred on the side of Horror. The Aaaiiiirrrrbbbbaaalllll! cycle made it easy to pick Thriller, though. Hard to believe, but there are no ex-athletes that have appeared in a major horror film. So instead, we are watching the Grisham adaptation called The Chamber that costars Bo Jackson (yes, that Bo Jackson). I not only get to enjoy a thrilling tale of law and justice, but I get to read the book too. Let’s go!

The Chamber (1996) – BMeTric: 19.6

TheChamber_BMeT

(I know! What a strange early plot. Indeed. What appears to have happened is that the movie was at 5.7 on March 8th 2005, then it suddenly dropped to 5.3 with a huge influx of votes on May 9 2005, which is then just as suddenly corrected by April 12, 2006 including a massive purge of votes! Incredible. Why does some entity hate The Chamber so much? It was probably John Grisham just creating new accounts over and over to downvote it)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars – Young lawyer feels impelled to defend a Mississippi death row inmate, convicted of a racist/terrorist bombing years ago, because the man is his grandfather. Reopening this volatile case causes pain and hardship for all involved. Curiously unmoving (and talky) adaptation of the John Grisham best-seller. O’Donnell is earnest but unconvincing; Hackman never successfully disappears into the role of a racist pig.

(Well guess what Leonard? I think this review is curiously unmoving and talky. So there. The talky bit doesn’t bode well. Think could be a snoozefest. Get my sleep on. Also, a little preview on the BMTsolution: the book is pretty talky as well. Although, it was moving. So maybe that’s what the movie missed.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Qu4LuSdbTo

(I was pretty out on the trailer until the very end. Lawyers filing briefs and finding themselves in danger. Classic Grisham. But when Chris O’Donnell is running and crying and running? I’m in.)

Director(s) – James Foley – (Known For: Glengarry Glen Ross; The Corruptor; At Close Range; Two Bits; BMT: Perfect Stranger; Fear; The Chamber; Who’s That Girl?; Notes: Nominated for Worst Director, Who’s That Girl (1987). Was offered to direct Purple Rain. Was Sean Penn’s best man when he married Madonna. Yes, yes, and yes.)

Writer(s) – William Goldman (screenplay) – (Known For: The Princess Bride; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; Misery; Maverick; All the President’s Men; The Ghost and the Darkness; Marathon Man; Chaplin; A Bridge Too Far; Absolute Power; Hearts in Atlantis; The Stepford Wives; BMT: Dreamcatcher (BMT); The General’s Daughter; Wild Card; Memoirs of an Invisible Man; The Chamber; Year of the Comet; Notes: Famously advised Damon and Affleck on Good Will Hunting (he denied credit, although rumors claim his contributions included telling them to scrap the entirety of the back half of the film involving Will working for the FBI). Also, Redford famously disliked his script for All the President’s Men and tried to replace it with a version written by Bernstein (he mostly failed). Won Oscars for that and Butch Cassidy. Wrote both the book and screenplay for The Princess Bride.)

Chris Reese (screenplay) – (BMT: The Chamber; Ghost Dad; Notes: Nothing on him anywhere. Perhaps the author of Ghost Dad is a ghost himself. That’s where he got the inspiration for the film. What a twist!)

Actors – Gene Hackman – (Known For: The Royal Tenenbaums; Unforgiven; Enemy of the State; The French Connection; The Conversation; Mississippi Burning; Superman; Crimson Tide; Runaway Jury; Superman II; The Quick and the Dead; Hoosiers; The Poseidon Adventure; Get Shorty; The Firm; Heist; The Replacements; The Mexican; The Birdcage; Bonnie and Clyde; Absolute Power; Young Frankenstein; No Way Out; Wyatt Earp; BMT: Behind Enemy Lines; Superman IV: The Quest for Peace; The Chamber; Welcome to Mooseport (BMT); Loose Cannons; All Night Long; Full Moon in Blue Water; Two of a Kind; Notes: Somewhat notably retired after Welcome to Mooseport. Writes Western novels (to some acclaim). Val Kilmer claimed he was going to be in Top Gun 2, but that turned out to be Val Kilmer being Val Kilmer)

Budget/Gross: $50 million / $14,551,359 ($22,540,359 Worldwide)

(Just an estimated budget, but it is a notable bomb. Barely hanging on to its place in the top 200 worst openings for a 2000+ theater release. Currently in 193rd place. Just behind it: Stephen King’s Thinner and Maximum Risk starring JCVD. All three of those films were released within weeks of each other in 1996.)

Rotten Tomatoes: 12% (3/25), No consensus yet.

(No consensus because it’s too old. So I’ll just make one up: Dumb movie for dumb people. If you like this then you’re dumb.)

Poster – Two Giant Faces

chamberPoster.jpg

(Classic, classic, classic movie poster. I like it a lot. The colors, the actors, the words. All of them work for me.)

Tagline(s) – Time is running out. (D)

(Huh… this almost seems like a tagline for a different movie. There is no pun here. This is simply a statement. I think I hate it. When combined with the title it makes some sense. The Chamber, time is running out. Gas chamber, execution, struggle against time. It is just an explanation of the plot though and doesn’t get me excited.)

Notes – The character of Rollie Wedge was beefed up considerably from the novel with the aim that Jack Nicholson would play him. Things didn’t quite go according to plan and the part went to the lesser known actor, Raymond J. Barry, instead. (This is a horrible plan)

During the execution scene at the end of the film, one of the members of the crowd cheering and holding scenes at the prison holds up a cardboard sign reading, “suck gas, evildoer”. This is the trademark battle cry of Darkwing Duck, from the Disney TV series about a duck superhero who uses a gas weapon against criminals. (What? Why is this happening? How does this happen?).

The Gallows Recap

Jamie

Why do we do this to ourselves? We know we hate found footage films and yet we keep dipping our toes over and over again into the well only to realize that that “well” is in fact a sewer and instead of “dipping our toes” we actually got submerged in shit. I wouldn’t say this was the worst found footage we’ve watched (for reasons detailed in Patrick’s section), but it’s the relative sameness of every… single… film in the genre that just wears on me. I can barely tell these films apart. Unfortunately we have to keep doing it. Each year there are like 3 or 4 BMT found footage films released to theaters. If me and Patrick don’t watch some of them each year, BMT will eventually consist only of found footage films… it’s like the apocalyptic future of BMT. Me and Patrick roaming the wasteland of found footage films to try to find some bad movie sustenance. I’m of course being facetious, everyone. Don’t worry your little heads about this. Patrick has run the numbers (obviously) and we will never (never!) run out of bad films. There are approximately a full year’s worth of bad films released each year. So rest assured, our national nightmare of found footage BMT will never be fully realized. Phew.

I’m feeling a little Sequel, Prequel, Remake for this one. I want a Prequel. No, not the story of the original production of The Gallows culminating in the death of Charlie (and giving a bit more clarity on how he came to exist as a supernatural being). I’m talking about what would have followed right after. Charlie’s girlfriend is devastated at the death of Charlie in a freak theater accident. What else could go wrong? Everything apparently cause now she finds out she’s pregnant and at the same time finds out her deadbeat boyfriend is back from the dead as a ghost! Oh my! How can this odd couple navigate the world of new parenthood when one of them isn’t even of this world?! Through laughter and tears they find that raising a baby isn’t all that hard when you have love… even when one of them is a spooky ghost. It shall be called Ghost Dad… wait…

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! The Gallows? More like So Shallow! Found Footage? More like dog poo genre in my face. The thoughts on this were somewhat interesting (if you are me or Jamie that is), so rapidfire!:

  • The Good – This is genuinely shocking. We’re talking about a genre already prone to laziness in its reliance on jumpscares, but yet this one tread what seemed to be novel ground (not that I’m an expert on found footage films). (1) They had a genuine reason for the characters to carry a camera around (they needed the light attached to it). (2) The last 20 minutes were genuinely creepy, really tense with actual horror elements beyond jumpscares. (3) They seemed like they enjoyed poking some fun at the genre with some general silliness.
  • The Bad – (1) The first hour is useless. Literally nothing happens. I’m not being figurative, literally nothing of import happens in the first hour of an 80 minute long film. (2) The “twist” ending was terrible. So bad it was hard to tell whether it was meant to be ironic. (3) The acting is horrible. Not a surprise, but it was especially bad all around in this case.
  • The BMT – It kind of has to be. This is the worst of the year in a garbage genre. It must be represented by BMT … if that weren’t the case though I would just kick the entire genre out excepting special occasions.

But hey, they made money, they gave me some scares, and all for $50K! That’s actually incredible. If someone actually intelligently applied like a million dollars to a horror film like this something great might actually come of it. Although, maybe that’s what Paranormal Activity is.

Seriously, maybe I should be checking more of these found footage films outside of BMT (ugh, I hate them so much though). I’m going to wax poetic a bit about the BMeTric and the complications that horror seems to cause it. There is a small and impassioned fanbase around horror films. Combining this with the fact that most horror films aren’t perceived to be particularly good movies, and you got a recipe for BMeTric inflation. It is an issue with the BMeTric because it suggests movies (like the Gallows) are going to be good BMT when they honestly aren’t much fun. There are just weirdos who watch bad horror films (like me to an extent, even though they are spooky and scare me) and screw everything up. What is a boy to do?

To hammer home the points: taking the qualifying (more than 10 rotten tomatoes reviews, less than 40%) OMDB data and splitting off the ones that have a listed genre of “Horror” you can see that horror films are about as popular on average (a little more even), but the rating is, on average, about half a point less.

HorrorAnalysis1
HorrorAnalysis2

Out of all of the genres Horror has the highest 25th, 50th, and 75th percentile with the BMeTric. The average qualifying horror film has a BMeTric of about 35 whereas for all genres the average BMeTric is about 25. This does suggest the first adjustment to the BMeTric. A Genre-Adjusted BMeTric (GAB) might tamp down the increased number of suggested horror films. I’m digging it and will be exploring it more soon. (Editor’s Note: While I did explore this nothing came of it (so far). The BMeTric itself is quite different between the two, I just haven’t found the time to look into what underlying distribution to use and/or how to easily do a genre based transform. I do think this is a good idea in general. Currently, I think the easiest idea is to take quantiles and do the adjustment based on that. They already do this with genetic data I think, so hopefully it ends up being easy enough as to allow the adjustment to be produced each month with the OMDB data dumps).