This week we continue our quest to not screw ourselves over in the Chain Reaction category. We always seem like we paint ourselves into a corner only to miraculously escape (and then repaint ourselves into a corner immediately after). This week is no different as we found ourselves with few options coming from Are We Done Yet? featuring a pretty thin cast. Throwing caution to the wind we went ahead and used John C. McGinley to jump to one of the worst reviewed films of all time, John Candy’s last film Wagons East! Candy died a few days before filming was wrapped and it’s not known for much else besides being terrible. We used it for the exclamation point entry in the punctuation cycle, although there is a bit of controversy over whether that’s the true stylization of the title. Whatever. That’s what it is on the poster and DVD box. Good enough for me. Let’s go!
Wagons East! (1994) – BMeTric: 34.7
(I declare this a little known terrible film. The BMeTric almost entirely comes from the fact that the rating is aggressively low. I’m also suspecting now that this is not going to be a classic BMT gem … the rating just meanders up with the number of votes. I’m getting a mighty bad feeling about this movie.)
RogerEbert.com – 0.5 stars – The loss of John Candy is made all the more poignant because “Wagons East!” is the last film he completed. It is possible he never appeared in a worse one. The producers claim he finished all his key scenes before his unexpected death on the location, but that’s hard to believe, because his character is an undefined, vague figure, and isn’t even required to be funny most of the time. That’s easy in this film, which is one of the least amusing comedies I’ve ever seen, right down there with “Clifford.”
(I had to include the Clifford bit because Clifford really is a wild ride and movie we should watch at some point. That feeling that this movie is just going to be boring and is going to make me sad is getting stronger. I’ll have to rock a little showing of The Great Outdoors and reminisce.)
(Hooooooo, boy. That looks like some rough stuff. Hopefully they were keeping all the good stuff for the big screen, but somehow I doubt it.)
Directors – Peter Markle – (Known For: Bat*21; BMT: Wagons East; Youngblood; Notes: He wrote Youngblood a story inspired … wait for it … from his experiences playing professional ice hockey including three years for the US National Team. Say what?! His stats, he went to Yale, played for the Rochester Mustangs, and indeed played for the national team. He didn’t play in the 1972 Olympics it looks like, although he is listed on the roster for the 1970 world championships. I love this note … so much.)
Writers – Matthew Carlson (screenplay) – (BMT: Wagons East; Notes: A pretty impressive television resume including The Wonder Years and Malcolm in the Middle. There isn’t much else about him, this was his only feature it seems.)
Jerry Abrahamson (story) – (BMT: Wagons East; Notes: There is literally nothing about this guy on the internet. I wonder if it is a made up name … IMDb I think only knows “uncredited” or pen names because people eventually reveal it in interviews and stuff. I bet it was Markle … I’m only half joking.)
Actors – John Candy – (Known For: Home Alone; The Blues Brothers; Spaceballs; Vacation; JFK; Little Shop of Horrors; Splash; Planes, Trains & Automobiles; Stripes; Cool Runnings; Heavy Metal; Uncle Buck; The Great Outdoors; The Rescuers Down Under; BMT: Nothing But Trouble (BMT); Wagons East; Hot to Trot; Cannonball Fever; Armed and Dangerous; 1941; Who’s Harry Crumb?; Rookie of the Year; Canadian Bacon; She’s Having a Baby; Career Opportunities; Summer Rental; Once Upon a Crime…; Brewster’s Millions; Notes: Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1992 for Worst Supporting Actress for Nothing But Trouble. Sigh. I loved Candy as a kid. Uncle Buck, The Great Outdoors, Cool Runnings, Stripes, Spaceballs, Home Alone …. Just a staple of my childhood. I remember being devastated when he died and always I thought I would watch his last film. But it was apparently terrible and I never got around to it. As I said .. sigh.)
Richard Lewis – (Known For: Robin Hood: Men in Tights; Leaving Las Vegas; She’s Funny That Way; Vamps; Drunks; BMT: Wagons East; Hugo Pool; Once Upon a Crime…; Notes: Lewis is great in Curb Your Enthusiasm. Otherwise I only really knew him from Robin Hood: Men in Tights.)
Also stars John C. McGinley – (Our eighth McGinley BMT! Highlander II: The Quickening; Are We Done Yet?; On Deadly Ground; Alex Cross; Get Carter; Wild Hogs; And most recently Car 54, Where Are You?)
Budget/Gross – N/A / Domestic: $4,412,297
(This is somehow far more than I would have expected. Obviously way too little since the undisclosed budget has to be more than $2 million.)
#50 for the Western genre
(They sure did follow the money huh? I guess that is the time to make a spoof film, but the western genre kind of went into the dark ages right after this and has only now just recovered. And … my God … how did this movie make more than The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford?! We don’t do many westerns, our last was Wild Bill.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 0% (0/29): Wagons East! is a witless, toothless satire of Westerns that falls far below the standard set by Blazing Saddles, and is notable only for being John Candy’s final screen performance.
(Oh that is right. One of the worst films ever reviews on rotten tomatoes. It is quite rare to get more than 25 reviews and stay perfect at 0%. Witless and toothless sounds like unfunny and boring. Ugh.)
Poster – Sklogans East! (C+)
(I’m not a huge fan of the coloring or framing, but it also doesn’t go against the philosophy… just not the best. A little too busy and the font isn’t super original. A little above “meh.”)
Tagline(s) – They came, they saw, they changed their minds. (A+)
(Classic. This is pretty much exactly what I would want in a tagline. It’s a clever take on a classic phrase, it’s not too long, original, and give a hint on the plot of the film: a group of people who came out west have decided it blows and want to go back East. Shockingly perfect.)
Keyword(s) – title spoken by character; Top Ten by BMeTric: 89.7 Catwoman (2004); 85.4 The Last Airbender (2010); 83.5 The Wicker Man (2006); 81.9 Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011); 81.3 Norbit (2007); 81.1 Movie 43 (2013); 80.5 The Love Guru (2008); 78.9 Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966); 77.6 Super Mario Bros. (1993); 76.7 The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2009);
(Nice list. We are going to see Manos: Hands of Fate soon enough I think. Super Mario Bros. is a film we’ve seen … a few times, so it’ll be a special day when we revisit the film with our BMT hats on. And yeah … I plan on never watching The Human Centipede, screw that.)
Notes – John Candy died during filming. His few remaining scenes were either not filmed, or were filmed using a stand-in, then re-written not to involve him. His second bar sequence re-uses footage from his earlier bar sequence. (Jeez. There are similar stories for Gladiator and very recently the Fast & Furious series. Amazing that they can do it)
John Candy didn’t want to make the film, but was contractually obliged to do it. (sucks, very similar to Theodore Rex in that way. I wonder if 1995 marked a high point in actor unfriendly contracts, seems interesting that two high profile bombs like Theodore Rex and Wagons East were made under duress)
Ends with “Dedicated to the memory of John Candy”.
Carolco’s last film to be distributed by TriStar Pictures. (They made Cutthroat Island the next year and went bankrupt. Also seems like a common theme, companies desperately trying to make films while stumbling their way into bankruptcy).