Back when I was a hockey writer and covered the New York Rangers, I noticed a trend in my blog posts. When the team won, I would put up a game recap, and maybe get five or six reads in the course of the next few hours. It could have been the game of the season, and no one would bother to read what I had to say. However, when the team lost, or played exceptionally bad, that same styled game recap would garner 30 or 40 hits almost instantaneously after posting. It was then that I realized that people only wanted to read negative stuff! I admit, writing a good, scathing article is immensely more fun than saying something nice. I like to think I am an extremely fair person, and I try to always give credit where credit is due, but boy, do I love to dole out a good ripping! I have taken a slightly different approach with my movie reviews, though. When I watch something amazing, I am quick to put it on here and say why I thought it was incredible. But, when I watch something that was just good, unless there was something particular about it I thought was worth mentioning, like a history-related flick, I tend to let it slip through the cracks. Then come the awful, almost unbearable movies, which I feel that I need to review as a public service. And out of all three of these categories, guess which one is the most read? You guessed it, the terrible ones!
While there is no way possible for me to review every movie I watch, because that’s all I have been doing in my limited amount of free time lately, I do like to post little nuggets on Facebook, especially when I see a movie that is so God-awful that I don’t even want to review it here. That is the reason for this article, or what may end up being a new volume of film reviews: movies I watched that were so craptastic that I was embarrassed to review them for the general public. Movies so utterly atrocious that I did not want to give them publicity or the time of day. But alas, I have changed my mind, and feel compelled to warn you of a couple of movies that you might be intrigued by. This volume is here to serve you, in the hopes that you will not suffer the same fate. Be it known: these are not movies that are so bad you should watch them, if only to have some fun, they are just bad. So bad that they will not even receive numerical scores. Do not watch them. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Stay away…far away!
Amazons and Gladiators (2001)
No doubt made to ride the immense success of Gladiator with Russell Crowe, this straight-to-video car crash pile-up Amazons and Gladiators is something you would expect to find late at night on Cinemax. It’s not pornographic, and there actually aren’t even any sex scenes in it, but the acting and unnecessary overabundance of, uh, “flesh” gives this already seedy movie an even more uneasy feel. The storyline deals with a group of warrior women, the Amazons, and their plight in the Roman Empire in trying to cause rebellion. There are battle scenes that are so laugh-out-loud terrible that you cannot even get a millisecond of entertainment out of it. The acting is a different story: its worse. It is simply the worst recitation of lines and use of emotions ever captured in the history of cinema. Lines that are supposed to be robust and dramatic are limp and unimportant.
The characters themselves are way too modern, especially the women, one of which gives endless speeches on how they should be treated equal to men and how one day, they will have “rights”. Not bad for someone who lived more than 2,000 years ago! I couldn’t believe that the screenwriter and director were the same person, because then when such promising lines were written, he already knew they were going to be slaughtered. There was one that particularly caught my attention: “It is better to free one slave than kill a hundred tyrants.” What was supposed to be evocative and powerful ended up causing me to choke on my own saliva. Patrick Bergin, who is one of my favorite actors, and who I hoped would rescue this nightmare is appalling as the evil general Crassius. I am still, more than a week later, trying to figure out why he chose to appear in this movie. In fact, because of his resume, he may be the worst of the entire cast.
As for historical accuracy, well, I don’t know where to begin. I am not an expert in women’s fashion, so I will put this out there: did bras exist in 50 BC? I’m assuming probably not. Then again, with the amount of gratuitous nudity in this film, there wasn’t even a need. After about an hour I was expecting everyone to just rip off their clothes and finish the movie naked. Something like plastic swords, rubber spears, and blood with the consistency of Heinz Ketchup would normally make me cringe, but when you consider that the “ancient” doors on set were complete with brass doorknobs and hinges, they are quite easily forgiven. Sadly, there are probably people out there who would defend this movie by saying something like, “They did what they could with what they had”. I disagree. Given that this budget was not as small as you would think, they would have been better off doing nothing. Had I been involved with a project like this, I would have sued the production company to get my name removed from the credits. Watching this will make Sharknado seem worthy of an Oscar.
Anything involving the Lizzie Borden murder case will catch my attention, which is unfortunate, because it caused me to watch this piece of garbage. Titled Lizzie, and transparently involving the Borden axe murders from 1892, this is probably the most pointless horror movie ever made. In fact, that would be the only adjective worthy of use to describe it: pointless. The main character grew up in a house that was somehow connected to the Borden murders, where the events of the past manage to recreate themselves over and over again in the present. This house, which is not the Borden house, and its connection are never fully explained, but then that was a common theme present throughout. The characters and their actions make no sense. Things happen without reason. There are so many flashbacks and hallucinations that you could fall out of your chair watching it. When something that does make sense actually occurs, you find yourself forgetting why it makes sense.
The cinematography could only make it bearable for so long. For a supposed action or horror movie, it is incredibly slow, and very bluntly, extremely stupid. There actually are some pretty big actors in here, including Corbin Bernsen (tolerable), Don Swayze (okay, I guess; but he has only 30 seconds of screen-time), and Gary Busey, who held the cast together while being in an almost stoned state. Simply put, Busey is horrific. He appears to have had so much plastic surgery done on his face that he can’t close his mouth, showing off a set of teeth that could probably cut through concrete. He does not even speak, he merely grunts his lines. He does not even try to act: he just runs in and out of scenes with craziness and irrelevance, as Andrew Borden, Lizzie’s father. Strangely enough, the movie reaches its peak of cinematic quality every time Busey is on screen.
As someone who loves cerebral movies that go back and forth between reality and fantasy, this quickly became too much. I kept looking at the clock every ten minutes because I could not wait for it to be over. Never in my life have I rooted so hard for characters to die such violent deaths, and they could not come soon enough. The combination of plot, acting, and special effects made me wish that the spirit of Lizzie Borden could somehow travel through another dimension and bash me in the head 40 times with an axe.