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The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh

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Nothing says "screwball" comedy like professional basketball in the late 70's. So why not have a film about a terrible team that becomes great via the powers of astrology? Toss in Dr. Julius Erwing, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Meadowlark Lemon and repeat stinker stars like Branscombe Richmond and Julius Carry III and you've got some loonie business that is right up our alley.

On paper this film should be one to steer clear from. Even just watching the trailer is enough to give casual viewers of crummy films the heebie-jeebies. Yet somehow there is a serious level of charm to this film beyond the obvious live-action WB cartoon version that Jonathan Winters was shooting for. There's a seriously well blended volume of comedy of all types that award both fans of basketball and those that loathe all sports.

Everyone loves the Harlem Globetrotters and this film reinforces why that works.

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Cliffhanger

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Stallone gives us further evidence he didn't write Rocky as this screenplay serves us up with some of the worst dialogue and biggest head-slapping action sequences we had in the 90s and THAT's really saying something. Also...there are 0 cliffhangers. 

Somehow critics have been quite pleased with Cliffhanger as evidenced by a 69% on RottenTomatoes and 60 Metacritic score. How that happened is one of the biggest surprises that this film offers up. Don't confuse yourself - this thing is enjoyable for sure but it is as dumb as anything. It's Roadhouse dumb. How any professional film critic could give this a positive review and put it alongside films that try to make statements and be true art and then look themselves in the mirror is confounding. So this falls right into our "Good Movie Debunked" category of film review.

The showcase is the dialog which comes to a head with the team of "expert" criminals. These guys are good enough at burglaring that they heist $100 million from the US Treasury Department. You'd likely get executed for this and at minimum sent to Gitmo and never heard from again. So they must be the best of the best right? Like Ocean's Eleven clever and Hans Grubber organized, right? Well that is clearly not the case. This team is just a bunch of 16 year old boys having a piss contest even if that means they fail in their mission. It's astounding how they even got into the car on the way to their big crime without killing each other. Astounding.

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Zardoz

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It's Sean Connery in a man-diaper with bullets. It's a genderless Utopia while showcasing knockers. It's a whirlwind of confusion and questionable film-making decisions. It's a serious mess covered in psychedelia while making some heavy, heavy, heavy social commentary. Get ready for your mind to be melted.

Imagine you've got Zardoz in mind and you sit down to write it. "Open on a gun-barfing god's floating head." Then try to go from there. Zardoz is just bizarre in how it decides to get to were it needs to. It may have been John Boorman's intention to distract the viewer with the weirdness so that when he reveals the plot and message to the viewer they weren't prepared for it. Along the way though, wow.... You might have your brain turn into rubber and question the use of your weiner/vaginer.

Connery's Zed is at no point a likable character as he is the deliverer of death and rape to the poor and weak for his entire career, but he is a sympathetic character. Connery is a blast throughout, if you're a fan of leaping around and chucking women across barns all while wearing his infamous bandolier equipped Euro mankini.

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Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time

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"Let's take the barbarian guy out of his world of fantasy and put him in our world of taxes and endless advertising," said a man in a tie once or twice. Unfortunately, for said tie guy, no fan of film has ever said, "Yes I want that." Yet this travesty of the genre still attempted to woo audiences by sending the Beastmaster into Los Angeles so we can watch what happens when he wants to get pizza. Hooray!

While the premise of this film is one that typically infuriates fans (see Masters of the Universe and Jason Takes Manhattan), Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time pleases from end to end. It has some sort of charm that doesn't make sense. The jokes are total crap. The acting is painful. There's no boobs. Yet somehow it all adds up to shenanigans that simple entertain lovers o' the stupid.

The true highlight is Wings Hauser's Arklon, who is arguably the lowest IQ villain in cinema history. His plan is seriously to blow up his world. He has already conquered the world, yet he thinks blowing it up will give him more power. There isn't some mystical element that blowing the world up turns him into a god or anything. He just wants a neutron bomb to blow the whole damn thing up, including himself. Ok, let's put that aside. In order to accomplish his goal of suicide and world-ending destruction, he decides to enlist the unwilling support of LA Girl, Jackie (Kari Wuhrer) who knows nothing of nuclear weapons but knows a lot about 90's fashion. Standing right next to Arklon is the witch Lyranna (Sarah Douglas) who has a great rack, wants to bang him, rule the world at his side, has superpowers, knows where the bomb is, has the means to get there and continually helps him without getting a single utterance of "thank you". Arklon's moronic antics culminate when he falls into a lake of fire and shouts his victory at Dar - and then burns up to death. Yup, you sure won buddy.

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Steel

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He's a blue-collar Batman, that comes loaded with super-strength and a compassionate, pacifistic outlook. Slap on a bunch of not-bulletproof metal armor and give him a hammer/gun and Oracle (from Batman) and you've got Shaq looking pretty doofy.

So it stinks, sure. But we think this film is abused a little too much. It's currently at a 2.8 on IMDB and a 1.4 on Letterboxd. That puts it below Batman & Robin, and Catwoman. It's not even close to that bad. By your standard movie goer rating scale, this is just a 4. By our standards, it's a little higher than that. We make no claim that it's awesome but in no way is as awful as Catwoman. It's just a shitty movie.

However, it does have it's moments. The action is filled with dumbness. Steel's powers and weapons look terrible on screen. Shaq himself, in Steel Armor, looks like he belongs in Flash Gordon and he's just too damn big to be taken seriously. It appears the film-makers may have realized this and crammed this jobber with loads of camp. 

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Christmas Evil

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When your mom has a beard on her knee from a man who may or may not be your dad or Santa, you're best option is to obsess over Christmas until you're in your thirties and then you go all Buffalo Bob so that you can become the actual Santa. Not just copy cat. Actually Santa.

Christmas Evil is arguably one of the strangest Xmas films ever created. It was made a time when horror movies tried to play on any holiday and the jingly time was no different. See (but don't watch) such films as Santa's Slay, Santa Claws, Don't Open til Christmas, Black Christmas, etc... However there's a complete banana-factor to this feature.

Unfortunately to get to that banana-factor you have to go through a fairly uneventful montage of a man going all Santa. The performances are all solid and the cinematography is competent especially considering this is a drive-thru film. So that leaves you with an hour of not really having much to do. It's quiet, slow-moving and leaves not much room for riffing. I wouldn't call it boring, per se, but if you're coming for a mover-this ain't the one.

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Jingle All the Way

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When you think of the holidays, you always think of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Maybe you just think of Arnold all the time. Which fits perfectly into the Xmas spirit theme for this film -- don't learn any lessons of Christmas, don't change how you feel about life and commit heinous crimes in the search of consumerism that you fail to accomplish.

Beyond how unbelievably bad it is overtly, I mostly want to talk about its failures for being a Christmas movie (as is tradition for our holiday specials). The primary problem here is that it can't even be an Xmas movie. It's a movie that takes place during Christmas (kiss my ass, all who say Die Hard is a Christmas movie), but it fails to achieve any Spirit of Christmas themes (hell, even The Star Wars Holiday Special manages that). 

Here's where people will say it makes a Christmas movie:

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Double Team

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Before he was the US Ambassador to Kim-Jong Un, Dennis Rodman had a dream of being a big Hollywood actor. The path to victory? A movie where he fights tigers, exploding babies, references that aren't related to basketball and U.N.C.L.E. Oh yeah, JCVD is there too.

Double Team is silly in the same vein as any Cannon/Chuck Norris joint. There's a reason that major action movies died for almost 20 years (thanks Fast & Furious franchise) and this movie may have been a huge part of that decline. JCVD led the 90's in super awesome punching bad guy films and here in 1997 film-goers were willing to say "I've had enough of that". A plot that doesn't make any sense, horrific editing, and too too too many basketball related jokes just put them over the edge.

The action sequences are about as "over the top" as you can get. There's truck jumping, tiger's packing heat, exploding babies, foot knives, a machine-gun toting, horse-mounted loon, Belloq as head of CONTROL, under-water lasers, combustible swimming pools, human basketballs, and death nannies. It's crammed pack with so much bonkers action that its hard to keep up.

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Lady in the Water

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Spectacularly over-rated director M. Knight Shyamalan gives us his vanity piece in the vein of Neil Breen and Tommy Wiseau and not only shows us he stinks at film as badly as they do, but that he's a giant, narcissistic, arrogant, terrible person. Good job!

So it's a fairy tale that involves water people called Narfs, who want to help mankind solve their problems. Standing in the way is their lack of sense of meeting people and a solo grass dog, but also the rules of being eaten by one of Gandalf's eagles. Ok... Now we know that if you look too deeply into most fairy tales, you'll find plenty of problems within the logic and that's fine. However, that is not what this jackass is trying to get us to not do. He tries to put forward some moral about man's desire to destroy itself without some sort of altruistic outside influence as a vehicle to change. What he succeeds in, is to say that he is the greatest story-teller ever to live and if you feel differently you should be eaten by a monster green monster.

Then there's his martyrdom. He plays a character in the film who is the object of the Narf's musing. This person will change the world via his book. It will be read by the future leader of the world, thus inspiring him to make mankind peaceful and prosperous. Yet at no point does he make an attempt to declare what is contained within his "The Cookbook". His only reference to its content is "Its got things about leaders and governments and society and stuff". THIS is the words of the greatest storyteller according to himself. What an asshole.

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Pet Sematary

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"Don't do down that path, yah", the strange drunk man with dubious ambitions said to the new residents. Later he would take them on a wondrous adventure to bury a kitty-cat that he himself murdered. It was the strangest thing that week until the dead son came back as Little Lord Fauntleroy with super-powers.

Pet Sematary is just another in a long line of Stephen King movies that raked in the cash but not one theater attendee bothered to pay attention to what was happening on screen. The entire plot is bananas (and falls squarely into "the idiot plot") but that's the least biggest draw for fans of our show. It's all the elements around the plot, ie. the truckers who are clearly trying to break speed records, the undead cat that is just like any other cat, Gage acquiring super-powers upon being reanimated and that the family never asks "Who the hell is this Judd Crandall guy anyways?"

It's a beautiful disaster and truly pushes the boundaries of bad movie laugh-ability with horrific tragedy. I mean, think about it. You are laughing at a child getting ran over - the worst possible thing that could ever happen. Yet the movie is so bad and the production is so crap that you are laughing.... during the worst thing ever. That is one hell of an achievement in bad film-making. Hell even Tommy Wiseau didn't do that.

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Phenomenon

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Here's a fun concept. Let's put together a film with heavy sci-fi elements and themes in the vein of Twilight Zone and mash it together with a poorly motivated romance and have John Travolta stare at trees for the majority of it. That sounds like punishment.

Guess what though? It killed it. The box office loved this film despite the critics apprehensions. Flocks of people wanting to see some feel goodie type jobbers fled to the theater thinking that John Travolta was making a huge comeback (it was over 2 years later) and that he was good at acting as he did great at looking confused in Pulp Fiction. 

That's neat and all but here's the deal with this film. It's a continuous set of missed opportunities to be something truly good. It seems that a writer had a fantastic concept in a man given super-powers and then can accomplish nothing with them but have his life ruined by them and a pariah to his former neighbors. That's good stuff. However, the studio clearly stuck their damn noses in and said, "Well we need to have an hour of it be taken up by a romance. That'll get the ladies involved." In this case they were right when it came to cash, but relegates this film to the folks at Stinker Madness to expose it's flaws.

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Friday the 13th: A New Beginning

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We wrap up our Spooktober with a staple from a staple franchise and one of the strangest big box office horror films ever made. This is just a strange film starring "Jason" with lots of head choppins, boobs and a cast of some pretty unusual characters.

So Jason V is one weird film and frankly astounds that it ever frightened anyone...even children. It's seriously gentle in its horror, the plot is not frightening, Jason is not intimidating, and the gore is pretty mild. The MPAA really didn't help out this film at all as it's seriously cut down.

None of it lines up, of course, with any one who cares about continuity or character motivations. The killer doesn't know how revenge works. The hero doesn't know how idolatry works. The film-makers don't know how enchiladas work. It's stunny how little anything works.

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Sleepwalkers

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Cat people. It's a movie about cat people. Written by horror master, Stephen King, it's arguably the most comedic horror film ever made. You thought Dreamcatcher was rife with errors...buckle in, folks.

Sleepwalkers is absolutely bananas. We'll just say right now that this is a must-do film for fans of crummy movies. It's a laugh riot. For instance, let's just put it out there that the chief action star of this film is a house cat, named Clovis. Clovis rivals Chuck Norris, Schwaz, Stallone and Van Damme in the pantheon of 90s action stars. I'm not joking.

So the film is basically about these cat people-- Ancient Egyptian people that have no origin but all of the superpowers (teleportation, telekinesis, invisibility, shape-shifting, invulnerability, immortality) and one of the most dumb weakness of all, allergic to cats. They are cat-people (half-people, half-cat) and their one weakness is cats?!?! Right. So if you've got a plague of cat-people in your town, if you don't have a Clovis, supercop, you're screwed I guess.

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Geostorm

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It's a film that really can't figure out what it is trying to accomplish, other than showing some weather-related destruction and Gerard Butler talking out the side of his mouth. It's arguably the most anticipated stinker of 2017, does it hold up?

*Spoiler Alert - There are no Geo Storms in this film or geostorms*

As you can guess, science goes completely out the window in this one. The very first we see is that a weather controlling space net launches missiles into a storm above New York. Missiles. So the destruction of NYC by missiles is worse than the storm. Nice work. Follow that with space station hallways that are made of doors that only lead to space, frozen people who don't thaw out in the sun, wasting an entire shuttle launch to send 1 guy into space, the list goes on and on.

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Saw

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It was one of the biggest horror movies of the 2000s and created an entire style of film-making on the cheap for such studios as The Asylum and Blumhouse. So that should mean its good, right? Wrong. Saw stinks on ice. Happy 300th episode to us, I guess.

Where to begin with the problems of the film? Well lets actually start with a compliment. It only cost $1.2 million. Could they have used the money more wisely to make a better film and still raked in the cash? Absolutely. 

First there is Cary Elwes, who astounds at his lack of nomination in the Razzie awards. Rest assured, when we get our time machine built and right the wrongs of crappy movie award history, Mr. Wesley will be getting a big ol' SMABFA for either best or worst bad actor. He stinks. Then you've got Danny Glover working in mostly ADR in his usual befuddled whisper talk. It's a shame the two didn't get more screen time together because wow...So the acting is atrocious.

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Belly of the Beast

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A baked potato (and Fox News Russian Expert) puts on a bunch of stupid shirts and tries to sell us how much of an action-man he is by having a body double fill in for the entire movie. Also there is a wizard who helps fight terrorism and monks? We don't know.

Belly of the Beast is arguably among the worst of the action genre. What's the 1 thing you need to get right in an action movie? Well that one thing goes quite askew here. The fight scenes are so laughably bad. And yet as bad as the action is (and by bad we mean GREAT!) it isn't the only reason to show up here.

Its such a strange production. Take this, the film skirts around nudity for 95% as if its PG-13 yet has incredibly gratuitous nudity in one topless scene where it appears a topless woman has a disappearing ink treasure map on her chest. And no, there is no treasure in this movie. So weird.

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The Barbarians

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Imagine a film where the biggest idiot you could ever find is the lead, make him do a ton of steroids, be a general dickbag to his co-workers and then DOUBLE HIM!!!

In typical Cannon Group tradition, this movie is what you call, "not good", yet also "completely unbelievable". It is beyond the realm of standard imagination and can only come from breaking through the doors of perception, AKA doing a ton of coke. From concept to final cut, there's no way you can do a good job here. And that falls fully on the muscly shoulders of the Barbarian Brothers.

These two idiots... I can't even describe them. I'm empty on words. I guess the best that can be done is that the Jersey Shore invades a swords and sandals movie. They are terribly unlikable in either form or character. However, if you can get past how much you hate these two and appreciate them for being the worst pair in cinematic history, well... you're in for a good time.

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The Lawnmower Man

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Once again we try to "go into the internet" by revisiting a film from the early 90's where people didn't understand how computers worked. This one delivered to us by stinker-staples Jeff Fahey and Pierce Brosnan in this NOT Stephen King adaptation.

The Lawnmower Man when it came out was beloved and believed to be a great film by 12-year-olds. It no longer holds that majesty. This movie stinks. From all angles, most notably the special-effects and its dubious knowledge of how servers work. But notably as well is the acting from Jeff, Pierce and Dean Norris (of Breaking Bad fame and one hell of a Twitter follow).

The plot (as usual with Stephen King related business) is pretty all over the place and doesn't make any sense. Toss in that it's not based on Stephen King's work at all and you've got people just trying to say a thousand different things and trying to achieve a thousand different film motifs. You've got cybernetic super-chimp Universal Soldiers, playing God with science, bullies, omnipotence, super-powers, magic just being a form of science, corporate greed, and war for profit. All those items get bungled together with the completely dumb story-telling. So nice try guys.

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Maniac Cop

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With a deep stinker cast and the classic script-writing of Larry Cohen, we've got all the elements for an amazingly awesome bad movie. Robert Z'Dar becomes a murderous Frankenstein in pretty nonsensical plot with lots of action and bad acting to boot.

In a double plot of framing another cop for murders (without any evidence) and trying to kill the Mayor (who doesn't have a role) and the Commissioner (Richard Roundtree), Maniac Cop fails to achieve both of these things. It also fails to tell a full story. If a story consists of a beginning, a middle and an end, this film appears to be only the middle. The beginning of the story is only told briefly in exposition and a tiny flashback of hardly any new knowledge and then the end of the film appears to be a setup for just the next scene...that doesn't come.

It's also pretty difficult to define exactly what Maniac Cop is, not the movie but the character. Is he undead? Or is he just so brain-damaged that he's immune to death? If he's undead, is he a zombie? What the hell is he? Well we figure it out but we're gonna make you listen to the podcast to find out what Maniac Cop actually is.

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Speed 2: Cruise Control

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Some brainiac from Fox at one point, thought that making a sequel to Speed, take out Keanu, make 1/3 of it about failed marriage proposals, toss in the "idiot plot", and ADR every horrible dad joke you could possibly come up with. Speed 2 is a horrible, terrible, not enjoyable film.

What a horrible awful experience. None, none, none of it works. The effects, the acting, the action, the comedy, the romance, the music, the writing, the directing...none of it. It has zero redeeming qualities. That's a rare thing were not one person does their job.

It is notable for how much money they stuffed in the toilet. They spent way too much making this movie. If you can find a way to make the scene more expensive, they did it. From the daily rental of the cruise ship, to the helicopter fly over shots, the explosions, the early CGI, the overly elaborate crash scene at the end....endless tossing of money on stupid ideas.

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