Tag: Birdemic

Notes on “Your Time On Earth Is Finished”

This is the first published story in this group that depicts the actual making of Howard Zez’s Dope Dealers From Outer SpaceI should say that although I’ve been involved in productions where the atmosphere was toxic–not in the Harvey Weinstein sense but more in the Verbally Abusive Asshole Who’s Forgotten He Isn’t Paying Me sense–none of what happens between Zez and his actors here has ever happened to me.

I have, however, heard about it. Zez’s giving Trish direction through her co-star because he’s mad at her, and Zez’s angrily shooing away passers-by who wander into his shot come from Whitney Moore’s descriptions of her experiences working on Birdemic: Shock and TerrorAs for the Allen Stubbins, the inspiration for him was Harvey Keitel’s Auggie Wren character from the movie Smoke.

That’s all. Go read the story. Come back here and leave a comment, or go on Twitter and say something to me, when you’re done.

Dear Bill O’Reilly

Dear Bill O’Reilly,

Don’t worry Bill, I’ll be brief and use small words because even though you’re not aware of your limitations, the rest of us know them all too well.

I want to start off and tell you that I’m not going to call upon you to admit your many and varied lies. Neither am I going to demand that Fox News fire you. No doubt Fox News knew what they were getting when Ailes and Murdoch signed on the dotted line of your contract. Spewing sexist, racist, xenophobic, reactionary bullshit to people who’d rather not know any better has made you, and them, rich beyond avarice’s dreams, and I understand the futility of asking that you or your employers grow a conscience now.

But I do have one request. No. Not a request. An order. Cut out your bullshit threats, Bill. From yesterday’s New York Times:

Mr. O’Reilly’s efforts to refute the claims by Mother Jones and some former CBS News colleagues occurred both on the air and off on Monday. During a phone conversation, he told a reporter for The New York Times that there would be repercussions if he felt any of the reporter’s coverage was inappropriate. “I am coming after you with everything I have,” Mr. O’Reilly said. “You can take it as a threat.”

You’ve pulled this bullying crap before, Bill. Remember when you promised to sic Fox News Security on a caller who dared to mention Keith Olbermann? Or when you’ve tried to get “the folks” to boycott newspapers because they pointed out your absurd libels of immigrants? (Actually, I’m sure you don’t. Bullies are brilliant at forgetting their own behavior when it suits them. It keeps the guilt at bay.) But here’s the thing: none of your threats came to anything. The caller you browbeat is fine. The newspapers you harassed didn’t lose any subscribers. When you say, “I am coming after you with everything I have”, what exactly is it that you think you have? Do you think you’re tough? You’re a 65-year-old rich dude who doesn’t look like he spends his off hours chasing chickens and punching sides of beef. So, what? Do you have a platoon of hired goons? Winged monkeys? Demonic rottweilers? Transforming robots? Can you unleash a Birdemic, Bill? At long last, what is it that you have?

That’s the thing, Bill. We know what you have: a big mouth and two empty hands. So find another way to deal with your self-inflicted problems, Bill. Whine, complain, suck your thumb, hold your breath until you turn blue, say you’ll run away and join the circus (but since you work at Newscorp, how would you know the difference), but quit the threats. They’re pathetic.

Contemptuously Yours,

Jim Snowden

What Makes A Great Bad Movie?

Over on Facebook, someone responded to my posts about Birdemic: Shock and Terror, with a request for my top ten bad movies of all time. For those who were wondering and don’t get me on Facebook, here they are:

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What puts these in my top ten? And what makes for a great bad movie anyway?

I think the main ingredient is earnest goofiness. If we follow the Ted Sturgeon rule, 90% of all movies are crap, but most of the crap that reaches our screens is trite soulless junk that nobody remembers five minutes after they’ve seen it. The best bad movies aren’t like that. They’re memorably bad. And earnest goofiness is a key component in that. Ed Wood, Jr. really did want to make a statement about nuclear war and our treatment of the Other. I truly believe he was sincere, and that he had the ambition to fuel that vision and surmount the formidable obstacles that lay between him and his dream. The only thing he was missing was the actual ability to write, produce, direct, or edit a motion picture. That’s where the goofiness of earnest goofiness usually manifests itself. The best bad movies combine sincere conviction with a complete lack of ability to communicate that conviction; or, as in the case of Viva Knievel, competent communication of a sincerely held, but laughable, conviction: e.g. that daredevil motorcycle stuntmen are credible superheroes/Christ figures.

Another necessary component is wacky story logic. I turn the time over to Roger Ebert’s description of the plot of Gymkata:

The movie stars Kurt Thomas, in real life a world-champion gymnast, as a young man who is recruited by the U.S. government to break into the obscure Asian mountain kingdom of Parmistan and bring out his father, who is a captive there. Here’s the catch: To enter Parmistan, all foreigners have to play The Game, which means running a deadly obstacle course. “In the last 900 years, no foreigner has survived The Game,” the lad is informed ominously. In that case, how did the father get into Parmistan?

When combined with equally wacky imagery or stunt work, the result is movie gold:

McG would never have the vision to build a scene like that, or the deranged assurance necessary to ignore everyone who’d tell him “That is, in the 13 billion year history of this universe, the stupidest idea conceived by any creature with a working nervous system and a set of opposable digits.” Never in a million years.

It’s for this reason that studio films rank nowhere in my top ten. Even the most pathetic studio pile of dung has usually at least some shoots of competence and professionalism peeking through. If studios have a tough time making truly great pictures, they seem to have an equally tough time making truly awful ones.

Still, as you can see in my dishonorable mentions, some came close. Battlefield Earth oozes earnest goofiness, and both Concorde and Amityville 2 ladle on the wacky story logic and crazy imagery.

You will notice one glaring omission, if you know me. I haven’t listed a single Michael Bay film. I’ve refused to do so because, while I consider him a despoiler of all that film is or could be, I hate him too much to rank his pictures in my favorites. I could never watch his movies in a group and riff in a good humored way. I’d end up doing what Patton Oswalt did on a comedy show when asked about Paris Hilton (to get right to it, start the clip at 01:09):

And that’s the sort of thing that brings any movie watching party down.

To get back to more cheerful subjects, any movie whose protagonist is a lumpy, mullet-haired goofball named Zap Rowsdower; any movie daring enough to include two seven minute sequences of fighter jets refueling; any movie that thinks that a Concorde could escape a heat seeking surface-to-air missile by having one of the pilots open the cockpit window while the plane is doing Mach 2, stick his arm out of the plane, and fire a flare pistol is a movie that should, nay, must be seen. That’s what great bad movies are all about.

What’s your favorite bad movie?