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Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies: A Film Critic's Year-Long Quest to Find the Worst Movie Ever Made Paperback – January 19, 2010
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“Michael Adams’ book is great fun! No one intends to make a truly bad movie, but when they do, Michael Adams will be there to watch it...and make it entertaining.” (John Landis, director of Trading Places and The Blues Brothers)
“Michael Adams is the Peter Biskind of really crappy movies. I thank him for watching these films so I didn’t have to claw my eyes out myself.” (A.J. Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically)
“Like many of the bad movies it celebrates, this book is addictive, mesmerizing and endlessly amusing.” (Harry Medved, co-author of The Golden Turkey Awards and The Fifty Worst Films of All Time)
“Reading Michael Adams’ entertaining and disturbingly comprehensive book is like being dragged through the fun parts of Hell in a flame-proof suit. Having had both hands in the cesspools of cinema for over twenty years, I can say with confidence that this book is the best of its kind: a joyously critical, deeply personal journey through a medium we love to hate almost as much as we love to love.” (Kevin Murphy, co-star/writer of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and author of A Year At the Movies)
From the Back Cover
Showgirls or Spice World?
Reefer Madness or Robot Monster?
battlefield Earth or The Black Gestapo?
One reviewer's relentless search for the most appalling abomination ever to disgrace the screen—at the rate of one movie a day . . . for a year!
For every cinematic classic the studios have released, there have been dozens of cheesy monstrosities, overpriced flops, and schlocky epics. Rampaging robots, bouncing bimbos, moronic martial artists, vapid vampires, troubled teens, barbaric bikers, and idiotic infants—all of these, and more, have been foisted on us in the name of "entertainment." And entertaining they are—for all the wrong reasons!
Featuring a cast of thousands, including A-listers like Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock in their Z-grade origins, and firsthand interviews with bad-movie aficionados, from Leonard Maltin and David Sedaris to John Waters and Eli Roth, this odyssey charts one intrepid critic's attempt to maintain a normal family life and two day jobs as he watches hundreds of dreadful tapes and DVDs in every conceivable genre. Even movie buffs will be surprised by what they can learn as they laugh out loud at the worst of the worst.
With a foreword by revered Night of the Living Dead director George A. Romero, Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies is an unforgettable journey deep into film's forbidden vault of irredeemable crud. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
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So when I found "Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies," about a brave man who vowed to watch one bad movie a day for a year, I knew I had to experience his journey with him, and see what sort of gems he could find in the dregs of the worst films of all time.
Michael Adams, an Aussie film critic and screenwriter, decides to embark on an ambitious, possibly crazy goal -- to watch at least one bad movie a day for an entire year, and to take notes during each viewing in order to rank each movie and, hopefully, find the worst movie of all time. He divides his movies into subcategories, mostly by genre but occasionally by star or director, and tries to find the best and worst of each group as he goes (the worst giant ape movie, the worst Uwe Boll movie, the worst John Travolta movie, etc.). And as he suffers through late-night viewings of garbage cinema, he also tries to balance his quest with a job, a family, and interviews with such names in the film industry as Michael Bay, Paris Hilton, John Waters, Mike Nelson of MST3K, and even the ex-wife of the infamous Ed Wood.
Rather than being an encyclopedic list of bad films, this reads more as a narrative -- Michael's life doesn't go on hold while he goes on his bad movie marathon, after all, and he has a family and a job as well as a quest. The sub-chapters of the book cover specific genres of films, which is quite handy and makes for "bite-size" reading -- one can easily read a section and then set the book down to return to later. He often goes into the history behind a film, making for a more fascinating reading experience, and interviews people behind the films when he can. And he points out the so-bad-it's-good along with the so-bad-it's-horrible, and describes some of the loonier films with such zest that he almost makes me want to watch them.
And wow, does Michael go above and beyond with his quest. His range of films covers not just big box-office flops (Gigli, Battlefield: Earth, Showgirls), but the cult classics of bad film (Manos: The Hands of Fate, Reefer Madness, The Room), obscure Z-grade films (Da Hip Hop Witch, Roller Blade Seven, Axe 'Em), and such "auteurs" of bad films as Uwe Boll (Alone In the Dark, BloodRayne), Ed Wood (Plan 9 From Outer Space, Glen or Glenda), and Ulli Lommel (Daniel: Der Zauberer, Green River Killer). He even covers some movies that were such shames to the studios that made them that they never saw a home media release and so can only be watched via bootlegs (though the remake of "Lost Horizon" has since seen a DVD release and "At Long Last Love" can now be found on Netflix -- no word on whether "Inchon" will ever see the light of day, though...).
I am slightly disappointed that such bad films as "Myra Breckenridge," "The Conquerer," "Heaven's Gate," "Bio-Dome," and "Caligula" didn't bear mention in this book, but maybe they weren't memorable enough to make the lineup. I also wonder what Michael might have thought of "Delgo" or "Birdemic: Shock and Terror" had they come out in time for him to include in his quest... but maybe there'll be a sequel that will include some of the films he missed.
Entertaining, informative, and at times wildly funny, "Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies" is a must-read for any movie buff, especially those that don't mind a delve into the darker side of cinema.
This is not a detailed review of each of 365 bad movies in about the same number of pages: it more deals in themes and genres, although occasionally a particular work will have more than a few paragraphs worth of discussion. Indeed, the responses of other people - including the author's toddler daughter, as well as some famous film industry figures - are as fun as the dissection of turkeys, turds and the simply dire. As an acolyte of bad movie lore, I was aware of most the films mentioned, and have even seen a few (some on purpose, some not). But there are whole levels - depths, rather - of which I was unaware: Uwe Boll, yes, Ulli Lommel, no. Simon Shaw, no. Kweisi Mfume's son...not in my wildest dreams.
Adams has staying power if nothing else, and somehow retains the ability to see flashes of competance - even brilliance - in otherwise tired, incompetant, or unfunded productions. As he says, no one sets out to make a bad movie, but it clear that indifference to the outcome may occasionally be relevant. Can there be such as thing as bad "art"? Or is that just a cover for a lack of talent?
The journey here is as important as the destination, and I can't spoil the outcome of this year long quixotic quest. This is a book for both bad movie novice - serving as a fine introduction and overview - and also for the more jaded bad movie lover, who will doubtless find something new and unknown here. I have only one quibble with this book: it does not cover Sextette at all, Mae West's last movie. It is mentioned, but not reviewed, which only goes to show that no matter how complete you are, there is always something new under the sun, and that there is something more here for Adams to look forward too.
Written in an easy, conversational style that implies an ongoing conversation, Adams chooses to contextualize his experiences with his bingo hopper of doom (read the book) and his day job covering current blockbusters. This adds to the fun. Adams analysis is pretty spot on, as well (I have minor quibbles, but when he's right about Uwe Bolle, boy is he right. A great reference and a fun archive of one year of the best of the worst.