Monday, February 18

What makes the list?

My roommate and I watched Ghostbusters on TV tonight. Despite the big walking marshmallow/end of the world plot, we decided that it didn't count as a disaster movie. This led to an entire discussion about the distinction between crappy disaster movies and classic (yet occasionally crappy) disaster movies. After our discussion I decided that a few basic rules would help categorize these movies:

1. If it involves totally unnecessary sex, it was probably supposed to be pornography and they decided to add some special effects. Sometimes sex IS necessary, as it may decide who lives or dies at the hands of a giant shark/crocodile/spider/snake etc., but as a general rule it's just a distraction. You can usually tell if the sex is plot relevant because it doesn't involve close-ups of anyone's breasts. A good example can be found in Twister; the sexual tension in the film is clear and there's even some kissing, but no sex because it is a DISASTER movie and the real star is the tornado!

2. Washed up TV actors are a BAD sign. For example- 10.5 :Apocalypse boasts Kim Delaney of NYPD Blue fame and ex-Superman Dean Caine as its headliners. Despite Dean's residual hunkiness (or maybe it is smarmyness?), his agreeing to appear in 10.5 says more about his financial state than the quality of the movie. Perhaps I shouldn't be judging though, as both Carrie and I did watch all 5 hours of the original movie (10.5) when it premiered on TV. Which leads me to rule 3..

3. If it is a made-for-TV disaster movie, you're in for a fun filled night of bad special effects, painful
dialogue , and the afore-memtioned unnecessary sex. While cable movies are usually spectacularly bad, SciFi definitely takes the cake when it comes to truly terrible disaster movies. The best part of SciFi movies is that they rarely bother with real special effects--usually they just stick some poor shlub in a weird looking mask. Check out the movie where a scientist tries to save his son from dying of cancer by morphing his DNA with a shark's, and then tries to get his son to breed with his ex-girlfriend. It gets dumber from there, but basically sharkboy eats a lot of people and you can see the zipper on the back of his costume. It's a good time.

4. Is it scary? No matter how ridiculous the premise might seem (Volcano for example!), it has to be at least a little bit scary for it to be good. End of story.

5. Repeat watchability is the final and key factor! If you want to watch it again, it's probably OK if not actually a classic disaster movie. If you watched it the first time just so you could laugh at it and poke holes in the plot, it probably won't stand the test of time and thus falls into the crappy category. I've seen Jaws several (ok, 20+ times) and I still get scared in swimming pools occasionally, but no matter how funny I found it, I can't bring myself to watch Blood Surf again.