With the release of the film Hot Tub Time Machine, here is my list of top ten movies that contain titles and concepts that are so ‘naff, ridiculous and shamelessly blatant, they are nothing short of brilliant.
1. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Can you get any weirder – or more perfect – than Rocky Horror? Tim Curry runs around in a tight leather corset and pumps for the better part of the film, making moves on both Janet (a young Susan Sarandon) and Brad (Barry Bostwick) as he hits musical high notes in the name of sweet Transvestites everywhere. (This confused love-tryst is something that my childhood self never noticed…I think my mother may have conveniently not recorded that scene on Video).
Add a beautiful-yet-brainless human experiment and a juicy Meatloaf; throw in a timeless Timewarp and something about aliens, and you have one of the kookiest, most beloved cult classics of all time.
Dir. Jim Sharman. Also starring: Richard O’Brien and Patricia Quinn.
2. Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)
The sequel to the 1989 hit Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, this film far outstrips the original. Watch as future-Robot-versions of Bill S. Preston Esquire (Alex Winter) and Ted Theodore Logan (Keanu Reeves) travel back in time to kill them and take their place. The bodacious duo’s souls get sent to purgatory, where they give Death (William Sadler) a wedgie, haunt their families and end up in hell. In order to get another chance at life and save their Colonial-era princess girlfriends from the evil drones, they agree to engage Death in a 90s board-game-battle (Twister! Clue! Battleships!). These air-guitar-playing maestros end up finding help in the form of a weird Fraggle Rock-ish alien called Station, who accompanies them to a final show-down that takes place in the future.
Confused yet? This film is genius from start to finish: it doesn’t get more epically excellent than this.
Dir. Peter Hewitt. Starring: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Joss Ackland, George Carlin and Pam Grier.
3. The Toxic Avenger (1984)
It’s better to be a hideously deformed-creature of super-human size and strength than it is to be a nerd. At least, that’s the heart-warming message conveyed by this 1980s classic. Little Melvin Junko (the poor guy never really had a chance) is a weedy mop-boy at an exclusive Health club. He suffers constant bullying and abuse until finally he suffers a tragic accident involving a tutu, and falls into a vat of toxic waste. Melvin’s disfigured alter-ego The Toxic Avenger becomes the first ever superhero to hail from New Jersey. Rapists and muggers beware! His face alone causes the loss of bladder control. To all of the good citizens he is a hero; to the morbidly obese and (obviously) corrupt he is a threat and target.
Dir. Michael Herz & Lloyd Kaufman. Starring: Mitch Cohen.
4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)
This Live-Action origins story deals with the toxic chemicals that created Splinter and the Turtles, as their arch-nemesis Shredder tries to use the Ooze to create his own mutant army. The joy of watching these giant green heroes in physical form (compared to the cartoon) is hard to describe, and as a child I actually believed there was a chance I could meet them. (Part of me still does.) The amazing makeup and special effects are much more effective than any modern 3D versions could ever be.
Dir. Michael Pressman. Starring: Paige Turco, Kevin Clash, Adam Carl, Laurie Faso, Brian Tochi and Robbie Rist.
5. The Blob (1958)
Run – don’t WALK – from the most horrifying monster menace the 50s ever conceived! This gelatinous mutant-Blob meanderingly crawls its way onto its unsuspecting victims, including an old man who lets it touch his hand. What happens when the icky-goop takes a hold of his fingers and – eek – upper arm!? This Sci-Fi gem takes itself so seriously that it tries to palm off a twenty-eight year old Steve McQueen as a teenager, and makes you believe that mass-hysteria is possible when a substance (that can only be described as over-excited-hair-gel) is let loose on 1950s America.
Dir. Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. Starring: Steve McQueen and Aneta Corsaut.
6. Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
Apparently 1984 was year of the nerd.
There is no worse fate than being a geeky kid in an American high school, but watch as these tormented teens unite to take down the jocks and actually attract – not repel – the ladies. This ‘milestone in motion-picture history’ has been compared to such classics as Star Wars and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I would doubt the origins of such a claim, except that it was made by Twentieth Century Fox, no doubt in an attempt to unite dorky teens everywhere and ensure an audience for the film.
Bumbling buck-teethed stereotypes ensue, as these bespectacled nerds learn to stand up for themselves and fight back against their place at the bottom of the high school hierarchy. Either way this film is genuinely hilarious from start to finish – just be prepared to see some social clichés put to good use and (hopefully) overturned.
Dir. Jeff Kanew. Starring: Robert Carradine, Anthony Edwards, Timothy Busfield and Curtis Armstrong.
7. Mars Attacks! (1996)
Remember the days when Tim Burton films were still original and fun?
This film literally stars everyone who ever made it as a serious ‘actor’ in Hollywood, and somehow manages to entwine the journeys of a gazillion different characters while still making you care about them and genuinely worry about who is going to survive the giant-green-brained alien attack. Jack Nicholson plays several different characters, and allegedly wanted to play every single person in the film when he first read the script. For real. Can you imagine Nicholson as a big breasted fake-human-killer-alien-thing? I can, and quite frankly it’s fabulous.
Alas, Burton’s film still hits the right balance between farce and serious sci-fi: Sarah Jessica Parker as a headless dog! …wait…A dog-less head? Who cares! She’s disembodied and yapping all over the place, as aliens attack America and chaotic hilarity ensues.
Dir. Tim Burton. Starring: Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, Natalie Portman, Jim Brown, Pam Grier and Tom Jones.
8. The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
Goodbye OLD groove. Llama is in this season.
Remember when Emperors – and Royalty of any kind – had funk and style? Me neither. But I do remember the days of awesome animated Disney cartoons, and here is one that seamlessly mixes originality, absurdity and humor.
Emperor Kuzco is constantly busy maintaining his ‘groove’ and planning a personal water-park. He unknowingly raises the ire of an aging ex-employee, Yzma. In revenge, she enlists her dim-witted and jovial man-servant Kronk to help kill Kuzco and take the throne for herself. However, potion confusion leads to an awkward outcome: Kuzco is alive, and a llama. He becomes the property of a country man called Pacha, who owns the land he wanted to use for his theme-park. Will Kuzco ever get his groove back? More importantly, why aren’t their more films starring llamas? Moral lessons and a clever script are combined to make this unlikely film one of Disney’s funniest, most obscure animated movies.
Dir. Mark Dindal. Starring: David Spade, John Goodman, Patrick Warburton and Eartha Kitt.
9. Blades of Glory (2007)
Two allegedly heterosexual men dress up in Lycra sequined suits and cavort together on the ice, gently caressing to romantic love ballads. Does it get much better than that? This parody of the 1992 romantic-drama The Cutting Edge pairs up two nemesis pro-ice-skaters, as they are banned from competition and forced to work together if they are ever going to realise their dream of Olympic Gold. Watching these two try to navigate skating as a duo, and retain the use of their private parts is something to behold.
Will Ferrell as the egotistical sex-addict Chazz Michael Michaels brings his “lady lumps” to life with a career-making rendition of The Black Eyed Peas’ My Humps. Jon Heder of Napoleon Dynamite fame is perfect as the repressed and irritating man-boy Jimmy MacElroy. There are notable performances from Jenna Fischer, Will Arnett and Amy Poehler, the real-life married couple who play siblings, with a creepily romantic edge. This film has some great calls: “I see you got fat!” “I see you still look like a fifteen year old girl, but not hot.” I don’t care what anyone says, this comedic jewel is Ferrell’s best by far.
Dir. Josh Gordon & Will Speck. Starring: Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, Jenna Fischer, Craig T. Nelson, Will Arnett and Amy Poehler.
10. Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
Take one middle-aged (but surprisingly well-preserved and self-effacing) John Cusack; add the sarcastically hilarious warehouse guy from The Office (Craig Robinson) and one prize arsehole (played grotesquely by the lovable Rob Corddroy). Include one basement-lurking-nephew (Clark Duke. You know, the chubby geek-friend from Kick-Ass): drop them in a suspiciously golden-hued Hot Tub and mix = voila, the ’80s.
What is there NOT to love?
This film is made even more perfect by an armless Crispin Glover. How did he lose the limb? Maybe you’ll never know. But either way you’ll be wetting the seat in anticipation.
Dir. Steve Pink. Starring: John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Chevy Chase and Crispin Glover.
– Nicole Calabria