e. magill's                        

The Unapologetic Geek


Top 10 Guilty Pleasure Movies

Hard Boiled
Behold the greatest movie poster of all time
We all have movies we enjoy that we know, objectively, are terrible, even if we don't all own up to it. But admit it: sometimes, when nobody's around, you'll flip channels, come across something that is universally reviled and hated, and you'll watch it. Worse yet, you'll like it. I'm here to tell you that it's okay, fellow human being. It's normal, and you shouldn't be ashamed. There are worse things you could confess than being fond of Gigli or Kazaam, not that I would ever be caught dead with those in my DVD collection.

These are my guilty pleasures, movies that, on some level, I feel guilty for liking so much. Maybe it's because I know they're terrible, or maybe it's because they are so universally loathed that liking them makes me an outcast. For example, one movie I almost put on this list but took off at the last minute is Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace, because I still, to this day, enjoy watching it. If you get on a good prequel-bashing rant, though, I could probably go along with you and expound upon all the ways the prequels could be better (except for Episode III, which I still contend is a great movie that doesn't deserve to be lumped together with the other two prequels and can stand its ground just fine with the original trilogy). Having said that, there are technical things about Episode I that even the most jaded fanboy hater would have a hard time criticizing, like the effects work during the podracing scene or the epic choreography and music during the awesome Darth Maul battle, which is why it didn't make the cut.

One last disclaimer: I must give credit to my friend David for getting me started on this blog, since he is working on a list of his own as we speak.


There was a brief window of time in the late nineties in which John Woo was considered a good action movie director. However, by the time he made Mission Impossible II, we had all woken up from our collective fever dream and realized that the guy was nuts, that his movies didn't make any sense, and that we were silly for giving him so much credit. He has since dropped out of the limelight here in the states, though he is still working back home. I wouldn't turn off his memorably bad American movies, like Face/Off or Broken Arrow, if I flipped by them on the television today, but the movie that I still consider to be Woo's masterpiece is Hard Boiled.

Hard Boiled is ridiculous. It's an action movie cliché that IMDB describes thusly: "A tough-as-nails cop teams up with an undercover agent to shut down a sinister mobster and his crew." That doesn't even begin to explain what makes the movie so memorable, however, as you could put that description to about a hundred eighties movies without losing any accuracy. No, this is a movie that pushes the envelope well beyond the breaking point, breezing past absurd without blinking, and going straight to surreal levels of violence and shamelessness. Just look at that poster up there. That's the most accurate single-frame depiction of the movie that exists. I remember watching this movie with a friend of mine in college (let's just say we weren't entirely sober and leave it at that), and at one point, he turned to me and said, "This movie is great and all, but what I really want to see is a motorcycle explode in mid-air." Needless to say, not thirty seconds later, John Woo delivered.

Best scene:

After this, the population of Hong Kong was 30% lower


Somebody walked into a producer's office one day and said, "I've got this script for a gritty, post-apocalyptic dragon movie here, and I think it'll be the perfect vehicle for Matthew McConaughey." What's remarkable is that the producer, possibly mishearing what was just said, looked up from his eighteen lines of cocaine and said, "Yeah, great, here's a few million dollars!"

Reign of Fire is a movie that tries desperately to take itself seriously, but can't. It is a cautionary tale in tone, because you can't have a serious live action movie that involves dragons, a post-apocalyptic dystopia, and Matthew McConaughey. You just can't. Still, there's that climactic scene--you know which one I'm talking about, because of course you love this movie, too--where buffed up, bald, and full-body-tattoed McConaughey, surprisingly neither surfing nor stoned, jumps off a high precipice weilding nothing but an axe, screaming his war cry as a dragon approaches him, only to be promptly eaten. What's not to love?

Best scene:

Answer: nothing


This is the first, but certainly not the last, guilty pleasure on my list that may get me in trouble with the Internet. This is the movie that is so famously bad that Sean Connery quit acting after being in it. It takes a beloved graphic novel series and shits all over it. The visual effects and acting are high school AV-club bad, even from actors who should be able to do better (like, for instance, Sean Connery).

So why do I love it? Try as I might, I can find no rational explanation for watching, owning, and rewatching this awful, awful movie. I'm sure I could be excused if it were a train-wreck kind of thing--if I watch it because I can't look away from the horribleness--but I genuinely enjoy watching it. I love the surreal, steampunk qualities of it, the way it fuses random literary characters into a plot that is post-modern at best, and the obviousness with which the actors stare at the green screens all around them. Also, I don't have any particular love of the source material, so I don't care that the movie deviates so wildly that fans call it blasphemy. So there you have it, Internet; I love The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and I admit that it might be a problem. Now please explain this cat obsession of yours.

Best scene:

Isn't that the same library where the climax of Wanted takes place?


Frankenhooker tells the touching, cautionary tale of one man's desperate pursuit to reanimate the severed head of the love of his life, who died in a tragic lawnmower accident, by attaching it to the body parts of a couple of prostitutes he killed with his specially-made crack that is so powerful it literally made them explode. Yes, Frankenhooker is exactly what the title leads you to expect; this is Mary Shelley's horror masterpiece, the novel that spawned science-fiction as a genre, reinterpreted with a lot of gratuitous nudity and human explosions. The fact that the movie even exists is a testament to how awful the human race actually is.

And I could watch it all day. The "acting" is ridiculous, the plot is even worse, and the script feels like it was scrawled on the back of a cocktail napkin by a homeless guy who managed to sneak into a strip club one night. It's simply impossible to make sense out of what is going on on the screen. Did the people who make this monstrosity know what they were making? Did they realize that the premise of the film is the perfect metaphor for the film itself? I seriously doubt it, because I don't think the makers of Frankenhooker even know what a metaphor is.

Best scene:

It's pretty much what you expect


I don't even know how to explain Godzilla: Final Wars, because I've watched it about a dozen times and I still have no idea what's going on. Oh, I have subtitles on and everything, but the movie just doesn't make a damn bit of sense. Godzilla, ever since the original Gojira, has been getting progressively more and more ridiculous and surreal as time goes by, and after the states took a stab at the property with Roland Emmerich's 1998 Godzilla, a movie best left forgotten, I think Japan just lost its shit altogether, resulting in Godzilla: Final Wars.

This is by far the most expensive (Toho-produced) movie starring Godzilla, but it's also the biggest flop, proving too off-the-wall and crazy even for Japanese audiences. But come on, you get to see Godzilla fight pretty much every single baddie in the Godzilla canon, and it's exactly as awesome as it should be. I don't know why this movie isn't more popular, aside from the fact that it's balls-to-the-wall insane.

Best scene:

Here, the real Godzilla explains his feelings about the American Godzilla

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-e. magill 10/29/2013


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