Linda Holmes Discovers The Joy Of Bad Science Fiction Movies


One of NPR’s pop culture reviewers got the cinematic equivalent of nachos with extra cheese sauce the other day. It’s fun and tasty even though you know it’s not good for you. The reviewer seems like she has only just discovered the joy of Bad Cinema, but now she’s hooked. In particular she seems amazed that they got “Actual Actor John Heard” to pummel a foam rubber shark with a barstool.

The way that works, of course, is that the Actual Actor is hired to work for one day and the whole shooting schedule revolves around getting all those scenes done for the one day the Actual Actor is available. A logistical problem for the director, but hardly an insurmountable one, the Actual Actor gets the agreed fee, and the movie gets to boast an Actual Actor as a “star” even though the Actual Actor actually has less than ten minutes of screen time.

No one will be culturally uplifted by watching Sharknado but it sounds like it was utterly ridiculous and sublimely awesome. Another triumph for The Asylum! I’m going to have to DVR this one and watch it myself when my trial schedule eventually lightens up. (Which is why I haven’t been posting much recently. Stupid day job.)

And, of course, be on the lookout for Sharknado II: Revenge of Sharknado.

Burt LikkoBurt Likko is the pseudonym of an attorney in Southern California. His interests include Constitutional law with a special interest in law relating to the concept of separation of church and state, cooking, good wine, and bad science fiction movies. Follow his sporadic Tweets at @burtlikko, and his Flipboard at Burt Likko.

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16 thoughts on “Linda Holmes Discovers The Joy Of Bad Science Fiction Movies

  1. Tara Reid was in The Big Lebowski and American Pie. She also got her face on the wall of an Italian restaurant right next to Joe Piscopo.

    I’ll point out that until quite recently a movie as incredible and difficult as Sharknado couldn’t have even been made, even though Hollywood heavyweights have wanted to make it since the 1940’s. John Ford and Sam Peckinpah both optioned it, as it pits iconic American individualists and their large caliber guns against a flying feeding frenzy. Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Wells both wanted to bring it to the big screen because flying sharks are more viscerally compelling, if not terrifying, than crazed song birds or immuno-compromised Martians.

    But back then creating the movie would’ve required practical effects, which would mean firing giant rubber sharks out of huge canons in artillery barrages or having the Army Air Corps or later US Air Force to drop them from bombers. In both cases the sharks would have to land very close to, or in some cases, right on top of A list Hollywood actors. There was just no way to pull it off until CGI allowed our abilities to catch up with our imaginations.

    Once again SyFy is leading the way and creating new American classics.

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        • Some of the early attempts at it were pretty awful. Orson Welles knew he couldn’t pull off flying sharks so he was going to have them slide across a snowy landscape, which was easy enough with thin cables hooked to winches or cars. In his working draft of the script the sharks would come over a hill and chase after boys who were out sleigh riding, leading directly to bloody tracks in the snow that attracts teams of reporters sent out by a newspaper mogul, and of course most of the journalists are likewise eaten. But when they tried filming the opening scenes they couldn’t get the mechanical shark’s mouths to open realistically without turning them into snow plows. Dejected, he rewrote the rest of the script around the newspaper mogul and the one good shot of a kid on a sled.

          Peckinpah’s drafts had John Wayne delivering lines like:
          “Fill your jaws, you son of a bitch,”
          “Life’s hard. It’s even harder when you look like a seal,”
          “You’re short on ears and long on teeth, fish mouth,”
          “Well, there are some sharks a man just can’t run away from.”
          “It’s getting to be ri-goddamn-diculous”

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        • Indeed. (hoping this comment goes in the right spot)

          The idea of jets and sharks in “West Side Story” was based on a concept bouncing around Hollywood where the Sharknado threat to LA is defeated by the timely arrival of North American F-86 Sabre Jets flying out of San Diego.

          The same concept ideas earlier resulted in The Bridges of Toko-Ri where the distraught Naval aviators were originally going to attack shark infested water spouts day after day, losing lots of pilots through collisions with great whites and hammerheads until their nerves were frazzled.

          The lack of adequate special effects technology caused both to be rewritten into unrecognizable and clearly inferior works compared to the glorious goodness of Sharknado, the movie Hollywood has been trying to make for fifty or sixty years.

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  2. I might be the only person who does not quite get the appeal for these kind of movies. My facebook feed was all abuzz for them. Sayeth the formerly named NewDealer

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