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For any cynics, let me make one thing crystal clear. As B-movie gastronomes, we’re not purely on the lookout for any old tripe. Not by any means. We crave only the finest entries in the broad sobad-it’s-good genre – mockbusters so terribly trashy they constitute little short of sheer joy. While the features touched on so far sit comfortably within that canon, others don’t come close to making the cut. Sadly, in my role as a film critic, I’ve been forced to endure a few of the latter recently, and they’re just frightfully bad and barely watchable. Nonetheless, for the sake of respecting the hard work of their creators, let’s steer clear of roasting these atrocities. So, yes, independent studios may very well cash-in on the buzz surrounding the pictures they imitate, but they’re more than aware the market for their products is thriving. But why is that market thriving? Why is there such a hefty bunch of movie nerds out there salivating at the concept of cheesy, cutprice impostors filling their Friday nights? A straightforward answer to that is: Why the dickens wouldn’t there be? In all honesty, souls like me see a unique mashup in mockbusters. And we’re addicted to it – that compelling blend of unflagging energy poured by filmmakers into their

craft and the consequent production of wittingly tacky material. Ultimately, they achieve what they set out to do, and that’s grand. That same appealing combo can’t be found in bad or even good-bad flicks falling outside mockbuster boundaries. Even if their creators are guided by passion, they don’t have comparable intentions. These projects flop when they are initially scheduled for success, which evinces a lack of fire – not necessarily in filmmakers but in the work itself. As a critic, while I can’t avoid attacking this inadequacy now and again, I do feel strongly that deriving pleasure from the blunder of any fellow creative is frankly a smidge unkind and twisted. Even if titles like The Room (2003) – possibly the most renowned so-bad-it’s-good example of all time – gain cult statusdue to their epic cinematic failure, I can only imagine how it must feel to be ridiculed for an undertaking I hoped would be taken seriously. Who knows – perhaps I will be sooner or later. Perhaps I already have been.

entendre, referring not only to imitation but to mockery too. When we groupies find these poacher features, we get it. We understand our screens won’t be graced by the familiar faces of our favourite actors, but by those of secondrate Z-listers. We laugh at the acting, at the concepts, at the titles. And we laugh along with the studios that brought all of this into our lives.It’s good-hearted fun to be taken in the spirit in which it was intended. With any luck, if you’re one of the hordes of bewildered consumers chucking twoquid copies of newly-released major motion pictures in your supermarket baskets; I’ve thrown some light on the situation. If it saves you a penny or two, terrific. If I’ve made you view mockbusters with fresh perspective, priceless. If I’ve made a fan out of you, well, you’ve cheered-up my day more than a cheap Tuesday at the picture palace.

Deliberately cruddy movies are, however, fair game. They’re made in the knowledge ridicule will surely follow. In fact, the term ‘mockbuster’ might be a double


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FilmFocus ISSUE 03  

FilmFocus ISSUE 03