My Take by Jim Carl - September 21, 2012

I hate it when people recommend movies to me.  Watch this on Netflix, they tell me.  It’s good because _______ (insert insignificant piece of trivia that aforementioned person believes is vital to American Film Theory but which, you secretly suspect, they only watched because the Netflix artwork image had naked people on it.)  I can count on one hand the number of times that someone recommended a movie that I actually liked.  More and more as I grow older, I’m finding that I don’t necessarily watch certain movies as much to enjoy them as watch them so that people will stop recommending them in the first place.  It’s as if---by the very nature of what I happen to do for a living---my personal validation is gonna make their movie-making choices hold more weight among their friends.  Or something.   

Take this recent film, Cabin in the Woods, for example.  I have been assured by many people whose opinions I trust that it’s wonderful. I’ve had just as many people tell me it’s awful.  People are lining up on both sides of camp to see which side I’ll eventually sit on. (Magnanimous, but really, I’d prefer if people would just pay me to say what they want to hear.)  As of this writing, I haven’t seen Cabin and I’m sorta dreading it.  Friends have tap-danced around themselves so as not to spoil the “big surprise” for me, but I suspect that the “big surprise” is the whole purpose of the movie, so knowing that one’s coming just means that I’m gonna be looking for it, which means that I’m probably gonna be disappointed when it eventually happens.  It would have been better to have not known there was a “big surprise” at all, if you know what I’m saying.  My world would be a better place if people stopped recommending movies they liked and simply told me about the ones they didn’t (as if there’s a shortage.)  That way I could have more time to spend on things that matter.  Like writing about movies that suck. 

This week I’m gonna take my own advice and not get all blabby about what you should be watching in place of that Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones rerun, but instead write about some of my least-favorite American movies made between 1975-1979, just to save you the trouble of not making the same mistake.  If you’re wondering what to do with your free time, watch Strike Back on Cinemax.  Okay, I suck at this game, but I’m in the movie business and you’re not. (In last season’s first episode, I’m only saying, a guy snatches a nuclear warhead out of the air with his bare hands and it was…awesome.  Trust me.)   


1.  ERASERHEAD (1977)
You’re smart and I’m one of the stupid ones who doesn’t get it.  There, I turn myself in.  Now let’s move on.

Technically, I think this is British but I’m sticking it on this list, anyways.  Thank you, Water Babies, for ruining my all-day Saturday HBO marathons when I was a kid by playing every goddamn weekend between 1979-1981.  Whenever I’d see your name listed in the HBO Guide, I would fly into narcissistic rage.  The reason so many of Generation X grew up to become Valium junkies is because of you.  

3.  APOCALYPSE NOW (1979) 
I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care.  I don’t care how much you love this movie.  I don’t care that the movie gods think a little less of me.  I don’t care how many stupid awards or “Best of” lists it’s appeared on.  I think this is one of the most boring movies ever made.  My best friend insists this is his favorite movie of all-time and we’re still tight.  Can’t you and I do the same?   The only thing I enjoyed was the closing credits.  I watched this again as recently as last year and my opinion holds true: My God, does it ever end?    

4.  CIRCLE OF IRON (1978)
Remember how pissed-off you were a few years ago with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull?  The aliens’ greatest treasure turned out to be…knowledge?  How lame.  Flashback thirty years and we’ve got David Carradine on a kung-fu quest with an identical bullshit ending.    

Clint Eastwood gets his Cliffhanger on.  It’s weird.  I usually like the politically-incorrectness of 70’s movies, but the stereotypes here actually offended me.  It deserves some kind of award.

6.  BUSGY MALONE (1976)
The world’s first all-kid gangster flick.  Here’s a movie adults think kids ought to like because it stars, you know, other kids like them. Here’s a movie kids pretend to like in order to manipulate their parents.  Show me an adult who claims to have never manipulated their parents as a kid and I’ll show you a loser who never owned a complete set of Star Wars action figures. Further humiliation for an 8 year-old: It’s a musical.          

7.  AGATHA (1978)
Have you ever hated an otherwise decent movie because of a performance? Watch Dustin Hoffman in almost any scene here.  His voice, mannerisms, even his walk and stance: every moment feels coldly calculated.  I never understood the term, technical performance, until I saw this movie.  Get over yourself, Hoffman.  Idiot.              

8.  THE NORSEMEN (1978)
Indians vs. Vikings.  Think What’s Opera, Doc? with The Six Million Dollar Man.  This should have been awesome.  It should have been one of those cult classics that get a DVD release by Code Red or Blue Underground.  I’m quite revered in certain circles for defending this type of manure, but even Lee Majors’ bionic mustache looks out of place among all those beards and pointy helmets.  Worst offense: It’s boring.  

9.  GOLDENGIRL (1979)
When I was a kid, I really believed this was gonna be a big-screen version of The Bionic Woman.   Instead, it’s about this really pretty American blonde with really pretty, long, blond hair who runs track and takes a lot of blond drugs and who dies a blond death at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, which also featured a lot of blond Russians.  And which we boycotted.  Rocky IV rules.    

10.  YOU LIGHT UP MY LIFE (1977)
I never saw the movie but I heard the record and that was enough.  It scarred up my life.


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