I complain a lot about my job. Probably more than I should. My main gripe is that I have to sit down at the end of each night â€“ after putting my daughter to bed, cleaning up the dishes, cleaning foodstuffs off the floor; at which time it’s usually midnight â€“ and watch films. Sounds like an empty complaint, right? Well, not when most of the flicks youâ€™re forced to endure are rotten. But thatâ€™s the fun of being a film reviewer â€“ youâ€™ve got to review the shit, along with the shimmering.
Australian critic Michael Adams wanted to be punished. And with little to no bondage parlours in his area, the former host of TVs The Movie Show had to think beyond a good nipple tweeze. Instead, Adams â€“ with the help of his abused credit card â€“ decided to spend a year watching as many bad (and I mean, bad!) movies as he could. His mission? To come face to plasma with the worst film ever made. His journal served the basis for the new literary offering, “Showgirls, Teen Wolves and Astro Zombies”.
I caught up with Adams this week to talk, well, small-screen shite.
First of all, are you still married? And if so, how did your wife get through “this difficult period”?
Ha! Clare’s very supportive – I’m lucky like that. She did get frustrated towards the end of the year because, well, I was kinda eating, sleeping and breathing bad movies, clocking up 70 or so in December alone. But I kept the relationship intact by not inflicting too many of the bad movies on her through the year. She was happy to watch big-star vehicles like Speed 2 or Ishtar, musicals like Xanadu or Spice World and camp classics like Boom! and Beyond The Forest, but when it came to The Black Gestapo, Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster and Death Bed: The Bed That Eats, I was own my own. Usually that was late at night or early mornings.
Ok, but why? Why did you put yourself through this!?
Honestly, for fun. I thought it’d be enjoyable to do, to research, to write and ultimately to read about. I had an honest burning curiosity, too. I needed to answer for myself the question “What’s the worst movie ever made?” That question occurred after watching Material Girls which, at that point, was #1 on the IMDb’s Bottom 100. Seeing that and realising that while it was bad, I’d already seen others way worse – hello, Santa With Muscles – I couldn’t shake the question. By the way, Material Girls was produced by Madonna’s company. That Madge was the roundabout instigator for this project is kinda appropriate, given how much cinematic sludge she’s been involved with.
I understand you purchased most of the movies from Amazon? Tell me you got some kind of discount â€“ if even for postage â€“ at the end of the day?
I got many – probably more than half – from Amazon and eBay. Oh, no, there was no discount. And because I did it piecemeal, it wasn’t even cheaper in terms of grouped shipping. And back when I did it the Aussie dollar was about 12 cents to the greenback. So, yes, not cost effective at all. It would literally have been cheaper to fly to LA and buy the discs and tapes at the big stores there and bring ’em back. I didn’t plan it very well at all.
Was this exercise always going to be for a book.. or did you originally plan on simply just doing it for yourself?
I did think it’d be a book if I could manage to sustain it for a year. Once I’d done the year, it was then a matter of turning 500,000 words of notes into something book-length. Even then, I had no idea whether anyone would publish the book and I didn’t actually get a deal in Australia and the US until well after the year had finished and I’d written more than half of it. So it was all a gamble. I figured if no-one would publish it, I’d just self-publish so at least my family and friends could read it – and marvel at what an idiot I’d been.
Iâ€™m happy to see â€œTeen Wolfâ€ didnâ€™t get too bad of a beating.
Teen Wolf is just fine. It’s Teen Wolf Too you’d rather pluck your eyes out than watch again. On the subject of teenage monsters, though, it’s one of the best-worst genres. I Was A Teenage Werewolf is genuinely good; I Was A Teenage Frankenstein is just nuts; Teenagers From Outer Space I love because it’s so low-rent and Tom Graeff, the guy who made it was such a fascinating, albeit sad, character. Teenage Zombies? Okay, not so much. That one really stinks.
But based on the films studied for the book, are movies getting worse or better, ya think?
I think the cynicism and expense is worse than ever. Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen was the pits, and it cost $250m. The fact that it made a fortune means there’ll be more crud like that. But just recently, amid the Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past and Terminator Salvation and The Ugly Truth duds, we’ve also had, to name just a few, Up, Coraline, Inglourious Basterds, The Hurt Locker, Up In The Air and, of course, the marvel that is Avatar. All of these films, I think, will still be entertaining people in 10 or 20 or 30 years from now. They’re just great stories, told really well. I think that each year cinema manages to hit new highs while it also plumbs new depths. That’s part of the beauty and fascination and life of it as an art form and as a populist entertainment. I hated Transformers 2 but that doesn’t mean I wish I hadn’t seen it. It gave me as much to think about and talk about as Avatar.
Whatâ€™s the worst film of the past twelve months in your opinion?
Based on boredom, waste of money and straight-out cynicism in terms of not giving a shit about the audience, then hands-down Transformers 2. I’m very glad it has been nominated for so many Razzies. Also right down there: The Boat That Rocked, Management, Fast & Furious. Most overated would have to be 500 Dazed Hummers. What the hell? Did the writers finish that script when they were 14 and never revise it after that? And, no offence, but how does it qualify Marc Webb for the totally ill-advised Spider-man reboot? Is Peter Parker gonna get his spider-sex on and then dance around to Hall & Oates’ Maneater?
Is there a film you remembered being absolutely terrible… but when you returned it actually didn’t mind it?
My aim was to watch one terrible film per day for a year and I actually exceeded that, clocking up 406 in 365 days. During that time, there were a couple of flicks that I revisited and didn’t think they were as bad as the first time around. I’m not sure if that was just a relative assessment. If you watch, say, Uwe Boll’s BloodRayne after Ulli Lommel’s Curse Of The Zodiac, then you’ll see what I mean. Welcome To Woop Woop I had hated on first view. Second time the relentless bad taste and Australian slang and obscenity kinda became fascinating, and the production design’s terrific and the performances are fearless. Another one that springs to mind is Freddy Got Fingered. It’s now up for Worst Film Of The Decade in this year’s Razzies. John Wilson, founder of the Razzies, tells me in an interview in the book it’s the film he hates more than any other. I did first time, too. But revisiting it I had to admit I laughed out loud half a dozen times at the shock-tactics and terrible bad taste. It gets a reaction, like freaky art, and that makes it more interesting than a lot of safe, market-researched, audience-tested multiplex fare. Another one – I first watched The Room during the year of bad movies, too, but did it on disc, by myself. It was funny and weird and terrible but I watched it last night with a packed cinema at my Sydney book launch and it was, oh, about a million times funnier. Highly recommended.
If you were to do a sequel book, what would it be about?
I am working on something now that’s movie related and hush-hush because I don’t want to jinx it. But in terms of a sequel, I’d consider another book about bad movies in which I watch shitty flicks people have suggested. People who’ve read the book are already sending me recommendations. I just know curiosity will get the better of me. When you hear about a flick called Cruel Jaws, which comprises scenes of mafia dudes intercut with scenes literally ripped out of Jaws and other shark movies, I know I want to see it. One guy told me about Prime Evil and The Teacher and I’ve just got to watch those. They sound shit-tastic. In the book, I’ve listed my worst 20 and asked readers to tell me if they can find something worse than the very worst of ’em.
Finally – and I believe itâ€™s an appropriate question – whatâ€™s your take on â€˜â€™Twilightâ€™â€™?
Oddly, I don’t have a strong feeling either way. I kinda like that girls are so passionate about it because usually it’s a fanboy world. That said, as a 39-year-old guy, I also don’t get why they’re obsessed because it’s really not aimed at me. I’d like to sell as many books as Stephanie Meyer, though, that’s for sure.
You can order â€œShowgirls, Teen Wolves and Astro Zombiesâ€ at Amazon.Com Here