Sunday, October 17, 2010

the occultist (1989)...

What makes a bad movie truly bad? Most often, when somebody describes a movie as the "worst ever," it's with a certain affection. Ed Wood movies, Troll 2 and Showgirls are all frequently held up as bad movies, but they're all also generally adored for their camp value. I personally can't stand Troma movies, but they belong to a class of bad movie that aspires to be nothing more than it is, and thus is difficult to completely dismiss. "Bad Movie" is frequently a kind of badge of honor, representing a cult artifact, something valued for its flaws. Just scan the archives of this blog to find any number of films, from Criminally Insane to The Oscar, that are provide genuinely joyous viewing experiences in their shortcomings or excesses.

Of course, not every bad movie is good-bad. There are the dregs, the bottom-of-the-barrel, films that don't transcend their limitations, but rather suffocate beneath them. Films that aren't off-kilter, but simply off. In this regard, I'd like to nominate filmmaker Tim Kincaid as a candidate for the worst filmmaker of all time. Kincaid's films, among which Robot Holocaust and Breeders are probably the best known, display a perfect storm of incompetence, incoherence and joylessness. They are uniformly cheap, but not just cheap, cheap isn't bad, they're cheap in a way that's just plain ugly. The acting is uniformly bad, almost impressively, as though actors were cast specifically for their lack of ability. The storytelling is utterly without sense or reason, owing doubly to bad scripts and bad acting. Kincaid's Breeders is even about rape, which moves the director's ouvre out of the realm of inoffensively unpleasant into the grotesquely unwatchable.

The film in question this time around is The Occultist, which I thought would at least be a horror movie, but wasn't. I don't totally know what it was, really just a mish-mash of genre and poorly staged scenes spliced, slammed together in some kind of order to represent some kind of story about something or another. There were characters, but I didn't really care about them. Things happened, but they weren't interesting. To quote the old joke, "What was it about?" "It was about 90 minutes." I don't really know what else to say about The Occultist. It is something that exists in the universe with all of us, and I have seen it. My life is no better nor worse for having seen it, just 90 or so minutes shorter. It makes me sad to think that I'm that much closer to death because of this movie...

In general, I've had pretty bad luck with horror films this season, which is why the Halloween Countdown has been so comics-heavy and review-short. I'm trying to string some words together about some of the things I've seen, but it's actually been pretty depressing. Lots of bad-bad and not enough good-bad...

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