The fish-in-a-barrel favorite that has been lauded/derided by legions of smug cinephiles for decades, Plan 9 is easy to scoff at. But, as Tim Burton's charming docufantasy helped prove, writer/director Ed Wood had a specific vision, clouded as it may have been, making him the auteur of independent '50s sci-fi/horror. And Plan 9 is his Citizen Kane. Working with no money and ineptly trying to cheat his limitations, beneath it all Plan 9 boasts some solid atmosphere and interesting ideas. An ambitious failure but there's nothing quite like it.
The reason everyone hates The Exorcist II is because it's not The Exorcist. In fact, the film would have been even better if it dispensed with trying to repeat any of the first film's beats entirely (a fate that also befell Jaws 2). When The Exorcist II is focused on Richard Burton and his supernatural investigation, it's mesmerizing and the movie (which was re-cut several times over the years) boasts one of Ennio Morricone's greatest scores.
How many international big budget porno films have you seen that star Helen Mirren? Not many, I'd guess. Tinto Brass' Caligula has to be seen to be believed, an eccentric, lush, over-the-top costume drama/shagfest with Malcolm McDowell chewing scenery (and other things) as the Emporor and Mirren looking scorching in her revealing outfits. Penthouse founder Bob Guccione famously added hardcore footage in post, much to Brass' dismay. In any cut, the film is the apex of '70s decadence and is a must see.
Anyone who laughs at Mommie Dearest deserves a punch in the arm. The malevolent adaptation of Joan Crawford's adopted daughter's memoir, this is in fact a hidden horror movie, with Faye Dunnaway's turn as Crawford ad force of shrieking, spitting Gorgon-like nature. "No wire hangers!" indeed. A draining, melodramatic masterpiece of maternal madness.
Yes, Phillipe Mora's Howling II is pretty bad. But it's gloriously bad, maniacal in its tone, bizarre and slipshod in its special effects (the wolf suits were famously actually ape suits!) and edited with a switchblade. But man, it stands alone. Sybil Danning delivers the ultimate Sybil Danning turn as the Werewolf Queen Stirba and Christopher Lee goes undercover at a punk club wearing wraparound new wave shades. Great electro-punk music too. Love it!
It's great to live in a world now where Howard the Duck has more lovers than haters. We've loved it since the day it came out. Taking the crabby alien duck from the beloved cult Marvel Comics series and amplifying it with rock and roll and endless special effects, Howard was accused of being (producer) George Lucas-fied with its excesses. But at its core, husband and wife team Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz nailed the caustic tone of the comic, the cast is a delight (Jeffrey Jones, Tim Robbins and Lea Thompson are clearly having a blast) and the movie is beyond eccentric. Critics decimated this upon release. But it's really, really fun and addictive. Great Thomas Dolby songs too...
Infamous vanity project misfire starring Hollywood royals Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty, Ishtar was universally derrided and was a huge bomb. But it is NOT a bad movie. In fact, this buddy action flick is really amusing and weird. And hey, Isabelle Adjani is in it, looking lovelier than ever. And the desert locations are great.
Another Golden Raspberry favorite and the film that derailed both director Paul Verhoeven and writer Joe Esterhasz's careers. Showgirls is as tawdry and lurid as it both claimed to be and is reputed to be but that works in its favor. The lurid sex and sleaze is essential to the story and underneath that lurks a compelling Wizard of Oz-like fable of a girl lost in a netherworld and trying to find herself. This is not a bad movie. It's a very, very good exploitation picture.
An easy movie to hate, considering the 1973 original is one of the most shattering films of all time and that Cage's histrionic performance is the stuff of YouTube legend. But Neil LaBute's Americanization of the source is actually ample weird and surreal, with Cage in fine form and the supporting cast - including Ellen Burstyn - adding weight to the lunacy. As a remake it's not good. As a midnight movie, it's fantastic.