We like to tell ourselves that “Oh Hai Mark” will never stop being funny. Whether or not we’re just kidding ourselves and the yawning abyss where our hearts should be eventually devours everything that once gave us joy, it can be good to have some variety. Variety is, after all, the spice of life. (Did you know that that proverb was originally a marketing slogan for the commercial newspaper Variety? True facts.)
#3: Simon Sez
Are you in the market for an espionage action comedy costarring Dennis Rodman and Dane Cook? Well fucking shame on you, then. But it’s too late now, they made one. Thanks a lot.
Simon Sez ticks all the boxes of the goofy action movie formula, but it ticks them entertainingly badly, like they made the checkmark too long and tried to play it off by drawing it into a penis in the margins. Rodman plays Simon, a motorcycle-riding secret agent who is in the french riviera to stop an illicit arms deal with the help of his tech staff, who for some reason are also monks.
While playing some sort of beach marble bowling sport I’ve never heard of, Simon crosses paths with Dane Cook as Nick, an utterly incompetent and profoundly damaged man who has been hired to deliver the ransom for a software developer’s kidnapped daughter. (Presumably this is because he does not want her back.) Low-rent James Bond nonsense ensues, complete with theme-costume henchmen, a scenery-gnawing british-accented villain (“Get us the dickens out of here!”), and awkward wire-fu. If you can stand Dane Cook’s mugging (unfortunately not the kind where he is robbed at gunpoint) you’ll have a ball.
#2: Starcrash: The Adventures of Stella Star (1979)
When Star Wars came out, the rest of the film industry rushed to churn out cash-ins, and this charming slice of immaculately-aged Italian cheese is by far the most entertaining of them. B-movie veteran Caroline Munro stars in the title role alongside a white dude with an afro who manifests new superpowers constantly without explanation, a texan-accented cowboy robot with a phallic head, and a young David Hasselhoff in an all-over-the-place but genuinely creative space adventure.
Stella Star and her be-‘froed navigator Akton are space outlaws of some sort who are captured and imprisoned for their presumed crimes, and then immediately released to be sent on a mission to save David Hasselhoff from evil by the Emperor of the Third Circle of the Universe (an adorably earnest Christopher Plummer).
The plot doesn’t really matter, what matters is the string of inventive set pieces across inexpicably-rainbow-colored space that result, including battles with cavemen, amazons, robots, and a red lava lamp. By the time Christopher Plummer majestically commands “IMPERIAL BATTLESHIP, STOP THE FLOW OF TIME” you will have become a better person for the experience.
#1: Xtro (1983)
Director Harry Bromley Davenport has made three Xtro films, but only the 1983 original has the demented creativity that makes it a classic. While at first seeming to be a fairly typical horror movie, even the early bits are worthwhile for the slime-drenched special effects, featuring both the origin of a classic horror gif and a hilariously gruesome birthing of a full-grown adult man, who severs his umbilical cord with his teeth. Alien birth man (who was abucted by aliens in the prologue) has a family waiting for him, including a wife who has taken up with an obnoxious photographer, and the real star of the film, a son he intends on alienizing.
Where the film really comes into its own is when the alienized kid begins using his wacky new powers. First, he brings his toys to life in the form of a dwarf in a clown costume and a dead-eyed stiff-limbed life-size GI Joe, who he tasks with murdering the annoying old woman downstairs who killed his pet snake. He then quickly takes to continuing the alien bloodline, first turning his unnecessarily attractive scandinavian nanny into a big egg sac under false hide and seek pretenses, and then casually sipping a soft drink while his clown dwarf buddy knocks down the refrigerator and begins filling it with gestation gunk from a bucket. (And now you know what’s happening in that image.)
The ending is cliche and predictable but by the time you get there you’ve seen so many indelibly weird images that you just won’t care.
Import the DVD from the UK, if you are as crazy as I am