Thursday, 31 March 2011

Shark in Venice

There seems to be an awful lot of bad films based around sharks. I suspect the popularity of the shark as an antagonist is due to the availability of library footage of sharks bumping into cameras and chopping on hunks of meat. All the makers of these “Shark-ploitation” films need to do is slap in a few reaction shots of people screaming and blood dispersing in water and they are in business.

Clearly from the same school as Snakes on a Plane, Shark in Venice is about a Shark in Venice (well actually several sharks in Venice). However Shark in Venice was clearly intent on ripping off other Spielberg classics as well as Jaws, by trying to turn Stephen Baldwin into Indiana Jones.  All that’s missing is Baldwin being visited by a lost alien looking for a way to get home. Baldwin spends half the film staring emotionless at other characters occasionally sighing and the remainder sounding like an asthmatic that has just run up four flights of stairs. In fact Baldwin cuts a sad figure, he’s like one of you friends dad who is in the middle of going through a divorce and spends all day eating ready meals and dreaming of buying a motorbike.

 Baldwin’s character David Franks (a doctor in marine biology) is told that his father has disappeared while on a diving mission, and his father colleagues were found dead. Baldwin takes this news by sighing, shrugging his shoulders and muttering that he better go to Venice. He ends up finding ancient treasure from the Crusades and a mafia boss shows up to try to get Baldwin to obtain the treasure for him. The mafia kidnaps his girlfriend forcing the 3rd best Baldwin to find the treasure, fight the sharks, reveal to the world that the police are covering up the existence of sharks in Venice and while trying to avoid the same fate as his Dad.

Bar a few scattering of poor CGI and library footage of sharks close up and limbs falling off there is actually very little about sharks in the film. The film may as well be called “Stephen Baldwin in Venice”. At one point Baldwin is bitten on the shoulder by a shark (great white sharks apparently) and just huffs and puffs his way out of the water with nothing but a scratch. Stephen also can’t be said to be in the best physical condition, so seeing him wriggle in and out of a wet-suit for 65% of the film may not be some people’s idea of a good time.

The acting and directing give the whole thing a feeling of an American soap opera, in fact there it’s only when a shark pops up to eat a gondola that you remember this is meant to be about a Shark in Venice. This is what annoys me about this film, if you have a concept as stupid as SHARKS IN VENICE why not use it! Embrace to stupidity! I wanted to see drunken college kid on holiday in bikini’s having a drunken swimming race get swallowed whole. Instead we have to make do with one drunken local and a gondola attack. “But hey! I bet that shark comes out to play in the finale” I hear you shout. Well barely, the majority of it is a gun fight between the mafia and the police that lasts five times as long as it should.

After a dramatic shootout, Stephen Baldwin gives up his mission to tell the world about the sharks in Venice, something he was shouting and screaming about for the first half of the film. Oh and if you care, it was the mafia putting the sharks in the water to stop others finding the treasure which they themselves have not found. Idiots.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Hercules in New York

When the opening line to a film is “When myth and history merge into mystery” you know you are in for a good time. 

I came across Hercules in New York when a friend pointed it out to me in a branch of the now defunct Woolworths. It kick-started my love of bad films so I hold it dear to my heart. It was the screen debut of a certain Arnold Schwarzenegger, then known as Arnold Strong (Mr Universe at the time). Over the course of the seventy five minute epic Arnie Flexes his mussels, fights a bear, throws a javelin, uses Greasy chat up lines and beats up a boat full of men. 

Plot-wise Hercules is cast as a bored little brat wanting to go to earth to have some fun. Sick of his constant whining his dad, Zeus, in a fit of rage… sends him to earth, thus granting his wish. 

After beating up everyone on the boat the picked him out of the ocean (including John Candy) he buddy’s up with Pretzie (Arnold Stang, voice of Top-cat!), a pretzel seller by the dock. It’s essentially a buddy movie between an ethereal prick and a walking stereotype.  Pretize looks like he was created during a game of Pictionary and the words “A Jew” were on the card. I personally feel slightly offended by the lazy stereotyping of this Jewish character, and I’m not even Jewish. Anyway they team up and “Herc” becomes a wrestler and money start rolling in. The world’s least threatening mafia boss turns up (he looks like Bob Hoskin’s and Jimmy Carr’s lovechild) and “Herc” loses his powers at one point blah, blah, blah… you really don’t need to know the plot. What you need to know is Arnie flips over a taxi then fights a bear.

“Herc” also gets his shirt off as many times as possible, at one point during the middle of talking to Mercury (yes he is a Roman god but attention to detail is not HINY’s strongpoint) proclaiming “I have to take a shower”. Arnie was only 22 at the time and he still had a strong Austrian accent. For the theatre release Arnie’s voice was dubbed over but thankfully restored on the DVD. It sounds like Schwarzenegger is doing an impression of Rainier Wolfcastle (the Arnie parody character from the Simpson’s) doing an impression of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnie and his rudimentary English skills (he was only 22) get to work with such great dialog as…

“Bucks? Doe? What is all this zoological talk about male and female animals?”
“Ha, ha, ha. You have strucked Hercules.”

The Guy who plays Zeus spends 97.6% of the film pissed off with his son, scowling for almost all of his scenes. Mount Olympus seems to have serious traffic congestion problems judging by the amount of honking car horns you can hear, and the Greek gods had a fondness for red brickwork as opposed to white marble (picking Central Park as the set was probably not the best location in hindsight).

Arnie openly admits regretting doing this film, and that’s from a man who played Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin. Thankfully for Arnie this was not the end, he was well on his way to stardom by 1982 (Conan the Barbarian), and well on his way to being in charge of the world’s 8th biggest economy (seriously how the hell did that happen?). The director Arthur Allan Seidelman also went on to hit personal highs by directing episodes of Magnum P.I. and Murder She Wrote. Still Hercules in New York Remains his Magnus opus. 


Monday, 28 March 2011

Welcome to The Bad Film Blog!

Hello there!

Thanks for stopping by! I’m Jack and I love bad films!

Well that’s not quite true, I don't love all bad films. I mean have you ever seen Woody Allen’s “Match Point”? You have my sympathy if you have.

The kind of bad films I love are usually so crammed with awful acting, dodgy directing and stupid scripts that you can’t help but laugh. How and why these films are made are very good questions, but I don’t know if i can be bothered to answer them.

I will however review and babble on about all the stupid crap that occurs in these cinematographic catastrophes. Expect acting more wooden than the sets!