Everyone has a personal opinion on what they think the worst movie ever made is, but those people have never seen a mockbuster. Yes, Twilight is bad, but that has actors who remember their lines, a cohesive plot, a consistent setting, and isn’t filmed in the pitch fucking dark. For those of you who don’t know, the mockbuster is the modern B-movie. It used to be that bad movies came on before a good film in the theater, but that was before cable and home video, and now the SyFy channel and Netflix will play just about anything as filler. To help boost sales or ratings, companies that make mockbusters, like The Asylum Productions, give them names that are slightly different than a successful movie- that’s how we wind up with films like Snakes on a Train or Allan Quartermain and the Temple of Skulls. Making cheap, shitty movies is great for a company, because it’s hard not to make a return on something that only took three dollars to shoot in the first place. And to make sure that return is cashed in, bad movies have to appeal to the base sensibilities of idiots like me, which makes not just for crap, but entertaining crap. Let’s look at some.
Transmorphers was the first movie I watched in my journey into the world of mockbusters. It’s a heartwarming romp for the whole family about the last remaining bastions of humanity alive after the robot apocalypse. We’ve all retreated into a poorly lit underground metropolis that looks suspiciously like a poorly lit director’s mom’s basement. The same picture is used for the exterior of every shot of this city, but we never see underground outdoor cars or bustling underground streets. Any non-establishing shot is in a dark, windowless room. Why the hell do we never get to see the bustling metropolis the movie apparently takes place in? The whole movie is basically two sets: dark room and dark hallway. You’re telling me the whole remaining world lives there now? I’ve never rebuilt a society before, but you guys did a shitty job. I’ve seen nicer Burger King Playlands.
The question you obviously have right now is this: why would anyone watch this piece of shit? The producers apparently think the answer to this question is “lesbians,” because guess what? The General and one of her cadets or whatever are actually totally lesbians. We figure this out about halfway through the film, when, in what you might recognize from any action movie plot in the history of the world, the General becomes worried that her cadet lover will be killed by a Transmorpher out on the front lines. The two fight, and make up with a grandmother-esque peck. As a representative of the heterosexual community, I’m going to say this: I expected better. I just sat through 45 minutes of Transmorphers; I should at least see someone in a bra. Their lesbianism is never really addressed again throughout the whole movie- they just injected it into the film to give it some kind of last-minute appeal. This is the cinematic equivalent of writing a shitty book report and buying a fancy plastic cover for it, except in this case, the plastic cover probably won’t remember your gay affair past graduation.
Of course, you can’t just rely on breasts to sell your crappy movies. “Man cannot live on breasts alone.” Not that there’s anything wrong with breasts, no. You just have to diversify your portfolio sometimes, especially in a world where a lot of people are very easily offended by almost everything. And the only thing besides awkward, forced girl on girl action that people love unquestioningly is obvious- Jesus.
Remember that time when Jeff Dunham toured the Midwest and got a grassroots fanbase and after seven or eight years of this got signed to a Comedy Central special? And then, people thought his racist, sexist, homophobic bullshit was hilarious and so the network signed him to three more specials and a TV show that was a complete failure? And then we all came down, kind of realized what we had done, and questioned why the fuck we all thought a jingoist puppet show was a good idea in the first place? That’s kind of what Sunday School Musical feels like. Disney had one bad idea, and everyone kind of ran with it, and we wound up with this goddamn movie. The same thing has happened with a lot of stupid fads- that’s how we wound up with four Pirates of the Caribbean films, why every four flannel-clad losers in Seattle were given a record deal in 1992, and why Oprah has her own entire television channel. Then again, I can’t blame them. When it was released, High School Musical sold more copies than any DVD ever. Combining that with Jesus really should have seemed like a slam dunk. That guy has a lot of fans.
Of course, my favourite part about Sunday School Musical isn’t that it’s a hilariously bad movie that got sold to the American people because of its God-flavored theme. It’s that it was also branded as an “urban” movie, and if you don’t know what that is, it’s a movie made by white people with an all black cast. Sometimes companies like to make money off of minorities. White people tend to think that when selecting a movie, it involves a lot of checking to make sure that your skin color is the same as that of the actors. While not true, it’s effectively kept any black actor other than Will Smith from being in one of the same three roles since we stopped having minstrel shows: hardworking guy just trying to get off the streets, wacky best friend, and grumpy but wise oldster. The Asylum followed this description almost to the letter. And for those of you still unconvinced that this is genuinely a racial issue, count the black people on the cover of Sunday School Musical. That’s right. It’s an urban movie sold as a white movie sold as a Jesus movie sold as a rip-off of High School Musical.
Despite tough competition, my favourite Asylum movie of all time is Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus. There’s no sexual or racial exploitation. The Asylum is not selling you anything based on a 2000 year old dead guy. This is a movie gives you exactly want: a mega shark fighting a giant octopus, and I fucking love that shit. Watch this right here.
I could watch that all day, and I’ll tell you why. Sometimes I don’t need to be edified by movies. Not everything can be Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. If it was, the world would be as boring and annoyingly self-aware as a black and white Tumblog. When it’s three in the morning and I have a bowl of popcorn, I want to make fun of a crappy B-movie on the SyFy channel and watch shit blow up. It’s okay to just be entertained by a movie and not have it change your whole life. That’s why I’m totally fine with the Asylum when they’re not making money off of Jesus, tits, or hilarious racism. I can’t wait for Nazis at the Center of the Earth.