30-Day Film Challenge: Guilty Pleasure

Day 13
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Spaceballs (1987) by Dusty Somers

Mel Brooks' cinematic output is reliably hit-or-miss, but he's got a couple of bona fide classics under his belt, including Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. But I'll be honest with you -- there's a different Brooks film that gets more play in my house, and that's Spaceballs, a Star Wars parody that throws in references to Alien, Star Trek and Lawrence of Arabia, among others.

Spaceballs doesn't touch Brooks' best work in terms of farce, satire or cleverly lowbrow humor. For the most part, it's just juvenile and packed to the brim with lazy jokes like "I'm surrounded by assholes!"

Nonetheless, I have an unabashed soft spot for the film, which was a standby in the old VCR. I can take or leave other Brooks clunkers like Robin Hood: Men in Tights or History of the World: Part I, but Spaceballs will continue to be a pleasure I only feel marginally guilty about. 

Love Actually (2003) by Amanda Salazar

Everything about this film screams guilty pleasure; there are only attractive people, there are dance sequences, sing-a-longs and people fall in and out of love in the most exaggerated, yet pleasing ways. The film that I can watch repeatedly as a guilty pleasure has to be Love Actually.

This film follows eight different couples that are all connected in London. There is young love with first crushes, obsessive love that won't work out, awkward love and even an older more delicate love that is tested. All of these couples are followed in the month of December, leading up to Christmas, a perfect companion to love.

I enjoy all of the little intricacies between each couple and the fact that not everyone ends up together. It brings together the best parts of Christmastime, with kids plays, presents, and holiday songs, and just leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling, capturing the essence of the Beatles' song that is used during the closing credits "All You Need is Love."

The Spirit (2008) by El Bicho

This subject is a tough one because I have no qualms about admitting I like any movie, so there's nothing I would feel guilty about, but if I have to name one that I would have trouble making a case for to others, it's Frank Miller's adaptation of Will Eisner's The Spirit, an extremely outlandish comic-book movie imbued with film-noir influences.

The Spirit is Denny Colt (Gabriel Macht), former police officer thought killed yet he lives and now fights crime behind a mask in Central City. During the movie, he battles against villians The Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson) and Sand Saref (Eva Mendes), the latter of which he has a past connection. How it all ends is not surprising.

The green-screen technology does a fantastic job realizing Miller's amazing vision, which is magnificent to witness; however, the movie suffers mightily from the weaknesses of the characters and their dialogue, admittedly making it tough to sit through.  Also the humor is not very humorous, defeating any camp intentions. It's unfortunate The Spirit is so bad because it will keep people from seeing one of the most visually interesting movies I've seen in years. It's so impressive I recommend a rental with the sound off.

Motel Hell (1980) by Shawn Bourdo

The premise of this day is debateable. I see "guilty pleasure" as a movie that is terrible and yet I find some pleasure in watching it. It should be something that I would still watch often enough to consider it a "pleasure".

And this terrible horror film from 1980, Motel Hell fits the bill perfectly. It's a ripoff of Psycho and Texas Chainsaw Massacre at it's heart. But it throws in some nods to Hammer and Amicus films from Britain (the director having worked on Amicus films earlier). And it's even got a little bit of Little Shop Of Horrors, Eating Raoul, and some Helter Skelter thrown in. It's terribly acted - no doubt about it. And the scares are relatively laughable.

Rory Calhoun as Farmer Vincent Smith is probably why I love this movie so much. He's Norman Bates with a learning disability mixed with Leatherface. And there's a fun cameo by Wolfman Jack. It's certainly done by people who love the burgeoning "nastie" horror films of the late '70s. And they have a sense of humor that goes beyond the script. For that reason - I find this a guilty pleasure that most will have written off but that I can find lots to love.

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