Whilst Sight & Sound celebrated the “100 greatest films ever made” at BFI Southbank, our third Bar Trash season, TRASH OR TREASURE?, resurrected one of the most controversial movie lists of all time, The Golden Turkey Awards by Harry and Michael Medved. I screened a series of my favourites from the ‘turkeys’ and gauged audience opinion with new ‘trash or treasure’ polling cards, which have become staple feature of Bar Trash ever since.
This season went epic with two studio cinema screenings (KING KONG and EXORCIST 2), a DIY recreation of William Castle’s Percepto! seat buzzing system for THE TINGLER, a sing-along JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, and a take-over by queer wrestling collective Fist Club for International Women’s Day (KANSAS CITY BOMBER). You can read my article about ‘the social power of bad movies’ here.
#023: THE GREEN SLIME d. Kinji Fukasaku (1968 / Japan / 90mins)
Genesis Cinema 18 JAN 2023 [full event info]
Shot in Japan by a Japanese director – Kinji Fukasaku – and film crew, THE GREEN SLIME has a non-Japanese cast featuring Robert Horton, Richard Jaeckel (who we last saw as the mountain man in GRIZZLY) and Luciana Paluzzi.
THE GREEN SLIME was listed in The Golden Turkey Awards A-Z, a compendium of “the worst films of all time” nominated by the general public (receiving 15+ votes from roughly 3,000 ballots…).
#024: TROG d. Freddie Francis (1970 / UK / 93mins)
Genesis Cinema 25 JAN 2023 [full event info]
TROG is a British science fiction film produced by Herman Cohen (I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN) and the last film from legendary screen actor, Joan Crawford. Crawford’s problematic personal life – including alcoholism and an acrimonious relationship with her children – would give rise to another of the “worst films of all time”, the deranged biopic starring Faye Dunaway, MOMMIE DEAREST (which features prominently in Son Of Golden Turkey Awards…).
TROG was listed in The Golden Turkey Awards A-Z, a compendium of “the worst films of all time” nominated by the general public (receiving 15+ votes from roughly 3,000 ballots…).
#025: LIFEFORCE d. Tobe Hooper (1985 / UK / 106mins)
Rule Zero 29 JAN 2023 [full event info]
LIFEFORCE is based on Colin Wilson’s novel The Space Vampires, written by Dan O’Bannon (ALIEN), directed by Tobe Hooper (THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, POLTERGEIST) and features special effects by Academy Award winner John Dykstra (SILENT RUNNING, STAR WARS, BATMAN & ROBBIN). It was a box office bomb.
Producer Menahem Golan – of Cannon Films – was listed in the “Rogues’ Gallery – Who’s Who in the World of Bad Movies” by Harry and Michael Medved in their book, Son Of Golden Turkey Awards (1986).
#026: DAMNATION ALLEY d. Jack Smight (1977 / USA / 91mins)
Genesis Cinema 01 FEB 2023 [full event info]
Produced by 20th Century Fox in the same year as STAR WARS, DAMNATION ALLEY’s post-production budget was re-directed to underpin George Lucas’ struggling effort… When STAR WARS made it to theatres first – and was a massive hit! – DAMNATION ALLEY was significantly re-edited, focussing attention on its hobbled SFX. Despite a few engagements being presented in Sound 360 – a high-impact surround-sound process – the film sadly tanked at the box office…
DAMNATION ALLEY was listed in The Golden Turkey Awards A-Z, a compendium of “the worst films of all time” nominated by the general public (receiving 15+ votes from roughly 3,000 ballots…).
#027: MATILDA d. Daniel Mann (1978 / USA / 87mins)
Genesis Cinema 08 FEB 2023 [full event info]
After ROCKY was a smash hit in 1976 many other films tried to copy its success… MATILDA is a curious mix of crime caper and sports drama that was intended as a feel-good movie for audiences of all ages. Its strangest asset by far is the 6’1” kangaroo suited (male…) hero… We can only imagine what might have been if MATILDA had matched the ROCKY franchise’s global success…
MATILDA featured in The Golden Turkey Awards as nominee for “The Worst Film You Never Saw” Award as the film was pulled from distribution following disastrous test screenings.
#028: THE TINGLER d. William Castle (1959 / USA / 82mins)
Genesis Cinema 15 FEB 2023 [full event info]
Producer, writer, director, promoter and all-round B-movie legend William Castle embodies the lost art of going to the cinema. Throughout the 1950s and 60s Castle promoted his films with a series of gimmicks that included skeletons appearing on zipwires above the audience for HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959) and insuring Hercules, the giant cockroach we saw in last season’s BAR TRASH title, BUG! (1975), for $1million before taking ‘him’ on a roadshow tour of the US…
THE TINGLER featured in The Golden Turkey Awards as Winner of “The Most Inane and Unwelcome ‘Technical Advance’ in Hollywood History” Award for ‘Percepto!’. For this screening, I recreated the full Percepto! theatrical experience, including in-screen medical personnel (Nurse James!), stooges planted amongst the audience, and buzzing seats (using my own DIY system). Audience members were asked to pledge a disclaimer before the film.
#029: THE THING WITH TWO HEADS d. Lee Frost (1972 / USA / 91mins)
Genesis Cinema 22 FEB 2023 [full event info]
A classic slice of blaxploitation cinema from American International Pictures, THE THING WITH TWO HEADS features Welsh screen actor Ray Milland and ex-pro American footballer, Rosey Grier. Before CGI or complex prosthetics were possible, the film took a more direct approach, sandwiching the two performers together for the majority of their surgically-induced screen time. You won’t believe your eyes but please be warned: this film contains scenes of racial intolerance (even though we know whose side we’re on…) and will screen without subtitles.
THE THING WITH TWO HEADS featured in The Golden Turkey Awards as Winner of “The Worst Two-Headed Transplant Movie Ever Made” Award.
#030: CONAN THE DESTROYER d. Richard Fleischer (1984 / USA & Mexico / 101mins)
Rule Zero 26 FEB 2023 [full event info]
Director Richard Fleischer was responsible for a series of spectacular sci-fi, action and adventure films over a long career that started in the 1940s and ran through until the end of the 80s. Treasured titles include 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1954), FANTASTIC VOYAGE (1966) and SOYLENT GREEN (1973). His rip-roaring CONAN sequel features a drunk barbarian, a battling Grace Jones, wrestling legend Pat Roach in a mirror maze, and the final climax with rubbery demon god Dagoth (created by Italian SFX maestro Carlo Rambaldi, the (god)father of E.T.).
Richard Fleischer was listed in the “Rogues’ Gallery – Who’s Who in the World of Bad Movies” by Harry and Michael Medved in their book, Son Of Golden Turkey Awards (1986). CONAN THE DESTROYER also featured as a nominee for “The Most Preposterous Romantic Pairing in Movie History” (Arnold Schwarzenegger & Grace Jones).
#031: KING KONG d. John Guillermin (1976 / USA / 134mins)
Genesis Cinema 01 MAR 2023 [full event info]
Legendary movie mogul Dino de Laurentiis presents a big-budget remake of the 1933 classic, KING KONG. Plans to use a full-size animatronic Kong – a truly monstrous 40-foot robotic folly overseen by SFX maestro Carlo Rambaldi (the father of E.T.) – proved unworkable, so make-up artist Rick Baker (OCTAMAN, VIDEODROME) slipped into a state of the art ‘monkey suit’…
KING KONG (1976) featured in The Golden Turkey Awards as winner of “The Biggest Ripoff In Hollywood History” Award. We screened KING KONG in Genesis Cinema’s Studio 4 from a 4K Restoration to give the big guy some room.
#032: KANSAS CITY BOMBER d. Jerrold Freedman (1972 / USA / 99mins) x FIST CLUB for International Women’s Day
Genesis Cinema 07 MAR 2023 [full event info]
In KANSAS CITY BOMBER, Raquel Welch plays roller-derby skater K. C. Carr who tries to balance her personal life with dreams of stardom. Welch was featured in The Golden Turkey Awards as winner of the “The Worst Actress of All Time” award. But how bad(ass) was she…? The film was screened in tribute following the actor’s recent passing.
FIST CLUB is London’s sensational queer wrestling, drag, cabaret and comedy show and they took over this edition of BAR TRASH for International Women’s Day! Cult film fanatic Katy Bulmer (Loose Willis) hosted and was joined on stage by FIST CLUB co-creator Daisy Lang (Rocky Rhodes aka Big Dick Energy) and professional wrestler Beau Belles (Sally Altan). Together, they discussed why watching violent women, non-binary and gnc characters on screen is a radical act. We also raised money for WISH, a local women’s mental health charity.
#033: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR d. Norman Jewison (1973 / USA / 106mins)
Genesis Cinema 15 MAR 2023 [full event info]
The film that might have starred Mick Jagger, David Cassidy – or even John Lennon! – ended up casting a relative unknown – Ted Neeley – in the most famous role of all time. Contemporary critics weren’t kind… As Paul D. Zimmerman observed in Newsweek, Neeley’s performance as “Jesus often recalls Charles Manson”.
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR featured in The Golden Turkey Awards because Ted Neeley won “The Worst Performance by an Actor as Jesus Christ” award. For this screening, co-host – and Genesis Cinema’s regular event manager for Bar Trash – James (aka Jimmy Haze) led the audience in song following a rousing vocal warm-up. We danced too. It was like a religious intervention (with added alcohol and travel strikes).
#034: EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC d. John Boorman (1977 / USA / 117mins)
Genesis Cinema 22 MAR 2023 [full event info]
Given the phenomenal worldwide success of William Friedkin’s THE EXORCIST (1973), a sequel should have been a sure-fire smash… However, Warner Bros. gave the project to maverick British director John Boorman (DELIVERANCE, ZARDOZ) who didn’t like the original or care much for horror movies in general… His EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC remains a truly unique creation, retaining Linda Blair as poor Regan MacNeil but taking spell-bindingly curious new directions in tone and storytelling.
EXORCIST II featured in The Golden Turkey Awards in two categories. Firstly, iconic screen actor Richard Burton won “The Worst Actor of All Time” award. Then, EXORCIST II was voted first runner-up in the readers’ poll for “The Worst Film of All Time”. We screened EXORCIST 2 in Genesis Cinema’s Studio 4 to give the horror space to shine.
#035: HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL! d. Jack Arnold (1958 / USA / 85mins)
Rule Zero 26 MAR 2023 [full event info]
Jack Arnold was one of the 1950’s great sci-fi directors, giving the world indelible classics like CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954), TARANTULA (1955) and IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE (1953). Here, he turns his attention to another kind of alien entirely, the American teenager… HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL! is a classic example of the ‘juvenile delinquency’ and ‘drugs cautionary’ exploitation sub-genres that drew curious crowds to the cinema from the 1920s to the 1950s.
Mamie Van Doren was listed in the “Rogues’ Gallery – Who’s Who in the World of Bad Movies” by Harry and Michael Medved in their book, Son Of Golden Turkey Awards (1986).
#036: PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE d. Edward D. Wood Jnr. (1957 / USA / 79mins)
Genesis Cinema 29 MAR 2023 [full event info]
Edward D. Wood Jnr.’s PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1957) is a truly legendary title in the annals of ‘bad’ film appreciation. But it’s fair to say, without the Brothers Medved catapulting the film back into notoriety in The Golden Turkey Awards (1980), film fans might have forgotten all about it. We certainly wouldn’t have had the subsequent re-appraisal of the director’s peculiar life and career, or the detailed recreation of this film’s production in Tim Burton’s caring homage, ED. WOOD (1994).
The Golden Turkey Awards named Ed. Wood “The Worst Director of All Time” and his PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1957) came first in the readers’ poll for “The Worst Film of All Time”. We drank a lot.
#037: ZONE TROOPERS d. Danny Bilson (1985 / USA / 86mins)
Genesis Cinema 30 APR 2023 [full event info]
Indie U.S. production company Empire International Pictures (aka Empire Entertainment) was a real family affair. Founder Charles Band appointed his dad, Albert – an experienced director/producer (ZOLTAN… HOUND OF DRACULA) – as head of production and recruited his brother, Richard (GHOULIES), to write several film scores. Beloved Empire titles include TRANCERS (1984), RE-ANIMATOR (1985) and ROBOT JOX (1990). ZONE TROOPERS comes from the period of ‘peak Empire’ before the studio’s eventual financial collapse in the late 80s which led Charles Band to launch Full Moon Entertainment, a company he still runs today (home of the PUPPET MASTER franchise).
The Band Family was listed in the “Rogues’ Gallery – Who’s Who in the World of Bad Movies” by Harry and Michael Medved in their book, Son Of Golden Turkey Awards (1986).
#038: XANADU d. Robert Greenwald (1980 / USA / 96mins)
Rule Zero 28 MAY 2023 [full event info]
There can be no finer slice of Sunday cinema than this spell-bindingly curious cocktail of late 70s/early 80s excess and old-school 1940s showmanship. From the day-glo special effects, to Gene Kelly dancing one final time on the big screen, the spectacular, ‘rock-out on roller-skates’ finale will leave you breathless. Featuring music from Newton-John, Electric Light Orchestra, Cliff Richard, and The Tubes, the soundtrack album became a huge commercial success.
XANADU featured in Son of Golden Turkey Awards as a nominee for “The Most Preposterous Romantic Pairing in Movie History” (Fred Astaire & Olivia Newton John).