There’s something about a certain kind of bad movie that’s just straight up fun. Whether it’s the corny one liners, the over the top action, or the complete disregard for physics or basic logic, there’s nothing quite like popping one in and turning your brain off to enjoy.
However, they tend to…not exactly stick in the brain very well. They come and go like waves, and it’s easy to forget about them completely – sometimes within hours of seeing them. Even with my well-documented love of bad movies, I can only remember like ten percent of them, and of the ones I can remember I only remember small bits of what happens.
So, in the interest of helping you find some cheesy movies to unwind, here’s three I’ve been reminded exist and want to share with you.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters
That’s right. This movie actually existed.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is 2013 movie starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as the titular siblings. (As an aside, I had to google to see if Gemma Arterton was still working in film, because I cannot remember the last time I saw her in a movie. Seeing that her IMDB “Known for” page has Prince of Persia, Clash of the Titans, and Quantum of Solace as highlights of her career, I now understand why I haven’t heard of her in anything big.)
This is one of those movies where the title also serves as the synopsis, elevator pitch, and plot. Hansel and Gretel, of the folk tale Hansel and Gretel, were captured by an evil witch that lives in a candy house and who wanted to eat them. In this gritty re-imagining of the story, however, they escape alive and then become people who track down and kill evil magic users using anachronistic technology. If only there was some kind of simple term for that. Something short and snappy. “Warlock Stalkers,” or “Wizard Slayers” or something.
If it feels like I’m taking my good sweet time getting to the plot, it’s because there’s so little of it and the plot isn’t what you watch this movie for. You watch it see Hansel and Gretel shoot witches – which are visually very much leaning on the “bent crone” or “hag” model – with guns that shouldn’t exist for another hundred years. The action is over the top and gorey to the extreme, and I love every second of it. Definitely a fun time.
Judge Dredd is an interesting character. At first glance, he embodies everything about the 1990’s in comics – pouches, impossibly muscled, and ultraviolent – but he was created in 1977. His comics take place in an alternate future dystopia, where humanity lives in densely-packed mega cities, and yet he is also a law-enforcement agent which are not normally the protagonist of dystopian fiction.
The first attempt at a Judge Dread movie, starring Sylvester Stallone, was probably the worst film of 1995 to get a theatrical release. The less that’s said about this flop, the better. However, the 2012 film Dredd, starring Karl Urban, is an absolute blast.
Taking place mostly inside a single massive apartment building, Dredd features the titular Judge Dredd training a rookie Judge (who happens to be a telepathic mutant) by taking her on assignment. They find themselves embroiled in a conflict with the gang leader Ma-Ma, who wants the Judges dead before they can expose her drug ring.
The movie takes about 15-20 minutes to set all that up. The remainder of the runtime is dedicated to the Judges trapped in the apartment complex and mowing down waves and waves of Ma-Ma’s goons in amazingly over the top style. Of particular note is the use of the drug Slo-Mo – the drug Ma-Ma is selling that starts the conflict, which gives the user a high while slowing down their perception of time. It’s used to spectacular effect at several points to give us slow-motion scenes with trippy visual filters and makes any slow-mo sequences make logical sense in universe. Add to that some kinetic action sequences and writing that, while not brilliant, is better than a movie like Dredd required, and you’ve got one hell of a ride.
It’s a funny world where the one movie on this list without a prominent scene involving a minigun is the one with Jason Statham and not the one set in the 1600’s…is what I wanted to say, right up until I remembered the giant death machine had a minigun among its many armaments. My joke is ruined, but the movie was made even more awesome, so I’ll count it as a win.
Death Race is a 2008 Jason Statham vehicle (Heh, car pun) that featured him being forced to fight in the titular Death Race. Yes, I had set a personal goal to use the word titular in every single one of these entries, thank you for noticing. This being a cheesy action movie, Jason Statham is an ex con blue collar type that also used to be a NASCAR driver who is framed for the murder of his wife. As part of his sentence, he competes in the Death Race – and like all competitors, if he wins 5 races he gets free. The movie might be making a point about the for profit prison system here, but it’s buried under the realization that this is a world where you are released from prison for proving you’re the best at vehicular manslaughter.
But again, we’re not here for the plot. We’re here to watch shit get wrecked and drool over Jason Statham’s body. Thankfully, that’s exactly what Death Race is here to show us. Well, more of the shit getting wrecked, although if you’re more interested in the second, watch the clip below:
You’re welcome, anyone who loves to admire the male form.
The races are the real fun part of the movie. Every car is kitted out with crazy war tools straight out of Mad Max, and the race track is set up with “power ups” that make this into a game of Mario Kart with the highest body count until the Nintendo Wars of 2029. The movie knows this too, and the plot scenes in between action beats pretty much exist solely to give the audience a chance to catch their breath before it rips it away again.
Not into movies and would rather read a book? I heard about this Weird Theology urban fantasy written by an incredibly witty and handsome man. You should check it out. It has a sequel coming 09/10 you can pre-order now. Also, I heard the author is super subtle with self-promotion.