A brief story in the New York Times last fall about a coven of connoisseurs
of bewitchingly awful movies intrigued the Editor of CUNY·Matters.
After pursuing several false leads-involving a shadowy fourth man,
a mysterious Burmese falcon, and a private eye from Georgia who
frankly didn't give a damn-he was finally able to make contact with
the spokesperson for the group, historian Carol Berkin, who was
absolutely fearless about acknowledging her affiliation in this
context (The Graduate Center and Baruch College). Asked to describe
Le Cine Crappe, as the club calls itself, and to poll its members
on some recent and some all-time exquisitely bad movies, Berkin
gamely filed the following report. Clearly, the club's motto could
be taken from Mae West's memorable boast in I'm No Angel: "When
I'm good I'm very good, but when I'm bad I'm better." Editor's Warning:
rent these a.y.o.r.
origins of the club are shrouded in mystery. . .or at least they're
vague. Formally, Le Cine Crappe started about three years ago, but
small groups of those who would become charter members had been
going to bad movies together for a few years before that. As of
this May, we are about 20 members strong, and a full complement
for an outing can run to about 15. Members include professors, magazine
editors, and free-lance reporters, but the heart and soul of the
club are grad students.
Cuny stalwarts of Le Cine Crappe: from left, Matthew Cotter,
Kris Burrell, Carol Berkin, Angelo Angelis, and Mark Sgambettera.
were polled recently and asked by CUNY·Matters to identify favorites
(if that is the word) in two categories: all-time drop-dead awful
movies and all-time crappy movies that, in the Mae West sense, are
irresistibly delightful. Here, then, are winners of Le Cine Crappe's
much unsought-after Empty Popcorn Box Awards.
Note: these are lists of six, the usual "10" being considered by
us too cruel and unusual.
Worst of the Worst
Sphere: Number one on everyone's list. This movie taxes
even the most liberal imaginationby putting Dustin Hoffman and Samuel
Jackson underwater with Sharon Stone in a spherical apparatus, in
which they encounter a mysterious alien thingy that turns a person's
wishes into reality. After seeing it, club members rose spontaneously,
clasped hands, and begged to be allowed to forget Sphere. Club member
Angelo Angelis summed up: "A marathon of stupidity. . .even worse
that Warren Beatty's Ishtar."
Dudley Do-Right: As a fan of Brendan Fraser from the
beginning and an equally devoted fan of "Rocky and Bullwinkle,"
I awaited this film with horribly mistaken anticipation. The only
believable character was the horse. Club member Inara Angelis's
thumbnail squelch: "It did not do right by me."
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: This movie we considered
an insult to all who lived through the 60s and remember drugs fondly-in
the historian's sense, of course. It was not like that. How could
LSD trips be so boring, and what a waste of Johnny Depp. Popcorn
was of no avail.
Unbreakable: A more honest title: Unbearable. Samuel
Jackson as a lunatic in a wheelchair spouting comic book Ayn Rand,
Bruce Willis as an unfunny version of Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden
on The Honeymooners-oy!
UB571: A submarine by any other number might have
been better. History gone wacky: the wrong country doing the right
thing. As one Club member quipped, "UB crazy if you think this is
about WWII." Why did no one think to plant some explosives under
the director's chair...or in the writer's mouse?
The Patriot: Heroic Mel, sans kilt, reprises rescue
of the world. But get this: a wealthy South Carolina planter who
makes money growing corn. . .workers who are hired hands (and probably
get pensions). . .and an Anglican minister dressed like some 17th-century
New England puritan! Club member Adam Reichman: "Best comedy of
The Best of the Worst
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut: Loved by us
all. We still sing "Blame it on Canada" at the slightest provocation.
We are hoping that the Devil and Saddam Hussein are making the marriage
Exit Wounds: Steven Seagal is a bona fide hero. Who
wouldn't feel safe with him in a dark alley? The man kicks serious
butt. Slimmed down again, but regrettably without his famous pony
tail, Seagal makes a great comeback after two real disasters (which
of course we saw) set in Alaska and Appalachia. Way to go Steve-o!
The Mummy: This movie had everything-adorable Brendan,
a librarian with sex appeal way beyond Marian, a dashing Arab hero,
and a really scary wad of bandages. Bugs eating bad guys! What more
can one ask from a film?
Charlie's Angels: The guys voted this one in. They
still have glossy photos of their favorite angel in their lockers
and offices. Several club members have shrines to Drew Barrymore.
And we all, male and female, applauded Lucy's dominatrix scene.
The X Files: FBI agents Mulder and Scully almost
kiss. Damn that bee! As most of us are devoted fans of the series,
our delight here was no surprise. We will never eat corn on the
cob again without some sense of doom.
The Faculty: This was bound to win us over: aliens
invade a school and they are all teachers. And Earth is saved by
teenagers! Who says you need high SAT scores to be a hero?