Not many movie critics earn the privilege to put out a book about one hundred of some of the best worst movies ever made. But author Phil Hall’s film knowledge dwarfs so many other alleged film critics that it’s only obvious Hall should release a book about anti-classics after years of his celebrated “The Bootleg Files” online.
“The Greatest Bad Movies Of All Time” from author Phil Hall brings together a hundred of arguably the worst and most bafflingly awful films ever brought to the mainstream, and it’s quite the excellent read. Author Phil Hall is gladly very unique in his choices, and I found two particular entries to be stand outs.
Author Phil Hall writes about the utter mess that was “Beyond the Sea,” the Kevin Spacey vanity project about Bobby Darin’s life. I fondly remember anxiously awaiting to see it, and being so embarrassed for the man.
So convinced is he that he can rise as an actor that he tries to pass himself off as a teenager. Hall eloquently explores the sheer catastrophe of “Beyond the Sea” and how it damaged Spacey’s stock as an actor in the long run. The second stand out is Hall’s sheer obliteration of Clint Eastwood’s “Mystic River.” Yet another film I was dying to see the year it was released; I remember being incredibly disappointed by it. It’s gratifying to know someone else loathes the picture, too.
If you’re a regular reader of Hall’s, you know that he isn’t crazy about most of Eastwood’s directorial efforts, and “Mystic River” is no exception. Hall brilliantly picks apart the film’s awful acting, contrived plot twists, inconsistencies, and subtle racism in two pages, and really makes his point that he has no room for Eastwood as a director in his love for cinema. Some readers may find “Mystic River” and grumble “Oh please! You’re crazy!” But I have to say, author Hall puts up a fine argument, while he compels the reader to witness it for themselves. While the book does span a hundred films and is over 250 pages long, it’s a very easy and breezy read, and I tore through it in a matter of hours.
Hall does spotlight some of the most famous mainstream follies with his own unique sense of disgust, sympathy, and sharp humor contemplating films like “Battlefield Earth,” Halle Berry’s disasterpiece “Catwoman,” and the waste of money that was “Pluto Nash.” He also includes Ed Wood’s “Plan Nine from Outer Space” and questions if it really is as bad a film, as it garners the reputation of being. It’s one of my favorite films of all time, so I strongly disagree that it’s the worst film ever made. One of my favorite entries is his discussion of Bo Welsch’s “The Cat in the Hat,” a monumentally awful film that also is something of an awe inspiring piece of garbage that insults the source material greatly. Hall also delivers some interesting facts about every film.
I had no idea Tim Allen was originally going to play the Cat in the Hat. Like Roger Ebert’s famous book series “Your Movie Sucks,” author Hall doesn’t pretend he knows more than the reader, but instead ponders the endlessly awful movies that are included in the compilation. As the author states in the introduction, no one is above bad taste, and even he himself garners some love for questionable film titles. Hey, I admit that I loved “The Adventures of Ford Fairlane” as a kid, and anticipated “Battlefield Earth” at one time. I’m only human. But you can’t pay me enough to re-watch “The Hottie & the Nottie.” What’s interesting about the book is that when the reader has finished, they may just be inspired to pick up something like “Airport 75” and “The Giant Claw” and decide for themselves how they feel about the sheer painful flops these films are. Maybe they’ll end up discovering a new favorite best worst film for their library making author Phil Hall’s job complete. I’m crossing my fingers for a volume two.