I worked in a video store for close to two years in 2008 – 2009. It was not the dream movie buff job that I had assumed it would be, mostly because it was a video store that catered to people who rented movies as background noise and people who needed an endless supply of porn. Every Friday, we would prep the new releases that would come out on Monday. We’d get boxes of new releases that typically had twenty-ish copies of the bigger releases and a series of single copies of movies that no one had ever heard of. The majority of these were straight-to-DVD releases and I became fascinated with the concept of these forgotten, filler movies that someone dedicated so much time to yet are almost instantly forgotten.
Granted, the majority of these movies are forgettable. Yet some of them hold a fascinating power. They usually star some down on his luck former A-lister (these days, usually Val Kilmer, Cuba Gooding Jr., 50 Cent or some combination of the three) who stands on the cover pointing a gun at a Photoshopped unnatural angle and typically shot in Bulgaria. There’s very little information about these films online, since few people bother watching them and even fewer people bother relaying their thoughts about the experience.
Do I like straight-to-DVD movies? Not more than anyone else. I simply find them fascinating. Unlike, say, Vern from outlawvern.com I don’t have a particular interest in the work of Isaac Florentine and I don’t intend to check out every van Damme movie that hits video store shelves (besides, Vern already does this). What I’m more interested in is what would possess someone to put Kat Von D, DMX, Armand Assante and Michael Madsen in a fucking vampire-cum-western-cum-trucker epic? What good could possibly come of this? Why does it exist?!
That having been said, Why Does It Exist? will also explore classic cinema, from the drive-in trash of the 60’s to TV movies from the 70’s (a particularly fecund area of inexplicable product), the Cannon powerhouse of the 80’s and the indie boom of the 90’s. Here’s a list of a few things I probably won’t cover:
– Talking animal movies like Marmaduke and shit like that. No one cares about that, and kids are dumb. That’s why they exist.
– Well-established cult classics. There’s plenty enough info and insight about these. No John Carpenter, George Romero, Ed Wood, etc. No self-aware camp either. Sorry John Waters, Russ Meyer, most of the Troma in-house productions, et al.
– Big, shitty blockbusters. Exceptions may be made for awful disaster movies from the 70’s, because I love those.
– Crazy-ass Takashi Miike-style stuff. That would just be overkill.
– SyFy-type MegaTigerSharkNarwhal monster flicks. There are a lot of these, and they just seem like fucking repetitive torture. Unless one of these somehow catches my eye, consider them off limits!
None of these movies cause me to question their very existence. The only criteria to be featured here is a visceral response from me: why?
I’m also going to cop to being totally indebted to the Onion AV Club for almost everything in here. They did it first and they did it very well, but I’m taking a stab at it. In the spirit of fair play, I’m going to try not to repeat things that have been contained in AV Club columns like My Year of Flops, I Watched This On Purpose and such. I can’t guarantee there won’t be overlap, though, especially when it comes to the Quebec-shot Fat Brando vehicle Free Money. In that same vein, I want to recognize Paul Scheer’s How Did This Get Made? podcast, which is a) hilarious b) has a very similar title. While the ideas are similar, the podcast focuses mostly on big-budget major releases. I’m going to try to veer off the beaten path a little bit.
I fully expect most of these movies to be shit but I assure you, dear reader, that I look for the good in everything. As much as I thrive on finding some wretched, embarrassing movies, I’d also really like to find some diamonds in the rough here and there. This isn’t entirely a snarky, ‘look-at-this-awful-crap’ blog. I just watch the things you’d assume no one would ever watch… whatever that entails.