How I Review a Bad Movie – By Nichele Johnston

When you read the various reviews of people who watch bad movies and write down what they see you might think there is a great deal of hatred behind it. Not so. It’s just the opposite. While there are exceptions to this rule, you have to take some perverse pleasure in watching and reviewing terrible movies. Not everyone can sit down and document some of the most godawful films to ever see the light of day. And when you take into account that it involves watching said godawful movies several times to get the review done, and this is done all year round, it’s probably enough to make the average persons hair stand on end. Well, I don’t know about other fellow reviewers, but I’ve made my review time into an art, a ritual. It’s not just about throwing any given movie into the DVD player and scribbling down a few paragraphs. This is a time consuming process that requires preparation and the willingness to give up a few weekend afternoons a month to warn the viewing public of these cinematic disasters.

First, in order to pick a movie to review, one must have movies to pick. Over the years I have accumulated several dozen videos and DVDs that I keep on a separate shelf from my regular movies. If the average person were to glance at my movie collection he or she might think I have some weird video bipolar disorder, but that’s a chance I’m willing to take. Some I’ve read about and had to see for myself, some I’ve come across by accident (it’s amazing what you can find in the $1.99 bin) and some are a given. No bad movie collection would be complete without Battlefield Earth, and any film from Ed Wood. Right? Of course I am. Anyways, unless it’s a Roundtable, I pick my movies at random.

Then it’s time to settle down and watch the movie. I get my drinks, snacks, and notebook and hit “Play.” More often than not there are one or two cats who insist on sprawling across my notebook while I’m trying to write. The first thing I always do is make the cast list or “The Players.” Being as that is the first thing I list on my reviews there’s no reason to put that off. Sometimes there is no proper credit for the cast, which always makes me mad. That means I can’t properly put the blame on the bad actors for their various awful performances. Alas, we can’t have everything. Next are the “Highlights” and “Priceless Dialogue” lists. This usually takes two or three viewings to get everything. There are times when I have to rewind over and over and over again to the dialogue written down right. Yes, this can be a pain in the ass, but sometimes the dialogue is so wonderfully atrocious that it’s worth rewinding ten times to get it right.

Finally there’s the body of the review – “The Plot.” This is always saved for last as it’s the longest and most time consuming part. I write as the movie goes along, stopping and rewinding, deciding which plot points to keep and which aren’t worth the effort to write about. Yeah, I don’t include every micro-detail, so sue me. I don’t have the time or the patience to nitpick every tiny thing so I pick whatever stands out the most or whatever is the most important to the plot, or lack thereof. Then I write my dissection paragraphs with the movie playing in the background. It helps a lot with the witty comments to have whatever movie I’m ripping to shreds in front of me. There is an unexplainable satisfaction in knowing that someone’s so-called “masterpiece of cinema” aka “The worst movie of the year”, is going under my poisoned pen. Believe me, there is nothing like it. It’s almost as good as chocolate.

My father once asked me what I get out of all this. I replied with something to effect of: “The knowledge that there are people out there reading my work.” He just shrugged and walked away. Poor dad, he just doesn’t get it.

Okay, I’ve finished actually writing down the review, so now what? Time to transfer this baby to the computer. These things don’t magically appear, ya know. But first I get the screen captures. I just wish my computer would play VHS tapes, too. There’s probably a way to do it but it’s not worth the hassle. Anyways, while typing this sucker I pretty much have to rewrite the whole damn thing. This usually takes several hours in itself, but I’ve learned a few shortcuts (remember, Cut and Paste is your friend). After making a few editing decisions here and there, trying to find all my spelling mistakes and always managing to miss one, it’s finished. All that’s left do is add it to the “Reviews” list and change the index page. Eureka! A new review is finished!

So now you have a glimpse into the mind and ramblings of a Bad Movie reviewer. Does this make you appreciate the effort that goes into it, or does this confirm you suspicions that I’ve really gone off the deep end? Does this make you want to take up the cause of warning innocent bystanders about “Freddy Got Fingered,” or does this make you want to swan dive off the nearest overpass? All I can say is this: If I keep one person away from “The First Turn-On” or if I make one person appreciate the sheer the awfulness of “The Lonely Lady” then I have done my job. Bon Appetit.