TRUST ME, alphabetically: E deals with the egregious, the exasperating and the just plain ‘ewww’….14 of ’em
#1 EASY COME, EASY GO—dug up $4,250,000 for spot #57 on the chart of 1967 releases, but for Elvis Presley it was just another dismal step in a long slog down the line. This time he’s a frogman who moonlights as a nightclub singer (happens frequently). He’s after sunken Spanish treasure and is helped by go-go dancing Dodie Marshall and doof buddy Pat Harrington Jr. In the way are jealous Skip Ward and naughty Pat Priest (freed from being the normal one of The Munsters ). 95 minutes directed by John Rich has lame songs including the unforgettable “Yoga Is As Yoga Does”. With Elsa Lanchester and Frank McHugh. At any rate, Misses Marshall & Priest look groovacious.
#2 EAT MY DUST—-89-minute dorky car race cheapie produced by Roger Corman for $300,000, written & directed by his legendary partner-in-schlock Charles B. Griffith. It made them $5,000,000. Nothing-to-it comedy action was hindsight notable in that the star, Ron Howard, only appeared in it with the proviso that he could direct next time. He did (Grand Theft Auto) and of such sacrifice was a powerhouse directorial career born. With Ron’s bro Clint, daddy Rance and Christopher Norris.
#3 EDGE OF DARKNESS—not the sober and entertaining 1943 Errol Flynn actioner, but the bleak and illogical 2010 Mel Gibson revenge drama/political thriller. I like Gibson as actor (we’ll leave his off-screen tirades for psychiatrists to work over), and he can do Wronged Rage better than almost anyone (Liam Neeson’s got it down, too) but here it’s just dreary. Plot holes and lack of passion are shared with Ray Winstone, Danny Huston and Serbian knockout Bojana Novakovic. 117 minutes directed by Martin Campbell. They spent $80,000,000 to make this and came home with $100,000,000, signalling a major debit. You will not care.
#4 ENOUGH —-hotel room, nothing to do, so I watched this. Movies about women being abused are not high on my Joy list, and it doesn’t help if they get to kick the hell out of the deserving bastard, because you still have to endure all the mistreatment scenes beforehand. I’ve heard too many real-life stories from women I love to watch the subject get trivialized. Jennifer Lopez can act, but the script is Swiss cheese. Michael Apted directed some winners (Coal Miners Daughter, Gorillas In The Mist) but this one fell into his “Oh,That One” bin. 115 minutes in length, it resulted in $52,000,000 kicked back on a rollout of $38,000,000. How can they spend that much money on such a little drama? With Billy Campbell, Juliette Lewis, Noah Wyle and Fred Ward. They needed to add ‘Already’ to the title.
#5 ESCAPE TO ATHENA—dead flat WW2 adventure, mixing comedy with action: neither works. Packed cast flounder in bad material directed by George P. Cosmatos, the sensitive touch behind The Cassandra Crossing, Rambo:First Blood Part II and Cobra. Caught trying to escape the messed up script: Roger Moore, Telly Savalas, David Niven, Stefanie Powers, Claudia Cardinale, Elliott Gould, Richard Roundtree, Sonny Bono and Paul Picerni. William Holden does a cameo. A flailer all round. Lapped up a measly $2,200,000 take for its 125 minutes.
#6 THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN —-is this 1964 clunker the worst Hammer horror film? If it isn’t, I’d hate to sleep through a duller one. Freddie Francis directed its 84 minutes. With Peter Cushing, Peter Woodthorpe, Katy Wild as ‘Rina, the Begger Girl’ and New Zealand wrestler Kiwi Kingston as the guy under all the cut-rate monster makeup (it looks like they threw plaster at him and let it dry).
#7 THE EVIL THAT MEN DO—--retired CIA assassin (one of our good guy assassins) Charles Bronson heads to Guatemala to take out a doctor who teaches torture techniques and sells them to governments. Maybe when in Guatemala, the CIA guy could apologize for the 1954 coup that started decades of U.S. backed slaughter in that poverty-stricken nation? Nah, that would be a different movie. This one starts with an unstintingly brutal electric shock demonstration and doesn’t get much nicer as it goes along. With Theresa Saldana, Joseph Maher, Jose Ferrer and Raymond St. Jacques. Directed with no brakes on the mean pedal by J.Lee Thompson, one of nine flix he tattered his reputation on with the stoic star, who likewise did himself no favors with 90 minutes of junk like this. Audiences who ponied up $13,100,000 knew what they were getting when the ads teased “Most criminals answer to the law. The world’s most savage executioner must answer to Bronson.”
#8 EXIT TO EDEN—I recall a big deal made of this when it came out because of its BDSM content, some star nudity and that it emerged from the feverish imagination of Anne Rice. It flopped, critically and commercially, coming in 130th in 1994. Directed by Garry Marshall, spilling over 113 minutes. Earning disdain: Dana Delany, Rosie O’Donnell, Dan Aykroyd, Hector Elizondo,John Schneider, Donna Dixon, Iman. See if you spot Laura Harring (seven years before Mulholland Drive ) and Rosemary Forsythe (29 years from Shenandoah ), but then…you’d have to actually watch it to do that, so….
#9 THE EXPENDABLES 3—I was punished with this on a long-distance bus ride in The Philippines, on a TV mounted over the drivers head, with bad sound. Actually, that may have been the best way to see it, as at least it interrupted the horrible 80s music they blasted for two hours beforehand and set the quality quotient for the mind-altering game show that followed. Directed by Patrick Hughes, it expended $90,000,000 to grunt out macho contortions for 126 minutes, making Manlove to machine guns and explosions with the muscles and Botox of Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Kelsey Grammer, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and …Harrison Ford? Chickenhawk legions around Planet Stupid circled their SUVs, jeepneys and tuk tuk‘s, then slobbered out $206,000,000 to see the boys with their toys. Fans alarmed by its slightly toned down mayhem and PG-13 rating found sympathy from story creator and co-scripter Stallone, who lamented “a horrible miscalculation on everyone’s part in trying to reach a wider audience, but in doing such, diminish the violence that the audience expects. I’m quite certain it won’t happen again.”
#10 THE EXTERMINATOR —-New York City in 1980 was not exactly putting its image in the best of klieg lights, witness the tag-line for this revenge opus: “In war you have to kill to stay alive … on the streets of New York, it’s often the same.” So, maybe we’ll go to Orlando after all. Sadism is rampant in this vigilante absurdity, a $2,000,000 exercise in nihilism that returned $35,000,000 from the gore fiends. The writer & director of this 99 minutes of slop was James Glickenhaus. With Robert Ginty, Christopher George and a fallen-from-grace Samantha Eggar. One image can help you decide whether or not this is your cup of cruel: meat grinder.
#11 EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE—-the worst movie ever nominated for Best Picture? My vote, and yes, I’ve seen The Greatest Show On Earth, Doctor Dolittle, Love Story and Airport and I would watch those back-to-back, for a week, standing on my head, rather than put up with the character portrayed by and performance of same from Thomas Horn. Off-putting doesn’t cover it, despite the pro work from Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max Von Sydow (also nominated, as Supporting Actor, maybe a nod to valor above & beyond just for being in the same scene–or room, as young master Horn), John Goodman, Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright. Poorly conceived, and delivered with the subtlety of a leaf blower at a funeral. Directed for $40,000,000 by Stephen Daldry, along with those two nominations it scraped up $55,200,000. It’s not a good sign when you’re watching a movie about a damaged child and you find yourself actually wanting to damage the little
#12 AN EYE FOR AN EYE—no, not the 1981 Chuck Norris kickup (which I have not seen and do not intend to) or the 1996 Sally Field vs. Kiefer Sutherland revenger, but the dour 1966 western that no-one but me and the people in the cast ever saw. Hand-crippled gunfighter Robert Lansing and blinded gunfighter Patrick Wayne pool their remaining skill set. Directed by Mickey Moore, dragging 106 minutes, with Slim Pickens (a meanie), Gloria Talbott, Paul Fix, Strother Martin,Clint Howard and camera from Lucien Ballard, the best credit in the gimmick.
#13 EYE OF THE TIGER—-another Vietnam vet with a score to settle. Gary Busey takes on William Smith’s biker gang to avenge his wife’s murder. Yaphet Kotto and Seymour Cassel needed money, too, because they surely were not drawn in by the script. The 92 minutes of tedious revenge was directed by Richard C. Sarafian.
#14 EYES OF A STRANGER—-Lauren Tewes, the perky cutie from The Love Boat, plays a Miami reporter after a serial rapist-murderer. Jennifer Jason Leigh’s big-screen debut (she was 19). Needless yuck, when director Ken Wiederhorn splooged out its 91 minutes in 1981 it drew protests from feminist groups over the violence. When I worked at Tower Video, everyone took turns playing rental movies that were shown on the TV over the check-out desk. Sure enough, this trash got its airing. Great stuff to have on, blaring in the background, when you are helping a family pick out wholesome comedy for the weekend. Management didn’t seem to care, but then cocaine in 80s amounts did wonders for their decision making.