Film

The Guilty Pleasure Films of 2009

Someone, the same old suspects show up on this list - cheesy horror films, goofy gross out comedies, and the occasional certified WTF title. Lucky for us, 2009 was no different when it came to culpable schlock.

Film: Jennifer’s Body

Director: Karyn Kusama

Cast: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, J.K. Simmons, Adam Brody, Amy Sedaris

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Jennifer's Body
Karyn Kusama

Jennifer’s Body was the perfect follow-up to screenwriter Diablo Cody’s Juno, not because it was nearly as good, but because it had the backlash-ready gall to use Cody’s dialogue style -- quippy, wise-assed, occasionally nonsensical -- in a mere genre exercise! The barbs against Cody (trying to be funny is so lame and annoying) were predictable, but the movie isn’t. Granted: as horror, Body isn’t particularly scary -- but it is a lot of fun, with snappy performances from Amanda Seyfried and even Megan Fox, whose baby-voiced chirp perfectly fits Cody’s superficial wit. I can’t pretend that it’s as smart or perceptive as Mean Girls, but I’ll certainly watch it again, no guilty necessary. Jesse Hassenger

 

Film: A Perfect Getaway

Director: David Twohy

Cast: Timothy Olyphant, Milla Jovovich, Steve Zahn, Marley Shelton, Kiele Sanchez, Chris Hemsworth Katie Chonacas

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A Perfect Getaway
David Twohy

Writer/director David Twohy had been largely absent from Hollywood following the flop of 2004's The Chronicles of Riddick, but he finally returned this year with this B-movie thriller. A little too meta and self-impressed for some, A Perfect Getaway hit me in all the right places. Milla Jovovich and Steve Zahn each play against type as a happy couple on their honeymoon in Hawaii. Once they hit the trail for a two-day hike, they start hearing stories about a serial killing couple on the loose. Soon enough, they've run into two other couples, both a little suspicious. They end up traveling with Timothy Olyphant's Nick, a self-described "American Jedi" and movie fan. Since Zahn's character is an aspiring screenwriter, it allows Twohy to make lots of movie and screenwriting references between the two as they hike along. Olyphant is great as the intense, slightly creepy Nick, and the movie's climax, while predictable, is an action-packed rush. Chris Conaton

 

Film: Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus

Director: Ace Hannah

Cast: Deborah Gibson, Lorenzo Lamas, Sean Lawlor, Vic Chao

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Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus
Ace Hannah

With its amazingly sloppy CGI, uproariously illogical plot points (a shark vs. a 747?) and ludicrously lame acting, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus becomes the kind of instant camp classic we just don’t get from the standard cinematic stool sample. It’s bad, but in the wink at the audience way that understands it could never be taken serious. Jack Perez, writing and directing under the pseudonym of Ace Hannah, loads the screen with so much overinflated dialogue and inert action scenes that you’re literally giddy anticipating where he’ll take this mess next. And with heartfelt attempted turns from former teen queen Debbie Gibson, rough and tumble renegade Lorenzo Lamas, and TV vet Vic Chao, there is nothing to stop this sensational stupidity from being anything other than groovy. Bill Gibron

 

Film: My Bloody Valentine 3D

Director: Patrick Lussier

Cast: Jaime King, Jensen Ackles, Kerr Smith, Betsy Rue, Kevin Tighe

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My Bloody Valentine 3D
Patrick Lussier

Along with the Marcus Nispel update of Friday the 13th, this is one of the best horror films of the last ten years. It's brutal and insane, packing more grue and gratuity in its stunning 90 minutes than many scary films can find in an entire franchise. Eyes pop, guts fly, and axe points infiltrate all manner of human body parts. There is so much blood in this boffo macabre that even the most cynical of gorehounds will find themselves feeling a bit squeamish here and there. And for those who enjoy a bit of bare ass bodkin with their shivers, there is one scene that is destined to go down as a 'naked chick being chased by a maniac' classic. It's full frontal, ferocious, and so frisky that you can't help but feel a little twinge... of spine-tingling terror. What did you think we were referencing? Pervs. Bill Gibron

 

Film: Halloween II

Director: Rob Zombie

Cast: Tyler Mane, Malcolm McDowell, Scout Taylor-Compton, Danielle Harris

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Halloween II
Rob Zombie

Many Halloween purists work themselves into anger over director Rob Zombie's reimagining of the horror movie classic. They accuse him of distorting the mythology, characters, and spirit of the original film. Yet long before Zombie was in a position to execute his vision, the series had gone in several directions – dubious psychic communication, the Thorn cult, Busta Rhymes as a topliner –- that had little to do with what John Carpenter and Debra Hill achieved in 1978. After so many deviations from the original, what would be the harm in a new resurrection? Following his inaugural 2007 installment, which was in many ways a reverent treatment, Zombie finds his authorial groove with Halloween II. The temporal structure of the film is intentionally vague, and that choice pays off very well in an extended, nightmarish hospital sequence. Throughout the film, evocations of family madness play like a B picture companion to Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. One wonders whether some of these images might have been received more warmly had they carried a "Lynch" rather than a "Zombie". If Zombie ever returns to the series, perhaps he should direct under a pseudonym to escape the elitism of the still-hungry Halloween fan base. Thomas Britt

 

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