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Short Ends and Leader's 10 Worst DVDs of 2010

#3 - The Descent 2 (and we couldn't agree more with the sentiment...)

Ten terrible examples of the digital format... enough to make you go Luddite once and for all. We move beyond the mainstream to seek out those titles which, in all honesty, didn't need to be on DVD in the first place

Every year, it's the same argument - is this a worst FILM list or a worst DVD list...and better yet, what the Hell is the difference! If you added up the number of comments and emails, questions and complaints, you'd have a stack of suggestions higher than a college slacker. The truth is, this category comes a close second to the previous "unknown film" compilation. Instead of focusing on the obvious choices (2010 baddies like Jonah Hex, The Last Song, etc.) we move beyond the mainstream to seek out those titles which, in all honesty, didn't need to be on DVD in the first place. As the medium moderates and dips, as streaming and the high-def delights of Blu-ray overtake the home theater domain, the original aluminum disc format seems destined to be the last bastion for meaningless, mediocre product. Just like VHS before the end, DVD appears destined to serve the lowest common cinematic denominator, and then simply fade away.

Still, this doesn't fully explain the entire premise, so let's paraphrase. The usual suspects are product persona non grata here. We won't be arguing that Legion or The Spy Next Door belong (their due is coming on Thursday...). Instead, we apply a two-fold determination when making this decision. Film quality is indeed part of the mix. A bad movie makes a bad DVD, that's for sure. Second, we do take overall value into consideration. If a horrid film has a decent digital presentation (video, audio, extras), we will perhaps give it a pass. On the other hand, a tolerable movie with a terrible package will definitely be in line for placement here. Finally, in a year which sees the average online critic tackle a title a day, we may overlook a personal fave. The final determining factor, however, is how we see things. After all, we sat through the ten traumatizing works discussed below and have been barely coherent ever since.

So without further alliterative ado, here are Short Ends and Leader's choices for the most miserable DVD experiences of 2010, beginning with a proposed suspense effort that substitutes dullness for dread:

#10: Dark Nature (dir. Marc de Launay)
Note to all novice horror filmmakers out there - mood does not equal menace. Indeed, trying to get away with atmosphere alone and no significant scares is a fright fool's paradise. But director Marc de Launay and writer Eddie Harrison think they can actually create a slasher film where the killer is known upfront, the deaths are derivative and dull, and the suspense evaporates like mist on the Scottish coast location. Why? Because they are striving for an ample ambience of dread. What they offer is, instead, a hackneyed, half-based excuse for fear.

 

#9: The Boob Tube Show (dir. Tyler Benjamin)
Wow - here's a novel idea: mimic the classic concept behind the brilliant Mystery Science Theater 3000 (people and puppets talking back to the movie screen) and add in porn! Genius, right? Well, not so fast. Obviously, the makers of this direct to DVD product forgot to include one thing as part of their XXX revision - wit. Indeed, sans sex scenes, and a real sense of what is clever, the gang responsible for this humorless excuse to copy betters have nothing going for them except the salacious - and even that is sorely missing.

 

#8: Outback (dir. Oscar D'Roccster)
As confusing as the numerous alternative titles its existed under, this Australian excuse for indigenous horror is as unimaginative as it is unwatchable. Unless you enjoy horrific acting, frighteningly amateurish plotting, and a monster-mash payoff that will cause a chill (of crappiness) down your spine, there's nothing here to engorge your fear factors. Whatever writer John V. Soto originally intended for this material was clearly flummoxed by interference from two creators of "additional story and dialogue" and the results reek like a dead dingo with an equally moldering newborn in its maw.

 

#7: Dead Eyes Open (dir. Ralf Möllenhoff)
There is so much to hate about this film that to settle on just one thing undermines the horribleness of its other aspects. Take the cinematography… PLEASE!!! The visual element jumps around here more than a soccer mom at a Justin Bieber concert. Then there is the make-up effects. Combining ill-fitting plastic prosthetics with blood so thin it’s like dive bar liquor, our zombies end up resembling implausible pizza faced refugees. And the acting? Apparently, the best way to express emotion is to sit around and discuss how well you party while passing around a single bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Shockingly bad.

 

#6: Opposite Day (dir. R. Michael Givens)
Eddie Murphy did it. So did Ice Cube. Vin Diesel has made the occasional foray into this flimsy film category, as have noted action stars like Jackie Chan. Indeed, fading stars have never gone broke underestimating the attention span of the average kid vid viewer, so why can't hack has-been comics...or in this case, the former juice wheezing never-was Pauly Shore. With a storyline so slight (a scientist invents a formula that turns kids into adults and visa versa) that it causes a drop in IQ and an overabundance of bad kid acting, this attempted professional rehab is actually more like career suicide.

 

#5: Psycho Shark (dir. John Hijiri)
Here is what this Japanese man vs. animal thriller promises: hot Asian babes in bikinis being devoured by a sea creature the size of Mt. Fuji. Here is what this nonsensical stupidity actually delivers: whining gals from Tokyo so obsessed with boys that they end up spending countless hours commenting on them (or the lack thereof) to a handheld video camera, Blair Witch style. No super shark - well, not until the end, and then... - no skin and slaughter exploitation excellence. Just enough found footage falderal to make you wish the camcorder was never invented.

 

#4: Conceiving Ada (dir. Lynn Hershman-Leeson)
If pretension were a payday, this film would be the richest gazillionaire on the face of the planet. Like a film student's first foray into "serious" psychobabble, this undeniably haughty mess does little except test your patience. Even with Oscar winner Tilda Swinton as a main source of cinematic meaning, we still feel lost, uninvolved, and uninterested. In its attempt to tie the modern to the antique (the 'film' centers on a computer programmer who 'contacts' Ada Augusta Byron King, famed author of the first computer algorithm), all we get is confusion - and serious boredom.

 

#3: The Descent 2 (dir. Jon Harris)
There is nothing worse than a fright film that makes your work for its mediocre, minimal payoffs. From expecting you to remember plot points from several years back to throwing unknown narrative twists at you right up front, it’s better to deliver than deny. The Descent 2 violates this maxim, and then decides to really grow annoying. From Juno’s high powered connection to the fate of specific characters left for dead last time around, director Jon Harris and a team of three screenwriters slowly dismantle what Neil Marshall managed with his imagination and ingenuity. The results reek.

 

#2: Fred - The Movie (dir. Clay Weiner)
What's worse - an annoying Internet phenom getting his own direct to DVD movie, or...no, that's irritating enough, thank you. To make matters that much worse, the YouTube "talent" we are talking about is a 17 year old wisenheimer whose made a name for himself playing six (and you thought Martin Short in Clifford was creepy...). Geared toward the Nick/Noggin set and about as intellectually complex, it represents the lowest form of cross-media meddling. In small doses, Lucas Cruikshank's Fred and his high pitched put-on may be tolerable. Extended to 90 noxious minutes, it's enough to make you go luddite.

 

#1: Fartacular Featuring 'Le Petomane' (dir. Steve Ochs)
How do you mess up farting? How do you take something so inherently part of our joking juvenilia comic sensibility and turn it into a turgid, deathly dull experience. Believe it or, this misguided DVD does just that, screwing up the bottom burp in a way that makes the almost always hilarious passing of gas about as funny as rectal surgery. The first half of this atrocity involved a lame biopic about the infamous French entertainer and his rise to stardom. It's almost inert in its entertainment level. The rest of the release is fleshed out with joke shorts and other cartoon bits that Howard Stern did better and more cleverly back when he was on terrestrial radio. In this case, this bumbling pantheon of bilabial fricatives doesn't tickle your ribs. Instead, it insults your ever-present adolescent idea of humor.


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