In The Kan’s Guilty Pleasures

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We all have at least one – whether we care to admit it or not – that one really trashy movie in our collection that we return to time and time again. Despite it’s inherent crappyness, we find comfort in it, see that glimmer of hope that may evade other audiences, and as bad as it is, we just can’t help but indulge.

So for your consideration, Team ITK’ list their cinematic guilty pleasures and bear it all for you as we hang our heads in shame.

The Toxic Avenger 

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Some may cringe at the thought of watching Tank Girl, or even films that were initially regarded as garbage but have now been acknowledged as endearing entries in the annals of cinema history – titles like Evil Dead, Plan 9 from Outer Space, Barbarella, or anything by George A. Romero – but these films, as offbeat as they may be, find a place in my heart.

But not all cult classics were created equally, and no other film in my collection inspires the kind of gut-wreching shlockiness that The Toxic Avenger does. The same could be said for any of Troma’s line-up of cheap, b-grade catastrophes but Toxie was the first, and it’s still the best of the bunch.

The Toxic Avenger has balls – the very first scene features a gang of big-haired gym bullies that mercilessly run over an innocent child, and not content with simply smashing into the young bike rider, the reverse over his head, sending his skull imploding into a cacophony of 80s fake blood. The film is sensational, gutsy, and completely off its rocker, featuring some of the most blood-curdling acts of brutallity ever caught on celluloid – but it’s alarmingly funny rather than the tasteless torture scenes of Saw or Final Destination.

Nostalgia may be my rose-tinted spectacles in this case, but it cannot be denied that The Toxic Avenger is not just trash, but legendary trash.

- Joel Kanar [Editor-in-Chief]

Cosmopolis 

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Hi my name is Zan-Mari and I suffer from OED (Obsessive Edward Disorder) and I’ve been diagnosed with Robsession too. I cannot help it. I am so in love with him that I can forgive him for ever signing a contract with David Cronenberg to star in the epic failure that is Cosmopolis. I tried really hard to stay awake through the 109 minutes but the fact that he  just drives around in his limo all just to perform unmentionable activities on various people in the backseat just bored me. And I will admit that I did fall asleep and missed at least half an hour. I did not feel the need to rewind and pick up the loose ends.

I consider myself an educated person who gets the deeper message and artistic value of cinematic events, but I need to be honest with myself – I DID NOT get this movie. I still feel confused just thinking about it and not even the reviews and behind the scenes features helped me. Even though the acting sucked and felt cheap, I watched it again. I saw a side of Rob that mesmerized me. He showed us all that he is in fact not just Edward Cullen but he can get lost in any character he needs to portray…and he was naked most of the time (hehe). So Cosmopolis will always be one of my guilty pleasures; I will watch it every time I feel the urge to see that bizarre side of Rob and who knows – maybe one day I will finally understand why for the love of all things British and tasting like Early Grey, did he not just get the damn barber to come cut his hair in the limo!

- Zan-Mari Vosges [Features writer]

Heat 

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When thinking of films of Guilty pleasure variety, its inevitably those that elicit a few eye rolls from family members if I’m caught indulging, for the umpteenth time.

My Dad had some karate lessons as a boy, and this – however brief they may have been – undoubtedly had an everlasting effect, because I grew up on a solid diet of action and martial arts films. I’m talking about the cast of the Expendables in their heyday, and all those guys who weren’t in it; Kurt Russell, Steven Seagal, Gary Busy…

I would even get lessons and demonstrations as to how certain moves were performed and how some manoeuvres were possible. This of course was the purple patch for action heroes and borderline B-grade pulp. From Bloodsport to Under Siege, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, Terminator, Rambo and, if and when it comes on TV again… Rocky – I’m there (those first 2 films were gold, the following two were silver – *by the way, did you know Sly nearly died during Rocky 4? Dolph Lundgren punched his chest so hard that his sternum touch his heart, causing dangerous swelling. His heart would’ve stopped if he didn’t request medical attention that night…). “I must break you”.

Stepping into the 90’s and the momentum continued (mostly with sequels). And then came 1995, and “HEAT”. My dad toyed with my emotions once, pretending that he’d taped over it (yes, the days of VHS), just to laugh at my state of shock and dismay – he later consoled and reassured me that the recording was indeed safe (my sister bought me the DVD as a birthday present a couple of years ago, so the VHS is now a backup). It does please me greatly that films like the Leathal Weapon and Die Hard series (barring the last one), are still as good as ever; “Will it to me Riggs”. And if you’re wondering, my favourite Steven Seagal film is “Hard to Kill” – classic; right now I’m thinking of Seagal stalking through the mansion yelling “Oh Vernon” with shotgun in hand.

And lastly of course, lest I leave it out; James Bond. Of course this was fuelled by later reading Spy and action novels: Frederick Foresyth (Day of the Jackal) and David Morrell (Rambo: First Blood). So, since he was the most hardcore of the lot, I am very partial to Timothy Dalton’s incarnation of Bond – he did for Bond in the 80’s what Daniel Craig is doing now, only audiences weren’t ready, and the filmmakers were still stuck in Roger Moore mode.

My bread and butter of films – so now you know…

- Steven Benjamin (Deputy editor)

Deep Blue Sea 

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First of all, when we were rounded up by Joel and asked to write an article on our guilty movie pleasure I had no idea where to begin. To me, a guilty movie pleasure is like the fast food of cinema and people like Michael Bay are the fry cooks, churning out greasy, irresistible whopper meals for your eyes to gorge themselves on. In short, a guilty pleasure movie is the one movie that you know is pretty bad, but you will watch the shit out of it anyway.

When this topic was announced, it was as if someone had switched on a pinball machine in my brain and the ball kept bouncing to and fro, smashing into every crappy movie I’d watched over the years. From Aliens Resurrection to Bad Boys 2, onward to the Transformers movies and a few starring Nicholas Cage.

I finally settled on one I admittedly haven’t seen in about a year, but I know that if this film came on TV right now I’d definitely watch it. The film I speak of is of course, Deep Blue Sea.

“What the hell?” is exactly what popped into your head right now and I’d appreciate it if you’d let me explain myself.

Deep Blue Sea is a movie I vividly remember seeing in the cinema about 15 years ago. I must have been 14 or 15 years old when it came out, so these huge sharks swimming around causing all kinds of kak for our team of researchers was pretty damn awesome. This isn’t a movie that took itself too seriously either and it is perfect fodder for the cinema fast food cannon.

Admittedly, when I saw this on the big screen for the first time I thought it was pretty scary. Now older ( and I hope a bit wiser) this movie has evolved into something more resembling a B-grade horror/comedy than the hardcore action/sci-fi/thriller I once thought it to be.

This film has some good moments and because people like lists, I will count them down for you, in order of awesomeness:

5 – Shark rams a big glass window and our dumb heroes stand there and watch. My reaction: “They deserve to die.”
4 – This film has not aged well and the CGI is absolutely hilarious.
3 – Saffron Burrows does a striptease for our fishy friends that is better than anything Megan Fox has ever attempted to do in front of a camera lens.
2 – Carter. This guy falls A LOT. What an unfortunate role for Thomas Jane. He’s supposed to be this dapper strong hero but he takes more tumbles in this movie than Laurel and Hardy do in their capers.
1 – Ok, you know what number one is… Sam The Man gets eaten by a shark mid-speech. Nuff said.

So yeah, this movie is basically a big irresistible pile of sloppy fries covered in bacon and smothered with cheese sauce, but I guess I have a soft spot for all of its silliness. It’s basically sharks on tik chasing dumb people and honestly, who wouldn’t find that entertaining?

- Terrence Nell (Wizard/Features writer)

Piranha 3DD

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Sometimes in life we like something we know we shouldn’t, but we can’t resist and we give ourselves over to temptation. That piece (or slab) of chocolate after supper. That hard earned beer (or five) at the pub after work. The (secret) rendezvous with the neighbour’s wife (just for tea of course). And sometimes, just sometimes, there’s a movie that you shouldn’t enjoy on any level, but you can’t help but love it. For me that movie is Piranha 3DD.

I have never seen the original Piranha, but I heard the remake, Piranha 3D, was actually quite good and hit all the right notes. It had some decent acting, a reasonable story, a variety of scares, and plenty of gore, which is exactly what you’d expect from a decent horror movie. Piranha 3DD?

Unfortunately Piranha 3DD doesn’t have any of these things. Piranha 3DD has some pretty average acting (at least it’s not terrible), a completely nonsensical plot, and stereotypes around every corner. But I’d still say to most people do yourself a favour and watch it at least once. It’s camp, it’s stupid, and it’s surprisingly funny (particularly towards the end when all sorts of weird and crazy stuff starts going on). Then of course the movie has plenty of eye candy, and a secret awesome cameo that I’m not going to ruin for you since his appearance is really, really surprising.

Will it win any awards? The answer to that is a very definite no.

Will it make you laugh? It’s safe to say yes, it will.

 - Rowan Govender (Chief DVD reviewer)

Poo Poo Platter

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I love thinking about films, wallowing in their subtle subtexts and delving into those devilling details in a philosophical or psychoanalytical frenzy. Oh Malick, how you do take me “To the Wonder”; epic romp Tarr, you are indeed my “Turin Horse”, I hope you’ll be back for more; Cuarón your skills really do defy “Gravity”; Lee Chang-dong—my Asian persuasion—your visions are my only “Oasis”; and Hitchcock, you old “Psycho”, you still do it for me. These legendary storytellers tease me all the way to their peaks, but after they’ve passed out from the rush, I freshen up, sneak out, I cheat.

Jar Jar Binks, don’t listen them, you’sa too fun to turn down, M. Night. Shyamalamadingdong you can take me to your “Village” anytime, and I always save some chakra each week for you “Naruto”. And when I want a quickie, I skank towards “Pawn Stars”, deflower myself by “Breaking Amish”, or, when I’m feeling particularly abusive, I call “Archer” and have him mock my mental manhood.

After these, and other, grubby indulgences, I sneak back to bed and hope my true joys don’t notice. Sometimes they shift as I re-enter, but a comforting hand assures them that this is where I lay my head at night—and I hope that’s enough. I think they suspect my infidelity, perhaps they smell the Jar Jar’s musk on me, see dried Amish blood on my hands, or get a whiff of Archer’s suffocating cologne as we spoon. They must understand though, otherwise they wouldn’t keep coming back, or perhaps it’s because they know they tease me too much and I need a release. No matter, this is about me not them. It’s about my dreams no matter where my lovers fall on the bell curve. And if I do get caught some day I will, at the very least, have those magic memories to hold—recurring dreams of good times to re-play, re-watch, and re-think myself limp.

 - Christopher J. Wheeler (foreign films reviewer)

Judge Judy

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My name is Martin and I have a guilty pleasure – Judge Judy. Oh Yes.

There is nothing a person could be more guilty of than taking that sick day from school or work and binge-watching all that cushy daytime TV that seems almost forbidden to any constructive human being. Judge Judy somehow epitomised the sick day for years and there was never enough of her to fill my prescription for trashy people (not always trashy mind you, but they always make for good tv) taking each other to court only to be swiftly extinguished by Judith Sheindlin’s brash, deductive and cantankerous ruling.

Since South African TV seems to be on a constant loop of old reruns, I turn to seedier, murkier shores for my monthly Judy fix in the form of YouTube abuse – that is until Judy’s flying monkeys (producers) have the episodes removed and I’m stuck once again with [insert shivers] broadcast television. Such sickeningly sweet courtroom candy is bound to give you cavities and is devilishly criminal but like all guilty pleasures, I just can’t help myself. I often get told it’s “not real anyways. It’s scripted.” But does it matter? It’s a bit like watching a puppet show – it’s cheap; it’s easy and it’s entertaining and I’ve never felt the urge to run behind the cardboard stage to interrogate the puppeteer to uncover the illusion.

But let’s talk films. Like Terrence pointed out in his pinball analogy, I came to the realisation, and subsequently recoiled in horror, how quickly we often forego our well-entrenched tastes to indulge in unconfessed cinematic crimes.

How often have I watched the 1989 feature-length Nintendo advert The Wizard starring Fred Savage? As many times as nostalgia gets the better of me, which seems to be what often informs our guilty pleasures. They tap into some fond memory that haunts the empty passageways of adult life and there’s very little that can be done to resist. Dune – David Lynch’s ludicrously bad adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel is an eye-sore of special effects and abysmal writing yet it keeps mysteriously popping up in my blu-ray player (I have it on blu-ray?!).

Okay, okay, these don’t seem that bad. However there are three titles in my line-up that are so emasculating to me; so embarrassing that I am preparing a cyber-paper bag to place over my virtual presence as we speak. They are, in no particular order of course: You’ve Got MailChocolat, and the ultimate black sheep in my collection – Working Girl. Considering some of my favourite films of all time include Mulholland DriveAlien and The Exorcist, there really couldn’t be any other trio of films that flip that coin completely around but yes, they are my guilty pleasures. They have a gooey centre of mawkish and schmaltzy feel-good melodrama that is often copied but rarely achieved.

 - Martin Rutkowski (Staff writer)

Now that we’ve unveiled our dirty secrets, how about you tell us yours in the comments!

  • Melanie-ann Diesel

    I’m a sucker for a creature feature. So much so, I wrote an article on news24 in it’s defense. ***Hangs head in shame***

    • Rowan Govender

      A buddy of mine is also into creature features, and in his case, the worse it is the better! You should keep an eye out for a film called Big Ass Spider. It’s apparently pretty decent.

  • http://stevenbenjamin.weebly.com/ Steven Benjamin

    I just watched ‘The Saint’ (1997) on etv – this film is a treasure… it may have been panned by critics and largely by fans of the Roger Moore series, but I find this film to be just so entertaining, even with the corniness, Val Kilmer’s bad accents and the so 90s-ness of it all – the dated technology…
    Elizabeth Shue is amazing and then there’s the fact that its set completely outside the US, I must say, I do love this film, its so wrong and yet (with the benefit of hindsight), so fun and so right – another pure guilty pleasure!