Saturday, March 22, 2014

Starcrash (1979) and Whether a Movie Can Be So Bad That It Is Good

Is there a legitimate realism to the phrase “something is so bad that it is good?”  Once in a while, a movie comes out that can perplex the viewer and cause them to contemplate the assumption made by the phrase.  Starcrash is a good example of a movie that challenges this opinion and could be proof that there is legitimacy in saying something to that effect.

Starcrash was a movie directed by Luigi Cozzi and released in 1978.  It starred such actors and actresses as Marjoe Gortner, Caroline Monroe, David Hasselhoff, and Christopher Plumber.  Starcrash was about two space smugglers who are given a mission to seek out the lost son of the Emperor and destroy a secret weapon created by the evil Count Zarth Arn.

The first thing that the viewer would notice when they watch Starcrash was that many of the features are reminiscent to a popular film called Star Wars.  The similarities ranged from minor plot points such as the main characters being space smugglers, or the use of a lightsaber, to editing and shot similarities such as screen swipes or the appearance of a large ship from above the camera.  These features are noticeably present in Starcrash, as well as Star Wars.  Star Wars was released one year prior to Starcrash.  This leads to the conclusion that Starcrash was heavily influenced by Star Wars, to the point of stealing some of the more memorable components of the movie.

The theft of ideas was not the only thing that seemed off about Starcrash.  There was an inconsistency to what happened within the movie.  Certain characters gained characteristics throughout the movie that they did not have beforehand.  Examples of this included time stopping, revival, and the ability to see into the future.  These special capabilities would be brought into the plot at a crucial moment, though they could have been used earlier, and they would not be used again.  Also inconsistent were the costumes.  The lead female character spent the first half of the movie wearing almost nothing.  She had a two-piece bikini on.  Half way through the movie, the character inexplicably put more clothing on and wore extra clothing throughout the remainder of the runtime.  This kind of inconsistency was also seen through the editing.  Half way through the movie, the screen swipes began.  It felt as though the entire direction of the film changed halfway through production.  This is not a good thing for the viewer to pick up on when watching a movie.  It shows incompetence within the direction.

The final major issue with Starcrash came in the form of dubbing.  Everything piece of dialogue that was spoken in the movie was dubbed.  The finished product only has four actors with their own voices used.  A lot of the actors in the movie had different people voicing them; although, most, if not all, of them spoke English.  The use of dubbing like this can create a disconnection that may take the viewer out of the experience.  A movie is supposed to be an immersive experience.  Having seen someone mouth the words just prior to the sound of the words being heard pulls the viewer out of the imaginary world and back into reality.  It leaves a hollow feeling in what could be emotional.  The dubbing was not a fault of the movie itself, but rather the spaghetti western style that it was taking this technique from.  Some movies were able to use the technique.  Spaghetti westerns were able to use it to great effect when actors did not speak the same language.  In a movie where people all speak the same language, the technique is not necessary and begins to take away from the overall feel of the movie.

These three major faults for Starcrash would make any normal person think that the movie is not worth watching.  This is where the initial question comes in.  Is there a legitimate realism to the phrase “something is so bad that it is good?”  This movie caused some debate to this question because these issues existed, yet the Starcrash was still a very enjoyable movie.  What made it enjoyable and not simply a boring mess?

One side of the argument comes from people who judge a film based solely on technical quality.  Something is good if and only if the individual components of the movie are good.  It is the same as making a building.  The architect has to design it in a way that there are as few flaws as possible.  Then the blueprints go to the people who are constructing the building.  These people create the solid foundation for the building to be built upon.  It is much like a movie where the script is the blueprint, and the actors are the workers who build the foundation.  This side of the argument would be that any bad building blocks would take away from the movie.  The technical components of the movie are bad; therefore, the movie is bad.  These people cannot enjoy a bad movie because they are looking at the craftsmanship quality only.

The other side of the argument is based around how the viewer feels while watching the movie.  From this side, the viewer doesn’t care about the technical quality of the movie.  The viewer cares that they like watching what they are watching.  They want to have a good time.  That is all that they ask for.  This is what brings in the interesting thought that a movie could be bad, but still be good.  What if a movie was so technically bad that the viewer enjoyed watching it?  If the viewer wanted only to enjoy a movie, regardless of the technical aspects that the movie had, a poorly crafted movie could turn out to be good.

Bringing Starcrash into the conversation, some people would argue that the faults listed above add to the enjoyment of the movie.  Each of these flaws helped to make the movie unique.  By some accounts, this would have made the movie more enjoyable.  The second-rate Star Wars tactics, the inconsistent plot, costumes, and editing, as well as the dubbing could be seen as positives to some people and negatives to other people.  It all depends on the viewers own personal opinion on how to watch movies.

To answer the initial question, there is a legitimate realism to the phrase “something is so bad that it is good.”  To some, a bad movie might be just that: a bad movie.  To others, the flaws could be seen as a positive in terms of how enjoyable a movie is.  It all comes down to the point of view of the individual viewer.  And who is more important to a movie than the viewer?
There is one note that I would like to make:
  • If you have any suggestions for movies to include in the Sunday "Bad" Movies, feel free to suggest them to me on Twitter.  Or you can comment below with the suggestions.

No comments:

Post a Comment