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    • Groups and Coalitions: Politics Chapter V
      Previous: Identity (Introduction and Table of Contents) Politically active groups form because of ideology and identity: they have beliefs about how the world should be; those beliefs are emotional and create both identification with other people who have the beliefs and shared desire to change the world or keep the world in line with how the ideologies pres […]
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Movies Gone Terribly Wrong

Johnny Handsome was a 1989 movie that had everything going for it: a talented cast, including Mickey Rourke, Ellen Barkin, Elizabeth McGovern, Forest Whitaker, Scott Wilson, Lance Henriksen, Morgan Freeman; an innovative director, Walter Hill, and even a terrific soundtrack by Ry Cooder. What could possibly go wrong?

Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes:

Born with a horribly disfigured face, and unable to become part of “normal” society, John Sedley turns to a life of crime. But his two fellow gang members trick him and Johnny is sent to prison. There he meets a plastic surgeon who takes sympathy on him and surgically transforms him into a new man. Now unrecognizable to those who once new him, the once ugly duckling plots a vicious revenge.

Walter Hill was director and scripwriter for one of the coolest movies of all time, The Warriors (1979). He also wrote the screenplay for The Getaway and was writer and producer of Aliens. Hill has a tendency to go a little too far at times. For example, his 1980 western about the James Gang, The Long Riders, was so violent and bloody that at times it was just too much; and I found myself laughing at the sheer over-the-top horror of it. But the movie was still worth watching for it’s visual beauty and for Hill’s efforts to realistically portray the brutal criminality of his characters while at the same time revealing their humanity.

With Johnny Handsome, Hill went way beyond over-the-top to side-splittingly bad. I went to see Johnny Handsome with a friend I think of as my movie buddy–whenever we get together, we see a movie. We have seen hundreds of movies together over the years; and yet we both still remember Johnny Handsome as one of the most stunningly bad movies we ever saw. We literally laughed out loud through much of it.

Although the film had had mixed reviews, I had heard some good things about it. The film was supposed to be a riff on the old gangster movie Dark Passage, (1947) starring Humphrey Bogart. I’m a fan of film noir, and I also like Mickey Rourke (I know, weird); so I wanted to see it. Check out the incredibly over-the-top violent ending.

Johnny Handsome was a movie that could have been good, but turned out really bad.

There are other movies that never really had a chance to be good, but turned out to be so bad that they are memorable. For me, an example of that category would be Robocop, (1987) a movie about a hero cop who is horribly injured and rebuilt as mostly machine. It’s hysterical.

Other movies are really terrific, but end with a big letdown. Some people love twist endings. I think they are hard to pull off and quite often they ruin the power of the movie for me. Some examples (IMO) are The Usual Suspects and Fight Club. Both are great movies, but I found the endings so disappointing that I would rather have left early and never known how they turned out. A couple more in this category are The Forgotten and The Pledge. I’m often disappointed in endings…

This is a “bad movie” thread, following on the success of last Saturday night’s “bad music video” thread. What are the most memorable bad movies you’ve ever seen? Please share your picks in the comments and, whenever possible, post links to clips of films and actors.

I’m sure there are as many categories of bad movies as there are moviegoers. Feel free to expand your selection to include your own categories. We could also discuss worst actors and actresses. One promising category I thought of is “great actors who have become caricatures of themselves.” For me, a good example of that would be Robert De Niro. Of course these judgments are all very subjective. Use your creativity and defend your points of view!