The guilty pleasures of Den Of Geek

The writers at Den Of Geek get their blush emoticons out and 'fess up their lonely love for oft-lambasted TV and movies...

Matt Edwards is fond of of this guy (and actually Martin is too).

Matt Edwards on Project ALF (1996)Truth be told, I don’t feel even remotely guilty for liking Project ALF. Points about how dreadful the film is mean absolutely nothing to me. Project ALF is a baffling mess of stupidity held together by a slew of cringe-worthy one liner’s from the old ALFer. In other words, it’s glorious. The story follows on from the TV series with stranded Alien Life Form Gordon Schumway subjected to scientific experimentation by the military with hilarious consequences. It’s got cat-chasing, strip-clubs, alien erectile dysfunction, the guy who played Bob Morton in Robocop, rapping with the wind, comedy gold (“What’s the difference between toilet paper and a shower curtain? So you’re the one! Then I thought I would move on to my B material…”) a talking robot and Martin Sheen all rolled into one made-for-television movie. And as if that wasn’t enough, the DVD came with a free key ring!

Ryan Lambie on the Fast And The Furious seriesFor me it’s definitely the Fast and the Furious series of films. I own them all on DVD, and I’ve seen them all at the cinema – even the really terrible third one (Tokyo Drift) with the thirty year-old ‘schoolboy’ in it. I know they’re terrible movies, but I love the cars and the bad acting – the scripts are full of lines like ‘If you want time, buy the magazine!’. I can’t wait for for the fourth film due next year, which reunites the first film’s ‘stars’ for more dubious driving related shenanigans.

Seb Patrick on Driven (2001)Sometimes, when you’re not exactly spoiled for choice, you’re forced to settle for what’s available. That’s my feeble attempt at justifying the soft spot I have for Sylvester Stallone and Renny Harlin’s 2001 IndyCar racing movie Driven, anyway. I mean, as a fan of Formula One (which the movie was originally intended to feature, back when it was called Into Thin Air), I’ve been dying for a decent motor racing movie for years.

Driven, sadly, isn’t it – it’s ludicrously unrealistic (I hated it upon first viewing for this very reason, particularly for the sequence in which the two leads chase each other through the streets of Chicago in souped up racing cars, before I subsequently realised that it doesn’t matter), all the “younger” stars are uniformly wooden and have barely worked since (with the exception of that guy out of House), and although it mostly follows the classic “American sports movie” template to the letter, it somehow manages to make us root for the thinly-veiled Michael Schumacher parody rather than the stuck-up “hero”.

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But it does at least have some pretty exciting race sequences, appears to have been made by people with a genuine enthusiasm for the sport, and Stallone plays one of his more affable roles. So until someone comes along and makes an awesome Ayrton Senna biopic (starring Javier Bardem, please), Driven will just have to do.

Sarah Dobbs on House Of The Dead (2003)I’d be lying if I said this was a guilty pleasure, because I don’t feel guilty at all, but there is one film that I love and everyone else in the known universe professes to hate, and that’s Uwe Boll’s House of the Dead.

When I say I love this movie, I mean I really, really love it. It’s the only Boll movie to date that’s been granted a UK cinema release, and was only shown in selected Cineworlds for a very brief amount of time, but during that time I saw the movie twice. Twice. I also convinced some of my friends to pass up another film they were going to see in order to see House of the Dead instead. I have the limited edition DVD with the holographic cover now, and if it were on VHS it’d probably be worn out by now because I watch it all the time. It cheers me up when I’m sad, entertains me when I’m bored, and has had to be shown to virtually everyone I know at one point or another.

And I’m not even really sure how to argue in its favour here, in order to convince anyone reading this to watch it, because to me it is self-evidently brilliant. The basic premise is this: a group of rich teenagers head off to a remote island for a very exclusive rave, but having missed the boat, they have to bribe sea captain Kirk (Jurgen Prochnow) and his ship’s mate (Clint Howard) to give them a lift there, despite the latter’s misgivings about the island’s spooky reputation. When they get there, the rave is long over. Because everyone’s dead. Because the island is infested with zombies. Luckily, Kirk is a gun-smuggler, so he gets everyone all kitted out, and a massive shoot-out, featuring lots and lots of gratuitous bullet time and an obnoxious hard rock soundtrack, ensues. Plus some explosions. And lots of zombies. Did I mention the zombies? They’re fantastic.

The whole thing is full of daft dialogue and screenwipes that utilise scenes from the original House of the Dead arcade game, which is knocking on a bit by now, and it’s so incredibly overblown and hyper-stylised that you’ve just never seen anything like it. There’s no way I can feel guilty about loving this movie, but since everyone says it’s shit, it’s my movie-I-love-that-everyone-else-hates.

Martin Anderson on Judge Dredd (1995)I love a Sylvester Stallone film that even Stallone hasn’t got a good word for. Forgive me; I’m well aware of the sins of Danny Cannon’s 1995 adaptation of the much-loved fascist lawman of Megacity One – Sly breaks Dredd lore by getting his ridiculous helmet off almost immediately, the whole plot is a warmed-over version of Stallone’s superior Demolition Man, the CGI got lambasted as cruddy, and some of the dialogue (particularly from Dredd’s ‘brother’, Armand Assante) really does make you cringe. But…

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I waited eighteen years for this movie and it looks EXACTLY like the comic strip I used to love as a kid (widely acknowledged to be one of the problems with the film); I think most of the CGI work is excellent; they picked the ‘He Ain’t heavy, He’s My Brother’ Rico story to film, and couldn’t have made a better choice; Walter the Wobot isn’t in it; regular Stallone-cronie Rob Schneider is good comic relief; Max Von Sydow almost makes up for Jurgen Prochnow’s terrible performance; the music is great; and I get to coast on some marginalised geek vibe, because everyone else seems to think that Judge Dredd is a travesty.

Simon Brew on The Mask (1994)My fundamental problem with guilty pleasures is that I’m long since past the point where I feel guilty about them. I concluded that the supposed guilt was more about peer pressure than me doing anything particularly wrong, and so figured if people didn’t like my choices, then so be it.

My “guilty pleasure” therefore has been culled from a list that I suspect many of you could find more fault with than me. You could have picked from the wealth of Steve Martin films that I have a soft spot for (Sgt Bilko, Father of the Bride, Leap of Faith). Or how about any Rocky sequel (except 5, natch)? Under Siege 2? Crocodile Dundee 3? Robocop 3? Get me in a pub with half a pint (I’m cheap) and I’ll gladly wax lyrical about the lot of them.

But no. I’m going to plump for The Mask here, because I’ve never met another person who particularly likes it, but I think it’s a stark raving hoot. I’ve never been a fan of the Jim Carrey comedy-mugging juggernaut, although I think the bloke has made some cracking films (Man On The Man, particularly). Yet he nailed it in The Mask – a film that required a bit of a special effect of a performer, and nonetheless one that had a story to tell. Not a great story, but that bothers me in this case not a jot.

Carrey is quite brilliant here, and if you want cast-iron proof of how much difference he makes, check out the lame sequel. Which I, er, haven’t. But let’s also commend The Mask for the fun supporting cast – including Cameron Diaz’s stunning debut into blockbuster cinema – and a rip-roaring soundtrack, most of which amazingly makes it into the film. Highlight of both film and soundtrack? Carrey’s bursting into “Cuban Pete”, a tune that remains one of the few to make the journey from the old car tapes I used to make to the oh-so-new and proper playlists on an MP3 player.

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The Mask is everything that modern day blockbusters are increasingly forgetting. It’s fun, gleefully entertaining, has no pretension and is divinely shallow. It remains on my DVD shelf, with barely a speck of dust on it.

Gaye Birch on Tremors (1990)I’m not so much ashamed that I own and love Tremors, but that I watch it so many many times a year. I’ll admit to a dozen per annum, but only among friends. I’ve since been told, after nominating my movie, by one with a heftier flick-facts factor than I can aspire to, that Tremors has a sort of cult status and I’m happy about that.

For me, it’s like chicken soup for an upset tum. It makes me feel good. It’s my goTo movie I grab whenever nothing else inspires me or I can’t pinpoint just what I’m in the mood for.

I love that it’s got the Kevin Bacon that, in my family, we referred to at the time as ‘the big-headed skinny boy’, that it features a leading lady with more brain than breast cells, and, although there’s no jaw-dropping special effects, the concept was supremely clever, as the filmmakers could cheat cheaply at conveying huge wormlike creatures travelling underground for most of the film by dragging things through sand and showing repeated speeded footage of root systems zooming by.

I enjoy the low key tiny town love interest, the buddy banter that neither insults nor sickens me and that just enough people die, and notably – for me – no children. Maybe it’s supposed to be a wilder ride, but for me it’s a Sunday stroll. My jaw still gets a workout. I smile all the way through it.

I forgive Kevin his failed Southern accent, tolerate the sewage spewage scene and ignore the predictable plot points because the movie as a whole just gels to a fine finish.

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It also features tons of one of my ultimate favourite foley effects – the sound of gunfire into dirt. I’m not a war film fan so here’s where I get my fill.

However, you couldn’t pay, flatter, cajole or threaten me into watching any of the sucky sequels or the terrible TV series. In fact it’s my standard example and warning sign of just how bad sequels and TV treatments can be. The orignal though is pure Perfection. Pun intended.

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy on Riki-Oh: The Story Of Ricky (1991)On the DVD for this utterly barmy 90s HK action movie, Riki-Oh is referred to as “the biggest manga” in the world, which makes my heart die a little bit more everytime I hear it. “Riki-Oh” is about Ricky, who is in prison for defending his girlfriend, kicking arse and taking names, battling the prison gang, the Gang of Four. No, not that one.

There’s really not much of a plot, but there is a lot of absolutely ridiculously OTT gore and unintentionally hilarious fight scenes that can probably put your faith back in the spirit of dumb films (as a matter of fact, when the film actually tries to be funny, it’s awful). From the minute this film finished, I said it was amongst the worst films I’ve ever seen it. It still is – but now there’s something really charming about its unnecessary existence – and yes, that’s even when the main character punches a man’s eyeball out. (The sequel is called Super PowerfulMan. Which is really more perfect than it should be.)

See this for an amazing idea of how dumb this film is. NSFW to the extreme!!!!!

Mark Oakley on Action Jackson (1988)Where do you go after having been pummelled to the canvas by a tall, hulking Russian who has rubbed salt into your fatal wounds by uttering the immortal words ‘if he dies, he dies’?

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Well, for Carl Weathers the answer was to take the lead role as Sergeant Jericho Jackson, ‘Action’ Jackson to you and me, in the cop action flick of the same name. Action Jackson is an 80s action film most notable for an early role for a young Sharon Stone but it’s Weathers who makes his mark by flexing his absolutely huge pecs, beating up bad guys and spluttering out some of the best lines this side of an Arnie flick (while killing some brute with a flame thrower, Action quips ‘How do you like your ribs?’). Low production values, terrible acting from most of the cast (most notably from Craig T Nelson), flimsy plotting, dreadful music and cheap clothes (leading Mr Weather to spend most of the time in particularly ill-fitting shirts) mean it should all just be awful. Action Jackson is a real guilty pleasure that not only provides a highly entertaining Saturday night action romp, it proves Carl Weathers should have been a leading man more often. Hell, if Steven Seagal could do it…

Ron Hogan on Carnosaur 2 (1995)I had a lot of trouble with this assignment, because I like so many bad movies it was tough to choose. There are levels of badness, after all. But I looked through my extensive DVD collection and fingered the one movie I enjoyed way too much considering the writing, the lack of production values, and of course the fact that it is a sequel to a movie intended to cash in on the success of Jurassic Park. This movie, produced by the legendary Roger Corman, is Carnosaur 2. While the first Carnosaur had Clint Howard and Diane Ladd, the second one tops that B-movie cast with John Savage, Cliff De Young, Don Stroud, Neith Hunter, and Mr. B-movie, Miguel A. Núñez, Jr. Taking its cues more from Aliens than Jurassic Park, the film’s thin plot (genetically engineered dinosaurs running wild in a nuclear storage facility) allows a team of military specialists to spend a lot of time being eaten by and shooting at some of the best puppets no money can buy. It’s insane, goofy, and surprisingly brilliant from the King of the B’s.

Tell us about your own dark secrets in the comments section below. You’ll feel better. Really.