How much bad can fit in a week?

So. In one week – hell, just the space of a few days – Buck Owens. Dan Curtis. Richard Fleischer and Stanislaw Lem.


Not helping my general stressed-out funkedness last week was my ancient habit of watching movies that everybody says are horrible, hopefully finding the buried heart within, erratically beating and gemlike, being able to honestly say, aw, this ain’t so bad. That’s often the case, anyway.

Lately, though, that practice has bitten me on the butt at least twice. The first time was Alexander, and most recently – last Sunday night, in fact – I thought it was time to finally give Van Helsing the fair shake it deserved. Truer words were never spoken, by which I mean deserved.

I hereby admit it: you were all right. Van Helsing is an awful movie. It’s not even a good awful movie. It doesn’t even present the mesmerizing spectacle of a train wreck: it is just… awful. Pretty, but awful.

Given my love for the source material, I suppose this angry dismissal is understandable, but no less dismaying to myself, the guy who has nice things to say about Robot Monster. I could reproachfully insinuate that I dislike the movie because of that love, but given the general opinion of the flick, no, this is not some misguided loyalty – it is a sad and colossal failure, and I should have listened to you.

This time.

A reaction like this is almost grist for that other, dormant Web project of mine, The Bad Movie Report, but that would mean actually watching the thing several times. Were it not for the near-universal disdain this movie engendered, I would truly suspect that it is the cavalier attitude toward what is, for me, a personal mythology, that so fans the flames of my dislike for the flick. But I’ve seen any number of, say, Italian or Mexican takes on this material that were light years away from being this slick, but that I enjoyed nonetheless.

It comes down to, I suspect, bad storytelling; I also suspect that anyone new to the Universal mythos might be totally lost at sea (I could be wrong on this point, however). I think it’s because I’ve not been given a reason to care about anybody. Breakneck story speed has not allowed a chance to develop an attachment for anyone, except, as usual, the Frankenstein Monster. And it seems an entire generation is going to grow up thinking that Mr. Hyde was the Victorian equivalent of the Incredible Hulk.

Alan Moore made that work. On Paper. In film, it seemingly has become a given. Two movies, I realize, do not constitute a trend, but when you’re as bruised as me, it only underlines your worst fears about the future.


  1. I just don’t get Steven Sommers why he has, or continue to have, a career. His Mummy movies are okay but “not sucking as much as you would expect” is not the same thing as “good’. What bothered me the most is that the material and actors (yes Kate Beckinsale could act once, really children!) were there, he just didn’t care. That’s what hurts the most. This movie didn’t have to be good but just so despressingly bad was something I wasn’t prepared for. If you like I’d be happy to take a stick to it for you as I love grinding mutlipe axes in a review but I’m dogpiling so I’ll just whip it up for the reader’s review section at ST.

  2. My misgivings about Sommers dates back to <>Deep Rising<>, a movie I’m told I should like, but I don’t. I really, really liked the first <>Mummy<>, not so much the second. Criminy, there’s a good director in there somewhere – it’s not like he’s Uwe Bolle or anything. There is a definite spark of humanity missing in the proceedings. Technically proficient, but hollow.

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