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The Set of 400: #26 – My Favorite False Teeth

Today! Because this is the one. This is the one I’ll be remembered for –

Ed Wood (1994)

Directed by Tim Burton (x5)

Starring Johnny Depp (x2), Martin Landau (x2), Patricia Arquette, Sarah Jessica Parker (x2), Bill Murray (x10), Jeffrey Jones (x5), Mike Starr (x2), George “The Animal” Steele, Vincent D’Onofrio (x5), Lisa Marie (x2), G.D. Spradlin (x2), Max Casella (x2), Brent Hinkley (x2), Juliet Landau, Melora Walters (x2), Bobby Slayton (x2), Rance Howard (x4), Louis Lombardi (x3), Ned Bellamy

The wife might disagree, but I don’t love all bad movies. Here’s how I figure it – if a movie has exceptionally terrible reviews – your Glitters and Battlefield Earths and Freddy Got Fingereds – I want to see that movie, just to try and understand how it could go so spectacularly wrong. The bigger the movie the better, too, such as, say, the 2015 Fantastic Four. I went and saw that in a mostly empty theater by myself, because I had to see how a potential tentpole/franchise flick could be so purportedly awful. Low budget awful, for the most part, doesn’t interest me. Anyone can make a horrible film given no resources. And mid-range bad also doesn’t hold a ton of appeal – 35%-55% Rotten Tomatoes – who cares? That just sounds boring.

Might be just bad enough to see, but I’d say not

But there are exceptions to this. Tommy Wiseau’s borderline genius disaster of a film The Room is the modern gold standard, clearly standing on the shoulders of the true champion trash auteur, Edward D. Wood, Jr. Plan 9 From Outer Space is so cheap and terrible as to be a thoroughly lovable film. Who doesn’t enjoy Plan 9, for all its cinematic faults? And that brings us to the truly best result of its existence – Tim Burton’s masterpiece biopic. If Wood had only made Glen or Glenda and Jail Bait and Bride of the Monster, his name might still get kicked around in nerdy film circles, but it’s Plan 9 that elevated him to worldwide acclaim – way, way after the fact. And it’s only because it became so embraced as the worst movie of all time that we got this goofy, sentimental movie about movies – my second favorite film in the mini-genre I love so much (next Monday crowns my top movie from this group – stay tuned!).

Wood dying before our time, here is the happy couple with the next best dude

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The Set of 400: #310 – My Favorite Weaponized Slim Whitman Tune

Today! Because if the Martians land, they’re going to need a place to stay, just like everybody else –

Mars Attacks! (1996)

Directed by Tim Burton

Starring Jack Nicholson (x2), Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Danny DeVito (x2), Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox (x2), Martin Short, Rod Steiger, Lukas Haas, Tom Jones, Jim Brown, Natalie Portman (x3), Lisa Marie, Sylvia Sidney, Pam Grier, Paul Winfield, Jack Black (x3), Joe Don Baker (x2), Ray J, Christina Applegate, Barbet Schroeder (x2), Willie Garson (x2), Rance Howard (x3), O-Lan Jones, Brian Haley

I know some people were really turned off by Tim Burton’s trading card adaptation global invasion sci-fi comedy, but I really dug it in that epic winter of 1996. Ah, ’96! This is already the sixth movie from that landmark, okay-ish year for films! Coming a few months after Independence Day, I guess everyone really wanted a wild action comedy of international destruction, but Tim Burton is not that director. He can give you quirky odd-ballery, but as for fight scenes or action sequences, well, look at that track record. His Batman movies are far more mood and atmosphere than slam-bang thrills. Sleepy Hollow – better, I guess, what with Ray Park as the Headless Horseman, but the staging didn’t vastly improve. Planet of the Apes – come on. So really, anyone wanting more out of Mars Attacks! was probably kidding themselves a bit too much.

What you get is a pretty fun, funny, throwback spoof of cheesy alien flicks, which quickly devolves into a cheesy alien flick itself, blurring that parody line until it basically disappears. I was really amped for this film come my senior year of high school – figure, you’ve got Nicholson playing wacky duel roles, in a roundabout nod to Dr. Strangelove’s end-of-the-world grapplings, as the president and a huckster casino owner, plus it reunited him with his Batman director, never mind the all-star cast reminiscent of ’70s disaster films, including a James Bond, a Teen Wolf, Foxy Brown, Ed Grimley, and the Penguin.

Never mind Carrie Bradshaw’s terrific work as this dog

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