Hello, my friends! I think you’re my friends. Anyhow, this here blog finally turned three years old recently, which means I can probably start taking off the potty training wheels any time now. I’m going to use this momentous occasion to un-recommend some movies for you!
I usually hate not recommending movies. Even when I’ve seen a really crappy movie, I tell people about it and say, “well, you should probably see it for yourself, just in case.” In my mind, it’s unfair to tell folks to outright avoid a certain piece of work, because who knows, they might find something of value in it. That said, here are a handful of movies I’d like to not recommend to everyone:
Envy (2004, dir. Barry Levinson)
What an unfortunate piece of crap this film is. At the time, the cast was a goldmine: Jack Black and Ben Stiller as best friends/neighbors/co-workers, with Rachel Weisz and Amy Poehler as their wives. Throw in a weird supporting role from Christopher Walken, who will probably be best remembered as “that guy in the weird supporting role,” and Barry Levinson behind the camera, and it seems as though Envy would have been a hit. But the story, in which Black’s character invents a spray that vaporizes animal feces on contact (called “Vapoorize,” jfc how eye-rolling) and Stiller goes through his trademark series of embarrassing and awkward events and pratfalls out of pure jealousy, is one of the most uncomfortable movie experiences of all time.
I saw Envy at the dollar theater not too long after it came out, which says two things: one, first-run theaters dumped this faster than a bag of flaming shit; and two, where have all the dollar theaters gone? How else would I have seen Goldmember six times that fateful summer? Bummer that those are really falling to the wayside. Anyhow, I digress. Envy was a struggle to even finish (had I walked out, I’d only be set back a couple bucks, whatever), and when the credits rolled, I never felt such shame and loathing toward myself and the filmmakers involved. I was embarrassed for everyone involved. All this to say, if you’re up late one night surfing the channels and for some reason Envy happens to be on, just keep surfing along.
Cannibal Ferox, a.k.a. Make Them Die Slowly (1981, dir. Umberto Lenzi)
Called “the most violent film ever made” by its U.S. distributor on release, Cannibal Ferox is an endurance test disguised as an Italian cannibal film. It isn’t even cleverly disguised, though; the film’s most salient points are unbearable sequences of (actual) animal cruelty and slaughter, and nauseating scenes of (fake) human torture. There’s the bare whiff of a plot involving drugs and money, but it’s hard to piece together anything resembling an actual story here.
Let it be known at this point that I am a pretty big fan of Cannibal Holocaust, Ruggero Deodato’s 1980 film that is probably the best of the cannibal sub-subgenre borne of the Mondo film craze of the ’60s and ’70s. Holocaust is almost as cruel as Ferox, with a similar level of controversy surrounding each. Any similarities pretty much end there: where Deodato has something of a point to make about civilization, whether inadvertently or on purpose, Umberto Lenzi’s film exists to be as nasty as it can be, toward both its subjects and its audience. There is nothing redeeming about this film, and unless you’re an extreme gorehound (something I was dabbling with around the time I watched it), give Cannibal Ferox a pass.
Cannibal (2006, dir. Marian Dora)
Cannibal is a slightly fictionalized account of the Armin Meiwes case that basically shows what happens when a man seeking to be killed and consumed finds exactly what he’s looking for via the internet. Watching this film is like being a fly on the wall to a long, incredibly drawn out, disgustingly torturous murder. So if you’re into that kind of thing, knock yourself out and never speak to me again. Cannibal made me feel like less of a human being.
Well, that’s all the non-recommendations I have for now. Let me know some of your favorite movies to actively encourage others not to watch!