Top Five Guilty Movie Pleasures and More....

Question: I like challenging, thought-provoking movies as much as the next guy, but I also love pure, unadulterated cheese - real Mystery Science Theater 3000-quality junk. My biggest guilty pleasure is Ed Wood movies. Do you have any guilty pleasures, or are you strictly into quality movies? - Eli

Oh, I have a soft spot for junk. I also have a rant about guilty pleasures - indulge me, please - that goes something like this: The fact that you love Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) doesn't inherently make you stupid or invalidate your love for Citizen Kane (1941), so stand by your low-brow passions!

There. Now here are my top five really trashy movie faves, in ascending order.

5) Barbarella (1968)

What it is: a sexadelic adaptation of the erotic comic series about a beautiful space tart ( Jane Fonda) - sorry, astronavigatrex - and her adventures across the universe.

What's so bad: Tacky, tacky, tacky in that oh-so 1960s cool way! Zero-gravity strip tease, sex with a blind angel alien, a sex machine, an army of marching dollies with fangs, Anita Pallenberg as an intergalactic dominatrix. No wonder Robert Rodriguez wanted to do a remake!

4) Fiend Without a Face (1958)

What it is: A B&W sci-fi/horror picture about a scientist whose efforts to harness telekinetic energy by siphoning off atomic energy from a nearby military base go terribly wrong. The result: Crawling brains with spinal cord tails and bobbly antennae that slither around killing people.

What's so bad: It's kind of dull and the killer brains are invisible until the very end - up until that point you just hear them making clanking chain noises (?) as they creep around. And there's a radiation surge in which the brains are suddenly flying through windows, crawling down chimneys and wrapping their spinal cord tails around people's necks while they suck out their brains. Awesome!

3) Requiem for a Dream (2000)

What it is: Darren Aronofsky's adaptation of Hubert Selby Jr.'s raw novel about drug addiction. It's got a great look and a good cast, but don't let that fool you - it's dazzling junk.

What's so bad: pretension! It's a vintage drugsploitation picture in flashy drag. At least Reefer Madness (1936) didn't pretend to be cutting-edge art. But that scene where the refrigerator comes after sweet old Ellen Burstyn, who's hooked on diet pills because she wanted to wear her old red dress on a TV game show, is priceless.

2) The Beastmaster (1982)

What it is: A low budget sword-and-sorcery picture starring hunky Marc Singer, his teeny-weenie leather bikini and his animal friends, including a pair of ferrets in a bag. When my roommate and I first got cable, it was on all the time. Seriously, it didn't matter when you turned on the TV, Beastmaster was playing. We were mesmerized, and I'm clearly still under its spell.

What's so bad: The earnest cheapness. Tanya Roberts as the bombshell slave girl. The little skull barrettes on wild-eyed baddie Rip Torn's long gray braids. The "death guards" in S&M leather getups and the scruffy, dyed-black panther. The monsters that reduce you to a skeleton in no time flat. Fun stuff.

1) The Apple (1980)

What it is: A tale of good and evil set in the far-off future of 1994, when the entire music industry has been co-opted by devilish Mr. Boogalow and his BIM - Boogalow International Music - empire. A couple of wholesome young folksingers from Moosejaw, Canada, wander into his clutches and are seduced by sex, drugs and spandex. Really.

What's so bad: Where to begin? The sequined jockstraps, the disco orgy number "Coming," soulless glitter-pop whores Dandi and Pandi and their song "Bim," the sulfurous machinations of "Mr. Boogalow" and his queenie sidekick Shake (who sports a very fashion-forward set of grills), the fanged BIM goons, the vision of Hell, the peaceful hippies fighting BIM's fascist regime with flower power, God's 11th-hour arrival in a gold car, the lyrics to "The Apple" ("Magic apple/Mystery apple/Take a little ride/Let me be your guide/Through the apple paradise")... I could go on. It's all what makes The Apple great.

Question: I love the movie Death Becomes Her, with Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn and Bruce Wilson, especially the part when Streep goes to get the eternal-life potion from Isabella Rossellini. Rossellini tells Streep she'll have to disappear after 10 years or people will start getting suspicious, and goes on to say "... as one of my clients said, 'I want to be a ... '" Streep gasps and says, "She didn't!" and Rossellini shakes her head yes. Do you know what was she referring to? It's been driving me crazy. Thanks!

The client said "I want to be alone," the famous quote credited to early movie star Greta Garbo (which is in fact a misquote of the line, "I want to be let alone," from 1932's Grand Hotel). But it beame permanently associated with Garbo when, at the age of 35 and at the height of her stardom, she abruptly abandoned moviemaking.

Question: I recently saw a trailer for the movie Funny Games. I was intrigued so I looked it up, only to discover it was a remake of a foreign film and that the original director, Michael Haneke, was redoing his own film. I rented the original version and enjoyed it very much. It seemed pretty unusual to remake your own movie in a different language. Do you know of other instances in which directors have done this? I feel like there was a Japanese horror director who did this, but the name escapes me. - Jenny

Off the top of my head I can think of five: Takashi Shimizu's Ju-on: The Curse (2000), which he remade as The Grudge (2004); George Sluizer's Spoorloos (1988), which he remade as The Vanishing (1993); Ole Bornedal's Nattevagten (1994), which he remade as Nightwatch (1997); Francis Veber's Les Fugitifs (1986), which he remade as Three Fugitives (1989); and Jean-Marie Poiré's Les Visiteurs (1993), which he remade as Just Visiting (2001). Poiré even kept his main actors - Jean Reno and Christian Clavier - for both versions.

Question: Back in the mid-1990s, I saw a movie about two girls who had this really tight friendship and they kill a woman. Everybody I ask tells me I'm looking for Heavenly Creatures, but I know I'm thinking of a different movie. Can you help? Alix

I think you're looking for Fun, which opened the same year as Heavenly Creatures - 1994 - but lacked the vivid visual imagination that made Peter Jackson's film a critical favorite. Fun starred Renee Humphrey and Alicia Witt (currently of TV's Law and Order: Criminal Intent) as the killer teens.

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