February 1, 2015

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Terrible Movie Nights 1 by Claire Sanders

Written (with illustrations) by Claire Sanders
Self-Published

While I don't do nearly as much of it now as I used to, because I'm trying to cut down on my television time, I used to watch a lot of movies. Good, bad, indifferent--I saw so many different VHS tapes go through our machines over the years that if I'd have kept them all, we'd have been able to open a video store of our own (which probably wouldn't cover the late fee fines). Whether it was with my parents or part of my relationships, watching movies--especially bad ones--is ingrained in my DNA.

So naturally, when I first ran into I Love Bad Movies (here's my review of issue one, ages and ages ago), I read the collaborative zine from cover to cover. Terrible Movie Nights is in the same genre of zine, looking at bad movies (both fairly well known and obscure) and writing about them. It's main differences are a loose ratings guide, illustrations for each movie (instead of stills), and the fact that it's a one-woman anthology instead of a group project.

Sanders, who is also a big fan of I Love Bad Movies, which she plugs in the outro, describes this project as spinning out of her creation of a horror movie night in 2012.* Originally online, these posts have been edited and given illustrations, and represent Claire's thoughts on what she watched with her friends.

The movies themselves range from things you might know, depending on your taste (or lack thereof), such as Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (starring no one you'd care about and, amazingly, no witches, either), The Amityville Horror, and Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, which Claire pans for feeling like it was just a bunch of episodes strung together instead of a cohesive whole.

Whether it's a famous film or not, Claire has no problem expressing herself. She doesn't mince words, either (each movie gets about 2-3 pages of a 5.5 x 6.5 square-style zine) so you get a succinct breakdown that's good for letting you know if you might want to check out the movie yourself, even if Claire didn't care for it. It's fun to watch her praise a hidden gem, like Yor The Hunter from the Future, which she rates as "So Bad, It's Good" for example. Claire lets you know when a Name actor appears, too, sometimes in the most unlikely places, like Gene Simmons as a hermaphrodite in Never Too Young To Die, a "So Bad, It's Awesome" movie she plans to re-watch.

The writing style is definitely engaging, and varies from title to title. Sometimes she'll mention the soundtrack or the setting or how dated the movie feels. There's always plot summary, and only in a few cases did I think that Claire maybe could have dialed it back a bit. (But as any reviewer will tell you, that's always a fine balance.) She's very good at finding some strange ones, like Deadly Friend, where the protagonist tries to resurrect his girlfriend by inserting a robot's brain into her body. (This does not go well.) If you're looking for awful movies to watch, Claire will definitely help you. I appreciate that she tells you what formats they're in, too--not all of us still have a VCR after all.

Claire's illustrations are a nice addition to this style of zine, by the way. They usually riff on some part of the movie, serving as an alternative cover to the actual video box. They're quite amusing, and make the zine stand out.

I had a lot of fun reading Terrible Movie Nights and I definitely want to read the sequels. The nice thing about writing about bad movies is that there's plenty of room for everyone--and more than enough bad movies to spare. Anyone who's a fan of terrible things that can end up being hysterically awesome to watch, especially of the horror genre, should get a copy of this zine right away. Your life may depend on it.**

You can buy Terrible Movie Nights 1 here.

*Note: I really want to do this, too. But there are so many things I also want to do that I never get to most of them. Maybe this year.

**Probably not. But why take the chance?