What’s in a Name: Worst Movies with the Best Titles

In a couple of weeks, Fast Five (2011) will be released – the fifth installment in The Fast and the Furious franchise. With each film, not only does the quality of such trivial details as plot and character development decrease, but the producers scramble to find a new, different, exciting title that will harken back to the earlier gems while still conveying the modernity of the film one is about the see. With each film, their efforts either become more lazy and/or desperate – the result is the same: a series of the most stupidly named films in recent history.

Ok, with The Fast and The Furious (2001) – that’s not a bad title. From that, I am able to deduce that I will be watching angry people go fast in cars. That’s basically all you’d need to know going in. So, not overly creative, but not offensive either. Then we get the sequel: 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003). I’m almost willing to give them this one; they’re trying to do something different than just The Fast and the Furious 2, which I can respect nearly enough to forgive the terribly pun-age. So close. But wait, we could probably still score some more dough off this trend of idiots putting tens of thousands of dollars into POS cars to make them go fast! So along comes The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006). Yawn.  That probably  means something to people in the drag racing world, but I’m not one of them. Next! Ah, my fave: Fast and Furious (2009). How much time have we been wasting on this stupid article, “the”?! Get it out of there, to show that this time, we really mean business. We don’t need no stinkin’ “the”. And wrapping it up, the latest brainchild, Fast Five, which could also easily be about a relay team or a prostitution ring.

So here’s where I’m at: if you’re going to shovel out a pile of manure and ask to audience to pretend it’s a daisy, at least paint it up to look like a flower. Get creative with that title! Who would have seen Hobo With a Shotgun (2010) if it were called Had a Bad Day? No one would have paid money for Sky Terror; Snakes on a Plane (2006), however, sign me up! (p.s. I think we’ve figured out why I have not been asked to attend the Movie Titler’s Ball.) With that, I would like to honour those films that may not have any redeeming viewing qualities, but at least had the creative verve to come up with an interesting title. My hat’s off to you.

Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl (1998): Whenever anyone says that Tarantino is all style, I will now show them this film to demonstrate what a film with zero substance really looks like. Trust me, Grindhouse is a philosophical meeting of minds in comparison. A Japanese tale of lovers on the run that buys way too much into its own hype, and believes the exploitation ideal that narrative is incidental. But everything looks really pretty! And just knowing that there’s a Shark Skin Man out somewhere there makes me smile. I just wish he was, ya know, an actual man made of shark skin.

He ate Peach Hip Girl!

Dr. Butcher M.D (aka Zombie Holocaust; 1980): I’m not even going to say anything bad about this one. Come on, that’s two of the best titles I’ve heard in a long time – on the same movie! I would go to Dr. Butcher – hey, at least he has a degree. A group of explorers must contend with island full of cannibals and zombies. Both want to eat your flesh! How to choose….

Um, could I please see your credentials?

Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972): Ah, Italian horror. You can’t go wrong. To be fair, I haven’t even seen this movie. It could be fantastic. But then again, it’s directed by Lucio Fulci, master of gross-out/insanely stupid filmmaking. I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, and assume that it’s not actually about fowl torment. According to IMDB, a reporter and “a promiscuous woman” hunt for a child killer together. Too bad she had to be promiscuous. Now God will undoubtedly thwart all attempts to bring the child killer down (seriously, I love that they point out what a ho she is in the synopsis). But that is one dynamite title.

But seriously, if you were going to torture a duckling, wouldn't you just hire a pro?

Please Don’t Eat My Mother! (1973): Here’s my advice to you when you’re grabbed by a film’s title – first make sure it’s not actually a porn. The hostage and I ordered this from Zip, as it was supposed to be a spoof of Little Shop of Horrors with a female plant. Um, sexy? How could we have known this plant only devours her victims once they have been undressed… and you know, gotten a little? As if low-budget porn isn’t bad enough, the plant looks like a paper mache covered trash can:

Feed me, Seymour!

Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2008): Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds as remade by Michael Bay. Ok, not really. There aren’t nearly enough explosions for that. This movie has the guts to answer the age-old film question – if I don’t see the hero filling up his car with gas, how will I know why he didn’t run out on the way to his next destination?! Also, how will I understand how he got home if I don’t see him back out of his parking stall? And then put the car into drive? And then exit the parking lot, turning left? And then drive for a while, and then pull into a driveway? Elliptical editing is lost on these people. It’s as though they genuinely believe the audience would be completely confused without all the mundane details that most other movies have the sense to leave on the cutting room floor. Dear god, he JUST left work… how did he get home?! And so quickly!

Oh no, now where will our hero get gas?!

Oh yeah, then some birds eat people. If you’re going to subject yourself to it, the Rifftrax version is really the only way to survive.

So thank you, steaming garbage movies, for investing a little bit of creativity in your titles. Obviously, many of them have duped me, and will continue to dupe others. Job well done (initiates slow clap). Until the next,

K

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~ by K. Harker on April 23, 2011.

One Response to “What’s in a Name: Worst Movies with the Best Titles”

  1. There are people who have watched the Fast and Furious series, and just talked about the cars and/or the driving rather than the story. Sure, it’s got Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and The Rock in it, but you have to give credit to the cars and the driving skillz. Yes, I had to end it with a Z to make it look cool.

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