From Troll 2 to Gigli, the movie-going public has had to endure the worst kind of concept flicks, sequels, remakes, and adaptations to ever flop on the big screen. However, we’ve also managed to turn these flops into guilty pleasures thanks to repeated viewings on cable television. Brooklyn-based writer/publishers Matt Carman and Kseniya Yarosh have recently released the fifth volume of their popular zine, I Love Bad Movies. More than just a humorous retrospective on the worst of the worst movies in the last forty years, the zine features a variety of cheesy movie quotes, black and white stills from each movie, and interesting trivia. The eye-popping illustrated cover art is a collage of box office flops as well as centerfolds of noteworthy actors in bad movies like Christopher Walken and Winona Ryder. We caught up with Matt and Kseniya to get a few words on the making of I Love Bad Movies.
What was the inspiration for creating I Love Bad Movies?
Matt: When we started to tell people about all these amazingly crappy movies we’d been watching, it turned out they had their own favorites to talk about. Getting it all down on paper just made sense, like encoding a language for the first time. When we team up with our contributors to create a new issue of I Love Bad Movies, that’s still our favorite way of finding out about the best bad films.
What is your process for choosing each issue’s theme and the movies that accompany it?
Kseniya: Sometimes when you’re asked “what is your favorite bad movie?” it can overwhelming to choose. We find that narrowing the discussion to one theme at a time can help the writer to focus on one theme. In other words, restriction can be inspiring.
M: Themes like “Visions of the Future” (Issue 3) and “Before and After They Were Famous” (Issue 5) are broad enough that our contributors can take that idea in different directions — like the pseudo-futuristic robot that everyone forgot was in Rocky IV, or a critique of spaceship design in sci-fi movies. New themes are basically born out of what we’re interested in at the time. We’ve been tooling around with different ideas like “Sequels,” “Foreigners,” or “Cops & Robbers.” But even we don’t know what’ll be up next.
While your issues cover infamous flops like Troll 2 and Gigli, you also cover box office hits such as Purple Rain and Rocky IV. So what criteria does a hit movie have to meet to be bad?
M: If you would feel uncomfortable telling your coworkers and boss that you watched a certain movie, then it’s a bad movie in the sense that no normal person would choose to watch it. If you’re uncomfortable telling your friends that you watched it, because you know they’ll make you watch it again with them, then those are good friends.
K: If it was a movie that didn’t do well financially or was panned by critics, and you have something interesting to say about it, we’re willing to listen.
Why produce a printed zine about bad movies as opposed to a movie review website like the Nostalgia Critic or We Are Movie Geeks?
M: We want to read something that can be held in our hands, then be put on a shelf and pulled down again when the time is right. Most of our contributors are non-professionals and no one actually makes money off of this, so it’s a labor of love. A printed zine is the best testament to that everlasting love.
K: We and a lot of our contributors are also fans of old, rare VHS tapes and a zine is essentially a VHS version of a blog. That and it would seem kind of pointless to have a release party for a blog post whereas every issue gives us a reason to celebrate!
Of all the bad movies you’ve covered, was there at least one you loved as a kid but grew up to realize how horrible it is?
K: I think, like a lot of girls my age, Teen Witch got stuck in my brain as a tween watching The Disney Channel every afternoon after school. There are a few really great WTF moments, but it’s certainly not as good as I remembered it. Maybe the scene where teen witch makes out with the popular boy in an abandoned shack seemed kind of romantic at the time; now it just seems icky.
M: I went through a long phase in college where I thought Moulin Rouge! was just a fantastic film that made for an unparalleled viewing experience. Then we went to a sing-along screening at 92YTribeca a few years ago and I couldn’t believe how much I hated the movie. Every time someone in the movie said the word “love,” which was constantly, I just wanted to slap their tongue out.
What is the inspiration for both the cover art and the centerfold for each issue?
M: Kseniya does all of the design for the zine and recruits most of the artists for the covers and accompanying centerfolds. She’s our art department, basically. Once she’s secured a cover artist, we send them the list of movies that will be featured in that issue. They pick one, and then we all work together to figure out what elements of the movie we want displayed and how. Usually Kseniya or I will have an idea to start, but the artists always surprise us with something way better.
K: It’s turned out great so far, and I’ve been blown away by all of our amazing art. A zine should definitely be judged by its cover, but I only say that because our cover artists are the best.
Can anyone submit artwork for the zine or do you have your own special team of artists?
M: The roster of I Love Bad Movies contributors has grown slowly and carefully over the years. It started out as just us and our friends, and now we’re up to several dozen writers and artists per issue. Most are still friends, some are acquaintances, and a few are people we admired who, for whatever reason, liked what we do and wanted to join us.
That being said, we are open to submissions from people we’ve never met. There are a lot of great minds thinking about bad movies out there, and we’d like to put all of them to work on future issues, whether we know them already or not.
Having recently interviewed Bill & Ted star Alex Winter on his role as a Puerto Rican thug in Death Wish 3 for your latest issue, who would be your dream bad movie actor or director that you would like to interview?
K: I would be curious to hear what Joyce Hyser has to say about her iconic role as Terry in Just One of the Guys. It’s a movie that a lot of male bad movie enthusiasts remember for its nudity, but I also think it was a key film for girls who were coming to terms with their own sense of gender and self in the late ’80s and early ’90s. I would love to know which aspects of the character were infused by her own personality and how the film affected her as a whole.
M: Some of our friends and contributors have an uncanny knack for getting interviews with awesome, fun filmmakers. Andrew Miller and Max Cavanaugh — hosts of the Basic Cable Classics screening series in New York — were the ones who did the interview with Alex Winter in I Love Bad Movies #5, and Kevin Maher of the “Kevin Geeks Out” variety show interviewed The Children director Max Kalmanowicz for Issue 4.
We don’t have their talent for landing talent, but assuming we did: living, probably James Remar. He’s been in every movie ever made, often in a supporting role, but he’s got a presence that lasts the entire film. He was given a leading-man role in the 1986 actioner Quiet Cool, which we showed at one of our Bad Movie Night events; if it hadn’t flopped, he’d be one of the Expendables by now. If I didn’t like my father so much, I’d want James Remar to be my dad. Wait, did you say “interview” or “adopt”?
Tell us a bit about the Brooklyn Zine Fest.
M: There’s nothing quite like I Love Bad Movies (probably because no one else hates having downtime as much as we apparently do), and so it can be hard to get the zine out into the world. We don’t fit in at most bookstores or comics shops (though you can find us at the excellent Forbidden Planet in Manhattan and Desert Island Comics in Brooklyn), and the strange obsessives who form our core audience are difficult to find.
So we started the Brooklyn Zine Fest to give us, and all those other niche publications in New York and beyond, a place to showcase their talents and connect with like-minded folks. The BZF 2012 was held this past April at Public Assembly in Williamsburg, with more than 60 tablers and more than 1,500 attendees. It was a smash, and we’re looking forward to getting started on BZF 2013 as soon as we, you know, breathe for a minute.
Kseniya Yarosh and Matt Carman are the editors of the zine I Love Bad Movies, as well as curators and hosts of bad movie screenings and variety shows in New York City. You can find their zine at ilovebadmovies.com or in select comic shops. Find them on Facebook at fb.com/badmovies.