“Prump í Paradis”, meaning “Fart in Paradise”, is a monthly film showcase held at Bíó Paradís, Reykjavík’s favourite quirky movie theatre. After a short break, this fantastic cultural event is back with a brand new lineup of good bad movies, movies that are so lacking in story, style and substance that they manage to transcend what we consider to be classic filmmaking tropes to become wildly enjoyable experiences in their own right.
See Also: The Story of Icelandic Cinema
The event is hosted by Hugleikur Dagsson, an Icelandic cartoonist, playwright and film critic most famous for his comic works “Should You Be Laughing at This?” (2005), “I Hate Dolphins” (2013) and “My Pussy is Hungry” (2013). Each movie listed will begin at 20:00 sharp, and cost 1600 ISK for a single ticket, more than worth for the sheer delight of revelling in cheesy, low-budget filmdom.
Aside from the films themselves, guests are treated to drinks offers, as well as drinking games relevant to each movie, and a short seminar after the screening. In the past, these showcases have even included minor celebrities, friends of Dagsson from the film and music industry. So, what films will be showing at Prump í Paradis, and exactly why should you save the date?
8th November — White Chicks (2004), Directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans
White Chicks follows the story of two African American FBI agents who are tasked with chaperoning the billionaire heiress twins, Brittany and Tiffany Wilson, in a bid to avoid a socialite kidnapping plot. When the twins suffer facial cuts and are forced to stay in their hotel, Kevin (Shawn Wayans) and Marcus (Marlon Wayans) agree to disguise themselves as the girls, donning white face in what has to potentially be the least convincing display of camouflage since 2000’s Big Momma’s House.
The remainder of the film henceforth could be argued as ‘entertaining’—though this would be the wrong argument—consisting of little more than a litany of lowbrow jokes, grotesque stereotypes and plot holes so gaping, it forces one to consider whether a plot exists at all. Predictably, the film was nominated for five Razzie awards—Worst Picture, Worst Actress, Worst Screenwriter, Worst Director, Worst Screen Couple—and yet failed to win a single one, consequently garnering all the of attention the film deserved.
With that being said, the unconvincing prosthetic makeup is truly spectacular, if not so terrifying as to cause perpetual nightmares, and the writing so poor as to include lines like “These starving kids in Africa make me so sad. They don’t even have to try to be skinny!” Quality entertainment indeed, but 1600 ISK to sneer, judge and play virtuous is, by all accounts, money well spent.
6th December — Battlefield Earth (2000), Directed by Roger Christian
Battlefield Earth holds some impressive positive review stats online: 2.4/10 on IMDB, 3% on Rotten Tomatoes and 9% on Metacritic, a stark warning for anyone ignorantly considering the 1-hour and 58-minute duration as time well spent. Despite starring some rather impressive names—from John Travolta to Forest Whitaker—Roger Christian’s science-fiction tale of a future where mankind battles an alien race of Psychlos simply failed to capture the public’s imagination, instead drawing harsh rebukes, with Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times writing it was the “Plan 9 from Outer Space for a new generation.”
At a post-release press conference, Travolta famously asked a room full of journalists whether they enjoyed the movie, only to receive a stony silence. Perhaps that should have been expected, the famed Scientologist had for years pushed to develop a film adaption of L. Ron Hubbard’s 1982 novel, despite constant setbacks from studios unwilling to finance it. Finally, Travolta put in a million dollars of his own cash, and the screenplay was picked up by Franchise Pictures, a company who specialised in producing stars’ personal projects.
Still, nothing could be done to save this car crash of a production; its over-the-top special effects, god-awful soundtrack, cringey writing, horrendous acting and lousy special effects all culminated in a well-deserved spot on countless 100 Worst Films in History lists.
One particularly accurate review from The Washington Post claimed with admirable restraint, “A million monkeys with a million crayons would be hard-pressed in a million years to create anything as cretinous as Battlefield Earth. This film version of L. Ron Hubbard’s futuristic novel is so breathtakingly awful in concept and execution, it wouldn’t tax the smarts of a troglodyte.” Please, tell us what you really think?
10th January — Rocky 4 (1985), Directed by Sylvester Stallone
Before Rocky’s release in 1976, Sylvester Stallone was little more than a bit-part actor, appearing in uncredited support roles, as well as a softcore porno, later retitled as the Italian Stallion. Having written the screenplay in just three days, the boxing classic went on to win Best Picture, Best Directing and Best Film Editing at the Academy Awards, propelling the young entertainer into lifelong superstardom.
As a result, it was widely expected that Rocky would see a sequel or two in order to maximise on the franchise’s profits. It was less expected, however, that Rocky sequels would continue long into our current decade, with Creed II scheduled for release this month.
Rocky IV was the last of the franchise to be both written and directed by Stallone, and is credited as one of the worst, with Roger Ebert having described it as “ […] a last gasp, a film so predictable that viewing it is like watching one of those old sitcoms where the characters never change and the same situations turn up again and again.” Indeed, Rocky 4 does follow the classic trajectory; our chiselled protagonist facing insurmountable odds (this time against the cold Soviet boxer, Drago), training montages and a final knockout resulting in an American victory.
The extravagant patriotism and Cold War parallels are so on the nose, its as though the viewer themselves has been caught with a direct punch, making large portions of the film so notoriously cheesy that its difficult to watch without moaning. Still, the franchise has its diehard fans, and there is no denying its international appeal, making Rocky IV a welcome addition to the Prump í Paradis lineup.
7th February — Weekend at Bernie’s (1989), Directed by Ted Kotcheff
Two low-level employees at an insurance company, Richard (Jonathan Silverman) and Larry (Andrew McCarthy), happen to discover fraudulent activities on an account and decide to dutifully report it to their manager, Bernie, unsuspecting that he is, in fact, responsible for the crime. Bernie, by now indebted to various mafia types, plans to have the pair murdered, only to find himself the mafia’s target after drawing too much attention from the authorities.
Killed by drug overdose, Bernie becomes the focal point of the film after Richard and Larry visit him at a party at his exclusive beach house, only to realise he is dead. In a plot so convoluted, it’s near impossible to simplify; they decide to pretend he is alive in front of the other guests in order to enjoy the luxuries of his property. Cue hilarity… or, at the very least, the remainder of the film. Whether or not Weekend at Bernie’s is actually funny is very much up to debate.
A commercial success, Weekend at Bernie’s was widely regarded as tasteless and crude by critics, with many claiming that comedies focused around a dead body are rarely amusing. And yet, an audience must have existed out there; the film exceeded $30 million at the box office and led to an equally panned sequel—the imaginatively titled Weekend at Bernie’s II.
7th March — Road House (1989), Directed by Rowdy Herrington
Any film starring the late Patrick Swayze is guaranteed to be a cult classic, with the romantic action flick, Road House, being no different. The plot follows Swayze as Dalton, a specialised bouncer who sets out to protect the local town of Jasper from corrupt businessmen.
The film is, without doubt, ludicrous, extending the rather mundane reality of working as a nightclub doorman into the absurd level of fantasy violence, fiery explosions and passionate assassination attempts. While Swayze’s portrayal of Dalton was roundly condemned as terrible, it is almost impossible to consider how in fact the actor could have done any better given the script he was dealt.
Still, the famed film critic Roger Ebert has unknowingly justified this film’s place at Prump í Paradis, writing in 1989: “Road House exists right on the edge between the ‘good-bad movie’ and the merely bad. I hesitate to recommend it because so much depends on the ironic vision of the viewer. This is not a good movie. But viewed in the right frame of mind, it is not a boring one, either.”
11th April — Lady Terminator (1988), Directed by H. Tjut Djalil
Capitalising on the overwhelming success of James Cameron’s first installment of the Terminator franchise, the mockbuster Lady Terminator is the bewildering, yet spirited tale of the Queen of the South Sea, a goddess whose talents include devouring men’s penises using the eel that lives in her vagina (—yes, you read all of that correctly.) In the bygone era, one of her potential victims manages to wrestle this serpent from its lair—for lack of a better word—transforming it into a dagger, thus enraging the goddess, who subsequently curses his future great-granddaughter.
Years later, in 1989, an anthropologist by the name of Tania (Barbara Anne Constable) is investigating the legend of the Queen of the South Sea. She scuba dives to her resting place, whereupon she is tied to the bed and violated by the goddess’ serpent in a sexual metaphor for… god knows what. (This is Indonesian schlock gold—best not to read too deeply into it…)
This allows the Queen to take full control of Tania’s body and enact revenge on the aforementioned man’s descendant—Erica (Claudia Angelique Rademaker), a soon-to-be pop idol. In what can only be described as a logical story progression, Tania begins a violent killing spree, attacking a nightclub and police station, all the while tracked down by the wily New York police detective, Max McNeil (Christopher J. Hart).
Of all the films listed, Lady Terminator appears to be the worst of a bad bunch, and therefore the greatest addition to the Prump í Paradis schedule. Released originally on VHS, the film is the best example of just what can make a bad movie great. After a DVD release in 2004, Lady Terminator has been shown at Toronto Underground Film Festival (2010), the Belfast Film Festival (2014), and most recently, at the Offscreen Film Festival (2017). Despite its clear pitfalls, the filmmakers must have done something incredibly right, regardless of whether it was some beautiful accident or not.