The Ten Terrible Taints of Theatrics: A Film Review Series

The Griddler

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Hello all. It was mentioned in my introduction thread that I watch and review assorted bad movies with my wife and friends. With their permission, I figured I would share the reviews I wrote as a personal initiative, as well as share the system we use when reviewing these sorts of movies. Every review that I share in this thread will have been written by me. I will freely offer a link to every review we've done as a group but I will not be posting reviews I had a hand in writing. The only piece posted in this thread that will not be my work alone is the explanation for the system itself, it is being posted with permission from its co-authors.

Without further delay: the Ten Terrible Taints system, as explained by my dear friends Ne and Marko and my wife, Maven (with some slight edits by myself to make it more palatable for this site's PG-13 rating):

In 2016, a group of so-called connoisseurs of cinematic atrocities came together to create a ranking system for movies, specifically of the bad variety. The ranking system came with five categories and a numbered range from one to ten. The system wasn't used as intended, and was eventually dropped entirely.

In late 2018, two years after its' original creation, the system was revamped in order to face an ever-growing line-up of terrible films both new and old.

The categories, known as the Ten Terrible Taints - including descriptions of what each one means and examples - are as follows:

A movie that heavily relies on gross-out humor is often in this category. When a movie falls under disgust, it's the moment when you get the feeling that you might be sick, depending on the content, or you’re just full of an unending feeling of intense disapproval and offense, but not because of anything outright immoral.
(Examples: The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987))
That feeling when a line falls flat, a joke makes you groan like you've been punched in the stomach, or a character’s actions just cause your spine to tingle and your head to recoil into your own neck. Sometimes the spine tingle is highly noticeable and painful. Depending on the severity, it could be a light tingle or a full on medical emergency.
(Examples: Most low-budget early 2000s kid's movies, Adam Sandler movies)
We all know of the concept of 'suspension of disbelief,' right? Imagine a movie that shatters it so incredibly hard that your mind cannot reconcile with the rest of the plot. It's best summed up as a moment in a film where you are faced with something that is so unbelievable and sometimes way beyond what is considered stupid that you're left reeling. Sometimes it’s hard to recover from extreme incredulity, and you spend the rest of the movie in some kind of surreal nightmare.
(Examples: Creating Rem Lazar (1989), Venom (2018))
Serial viewings of bad movies aren’t for the light of heart, and as such it can lead to symptoms of boredom, severe fatigue, cynicism, and mental anguish. It can range from just general tiredness to actually feeling like your soul has been hollowed out of your body and has become nothing but a withered husk. It varies greatly.
(Examples: El Topo (1970), Kitchen Privileges (2000))
Whether it be due to how poor the audio balancing is, or how eye-searingly bright and colorful the movie is, anything that causes you actual, genuine physical pain to look or hear in the movie qualifies for a rank in this category.
(Examples: #Horror (2015))
The sheer level of incompetence shown by the production crews of the many bad movies we've watched was enough to make itself it's own category. If the movie looks like it was shot with an iPhone camera, or the audio sounds like it was recorded in a public bathroom, the movie reuses takes, or over-relies on stock assets, or the CGI sends you straight to the uncanny valley within minutes of appearing on screen, it qualifies for incompetence.
(Examples: Alice In Murderland (2010), Scream Bloody Murder (2003), The Amazing Bulk (2012), Love on a Leash (2011))
Have you ever watched a movie that featured something that most normal people would agree to be deeply wrong? Things like, overly sexualized teenage girl characters, or a teacher in a relationship with one of their students, or a character being attracted to an animal, or something worse. Movies that give off poor moral messages also qualify. Although this is subjective, any movie that portrays something most people would find greatly disagreeable in a positive light will qualify.
(Examples: Scream Bloody Murder (2003), Love on a Leash (2011), Burning Bright (2010))
Some people create art. Some people merely think they're creating art. Bad movies ranked with this are created by the latter group. Any movie that thinks it's contributing anything meaningful to society or film history - without actually doing so - tends to fall under this category.
(Examples: #Horror (2015), Cyberbully (2011))
Imagine a movie so long, so padded, so full of unnecessary divergences from the main plot that you find yourself trying to remember what the actual plot of the movie is, and checking the time stamp multiple times. That's when a movie qualifies for a rank in this category.
(Examples: Monster a Go-Go (1965))
This rank includes movies (especially franchises) that feature product placement, uncritically corporate themes, a soundtrack comprised of licensed pop songs, bad pop culture references, desperate attempts to appeal to a wider audience, and more. Any movie that comes off as more of a commercial than a film qualifies.
(Examples: Most Christmas movies, The Emoji Movie (2017))

The Fun Scale
The Fun scale calculates just how much fun it actually is to watch a bad movie. It should be mentioned that when a movie is ranked with 'Fun,' that doesn't mean the movie is good. A bad movie with a moderate Fun score means that it's probably worth watching purely on the basis that you can mock it. The Fun scale ranges from zero to ten.

A Fun score of zero means that there's very little entertainment value, whereas a score of ten means that the bad movie is worth watching, especially with friends, to mock it amongst yourselves.

However, everything below zero qualifies as 'Anti Fun,' which is the feeling you get when a movie is so bad that there's absolutely no joy to be found in watching it, or a movie that actively resists any and all attempts to enjoy it.

Anti Fun movies aren't a 'So Bad It's Good' or a 'So Bad It's Funny' kind of bad. Nothing will be gained from watching them, and thus Anti Fun movies should be avoided for the sake of your sanity and self-respect. That is, unless you enjoy mental torture or have a Bile Fascination so strong that you just have to watch an Anti Fun movie anyway. More power to you, I guess.

Bad Movie Badges of Dishonor
Also known as Bonus Scars​
These things were so specific that we couldn't fit them into a different category, but occur often enough that they deserved special mention.

  1. "We Actually Stopped Watching This Movie" Badge
  2. "Watching This Made At Least One Person Have A Psychological Episode" Badge
  3. "This Movie Caused Inexplicable And Incoherent Rage So Potent That We Threatened Violence Against Each Other" Badge
  4. "Absurdly Difficult To Find" Badge
  5. "I Can't Prove This Movie Really Exists, But My Vague Fever Dream Memory Of It Makes Me Feel Certain That It Does!" Badge
  6. "Volume Warning" Badge
  7. "Obviously Shoehorned Big Name Celebrity Voice Actors" Badge
  8. "We Needed To Travel To Somalia In Order To Find A Theatre That Plays This Movie" Badge
  9. "Borderline ****ography" Badge
  10. "Metrosexual Bowlcut-Wearing Child Actor With At Least One Missing Parent" Badge
  11. "Talking / Supernatural Animal" Badge
  12. "Unfunny Comic Relief Character Ruins The Entire Movie" Badge
  13. "This Movie Is Easily Accessible On Netflix And This Is Proof That There Is No God" Badge
  14. "At Least One Of Us Saw This Movie In A Real Theater" (first new badge 2019)

Now that the Ten Taint system is explained, allow me to offer up my first solo review using the system: 2018's Venom.

Disgust | 4/10
As far as disgust goes there were really only two points of the movie where I was left going "aw, ****, gross". They were, however, notable enough that I feel the need to bump up the score for them. Suffice to say, I will never look at The Trashman the same way again, now that I've actually seen a man eat gahrbage.

Cringe | 7/10
This is one of the heavy hitters of this movie. Cringe is what made this movie, from Tom Hardy's hammy performance as "lost, confused and scared strung out New York dudebro" to the plethora of edgy witticisms from the dorky, extraterrestial Venom parasite, a self-proclaimed loser. Of course, many of these lines, such as the infamous "turd in the wind" monologue, are perfectly in line with the Venom character, some are even quotes ripped wholesale from the comics. But the thing is that comic book Venom is a thoroughbred 90s antihero, and movie Venom is a character in a movie made in 2018.

Incredulity | 9/10
Imagine a modern remake of The Mask, only they remade it as an action comedy movie with a sci-fi horror flavour, the Mask persona could communicate with its alter ego, oh, and it's a romantic comedy between the two personas. That's Venom. I guess it's not much like The Mask at all, in hindsight. But this was the only way my brain can convey the incredulity of this movie without breaking it down piece by piece. In fact, I just retroactively raised the incredulity score due to my hindsight becoming more incredulous. No mind shattering moments of incredulity but several smaller rapid fire salvos of it.

Exhaustion | 2/10
Venom hits this weird stride where it's paced terribly, but it's not this soul rending slog to sit through. I'm going to go further in depth with this matter in Bloat, but I will state here that the second and third acts of the movie exonerated Venom from a much higher exhaustion score.

Pain | 8/10
Comic savvy readers may be aware that the Klyntar (Venom's species of semisolid vore fetishists) have a pronounced weakness to LOUD AND SHRILL NOISES. "It's like their kryptonite," the characters helpfully inform us. This, naturally, leads to instances where these noises feature very prominently; if you're smack dab in a theatre with very loud surround sound and just happen to be suffering from an ear infection thanks to a recent cold, you'll find that it's your kryptonite too. I suppose that in a home setting where you control the volume according to your comfort this score deserves to be much lower. But my ear, like the Klyntar symbiotes, hungers for the flesh of the weak.

Incompetence | 4/10
I find myself at an impasse here. Venom, by all accounts, is not a great movie. I hesitate to even call it a good movie. Its script is poor, the acting is a swinging pendulum between decent and The Happening-esque, and while I'm not a good critic of camera direction I found a handful of shots, particularly during a couple action scenes, to be poor. However, there were some genuinely good scenes, and as a whole I enjoyed a lot of the action and most stuff that happened with Venom (the character) on screen. There is a competence here in a few aspects and I hesitate to call most of the rest - deeply flawed as it is - to be so incompetent as to warrant anything higher than a 5.

Immorality | 3/10
So, uh, let's not beat around the bush here. Venom eats people. It is a thing he does in the movie. Multiple times. It is addressed, it is joked about. I'm not saying that Venom the movie has a cannibal agenda, but I will point put that while the characters do concede that eating people is not nice, there is a significant lack of "OH MY GOD THAT ALIEN MONSTER BIT THAT MAN'S HEAD OFF" that I feel the characters should have been expressing.

Pretentiousness | 3/10
I was about to rate this 1 and move on when I just remembered that the bad CEO man of the movie is doing bad science things so he can save humanity from its own self destruction. He goes on Final Fantasy villain monologues. I'm still rating this a 3 because they're so isolated from the rest of the movie and I honestly forgot about it until now.

Bloat | 5/10
As stated in Exhaustion, Venom is poorly paced. Its first act takes much too long and lingers much too long on aspects of the plot that it - quite frankly - didn't need. My advanced monkey brain isn't being entertained because the plot isn't being progressed in a meaningful way, and my primitive lizard brain isn't being entertained because it's not being spoonfed senseless violence and flashy cgi aliens making dumb one liners and boom booms at each other smash smash pow. Things get better after getting over that hump and getting to the aliens already.

Capitalism | 6/10
Some would probably argue that Venom qualifies for peak Capitalism due to being a superhero movie, particularly a Marvel one. I would instead like to focus on judging Venom purely for how it presents itself as a movie. Venom doesn't have much product placement and brands are usually only recognizable due to packaging or shape rather than throwing a logo at your face. There are moments with pop music being played - or rather, rap music - but these occasions are brief. What hurts this score the most, however, is the fact that the movie is PG-13 instead of R rated. PG-13 is the safe, butts in seats option, but it does hurt a movie like Venom, especially given that its plot revolves around an alien monster that tenderizes, guts and devours humans like fish.

Taint Level
Fun Level
The Chinese advertising department for Sony took a bizarre approach to marketing Venom. It focused on how much of a good boyfriend Venom would be. At first I was baffled as to how, exactly, they came to this idea. But now, now I understand. I see the full picture now. Make no mistake, Venom is an edgy, mediocre superhero movie in the same vein as mid 2000 stinkers like Daredevil, Catwoman and Ghost Rider. It's also officially the most fun I've had watching a romantic comedy. Venom would make a good boyfriend, and I would love nothing more than to take you all on a double date with him and show you how sweet and fun he is.

Badges of Dishonour: 2
"Volume Warning" Badge
"At Least One of Us Saw This Movie in a Real Theater" Badge