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Sometimes Bad is Bad

In Hollywood, when directors lose creative control of a film, or are otherwise just too embarrassed to attach their name to a project gone awry, they use the pseudonym "Alan Smithee." This practice started in 1969 with Death of a Gunfighter and soon became the director's guild's official scapegoat for dissatisfied and disenfranchised directors. Shrouded in a fog of denial, these hangover-helpers will make you feel better about yourself no matter what you've done.

Ruby (1977)--Florida drive-in proprietor Ruby Claire (Piper Laurie) is an alcoholic ex-lounge singer whose mobster husband's spirit comes back from the grave for revenge. He does this by possessing their daughter, Leslie, and using her to slaughter all of his old cronies who, for some reason, work at the drive-in. This movie is extra creepy because of its setting in 1970s Florida; and Leslie (Janit Baldwin), who, incidentally, looks like a cross between Shelley Duvall and that snotty kid from River's Edge.

Solar Crisis (1990)--Charlton Heston stars in this sci-fi-asco that is equal parts disaster movie and pre-apocalyptic action/thriller. To save the earth from a massive solar flare, mankind must detonate a talking (!) anti-matter bomb on the surface of the sun. (Think Armageddon.) Meanwhile, Admiral "Skeet" Kelso (Heston) marches around saying "Damnit!" and ordering people to tell him they love him. Jack Palance sweetens the pot with a cameo appearance as a crazy, heroic lunatic.

Burn Hollywood, Burn (1997)--A movie about making movies starring Whoopi Goldberg, Jackie Chan, Coolio, Chuck D, Sly Stallone, Eric Idle, and Ryan O'Neil, in which Hollywood finally "outs" the Alan Smithee legend. The mild-mannered Alan Smithee (Eric Idle) finally gets an opportunity to direct a blockbuster and is horrified to find that evil producer Ryan O'Neil intends to butcher it. When he finds that he cannot replace his name with Alan Smithee because he is Alan Smithee, all hell breaks loose. Chock-full of tinseltown insider nudge-nudges and wink-winks, this movie will have you rolling (your eyes). LANCE CHESS

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