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Book review: <i>The Official Razzie Movie Guide</i> by John Wilson


Black background, dull text, and a blurry black-and-white screen grab of a man in an unconvincing gorilla suit flipping us off. (This admittedly apt image comes from a film called A*P*E, one of the first to be reviewed inside the book.)

The Plot

Essentially movie reviews of some of the worst films known to man. They’re reviewed by, and brought into the light thanks to, John Wilson, creator of the annual Razzie Awards some 20+ years ago. Films are arranged alphabetically under category.

The Good

As an obvious film buff, Wilson knows what his brethren and sistren want – generously sized reviews (and plenty of them) with extensive plot synopsis for the unfamiliar, review quotes, cast lists, cheesy dialogue snippets and factoids.

Wilson’s campy critical style is nothing new (“You’ll cry – with laughter!!”) but he’s undoubtedly witty, and his love for the material and wholehearted embrace of the trashy add notes of awed delight to the truly terrible which put this right up next to Johnathan Ross’ The Incredibly Strange Film Book. I laughed more than once, had a great time, and noted the titles of a few films I’ve GOT to see (Lorenzo Lamas as a street-wise breakdancer in Body Rock? I’m all over it homeboy).

The Bad

There’s one glaring omission: Screenshots. In the centre of the book Wilson’s put a few photographs of Razzie history (ie the legends like Paul Verhooven, Tom Green and a talking Battlefield Earth figurine who showed up to receive their awards in person), but it would’ve been perfect to have a couple of choice frozen film moments at the head of each review. I even find it hard to imagine that he could have been discouraged from legally doing so by the nature of the book – half of these films would ONLY be sought by people for the very reasons laid out here, and he even includes a guide to finding specific titles at the end of the book, meaning any publicity for most of these movies would be good publicity. So that’s a bit lazy.

If you wanted to be a spoilsport you could say Wilson’s tone can get a little repetitive – his old school wrap-ups (“hilarious – but not intentionally!”) can seem a bit redundant given the nature of the book, for instance. Even at his most formulaic, however, not only does Wilson’s joy at this stuff rub off almost involuntarily, but it really is impossible to miss with some of this material (have another look at the cover, for crying out loud). I never felt an ugly cynicism or disgust for the creators of these movies behind Wilson’s motivations, which may explain how the Razzies have achieved their delicate state of mocking Hollywood glitz by being a little part of it.

Anyway, if you find crappy cinema funny, then take a gamble on this one - a row of lemons isn’t always bad luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What I learnt

I am DEFINITELY hiring out Body Rock. And Mommie Dearest. And Xanadu.

In short

Title: The Official Razzie Movie Guide
Author: John Wilson
Publisher: Warner Books
ISBN: 0446693340
Year published: 2005
Pages: 400

This review was written by Tom Vaughan. Tom has his own website, which contains many other reviews and strips and art and other fun stuff here.

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