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Cinema of Pain

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Pop Quiz! What's the absolute worst film franchise ever?

The Star Wars prequel trilogy is pretty hated but the classic original flicks balance that out. What about Final Destination? All five installments are hung on the exact same premise but within that framework the filmmakers continue to come up with pretty complex disasters and some of the most innovative death scenes of the digital era. Trick question, Final Destination actually rules.

Many would argue that despite groundbreaking first installments both the Scream and Spy Kids franchises got pretty bad there for a while, and it will always be a mystery why they even bothered pushing out the maligned I Know What You Did Last Summer sequels: I Still Know What You Did Two Summers Ago and the lesser-known third installment I'm Pretty Sure I Saw You Three Days Ago Up To Some Shit (ok, I made that up.)

No, the worst franchise of all time has to be more unnecessary than all five Step Up films, more tedious than all The Mummys, and more one-note than Tyler Perry's seven-film Madea series. And the Winner is.... Scary Movie 5 opening this Friday at the Whistler Village 8.

Here's the thing, the Scary Movie movies aren't that bad if all you do is smoke dope on the couch eating bulk sunflower seeds while watching fifteen movies a week. Ninety minutes of pop-culture meta-jokes and D-rate cameos is certainly better than riding the bus with a bag of household garbage or finally getting that swab test you've been itching for. But compared to almost any other actual movie the Scary Movies blow. And putting Lindsay Lohan in a scene where she plays herself being a total screw-up isn't funny, it's sad. We'll see who's laughing when she overdoses or dies in an auto wreck.

The real problem is that time and progress have not been kind to note-for-note parody films. Scary Movie 5 director David Zucker used to make pretty good comedy with this formula in the VHS era (The Naked Gun, Airplane) but these days that sort of low-intellect stuff belongs on Youtube, where "Sweded" fan films and super in-jokey stuff can live within their own custom audiences.

People expect more out of a real movie. (And as a side note, Scary Movie truly cements its worst-ever title with all the copycat formula parody garbage it inspired: High School Movie, Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, Date Movie, Not Another Teen Movie, etc, etc.)

So what does a film lover do this week when the only movie opening in our theatre is perhaps the biggest pile of beached squid jizz the cinema will see this year? How about checking out the WSSF 72-hour Filmmaker showdown on Tues, April 16 and Wed April 17 at the conference centre? There are a lot of local filmmakers chasing down Tuesday's $15K Best-In-Show prize and the People's Choice award (handed out Wednesday night) is not too shabby either. This is the local film event of the year and it runs two nights so you've got no excuse for missing it.

Finally, pour some on the block for film critic Roger Ebert, who passed away last week. Even if you think "Two Thumbs Up" played a significant role in the overall dumbification of North American film, you can't deny Ebert was a legend.

He liked good movies and he liked good-bad movies and he spoke quite eloquently about both. Plus he wrote the script to the only Russ Meyer flick where the chicks keep their tops on, and it still rules. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is the DVD of the week.

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