08/21/16 Episode 12: The Telephone (1988) and Maidstone (1970)
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Not all bad movies are watchable. Not all bad movies are Showgirls (1997) or The Room (2003) or what we'd call Good Bad Movies. Beyond Good Bad Movies, there's Bad Bad Movies, an unwatchable mud puddle this podcast has bathed in before -- see Slapstick (of Another Kind) (1982). Special guest Natasha Muse (Riffer's Delight, Seeso) and host Mike Spiegelman slop around in that mud again, as we watch the greatest Bad Bad Movie of them all, The Telephone (1988).
An actress makes a bunch of phone calls in her apartment. Much to Natasha's disappointment, that's the movie. Hans Gruber doesn't show up, Sharknado doesn't show up, no one turns into vampires. It's just an actress (played by Whoopi Goldberg) on the phone. Off the phone, she's reading a book, pretending to be a Japanese Benihana chef, or having a goldfish nibble her toes (all true!). Sometimes, Elliott Gould or Severn Darden (Conquest of the Planet of the Apes) or John Heard (the dad from Home Alone) show up. And there's a twist ending before the end credits roll. Again, that's the movie
If the cast seems like talent wasted, it holds true behind the camera as well. It's written by Terry Southern and Harry Nilsson and directed by actor Rip Torn. It's shot in San Francisco before the 1989 earthquake. Her apartment building is next to the now demolished Embarcadero Freeway (the building still stands). At the start she walks past the still open It's Tops Diner. What a great diner. When in San Francisco, try their pancakes.
And where did the director come up with that ending? I feel that Torn took it from his old movie, Maidstone (1970), where he breaks character and assaults that film’s director Norman Mailer with a hammer blow to the head. We wrap up our episode by listening to that insane attack. You can also watch Maidstone in its entirety on YouTube, after the break.
Watch The Telephone, embedded above, and the podcast at the same time. Click here to launch podcast in a separate browser.