What Are The Most Embarrassing Films You Loved As A Child?
Let me start by declaring this a safe zone.
We aren’t going to be discussing beloved childhood classics here. There will be no odes to E.T. or fond memories of anything with the Disney stamp of approval. Instead we–and by we, for now I mean me–will be talking about our deepest, darkest film secrets. Those movies so horrendous that the mere utterance of their titles in a non-ironic fashion could leave us stripped of our film fan credentials. I’m talking about the most embarrassing films we loved as children. Not the ones we watched just once, but the ones we owned well-worn VHS copies of and forced our parents to watch on a weekly basis. They have no redeeming qualities. They have horrendous titles and convoluted premises, but once upon a time they were beloved. I’m going to share my four ugly ducklings first, but remember it’s only fair if you show me yours too…
As a young southerner being a fan of Jim Varney was just part of the lifestyle. His humor was not highbrow by any means. No one watched an Ernest film to feel smarter. However, just like the billion reality programs about hillbillies hand-fishing and absurdly rich guys who invented duck whistles, there was something charming about Varney’s silliness. At least there was if you were six, which is how old I was when Ernest Scared Stupid was released in 1991.
The film’s plot involves Ernest’s family being cursed by a troll with stupidity that increases with each generation until one day we get to Ernest, who is so stupid that he releases the troll from its prison so that it can prey on the town’s children once more. Children’s Halloween movies remain a weakness of mine–don’t ask me how many times I’ve seen Disney’s made-for-TV Tower of Terror, no really, don’t–but I’m not sure I could sit through Earnest Scared Stupid today. The best way to describe the film is The Three Stooges meets the Deliverance hill-folk and then they spend an entire movie over-acting and chasing a troll. It’s terrible. But I’m sure that the VHS copy is still buried in a box somewhere in my home just daring me to revisit it.
Also released in 1991 was a little animated feature entitled Rover Dangerfield. As the title suggests it starred Rodney Dangerfield. It was also written by Dangerfield, who thought that the best way to begin a movie aimed at the under 10 set is with a bit of attempted dog murder. Poor Rover is tossed into the Hoover Dam by his showgirl owner’s boyfriend, but happily survives to show up on a farm where he proceeds to act like Dangerfield…only as a dog. (Rover is later taken into the woods by his new owner to be shot, so if you would like to introduce your children to the humor of Dangerfield and emotionally scar them all at once, then this is the movie for you.)
The rest of the film is devoted to the typical Dangerfield schtick just barely brought down to a level that is kid friendly. The movie bombed with most critics, but it was a big hit in my house. At least it was in my eyes. I’m sure there were several conspiracies to smuggle the tape out and destroy it planned by various family members, but none of them were successful, I’m happy to report.
Little Monsters was my all-time favorite film as a child.
That’s right, it was my favorite. As in I’d rather watch it than something respectable like The Jungle Book. Little Monsters is the poor man’s Beetlejuice, by way of Peter Pan, but all I needed to know is that it starred Fred Savage (and Ben Savage), boasted a cadre of monsters in an underworld that could be accessed from under your bed and was just silly enough not to give me nightmares. It also starred Howie Mandel as Maurice the nutty monster who resides under the elder Savage’s bed.
I haven’t seen the movie in years for fear of restarting the cycle of watching it every single day, but I suspect that I would still love it even if it is objectively terrible.
Okay, so also in 1991 (seriously, what was going on in Hollywood that year?), there was this animated film called Rock-a-Doodle about a rooster Elvis. Technically, there’s much more to the story; there was a human boy turned into a cat, an evil owl known as The Duke of Owls who controls the darkness, another evil guy who is rooster Elvis’ agent, a quest to the city, and so on and so on. But I think sticking to the basic summary best conveys the ridiculousness: rooster Elvis.
The music wasn’t bad though, even if the plot required a diagram to understand. It was like Primer for kids, minus the time travel. Or any of the quality.
I’m done baring my soul. It’s your turn now. Hit me with your most embarrassing favorite films from your childhood. I promise not to judge you, if you don’t judge me.
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