May 23, 2012

Andy Warhol's Bad



Andy Warhol’s Bad (1977) directed by Jed Johnson is indubitably a bad movie. Not bad in the banal or unwatchable sense, but a sincerely mean-spirited work that contains some of the most repellant, deplorable, and eclectically appalling people ever captured on celluloid. Warhol (or at least his hired filmmakers) was no stranger to depicting human depravity and emotional disfigurement, but out of all the films he was involved with, Bad is easily his most callously misanthropic and pessimistic work and one of few X-rated films that is conspicuously anti-erotic in nature, but like most of his previous efforts, such seedy and surly portrayals are executed facetiously with a most biting satire. Indubitably, Paul Morrissey was Warhol’s greatest director, Danny Williams is all but forgotten, and pop-art capitalist himself seemed like nothing more than an uninspired mentally-defective dilettante while in the director’s chair, but Jed Johnson – a man who never directed a film before (nor would after) – assembled what would prove to be the Warhol Factory’s masterpiece. Before directing Bad, Johnson had helped with the editing on Andy Warhol's L'Amour (1973) and Blood for Dracula (1974) aka Andy Warhol’s Dracula and even interior decorated a townhouse that he and the Factory dictator would call home. Of course, Bad features a different sort of domestic living than the ever so dainty and urbane homophile sort probably shared by Warhol and Johnson, as one might describe the film as somewhat misogynistic, but it is most certainly a wanton work of exceedingly eremitic extremes and sardonic snipes. Bad centers around a beauty salon owner named Hazel Aiken (played by Carroll Baker of Giant, Baby Doll) who also happens to be a slumlord that supplements her income by pimping out ferocious criminally-inclined white trash girls that rent rooms from her. Hazel also hires these boorish broads to carry out extremely profitable contract “hits” on everything from pet dogs to seemingly retarded school children. As a supremely ballsy bourgeois bitch and bottom-feeding capitalist who virtually enslaves the more debauched members of the fecund proletariat, Hazel even makes Martha Stewart seem like less of a soul-sucking cunt. 



 Hellish Hazel has a variety of dejected human-garbage gals and jaded Jezebels staying with here, including a humble (if mentally-feeble) and aesthetically displeasing daughter-in-law named Mary (and her equally annoying infant child), two wopesses R.C. and P.G., and a duo of bitchy brawling sisters named Marsha and Glenda. On a trial basis, queen harlot Hazel also takes in a wop bohunk named L.T. (Perry King) who acts as a hustling Joe Dallesandro-clone of sorts (apparently, the real Dallesandro declined to be in the film as he was working on pictures in Europe). Although Hazel is an eristic nag that treats most of the girls as emotional punching bags, she seems to hold her most marvelous malice towards L.T., probably due to his flagrant handsomeness and her seemingly sexually-repressed disposition. Undoubtedly, L.T. is a delinquent philistine who does not think twice about stealing and selling odious Hazel’s expensive perfume, but at least he is an unintentionally humorous fellow whose petty criminality and lack of manners acts as a haphazard stand-up comedy routine of sorts. Whatever the true merit of their acting abilities, all the actors featured in Bad certainly get the job done as I indubitably found myself anticipating their much warranted downfalls, but I fond Hazel’s delightful descent – which involves an emotional Negro who does not take kindly to the word "Nigger" – to be the most comical and befitting. Essentially, Bad is one of the finest cinematic documents depicting the innate despitefulness of the fairer sex and the assets of such female viciousness and coldness within a domestic criminal network. The film also highlights the intuitive materialistic nature of the female gender and how such mercenary behavior is all the more evident in our unspiritual post-modern Capitalist world, especially in New York City of all places; the home of Wall Street and the world capital of international bloodsucking capitalism. Ultimately, it is from L.T.’s selfless empathy for a helpless autistic boy that leads to the much deserved demise of she-bitch Hazel’s smutty and intrinsically amoral enterprise. Had Hazel remained the cold gutter baroness that she always was and characteristically resisted the charismatic charm of suave con-man L.T. from the get go, she probably would not have gotten herself into such an unbecoming and easily avoidable situation that would inevitably lead to her demise. 


 For a man who directed a scene of an infant falling to its death from a 12-story building, barefaced animal cruelty, and a toilet overflowing with what seems to be a couple gallons worth of feces, it is almost fitting that Bad director Jed Johnson himself would die tragically in the Trans World Airlines TWA Flight 800 plane explosion of 1996. Not since the brutal murder of Pier Paolo Pasolini in 1975, shortly after directing his final and startlingly self-prophetic film Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975) has a filmmaker’s art so tumultuously and appalling imitated his death. Bad may also be the only film featuring a scenario where a number of filmgoers are burnt alive in a movie theater, so to say the film also pokes fun at the viewer would be a glaring understatement. I find this scene to be awfully farcical when I consider that fact that out of all of Warhol’s films, Bad had the most lavish and celebrity-celebrated film premiere as actors as famous as Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, and Jack Nicholson attended the film’s debut screening in May 1977. In reflection, Bad was not a bad way for Warhol to end his career in filmmaking, particularly when considering that he was the same man behind the all but unwatchable A Clockwork Orange adaptation Vinyl (1965). As Vinyl demonstrated, Warhol may not have understood male violence nor masculinity, but he was certainly savvy about what makes women tick as so candidly, if venomously, portrayed in his completely worthwhile masterpiece Bad; a sordid cinematic spectacle of screwy spite. 


-Ty E

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

May of `77!, not a good time to premiere, almost exactly the same time as "Star Wars".

Anonymous said...

Only when every mainstream Hollywood blockbuster has content identical to "Bad" will it be a sign that all the lies and hypocrisy has finally and thankfully been eradicated from American society once and for all.

Anonymous said...

I watched a clip on YouTube a couple of weeks ago of the "baby killing" scene and i was absolutely appalled by it, the scary thing was that no matter how hideous it was it still represented "THE TRUTH" ! ! !. America of course still prefers lies and hypocrisy over that truth, something which could ultimately lead to the downfall of America itself.

Anonymous said...

If Jed Johnson was a faggot isn`t it better that he snuffed it ! ?, after all it does mean one less fairy in the world.

Anonymous said...

This could`ve been THE greatest cult movie of all-time if only it had been directed by a heterosexual instead of a faggot.

the smirking little know-it-all said...

There are different catorgories of "cult-movies". For instance, some are better known than others, i actually prefer it when Soiled Sinema reveiws the more well known ones, the ludicrously obscure ones are OK, but specifically because they are SO ludicrously obscure it sometimes makes it difficult to relate to the magic of them. "Bad" falls into the well known catorgorie which made the reveiw all the more enjoyable to read. More well known "cult-movies" from now on please.

Heather O`Rourke (with just a hint of Judith Barsi) said...

The great thing about this site is that the reveiws themselves are "cultish", you can keep returning to read them over and over again, thats how good the reveiws on Soiled Sinema are.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

So, 35 years ago today "Star Wars" was released and cinema was changed forever, i still genuinely believe that THE greatest product of the last 35 years of special effects film-making is Heather O'Rourke in the Poltergeist movies, for me Heather sums up and defines all that magic better than anything else.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

It was a shame that there was so much British rubbish involved in the making of "Star Wars", that always spoilt the movie a little bit for me.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Just going back once again to that May of `86 Poltergeist II edition of Cinefex with that incredible picture of Heather on the cover. Be honest, have you ever seen a girl with a prettier or more beautiful face ?, be honest. I haven`t EVER seen a more beautiful girl, its another image that proves how special and magical Heather really was.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite movies!!!

From the gazillion times I've watched it, I think Hazel didn't rent rooms, she called the hit payments "rent".

signed,
a faggot