Every peer group has its own cultural touchstones. In your circle of friends (and if you're reading this, you're probably part of mine), there are certain pieces that everyone can agree on. In fact, some social groups are even defined by the things they like - punk, mod, geek and Trekkie come to mind.
But everyone's got those few things they like - either movies, or bands, or comic books, etc. - that among their circle of friends, they're on their own. Those works that only they seem to have any affection for, usually quite a bit of blind affection for, that others don't even dislike mildly. These are the works that one person loves that everyone else hates, that we sometimes even evangelize for, that only end up having everyone call us crazy and question our taste.
I probably have more than a few of these solo fan obsessions in my pocket. Works that I can't even talk about with friends,a or that I've shown and been derided for. But what the hell. I still love them. Here's a partial parade of shame, with as many YouTube links as I can cough up.
1) Rock and Rule
This film blew my mind when I was twelve, and although I'm aware that it's a practical impossibility to view with a critical eye those icons from our childhood, I finally saw this again after a twenty-year break and I still think it's a really daring and cool movie. If nothing else, it's got a great soundtrack, with Lou Reed doing his best version of a glam-ified Mick Jagger and a duet from Debbie Harry and Robin Zander. But there's so much more than nothing else: great design, a vivid re-imagining of the New York new wave scene as a dystopian post-apocalyptic wasteland dotted with lumpy cities (that owe more than a little to Moebius) and inhabited by anthropomorphized dogs, cats and rats. Really slick and impressive animation and - what the hell, it's got a demon made of meat. Literally: they filmed a transparency with cow's brains right on the animation stand.
I think where most people lose interest in the film is in the slack and off-center storytelling, where major things happen off-screen and character development is delivered in mumbled asides. I, of course, actually like that aspect of it. When I showed it to some friends a couple of years ago, they were genuinely mad at me for forcing it on them. Oops.
At least Yesenia liked it. She said it made her feel like she was tripping.
2) Howard the Duck
I really have no excuse for liking this film, beyond saying that it is a genuinely faithful adaptation of the comic. Of course, I saw it when I was fifteen, and I didn't read a comic written by Steve Gerber until my late twenties, so go figure.
Really, I like this film for three reasons only: the soundtrack is one of John Barry's best, with a really lovely and rising main theme (I bought that sucker on vinyl as a kid, and not for the Thomas Dolby songs on the b-side); the casting of Lea Thompson at her peak hotness when I really had a major crush on her (still do); and the cool traditional F/X work from ILM, which could almost be a showreel for their effects animation and highly-refined stop-motion techniques. The monster designs are also boss, what can I tell you?
I won't even try to defend the film on other grounds, because that's a fool's errand, but I will note that I was emotionally affected by the story. So sue me. I was fifteen. They'll never release this one on DVD, but I would be the first at the door if they did. I do have a bootleg, thanks to my friend Jim's convention hopping ways.
A more recent addition to the pile, one that other people watched first and told me of its lousiness. It suffers from a lot of the same narrative issues as Rock and Rule - being murky storytelling and emphasis on visuals over narrative - but Mirrormask Dave McKean takes it a step further by covering the screen in fog and haze and scribbling so that every frame of film is like a bunch of pages of a copy of Griffin and Sabine got wet and were stuck together. Add to that really cloying dialogue from Mr. Cutesy himself, Neil Gaiman, more puppets and masks than any adult should have truck with, and a soundtrack that sounds like the worst pileup of electronic fusion imaginable.
And you know something? I was totally charmed by it. I even bought the damn thing on DVD, and I've watched it a few times, and I remain charmed by it. I'll definitely see the next thing that McKean does, and I guess I have some hopes for Gaiman's Beowulf script.
I think I may by the soundtrack on CD, too. God help me.
The thing is, are these just hopeless bumps in my otherwise hip aesthetic sense? Anomalies that stand outside my taste like barnacles on a ship? No. In a way, these films (and others like them) are pretty key to my central self - that's why I end up attached to them while others see nothing of value in the at all.
And no finger pointing. You know you all like your indefensible crap, too.