Nic Cage's hair
The guilt: It’s just consistently awful, isn’t it? The post-lobotomy look favoured in sci-fi flop Next was an obvious low-point, but there are so many more to choose from.
The peroxide Elvis-do in Peggy Sue Got Married , the bedraggled homeless man effect in Con Air , the flock-of-seagulls shocker in Valley Girl …we could go on.
The pleasure: Rubbish certainly, but also entertaining. Anyone unlucky enough to sit through Bangkok Dangerous could at least marvel at the feat of engineering required to concoct Cage’s mullet/slaphead combo. And we defy anyone to regard that blonde coif with a straight face…
The guilt: Just to clarify, we’re not talking about kick-ass cyborg robots like Robocop or the Terminator. We’re thinking more along the lines of two-bob rustbuckets like C3PO or Short Circuit’ s Johnny 5, that look like they’ve been cobbled together from the contents of the nearest skip. If this is the future, technology needs to pull its finger out, sharpish.
The pleasure: We’re obsessed with the idea of having a metal-headed buddy, so much so that even the crappiest of tin men hold a certain charm. They might not be able to go out in the rain, but who wouldn’t want a robot backing them up in a scrap?
And the two shockers mentioned above are so patently rubbish, that you can’t help loving them. The one exception is Robin Williams in Bicentennial Man , who should be turned into baked-bean tins at the first opportunity.
The guilt: “I ain’t got time to bleed. Let off some steam, Bennett! Yippie Ki-Yay Motherfucker! Dead or alive…you’re coming with me.” Sheesh, who talks like that? That said, these one-liners are usually delivered after the hero has taken on an army of trained marksmen, none of whom have left a scratch on him, so reality has long since taken a hike.
The pleasure: They’re just awesome! They’re exactly how you’d like to think you’d react in the situation, whereas in reality you’d probably be in need of a change of underwear. And the more ghastly the pun, the better they work!
We recently sifted through the smoking wreckage of Batman and Robin , just to revisit Arnie’s “Ice to see you” line. Oh, and “cool party”. And, “Allow me to break the ice”…
Shower sex scenes
The guilt: An old cable-movie staple that crops up whenever a Hollywood studio decides the world could do with another “erotic thriller”. Usually wholly unnecessary except as a handy shortcut to showing how “passionate” the participants are. See Richard Gere’s door-smashing antics in Breathless for a case in point.
The pleasure: Well, it’s a bit saucy isn’t it? The combination of sex and water can be notoriously rocky ground (remember that scene in Showgirls ? Of course you do…), and we know that shower-sex is only ever included as a cheap way of cranking up the raunch, and even when it’s done right it still looks a bit uncomfortable, but still…no-one ever fast-forwards through them, do they?
The guilt: Her father was the grand old man of guilty pleasures ( Opera anyone?) so it should come as no surprise to see Asia on this list. Being a “cult actress” is generally shorthand for, “turns up in a bunch of horrendous movies”. Dissenters should immediately be referred to the train-wreck that was XXX .
The pleasure: She’s gorgeous for one, offering a welcome distraction from Vin Diesel’s knuckleheaded antics. And it’s weirdly fascinating to see just how far she’s willing to go for a role, regardless of how awful the movie is.
Go-Go Tales has her tonguing a Rottweiler for heavens sake! And what about the time she masturbated in front of Michael Madsen to get him in the zone for a sex scene in Boarding Gate ? She might be a bit mental, but we’d rather be watching her than Jennifer Anniston’s latest.
Van Damme's Splits
The guilt: There’s something distinctly crowbarred-in about JCVD’s posey demonstrations of flexibility, leaving you with the impression that these scenes have almost certainly been included at his request. The lycra-clad rendition in Double-Impact sticks in the memory as a particularly gratuitous example.
The pleasure: If there’s a better action manoeuvre than doing the splits whilst punching someone in the groin, we’ve yet to see it. And just knowing it’s coming at some point has us grinning with anticipation every time we watch one of his films.
Sure, the versions filmed from behind are a bit homoerotic, but he probably acts better with his arse than his face anyway.
The guilt: So the enemy is in the crosshairs, and finally, heart-stirringly, it’s time to fight back. But before it all kicks off, there’s a lingering montage to wade through, as our heroes sharpen their knives, saw-off their shotguns and stare moodily into the middle distance, preferably to the accompaniment of a soaring orchestral score. The whiff of fromage is almost overpowering!
The pleasure: Cheesiness be damned, by the time you’ve finished watching one of these you’ll feel like whacking a saucepan on your head and offering out the neighbours! Bonus points are available if the montage is combined with a suitably kick-ass one-liner, Evil Dead 2’ s “Groovy”, being the reigning champ!
Roger Moore as James Bond
The guilt: Probably the least convincing of all the Bonds, with the possible exception of Lazenby. Incumbent of the tuxedo for a number of the series’ more farcical episodes, Moore appears be powered solely by an inexhaustible well of innuendo. Harmless enough stuff of course, until it results in a nightmarish sex scene with Grace Jones.
The pleasure: He might be a doughy old thesp, but it’s the relish with which Moore embraces the absurdity of the character that makes him so irresistible. Moonraker would have been a load of old toss with Connery too, but at least Moore had the good sense to play it for laughs. Carry On Spying it may have been, but the Moore era was nothing if not fun.
Improbable sporting comebacks
The guilt: Sports movies are cliché central. A washed-up pro with one last shot at the big-time. A star-player suffering a rocky relationship with the coach. A rousing half-time speech about the nature of winning. All are regular suspects in the genre, but most predictable of all, is the unlikely late turnaround, achieved against all the odds. Mighty Ducks , The Replacements , Any Given Sunday …we’re looking at you.
The pleasure: You know what’s coming from the word go, and yet when the team score the winning touchdown, goal or home-run in the dying seconds of the match, you can’t help but punch the air.
When you’ve just watched your real team take a five-goal shoeing, it’s nice to know that good old Hollywood won’t let you down.
The guilt: They’re just a bit naff, really. Sure, Halloween was fairly revolutionary, but in essence the slasher movie is an hour and a half of people running. Running into dead ends, running up the stairs, running through an abandoned graveyard…
Cheap shocks are the order of the day here. Why bother creating an eerie, creepy atmosphere when you can just use a sudden blast of music to make your audience jump?
The pleasure: One-trick ponies they may be, but the fun lies in shouting at the screen over the characters’ incredible stupidity. “Should I have a poke around in this creepy old mansion? Yeah, why not? What’s the worse that could happen?”
As Scream pointed out, slasher movies stick rigidly to a pre-defined set of rules, but once you’re in on the game, they’re great for no-frills, adrenaline-fuelled fun. Bring on the running!
The guilt: They say you should never work with children or animals, but what’s wrong with having a furry friend for a co-star? Well it’s a bit bloody daft, that’s why. Would Schindler’s List have scooped as many Oscars with the addition of a resourceful terrier? Almost certainly not.
The pleasure: Look at the funny monkey! He’s like people! Yeah it’s silly, but anthropomorphising a cuddly critter is funny, period. Every Which Way But Loose would be a fairly run-of-the-mill road movie if it didn’t feature an orang-utan behind the wheel. “Right-turn Clyde!” Who doesn’t love that?
The guilt: It sounds as though English is not only Arnie’s second language, but a very distant second to some form of primitive grunting. So incomprehensible was his turn in Hercules In New York that his lines had to be dubbed in after filming. Das is not good, ya?
The pleasure: Try saying, “I need your boots, your clothes and your motorcycle” in a generic American accent. Doesn’t work, does it? Clunky one-liners are miraculously transformed into nuggets of comic gold when Arnie’s the man saying them.
How many times have you done the voice? Plenty, we’d wager. Arguably even funnier now he’s in politics, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
The guilt: Ah the disaster-movie. Always a big draw at the box-office, but more often then not, a load of flag-beating, clichéd guff. The money always goes on the effects, with plot and script left to be cobbled together in the car on the way to the set. We don’t like to name names, but Roland Emmerich has a lot to answer for.
The pleasure: We know they’re never going to be up to much, but there’s still something awe-inspiring about watching billions worth of CGI cityscape getting smashed to pieces. Aliens, asteroids or giant lizards…we’re not fussy who’s doing the damage. So long as there’s plenty of shit to be blown up, we can’t help ourselves taking a peek.
The guilt: Ridiculous outfit/hairstyle/accent…check. Cheese laden put-downs…check. Over-elaborate plan for world domination…check.
Panto villainy is fairly innocuous in the spandex-filled realm of the superhero flick, but when it’s in your common or garden action film…well, it’s all a bit camp! The sort of role John Travolta finds himself inexorably drawn towards.
The pleasure: If you find yourself watching some pumped-up tosh about a bomb on a plane, that’s headed for a train that’s also loaded with a bomb, you’re probably only sticking with it for the boo-hiss fun of the lunatic villain. Yeah they’re cringe-inducingly awful, but perversely, quite fun to watch.
Face-Off for example, a guilty pleasure if ever there was one, would only be half the fun without Nic Cage and JT trying to out-leer each other. They couldn’t be more OTT if they tried, and believe us, they’re trying!
The guilt: “You muppet! You slag! You’ve mugged me right off! What are you, some kind of dry lunch? You fackin’ toby! Are you having a bleedin’ laugh? You’re well of your manor son! We’re gonna have a tear-up in a minute! Proper naughty!” And so on and so forth.
The pleasure: Boneheaded it may be, but who hasn’t secretly enjoyed a bit of cockney shouting down the old fleas and itchers (fleas and itchers…pictures! Keep up.). The first hour of The Business always gives us a giggle for starters, while Lock Stock is pretty good throughout. That said, Danny Dyer definitely remains an acquired taste…
The guilt: Where to start? Wild Things is the Citizen Kane of guilty pleasures! The plot is absurd, the porno-esque sex deliriously gratuitous and the dialogue is the sort of tripe you’d expect to hear on Sunset Beach . The trashiest mainstream movie in history? It’s up there.
The pleasure: It’s gaudy, tacky fun, leaving you with the sort of giddy buzz you get from drinking a litre of Sunny Delight. The plot may be bonkers, but treat it as a film-noir spoof, and it’s a blast. Oh and Bill Murray’s in it too, which automatically makes it worth a watch.
The baddie who isn't quite dead
The guilt: We all know the routine…crisis averted, the hero is all set to ride into the sunset, when the villain we’ve just seen blown into next week, somehow rouses themselves to fire one last shot off. Often with a comically exaggerated roar of vengeance.
The hokey endings of Die Hard and Scream 2 are two prime examples. Honestly, it’s got to be the cheapest trick in the book!
The pleasure: A cheap trick, but an effective one. Somehow, we always manage to forget about Karl the henchman in Die Hard , and he has us jumping every time. Ridiculous, but a guilty thrill nonetheless. You’ve got to remember to double-tap, Bruce!
'80s theme songs
The guilt: Whilst theme music has been kicking around for donkeys years, the ‘80s surely represents the high-watermark for the use of a theme song, usually a crushingly OTT piece of power balladry used as a kind of emotional sledgehammer. Subtlety? None of your arthouse shit here mate…
The pleasure: Frankly, Tom Cruise isn’t going to give us goosebumps on his own, but when Take My Breath Away kicks In…Meanwhile, Footloose would be a bit pointless if it didn’t have Kenny Loggins’ guitar-twanging classic to hang a story around. And whoever decided to bookend Back To The Future with Huey Lewis and The News was a genius.
They’re all the sort of tracks you’d be a bit embarrassed to be caught listening to outside the context of a movie soundtrack, and are thus the dictionary definition of guilty pleasures.
The canon of Russ Meyer
The guilt: Consisting of a mish-mash of scantily-clad beauties, gratuitously bloody violence and some of the worst dialogue committed to celluloid (“you will drink the black sperm of my vengeance!”)…are Meyer’s films a satirical swipe at conservative America, or are they just plain bad? The answer, we suspect, lies somewhere in between.
The pleasure: Whether you consider them inspired or exploitative, you’d be hard pressed to describe films like Beneath The Valley Of The Ultra-Vixens as boring. Plus any movie that allows you to settle down in front of some pneumatic, trigger-happy babes, and justify it as counter-culture art, is alright by us.
The guilt: The late Patrick Swayze did more for guilty pleasure movies than the rest of Hollywood combined. Setting himself up as the industry’s go-to guy for fist-fighting, twinkletoed lovermen, Swayze could’ve fed the five thousand with the amount of cheese he spouted in the ‘80s alone. Like it or not, nobody but nobody, could put Paddy in the corner.
The pleasure: Never mind his swoonsome turns in Dirty Dancing and Ghost , Swayze will always hold a special place in our hearts for giving us Roadhouse, the holy grail of guilty pleasures.
To fire off zingers such as “Pain don’t hurt,”and, “nobody ever wins a fight,” whilst keeping a straight face, takes some serious doing. But to do so with that mullet on his head…wow. And don’t even get us started on Point Break …The man was a legend, plain and simple. He'll be missed.