The Way of the Word

12. February 2010

Taking in the Trash

Recently, I got it into my head that I wanted the movie MegaForce on DVD. The movie hit the big screens when I was a teenager, and I remember liking it. I remember liking it in a similar way to the Mad Max movies and their Italian rip-offs.

Actually, I’m not sure the Mad Max movies belong in this category. Well, the third one does, but not the first two. Anyway.

Some research turned up a Dutch DVD of MegaForce. Armed with that knowledge, I went to my favorite DVD store here in Hamburg, Hard to Get DVD, and asked them to get me a copy.

“Did you already call me about this?” “No, why?” “Well, somebody did. That’s why I know it’s no longer available.”

The first question had given me the thrill to know that someone else shared my questionable tastes.  The second crished my hopes at revisiting this trash gem.

“Maybe that’s not such a bad thing,” the store owner suggested. He was right, of course. As I said, I was still a teenager when I saw it and liked it perhaps because it was so stupid. The fact that I remember it as stupid should tell you something. As should the fact that I also liked Buckaroo Banzai. And why I think I should be ashamed, let me point to two other movies that I used to like back in my teens: KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park and The Werewolf of Washington. I had seen each of these movies only once, KISS/Phantom at the cinema, Werwolf on late-night TV. In both of these cases, I eventually found VHS tapes as an adult. I bought them gleefully, popped them into my VCR…

“I used to like this? What was I on?”

That’s easily answered: I was on puberty and its aftereffects. Seeing those movies 15 – 20 years after I originally did, I no longer saw them with the eyes of a teenager, but rather through the (I would like to think) more refined tastes of an adult. An adult who knew much more about good storytelling. An adult who was far more demanding of his entertainment than the teenager was.

Although, to be fair, I have retained my love of trashy entertainment. I’m still working on completing my set of Gojira DVDs, for example. My all-time favorite movies still include Howard the Duck and Remo Williams – The Adventure Begins.

I have learned two things from this: one is that I think I have a better understanding and higher tolerance of teenagers who run into and love movies that I consider awful and horrible. I used to run into and love movies that I now consider horrible. So what if kids today love, say, Transformers, even if I (and everyone with anything resembling good taste) hates the movies? The franchise is not made for me. It’s made for the generation that, when I was a teenager, would have gone to see MegaForce or Kiss and the Phantoms. I need to remember to be tolerant. They will eventually outgrow that, as I did, and then it will be their turn to be shocked and appalled at the horribly braindead stuff their children will go to see.

The other thing that I have learned is that while I might have outgrown MegaForce, I still retain enough love for B-, C- and Z-grade trash movies that there is still a little bit of hope that I might still enjoy MegaForce if I got to see it again. Just like Buckaroo Banzai, or Fire And Ice. It seems there is still enough of that teenager left in me to truly enjoy such simple, trashy movies.

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