Bad movie lines have a way of repeating on you, like heartburn. These are the weird, odd, bizarre, or stupid bits of dialogue that make the movies you are watching simply terrible, unwatchable except in a wonderfully perverse way. Sometimes, of course, the movie itself is good, but a bad line insinuates itself, and long after the movie is over, there is that lingering aftertaste—much like a rancid french fry in an otherwise wonderful meal.
This book is our labor of love for cinematic heartburn.
It celebrates the movie lines that have stayed with us long after our VCR was shut off: the lines that made us laugh when we were supposed to be crying; the ones that made us shake our heads; the ones that amazed us with their breathtaking inanity; and others that, in some ineffably enjoyable way, nauseated us.
We’ve collected almost eight hundred of the lines that we think are the best of the worst—hundreds of non sequiturs, cloyingly awful romantic lines, terrible jokes, moronic monologues, failed comebacks, awful dialogue. It’s a grab bag of lines that in a more perfect world would have ended up on the cutting room floor—but fortunately were saved for us to … savor.
Our reasoning for this somewhat different form of film preservation is simple. Just as the American Film Institute labors to preserve classic films so future generations can enjoy them, we have a similarly lofty goal: to preserve classic stupidity as uttered on the silver screen.
Stupid movie lines are well-deserving of this attention. In any cinematic year, there are many dull lines, many blah lines, many lines that are merely so-so. But there are very few lines in the thousands of screenplays written and produced that are so stupid, they are wholly and marvelously transcendent … if that is the right word. The truly stupid movie line is a cinematic treasure of sorts, and should be so treated.
So, to be sure that the public recognizes the inverse artistry of these lines, we’ve watched hundreds of films, from big-budget disasters to grade Z horror to failed existential art house productions. Aided by the efforts of legions of stupid-movie-line fans from around the world who shared their favorites with us and friends and family, we have collected what we feel are the cream of the stupidest movie lines in history for all of us to enjoy.
One note for aficionados of very bad cinema: We have focused on stupid movie lines alone. But there are others—in the past and present—who have made it their mission to share with the public an appreciation of bad movies in general. We heartily recommend the works of the following people: among others, Golden Turkey Award founders Harry and Michael Medved, Michael Sauter, Edward Margulies and Stephen Rebellow, the Phantom of the Movies, and the dozens of intrepid souls who have taken bad movies into cyberspace on such web sites as Ohthehumanity.com, badmovies.org, razzies.com (web site of the annual Razzie awards), and stinkers.com.
Picking bad movie lines is obviously a subjective thing—so, if you find that we have omitted some of your favorite lines, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re already putting together a sequel and would love to have your input. Let us know if you wish to be credited in print underneath your quotation. We can be E-mailed at email@example.com, or reached at our web site that celebrates all areas of stupidity: stupidest.com. Or you can write us care of the publisher:
ROSS AND KATHY PETRAS
Villard Books/Random House
201 E. 50th St.
New York, NY 10022
On Absolutely Clever Movie Ads in 1966:
The Big Comedy of Nineteen-Sexty-Sex!
Ad for Boeing Boeing, 1966
On Acidic Living Rooms, Alive and Pulsating:
John (Bruce Dern), as an LSD “guide” to Paul (Peter Fonda): You want to go over the bridge back into the living room, right?
Paul (Peter Fonda), who is tripping: The living room. The LIVING room!
The Trip, 1967
On Admissions, Astounding:
Christopher, I’ve just thrown a head of cabbage at a cat!
Vincent Price as the nervous husband whose first wife’s spirit has returned in a cat’s body in The Tomb of Ligeia, 1965
On Advice, Bad Girl Style:
Just remember, men can see much better than they can think. A low-cut neckline does more for a girl’s future than the entire Britannica encyclopedia!
Bad girl Betty Anderson (Terry Moore) modeling a new frock in Peyton Place, 1957
On Alcoholics, Priestly Pep Talks for:
Father Conroy: You think you’re going to find what you lost in that bottle?
Phil (drinking again): Maybe in the next one. I haven’t tried all the bottles yet. But maybe I should get the Christmas spirit. Isn’t this the time of year when all the little girls and boys suddenly start to behave?
Father Conroy: That’s not the real secret of Christmas, Phil. Give it a try! Stop bending your elbow and start bending your knee!
The drunkard Phil (Ray Walston) and the reforming Father Conroy (Bing Crosby) in Say One for Me, 1959
On Aliens, Terrifying Musical Taste and:
It looks like you’re gonna sing “White Christmas.” You’ve broken my mind!
Christopher Walken, as novelist and alien abductee popularizer Whitley Strieber, talking to the aliens who are rectally probing him, in Communion, 1989
On American Honeybees, Our Friends the:
The African killer bee portrayed in this film bears absolutely no relationship to the industrious, hardworking American honeybee to which we are indebted for pollinating vital crops that feed our nation.
Title card at the end of The Swarm, 1978
On Ancient Roman Advertising, Ever-Tasteful:
Spectacle for the People
60 CHRISTIANS WILL BE EXECUTED
in various and diverting ways
100 DANCING GIRLS
COMBAT BETWEEN DWARFS AND AMAZONS
BOXING WITH SPIKED GLOVES
WILD TIGERS, ELEPHANTS, LIONS, LEOPARDS
CHARIOT RACES AND OTHER WONDERS
Roman-era poster in ad for The Sign of the Cross, 1932
On Anthropologists, Asexual:
Will you stop calling me a lady? I’m not a lady, I’m an anthropologist!
Tanya, an American anthropologist in the Indonesian jungle, as she is stripping down to her black bikini in Lady Terminator, 1988 (Indonesia)
On Ape-Date Problems for Dear Abby:
Come on, Kong, forget about me! This thing’s just never going to work, can’t you see?
Jessica Lange as Dwan, explaining to the lovesick Kong why she can’t be his girlfriend, in King Kong, 1976
Copyright © 2011 by Ross and Kathryn Petras. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.