2005’s Eighth Annual Mutant Awards

Kyle: That time of year has come again, where you the reader’s opinion has just as much weight as the official Mutant Reviewers from Hell reviewers in determining the most deserving winners in the annual Mutant Awards. Everyone’s vote counts just as much as everyone else’s, and as far as I know Justin’s mystical and logic-powered firewalls protecting the online voting form prevented any kind of voting fraud. Truly, this is the one event that unites us all in our love of the cinema and for complaining about it.

Frankly, I think it’s a horrible idea. I have numerous problems with the whole thing. No offense, of course. It’s not you. It’s me.

It’s time now to learn the long-awaited results of the 2005 Mutant Awards. Some of these films won their categories based on exceptional merit, others on complete ineptitude and memorable offensiveness. All of them, every single one involved, was part of the voting process because they’re particularly memorable to the Mutant staff in one way or another. If you aren’t sure why because you’ve never seen a certain film, this might the first step in an excellent journey of cinematic discovery for you. I envy you that.

Best Torture Scene

Justin: We at MRFH face torture every day of every year. While I’m sure that Amnesty Int’l doesn’t really approve of me saying so, some of our movies are on par with any thumbscrews or canings for my money. Therefore, it’s slightly ironic that we turn the tables by asking our readers to vote on the best (“best” being scarily subjective here; it’s like saying what’s the “best” type of head trauma to undergo) torture scene in recorded history. There are many we didn’t nominate. There are many, erm, memorable ones we did.

This year’s award ceremony kicks off with one of our most tightly-contested categories yet; our top four choices were all within a few percentage points of each other, with the winner getting only 0.3% more than The Machine in The Princess Bride, sucking out Westley’s life, one year at a time. So let’s give a hearty golf clap to Reservoir Dogs, which stole this award with a barbaric display of ear-slicing, oldies-listening, gasoline-splashing goodness! You know it’s memorable if it’s been reproduced as an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon for The Simpsons.

Lamest “Cool” Line

Shalen: I’ll admit right up front that these results startled me a bit. I’ve seen all of the films referenced in this category, except for Serenity, and that’s only because I wanted to finish the series DVD set and the film was out of theaters when I’d finished. And, all things considered, I would not have picked the winner our participants picked.

36.4% of you wacky readers chose Storm’s line from X-Men right before she blows Toad off a balcony with her electric mojo. A good 10.6% of you ladies and gentlemen of the jury chose this over the next entry, Jake Lloyd squeaking “Yippee!” in The Phantom Menace. I apparently was not the only one who wanted to slap the bejeebers out of mini-Vader, since he still garnered well over a quarter of the vote. Next came the “hockey team from Hell” line in Batman and Robin, which I’m surprised anyone remembered long enough to vote for given all the horrible puns in the film related to water in its solid state.

Love Interest You Just Want to Smack

Lissa: How many otherwise great movies are ruined by love interests? Too many. I mean, I like a romantic comedy as much as the next person (um, unless the next person is Justin), but so many movies just do not require romance. Especially if it’s action, or drama, or sports, or any sort of comedy. But no, Hollywood must always have the pretty nurse, the studly plumber, or the otherwise annoying member of the opposite sex who needs to snog the hero(ine) by the movie’s end. And so often, this person is just flat-out annoying.

It’s not totally fair. It’s hard to help being annoying when you don’t really have much of a purpose. But some characters go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to driving us nuts, and it’s them we, erm, honor today.

The love interest you would most like to smack… or love interests, in this case… goes to any member of the Pearl Harbor triangle (or probably all three members), with a full third (okay, almost a full third, at 33.0%) of the vote. Personally, I did not find this at all shocking, and I’m betting a lot of you don’t, either. Moviemakers, take notes. Sex in parachutes does not impress our discerning members.

Creepiest Real Estate

Kyle: When it comes to cinematic locations, there are many specific structures and locales that just stand out and either make you go “Man, I’d love to live there” or “Please don’t ever let me be there after dark!” I think we managed to collect a respectable number of the more genuinely disturbing ones for your voting pleasure. I’m happy to see that our choices stretch across the decades, meaning that no matter how many films with creepy elements inspired by older films pop up, it’s the quality originals that stick in the mind and continue to give so many nightmares to most who see them.

But to my immense relief, it was two horror films that top the top spots in this category. I’ll always remember the Bates motel from Psycho (20.8%) because it was the most memorable landmark on the Universal Studios tour I took when I was a little kid on vacation in California: it was freaky even in the California sun.

Ultimately, it’s the Overlook hotel from The Shining that grabbed 36.0% of the vote and proved that it wasn’t just the ghostly twins or the elevators full of blood that had you on edge during that film: it was the maliciously haunted Overlook itself. Maybe it’s much more pleasant during the summer when the grass is green and the ghosts head north for the shadowy cold, but during the movie it’s an oppressive and terrifying place that most of you wouldn’t sleep in even if your car had just died in the middle of a snowstorm down the way and there was no one else to go. I don’t blame you at all, actually. Maybe it would be better to spend the night in the hedge maze out front; how bad could the cold be?

Most Vomit-Inducing Vomiting Scene

Poolman: You can imagine my pleasure at having to bring to mind all these memorable film moments that were either designed to or just happen to make me want to puke. Which previously suppressed memory would take the cake (and then spew it back out again)?

Oh lordy, the “bring me a bucket” scene from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life. This was a gag (no pun intended) that just always made me cringe. Meaning of Life always struck me as the least intellectual and the most cruel of the Python’s series, and this scene, complete with the exploding dinner patron and “wafer thin” mint always make me choke. Honourable mentions go to the “poisoned daughter ghost” from The Sixth Sense.

Dream Job Award

Drew: Ah, but our winner this year should come as no surprise to anyone, as the readers of a website devoted to mocking old, bad movies chose as their dream job… mocking old, bad movies. With robots, on a satellite. Taking 28.4% of the vote, the gang at Mystery Science Theater 3000 prove that you don’t need a pretentious vocabulary and artistic delusions to be a film critic, just a sharp wit, mechanical sidekicks, and a whoooole lotta bad movies. The tireless efforts of Mike, Tom Servo, and Crow set an example for unpaid movie reviewers everywhere, while also making us just occasionally glance over our shoulders and wonder whether the Mad Scientists are watching.

And despite never having watched the show myself (blasphemy!), I’m a huge fan of Todd Nuack, the comic book artist/writer who’s the biggest MST3K fan on Earth, so even I feel like I owe them a huge debt. Here’s to you, MST3K crew — without you, future generations would think movies like This Island Earth and Manos: The Hands of Fate should be taken seriously, rather than derided mercilessly as is their due.

Animal Strikes Back Award

Sue: So when it comes down to which beastie holds the leash in dealing out sweet violent retribution, who comes out as top dog? We put it to a vote and this is how the fur flew.

In third place came the hard charging raptors in Jurassic Park as they gave theatre-goers a reason to always carry a change of underwear with them. Second place goes to the reason my childhood Florida vacation was ruined — the infamous toothy grin and non-discriminating appetite of Jaws.

But for first place, I have to warn ye to read nay further, for the award goes to a creature so foul, so cruel that no man yet has fought with it and lived. Bones of full fifty men lie strewn about its lair. So, brave knights, if you do doubt your courage or your strength, read no further, for death awaits you all with nasty, big, pointy teeth! Indeed, it is the dreaded Killer Rabbit of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent you ever set eyes on!

Best Awkward or Intense Silence

Nancy: POOLMAN I LOVE YOU! AND NOT IN A ‘FRIEND’ WAY! [awkward!] Gasp! Justin don’t look now but there is a giant flesh-eating robot of doom and destruction slowly creeping up on you SHH! NOISE FEEDS HIS HUNGER! [intense!] Kyle…I hate to be the one to tell you this… but…. you’re pregnant. [awkward/intense!]

So what did you movie-watching fellows out in the wild terrain of Internet polling think of the power of silence? Apparently, you kids go for the creepy stuff, as opposed to loving awkward situations like me. Alien pulled you in with the dramatic moment of extraterrestrial invasion, where not a single word, growl, or yelp could have made it any eerier.

Cult Lifetime Achievement Award: Christopher Walken

Drew: What can you say about a man who’s drop-dead hilarious in half the film roles he’s been in, and literally the creepiest guy in the world in the rest? To call Christopher Walken a talented actor is not to give him his proper due — he unquestionably is, but at times he seems to almost transcend humanity… after all, no normal person should be able to instill so much fear with a calm, polite half-smile and an innocuous phrase. (“You’re the man, Ira.”) I think the key is that he genuinely appears to be just mildly insane in all of his film roles — not a lot, not in the wild-eyed “I’m going to snap and chop my family to pieces with an ax” way, but just that look on his face that says “If you so much as blink at me the wrong way, I will chop YOUR family to pieces with an ax and make you watch.”

It’s that element that makes him seem more dangerous to us, not less, and makes us sit up and pay just a little more attention to him in whatever role he happens to be in, no matter how inane. And while the man has been in his share of stinkers, he’s got that Bruce Campbell-esque quality in that it never seems to affect him — he’s still exactly as popular in Hollywood as he ever was. Probably because film execs are afraid that if he doesn’t get work, he’ll revert to his former occupation as criminal mastermind or mafia don or something.

I don’t know Christopher Walken personally, but I like to think that, upon being told he’d won this year’s AMA award, he would give a small, secretive little smile, approach the dais with those half-closed eyelids of his, and very calmly thank the mutants and everyone who voted for him, saying he was honored to receive such an award. I further like to think he would then calmly announce that there was a bomb hidden somewhere in the building, and if we all wanted to get home safely, we’d hand over our wallets and jewelry immediately without causing a fuss. Because dammit, he’s Christopher Walken. Don’t make him tell you again, with the scootching.

 

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