2008’s Eleventh Annual Mutant Awards

Justin: Eleven is a good number. Solid and true. It’s the number of Ocean’s crew, the volume that Spinal Tap likes to play at, and, according to Wikipedia, the smallest positive integer requiring three syllables in English. It hardly needs the prestige of headlining our Annual Mutant Awards, but even still, there by the grace of God it goes.

Sometimes I wonder what I would say to myself if I could go back in time to 1997 and have a chat with a 20-year-old Justin who’s just started a sloppy-looking, cheeky website about movies. Would he be surprised to know that we’d still be going strong well over a decade later? Or that the field of cult movies just keeps getting bigger, not smaller? Or that Arnold Schwarzenegger runs a large state without anyone raising an eyebrow? I don’t know… but I bet he’d be happy at the news.

Welcome to the 11th Annual Mutant Awards! We nominated films in several categories, you voted, and now we’re here to share the results.

Best ’80s Paranormal Babe

Kyle: With the admonishment that “guys can be ‘babes’ too”, you the voters faced a field of candidates for this particular honor that may (or perhaps may not) have caused you to question yourself, at least a little.

Some of the names instigated immediate trips down memory lane to gauzy summers spent watching the cinematic highlights of the ’80s, where heartthrobs like Spaceballs‘ Lone Star (9.2%) and Labyrinth’s Sarah (18.4%) were memorable characters that so many of us really did want action figures of (curse you for teasing us with the toy scene, Spaceballs!). Despite Darryl Hannah taking two of the spots (Pris with 11.4% and Madison with 2.2%) and Elvira (9.2%) arguably bringing in more pop culture cred than anyone else, it was sci-fi dreamboat Lisa from Weird Science (24.6%) that emerged from a fairly close contest.

Obviously, plenty of girls as well as boys decided that Lisa from Weird Science was “hot” and “babe-a-licious” enough that they too would wear bras on their heads if it would bring Lisa into existence. Don’t worry about me making fun of you at all for such a choice or an action: I’m wearing a bra on my head as I write this. Lisa, call me!

Most Notorious Movie Gun

Kaleb: You know how sometimes, you think something is going to go a particular way, and it doesn’t, and then you’re like, “I’m somewhat surprised, but I can certainly see now why things turned out the way they did?” Oh, I wasn’t going anywhere with that; just trying to be all chummy and relatable. Kidding. Of course there’s a tie-in! Specifically, to the fact that I totally didn’t call Army of Darkness’ boomstick’s near-landslide victory (37.7%). Because I evidently forgot for a moment where I was, but more on that later.

No, my favored candidate was Dirty Harry’s hand-cannon (18.4%), because it, more than any other cinema firearm I can think of, represents pure iconia, which is totally a word, regardless of what spellcheck’s boorish squiggly lines are telling me right now (Incidentally, it says that “spellcheck” is also not a word). The trouble is, when I was deciding which pony to bet on, I forgot one very important truth, which you, gentle readers-every one of you absolutely beautiful; inside and in-have reminded me of: It’s not about the gun.

See, the reason I didn’t think much of the boomstick’s chances-despite the now-realized fact that we could’ve replaced “Ash’s Boomstick” with “Ash’s You Are Covered in Invisible Tarantulas” and it would’ve gotten just as many votes-was that it’s kind of… well… plain.

Best Bully

Justin: The second — the very nanosecond — that Biff Tannen from Back to the Future was nominated, I think we all knew it was over. The voting was just a formality.

With a whopping 42.1% of all the votes, Biff walks away with an absolute domination over Bullyhood. He epitomizes everything we despise in real-life bullies: muscle that is used for an excuse to wield power, a red-hot temper, stupid insults, a cunning instinct of when to lie low in the presence of authorities, and attempted rape. Not only does he incorporate all of these elements, but he does so in three movies, three timelines (four if you want to count his ancestor), and one alternate timeline. Without such a memorable bully, these films would’ve been much lesser for the effort.

So it’s without any resentment that we pass up all the other bullies and give Biff what he finally deserves: an award made of manure and love.

Most Memorable Hallucination

Sue: Ah, hallucinations. Waking dreams; some good, some not so good. Why, I had a hallucination just last week. I hallucinated that I’d been forced practically at knife-point to read an utterly crappy book about some gloomy sparkly guy with an odor fetish, and then that I was frog-marched into a movie theater to watch an even crappier movie based on the crappy book! It was really scary. (Even scarier than the hallucination I had of Ewan McGregor and Cameron Diaz singing a duet.) Thank goodness it wasn’t real! I don’t think I could handle it if it was.

Anyway, I have been tasked with bringing you the results to the question of: Most Memorable Hallucination. Personally, I could scarcely believe the results. I don’t even know if they’re real. Or if you’re real. Or if I’m real. Or if that flying, fire breathing serpent in the garage is real. In first place, (assuming this isn’t some weird dream or something,) we have a tie! Both Fight Club’s unreliable narrator and The Dude’s bowling-themed trip in The Big Lebowski took exactly 16.7% of the voters love.

Best Voiceover Narration

Lissa: As far back as I can remember, I’ve kind of liked movies with voiceover narrations. It gives a sense of context, and sometimes it can be really funny and at other times really poignant. While some of them can admittedly be stale and an excuse for poor story telling, others actually become unforgettable parts of the movie.

In third place, we have the adult Ralphie from A Christmas Story (14%), which I confess I’ve never seen because it gives my husband the twitches given his Urkel-watching brothers’ love for this movie. I can understand that. Second place goes to Red in Shawshank Redemption (18.9%), which is totally deserved and kind of sums at that poignant thing I was talking about. But the number one, all time best voiceover narration (and as soon as I saw the nomination I knew this was going to win) is the Grandfather in The Princess Bride (19.7%).

See? I told you it would win.

Yes, you’re very smart. Now shut up.

Best Soundtrack from a Crappy Film

Kyle: Not only did this category see an amazingly varied group of aurally-provoking films, almost certainly sending more than just me off to download a bunch of soundtracks that apparently got overlooked, but it also saw quite a bit of controversy. Particularly regarding the ultimate winner: so many voters took the time to comment that Rocky Horror Picture Show (36.4%) had the best soundtrack but didn’t really deserve to mentioned in the same sentence as “crappy film.”

As the Mutant who suggested the film’s inclusion in this category, I feel like explaining myself a little: when I heard “best soundtrack from crappy film” my interpretation was that we were looking for a film that could conceivably be derided that featured a soundtrack that was ‘bigger’ than the film itself. I personally have friends who love the soundtrack to RHPS but absolutely loathe the film, or at least admit to “not getting it.” I love the film AND the soundtrack, but I recognize the potential mockery in both. There were plenty of other worthy and eye-raising choices, but enough people agreed with me that it’s the soundtrack to Rocky Horror Picture Show that transcends however one feels about the film to stand as an excellent addition to your personal music player. Let’s do the Time Warp again!

Most Justified Beatdown

Drew: Let’s face it, sometimes a fool has to learn the hard way. It’s not the most enlightened viewpoint, of course , but when confronting a school bully, a damned despot, or an intergalactic crime lord, advanced oratory skills just don’t amount to much. In such instances, when you’ve exhausted all efforts at civilized discourse, there’s only one thing left to do: toss a beatdown their way and don’t look back. That’s exactly what the contenders in this category did, but in the end, there can be only one ruler of the ass-whippings. So whose fight scene reigned supreme?

In the end, I wasn’t at all surprised that two of the top three vote-getters involved schoolyard brawls. The greatest challenge in fiction is getting audiences to see themselves in your characters, and all of us can identify with being picked on by the class bully and wanting to bash his stupid face in. Skut Farkus’ yellow eyes availed him little against the unbridled fury of Ralphie unleashed with 12.9% of the vote, and maybe the most satisfying moment in any movie ever is when George McFly finally decks that jerk Biff Tannen, knocking him out with one punch. It was good for 15.8%… but I guess that makes it even more impressive that our ultimate winner is one of the most outlandish fights on the list. Not many of us have ever squared off against a raging alien matriarch (no mother-in-law jokes, please), but the voters have spoken: Ripley’s fight with the Xenomorph queen in Aliens was intense, brutal, and above all justified enough to nab the top spot with 24.1%. Congratulations… now take your trophy and get away from the podium, you bitch!

Cult Lifetime Achievement Award: Don La Fontaine

Al: Famous people die every year. Each winter, the scroll of names and faces at the Academy Awards reminds us of that. Sometimes it’s a short list. Other times it isn’t. This year’s might be too long to bear. But I always find it fascinating to watch the montage that the Academy puts together and see what mark they have decided these people have left on the industry. It can be a single role or one iconic shot. The lucky ones get a few more with mentioning.

Don La Fontaine didn’t have a role that will make it onto an AFI list some day. His name will never be put up next to Spencer Tracey, Katherine Hepburn, Jack Nicholson, or Robert de Niro. But he was able to leave a legacy like few in Hollywood ever get the chance to. His legendary voice has created the gold standard for how a movie trailer should make you feel, and his famous phrase “In a world…” will live on forever as part of our cultural lexicon, nestled beside “Bond, James Bond” and “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” and “Th-th-th-th-that’s all folks!”

All the big names and pretty faces make it tough to remember sometimes that there are people behind the camera, too. They aren’t generally the types that seek recognition, and I’m sure that if Don was still with us, our Lifetime Achievement Award would be going to somebody else this year. But he has certainly earned whatever small acknowledgment we can give here at the Mutant Reviewers from Hell. Thank you for everything you gave us, Don. Every trip to the movies is now a little less exciting, and I can only hope that in a world without Don La Fontaine, the previews will still be worth watching.

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