It probably started with dinosaurs.
Every kid loves dinosaurs, so naturally I was drawn to dinosaur movies. Even bad dinosaur movies. Even bad dinosaur movies starring Doug McClure.
My parents had an extensive VHS collection, often with old B-movies that had been recorded off TV, so Channel 4 matinee regulars like The Land That Time Forgot and The Valley of Gwangi were regular viewing. These pulpy adventure films may have been short of acting talent and budget, but they didn’t lack imagination – lost prehistoric worlds, cowboys fighting dinosaurs, strange exotic monsters – why would you not want to watch it?
Of course, growing up in the 80s and 90s, you were never short of awesome movies. The likes of Spielberg and Lucas had taken pulp B-movie concepts and launched them into the mainstream with the likes of Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Gremlins. This, coupled with the explosion of cheap knockoffs that flooded the VHS market, and an action-adventure loving boy was spoilt for choice.
Was Cannon Films’ King Solomon’s Mines starring Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone simply a cynical cash-in on Indiana Jones? Sure, but I didn’t care at the time! It had evil Germans, giant spiders and gruesome deaths! Was StarCrash simply an Italian rip-off of Star Wars? Sure, but it had Caroline Munro in a space bikini teaming up with a pre-Knight Rider David Hasselhoff to save the universe! What more could you want?
The older I got, the more I embraced the weird genre B-movies out there. Anything with killer animals, maverick cops, treacherous ninjas, mutant sharks and Nazis studying the occult was sought out and watched. Sure, my friends often didn’t have any interest in the kind of dross I was watching and most had no idea who Michael Dudikoff was.
And then came adulthood.
Sat in an office, bored out of my mind, I started to kick what piece of goofy trash I could watch at the weekend after a Saturday spent introducing some friends to Samurai Cop and The Room. How we laughed at the ridiculousness of the two films and drunk a lot of beer. How we had lamented that there was nowhere in Bristol that did regular screenings of trashy films to enjoy.
And that’s when the Bristol Bad Film Club was born.
A monthly film night showing the most notorious films ever made – giant sharks, war films featuring aliens, killer rabbits, tae-kwon do rock bands – it would show films featuring them all! I would introduce my love of cinematic insanity to the whole of Bristol – the only question was whether anyone would care.
Four years, over 48 screenings later and more than £25,000 raised for local charities, the Bristol Bad Film Club is more popular than ever, regularly selling out and still dedicated to screening the weird and wonderful. Not just that, but we're now regarded by our bad film-loving peers around the world as experts on cult movies.
While we keep the bad film club as a regular charity-minded venture, we are spinning it off into Genre-geddon, aiming to put on occasional B-movie marathon events – another cinematic hold-over from the US that hasn’t really taken off in the UK.
If we can get the people of Bristol to embrace Tommy Wiseau, perhaps we can get them to enjoy 12 hours of action b-movies starring the likes of Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Carl Weathers and, yes, Michael Dudikoff.