#3. After Frankenstein: The Last Man
Mary Shelley was just 19-years old when she published Frankenstein, which came out in 1818 to great popular success and, of course, today the book is recognized as a landmark work of gothic romanticism, horror and science fiction. But in 1826, Shelley returned to the genre with an even more ambitious project. She wrote a new novel more than twice the length of her first work. It told an epic tale set in the apocalyptic future of 2075, and was titled...
Let's see what the reviewer had to say:
"A sickening repetition of horrors..."
"The offspring of a diseased imagination..."
"Mrs. Shell[e]y's abortion..."
Holy shit, guys.
The book quickly went out of print and stayed that way for more than 130 years - a fact a recent reprinting proudly advertised on its dust jacket:
"The Last Man: So good, it'll make you wanna drop it in a cave in the past."
Scholars have theorized that the novel may have flopped because it was too gruesome for contemporary readers, or simply because of bad timing. Whatever the case, Mary Shelley was directly affected by the situation: She would never write another science fiction novel. Since being reprinted in the 1960s, the novel has gained some accolades. But where, for instance, Shelley's first creation has inspired hundreds of other works, including several faithful film adaptations, The Last Man gets this:
That appears to have been shot by five dudes on their cell phone. You can watch the rest of this low budget 2008 film when it gets to Netflix on October, 2143.
#2. After Grease: Can't Stop The Music
Say what you will about the film Grease: It still made more money than you'll see in your entire miserable life. It also has an 83 percent tomatometer rating, which means that it's objectively better than Fight Club.
The man behind the film's success was Allan Carr, who bought the rights to the original Broadway musical, wrote the adapted screenplay (adding new and ultimately more popular songs), cast Olivia Newton-John and produced the film for only six million dollars. Carr had also been involved in other successful musical films, like The Who's Tommy and Saturday Night Fever featuring the Bee Gees.
Only one year after Grease made 25 times its budget on the box office, Carr recruited another popular band of the 70s for a $20,000,000 disco musical called ...
As we said, the Village People were highly popular in the 70s, as was disco music in general. Too bad this film was released in 1980, when the worms that feasted on disco's corpse were already being devoured by other, smaller worms.
And those worms were wearing unsettlingly tight pants.
Can't Stop The Music's total domestic gross was two million dollars, meaning it made exactly 10 percent of its budget. Maybe it's because we put too much stock in the human race, but we want to believe that even if the timing hadn't been wrong, the film still would have bombed. We need to believe this, because otherwise what would be the point of living?
Do we exist only to suffer?
Besides the members the Village People, the film starred Olympic medalist Bruce Jenner, model Valerie Perrine (Ms. Teschmacher from the Superman films) and as the closest thing to a real actor, a young Steve Guttenberg. Yes, the sardonic and philandering Officer Mahoney not only appeared in a gay musical, he was its lead character:
Although to be fair, the film wasn't technically gay. It was merely in the closet. The movie was loosely based on the history of the Village People, but its script intentionally avoided making any references to homosexuality. That's like writing a biography of Hitler and neglecting to mention that he had a little thing against Jews.
The Village People themselves were presented as non-sexual or heterosexual--the construction worker even had a not very convincing musical number about how much he loves pussy. Another number was set in the YMCA, and it included various shots of muscular men working out, doing synchronized swimming and also showering together. This last part gave Can't Stop The Music the dubious distinction of being one of the few PG films ever to display full frontal male nudity. The scene was later removed from the VHS, which you can still find in the Gay and Lesbian section of your nearest video store.
Hey, remember video stores?
One of the tie-in products for the film was a special ice cream flavor by Baskin-Robins called, and we're not shitting you here, " Can't Stop The Nuts." Nope, no innuendo there.
You can't stop the nuts, no matter how much you may want to.
And it's not like the dairy products connection came out of nowhere. After all, the film's climatic song was about milkshakes.
The career of the Village People went into decline after their half-assed musical biography bombed, and its director never made another film. Neither would Bruce Jenner, although he is still popular within the gay community for having a prominent role in Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Allan Carr would go on to produce Grease 2 which flopped, too. The most enduring legacy of this film is the fact that it unwittingly inspired the creation of the Golden Raspberry Awards, which incidentally was the only place where it won anything (though Wikipedia informs us that it did pretty well in the 2008 London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival).
#1. After Superman: Funnyman
For more than 70 years, Superman has been generating piles of money in about every form of mass media invented. So it's understandable that his creators felt they deserved more than what they got--especially since what they got was a check for $130. After quitting DC Comics over a dispute for Superman's ownership, creators Siegel and Shuster figured they could simply start over and create another hit character. After all, if they did it once they could do it again, right? Well...
Yeah, take a good look at it.
Funnyman was a fake television personality who allegedly fought crime with hilarity. Although he's usually referred to as a superhero, his only superpower was ... being funny. That was how he was sold, anyway. In reality, the Lex Luthor Funnyman was out to take down your ability to ever smile again.
We, here at Cracked appreciate a good pun, but sweet Jesus.
In the comic, Funnyman was the secret identity of TV comedian Larry Davis, who looked like the unholy offspring of Conan O'Brien and Jay Leno.
By the way, if you thought Clark Kent's glasses were the flimsiest disguise in comics, you don't know shit:
That's right, even though the guy's face was on TV all the time, the only thing protecting his identity was a fake penis-like nose. What's even more appalling is that it worked.
But then again, Funnyman's villains weren't a particularly competent bunch. Even his most menacing enemies could be defeated through the use of third grade playground tactics.
That's a surprising demonstration of dignity coming from a man wearing a cape.
So, basically, Funnyman's modus operandi consisted of annoying his enemies until they laid down on the floor and died. It could almost work, if the goal was to skewer superhero tropes a la The Tick. The problem was that he annoyed the shit out of his readers, too. A big part of it was that he talked like Jerry Lewis after four cans of Red Bull.
"Mine's I'm gonna beat the shit out of you if you don't stop talking like that."
"The Intrepid Imbecile" hardly has the same ring as "The Man of Steel" or "The Dark Knight."
Maxwell Yezpitelok lives in Chile, and when he's not being harassed by earthquakes he likes to waste his time writing back to scammers or making stupid comics. He has published a few comics in his home country, and he'll write some for you if you pay him.
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Now learn which of your favorite characters rose from the shit, in9 Toys That Prepare Children for a Life of Menial Labor. Or check out some knock-offs that we wish were the real thing, in 9 Foreign Rip-Offs Cooler Than The Hollywood Originals.
And stop by our Top Picks (Updated 07.07.10) to see David Wong's follow up to JDatE: Care Bears Meet the Smurfs.