4 Respected Filmmakers Who Made Dumbass Comedies
The world’s most acclaimed filmmakers are typically known for creating works full of heartbreaking drama, philosophical insights and precisely zero boner jokes. (Oscar voters historically tend to frown on boner jokes.) But upon closer examination, this isn’t always the case.
While Stanley Kubrick never considered making a movie in which a teenage boy gratuitously humps a fresh-baked apple pie, and Akira Kurosawa presumably never thought to craft a film about two idiots looking for their missing car, there have been a few instances in which great directors have inexplicably made dumbass comedies for the less-discerning masses, such as how…
William Friedkin Helmed a Disastrous Chevy Chase Movie
The recently departed Friedkin was responsible for directing some iconic pieces of cinema, from The Exorcist to Sorcerer to The French Connection, which nabbed him an Academy Award. And had there been an Academy Award for Best Reckless Endangerment of Innocent Pedestrians, he probably would have won that too.
In 1983, Friedkin directed Deal of the Century, which paired the comedy stylings of Chevy Chase with… the military-industrial complex. Also starring Sigourney Weaver and Gregory Hines, Deal of the Century was a broad farce about an arms dealer journeying to South America and trying to sell weapons to both a brutal dictator and the rebels attempting to overthrow him. Hilarity does not ensue.
By all accounts, making the film was a frustrating experience for anyone involved. Weaver noted that the production led her to believe that “comedy couldn’t work on film.” And in a recent podcast appearance (in which he also shit all over the cast and crew of Community), Chase recalled that Friedkin “scared” Weaver, calling him a “brilliant director” but “not particularly happy guy,” also adding, “I didn’t think the movie was very good.”
Robert Altman Directed a National Lampoon Teen Comedy
With Nashville, M*A*S*H and The Long Goodbye, Altman was behind some of the best films of the New Hollywood era — not to mention Robin Williams’ delightfully odd Popeye, aka proto-Barbie.
However, one entry on Altman’s filmography that isn’t often discussed is O.C. and Stiggs, based on characters that first appeared in the pages of National Lampoon magazine. Yes, the director of Gosford Park once made a movie based on I.P. from the same company that gave us Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj and Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure. O.C. and Stiggs finds the two titular anarchic high school pranksters terrorizing an insurance agent after his company “cut off the health care policy of Stiggs’ grandfather.”
Once completed, O.C. and Stiggs got shelved for three years by the studio before eventually tanking in theaters. Altman later tried to defend his redheaded horny teen stepchild by claiming, “It was a satire of teen sex comedies, gosh darn it, not an example of that dubious breed!” But that still doesn’t explain the rampant racism, homophobia and misogyny. At least he didn’t have to build an entire goddamn village for this turkey.
Francis Ford Coppola Filmed Footage for a German ‘Nudie’ Flick
Coppola’s filmography is crammed with banger after banger. He gave us The Godfather trilogy, The Conversation and Apocalypse Now, one of the most impressive movies ever, scenes depicting literal ghost sex notwithstanding.
That filmography also contains some less prestigious projects, including 1962’s The Bellboy and the Playgirls, a “nudie” comedy about a hotel employee snooping on a roomful of scantily-clad female guests.
When first starting out in the industry, the only job a young and broke Coppola could get was re-editing foreign softcore movies, adding in extra scenes to pad them out into longer, more commercially viable erotica. So Coppola (possibly after being made an offer he couldn’t refuse) added new color sequences featuring a wacky bellboy to the black-and-white German flick Sin Began With Eve. As he later admitted, he added in the credit “Directed by Francis Ford Coppola” simply “because I couldn’t believe you could actually put credits on it.”
Robert Zemeckis Co-Wrote ’Tales From the Crypt Presents: Bordello of Blood’
Zemeckis directed beloved 1980s classics like Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit before earning dramatic credibility with critically acclaimed films like Contact, Cast Away and Forrest Gump. Which probably would have been even more critically acclaimed had Zemeckis not cut out all of the novel’s references to Forrest’s gargantuan dong.
Zemeckis also co-wrote the story for the supernatural sex comedy Tales From the Crypt Presents: Bordello of Blood. For those who haven’t seen it, or are pretending that they haven’t seen it, Bordello of Blood stars noted thespian Dennis Miller as a private detective sent to investigate a brothel run by vampires. If you find Miller’s quips about Mickey Rourke and Mexican food funny, please seek medical attention immediately.
Bordello of Blood came out in 1996, just two years after the blockbuster success of Forrest Gump. And while directors don’t usually follow up their Oscar wins with projects involving busty nosferatu sex workers, Zemeckis and his screenwriting partner Bob Gale actually wrote the script in 1973, back when they were film school graduates who wanted to break into the industry, but had yet to pick up on the public’s desire for Oedipal time-travel stories.
According to some sources, the only reason that Bordello of Blood was dusted off two decades later and given the Tales From the Crypt branding was as part of an effort by Universal to keep Zemeckis from switching studios. Unfortunately, the movie was an utter disaster, and even the rubber Crypt Keeper puppet is probably still pissed about it.
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