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10 Films Not Good Enough For DVD
When "Waterworld" and "Showgirls" can claim DVDs of their own, it takes an especially bad movie to remain stuck on VHS in 2008. The following 10 films are not on DVD... and should probably remain that way.Howard the Duck (1986)
It's difficult to believe this 1986 George Lucas-produced flop never landed on DVD. Not because the film is particularly good, but because it is so notoriously bad. Howard the Duck, a sci-fi comedy about a talking, anthropomorphic mallard who rescues a female rock musician (Lea Thompson), has risen (or fallen, depending on one's point of view) to the kind of beloved cult trash that's sent Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space or Showgirls to digital immortality. How could it not have? One scene has Howard threatening a gang of punks with "Quack Fu." Another has him pursuing an issue of "Playduck" magazine. Like The Star Wars Holiday Special (see below), the only thing keeping this piece of dubious cinematic history from fans' Netflix queues is George Lucas's pride. Proving once again the ability to entertain is insignificant next to the power of Lucasfilm Ltd.
I know what you're thinking. This must be a joke entry, because surely a movie starring Michael Jackson as a magical gangster who can transform into a FUCKING SPORTS CAR must be available in every format there is. MJ's stock has been higher, but keep in mind a recent 25th anniversary re-release of Thriller still went platinum and a half. Throw a commentary track on Moonwalker and you've got a hit. Maybe whoever makes these decisions hasn't watched it in a while, and they forgot the part where Michael Jackson turns into a robot and fights Joe Pesci. I hope they're reading this, because that totally happens. This paragraph sounds like a Mad Libs, but I'm telling you that this is really a movie. You have to see it. Michael Jackson also transforms into a spaceship.
North, Rob Reiner's 1994 comedy about a child's search for new parents, may be the most baffling film missing from DVD. Although it garnered generally negative reviews -- including one of the most offended critiques of Roger Ebert's long, offended career (He "hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it") the film has a star power missing from other VHS-only pictures. There may not be armies of Chuck Norris devotees demanding a Sidekicks 2-disc, but surely there are enough consumers today who'd be interested in this $40 million film starring Bruce Willis and Elijah Wood, regardless of how bad said film may be. The most likely explanations for North's DVD MIA is its commercial failure combined with its failure to remain in the public consciousness. Waterworld failed epically, but nobody will ever forget that film. The lesson? If you're movie's going to bankrupt Columbia Pictures, you better make damn certain Kevin Costner drinks his own piss in it.
Airborne is the finest movie about rollerblading, a distinction it will likely hold for the foreseeable future. That's why it's such a shame that the easiest way to enjoy the film is building a time machine, traveling back to a Sunday afternoon in 1998, and waiting for it to come on TBS. Rollerblading's popularity has dropped to the exact wrong level; it's no longer popular, but it remains common enough that it's not laughable either. If this were an early-'90s movie about Pogs, everyone would have a DVD of the 2-disc SLAMMER Edition. Still, not being archived digitally for future generations is a cruel fate for a movie that stars young versions of Jack Black, Seth Green, and a guy who you think is Jonathan Brandis, but he isn't.
The Jerky Boys (1995)
It's hard to believe now, but there was once a time when not just any moron with a tape recorder and a YouTube account could distribute their prank phone calls to the world. Back in 1995 you had to leave that kind of thing to the professionals. Kamal and Johnny B, a.k.a. the "Jerky Boys," made an art form of vulgar prank calls. Their tapes were widely bootlegged and still sold 8,000,000 copies. At that point, Hollywood is required by law to give you a movie where you get into trouble with the mob. Apparently, they are just not required to re-release it in ten years. It's not all analog for Jerky Boys fans though. The original albums are available on CD and iTunes. Perhaps when movie studios are able to sell movies with no manufacturing costs, The Jerky Boys movie will once again be available.
Sidekicks is so bad that even Chuck Norris's recent resurgence as the patron saint of irony is not enough to bring it to DVD, and this is a movie where he plays himself. It's the the story of a boy (played by actual Jonathan Brandis) who fantasizes about fighting bullies alongside Chuck Norris, over a decade before that kind of sentence was hilarious on the Internet. Maybe Columbia isn't releasing it on DVD because it's too silly, and they are only putting out DVDs of Chuck's more serious work like like Lone Wolf McQuade, Invasion USA, and all eight seasons of Walker, Texas Ranger.
Brain Smasher... A Love Story (1993)
Andrew "Dice" Clay enjoyed success as a stand-up comedian in the late '80s thanks to his studded leather jacket and charming takes on Mother Goose poems ("Hickory dickory dock, this bitch was sucking my cock"). Yet somehow Clay's nursery rhymes on oral sex didn't translate well enough into a 90-minute thriller to warrant a DVD. Although Brain Smasher... A Love Story's un-ironic plot involves a bouncer (Clay), a supermodel (Teri Hatcher), and ninjas (various Asian-American extras), the absence of its DVD can truly be attributed to the film's momentary nature. Like Carrot Top's Chairman of the Board or Tom Green's Freddy Got Fingered, Brain Smasher belongs to a unique sub-genre of films hastily produced to cash in on the novelty of a popular gimmick comedian. Sadly, the Diceman's stand-up popularly was waining by the arrival of the digital revolution, condemning Brain Smasher to VHS purgatory forever.
No Holds Barred (1989)
If the barely watchable Hulk Hogan vehicles Mr. Nanny and Suburban Commando can find their way past videocassette, any film headlined by the Hulkster not good enough for DVD must be particularly unbearable to watch. No Holds Barred is less of a dramatic feature and more of an attempt to parlay Hogan's popularity within the World Wrestling Federation into a successful feature film. Which is why Hogan's character happens to be a professional wrestler instead of any number of more original occupations available to the writers. Unfortunately Hogan discovered the hard way that, unlike the ring-side of SuperSlam '89, not all lines in a feature film can be shouted into Gene Okerlund's microphone while pointing your finger at the camera.
Meet the Deedles (1998)
Part mistaken-identity farce, part Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure check-cashing scheme, the only thing surprising about the absence of a Meet the Deedles DVD is how recent this film is. Unlike other films not on DVD, the digital revolution was well under way by the time Stew and Phil Deedle's bodacious adventure surfed its way to theaters. But then, timeliness was not a primary concern of Meet the Deedles. The film, which follows two surfing brothers (including Paul Walker) from Hawaii to Yellowstone National Park where they stumble into a pair of park ranger positions, relies for its humor on the kind of "most excellent" Southern California youth stereotype that hadn't been popular since Keanu Reeves hit 30. In '98, kids were more interested in beating Goldeneye 007 on DIFFICULT than hanging 10 or being "gnarly." This, combined with a bizarre climactic scene in which the brothers somehow surf down the Yellowstone River, more than explain why Meet the Deedles's home video format is as dated as its characters.
The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)
Casual Star Wars fanatics condemn 1999's Episode I-The Phantom Menace as the bastard child of George Lucas's Holy Sextilogy. But the films' true devotees know Lucas has an even greater intergalactic skeleton in his closet far, far away: The Star Wars Holiday Special. Released two years before The Empire Strikes Back, the Holiday Special answered questions that had been torturing fans since 1977: What's the perfect gift to sell to an Imperial Officer? What kind of virtual pornography do adolescent Wookies prefer? When would Bea Arthur make her first appearance at the Mos Eisley Cantina? Shockingly, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill all reprise their roles for the show -- unlike creator George Lucas, whose expressed personal hatred for the CBS-produced special explain Lucasfilm Ltd.'s refusal to release a DVD or go "Special Edition" on it, as Lucas so often likes to do. There are some mistakes no amount of digital re-mastering can correct.