By Mike Watt | November 27, 2003

There’s a working theory that anything created, by definition, is “art”, and that all art should be appreciated and preserved. With the “Bad Movie Police” series, filmmaker J.R. (“Witchouse 3”, “The Dead Next Door”) agrees with the latter, but not so much the former. In the early ‘90s, near the end of the home video boom that resulted in a high-demand for product, Bookwalter was offered a six-picture deal from Cinema Home Video. The average budget for these movies was around $1,200 and shot on S-VHS. The results: “Robot Ninja”, “Zombie Cop”, and the first two entries in the “Bad Movie Police” series – “Galaxy of the Dinosaurs” and “Chickboxer”. Both films have been remastered from the best available elements, with many special effects cleaned up and the credits re-done for the new home video releases. These first two movies really strain the opening “art” thesis, and that’s the point of the series. For years, Bookwalter has joked that the “bad movie police” were coming to take him away, and from that remark, comedy was born.
Both volumes open with short intros featuring Ariauna Albright and Lilith Stabs as the titular characters, Sgt. Elke Mantooth and Lt. Drusilla Dread, who patrol the streets in search for perpetrators of the worst movies ever made. Shot in the style of ‘70s cop shows like “Adam 12”, the first segment has them busting up a movie that’s little more than a front for a gay porno ring, and the second has them beating the crap out of a no-talent hack who resents the force’s interference. Dressed in low-cut fetish-oriented cop uniforms, Albright and Stabs approach their roles with relish and play the scenes straight. (My favorite running gag is that the #1 crime of both films is the performance of James L. Edwards.)
To say the intros are the most entertaining part of the DVDs is obvious, but missing the point. The movies representing the meat of the discs are terrible, bordering on unwatchable, but in that “fun” way that will appeal to folks who like to seek out the unedited movies featured on the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” series. “Galaxy of the Dinosaurs” and “Chickboxer” are beer-and-pizza movies. They’re the things you stick on and make fun of mercilessly with your friends. Bookwalter understands this and isn’t above making a little extra money on these embarrassments from his past.
Which isn’t also to say that he wants his name on these abominations. As die-hard Bookwalter fans are well aware, he’s the king of the pseudonyms. I wouldn’t be surprised if had his name removed from his own birth certificate. To that end, “Galaxy of the Dinosaurs” (shot on S-VHS in his father’s back yard in Ohio, attempting to match the film footage from another bad film called “Planet of the Dinosaurs”) is credited to “Lance Randas”, while the ubiquitous Tempe wench Yolanda Squatpump! is blamed for “Chickboxer” (featuring a gratuitous and similarly non-matching cameo by Scream Queen Michele Bauer). In both cases, the executive producer has also been removed, replaced by “Unwatchable Cinema” and “Name Removed by Request” respectively.
Both discs have audio commentary by Bookwalter (accompanied by “actor” James Black on “Galaxy”), which are heavy on apologies and mea culpas that are rather unnecessary. With a series called “Bad Movie Police”, don’t you expect the movies to be bad? Why apologize (okay, I suppose it’s better than J.R. haranguing the viewer for forking over real money for the discs). There are also numerous behind-the-scenes featurettes and interviews for both discs. The sleeves inside have in-joke ripe biographies for the officers (boasting such trivia tidbits as Drusilla dislikes the name “Bob” and Elke was born in Breukelen, Utrectht, Netherlands).
J.R. will always be heralded for “The Dead Next Door” and “Witchouse 3”, and its only natural for a filmmaker who has lasted as long as he has to have a couple of skeletons in his closet. At least he’s man enough to stand by his abortions and still try to make money off of them while admitting they’re wretched. And he roped in a couple of beautiful women to further sell his wares. Okay, so he once tried to marry S-VHS to 35mm film – but despite that, Bookwalter is obviously no dummy. “Bad Movie Police” should be an inspiration – and a warning – to bad filmmakers everywhere.

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