Must-see moments in trash culture

Slide show: "Dallas," "Mommie Dearest," "Commando": The films and TV shows that take awfulness to wondrous heights


Matt Zoller Seitz
January 22, 2011 5:20AM (UTC)

A cartoon barbarian chick in a bikini riding a winged dragon. Arnold Schwarzenegger tossing a circular saw blade like a Frisbee and slicing off the top of a man's head. Bug-eyed Joan Crawford looming over her terrified daughter, wire hanger in hand.

If someone said the phrase "great works of popular art," these are not the images that would spring to mind. And that's fine. The movies that birthed these moments deliver different, less respectable pleasures. Not guilty pleasures -- I hate that term! -- but something else: magnificent trash. Work whose main appeal is sex, violence, bad behavior, perversity, dysfunction and weirdness. Movies that aim mainly to titillate and/or appall. Stuff you can't defend, but that you can't stop watching.

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I've listed 10 works of magnificent trash that tickle my id. Tell me about yours in the Letters section.


Matt Zoller Seitz

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