Supergirl

Unrelentingly, jaw-droppingly awful
★
☆☆☆☆☆
Released: 
1984
Director: 
Jeannot Szwarc
Starring: 
Helen Slater, Faye Dunaway, Peter O'Toole, Mia Farrow, Brenda Vaccaro, Hart Bochner
The Setup: 
Supergirl, Superman's cousin, travels to Chicago in order to retrieve the omegahedron, which her stupid uncle or whoever lost.
Discussion: 

I am still speechless. What possible way is there to account for this film? This was apparently made by Warner Brothers around the time of Superman III, but, once they SAW it, wisely held onto it, finally selling it off to then-new Tri-Star pictures, who chopped it up and threw it out into the marketplace. I never saw it, but it-obviously-looked super cheesy, so I thought I might try it out, and persuaded a friend to watch it with me.

You know how a popular line from trailers is "Nothing can prepare you.?" Dear reader, NOTHING can prepare you for this movie. It is SO absolutely appalling, all you can do is stare. I, without exaggeration, had my mouth open in sheer astonishment for at least half of it. WHAT is this? HOW did it come into being? WHO could have possibly approved this script or, you know, MADE this thing?

Let's start at the beginning. The opening credits, which IMDb tells us cost a million dollars, were obviously produced by coating plastic letters with shiny material and spinning them around in fog. Once you realize this, you just stare at them in amazement. Then the story begins. The survivors of Krypton are living in this glowing sno-cone at the bottom of some lake-it's a multi-dimensional thing, apparently, I wouldn't understand-and Supergirl's uncle or somebody named ZALTAR and played by Peter O'Toole wearing a hideous rag sweater that he obviously got from the remainder table at Fashion Bug, has stolen the omegahedron, which is a glowing billiard ball that spins in a really stupid-looking fashion in one's hand. This is apparently the energy source for the entire city, and through an accident it is sucked out into space. Seconds after this, Supergirl's FACE is nearly sucked out of the hole the billiard ball made, and God do I wish I could have captured a picture of that for you, but this thing's on VHS and it just couldn't be adequately captured. I'm sorry. I let you down.

So Supergirl [they call her Kara] gets all feisty and goes off after the dumb ball. She flies through a lot of the same idiotic bubbles that superman did on his way to Earth in the first movie, the first in a series of cheap methods of trying to make this movie seem not so bad by reminding viewers that it is at least ASSOCIATED with the first Superman, which was pretty good. Anyway, as fate would have it, the billiard ball, after flying umpteen miles through space and entering the Earth's atmosphere, lands with a delicate 'plop' in Faye Dunaway's soup.

Faye, desperately appearing here during the midst of her post-Mommie Dearest exile [and what's Peter O'Toole's excuse?], is wearing this rust-colored wig that makes her look like a cross between the cowardly lion and a 17th-century courtier. It seems that she is a witch with a yen for world domination, and she immediately senses that this dumb billiard ball is a source of great power, and immediately knows exactly how to use it.

Meanwhile, Supergirl flies out of a lake and is now on Earth, and, since her magic bracelet isn't immediately blinking to tell her where the pool ball is, she decides to register at the local college. She masquerades as the brunette Linda Lee, and wouldn't you know, her roommate is the hideously perky, and just plain hideous, Lucy Lane-Lois' sister! They bond, while Faye and her comic sidekick, played by the national tragedy of BRENDA VACCARO, lust over the muscular thug trimming the hedges. "I saw him first! I copied his number first" whines Brenda when Faye lays her covetous eyes on this would-be man-hunk, who, what with his five-o-clock shadow that seems to be composed entirely of makeup, looks like he wandered in from playing "Burgler #3" in a lost episode of Barney Miller. I'm looking at this guy thinking "He looks familiar. that looks like Hart Bochner." Readers, imagine my horror upon realizing at the end that it WAS INDEED HART BOCHNER. And you look at him, and you think "in what kind of alien society could this guy be considered a desirable hunk?" An alien society in which Rick Springfield rules the airwaves, is what I think.

Anyway, so Faye captures Hart and uses the billiard ball to place him under a spell that means he'll fall in love with the first person he sees. now, she is apparently speaking quite loosely, because he walks around as though stoned for quite some time, seeing quite a few people, but the plot dictates that he never really LOOK at anyone until-you'll NEVER guess-he falls in love with Supergirl! Or actually, her alter ego, Linda Lee. This is a CANNY reversal as has not been seen since the likes of Grease 2, as rather than being in love with Supergirl and thinking the alter ego is a boring dud, it's the other way around. Can you fucking BELIEVE IT?!?!?!

Around this time it occurs to you: Why does Supergirl have to take on an alter ego and register at college at all? Why doesn't she just show up, get the goddamned omegahedron and go the hell home? It also occurs to you, quite distinctly, that Supergirl is NOT the brightest bulb. For example, at one point Faye makes multiple Faye's [you HAVE to see it to believe it], surrounding Supergirl in a circle. It takes the moronic Supergirl about 13 minutes to figure out that she can just fly UP to escape. Fucking dumb Supergirl. WHAT is this saying to young women?

Helen Slater comes within an inch of being charming in certain scenes, but sadly never crosses over.

Whatever, let's speed this along. We need to just hit the highlights:

> The only actor whose career was shit enough by this point was whoever the dork that plays Jimmy Olsen is, and here he is, beginning a tentative romance with Lucy Lane.

> Please note for future endeavors that a common streetlamp will hold and contain all of the energy of multiple lightning strikes.

> While Hart is wandering around in his drunken haze, he gets scooped up by a tractor being remotely driven by Faye, with his leg hanging out. When the front of the tractor scrapes across the side of a building, his entire leg should have been neatly shorn off, leaving a tattered and bloody stump, but sadly not in this movie.

> Please note that Supergirl saves Hart, but leaves her new best friend Lucy Lane to just crash headlong into a building. I guess that's what happens to friendship when men are involved.

> Please note the numerous lame product placements, most notably for A&W.

> When Faye has Hart back to her swank pad she serves him Schlitz Malt Liquor.

> While Hart in under the love spell, he relentlessly pursues Supergirl-as-Linda Lee, spouting the most hideous poetry, and this is all portrayed as charming, rather than grounds for a restraining order.

> At one point during the 'love montage,' they ride one of those carnival rides that spins them around. and the evil Faye tries to, uh, spin them to death.

> At this point the thought came into my head: "You know, if Hart and Supergirl had sex, her super-vagina would probably crush his penis like a grape."

> Please be on the look out for the marvelously fake Supergirl doll, with arm down and one knee bent, that they're obviously just pulling along on a wire.

> You will not believe the cheesiness of the fake "fire" animation toward the end when Faye is making all the floor tiles rumble.

> Two things I see written in my notes: "I cannot believe what I am seeing" and "This should not exist."

> Toward the end of the movie my friend who I was watching it with became frustrated, it all went from fun to just being annoying, because it is all so UNRELENTINGLY outrageous, and after a while it can all just flatten out. He had only just said: "I don't think this movie could do one more thing to shock me," when, that very moment, Supergirl fell into a pit and became stuck like an insect in the mud.

So Supergirl gets thrown into the phantom zone [shout-out to Superman #1,763], where she meets Peter O'Toole again, and they have some bonding before they have to climb up some ludicrous vortex thing-which doesn't make the slightest bit of sense-and it just goes on until it ends. We are then treated to these end credits in which they just set up all the words in a smoky room and have the camera track over them, giving them the appearance that they're flying toward the camera. Or trying to.

This, at 105 minutes, is apparently the shortest of all the versions. There is a "director's cut," which apparently runs 138 minutes. Okay, listen to me: yeah, fun bad is good, but my friend is right; this got a little numbingly appalling after an hour, and having another 30 minutes tacked on. that's just unendurable. I also note, if you read the comments on the IMDb, that there are quite a few people who describe this as "not bad" to "pretty good," and many of them say that the director's cut is DEFINITELY good. As in, it's a GOOD MOVIE. Reader, there is NO WAY that this movie could be made good in any way, unless all of the existing footage I saw was jettisoned into space, and they started all over again.

This is am amazingly over-the-top bad movie, probably safer for a party than for individual viewing. As my friend says, it's just too unrelentingly appalling. But if you want to just stare at your screen in amazement, uncomprehending that this film could be produced by sentient beings, Supergirl is for you.

Should you watch it: 

Perhaps. If you do, be armed with friends and booze. You will need them. Perhaps the best reason to watch this is to further admire what a graceful and fun the first Superman movie is.

Comments

Incredibly upset that the link to your Grease 2 review doesn't work. I would LOVE to read that.

Please don't be upset, Scott! I sent myself a note to bring the review over from where it languishes on the old site... I will fix this glaring error soon!