The Jinx of the Truly Dreadful Movie
There are really bad movies, and then there are really bad Kevin Costner movies. My brother-in-law has a graphic visual expression to explain the sensation of being trapped. "I was ready to gnaw off my left arm." A long-winded Sunday sermon can bring on a beartrap moment. So can a high school commencement in the sweltering climate of the Dallas Cowboy's Texas Stadium.
Kevin Costner provoked an epidemic of left arm gnawing a dozen years ago. Any viewer who survived 1994's "Wyatt Earp" without a sympathetic laudanum overdose drowned during 1995's "Waterworld".
The Jinx of the Truly Dreadful Movie began in the winter of 1969. Mom dropped the three of us at the Cooper Lincoln theater on "O" Street on one of those Nebraska winter days when the excrutiating glare off the snow compounded by bickering kids trapped in the house can give anyone a headache ranking 7.8 on the Richter Scale. My brother was anxious to see "Krakatoa, East of Java". I won't expound on that day's bad movie jinx, except to say that it involved Dr. Pepper. The movie was memorable for its bathtub tsunami special effects. The Dr. Pepper became woven into family lore and legend along with the movie's geographically incorrect title.
Krakatoa is still a fascinating subject. Simon Winchester wrote a fascinating book about the 1883 explosion of Krakatoa a few years back. The Twenty-One Balloons is a favorite read-aloud memory from sixth grade. Tomorrow the Discovery Channel will air a Krakatoa docudrama, but I won't be watching. I can't risk it.
I popped a cassette of The 21 Balloons in the tape player for my students yesterday. The tape dis-enwrapped and re-entangled all over the place. The jinx is alive and well, serving up disaster specials on blue plate tectonics.
"Krakatoa, East of Java" may not be the worst movie I've ever seen. That title could belong to the 1990 kid movie, "Shipwrecked". I took my three little boys to see "Shipwrecked" at a downtown Midland theater where we were the entire audience. This hokey movie involved a gorilla on a South Seas island. And that gorilla's zipper was very visable. Within hours my youngest had broken his arm, but I'm not sure if Dr. Pepper was on the scene.
I sent another son to the store for shredded cheddar (not Dr. Pepper) just before we were going to watch a VHS tape of "Krakatoa, East of Java" that I located online for five bucks. I'd been wondering for decades if the movie was as bad as it had become in the family legend. My son ripped the side mirror off the car returning from the store. The jinx continues!