Sick Flicks

An exceptionally nasty stomach bug was messing with my insides and I had been throwing up uncontrollably for nearly 24-hours straight, an experience I rank as one of the worst things that can happen to you outside of having a tube stuck up your penis, or throwing up uncontrollably for nearly 24-hours straight – whilst being on a long airplane flight.

I will save you from the disgusting details as to what colour your vomit is when you've got absolutely nothing left to throw up, or about how my retching was so violent that I was actually developing abdominal muscles from all the heaving, and I certainly wont tell you about all the odd and quite frankly scary things my local doctor wanted to do in what I'm sure she saw as a gallant attempt to re-hydrate me (it involves the words “penis” & “tube”), and instead I'll just skip to the film side of the whole revolting episode.

The choice of ‘sick flicks' – here referring to films you select to watch when you are sick (as opposed to movies that are sick – say Blood Sucking Freaks or I Spit On Your Grave , or anything by that Kids guy.) – is always, at least to me, an interesting endeavor.

There's nothing like a barrage of shiny New Releases to bring you a bit of cheer when you're felling like shit. It's the perfect time to watch all that stuff you have wanted to but haven't got around to seeing yet. I once watched the first two series of The Sopranos in their entirety over two days I was off from work sick and now when I reflect back on that time I don't even recall what kind of sickness I was plagued with at the time, but rather I just recall the 24 hours of brutal violence I subjected myself to and feel an overwhelming desire never to visit New Jersey in my life. Good times.

Of course there will come a time when you are unable to get down to video store yourself. Maybe it's because your penis is recovering from having a tube shoved up it by some crazy doctor whose credentials you are only now questioning. Or you could have twisted both ankles and are unable to move, or maybe you are simply too busy sleeping off the peyote-like hallucinatory side effect of the latest flu bug going around. Or, like me last week, it may be because throwing up every five seconds makes driving a car a messy and potentially dangerous situation.

If a family member or loved one has the misfortune of occupying the same residence as you do in your possibly highly contagious state, then you may be lucky that one of these people may actually love you enough to want to take care of you, despite whatever toxic substance you are purging constantly from your body. If so, good for you. You could probably look up at them with that sickly far-away look in your eyes and get this person/s to do just about anything for you at this point, such is their devotion. Like say, fetch you lemonade icy-poles or a trashy magazine or whatever little treat you usually like to get when you're sick to cheer yourself up, or if you look pathetic enough, some crap movies to help whittle your sick days away. But what to get? Maybe that new remake of a supernatural Japanese film. The latest Kate Hudson/J-Lo/Reese Weatherspoon romantic “comedy”. That CG animated feature that tries to be a little too smart and adult and hip. Or if you're really sick, some straight-to-video Segal, Lundgren or Van Damme.

Sadly for me, I didn't have such a person in my time of need.

Well that's not exactly true. I had a house full of family. There just wasn't anyone willing to get within a mile of me. I was quarantined at the other end of the house and my family, probably wisely, stayed the fuck away. So I had to forget the dream of new release goodies and look to….. The Stash .

This proves a lengthy and stressful pursuit at the best of times. Luckily the 8,000 or so videos I stupidly purchased in my youth (“nothing's ever gonna top VHS!!!”) are boxed up underneath my house, so my choice is limited to the few hundred DVDs that decorate my bedroom. Still, it's a timely ordeal.

Perusing ….. The Stash I am suddenly aware that there are quite a few DVDs that I have purchased from bargain bins that I never ever would have paid over $10 for. These are not films I love. Some of them I'm not sure I even like. They are the kind of purchases that my wife would chastise me for wasting my money on – if I had a wife that is, and a particularly frugal one at that. They probably make up 20-30% of my DVD collection.

I justify these purchases by thinking to myself that 1) – Cheap. 2) – That on those nights when I am tired/drunk/sick I will pull them out and just chuck them on to fall asleep/pass out/die in front of. On occasions such as this I don't want to insult a great and favourite film by sleeping through it, nor do I want to risk getting enthralled by anything remotely good when I'm planning on napping through it and waking up to the end credits, or more likely, waking up to the damn interactive menu that has been playing the same looped 30 seconds theme song sample for so fucking long it is now imbedded in your dreams.

Although they play a large part in the art of the DVD purchase, I rarely seem to get around to watching the special features on a disc. (This may seem a little tangential, but stay with me). Not because I don't wish to ruin the wonderful illusion of movie-making, or because half of the features are boring interviews with special effect geeks who care more about their computers than the film they are working on. Nor is it because of the frustration I may feel sitting through all the tacked on promotional materials, which seem a moot point after you've already purchased the fucking thing. No, I actually manage to convince myself that rather than avoiding these “special” features, that I am saving them. Saving them for the one day when perhaps I have exhausted the world's supply of films. For the day when I have grown tired and bored of watching the actual films these special features accompany but strangely will still want to watch the behind-the-scenes featurettes, TV spots, and of course marvel at the amazingly interactive ‘interactive menus' on the discs.

This day, I promise myself, will be the very next day that I am sick.

I don't know about you but if I am deliriously ill and the only act I am physically capable of is slumping on the couch and staring blankly at the TV then I'm probably not in the mood for watching anything that requires a hell of a lot of thought. And as much as these featurettes, spots and menus can be dumb as hell and just feature the stars crapping on and on with inane tidbits about their character (“I think Jim is afraid of the aliens, but he's just too afraid to show it…yeah”) it still kind of feels vaguely as if you're learning something. And when I've just vomited down the front of my shirt because I'm too dehydrated and out-of-it to move my head an inch to the left and aim for the various buckets that make a moat around the couch, I'm not really in a learning kind of place.

So staring at….. The Stash I realised that no special features would be watched today. The time had come to shred the shrinkwrap off a few DVDs and show my future frugal wife that “See! – I told you I was going to watch it more than once!” The lucky films this time around: Daredevil* and Orange County . Click the links to see a few words on each of them, but I think that their inclusion in the ‘just-okay', ‘bargain basement' and ‘watch-when-sick' categories is probably enough of a review.

You may be surprised that I was sick for such a long period yet watched so few films, being Mr. Film Geek and all. Well admittedly there was a bit of daytime TV to fill the void - my brain numbed perfectly to the point where I actually kind of enjoyed day-time TV. If I had the strength to get to a telephone I would now be trying to explain to my family why I had purchased a new set of steak knives, fake-tan-in-a-can, and seventeen “naked bras”.

I also watched each film 3 times. That's right. I think now I can claim to have seen Ben Affleck in Daredevil at least 3 times more than most people on the planet, barring the director and film projectionists the world over. That's just the luxury you have when you miss half the film chucking ya guts up and slipping in and out of consciousness. It doesn't matter if you miss some bits. That's why they made for great Sick Flicks™. Sleep through the dull patches and wake up in time to see Jack Black do something funny, or Jennifer Garner doing anything whilst wearing leather, then pass out again (which admittedly has more to do with Jennifer Garner in leather than being sick.).

It isn't going to be an antidote to your illness but at least it's a good way to pass a bad time….

…And it means that the $10 I parted with months or years ago wasn't just money spent to fill my shelves, although they sure do look pretty. Whoever the hippie was that said, “ a full shelf leaves no room for future knowledge ” has obviously never trawled through the bargain bins.

*Incidentally – the edition of Daredevil I own has 2 discs. The 1 disc edition was cheaper, but didn't come with all the special features.