On December 13th, 2020, Lifetime released an original “mini- movie” A Recipe for Seduction, starring Mario Lopez as a young (?) Colonel Sanders, a.k.a. Harland Sanders, with a secret chicken recipe that’s going to “change the world.” As the new chef to the affluent Mancera family, Harland catches the eye of the daughter, Jessica. This doesn’t go over well with Jessica’s mother, Bunny, who’s coercing her daughter into an engagement with the wealthy, pretentious and cliché boyfriend, Billy Garibaldi III, who will restore the Mancera’s fortune. But now, with Harland in the way, Bunny and Billy will do whatever they can to get rid of Harland forever! Basically, think Titanic or George of the Jungle, but instead of a poor artist or a jungle man, it’s the KFC guy. If that sentence alone can’t convince you to take a fifteen- minute break from your day (yes, it’s a whole crispy fifteen minutes), then I don’t know what will.
I love bad movies. Truly horrendous movies, not just something like Fifty Shades or the live- action Aladdin (don’t even get me started on that…) I mean something so bad that I’ll laugh the whole time because it’s so poorly made or acted hilariously or the movie itself had an insanely huge budget, yet… you know, it’s a piece of crap.
Some bad movies are so perfectly terrible that in a way, they’re a masterpiece. Any movie can have awful acting, terrible directorial decisions and writing so horrible you can’t believe this even made it to the screen. That’s a more painful type of bad. What I mean by “masterpiece” is essentially, you wouldn’t change a thing about it. It’s horrendous perfection.
Seth Rogen even made the point that the infamous movie The Room, which is considered to be the or at least one of the worst movies of all time, might be an awful movie, but there is something about it that makes people want to watch it over and over again (I myself have seen it at least six times… I recognize that’s an odd brag, but whatever…). So, what is it? What’s necessary? What’s that secret ingredient (pun unintended) that makes something so bad its phenomenal at the same time?
Well, usual tropes are things like terrible writing, followed by terrible acting led by incompetent directing. A Recipe for Seduction is different to most movies I would be thinking about when talking about bad movies. One, it is only fifteen minutes, two, it was a TV release, but three, it was clearly intentional to make it bad. While I can look past the TV release, the fact that it’s a short is unusual for something like this. I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like if it was over an hour. How ridiculous would things go? What would have happened post Harland and Jessica’s meeting, but before Harland is found tied up and duct taped at the Mancera house (it’s a pretty wild ride of a mini- movie)? Although, A Recipe for Seduction being a short, a mini- movie, is one of the selling points. The story of Colonel Sanders and Jessica being a short is what helps this movie stick- out. If anything, the intent on making it bad could probably be a turn off for some people.
As movies like The Room, Birdemic: Shock and Terror and even films made by Neil Breen (an independent director who makes completely incompetent movies. I admit, he’s not for everyone but if you pull through and finish the entire movie, it’s usually worth it) become more mainstream, there’s now a market for bad movies being loved because they’re bad. The problem is that we get Birdemic 2 or Samurai Cop 2, movies that realize no one takes them seriously because they’re bad, and they decide to go with it. I’m a little more familiar with the Birdemic sequel, and I admit, it is weird, because you can tell the difference. The first one was hilarious because the director James Nguyen didn’t know what he was doing, so his mistakes were from a lack of knowledge. Nevertheless, in the second one, it seems like he just made more of the same mistakes, likely intentional. However, for A Recipe for Seduction the intention works. Some of the characters, or actors I should say, are just being serious enough that that’s what makes it laughable. It’s what makes it work.
I know everyone has different opinions on this. Some don’t like the intent because it defeats the point of what makes the bad movie comical. Personally, I don’t care. As long as I’m laughing, I’m fine.
I realize might be making it sound like it’s all about the laughs, like it’s the equivalent of watching just a regular old comedy. While I do think it’s different than watching a straightforward comedy, a great bad movie is more like an experience than anything. Podcasters Dan McCoy, Stuart Wellington, and Elliot Kalan of “The Flop House” once said that with a great bad movie, you have no idea what’s going to happen. That’s accurate. Yes, we’ve all viewed movies that are shocking, surprising, or have a twist ending. However, with a truly great bad movie, it’s the inexperienced creators, or horrid writers that make the story a whirlwind unlike anything else.
As far as bad movies go, A Recipe for Seduction is overall very different compared to others I’ve seen. However it has the one thing that I think makes a bad movie a bad movie: ridiculousness. The more that I venture into the abyss of horrible cinema, that may honestly be the key. The Room, Birdemic: Shock and Terror, Samurai Cop, Foodfight, Troll 2, Mac and Me or every single Neil Breen film are unlike our average box office failures. The absurdity, the lunacy is what makes them memorable. It’s the reason why people line up to meet Tommy Wiseau at screenings and throw spoons at the screen. It’s why people specifically go to Neil Breen’s site to order his movies. It’s not the same as watching a comedy, because comedies are intended to be funny, whereas most bad movies out there aren’t. And that’s why they’re funny.
So, for me, watching A Recipe for Seduction was a no brainer. Upon seeing the trailer, I thought one thing: I need to watch this (well actually I thought, what the hell is a “mini- movie?” I know it’s a short, which I realize seems blatantly obvious but seriously, have you ever heard it called that?). Not just I wanted to watch it, or I’m looking forward to it. No, I needed to watch it. So, seeing a trailer for a KFC movie about a young Colonel Sanders, I knew watching it was inevitable, why? Because it’s fun. If you’re into bad movies, there’s probably someone in your life, maybe friends or your family, that don’t get it. Why would you intentionally sit down and watch something bad? Well, why do people go on hikes, or knit, make pottery or swim, build old cars or watch a good movie? Because they want to, they like to… Because it’s fun.