I’ve seen The Beacon. It was one of the very first five or so films I reviewed for this site! Oh, the days (of only a year or so ago). Anyway, it’s terrible – but I had a lot of fun with it (especially the makeup at the ending). But we each find our own ways through terrible movies, clinging on to different scenes that, however so briefly, part the clouds. And that’s precisely the point The Wolfman (@TheWolfmanCometh – on the boards) aims to illustrate here in his column!
I think one term you hear more in the horror genre than you hear in most other genres would be “It’s so bad that it’s good.” Essentially, this means someone is saying that a movie tried to be scary/suspenseful/thrilling and had such a bad cast, writing, direction, or effects that it’s entertaining how badly everything falls apart. I like to think I have a pretty high standard for what horror films fall into this “so bad it’s good” category, so much so that I don’t even think Troll 2 is all that entertaining in that respect (give me Birdemic: Shock and Terror any day of the week!). To me, that “so bad it’s good” is typically just a way of telling people that a movie is a guilty pleasure of yours, and you might actually think it’s good. Also, the whole idea of bad vs. good is obviously incredibly subjective, which I think is something that has been making these articles challenging. For example, I don’t think Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies are “good” (in fact, I think they are “terrible garbage”), but that’s just this man’s opinion. With this article, I’m going to be using the word “good” a little bit more loosely. The movie that I am going to be talking about in this installment was your typical poorly done, straight to video horror movie that had one scene that was SO incredibly awful, it pushed the movie into that “so bad it’s good” territory and made the movie go from being awful to awfully funny.
In The Beacon, or as it was listed as on Netflix at the time, Haunting at the Beacon (obviously the rotating titles are starting to give away how bad the movie was) is about a married couple, Bryn (Teri Polo) and Paul (David Rees Snell), whose son has recently died. In hopes of putting their life back together, they move into an apartment building that used to be a hotel known as “The Beacon”. In addition to having grief flashbacks and visions of her dead son, Bryn starts seeing and experiencing other weird things at the hotel, and, yup, you guessed it, it’s haunted! Apparently this hotel was built on top of a burial ground where people who had committed suicide were sent (because suicide victims are basically like lepers and Native Americans) and it turns out that all the other residents of The Beacon are just spirits! Boogedy boo! As you can imagine, the whole movie is thrilling.
Based on the description of the plot alone, you can’t really grasp how painfully bad this movie is. It sounds like a pretty stereotypical haunted hotel movie, and maybe with the right cast or spooky scenes, could have actually been entertaining. Luckily, you get the sense early on that this movie isn’t going to accomplish anything good whatsoever. While moving in, Bryn’s sister, played by Marnette Patterson, is helping out. The sister’s name is either Christine or Christina or Chrissy, because she is referred to by all of those names at different points in the movie. Anyways, the sister sees that the movers are kind of checking her out while moving furniture, so the sister drops what she’s doing, goes over to them, and shows them her boobs, and follows that with a request to get back to work. WHEN HAS ANYTHING LIKE THIS EVER HAPPENED IN REAL LIFE EVER?! Not that I’m complaining about a movie showing Marnette Patterson in her bra, but the movie made such an insane leap of logic to make this character, who’s been on screen for two minutes, immediately become the sluttiest person that’s ever existed. A little bit later on in the movie, Bryn is using her digital camera to take pictures around her neighborhood and she sees some weird things when she looks at the pictures on her computer. Later, we see her taking the photos off of a drying line, which is where photographers hang the photos they develop in their dark room to dry. Have you put that part together yet? She takes photos…with a digital camera…puts them on her computer…and somehow transports those digital images onto a film negative so that she can develop them and OH MY GOD I DON’T EVEN KNOW IF THAT’S PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE WITHIN THE PHYSICAL CONSTRAINTS OF PHOTOGRAPHY. If developing DIGITAL files through the use of chemicals in a dark room is something that happens, feel free to tell me I’m an idiot. But no, neither of these scenes are why this movie deserves the title of “so bad it’s good”.
One of the neighbors, or I guess spirit of a neighbor, is a washed up soap opera actress that tries hitting on Paul and therefore is constantly mocked by Bryn. In one scene, this actress is talking to Bryn and another spirit of a neighbor and Bryn teams up with this other neighbor spirit to mock the actress. The other spirit neighbor asks the actress how old she is, to which she responds that she’s only 32. The spirit neighbors witty retort to the reveal of this actress’s age is: “Yeah, 32….in DOG years!” Bryn and the neighbor look at each other, laugh heartily, and the actress storms off. Did you guys pick up on why that’s weird? Well, firstly, there’s no such thing as dog years, but since humans typically live 7 times as long as dogs do, people typically think of dog years so that they can assume their dogs are living fuller lives, but that’s not the point. The point is that one human year is roughly equal to seven dog years. Still with me? Well, through this formula, by saying that this actress is 32 in dog years, that means that he’s telling her that she’s…..5 YEARS OLD. THAT’S THE JOKE. Obviously, that wasn’t the INTENDED joke, because he was probably trying to say the actress is seven times 32 years, because she looks so old, but that’s not what he said. The fact that a joke that was so simple and so dumb got so far into the production process with NOBODY NOTICING THE DEFIANCE OF LOGIC that it really pushes The Beacon into that insane territory that you can’t help but laugh at what a pathetic attempt at movie-making it was. If you ever get the opportunity to see this movie (for free), I think it’s worth a watch just for how big of a train wreck the whole thing is. Oh yeah, plus the whole Marnette Patterson flashing thing.