Skeletons in the Closet

Originally published in Venue #302 (28/10/14)

Everyone has some skeletons in their closets. Some movie stars have literal ones. Others just have weird horror movies buried at the bottom of their IMDb pages. Here are six actors, now known for classier fare, and the dodgy genre efforts they’d arguably like to stay forgotten.

Amy Adams in… Psycho Beach Party (2000)
Perennial Oscar nominee Amy Adams didn’t have the most illustrious start in Hollywood, replacing Sarah Michelle Gellar in the straight-to-video sequel Cruel Intentions 2, and mystically sucking all the fat out of a deer on an early episode of Smallville. But she did also appear in this cult classic, an oddball mash-up of 1960’s surfer movies and ’90s slasher horror. As popular girl Marvel Ann, Adams evades a serial killer, gets her bikini bottoms torn off in a prank gone awry and partakes in an energetic dance-off on the beach. It’s also the one legitimately good movie on this list.

Bradley Cooper in… Case 39 (2009)
Shot in 2006, when Bradley Cooper was just another TV actor trying to break into film and Renée Zellweger was still making movies and not just making the internet implode, Case 39 is your standard ‘evil little girl’ movie, said ‘evil little girl’ played by the same little girl who always plays evil little girls in things. Cooper is in boring ‘supportive love interest’ mode here, but he does take centre stage in the best scene of the movie, one involving killer hornets exploding from every orifice. Awkwardly, The Hangover Part III is still the most embarrassing project on Cooper’s CV.

Mila Kunis in… American Psycho 2 (2002)
I guess Christian Bale is just ‘okay’ in American Psycho. But surely you must have wondered what Jackie from That ‘70s Show could have done with the same part? Luckily for you, this movie was retrofitted in post-production with a prologue sequence in which a young Mila Kunis kills Patrick Bateman (played by Bale’s non-union Mexican equivalent, naturally). Flash forward to Mila’s college years, where she’s obsessed with her criminology professor (William Shatner, of all people) and so eager for an FBI internship that she murders anyone standing in her way. A trash masterpiece.

James McAvoy in… The Pool (2000)
“Celebrate with death!” cries the DVD cover of this bizarre German slasher movie featuring McAvoy as a Scottish college student attending a pool party with a group of international actors speaking in garbled English. Everything’s fine and dandy until a masked murderer turns up and starts killing everybody. It’s like what would happen if a director remade Scream but drained it of all its wit, charm and decent acting. And made it a lot more German. Even weirder, Isla Fisher plays McAvoy’s ex, who doesn’t even make it to the damn swimming pool before she’s horribly killed. Poor Isla.

Gwyneth Paltrow in… Hush (1998)
Before hitting it big, Gwyneth Paltrow starred as an innocent newlywed tormented by psychotic mother-in-law Jessica Lange in Hush. Filmed in 1996 and heavily reshot, the scenes left on the cutting room floor (apparently featuring Paltrow and Lange attacking each other with shards of glass in a burning barn, horses flying everywhere) sound nuts enough to push Hush into so-bad-it’s-good territory. Alas, the Hush released in cinemas is just kind of boring. Leave it to the ever-honest Lange to sum up the movie herself: “If somebody asks me how I feel about Hush, I’ll say it’s a piece of shit.”

Paul Rudd in… Halloween 6 (1995)
Later entries in the Halloween franchise feature a hotbed of potential entrants to this list, including Michelle Williams, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Octavia Spencer and, uh… Tyra Banks, but it’s Paul Rudd’s starring role in Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers that is particularly notable. In a movie full of Druid cults and baby-smuggling, it’s Rudd that gets the biggest laughs, delivering a performance broad and melodramatic and full of odd tics and facial spasms. It’s one of those mystifying performances so hammy and weird that it just had to be intentional. Paul Rudd is an unadulterated comic genius, so it probably was.

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