The Plankton Is Dying

You’re sitting in the theater or at home watching a movie when out of nowhere somebody speaks a line of dialogue you can’t help laughing at. But the line is not meant to be comical. Nevertheless, you can’t believe what you just heard! The following are prime examples of unintentionally funny/camp lines.

The dingo’s got my baby!
OK. I’ll admit that perhaps at first take it wasn’t that funny, but as time passed it eventually grew into legendary status—with great help from the cast of Seinfeld having fun with the phrase. Now most folks have to bite their cheeks to suppress giggles when hearing this infamous line from A Cry in the Dark.

Life isn’t a puzzle to be solved. It’s a mystery to be lived.
The annals of filmdom are littered with a myriad of mystifying examples of a parent’s seemingly sage advice to his confused child. In this instance, the jaw-droppingly bad pearls of wisdom are bestowed upon wild child Kim Richards by sad sack father Harry Dean Stanton (!) in the so-bad-it’s-good movie, Tuff Turf. And after more viewings than I care to admit, I can honestly report that I still don’t know what it means.

No stranger to overacting, William Shatner goes for broke as Captain Kirk—trembling, eyes a–popping, veins a-bulging—after listening to nemesis Khan threaten all that he holds dear. Pushed to his breaking point, Kirk unleashes an immortal scream of his foe’s name that still causes moviegoers everywhere to smile if not burst outright laughing. Check out the following clip from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and experience that moment for yourself. Again and again…


Hold me like you did by the lake on Naboo.
Does something stink around here? It must be this putrid line of sweet nothings courtesy of George Lucas in Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. George has always had a tin ear when it comes to purple prose—or any kind of prose for that matter—and here he outdoes himself with a scene meant to be tender between forbidden lovers Amidala and Anakin. Instead, it seems like a wretched entry straight out of the Bulwer-Lytton writing contest…except that those are intentionally bad. Phew!

Put the fucking lotion in the basket!
Some film fanatics will try to convince you that Silence of the Lambs was full of gallows humor. I don’t agree. The film was hardcore. And multiple Oscars were won. But a flaw emerged towards the end. There was no release for the tension that kept building throughout the movie. And so, a line meant to be harrowing came across as comical. Dark…but comical. The scene: A girl is kidnapped by serial killer Buffalo Bill and placed into his basement pit where he intends to flay her for a suit of flesh he’s making. Before doing the grisly deed, he dangles down a bottle of body lotion and tells “it” to apply it, saying:

Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb: It rubs the lotion on its skin. It does this whenever it is told.
Catherine Martin: Mister… my family will pay cash. Whatever ransom you’re askin’ for, they pay it.
Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb: It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.
Catherine Martin: Okay… okay… okay. Mister, if you let me go, I won’t – I won’t press charges I promise. See, my mom is a real important woman… I guess you already know that.
Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb: Now it places the lotion in the basket.
Catherine Martin: Please! Please I wanna go home! I wanna go home please!
Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb: It places the lotion in the basket.
Catherine Martin: I wanna see my mommy! Please I wanna see my…
Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb: [suddenly apoplectic] Put the fucking lotion in the basket!

I’ve got to get to a library…fast!
No, not an intentionally camp line tossed out by Adam West’s Batman to Robin. This fevered announcement instead came from Tom Hanks in The DaVinci Code. After picking one’s self off the floor from the fit of hysterics, I think we all can agree on this: one never has to get to a library fast.

Inspector Clay is dead, murdered. And somebody’s responsible.
The infamous Ed Wood strikes again. After penning line after horrible line of incomprehensible dialogue like the examples below…

  • No one can really tell the story. Mistakes are made. But there is no mistaking the thoughts in a man’s mind. The story is begun.
  • Only the infinity of the depths of a man’s mind can really tell the story.
  • Beware! Beware of the big green dragon that sits on your doorstep. He eats little boys, puppy dog tails, and BIG FAT SNAILS. Beware… Take care… Beware!
  • …future events such as these will affect you in the future.

…Ed wrote perhaps his most stupefying line yet in Plan 9 from Outer Space, dubbed “the worst movie of all time.” In Plan 9, two moronic cops discover the body of a murdered man, and through their astounding powers of deduction, come to the whip-smart conclusion that “somebody’s responsible.” After which, moviegoers turned to each other in stunned disbelief to make sure they didn’t hear it wrong. And, of course, they hadn’t.

No more wire hangers…ever!
This juicy piece of camp acting from Mommie Dearest practically ruined Faye Dunaway’s career. In her autobiography Faye lamented the fact that the director didn’t help rein in her performance. Too bad for her; too good for exploitation lovers like us! Here’s the clip:

I’m going to ask you a straight-forward question: Isn’t it true that you have, perhaps unwillingly, acquired a certain habit through association with certain undesirable people?
WTF? This confounding query is not asked by any of the drug-addled stoners in Reefer Madness; it is asked by the stone-cold sober doctor!

What’s in the box?!
Like the taut thriller Silence of the Lambs the grim tale Se7en is critically and commercially acclaimed. As with Silence, the tension mounts and we finally find out what’s in the box. But Brad Pitt’s character is still in the dark, whining plaintively “What’s in the box?!” Using that line at parties where gifts are involved is always great fun.

Pain don’t hurt.
Actually, it does. Pain hurts. The scriptwriters on Road House who provided Patrick Swayze with this god-awful line must have suffered a collective brain cramp when insisting Patrick utter this nonsense. People the world over scratched their heads and chuckled down their shirts after hearing this pseudo macho boast.

Pazuzu, king of the evil spirits of the air, help me to find Kokumo!
This verbal turd was belched by an allegedly soused Richard Burton in one of the worst sequels of all time, Exorcist II: The Heretic. As bad as it reads on paper, believe me, hearing those words spoken drew hoots from audiences expecting better. Really? …Pazuzu? …Kokumo?

The plankton is dying.
It started out with such promise for Steven Seagal. His debut feature film Above the Law was a fine B-actioner. But over the course of his movie career Seagal’s acting skills became increasingly atrocious. And more often than not, his character preaches from such heavy-handed scripts that he achieves near-messianic stature—never mind all the torture & killings he doles out when not pontificating.

On Deadly Ground is perhaps the epitome of bad acting and woeful screenwriting. Here are a few horrid samples from that one movie:

  • I wouldn’t dirty my bullets.
  • What does it take to change the essence of man?
  • I guess it really doesn’t matter since I kind of blew up all the evidence.

The best of the worst comes in the film’s epilogue where Seagal steps onto his soapbox to give a long winded, overly serious screed about how we must save the world because—you guessed it—“…the plankton is dying.” If you’re up to the task, here’s the whole terrible, laughable diatribe… (Cue the sappy music)