2001’s Fourth Annual Mutant Awards

Welcome to the 2001 4th Annual Mutant Awards! The Golden Globes know squat about what makes good cinema. Neither do the Academy Awards, the MTV Movie Awards, the Blockbuster Awards, or that snotty kid who works the counter at your local video store. And chances are that we, your infallible Mutant guides, get it wrong from time to time as well. So here was a chance for audiences everywhere to make it right, to promote the oft-overlooked films, to grind the scum of celluloid under their Heels of Justice. Our little pal, The Mutie®, is a symbol of the Voice of the Mutant Masses. It stands for excellence, and also putridity. It is honor, and it is shame. Every year hundreds of films — past and present — on this site compete to have the Mutie forever posted in their review, and 2001 brings a round of original categories (nominated by the Mutant Reviewers staff), voted on by readers.

2001 marked our biggest voter turnout ever, with readers deluging my mailbox with their picks. Our staff got into nominating films for these interesting categories, and trust me when I say that we’re all hoping you picked OUR choices. While tallying the votes, several categories saw come-from-behind turnovers, sometimes films would be going neck and neck (and beak and beak), and of course there are the handful of odds-on favorites that outright dominated. I think you’ll find this years awards to be a fascinating read, so why jabber on any longer if we can begin?

We start with…

Best Post-Apocalyptic Cult Flick

For life after the atomic bomb (or superflu, or machine wars), nothing could come close to The Matrix. Not only an awesome sci-fi action film, The Matrix brought us into a terrifying world of darkness, computer control, and sewer surfing. Most films would have made Matrix’s post-apocalyptic setting the entire feature; here, the whole film is so busy it only gets a passing (but imaginative) glance. The Matrix won this category by the largest percentage of votes given to a film in any of our categories this year – by 39%!

Runner-ups include Ridley Scott’s dark corporate metropolis in Blade Runner (although there was much debate over whether this could be included in the post-apocalyptic genre), that awesome Neo-Tokyo setting for Akira, and the superflu-devastated wasteland of The Stand.

Best Smooch in a Cult Film

It was close, folks, REAL close. For the longest time, the Alyssa/girlfriend kiss from Chasing Amy was a clear favorite. But inch by wet, slobbery inch, The Princess Bride frenched its way into first place. It IS a kissing book, alas, and Westley and Buttercup seal the deal with the Number One Kiss of All Time at the end of the film.

Although The Princess Bride was a heavyweight contender and could be counted on to win nearly any category it was in (including Best Hats), it nearly wasn’t so. Aside from Chasing Amy, the Mikey/Andie mistaken kiss in the dark from The Goonies tied for second place. Poor Mikey.

Best Death Scene in a Cult Film

Trust the wacky Python troupe to make a morbid plague into one of the most hysterical on-screen moments of all time. In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a poor man is being disposed of before his actual death, whining “But I don’t want to go on the cart!” while his carrier and cart owner haggle over the situation. Finally, a blow to the head seals the deal, and our friend goes for one final ride.

If your pick didn’t come through on this category, don’t feel bad. Voters were divided left and right, with no clear favorite coming through. The Alien chestburster scene from Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic remains a vivid memory of bright red technocolor, and enough people saw the guy in the opening scene from Cube get, eh, cubed, to swear off sushi forever. It’s interesting to note that dark guru David Fincher tied for third place with Fight Club, which beat out his fourth place Se7en by just one vote.

Most Ridiculous Cult Film

It’s a tie! It’s a tie! In the final days of voting, The Evil Dead came up and tied for first place, honestly shocking this reviewer. Whether you consider Bruce Campbell a god among actors or not, his first feature, The Evil Dead, was a messy movie, in both acting and gore content. But the scariest thing about this category is that this many people have actually SEEN Spice World. The waning British pop group stars in their own feature filled with bad lip synching, stupid dialogue, strange episodic storylines, and unrealized cameos. Considering the quality of films Spice World went up against, it’s a true testament to the horror that it beat them all!

Tim Burton’s oh-so-strange Mars Attacks! got a lot of mentions, as did the notoriously bad video game-to-movie Super Mario Bros. (both of which strangely tied for second). The much-maligned Dude, Where’s My Car? and the cheezy Earth Girls Are Easy eeked into third and fourth place, based on the ties of the first two spots. Remember, it was a dishonor just to be nominated for this category!

Most Gratuitous Violence in a Cult Film

When a guy straps a lawnmower to his chest and plows through a lobby full of zombies, it’s a natural reaction to both squeal in disgust and also say, “Well, you don’t see that…um, ever!” Dead Alive has more zombie vengeance than all three Evil Dead flicks, and that’s saying something. Remember, kids, leave the zombie slaying to the professionals.

Proving it’s simultaneous cult and star status, The Matrix nearly won for its intense lobby shootout scene (although now all critics, including me, must add the disclaimer “Guns are very, very, very bad”). The severely disturbing and confusing skinhead night attack in The Doom Generation is something we’d much like to put firmly in the past of our memories, but enough people saw it rocket it up to #2. (We have a policy at the office of spitting every time we say the words “Doom Generation”)

Best Non-Human Character in a Cult Film

Even though the nominations for this category featured a dozen terrific characters, they never stood a chance against the cult juggernaut of Crow and Tom from Mystery Science Theater 3000. In their feature film, the robots attempt escape from their prison satellite while cracking all sorts of memorable jokes at a really bad movie. We at home live vicariously through their insults, often imitating but rarely approaching the high level of wit that only two artificial beings can achieve.

While MST3K had a clear win, Death from Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey was the definite underdog. Not as frightening nor smart as he’d like to be, this bleached Grim Reaper rapped his way into our hearts. That blue opera singing chick from The Fifth Element got a solid backing, for no apparent reason that this reviewer can see (but hey, I appreciate the arts like anyone else), and the streak with robot characters ends with 4th place, Tic-Toc from Return to Oz.

Best Time Travel Movie

Perhaps it was a shoo-in, but Marty McFly and Back to the Future had a few minutes of nervous competition. Still, the story of a guy in “modern” (mid-’80s) times using a tricked-out sports car to warp back to 1955 has all the elements of humor, adventure, time paradoxes, and imaginative makeup designs that one could ask for in a time travel film. Big props to Crispen Glover, who plays the neurotic George McFly in both the past and present.

Whether you consider it a time travel film or not, our chainsaw-weilding hero Ash collides with the middle ages in Army of Darkness, and provides a lot of modern humor in ancient times. Interesting to note that Bruce Willis’ psychadelic Twelve Monkeys beat out Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure by JUST ONE VOTE. Also, this category had Back to the Future part III competing against the first film, winning only a pathetic 2% of the vote.

Best Running Joke

Although we don’t want to get to specific into this sexual innuendo gag because of our younger readers, “37” remains a memorable running gag throughout not only all of Clerks, but also the follow-up Kevin Smith films. If you ever hear the number 37 called out in a public gathering and a couple people snicker along with you, you know who the good people are.

Clerks’ main competition came from traditional ’80s favorite, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The “Save Ferris” campaign for a non-sick guy that begins as a coin collection soon spirals into notices in the newspaper, across a water tower, and in the Cubs’ stadium. Continuing the theme of sexual running jokes, American Pie’s had its band camp jokes culminating in… well, you know, and Adventures in Babysitting with Elisabeth Shue’s lookalike in Playboy had its following. Finally, an old favorite resurfaces as Airplane! gives us the dangers of drinking problems.

Audience Favorite

We begin our “optional” categories (i.e. write-in votes). Although we had not planned on giving any awards out for these categories, after seeing mass reader response, it was inevitable. Readers picked their favorite movie that we’ve covered on the site, and Holy Grail narrowly edged out other popular flicks like Fight Club, Army of Darkness, and Evil Dead 2.

One reader wrote “Don’t make me choose!” and another noted that their favorite “changes based on the day, time, and way wind is blowing.” Perhaps next year we shall make the Audience Favorite an official category, yes?

This was definitely one of the most interesting years of the AMA so far. After last year’s exhausting “New Category Every Month” ritual (trust me, I got tired of my mailbox filling up so quickly), I though the return to the traditional ballot format would be much calmer on the soul. Not so, not so! Every day I tallied a dozen new votes or so, watching leaders in each category become destroyed by new audience picks. I’m truly surprised we had so many ties, considering the sheer number of ballots this year. A lot of people were torn between two favorites, I think. I know I was. I felt bad for movies up against huge cult favorites (like Holy Grail or Evil Dead or MST3K), but the competition proved that even if the underdog couldn’t win, it was going to make itself known.

That’s it for 2001! Hope we kept you mildly entertained, and look out for next year (2002) as we have nothing but Billy Madison in every category!

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