Andy Warhol’s Bad / Bad (1977)

Andy Warhol’s Bad / Bad (1977)

“People are so sick. The more you see ’em, the sicker they look. You could be so nice, if you didn’t wanna be a creep!”

When a male assassin (Perry King) arrives at her house, a housewife (Carroll Baker) running an electrolysis trade and an all-female murder-for-hire business out of her home finds her life disrupted, as her dumpy daughter-in-law (Susan Tyrell) with a fussy baby becomes increasingly distressed about the level of meanness and violence all around her, and a corrupt cop (Charles McGregor) pressures Baker into giving him the name of a perpetrator.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Black Comedy
  • Carroll Baker Films
  • Hit Men

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “satirical look at a completely rotten society” — “perhaps the most ridiculous film ever distributed by a Hollywood company (Roger Corman’s New World Pictures)” — is “also the only Andy Warhol film to at least ‘look’ like a mainstream film.” He points out that 26-year-old director “Jed Johnson wisely kept his characters under tight control, making sure they delivered their preposterous dialogue… in a very off-key manner,” and as a result, “this absurd black comedy” — which “deserves more of a cult than it has” — “beats the odds and works beautifully”. He notes that “the main thrust of the humor has less to do with the overtly outrageous violent acts than with characters’ simply being mean to one another or pulling cruel jokes to intimidate those people they don’t like.” Interestingly, “nothing is taken seriously except a poignant scene between King and an autistic boy,” leading Peary to argue that “unlike John Waters, Warhol doesn’t treat truly sensitive subjects irresponsibly” (well, it’s all relative, I guess!).

Peary goes into further detail about this absurdly dark comedy in his first Cult Movies book, where he points out “it has always been the intention of Warhol and his directors to ‘disturb’ the American audience’s movie-watching sensibilities as conditioned over the years by the dominant Hollywood product.” Warhol forces us “to accept his redefinition of cinema” — indeed, his characters “are so nasty that they’d give that Richard Widmark villain of Kiss of Death (1947), who kicks an old lady in a wheelchair down a flight of stairs, a good run for his money.” For instance, “working on a contract for Mrs. Aiken, P.G. [Stefania Casini] lowers a car on a garage mechanic’s legs”; a mother (Susan Blond) who’s “too impatient to wait for the hired assassins” “tosses her crying baby out the window herself; Glenda [Geraldine Smith] and Marsha [Maria Smith] even go so far as to stab a dog with a sharp knife.” And that’s not even mentioning the wanton pyromania that goes on in both a movie house and a car. I’m curious how many film fanatics these days are familiar with and/or interested in Warhol’s work, given that more recent directors have continued to push the envelop in terms of what’s “acceptable” to put on screen or not — however, Warhol’s film-making factory remains an important enough part of underground cinema history that I believe his major films (like this one) should continue to be one-time must-see viewing.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Carroll Baker as Mrs. Aiken
  • Susan Tyrrell as Mary Aiken
  • Many bizarrely memorable scenes

Must See?
Yes, once, for its cult status.


  • Cult Movie


One thought on “Andy Warhol’s Bad / Bad (1977)

  1. Agreed; a once-must cult flick. As per my 10/6/19 post in ‘Revival House of Camp & Cult’ (fb):

    This is a genuine (and under-appreciated) cult classic… if you can get beyond the admittedly disgusting opening sequence. Highly unlikely it will ever be restored (much less given the 4K treatment) so most prints might be inferior.

    How the hell they ever got Carroll Baker to agree to this is a small ‘miracle’ but it’s doubtful she’s ever been funnier. Same goes for Susan Tyrrell and Perry King. Very special mention goes to Stefania Casini. Even Lenny Bruce’s daughter Kitty is here!

    On a sad note: Director Jed Johnson (this was the only film he directed but he had edited ‘Blood for Dracula’, ‘Flesh for Frankenstein’ and ‘Heat’) was on-board an ill-fated TWA flight in 1996 (concluded as not terrorist-related but most likely a short circuit).

    Most interesting tidbit: a friend of mine was an art appraiser and was often called on to evaluate the Warhol collection – so he knew many in that crowd and had met Pat Hackett, who wrote ‘Bad’. What he said about her shocked me: You would think from watching the film that Hackett had a wicked sense of humor but, according to my buddy, she had absolutely NO sense of humor at all – in fact, she was on the glum side. So whatever humor comes from the film is a result of how the actors played their parts and how Johnson directed.

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