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Once upon a time, there was an unbelievably terribad novel series by a Gloria Tesch, self-styled as "One of the World's Youngest Novelist" (sic) named Maradonia. I have read part of it but have been hunting high and low for a copy of it either online or in person so I can do a shite novel review of them on here. After all, any book which a TV Tropes reviewer described as worse than "a rabid dog smeared with sewage and armed with a flamethrower" is right up my street for my series of writeups.

It became notable not only for its awful quality and the aggressiveness with which Gloria and her family promoted it (i.e. photo opportunities in bookshops by the bestseller racks on which they'd plonked Maradonia atop what actually were the bestsellers that week, fake talk shows, etc.) but also for Gloria and family's reaction to criticism. Which is to say, they were totally unable to take it. They completely lost their shit and came out with lines like, "Sorry guys... I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome I am." And similar. Legal actions were threatened, natch, and Maradonia became a byword for terrible, self-published novels, and Gloria herself became what less salubrious corners of the internets refer to as a lolcow for her and her family's constant unwarranted self-importance and delusionality. Apparently there was going to be a Maradonia film series and a Maradonia theme park.

Flash forward to 2016. Gloria has attempted to brilliantly (?) reinvent herself as a model, and actress, and a singer (in which she produced some awful low budget videos of herself singing bad club/dance/urban songs under the name "Goldilocks") and then married an Uber driver. However, what you probably don't know is that a Maradonia film was, somehow (possibly by nefarious means), funded, made, and then shelved. But a copy of it leaked onto YouTube and I was quick enough off the mark to download the thing and watch it so you don't have to! Joy to the world! Halleluia! Glory be!

What's it like, I hear you ask?

Laughably bad.

You know how Manos, the Hands of Fate was recorded in 30-second bursts and without sound, and the dialogue was edited in over the top because they didn't have the equipment to record sound? Maradonia is almost as ineptly produced. It features huge amounts of greenscreening, costumes from a fancy dress website, awful acting (including Gloria herself as one of the protagonists, natch), ill-fitting music wanking all over the place and almost drowning out the dialogue, and out-and-out stolen footage from other works, which is easy to detect because the stolen bits are the competent bits. Put simply, leaving aside the terrible source material, I could produce a better film using the camera on my smartphone and Windows Movie Maker, despite never having gone to film school, and you can quote me on that. That is how giftedly bad Maradonia is. During the back story infodump you see the big bad, Apollyon, doing a whole being Lucifer thing, pride and rebellion, but "the Light King" then cast him out along with his minions. This is portrayed by a terrible greenscreen effect with a few random people all gurning and doing claw-hands with marker pen smeared all over their faces.

Thankfully after a few minutes of this, stock footage ensues with more infodump narration. The plot, such as it is, involves this Apollyon who is clearly a stand in for Lucifer, who will know his limitations when two children arrive in his realm after "the silver birds attack the twin brothers." Yes. Gloria made a prophecy about 9/11 a plot point of her terrible, awful book / film / whatever. Deary me. Anyhow. the two children arrive in his realm by being exhorted to "get yo' ass over the fence, dumbshit!" and then we're treated to Apollyon failing to chew the scenery about how "failure to prepare is preparation for failure!" Twice.

Fun Fact: Apollyon and his lot are called the Evil Empire. No seriously. That's actually what they call themselves. They have a Club of Evil as well. And a Water Park of Evil. I'll just let that sink in for a moment.

The rest of the film is basically stolen from Mean Girls, Paradise Lost, Narnia, and Lord of the Rings, only as if these other works were filmed and acted by burbling idiots. Gloria (for it is she) plays her Mary Sue self insert character Maya with the usual supercilious expression she had throughout her self-promotion jag for her terrible self-published novel on which this is based and the music continues to wank over everything. This has the unintentionally hilarious effect of, when Maya beats the crap out of a bully and thus makes everyone like her (because Mary Sue), having Hans Zimmer-alike music all over a terribly unconvincing brawl.

Maya's brother Joey, the film's deuteragonist (or maybe deuteragony, I don't know) is played by a bloke who looks twice as old as all his friends who are supposed to be teenagers. As such, I kept expecting Chris Hansen to materialise and tell him to take a seat right over there. It wasn't a good look. But then his entire function in the story is to explain just how wonderful and popular Maya is to everyone, so he's sort of her Mary Sue cheerleader squad. Yeah. It's that sort of film.

I can't watch more than ten or twenty minutes of this film at a time without suffering from a combination of urges - firstly, to laugh until I asphyxiate, and secondly, to be suffused with the shame that I'm voluntarily watching it and the subsequent desire to run off a cliff. So this writeup is taking inordinately long. Anyhow. After a fall into a rather shallow swimming pool at a party that isn't a party, some unconvincing birds, and further merriment at the film's inability to shoot straight... ahhh, sod it. I'm just going to write stream of consciousness as I watch. Creepy bicycle man, Gloria on the beach, stock footage of fish, Gloria fanservice, fish, fanservice, Gloria's character hearing voices from far away in her head, music wanking over everything, Gloria talking to herself about doves (which I thought were seagulls because they were, in fact, played by seagulls), Joey disappearing, and then all of a sudden, everything's horribly solarized and has a purply-pink tinge to it. Stock footage, low budget cave, bad guys with knitted chainmail and katanas for no apparent reason, next day, packing to go back to the cave, stock footage, music still wanking over everything, more stock footage, bad guys again. For no apparent reason every fifteen minutes or so the sound cuts out for a couple of seconds and I can't see any reason why it might do that. Into the cave, bad guys walking after them deliberately uncomfortably, more stock footage, greenscreening of the unconvincing variety, OMG A MERMAID! At least there's not music any more, just really overly loud background noises. Still no sign of a plot though. Gloria still can't act. Though neither can anyone else. Unconvincing earthquake, more stock footage, and then all of a sudden Gloria gained pink highlights that she didn't previously have. Or maybe that was just more random solarization. I don't know.

Either way, at this point I kinda gave up. I couldn't handle it any more. I got to 40 minutes 38 seconds which means about another hour to go. Bearing in mind that my tolerance for terrible writing and artistic / literary ineptitude is quite high (I got to chapter 3 on The Eye of Argon Challenge), this is saying something.

The film is, in fact, still up on YouTube although unlisted so you can't find it even if searching for it because Team Tesch lawyers reportedly have been throwing around legal threats. However, if you want to suffer through it as well, /msg me, and I'll send you the link. Just keep it to yourself and make sure to download it through a third-party downloading site because I can't guarantee its continued viability. But, if you want to see a film that is more technically inept than Manos: the Hands of Fate, worse acted than Plan 9 from Outer Space, more embarrassing than the Star Wars Holiday Special, and a bigger vanity project than The Room and with more meme potential, then I can't stop you.

I will say this in its favour. Once you've seen Maradonia, everything else will look and feel better in comparison.

(IN16/13)

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