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10 Movies That Are So Bad They Are Good
One of the things I like about Listverse is the way that some lists can be so divisive, especially the lists about movies. Film preference is certainly a matter of taste and opinion, however, there are certain qualities to some films that make them truly good, such as script, direction, cinematography, acting. Not that these things guarantee everyone will love a movie or not. For example, not everyone will like Citizen Kane, however, there is absolutely no way anyone could deny the lasting power and influence the film has had on the industry. Which makes it a great movie. But what about the opposite? What are some films that are so poorly executed, so brazenly bad that they actually may be fun to watch? Sure, the scripts are lame, the acting is deplorable and the direction is shoddy at best, but there’s no denying the sheer joyful ineptitude of these films. I’m not talking about the simply bad films, (such as Transformers 2; Showgirls; Howard The Duck; Speed 2; Catwoman, and heaven forbid, Battlefield Earth). Those are just crappy films that are impossible to sit through. The films on this list have chutzpah. They have their hearts in the right place, if not the camera direction or script or acting. You actually can sit through these and enjoy them for what they are: so bad, they’re good.
Note: this is by no means a “top 10” list. The selections were based on a variety of reviewers, articles, popularity and an informal survey.
This 1957 clunker is a bad classic for one reason and one reason only: the completely ludicrous bird puppet used as the monster, probably the absolute worst monster ever to appear on film. Apparently, due to budget constraints, after the actors were done shooting, the film was sent to Mexico for the special effects—at very little cost and without oversight by the director or producers, When the got the footage back, they were completely aghast, but had no choice to release the film as is. The resulting film has people reciting serious dialogue about a horrifying creature, then being frightened out of their skulls by this giant flying misshapen goose or something out of a sick kids’ show, with googly eyes and a hairy feather coming out of its head. One bonus is that it features the extremely hot Mara Corday who starred in a number of these giant beast flicks in the ‘50s.
Favorite scene: Anytime the giant claw is on the screen.
Other laughably bad monster movies: Attack of the Giant Leeches (A guy in a trashbag), The Killer Shrews (Dogs wearing shag carpets), The Crawling Eye (A giant crawling eyeball!), C.H.U.D. (sewer creatures), The Monolith Monsters (Rocks.), Sting of Death (A guy becomes part jellyfish!!), Attack of the 50-Foot Woman.
Made as a parody of horror flicks in 1978, this film is a parody in itself. It never takes itself seriously and has a lot of very funny moments, but there’s no denying the ineptitude of everyone involved in it. Of course, how do you make a ‘good’ movie about the world being attacked by killer mutant tomatoes? So why make it in the first place? Because it’s damn fun.
Favorite scene: The underwater sequence as tomatoes attack swimmer a la Jaws.
Other laughably bad killer tomato movies: Return of the Killer Tomatoes (featuring a young George Clooney), and Killer Tomatoes Strike Back, and Killer Tomatoes Eat France.
Released 20 years ago, this chancre sore on the ass of film history is now gaining a cult following as one of the worst movies ever made. In fact, a new documentary called “Best Worst Movie” centers around one of the actors who is now a dentist, and the following Troll 2 has amassed. This movie is so reprehensibly bad, it is almost too much to sit through. But with the right frame of mind, and a few bong hits, it’s actually quite enjoyably awful. The plot revolves around little evil trolls taking over a small town because no one there knows how to deliver a line. Or something like that.
Favorite scene: A nerdy guy delivers a ridiculous line with painful gusto: “They’re eating her! And then they’re going to eat me! Oh my Goooooodddddd!” Clever!
Other laughably bad sequels: Ghoulies 2, Return to Oz (creepy as hell, but interesting to watch), Grease 2 (embarrassingly funny and bad), Jaws: The Revenge (another giant shark? Oh puh-leeze! And Michael Caine with a bad accent.)
This epic from 1964 is on many “Worst Movies of All-Time” lists, and for good reason. It’s bad. But it’s also so much fun on many levels, starting out with the bubble gum pop theme song, to the use of Whammo Air-Blaster guns as Martian weapons, to the sight of a young Pia Zedora as a Martian girl. The story revolves around said Martian children being depressed that kids on earth get to celebrate Christmas and they don’t. The solution is to kidnap Santa and bring him to Mars. Much hilarity and many hijinks ensue. Of course, all works out in the end and both Mars and Earth get to celebrate the holiday!
Favorite scene: The attack of the man in a polar bear costume. Complete with zipper up the back!
Other laughable holiday movies: Santa Claus (a creepy Mexican import), Jingle All The Way (Arnold trying to get the ungettable toy. Bad but fun!) Ernest Saves Christmas (bad, but who can hate Ernest?)
The term “schlock” started being used to describe films back in the ‘50s or so. It means something cheap, shoddy or inferior. And it’s been used to describe this 1975 film from infamously schlocky director/actor Paul Bartel (Lust in the Dust, Eating Raoul). The premise is that in the future, there will be a cross country car race in which pedestrians can be run down for extra points. The movie stars David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone, a year before the release of Rocky. It’s so over the top, that the overacting works. The cars are very cool and there is plenty of action.
Favorite scene: Nurses at a senior citizen’s home wheel the old folks out to the middle of the highway in wheelchairs for the drivers to plow through. Yee haaa!
Other laughably bad films with dystopian visions of the future: Rollerball (original), The Running Man, Waterworld
A B-movie is one that was made to follow a main feature, usually produced on a smaller budget, with lesser known talent and little studio support. The Blob may be one of the biggest B-movies of the ‘50s, if only because it’s still an all-time crowd pleaser and it featured Steve McQueen in his first role. It’s the simple story of boy takes girl to make-out point, meteor carrying a flesh eating blob lands on earth, and teens try to convince adults that there’s danger afoot. The famous “running out of the theater” scene is reenacted every year during Blobfest in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, where the film was mostly shot. (the theater is still intact). There are so many memorable scenes in this one, but even Steve McQueen has a hard time delivering some of his putrid lines.
Favorite scene: Watch some of the people running out of the theater. They seem to be having a great time. One woman actually falls and no one helps her up.
Other laughably bad teens in danger films: Night of the Creeps, Idle Hands, I was a Teenage Werewolf, Teenagers from Outer Space
With all due respect to the departed Patrick Swayze, this movie has become known as one of the best camp classics ever. Other than the fact that Swayze goes bare-chested every so often, this is one for the guys. Lots of brutal, bloody fistfighting, nudity, southern rock soundtrack, guns, knives and explosions. Something for everyone! Released in 1989, the film was a decent box office hit, but has now found it’s home as a cult favorite. The story is simple. Swayze’s character is a tough bouncer hired to take care of a bar, when he comes up against some evil guys who want to fight and stuff. It really doesn’t matter. This is pure campy fun, that is perfect to make fun of.
Favorite line: “Pain don’t hurt.”
Other laughably bad fight films: They Live, Any Billy Jack sequel, Dolemite
In 1953, sci-fi movies were all the rage. Films like War of the Worlds or Invaders from Mars played to peoples’ fears of aliens from outer space, while really being metaphors for the “red menace” that everyone in America dreaded. Among the lesser films of this genre would be Robot Monster. Director Phil Tucker put a guy in a gorilla suit and a diving helmet, went out to Bronson Canyon in California (the site of many western film and TV shoots) and cobbled together the most bizarre tale of alien invasion ever. I don’t want to get into the plot and spoil it for you, but there are Ro-men, a gorgeous love interest, a hunky scientist, some inserted stock footage of lizards in dinosaur costumes battling it out, flying saucers on sticks, and a couple of annoying kids. It’s a blast.
Favorite scene: The family decides it would be a good idea to picnic in the middle of a hot, rocky canyon and take a nap under the blistering sun.
Other laughably bad alien invasion movies: Little Shop of Horrors (the original version, not the fun musical), Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Monster A Go-Go
If Plan 9 is the granddaddy of laughably inept filmmaking, then Manos is the bastard red-headed stepchild. The brainchild of then fertilizer salesmen, Harold P. Warren, in 1966, it’s definitely a pile of crap. The film had practically disappeared until the geniuses at Mystery Science Theater 3000 found it and lampooned it. Which is probably the best way to watch it. The plot revolves around a family’s roadtrip that goes horribly wrong when they wind up in a mysterious ranch that happens to be some sort of devil worshipping pagan cult. The real star is Torgo, a brainless manservant of “the master,” who for some reason has giant swollen knees. What? Yeah, giant knees. The film was shot on a hand held camera that needed winding every so often, so no shot lasts longer than 32 seconds or so. And since it was shot without sound, the voices were all dubbed, mostly by only two or three people, so everyone sounds vaguely alike. It may be painful to sit through, but with a bunch of people and a good sense of humor, this is a bucket of fun.
Favorite scene: The Master sentences Torgo to die. Two of the Master’s wives claw at Torgo to “kill” him. Then his hand falls off in a fire. Huh?
Other laughably bad similar films: Nothing compares to this one.
The true granddaddy of entertaining inept filmmaking, this Golden Turkey winner is a true classic. Immortalized by Tim Burton in the great film “Ed Wood,” this was to be the director’s magnum opus, but instead it’s a top notch pile of crap. I find it incredibly watchable, if only to laugh at the passionate way some of these “actors” deliver their lines. The story of aliens making the dead rise to help stop the earth from discovering “solarbanite” has all the makings of a sci-fi/horror epic. But alas, that would never be. Instead, we get shots that switch from day to night and back again, an obvious stand-in for Bela Legosi (who died long before actual shooting began and appears only from footage Wood shot earlier), and sets right out of someone’s basement. (a shower curtain is the cockpit door on a plane, tombstones fall over when someone trips over the fake grass, and alien spacecrafts hung on wires wobble over shots of Hollywood.) This is great stuff, and will truly be enjoyed with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
Favorite scene: The fey alien berates the earthlings by yelling, “Stupid humans! Stupid! STUPID!!” Now that’s dialogue.
Other laughable films from the Ed Wood Canon: Bride of the Monster, Glen or Glenda?, Orgy of the Dead
Honorable “so bad, they’re good” mentions: Army of Darkness, The Beastmaster, Pink Flamingos, Flash Gordon, The Toxic Avenger, Valley Girl, Reanimator, My Life’s In Turnaround, Buckaroo Banzai, Blacula, Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster