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10 Best of the Worst Films
What is it about bad movies we love so much? It’s perhaps the same interest that compels us to watch train wrecks, car crashes and buildings implode. We’re just addicted to disasters. However, if the tides are right and the stars are aligned, one fortunate bad movie will luck out and receive the attention that it never even dreamed it’d have. Suddenly, that implausible plot is plausible, that atrocious acting is Shakespearean, and those horrific special effects would make James Cameron weep tears of bitter jealousy. These are just some of the best of the worst films, in no particular order. And there are many more diamonds in the rough, so give us your favorites in the comments!
Premise: Thousands of years ago, a megalodon and giant octopus were frozen in place during an epic battle. Cut to the present, when the glacier they were trapped in breaks apart, thawing these ancient foes and unleashing them back into the oceans. The monstrous creatures cause havoc across the globe, so it’s up to a special team of scientists to work with the government to ensure these living legends are no longer a threat to humanity.
What’s Bad: Oh a number of things. Besides the fact that the Giant Octopus can whip its tentacle at a fighter jet and knock it out of the sky, Mega Shark can bite into the Golden Gate Bridge, and protagonist Debby Gibson is mankind’s one shot at surviving this horrific ordeal, there are still far too many issues contradicting the believability of the film.
How That Becomes Gold: The conglomeration of overacting, poor production and the slap across the face to every law of physics, transcends absurdity into brilliance. When you consider the magnitude of the premise, you can, at least, appreciate the filmmaker’s efforts to capture these fascinating creatures on film, even if octopi aren’t normally this aggressive (the use of camouflage would have cut this film down exponentially, but we don’t want that now, do we?).
Highlight: While I’m partial to the scene where Debby Gibson’s horrifically acted boss berates her, the real beauty of the film can be witnessed in the iconic scene when Mega Shark brings down a passenger airliner from several thousand feet in the air, after jumping out of the ocean, propelled by its own awesome force of prehistoric mojo.
Premise: An alien race (you know they’re aliens because they spell clowns with a “K”) prey on a small town, where they begin to harvest humans to feed all those aboard their circus tent spaceship. The appearance of the aliens is their biggest advantage, making the townsfolk believe they are nothing more than quirky clowns. It’s up to the local police to stop the murderous alien jesters before they kill everyone, and spread out to neighboring cities.
What’s Bad: An evil alien race that looks like Earth-based clowns – does that not provide enough of an answer? Okay, I’ll go on. They use a variety of whimsical weapons that are seemingly harmless, like their rabid balloon animal bloodhounds, their tangible savage shadow creatures, and ray guns that encase a human morsel into a cotton candy cocoon. Somewhere, the Joker is desperately searching for his favorite bludgeoning tool.
How That Becomes Gold: Again, you’re looking at a premise that is so far-fetched, it works. Killer Klowns became a cult classic for its (surprisingly) original premise, outlandish use of puppets and distinctive costumes. Plus, anything that can agitate our coulrophobia is going to be memorable, if not scarring (check out Listverse’s own clown homage).
Highlight: “Whaddya gonna do? Knock my block off?” Local gangsters face one of the aliens, and begin to tease it, only to then destroy its tricycle afterward. How does the alien respond? By punching the thug’s head straight off his neck and into a trash can. I think we learned who the real monster is, here. Kids, don’t pick on others.
Premise: A family goes on vacation to a town called Nilbog (hold your monitor up to a mirror to decode the secret behind the town name). During the course of their stay, they come to realize that the area is inhabited by a kingdom of vegetarian trolls, that trick humans into eating or drinking a concoction that would then turn them into a plant. It’s up to the family to discover a way to ward off the trolls, and survive the frightening experience.
What’s Bad: Everything. The acting, costumes, plot and special effects (floating dead grandpa head isn’t a winner in any movie) were each more terrible than the last. If there was ever a movie that seemed like it was made in a week, with only a few bucks and old camera equipment, this is it. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe the trolls in the movie are ever even identified as trolls; they’re called goblins.
How That Becomes Gold: Troll 2 is the epitome of this list’s theme: its badness eclipsed our ability to reason, and we ended up falling in love. It even gained its own cult following, and recently spawned a documentary honoring the film and its actors. There are a ton of fans who would argue that this film was a thing of beauty.
Highlight: Three words: “Oh my God!”
Premise: A young couple is stranded in the middle of nowhere after their car gets a flat tire. They arrive at the nearest residence, to ask the head of the household if they may use his phone, when they find they’ve stumbled upon a festival of sorts. The castle is home to a scientist named Dr. Frank N. Furter, whose madness is more than apparent. It’s up to the couple (notice a trend yet?) to survive the night with these strange people, who conceal a terrible secret.
What’s Bad: Now, I’m probably going to get an angry mob chasing after me for putting this film on the list (the cult following is cut-throat!) but hear me out. Transvestites from outer space. Already you can see the issue with the plot, right? All the lunatics in Dr. Furter’s castle (which is also a spaceship) are aliens from the planet Transsexual. Come on, fans. Even you can admit that’s out there. On paper, this movie has a lot of issues.
How That Becomes Gold: However, no matter what argument I can make, I’m going to be wrong because this is probably one of the only movies on this list which people genuinely believe was great. Why? Well the music is fun to sing along with, the dancing adds a nice kick to the action and the plot, as insane as it turned out, is intriguing. And yes, I’ll admit it – Tim Curry was working that corset.
Highlight: Besides Curry in fishnets? Probably the Time Warp song and dance number that introduces our young heroes to the castle inhabitants. It’s so unexpected for them and for the audience, and it’s really only the start of the insanity for both parties. Be forewarned. It’s catchy!
Premise: Does it matter? There are snakes on a plane! Alright, alright. A quick summary: A man witnesses a murder. Two FBI agents escort him from Hawaii to Los Angeles, so that he may testify against the murderer. Once their flight is discovered, a crate full of venomous snakes is planted on the plane, to ensure this witness won’t survive the trip. It’s up to the FBI agents to ensure the plane lands safely, and its passengers are protected from these reptilian villains.
What’s Bad: Snakes on a plane. Everything you need to know about what makes this film horrible is in the title. And while there’s a lot more that adds to its list of awful flaws, we should all be most upset over the special effects. Clearly, whoever was in charge of making those snakes look believable had never actually seen a snake move. When you have snakes hissing like cats, striking like cracks of a whip, and biting with an aim not even skilled archers have, you lose credibility.
How That Becomes Gold: Snakes on a plane. Even before the film was released, it became an internet sensation, when the trailer slithered onto the scene. Everything about this movie seemed so ridiculous that people couldn’t help but revel in the scales, screams and venom. It became the kind of film you’d watch when you have friends over, you need a good laugh and a reason to quote Samuel Jackson. And speaking of which…
Highlight(s): Samuel Jackson. Mile high club death. Heel to the ear. Kenan Thompson landing the plane. Crotch bites. And of course, snakes on a plane!
Premise: A criminal known as Mr. Freeze stages a number of robberies through Gotham City, while Poison Ivy, another dangerous villain, is gaining her own notoriety through use of her plant manipulating powers. It’s up to Batman, with the aid of his sidekick Robin, to stop these two fiends before they destroy the city and move on to their plans of dominating the world.
What’s Bad: As a DC Comics fan, I couldn’t possibly tell you everything wrong with this, but I’ll boil it down to a few problems. It’s campy, contrived, poorly acted, badly written and so outlandish that it’s a surprise Batman’s reputation wasn’t completely sullied by Schumacher’s vision. Plus, there were nipples on the Batman suit. Is it really important to know where his nipples would be if he wasn’t wearing that suit? I want an answer!
How That Becomes Gold: Apparently, the nipples have an audience. Batman and Robin became such a joke that, instead of cringing, people were laughing along with it. Many hardcore fans excuse the film by saying it was a literal interpretation of a Batman comic book, back in the Silver Age of comics (1950s-1970s) while others simply adore the cheesy one-liners.
Highlight: Definitely the ice puns. “Let’s kick some ice!”
Premise: When a trained astronaut is unable to properly utilize the navigation system aboard the spaceship scheduled to be used in the first manned mission to Mars, its original programmer replaces him. Fred Randall is a clumsy nerd with good intentions, who has always dreamed of traveling in space. He joins the crew, only to realize his accident prone nature is just as bad in zero-gravity as it is on Earth. They arrive on Mars and are met with terrible sand storms, leaving it up to Randall to save them before they lose power completely.
What’s Bad: Now this movie is a personal pick and I’ll tell you why: there’s so many cornball, awkward and utterly foolish aspects to this film that, right away, people should have known to stay clear of it (as we know, Disney is not celebrated for their live-action comedies). It relies heavily on slapstick humor to highlight the bumbling protagonist’s childlike mentality, the premise is ridiculous and insulting to the arduous training and tests real astronauts must endure, and there’s a chimpanzee sidekick to, I don’t know, make primates interested in watching. The point is, the movie is just silly!
How That Becomes Gold: It’s charming. All those bad qualities of the film boil down to a surprisingly entertaining space story (although, most of that credit belongs to comedian and protagonist of the film, Harland Williams, for his wide-eyed, astronaut-wannabe performance). So then, yes, I can believe he accidentally eats hemorrhoid cream, that the chimpanzee steals his hypersleep pod, and that a klutz could become a space hero. The film is just another guilty pleasure.
Highlight: The announcement, of course!
Premise: A rock band travels to an abandoned barn in rural Canada, where a studio has been built for them to record their new album. They’re taken aback to learn that the area is haunted by armies of Satan. Band members are consumed, one rocker at a time, until only the lead singer is left. Little does Beelzebub know that this headbanger conceals a secret that’s as ancient, and powerful, as the ruler of Hell himself.
What’s Bad: Have I used “cornball,” “camp” and “lame” too many times already, or can I get away with using those words again? That’s, essentially, what this B-horror rock opera is, in the end. The special effects are atrocious and the acting makes you roll your eyes. Not to mention the dialogue! The list goes on and on here. However…
How That Becomes Gold: This is an awesomely bad fun movie. You’d actually be shocked to hear the music in the film is both rockin’ and rollin’ (it’s all hair/glam rock if you’re into that)! In fact, the soundtrack alone excuses a lot of the campiness and contrivances, much like another musically-inclined film in this list. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself loving this action-packed movie and all its flaws.
Highlight: The starfish fight. “When will you ever learn?”
Premise: A dimensional-jumping device, pointed at Duckworld, inadvertently brings an anthropomorphic alien named Howard to Earth. He finds himself stranded on this strange new world, searching for a way to get back home. Meanwhile, he confronts another alien that refers to himself as the Dark Overlord of the Universe. It’s up to Howard and the friends he’s made on Earth to stop the Dark Overlord from bringing more of his kind to this dimension.
What’s Bad: He’s a duck. He’s a talking, cigar smoking, music-loving duck. Granted the film is based on a Marvel Comics character, so we, at least, know he wasn’t an original idea made for film, but still! He’s a duck! The science in the movie is a mix of cool sounding jargon that doesn’t have any real significance, the plot jumps all over the place, and the action sequences are laughable. Did I mention it was produced by George Lucas? Not that I’m suggesting anything though…
How That Becomes Gold: Once you reconfigure your mind to accept Duckworld and its inhabitants, like Howard, the movie’s fun to watch. So what if most of it doesn’t sense? The music is great, Lea Thompson looks hot in the film and Howard is one cool cat that knows how to party (er, metaphorically speaking).
Highlight: The clip above. I’m not sure how to describe it so I’ll just show you. If this doesn’t make you cringe and laugh at the same time, nothing will. I can’t imagine what was going through Lea Thompson’s mind when she filmed this.
Premise: The Elder Gods hold a fighting tournament once every generation to keep the realms from initiating war. However, if the Outworld wins ten consecutive times, evil emperor Shao Kahn will invade Earthrealm. Raiden, this realm’s defender, chooses three fighters to win the tournament and keep Shao Kahn from invading. It’s up to them to defeat the monsters and villains trying to conquer Earthrealm, while battling with their own demons and desires of vengeance.
What’s Bad: It’s lame. If you watch the fighting sequences, you can almost count along with the actors and predict their next move. It falls into a routine that looks so robotically engineered, it becomes distracting. The acting, too, is exaggerated; either actors show no emotions, or too much, through strange facial expressions. I won’t even get into the special effects because you can see that for yourself in the clip above.
How That Becomes Gold: The opening credits tell you everything you should expect from this movie, and it delivers. It doesn’t promise to be an Oscar worthy film. Instead it says, “We’re going to blow your mind by fighting the entire time to rapid techno rock music.” And they do! It’s an exciting movie that pumps you up and makes you want punch someone, in a good way (if that’s possible).
Highlight: Any and all fight sequences.
Honorable Mention: Plan Nine from Outer Space, Manos: Hands of Fate, and The Room