I’ve ruminated on this list long enough I believe. In the spirit of my recent post about lists not really being finished, I’ll just go with what I have at my disposal currently and spitball it. For the mutual convenience of myself and whomever may read this, I will split the list into four posts.
Now, I did, as most who have compiled this list recently, have to examine what makes a movie both bad and one I can enjoy because of that. There were a few different directions I could’ve gone with this list. I could’ve picked some films universally considered to be bad that I like and I don’t care who knows it (A few of those can be found here). I could’ve picked the rare film that’s so bad that it’s good, which in my mind are few and far between, and I won’t argue if you believe there’s no such thing.
What I decided to do instead was to pick movies that I find to be bad, however, that I still enjoy certain things about them (badness included), and in many cases I have given them more than one viewing due to their uniquely awesome awfulness.
Now, without much further ado, my selections:
Troll 2 (1990)
To put it simply, Troll 2 was the first movie that ever struck me as being so bad that I had to have it. That and its all out ridiculousness are what really prompted me to acquire it after I randomly saw it on TV. Little did I know at the time that I was not alone in my ‘enjoyment’ of it. Only when I read online about Best Worst Movie‘s impending release did I learn about its cult status. For that alone, it belongs here because that doc proves there’s something unique about bad movies as opposed to other artforms, and the fact that Stephenson embraced the phenomenon and spun it into something quite special makes it even better.
This Island Earth (1955)
The story I have with this movie is a bit similar to the one above; I only came to know This Island Earth through Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. Later on, I learned that it was seen by some as a bit of a controversial choice as it does have a legion of admirers, and I started noticing it popping up in many films like E.T. and Explorers.
However, when you’ve seen something enough (and sometimes it doesn’t have to be that much) it’s easy enough to separate how bad it is from how bad MST3K is making it look. The film is quite silly, it’s characters range from transparent to dimensionless, the dialogue ranges from trite to awkward and it’s more unintentionally funny than anything else.
When thinking upon it, I can see the attraction to some, but it’s no Forbidden Planet or anything of that ilk in my book. This is a movie I’d find hilarious without MST3K’s help. However, the dialogue, the characters, the pauses and the plot all serve up so many softballs that the guys really hit it out of the park early and often. It is almost as if the movie was made to be lampooned by them. In fact, a friend of mine unfamiliar with both this film and the MST3K format, thought it was!
Essentially, it’s the kind of bad movie you could never, ever hate, but I do find it bad and hilarious. “Not even a moth equipped with a lighting bug could fly through that!” says Joe about the fog. Hilarious indeed.
Maximum Overdrive (1986)
This entry is one of quite a bit of distinction; when I was writing a paper on Stephen King in a horror/sci-fi class I made this film the fulcrum because not only is it the only feature film King ever directed, but it’s also based on one of his short stories, “Trucks.”
Partially due to the paper, I’ve seen this film quite a few times. Try as I might to like it, and though I can find good in it, it’s a film where I have to agree with his own assessment of it; it’s not good. However, it’s the kind of not good worthy of repeat viewings simply due to some of the factors involved: His direction, an on camera appearance by Yeardley Smith (aka The voice of Lisa Simpson), Emilio Esteves’s awesomeness, the AC/DC score, the vending machine kill, Holter Graham, Pat Hingle, Stephen King’s almost Creepshow-over-the-top cameo, and some of the humor.
By this point, I’ve listed so much stuff that you’d wonder what makes it bad? Well, the story just doesn’t work, it’s not one of his better short stories to start with and the film ends up being too scattered to be as effective as it could be. For a more in-depth explication, I will be posting the aforementioned paper in a serialized format in September.
Santa’s Slay (2005)
Here’s one I did a 61 Days of Halloween post on. This movie is essentially what this list is about for the most part; if you’re going to go down, go down with guns blazing. You’d think that a film that featured wrestler-turned-actor Goldberg as Santa would have that as its weirdest component, but that’s not nearly the oddest thing about this film. This film is essentially about how Santa’s homicidal maniac tendencies have been thwarted by the fact that he lost a game of something akin to curling 1000 years ago. The casting is odd, but at times inspired and features a good turn by Douglas Smith, and it is trying to be funny often and succeeds. Therefore, it’s one of the better bad movies on this list.
Tourist Trap (1979)
Another way of sneaking on to the list aside from general watchability, some originality and being funny is by having one truly standout scene. Tourist Trap after a while just doesn’t cut it for me, it really doesn’t. However, I will always recall the plaster death scene. It’s the kind of thing that can redeem the decision to watch the movie in its entirety. The rest of it is either been there done that or not really that well executed, but this one idea, is sure to get under almost anyone’s skin and is truly well done.
The next five will be up tomorrow!