We all know what a good movie is like, or at least we think we do. So conversely we know a bad movie when we see it. There is no shortage of bad movies. Hollywood cranks them out every year like hotcakes with the most common being comedies without laughs, stupid comic book superheroes, tearjerker chick flicks and the mad slasher horror movie. Some are so unbelievably bad it's a small miracle it was ever made, much less given distribution. But every so often we find the silver lining in a bad movie. Some are so gloriously awful, we watch with a certain awe, and laugh out loud at a weird character and bizarre dialogue. Am I really hearing this? Did he say that with a straight face? Nothing much makes sense, but who cares because we know we will be laughing our head off at the next ridiculous scene. To paraphrase H.L. Mencken, (the movie) is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash. So here we have a collection of movies that earned that rare distinction of being… So bad; it's good!™
1. The Game 1997 thriller
An interesting psychological thriller, but be ready to suspend disbelief (again and again) for one of the most fanciful movie stories of all time. Michael Douglas is a natural at playing a prissy, stuffed shirt Investment banker (I'm guessing he researched the role by watching his last 10 movies) and presents a most unlikable protagonist while Sean Penn is cast as his nutcase kid brother, another natural role fit for an actor. The movie starts off a little slow, but has an action packed second half with the Investment Banker performing one incredible stunt after another as he plays a Game that went too far, for too long. Entertaining but ridiculous story with a totally strange ending. Stay for the prize presentation at the end.
2. Apartment Zero 1988 drama
This obscure, puzzling, low budget film left me dazed, speechless; it took me at least ten minutes to recover before I could rise on my hind legs. This movie could simply be described as The Odd Couple goes to Argentina. Adrian and Jack are indeed a very odd couple. Jack is your typical bi-sexual serial killer and Adrian (Colin Firth) is a sheepish, immaculate South American Felix Ungar. Adrian is amazing to watch; his forlorn smile, the way he stumbles when he walks, and how he stutters when he talks – it is a drama lesson for actors aspiring to that once-in-a-lifetime role as a certified nutcase. A few highlights: the clever guessing game about naming three actors, Rule #1 about mingling with the neighbors, the heroic rescue of Muhammad the cat. I could go on and on for pages, but I have made my point. Watching this movie is like walking on a trap door, and someone pulls the lever. Yes, it is that shocking.
3. McLintock! 1963 western comedy romance
This is the oddest western you will ever see. The storyline is a battle of the sexes that is not romantic; it is downright frightening. Maureen O'Hara (Kate McLintock) looks as if she wants to murder her husband, John Wayne. There is no softness about her, from her clinched fists to the scornful look in her eyes. She's terrifying in this flick, yet is still very watchable, and John Wayne proves he can get away with ANYTHING. After two endless hours of squabbling, he chases his wife, scantily clad in a tight corset and petticoat, down the main street of town. Plenty of slapsticky hijinks ensue in which Kate’s petticoat is shredded. Wayne finally catches Kate and manhandles her over his knee. O’Hara is screaming and fighting to escape. Does anyone help this damsel in distress? Oh, no, in fact a helpful hick offers Big John a fireplace scoop. The Duke goes to work swinging the flat iron paddle, and gives his wife a hard spanking to the immense delight of a large, jolly crowd gathered around to watch the comeuppance of Kate. Lesson learned - This is how a real man tames a bitchy woman. Sometimes she needs a man to give her a good thrashing to let her know that he is the boss of the ranch. The key message is emphasized in the final scene – where Kate has become the obedient wife. It is endless fun devising a modern, PC remake of this movie.
4. Producers 1968 comedy crime
Mel Brooks humor is an acquired taste; akin to a garlic milkshake. His movies veer chaotically between low comedy, frantic overacting, screwball comedy and pure slapstick. And this flick is no exception. Worth watching to see the fascinatingly awful play (Spring Time for Hitler) inside this movie. Yes, this flick is the epitome of bad taste, yet has some hilarious lines, best delivered by Zero Mostel; I made all the wrong decisions, how did it turn out right?
5. Casa de mi Padre 2012 comedy
This movie is not for everyone. It is amusing to me how many people see this as a real movie, take it serious and actually try to understand the story. Are you for real? It's a sad testament to the total lack of a normal sense of humor. To begin with, this flick is an excellent spoof of Mexican telenovelas. The Mexican soap operas are beyond bad, but it is pointless to criticize them because the people enjoy soap operas – whatever the language. The cheesy over acting, the sappy sentimental death scenes, the macho mentality with girls as mere sex objects, bizarre superstitions, totally cliché characters in garish costume, exaggerated violence, and (my favorite) the hilarious, low quality production mistakes. This movie has it ALL, and it manages to top it off with the goofiest dream sequence of all time. Will Ferrell is perfect here and the only actor who could pull this off. With his broken Spanish, idiot smile and intentional bad acting it is a laugh a minute; the way a good spoof should be. Is this flick in my DVD collection? OF COURSE IT IS! Spanish with English subtitles.
6. Johnny Guitar 1954 western
This is truly a one-of-a-kind, campy, B-western. The film has a feminist tone with women strapping on gun belts, and pulling pistols like they know how to use them. The real pleasure to be found here is relishing the histrionics, and wealth of bad acting. Vienna and Emma are bitter rivals and headed for a violent showdown. These two ladies seriously needed to take a few bubble baths. The big star is Joan Crawford, as saloon keeper Vienna. The movie has theatrical, highly staged close-ups of Crawford that are laughable. Wearing clown-red lipstick, she bursts into flights of poetic rhetoric totally unexpected from a Wild West saloon queen. Her rival, Emma Stone, is terrifying; she rampages thru the film with one anger outburst after another, and adds a manic energy that briefly brings the film to life. Hollywood lore has it that Crawford felt she was being upstaged by Mercedes McCambridge (Emma), and that sent the touchy film diva into an off-stage, hissy fit. This flick is a treasure of unintentional funny scenes. Very entertaining.
7. Return of the Jedi 1983 adventure fantasy
Jedi is a mixed bag and the weakest of the original Stars Wars trilogy. This is where it all went wrong, way back in 1983 when the target audience shifted away from the adults. Raise your hand if you were expecting to see ridiculous dancing Teddy Bears (Ewoks) in a Star Wars film. A couple comments on the positive side. Luke and Vader fire up the light sabers for a furious duel; brilliant flashes of red and green light illuminate the control room of an Imperial battle cruiser while a deep space dogfight rages outside the ship. And for some inexplicable reason, girls love to dress up as sexy Slave Girl Leia. I see nothing wrong with that.
8. Omega Doom 1996 fantasy
In the dystopian future, Rutger Hauer quick draws against militaristic robots in cowboy gunfighter style face-offs that are oddly out of place. Even more non sequitur are his bursts of bad poetry. On a positive note, Rutger is still able to add some gravity to the tale, and the girl robots have an interesting look and style (especially Miss Black Heart). Years later, Trinity in The Matrix pirates her style (you decide who looks better). This is a strange, low budget flick for fans of movies with plots that disappear into the rabbit hole.
9. Galaxy Quest 1999 fantasy comedy
Nothing makes much sense in this big budget, silly spoof. Doesn’t matter. This is Tim Allen’s finest big-screen acting role as he leads a talented cast, and expertly mocks the stagey antics of James T. Kirk, captain of the Star Ship Enterprise. Tim is supported by a solid cast; Fred the dim-witted Science Officer, Gwen the sexy blonde computer tech, Laredo the token black pilot, and Sam Rockwell as expendable crewman #6. Plenty of humor with clever inside jokes lampooning the Star Trek franchise and the obsessed Trekkies. This is Science Fiction Lite with techno jibber jabber, space ships, aliens, and transporters with startling side-effects. For trivia fans – the Beryllium Sphere scene was filmed in Utah’s Goblin Valley, and the pig-lizard monster was played by an uncredited black midget stuntman. By Grabthar's hammer and the sacred moons of Vidor, I speak the truth. A wonderfully weird genre mix.
10. Music and Lyrics 2007 comedy romance music
There are some strong performances here and actually quite a few laughs; however, the romantic situation painstakingly set up is, at best, oddball. Besides the major personality conflicts of the leads, and there are several, is the awkward Gidget & Geezer aspect of this couple; Hugh Grant being 16 years senior to Drew Barrymore. The chemistry does not work. The movie troops thru the usual plot: boy gets girl, boy loses girl, will they get back together? Perhaps the saving facet of the movie is the music: especially when it juxtaposes Bubble gum pop rock of the 80’s MTV sort with the hip hoppy, in-your-face music of the 2000’s. Haley Bennett plays rock diva Cora and she is brilliantly shallow and shameless. Her concert costumes and dance moves are something special; has to be seen to be believed.