Thursday, August 15, 2013

The 13 Most Awfully Entertaining Movies of All Time

 Oh, what luck! 13 of the most horrible cinematic train wrecks in history, all here together in one place!

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will probably know that I'm a big fan of bad movies. Not the kind of bad movies that nobody could enjoy (see: Master of Disguise) but rather the schlock-filled "so bad it's good" variety of bad films. Well what with the recent uproarious response to Syfy's latest gem "Sharknado", this seems like as good a time as any to release my personal list of the most enjoyably awful movies of all time. It should go without saying (even more so than usual) but this is entirely my personal opinion and obviously includes only those horrible movies which I have actually seen.

I'd also like to make special note of the film "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra", which is the most effective and hilarious spoof of bad 1950s sci-fi and horror movies that I've ever seen. It does this entirely "in character" so it comes across like a movie that would be on this list, but since it's meant to be a comedy I don't feel I can really count it in the same way as these movies.


#13: Sharknado (2013)

I've seen it, and it is indeed delightfully horrible, but I haven't had time to decide where Sharknado actually belongs on a list like this. It's got all the typical "deep" social and political messages about the environment that we're used to seeing in these kinds of movies, and of course a hurricane filled with sharks (the title is great but slightly misleading) is a virtual goldmine of cheesy awesomeness, but I just need to give this movie more time to sink in. It prompted me to write this list, though, so I felt like it deserved a spot on here.


#12. The Killer Shrews (1959)

Our intrepid heroes are trapped on an island with bloodthirsty, genetically modified, dog-sized rodents. It's been a while since I watched this one, so I'm a little fuzzy on the exact plot, but does it really matter? It's just as absurd as the name would lead you to believe. The acting is bad, the monsters look ridiculous, and the survivors of the shrew attacks (I can't believe I just said that) eventually escape by crawling around hidden under trash cans. Cinematic gold.


#11.  Eegah (1962)

Here's a film so utterly brilliant that they didn't even bother to give it a proper title. Why not just call it "AAAHHHH!!!"? Well anyway, Eegah is the story of some totally helpless chick who gets stolen and stashed away King Kong style by some big caveman who lives on a mountain in the desert. To the movie's credit, rather than covering some random guy in makeup and having him stand on a box, they actually cast Richard Kiel, who at 7'2" was always a good choice when going for big and scary. The real star of this movie, though, is the acting and dialogue. Stiff, awkward, horrendous "witty banter" flies back and forth between the girl's crabby father and her boyfriend, who seems to be the bastard offspring of Wally Cleaver, the Beach Boys, and a pug. You can tell he really thought this film was going to launch his career as a charming leading man. He even got an Elvis-style musical number with an acoustic guitar and a phantom backing band. It was atrocious.


#10. Alien Species (1996)

As the title suggests, this is a sci-fi movie about an alien invasion. It's aiming more at horror than action, I think, but it fails so spectacularly at both that it's hard to say for sure. Basically a fleet of horrendous CGI saucers have arrived and are destroying cities without actually destroying anything (superimposed explosions on a city backdrop). They're also hiding out in a cave dressed as Power Rangers villains when our dark, brooding, wrongfully convicted hero encounters them. He and some girl escape, they meet up with some friends of hers who happen to have a rocket launcher in their jeep (supposedly it was laying on the side of the road) and they set out to save the day. After blowing up one of the small ships, of which there are thousands, the aliens are so terrified that they initiate a full retreat and leave earth to rebuild its still totally intact urban centers.


#9. Monster from a Prehistoric Planet (1967)

Of all the Japanese movies with a giant monster destroying Tokyo, this is probably the most ridiculous. Yeah, just let that sink in for a minute.

Basically, some scientists studying a remote tribe find a giant egg and decide to take it home. It hatches into a crying baby monster thing, and its pissed-off parents show up to save it. So we're treated to like half an hour of a couple dudes in costumes that look like a cross between Godzilla and a giant chicken, stomping around kicking a poorly made model city and shooting bolts of bad animation out of their beaks. I guess the film was originally released in Japan under the (translated) title "Gappa, the Colossal Beast", but the name was changed for some reason in the American dubbed version.


#8. Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)

The drug-addled minds of the 1960s certainly produced some uncannily crappy movies, but in terms of sheer incompetence of execution I think Manos has to take the cake. Every single thing about this movie is bad. The story makes no sense. The dialogue is stiff and weird. The acting is a next-level failure, the sound and video quality are catastrophic . . . it's just really, really bad. The film is going for a dark, serious, supernatural cult thing. Needless to say, it misses the mark by a mile, but the ensuing disaster of a movie is pretty funny to watch if you have some smart-ass friends you can con into sitting through it with you. The film has also spawned quite a cult following with fans of bad movies.


 #7. Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959)

Ever want to make something scary? Well just make it giant and have it attack somebody, and you've got instant horror gold. That's all there is to it! At least, that's what many filmmakers in the late '50s and early '60s seemed to think. Thus, we have movies like this one, where good ol' southern folk are getting eaten alive in the swamp by some guys in black trash bags with some white spots on the front. As usual the acting and writing are bad, but this one is really worth watching for the totally ludicrous monsters.


#6. Evil Bong (2006)

Okay, with a name like that it's pretty obvious this movie wasn't taking itself too seriously. Tommy Chong is featured on the cover and in all the ads because, well, it's a movie about smoking weed and they got Tommy Chong to appear in it. Sadly, he's only in the movie briefly. Mostly, it's about his former possesion: a sentient, talking bong that is supposed to be a sassy black woman apparently. Said sassy black bong woman thing seduces her college-aged victims into a fantasy world of pot smoke, where she convinces them to stay and enjoy an eternity of pleasure. That is, until they get killed by imaginary stripper boobies and stuff. It's . . . pretty much the kind of thing you'd expect from a movie called "Evil Bong".


#5. Sharktopus (2010)

 There are a ton of spectacularly shitty shark movies out there, but my favorite was a Syfy product from a few years ago. Produced by B-movie kingpin Roger Corman, Sharktopus is the tale of a genetically engineered half-shark half-octopus that was being privately developed for the military. I guess submarines just don't cut it anymore. Anyway, the thing gets loose after a boat hits its stupidly-located external control collar, and the creature goes on a rampage down the Baja coast. This features all the classic man-made monster clichés, including "we shouldn't have played God" speeches, a sociopathic "think what this story will do for my career" reporter, a rugged hero who plays by his own rules, a supermodel with glasses who undoes the top 3 buttons of her white shirt while "doing science", and many more. For some reason bullets don't hurt the shark, and evidently the creature doesn't require water either, since it eventually starts walking around on land with its octopus legs. In spite of these setbacks, finally our loose cannon hero and Dr. Boobscience defeat the monster the same way that all great movie sharks are killed: with an explosion.


#4. The Room (2003)

The "Citizen Kane of bad movies" as it has become widely known, The Room is a drama that, unlike some of the other entries on this list, takes itself totally seriously. The fact that Tommy Wiseau genuinely believed he was creating a great piece of cinema only heightens the impact of this monumental disaster of a movie. There are no hokey monsters here. Instead, this film is chock-full of incoherent plot points, dialogue so bad it has become legendary, and acting that actually makes the dialogue look respectable by comparison.

Basically it's the story of one man's descent into madness and death after his fiance and best friend cheat on him, but really it's so much more than that. One of the most quotable of all awful movies, The Room has developed a major following of dedicated fans. It has spawned fan-fiction, countless Youtube tributes and spoofs, and even an independent video game.


#3. Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)

For decades, Ed Wood has sat upon the throne of terrible filmmaking as king of the bad movie. His towering masterpiece, Plan 9, is often considered to be the worst movie ever made. While I would argue that some of his own movies are actually even worse ("Glen or Glenda" is virtually unwatchable), in terms of that comedic kind of bad this one emerges as the victor. The subject of Tim Burton's best film, the making of this movie is nearly as legendary as the product itself. The whole thing was shot in just a few days with money conned from a church group and some stock footage of the deceased Bela Lugosi, with a veiled chiropractor mutely filling Lugosi's role through the rest of the movie.

The plot is basically that some aliens in pretty silver jumpsuits fly their hubcap-on-a-string to earth, where they land with the intent of conquering the planet. Their plan is to make like 2 or 3 zombies and then . . . ummm . . . I'm not sure what comes next but it will supposedly all end with their victory. There are also some vampires for some reason, along with a boatload of inconsistencies and plot holes. It's cheesy, poorly acted, poorly written, and really serves as a showcase for what a deeply dedicated writer and director with zero talent can accomplish.

For the record, the initial premiere of the film was in 1957, but it wasn't actually released until 1959.


#2. Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2008)

The product of a borderline-psychotic director with no talent but a massive ego, Birdemic is a glorious shitstorm of a movie. James Nguyen is absolutely convinced, by all accounts, that he crafted a masterpiece of environmental commentary. What he actually did was create the most hilariously awful movie to come out in years. This rivals Manos as one of the most poorly made films ever, where every single thing from the acting to the writing to the special effects to the sound recording seems to have been done by somebody with absolutely no clue how to make a movie. It is so poorly acted that half the characters can't even look natural walking down the side of the road. The dialogue is so bad you'll be convinced you're watching the filmed version of a 4th grade play. And then there are the special effects. Oh glorious gods of cinema, the special effects! They are, quite simply, some of the greatest things I've ever seen.

In terms of the actual plot, basically a salesman with no charisma "charms" a "model" into dating him, then they get chased around by horribly-animated CGI birds who are pissed off about the environment. It's amazing.


#1. Troll 2 (1990)

The first time I watched Troll 2, I laughed harder than any comedy has made me laugh in years. It's so spectacularly bad that it almost defies description, yet it somehow takes itself seriously enough that you can really believe the people involved thought they were making a good movie. This film produced one of the most infamously bad and hilarious death scenes in movie history. It's full of over-the-top performances, ridiculous dialogue, and goofy-looking goblins. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that, didn't I? There are no trolls in Troll 2. The name was just taken as a marketing ploy, and nobody bothered to take into account that they call the creatures "goblins" about a hundred times in the movie.

Which brings us to the plot. A family is going to a small town for a month to get away from it all, as movie families so often do, when the young son is alerted by his grandfather's ghost that the town is actually the kingdom of the goblins. The creepy little vegetarian monsters can shape-shift out of their rubber masks to instead look like creepy, leering people, which is what they are doing to lure the family into their clutches. You may have noticed that I called them vegetarians. Yeah, they eat people, but only after feeding their victims green Kool-Aid or pistachio pudding to turn them into plant snot. Why they don't just eat plants in the first place is never made clear. Anyway, the kid has to get his family back out of town in one piece, and stupidity ensues. There are also a number of basically directionless subplots, leading to some bizarre and hilariously bad scenes, but I just don't have the room here to go into them all.

Watching the documentary about the people involved just heightens the hilarity of how bad this movie is. The actress playing the mother, who is a bit detached from reality to say the least, actually sits there with a straight face and compares Troll 2 with Casablanca. It's just . . . wow.

All in all, there is no question that this is my favorite bad movie. To anybody with even a passing interest in this type of thing, I'd heartily recommend it.


So that's my list of the 13 best worst movies of all time. I hope you enjoyed it.

1 comment:

  1. I loved reading this. The only one of these I've actually seen is Sharknado, with my brother's Bad Movie Night friends, and it was hilarious. I especially like the chainsaw parts, and the chair. Tara Reid looks terrible, too, so I guess it's a fitting end to her career.