As avid readers of The Voice may know, I am a lover of so-bad-it’s-good movies. A movie that fails by every conceivable metric can make for a funnier experience than even the most finely-crafted comedies. However, my hobby of scouring the internet in search of the best worst movies ever made is one not shared with the general public. In the hopes of bringing the joy of garbage movies to TL, today I’m counting down my personal favorite so-bad-it’s-good films.
10) The Great Wall
The Great Wall made a great many people angry when Matt Damon was chosen to be the star of this Chinese fantasy movie. It caused such an outrage most people forgot to see whether the movie was good. It’s not. The plot of the flick is as simple as it gets: monsters threaten the Great Wall every few years and it’s up to our protagonists to stop them this time around. Even this simple story is littered with plot holes, like the fact that the villainous creatures threatening China never bother to just GO AROUND the titular wall, and Matt Damon seems to be the only person in all of China with a magnet, the creatures’ weakness. The Movie also had to go through the Chinese government’s film agency before it could be released, meaning that the film is littered with thinly-veiled communist propaganda. Pointing out these numerous failings makes for a hilarious watch.
9) Heavy Metal
If you gave a hormonal 12-year old access to a director’s chair, you’d probably get something pretty close to Heavy Metal. This 1980s fantasy anthology is chock-full of one-dimensional characters, nerdy power fantasies, and naked women. The sci-fi and fantasy stories contained in the anthology vary in tone and coherence to the point where it doesn’t feel like the same movie all the way through (there are some sequences where you’ll swear you’re having a fever dream). It’s geeky schlock in the most wonderful way.
8) Transformers: The Last Knight
You can tell that Michael Bay and every actor involved in The Last Knight was really tired of making transformers movies. Even the crew was lazy, as evidenced by the constantly changing aspect ratio. Plot threads go nowhere so often that the only way it would make sense is if they had four or five different scripts written for the movie, and then decided to combine all of them. Watching the absolutely apathetic cast make their way through a movie is a laugh riot.
7) Jason X
I don’t think anyone was paying attention when the tenth part in the Friday the Thirteenth series rolled around. They really should have, because this one’s set in space. You didn’t misread that. Jason Vorhees, cryogenically unfrozen in the year 2455, goes on his patented killing-spree on a futuristic spaceship and is only stopped by a few brave passengers. You can infer why it’s on this list from the premise alone.
6) Flash Gordon
Flash Gordon is a textbook example of the intentional so-bad-it’s-good flick. Director Mike Hodges wanted to make an homage to the campy days of the 1960’s and succeeded beautifully. The ridiculous over-the-top nature of this sci-fi epic doesn’t stop until the credits roll. The poor special effects and supremely stupid scenes make for a watch that will have you double over laughing. In addition, the soundtrack, composed by Queen, is unironically great.
5) Mortal Kombat
There’s something about trying to bring a video game to the silver screen that ruins everything quality about both video games and cinema. Mortal Kombat is no exception. The plot is confusing, the characters are nothing like what’s in the game, and the dialogue is hilariously poor (with such eloquent lines from the villain as “YOUR SOUL IS MINE!”). The PG-13 rating also stymies the core appeal of the game’s ultra-violence. The fight scenes, both trying to look “gory” yet stay within the rating, end up looking hysterical.
4) River of Darkness
One day, Kurt Angle decided he would make the jump from pro wrestling to acting, just like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The problem is that he is nothing like Dwayne Johnson. Kurt Angle’s unimaginable lack of charisma or acting ability makes him seem more like a video game protagonist than a real human being. The derivative plot of “cop fights some zombies” doesn’t help either. Add that to a garbage script and laughable special effects, and you have yourself a recipe for so-bad-it’s good.
3) The Brainiac
The Brainiac, while not topping this list, is certainly a perfect archetype for so-bad-it’s-good. It’s a 1960s poorly translated Mexican schlock horror film; basically what you think of when you think “B-movie.” This movie’s shoestring budget and nonsensical writing typify this genus of film. In the movie, a man burned at the stake in 1661 comes back to kill all the descendants of those that sentenced him to death 300 years later. He accomplishes this by living a normal life and then transforming from a human to a low-budget brain-eating monster to kill his victims. A couple of astronomers save the day by finding the tub of brains and brain-scooping spoon in his living room and calling the police, who immediately destroy him with flamethrowers (I’m not kidding).
2) Frankenstein Vs the Space Monster
I have no idea why the people who made this movie decided to make this title contain the word “Frankenstein”. Neither Frankenstein nor his monster appear in this movie. There is a robot named Frank who fights a rubber suit “space monster” sent by martians to capture human women to repopulate a post-apocalyptic, womanless Mars. That’s great in its own right, and this is certainly one of the funniest B-movies put to film, but it’s still not what the title says.
Just look at this trailer. This is the pinnacle of so bad it’s good. Director Philip Cook had a real vision for a fantastical world: “Purgatory,” where those who sacrifice themselves for the greater good fight against the evil alien known as the Despiser. His visible passion for this movie and his subsequent absolute failure are what make this movie so fun to watch. It’s the endearing yet hilarious schadenfreude of a kid falling as he learns to ride a bike, except it lasts an hour and forty-five minutes. The special effects are unbelievably bad. The costuming is worse (my personal favorite outfit is the Shadowman’s, whose suit is covered in keys). The action is so poorly directed you can barely call it action. The jokes are so unfunny that you laugh at how bad they are. The dialogue is clichéd to hell and back. And yet, it has a heart and soul you don’t see in movies nowadays. Despiser is the first so-bad-it’s-good film I ever saw, and I’m still searching for something to top it.