There is an alchemy to a good, bad movie.
It’s easy to make a bad-bad movie. Trust us, we know – whether it’s an arthouse mess, a blockbuster wreck, or a nightmare of a horror sequel, we’ve covered them on this blog. But what about those films that you know are bad, but that you find yourself enjoying anyway? What is it about those great, awful pieces of cinema that are so damn hard to find, but so damn fun when you do? Well, we’ve decided to make it a little easier for you – we’re going to be sharing our very favourite dreadful, brilliant movies so you can uncover some more cinematic shitholes that you can’t say no to. To the list!
- Streets of Fire
I’m going to be real with you: the only reason I pitched these articles is because I wanted to talk about this film. Introduced to me by my father (who also brought me bad horror, bad music, and so much more, so thanks for my dreadful taste in everything, father mine!), Streets of Fire: A Rock and Roll Fable has a deep and warm place in my heart.
Starring Michael Pare as a mysterious renegade returning to his unsettled hometown who gets caught up in a scheme by biker gang leader Raven Shaddock (Willem Defoe) to kidnap his ex-girlfriend (Diane Lane), it’s really a screeching piece of nonsense: the pacing is a mess, the performances are all over the place, the less said about the clothes, the better. But there’s something unique about the fable-esque quality of the setting and the characters, about the amazing music choices and especially Amy Madigan’s iconic turn as the gender-fucking McCoy – it’s a mess, but it’s a mess with feeling. I have seen many bad films in my time, but I’ve never seen a bad film quite like this one.
2. Final Destination 5
If you ask me, at any given time, what film I would like to watch, chances are it will be this one.
Final Destination 5 was the first horror movie I ever saw on the big screen, and it imprinted on me like a pop song you can’t get out of your head, a proverbial Kill Me Maybe. Like so many good, bad, movies, it’s all about finding that perfect pitch between the two: yes, it’s bad, but it’s good where it counts. It’s an hour and a half of sheer horror-as-comedy, stunningly inventive set-pieces that lead to the most teeth-grindingly unpleasant finales you’ve seen in your life. The characters are ridiculous, of course, the violence outrageous, the plot so panic-bought toilet-paper thin that you can see through it. But it commits to really quite impressive real effects and a twisted sense of humour, as well as a delightfully camp Tony Todd turn, and it finds that perfect pitch between the nonsense and the competent filmmaking. Bad horror is not hard to find, but great bad horror is hard to come across: Final Destination 5 is the good bad horror you’re looking for, and I need you to see it.
3. Plan 9 From Outer Space
Look, you can talk about The Room, you can talk about Troll 2, you can give me all that lip on modern terrible films. But nothing – nothing – comes close to the hellishly entertaining and rightfully-iconic Plan 9 From Outer Space.
I think what makes this stand out, aside from the obvious awfulness – the change-out of wildly different-looking actors with no explanation halfway through the film, the constant re-use of shots, the incomprehensible plot – is the place this holds in pop culture history. A depressingly dreadful bow-out for the late and truly great Bela Lugosi, it also boasts direction by the so-called Worst Director of All Time, Ed Wood (though Zack Snyder is coming for that crown, if we’re being honest about it). It’s more than just a bad movie – it’s a slice of cinematic history, in the form of one of the most screamingly awful films you’ve ever seen in your life. Give it as a gift to the movie snob in you, and as a treat for the bad-film afficionado hiding right behind them.
By Louise MacGregor
(header image via Vague Visages)