There are countless bad films out there, with hundreds more being made every year. But every once in a while a bad movie comes out that just has a certain special quality. Whether it’s wooden acting, ridiculous dialogue, or just flat-out bad direction, some movies are simply so awful that you can’t help but enjoy them. I grew up watching, and emulating, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and from an early age I became fascinated with viewing the absolute worst that cinema had to offer. From Troll 2 to Manos: The Hands of Fate, I’ve seen my fair share of these movies, and I can confidently say that there are few that I truly enjoy above the rest. Here are my favorite “So-Bad-It’s-Good” movies.
Director: Tommy Wiseau
Writer: Tommy Wiseau
Release: June 27, 2003
I should probably start with one of the more popular cult films that exists. Tommy Wiseau’s masterpiece has been called the “Citizen Kane of bad movies”, and probably for good reason. Wiseau directed, wrote, and starred in this tour de force of awkward camerawork, impressively bad dialogue, and eccentric acting. Like all the films in this list, it’s a train wreck, but it’s also impossible to look away.
Director: Amir Shervan
Writer: Amir Shervan
Samurai Cop is what happens if you take Lethal Weapon, subtract all the talent involved in the production, and then add katanas. It has laughably bad dialogue, mind-boggling editing, and horrendous ADR. Despite all of that, the two leads are oddly endearing and you’ll find yourself enjoying their visible disdain for the project. This film basically takes all of the bad cliches from 80’s action movies and dials them up to 10. Samurai Cop features the slowest high-speed chase in the history of cinema, a clunky sword fight that was sped-up in post, and one of the greatest speeches I’ve ever heard. It’s a brilliant example of getting everything wrong, but it still somehow comes out right.
Director: James Nguyen
Writer: James Nguyen
Release: February 27, 2010
This movie has so many jaw-dropping and disbelief inducing moments in it that its awfulness seems almost intentional. The opening credits that seem to drag on for far too long, cutting from tracking shot to tracking shot. The dialogue is so uniquely awful, the editing is comically bad, and the acting is impressively wooden. The worst(best) part of this movie however, is its namesake. The antagonistic birds look about as realistic as Powerpoint clip art, and for some reason they cause explosions when they dive into buildings. God, it’s amazing when you first watch it. So do yourself a favor and get a few friends together and watch it.
The Wicker Man
Director: Neil LaBute
Writer: Neil LaBute
Release: September 1, 2006
I want to be clear: I enjoy Nicolas Cage as an actor. I think given the proper script and proper director that he can give a great performance. That being said, the man rarely has those stars align anymore. To his credit, he consistently gives 110% in every role, but without proper direction or a respectable script his acting can be a bit hilarious. It’s pretty tough to pick a specific movie as Cage’s worst, but the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man seems to be a fan favorite. It’s pretty awful, but without a doubt delivers a classic Cage performance. If I had to pick a few runner-ups though I’d recommend Bad Lieutenant, Vampire’s Kiss, or Deadfall.
Bas Rutten’s Lethal Street Fighting Self Defense System
I’ll write this with two caveats:
1.This isn’t technically a movie, but actually an instructional video.
2. Bas Rutten is a legitimate badass.
But, the video is pretty damn funny. Especially if you’re having some drinks with a group of friends. Just watch the clip.
A Magic Puppy
(The Great Halloween Puppy Adventure/ A Halloween Puppy)
Director: David DeCoteau
Writer: Andrew Helm
Release: October 2, 2012
This film, for some reason, has multiple names. It’s closer to a student project than a full length motion picture. The lighting and sound are horrendous, the script is something special, and the film features some truly inspired acting from Eric Roberts. Just give it a watch.
Oversexed Rugsuckers From Mars
(Heads up: The video is a man performing aggressive sexual acts on cleaning apparatus.)
Director: Michael Paul Girard
Writer: Michael Paul Girard
Okay, this pick isn’t for everyone. This film is actually kind of unsettling. It involves aliens breeding humans with vacuum cleaners and then the birth of a vacuum-human hybrid. It’s admirably weird and insanely horrible. But if you’re in the right mood and with the right people it can be pretty entertaining. Or you may find it ridiculously stupid and lewd. So check it out at your own risk.
Max Magician and the Legend of the Rings
Director: Kevin Summerfield
Writer: Kevin Summerfield
Release: October 1, 2002
My aunt bought this movie for my cousin when he was twelve. She thought it was an entry in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He and I were the same age and really bonded over this film; we watched it pretty much every time we hung out. As I’ve said, I grew up loving Mystery Science Theater 3000, but this was the first time I had discovered a movie like this organically. There’s truly so much to love in this movie. The production value is actually a bit higher than several other films on this list, but the plot is so horrendously generic and the script isn’t much better. The acting is the true gem in this baby though. There are several lines that, on paper, seem completely normal, but for some reason become absolutely hilarious when delivered. My cousin ended up giving me the DVD eventually. I think he realized I appreciated it a bit more than him as we grew older. To this day, this movie holds a special place in my heart and I recommend anyone looking for a good laugh to check it out.