We have all seen a hell of alot of bad movies.
We have all seen a hell of alot of bad movies. But there are some films that transcend just being bad, instead they leave you so bewildered at what you are watching that you just have to start laughing.
These are the films that are so-bad-they-are-good, and the following list is some the very best…or worst.
Maximum Overdrive (1986)
Trucks gain free-will and start killing people – with a plot like that, what do you expect?
The master of horror-fiction himself Stephen King takes up the directing chair for this adaptation of his short story, Trucks. But instead of supernatural creatures and subtle social commentary, instead we get a heavy handed and action packed ball of absurdity in a world in which machines gain sentience and revolt against their human masters.
Stephen King throws to together a film that is a pinnacle of turn your brain off action. It is just an hour and a half of explosions and vehicular manslaughter, all set to a soundtrack entirely composed of chugging, screeching guitars provided by Australian hard-rock band AC/DC.
If you couldn’t already tell, this film is just straight up ridiculous.
Rocky IV (1985)
Rocky is a brilliant and heart-warming little film. Rocky II is a satisfying sequel further exploring the character. Rocky III pushed the limits of what they could get away but is still solid. But then Rocky IV came along and franchise completely jumped the shark.
Rocky IV pits our titular hero, the slurring southpaw played by Sylvester Stallone against Ivan Drago, a soviet super boxer who is powered by democracy-hating, anti-American, communist science.
This film is just lovably ridiculous, it reveals in its own clichés and ends up being an unashamed satire and celebration of the franchise, buoyed by the cartoonish cold war overtones, over-the-top villain and the fact it’s almost like a time capsule from the eighties.
It is shamelessly goofy and will leave you sat draped in the stars and stripes shouting “MURICA!’
Batman & Robin (1997)
If there ever was a superhero flick that missed every single beat and almost killed the legacy of its titular character, it is most certainly this one.
Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin takes the flashy child friendly framework he set out in Batman Forever (1995) and turns up the campness value to eleven to bring on the cheese.
The whole film feels like if the Adam West helmed sixties show had a colossal bloated budget, a neon fetish, a book of insipid puns, and best of all, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr Freeze.
Freeze just spends the whole movie shouting ice themed puns in Arnold’s unmistakable thick Austrian accent that just get funnier the more awful they get.
When compared to Christopher Nolan’s dark and grittier reboot of the mid-naughties, Batman & Robin has to be seen to be believed. The film is so corny and fails in every sense as an adaptation of the character – and it is for that reason it is just hilarious.
Judge Dredd (1995)
Another catastrophically poor comic book adaptation marks Sylvester Stallone’s second appearance on this list.
Stallone plays Judge Joseph Dredd, a veteran police officer who walks the beat of the dystopian Mega-City One. Dredd is framed for a murder and it is him to prove his innocence and stop an aggressive take-over of the city lead by the diabolic Rico.
Everything you would expect from a mid-nineties Stallone action flick is in there, plenty of over-the-top acting and an abundance of action clichés.
Armand Assante takes on the role of Rico. He spends most of the film chewing the scenery and acting utterly insane with bulging wide eyes and screaming every other line.
Like Batman & Robin, Judge Dredd strays so far from its dark source material that almost becomes insulting parody of it. But if you can forgive that and take it at first value, it is so enjoyably stupid and just straight up fun.
Dungeons & Dragons (2000)
There is a stigma that all films based off video games are horrendous, so how do you think a movie based off a board game would turn out?
In Dungeons & Dragons we have the story of two thieves as they attempt to stop a coup lead by the tyrannical mage Profion (Jeremy Irons) as he attempts to overthrow the gentle and peaceful young Empress Savina (Thora Birch)
Dungeons and Dragons is in every sense a cheap man’s Lord of the Rings. It came out only one year before the release of Fellowship of the Ring yet looks absolutely horrendous, rife with poor CGI and sets that look like they belong in some cheap Saturday evening serial. But what elevates it into the so-bad-it’s-good category is the performances – especially Jeremy Irons’ as Profion.
Jeremy Irons brings on the ham and every scene he appears in is an absolute joy. There is something special about watching a classically trained actor mugging to the camera every chance he gets.
Irons is not the only one though, as it seems like every actor in the film forgot to pack their talent. As a result we get this crazy combination of half the cast overacting and the other half underacting—overblown and an epic laugh.
The Wicker Man (2006)
There is only one reason The Wicker Man has made this list, and that reason is Nicolas Cage.
Cage plays Edward Malus, a police officer who is called to a mysterious island-based commune by his ex-wife to investigate the disappearance of a little girl.
The Wicker Man is a remake of the 1973 British horror classic of the same name. But instead of being set on an island off the coast of Scotland and dealing with traditional British paganism, we get an island near Washington and a world of pseudo-feminism, lazy jump scares and forced cringe-worthy attempts at being creepy.
Cage brings his usual brand of awkward silliness to the role and he is on top form. He walks through all the strangeness of the island swirling around him with his typical slack-jawed indifference, until he finally snaps and goes into trademark Cage-freak-out overdrive.
Cage spends the last third shouting, screaming and getting into fist fights with the islands sisterhood. It is just wonderfully awful.
Nicolas Cage has made a name for himself as the quintessential so-bad he’s good actor, and The Wicker Man is without one of his best.
Battlefield Earth (2000)
Battlefield Earth, it is really hard to know where to start with this flick.
It is the year 3000 and Earth has been plunged into a dystopian future as mankind has been conquered by a brutish, dreadlock sporting, alien race called the Psyclos. Humanity is now merely a scattered race of uncivilised tribesman who are hunted, captured and enslaved by the Psyclos to mine gold.
Based on the novel of the same name by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, Battlefield Earth is both stunningly and rib-ticklingly horrendous in every sense. Science-fiction is a very hard genre to get right, and this movie seems to get every single thing wrong.
But what really makes the film is, like in so many of these so-bad flicks, one particular performance, this time from John Travolta.
Travolta plays the bitter Psyclo commander Terl. Travolta spends the entire film speaking in a bizarre false accent of indeterminate origin and giving the very best of his notorious overacting.
There is absolutely no way that Travolta, or director Roger Christian, could have thought that his performance would ever be taken seriously—a train-wreck of intergalactic scale.
Troll 2 (1990)
One of the most famous so-bad-it’s-good movies and definitely one of the best.
The Waits family moves to the backward and unsettling town of Nilbog, only to discover that the town is inhabited by a tribe of hungry vegetarian Goblins – not trolls – who want nothing more than to turn them into plants so they can eat them.
A sequel in name only the 1986 dark fantasy film by John Bleuchler, Troll 2 had nothing short of a troubled birth. The screenplay started life with the much more relevant title, Goblins.
Claudio Fragasso, the writer and director, and vast majority of the production crew could barely English and the cast was an ensemble of people from the nearby towns with little to no acting experience – a recipe for a very special disaster was set.
Troll 2 is just brimming with countless memorable awful characters, ridiculous scenes and insane lines that are quotably hilarious, spawning a cult following and its own documentary The Best Worst Movie.
Just watch it and prepare yourself.
There is very little better than having a bad movie buoyed by one hilariously over-the-top performance – so how about a movie with not only two, but two of the best?
John Travolta plays typical nineties depressed cop Sean Archer as he hunts his nemesis Castor Troy, played by Nicholas Cage. In order to go undercover Archer takes Troy’s face, but when Troy comes to the forces the doctors to give him Archer’s. Chaos ensues.
So let me lay this out for you, we have John Travolta, playing Nicholas, playing John Travolta, and Nicholas Cage, playing John Travolta, playing Nicholas Cage.
When you have an over-the-top actor it is funny, but when you have an over-the-top actor who is told by the director to try to act like someone acting is them, it is just brilliantly awful. Then you throw in plenty of action clichés and a big spoonful of director John Woo’s explosion-happy madness, you end up with something one of a kind.
Face/Off is guaranteed to leave a big stupid smile on whoever’s face you have.
The Room (2003)
Truly the Citizen Kane of bad-movies, a textbook example of how to make a film so bad, it’s good.
The Room follows the story of the gentle Johnny as everyone in his life begins to turn on him. His girlfriend Lisa has an affair with his best friend Mark, and slowly Johnny begins to succumb to his inner demons.
This film is essentially one giant vanity project for its star Tommy Wiseau, who also wrote, directed and produced the flick. He thought he was making a beautiful art-house picture that would launch his career. Instead he made something much more enduring.
In order to do this film justice I would have to go through every single odd little scene, bizarre piece of dialogue, go nowhere plot points, strange set choices and the ever wonderfully terrible performances from every actor.The Room has spiralled in popularity in recent years and has spawned a giant cult following, with screenings shown across the world for people to come and laugh at.
Tommy Wiseau seems to have missed the joke and that just makes it even funnier.
Go watch it with some friends, and prepare for a catastrophic failure of drama, but a masterpiece of comedy.
What films would you add to this list? Have your say in the comments section below.