Gather your mates, crack open a few bevvies and revel in some of the best worst movies ever committed to film.
There are good films; there are bad films; then there are films that are simply so bad that they have transcended terribleness and transformed into something good again.
This exclusive club is populated with all manner of strange B-movies, cult classics and botch jobs that have garnered widespread appreciation once they’ve hit the shelves.
From the realm of the weird, wacky and downright woeful, I’ve cobbled together some of my favourite bad films that I still not-so secretly love.
The Happening (2008)
Even though The Happening isn’t M. Night Shyamalan’s worst film (an accolade belonging to his adaptation of The Last Airbender), it is possibly his strangest.
What is so strange about The Happening, I hear you ask? Well, why don’t we start off with the premise; this is a 90-minute B-movie where the primary antagonist is essentially a gentle breeze that causes people to top themselves in increasingly inventive and gruesome ways. It should come as no surprise that this absurd concept has little to no ability to sustain itself over the runtime, and instead becomes hilarious as people are run over by rogue lawnmowers or eaten by tigers.
What makes The Happening even more amusingly absurd is the decision to cast a perplexed Mark Wahlberg and a dead-eyed Zooey Deschanel in its lead roles; a pair that couldn’t be more mismatched if they tried. Both sleepwalk through Shyamalan’s creaky script and deliver some of the best worst line readings ever committed to film. Remember guys, the only way to survive is to stay ahead of the wind.
Batman & Robin (1997)
Batman & Robin is the crowning jewel of atrocious 90s blockbuster cinema. It marries the worst Batman (sorry George Clooney) with neon-soaked set design, action figure-inspired costumes, a Saturday morning cartoon script and some of the worst puns ever cooked up.
However, as any pun aficionado will gleefully tell you, the worse they come, the better they are – and Batman & Robin is no exception. The pun master himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role of Mister Freeze, essentially speaks in nothing but puns that revolve around anything cold; ice to see you, break the ice, cool party, stay cool, everyone chill – you get the idea.
The insanity doesn’t stop there; Uma Thurman’s Posion Ivy gets in on the pun action, Alicia Silverstone’s Batgirl shows up just in time for a studio-mandated third act costume switch (got to get that action figure money!) and director Joel Schumacher struggles to hide the homoerotic undertones. He repeatedly fills the frame with close-ups of Batman’s leather-clad butt and sculpted breastplate, the latter of which is fitted with erect bat nipples, naturally.
Best seen as a group and with copious amounts of alcohol, Batman and Robin is infinitely watchable owing to its ability to entertain and baffle in equal measure.
Roland Emmerich has built a career out of staging cataclysmic, end of the world events and framing them with compelling human drama, such as in Independence Day and, to a lesser degree, The Day After Tomorrow.
However, Emmerich proved three isn’t always the magic number when he tried to triplicate the success of the aforementioned films with 2012, a film that used the popular myth of the Mayan doomsday calendar as a springboard into wall-to-wall destruction for an arse-numbing two-and-a-half hour runtime.
With John Cusack front and centre, 2012 imagines what would happen if the entire world was to spontaneously undergo a string of increasingly destructive natural disasters, from tsunamis to volcanic eruptions and devastating earthquakes. Filled with terrible visual effects, the most ludicrous plot humanly imaginable and some of the most annoying characters this side of The Bachelor, 2012 is one of those films that makes you question if anyone green lighting projects in Hollywood has an ounce of sense – they spent $200 million on this?
Yes, indeed they did – and you owe it to yourself to chuck it in the Blu-ray player and soak in its awfulness as soon as physically possible.
Let’s be honest, most of Nicolas Cage’s back catalogue falls into the ‘so bad it’s good’ category – Con Air, The Rock, The Wicker Man and Knowing spring to mind – but its John Woo’s strangely acclaimed sci-fi action film Face/Off that earns its place on my list for its absurd premise alone. An FBI agent (John Travolta) undergoes a face transplant to assume the identity of an international terrorist (Cage), but the plan goes awry when that same terrorist undergoes the same procedure to impersonate the FBI agent. Hilarious hijinks masquerading as a genuinely serious action movie ensue.
Few films boast a premise as utterly ridiculous as Face/Off – that two people could get matching face transplants is nonsensical in itself, not to mention the fact that the rest of their body, posture and mannerisms wouldn’t change and would give the game away in an instant. But it’s the baffling screen presence of both Cage and Travolta – both charismatic enigmas in their own right – that sells us on the concept and makes it worth watching, even if at its core it’s an amazingly bad film.
The Room (2003)
The Room isn’t just a bad movie; it’s the all-conquering cult leader of bad movies, complete with an ardent and insatiable following of lunatics. Starring, written, directed and even funded by Tommy Wiseau, The Room’s zealous fans are to this day enamoured by its myriad of unconventional quirks, which include, but are not limited to glaring continuity errors, odd storytelling choices, clunky writing and some of the most amateur performances this side of a primary school nativity.
The Room plays to packed out cinemas – including Perth’s own Luna Leederville – on a regular basis, with audiences encouraged to actively recite lines, heckle the actors and fling plastic spoons at the screen. Such is its level of infamy for terribleness, a film about its troubled production process – titled The Disaster Artist and starring James Franco and Seth Rogen – is set to arrive later this year.
Images courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox, Roadshow Films, Sony Pictures and Valhalla Holdings