5 Films That’re So Bad They’re Good

Gather your mates, crack open a few bevvies and revel in some of the best worst movies ever committed to film.

Rhys Graeme-Drury

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)

08 August 2017 - Bad Movies The Happening
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)

08 August 2017 - Bad Movies Batman and Robin

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.


2012 (2009)

08 August 2017 - Bad Movies 2012

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.


Face/Off (1997)

08 August 2017 - Bad Movies Face Off
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)

08 August 2017 - Bad Movies The Room
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 

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Quick Picks – Revelation Perth International Film Festival – Feature Films

What Lola Wants

Fast, fun, and ferocious – What Lola Wants may just be Revelation Perth International Film Festival 2015’s boldest and brightest feature.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Review by Tom Munday

Sophie Lowe in What Lola Wants

Sophie Lowe in What Lola Wants

Celebrity teenager Lola Franklin (Sophie Lowe) has run away from her Beverley Hills lifestyle into the wild, wild west. Believing she has been kidnapped, her parents stamp down a $1 million reward for her safe return. Lola meets rebellious, pickpocketing loner Marlo (Beau Knapp) in a diner, convinced he is the man of her dreams. Marlo, being hunted by Mama (Dale Dickey), is already neck-deep in trouble. The destructive duo heads out on the road, taking down anyone in his or her path. But which reward will Marlo choose – the girl or the money?

What Lola Wants is one of the biggest surprises of 2015. This crime-thriller is the pitch-perfect example of less is more – relying on character and tone over anything else. Australian writer/director Rupert Glasson injects his frenzying style onto every page and frame. Attributing to Quentin Tarantino and Sam Peckinpah, every plot-point, twist, and line of dialogue is drenched in pulp and viscera. Told from its lead’s perspective, it’s tough, sexy atmosphere sparks a thrilling pace. Glasson’s latest venture harkens back to some of Hollywood’s biggest middle-finger thrillers like Natural Born Killers and Badlands.

Glasson’s hyperkinetic, frivolous visuals bolster What Lola Wants’ simple-yet-effective narrative. Its lurid cinematography flaunts the American Heartland’s glorious scenic vistas. In addition, its scintillating score pays tribute to the dark, disturbing heart of the western genre. Indeed, touches including an animated credits sequences and comic-book-esque scene transitions deliver multiple surprises. Most importantly, the performances take charge from the outset – with Lowe and Knapp’s chemistry establishing their significant talents.

Bolstered by style and substance, What Lola Wants has more brains, brawn, and heart than anything 2015’s big-budget slate has offered thus far.

Screening:
Sat 11th July, 6:45pm, Luna Leederville


Alvin’s Harmonious World of Opposites

 Alvin’s Harmonious World of Opposites, though not for the faint-hearted, is a unique and mind-altering experimental-drama/black-comedy.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Review by Tom Munday 

Teik Kim Pok in Alvin’s Harmonious World Of Opposites

The plot of Alvin’s Harmonious World of Opposites is, inexplicably, more intricate and perplexing than its title. Alvin (Teik Kim Pok) has not left the confines of his one-bedroom apartment for over 18 months. The agoraphobic nobody lives only with bizarre collections of toy pandas, Prince Charles and Princess Diana memorabilia, and vintage flour containers. Human interactions include obnoxious neighbour Virginia (Vashti Hughes) and video chats with his boss Angela (Allis Logan). With work and home-life difficulties building up, Alvin becomes paranoid after brown ooze begins dripping through the ceiling.

Writer/director Platon Theodoris’ feature debut is a unique and nightmarish examination of the Average Joe. His project meddles with several genres, concepts, and themes, with the first-two thirds highlighting the long-standing tedium of Alvin’s decaying existence. Sticking with Alvin inside his claustrophobic abode, the narrative’s repetitiveness and peculiarity illicit a unique physical, mental, and spiritual response. Similarly to David Lynch and David Cronenberg, Theodoris’ writing and directorial ticks put the audience on edge throughout its steady 73-minute run-time.

Alvin’s Harmonious World of Opposites’ final third becomes a Rubik’s cube-level obstacle course through awe-inspiring visuals and intricate ideas. Delving into Alvin’s baffling subconscious, Theodoris’ project switches valiantly from black comedy to existential angst. Scenic vistas and a stirring score establish the dramedy’s discussion of introspection, loneliness, and voyeurism. Pok, carrying every scene, conveys a bevvy of complex emotions with several key facial expressions.

This drama-thriller/black-comedy is a bizarre yet rewarding trip through Alvin’s dreamscape. Theodoris’ feature debut is set to be the “Did you get it?” flick of this year’s Revelation Perth International Film Festival.

Screenings:
Thurs 9th July 8:30pm – Cinema Paradiso
Sat 11th July 3:30pm – Luna Leederville


Plague

Here we go again…Plague is yet another exploration of the decisions we may be faced with if the world was to end in a zombie apocalypse.

⭐ ⭐
Review by Chantall Victor

Scene from Plague

Scene from Plague

Directed by Nick Kozakis and Kosta Ouzas, Australian film Plague aims to present itself as a horror film, but comes off as more of a psychological thriller – at least for the first 20 minutes. From then on it’s all downhill as sadly, the film meets its own death, and decays on the screen before the audience’s eyes for the remainder of its runtime.

Evie (Tegan Crowely) is stuck with a group of survivors in an Australian barn when she is confronted with the difficult decision of whether to stay and wait for her husband (Scott Marcus) – who may have been turned into a zombie – or go with the group in search of safety. Of course, true love abides, and she stays behind, only to encounter an unexpected guest.

I always look forward to an Australian made film because I believe the Australian industry has such potential, but unfortunately, this film will have to be an exception to my rule. Although visually pleasing — thanks to the make-up department, and cinematographer Tim Metherall — the film suffers from a lack of character development, and endless plot holes. At times the story becomes so unconvincing that it’s laughable — think the Australian version of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room – and so many elements are left unexplained. Overall, the aesthetics are just not enough to save this vague zombie flick.

Screening:
Sat 11th, 8:45pm – Luna Leederville


Images courtesy of Revelation Perth International Film Festival, Rupert Glasson, Big Name Studios & Burning Ships Productions

 

Quick Picks – The Age of Adaline, The Room & The Gunman

Movie Review – The Age of Adaline

Less Benjamin Button and more Nicholas Sparks; The Age of Adaline fails to deliver on its high concept, but is successful enough as an oestrogen fuelled, wish fulfilment romance.

⭐ ⭐ ½
Review by Corey Hogan

Michiel Huisman and Blake Lively in The Age of Adaline

The Age of Adaline’s premise is an intriguing one, ripe with potential; a young woman (Blake Lively) becomes immune to the power of age in the early 20th century, and continues to live with the appearance of a 29 year old to this day. It is a shame then, that such an interesting concept is wasted on a fairly daft love story. Minutes into the film, director Lee Toland Krieger (Celeste & Jesse Forever) asks a large suspension of disbelief from his audience, as narration explains the agelessness, a result of Adaline being struck by lightning in a car accident. Setting quite a ridiculous tone for the events to come, we fast forward to present day, where Adaline is seduced by rugged Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman, tip-toeing the line between hopeless romantic and borderline stalker) and finally considers settling down after decades of identity change in fear of becoming a science experiment.

Things improve a great deal once Harrison Ford enters as Ellis’ father, who recognises Adaline as a former lover from the 60’s. This twist comes far too late in the film though, and is gold not mined nearly as much as it needs to be; Ford winding up submerged as the focus shifts back to the dull romantic leads. Perhaps I am simply the wrong audience for such a film – surrounding me were women of all ages gasping and sighing, clearly immersed in this wish-fulfilment fantasy. Undeniably classy, this at least boasts some fine performances from Lively, Ford and Ellen Burstyn (as another daughter reaching old age before her parent after Interstellar), but is too vanilla to earn the status of romantic epic.

The Age of Adaline is in Australian cinemas as of Thursday April 16th
Images courtesy of EntertainmentOne

 


 

Movie Review – The Room

It’s difficult to believe a film can be so intrinsically terrible, on so many levels, that it can bury itself (one plastic spoon-full at a time) into the world’s collective consciousness. Alas, The Room exists.

½
Review by Stephanie McGann

Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero in The Room

For the past twelve years The Room has been consistently selling out screenings, captivating hoards of cult film buffs, and unsuspecting punters alike. Perhaps you have that one friend who keeps banging on about how you really need to see it; meanwhile, your frustrated eye-rolling grows more and more exaggerated. Well, I’m channeling that friend right now, because it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re into; you need to see this train wreck at least once. And bring along a barrage of plastic spoons. They’re necessary – trust me.

Johnny (Tommy Wiseau) is a successful banker who lives in San Francisco with his fiancé Lisa (Juliette Danielle). The two are quite happily together; as evidenced by their rampant and decidedly un-sexy love making, until, for no apparent reason, Lisa seduces Johnny’s best friend Mark (Greg Sestero). Incomplete subplots involving the main characters’ family and friends flail about aimlessly, and serve no other purpose than to throw the audience off the true crux of the movie; that a group of guys wearing tuxedos can toss a football about if they like.

You really are doing yourself a disservice if you see The Room anywhere other than the cinema. It is made bearable for the audience through a deep sense of camaraderie, as punters are encouraged to call out, jeer, and throw spoons at the screen. You don’t need to be a film aficionado to appreciate the extent to which cinematography, scriptwriting, plot consistency are treated as mere trivialities by Wiseau, who also wrote, directed, and produced the film. The Room is so obliviously bad, it’s good. And as such, I rate it with a triumphant half star.

The Room screened at Luna Cinemas this past weekend, and will most likely be featured again in a few month’s time
Images courtesy of Wiseau-Films

 


 

Movie Review – The Gunman

Three strikes and you’re out; Sean Penn spreads himself far too thin as producer, cowriter and leading man in this predictable action film.

Sean Penn in The Gunman

⭐ ⭐
Review by Cherie Wheeler

Eight years on from participating in a covert operation to assassinate the Minister for Mining in the Congo, mercenary turned humanitarian Jim Terrier (Sean Penn) finds himself at the top of a hit list that aims to eradicate every man who was involved in the mission.

Although Penn delivers a rock solid performance as the aging, ex-soldier who struggles with a form of early onset Alzheimers, his on-screen work pales into insignificance alongside the convoluted, and at times, utterly preposterous script. Its most glaring weakness lies in the construction of the character of Felix (Javier Bardem) whose unhealthy obsession with Terrier’s lover (Jasmine Trinca) sets the main conflict of the film in motion. Whilst Bardem strives to engage his inner psychopath for yet another villainous role, his efforts are completely wasted on this sham of a character whose actions and motivations are completely lacking in credibility.

As Terrier’s friend and mentor, the foul-mouthed Stanley, Ray Winstone nails it (as always), managing to turn even the most woefully written dialogue into gold, and Trinca is also satisfying as the feisty love interest. Thankfully, there are some well-shot, tightly choreographed action sequences that offer respite from the Hollywood clichés and paper thin plot.

In the end, if you imagine The Bourne Identity (2002), crossed with a less comedic version of Red (2010), you essentially have The Gunman; a film that treads over what is now well-worn territory, and will only please those loyal to the genre.

The Gunman is in Australian cinemas as of Thursday April 16th
Images courtesy of Studiocanal