There are some truly awful movies out there. I’ve seen movies with no plot, no sense of artistic style, bad acting, bad writing, bad cinematography, unintelligible editing. But what’s even worse than a bad movie, what is frankly diabolical and incomprehensible, is a movie that’s good enough to be watchable but still completely irredeemable as a film. These kinds of movies tend to end up as cult favorites, watched at bad movie nights or midnight screenings for the purposes of heckling Mystery Science Theater 3000 style. At least one movie on this list is notorious for building up just this kind of cult fan base around it. If these were truly terrible movies, they wouldn’t be on anyone’s list. But they are watchable and incredulously ridiculous and pretty fun (with one exception) to watch. Make no mistake, though – these are awful movies, but they’re also worth a watch.
6. Highlander 2: The Quickening
Very rarely do you have a sequel that completely ignores the continuity of the original movie, but Highlander II is filled with inconsistencies and plot holes that disregards the facts of its forebear. These wild discrepancies are so grievous, in fact, that future sequels just pretend The Quickening never existed. The premise of the movie itself is equally convoluted, with the ozone layer having disintegrated and an artificial one having been designed to save the world. This plunges the Earth into a permanent state of nighttime, which causes despair and corruption over a number of generations. Meanwhile, MacLeod, now an old man close to death, manages to revive himself and resurrect Ramirez. Together they fight a greedy corporation whose income relies on the ozone dome, despite the fact that the ozone has repaired itself over the years. There’s also a plot involving the Immortals and another planet called Zeist. You might wonder why such a terrible script would attract the return of the original stars Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery. They openly admit it was a terrible movie and that they did it mainly for the money, but the original pull was they the two really enjoyed working together the first time and wanted to work together again. It just turned out later that the original script, combined with the interference of the production company, made for a terrible film. Lambert even tried leaving the movie, but was prevented from doing so by his contractual obligations. As for Connery, I suppose we really shouldn’t be surprised.
5. Batman and Robin
Some might argue that this move simply goes back to the campy routes of the Adam West Batman series and the Golden Age comics. I think that’s what it was attempting to do, and it’s certainly campy and corny, but it’s also just really terrible. There are too many outrageous, simplistic villains using far too many terrible puns for absolutely no reason. Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze was a particular affront to any Batman loving sensibilities. And then there’s the, you know, Bat-nipples. And let’s be honest, George Clooney made a fantastic Bruce Wayne, but a pretty lousy Batman. The millionaire playboy façade Bruce Wayne conveys really isn’t too far from the truth when it comes to Clooney, so he was a natural when it came to playing Wayne. The darker side is where it breaks down.
4. Plan 9 From Outer Space
This is the bad movie of bad movies, Edward D. Wood Jr.’s best known and most loved of the multitude of turkeys he produced during his career. Despite his general ineptitude, I suppose you have to admire his persistence and passion. The man wanted to make movies and he didn’t let money or his lack of talent stand in the way. Plan 9 is incredibly fun to watch, particularly because it is so bad in almost every respect. From the stilted dialogue to the cheesy effects, this movie is downright funny. Strangely enough, this movie is a big step up in quality from Ed Wood’s usual output, which is perhaps partly why it has become so popular as a bad movie. Despite everything, it is generally pretty watchable.
3. I Spit On Your Grave
This movie was and still is pretty controversial because it’s a graphic horror movie about the brutal gang rape of a woman and her subsequent quest for revenge. Roger Ebert counted it among the worst movies ever made and had absolutely nothing good to say about it. And part of the bad rap comes from just how disturbingly graphic and unforgiving the rape scene is. I happen to think there is merit in that, because convention depictions of rape in film tones it down and glosses it over. We feel mildly uncomfortable about these depictions, but never are we truly and properly horrified by what a cruel violation it is. This film will leave you disgusted by the acts these men commit against the woman who dared to reject them. The second half of the movie is all about her seeking revenge, using her sexuality to lure the men to death, reclaiming her body for her own purposes, and choosing when and how she gets to use it, and on whom.
How they were able to call this movie Catwoman I’ll never know, considering the character in the movie resembles the DC character so little as to be completely unrelated. Not only is the character not the thieving, parkouring semi-villain Selina Kyle, but she also randomly develops powers and a penchant for two piece leather suits. Interestingly, the movie was originally meant to be a direct spin off of the Michelle Pfeiffer character in Batman Forever and she even considered taking the role for a time. However, the movie was caught in production hell for a few too many years and had a few too many actresses attached to it – including Ashley Judd and Nicole Kidman – before settling on Halle Berry. Berry was ultimately won a Golden Raspberry for her role as Catwoman, marking the performance as the worst of the year. Berry credits the movie with giving her the motivation she needed to change her career around. I’m not entirely sure it helped.
1. The Room
This is the daddy of all cult classic bad movies, a perennial favorite at midnight screenings and quote-a-longs. It started as an underground fad in Los Angeles and spread across the country. Filmmaker and enigma Tommy Wiseau makes a pretty penny playing along, making appearances for Q&As and hamming it up as the strangely accented mystery that is the Wiseau legend. And the movie is actually truly terrible, from the random unconnectedness of the dialogue, to the inconsistent editing, poor continuity, and disregard for composition, all the way to the unnecessary and uncomfortably long sex scenes, unmotivated characters and incomprehensible plot. This movie is so bad that all you can do is laugh at how awful it is. It is so, so, so bad.