7 Terrible movies we love
There are some films that we love not in spite of their deficiencies but because of them—they may be flawed because of budget shortcomings, rampant ego or good old-fashioned incompetence but the results are bizarrely compelling.
One such is The Room, a movie first released in 2003 and the subject of the new James Franco film The Disaster Artist, a loving tribute to The Room and the writer/ producer/ actor/ financier who gave it life, Tommy Wiseau.
The Room has been called The Worst Film Ever Made but it has some stiff competition for that title. To mark the release of The Disaster Artist, we thought we'd round up some of the other Worst Films Ever Made.
Plan 9 From Outer Space
Oddly enough, The Disaster Artist is not the first film about a famously bad film. Ed Wood was made in 1995 and it's emphatically not a bad film. In fact, it's a really, really good one—quite Tim Burton's best.
It concerns the career of one Edward D Wood Jr. A true Renaissance Man—he wrote novels and staged plays, quite apart from his cinematic endeavours—he was responsible for the truly atrocious Plan 9 From Outer Space. Those who've seen it will know it's an utter farrago, awful in very nearly every respect.
But Tim Burton never mocks Wood, nor the movies he makes (which are, to repeat, uniformly awful). Instead, he treats him as an innocent, and very nearly a visionary: what matters isn't that his films are diabolical, it's that he made them his way.
Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
One of the great pleasures of really bad movies is wondering how they ever got made, and that goes double here. OK, so The Beatles were still enormously popular in 1978, so you can understand why someone thought there was some mileage in crafting a story around some of their songs (although, oddly, only those from Sergeant Pepper and Abbey Road). And maybe we can stretch comprehension just far enough—very nearly to breaking point, but not quite—to think it would be a good idea for it to star The Bee Gees (very popular themselves at that time).
Beyond that, though, you're on your own—what's Frankie Howerd doing there? Who thought it was a good idea to have Donald Pleasance as a rapacious singing record company boss?? And for the love of God, did they think we wouldn't notice that the script makes no sense whatsoever???
Those of a cynical disposition might suspect creative decisions were being made after recourse to illegal mood altering substances; the rest of us can only shake our heads in consternation.
Best Worst Movie
Not many people saw Troll 2 when it first appeared, but then why would they? A straight to video sequel to a film that few had bothered with in the first place is not exactly box-office (or even video chart) catnip. And when you factor in the no-name actors and special effects worthy of original series Doctor Who, the miracle is that anyone bothered with it at all.
But evidently someone did because over the next decade or so, a small cult built: “Dude, you've got to watch this—it's terrible.” This phenomenon is charted in Best Worst Movie, a film about the production of Troll 2 and the belated fame/ infamy it brought to those involved. It's also considerably better. Like, a zillion times better.
OK Connery (aka Operation Kid Brother)
Back in the Sixties, when James Bond was the most popular thing in movies, and enterprising producers were capitalising with knock-off spy movies, one producer had an idea. Everyone liked Sean Connery, right? So what about a movie... that starred his brother.
And, again, that has a weird sort of logic, especially if you hire Bernard Lee (who played M in legit Bond films) and Lois Maxwell (the original Miss Moneypenny) to back him up. What's less explicable is... well, pretty much everything else.
For a start, Connery minor—Neil, his name is—plays a character called "Neil Connery". What's more, he neither looks nor sounds anything like Big Sean: he wore a beard throughout and the producers dubbed him with an American accent. Oh, and for some reason they made him a master of mystical Tibetan magic, something big brother Bond never mastered.
Oddly enough, it did not make Neil Connery a superstar.
Any old hack can make a bad film but to make something truly dreadful requires genius. Film buffs often like to ponder what the worst film made by a truly great director is, but Skidoo, directed by Otto Preminger, has got to be up (or down) there.
Preminger had made masterpieces galore: if you haven't Anatomy of a Murder or Advise and Consent, you really should y'know. But he came unstuck with this counter-culture comedy, in which Groucho Marx plays a gangster called "God", Jackie Gleason takes LSD and a bunch of hippies invade a boat.
The whole thing is utterly inexplicable. Preminger boasted that he himself had "dropped acid" to prepare for the film. It shows.
Jaws: The Revenge
Talk about flogging a dead shark: the original Jaws—which really is one of the very best films ever made—was such a huge hit that sequels were probably inevitable but by the time they got to this, the third such spin-off it was clear that the jig was up.
A clue to the problems can be found in the title. Sharks aren't big on "revenge" are they? They're fish, and whatever else you might want to say about fish, they don't bear grudges. And even if they did, would they really nurse a grievance against a supporting character who had absolutely nothing to do with the death of previous sharks? (The target of the "revenge" is Ellen Brody, wife of police chief Martin in the first film, in which she vanishes half way through.)
To be fair there's a bit where a shark munches on a seaplane which is quite funny. Although, come to think of it, that's not typical shark behaviour either. Anyone would think that the producers didn't care...
An apology: Konga really doesn't belong on this list. True, it features Michael Gough, usually a barometer of utter uselessness. Moreover, there are some truly awful special effects too: that's because Michael Gough plays a scientist and some of his experiments go awry. And there's a bit where a giant ape terrorises downtown London, eventually scrambling up what was then known as the Post Office Tower. That's Michael Gough's fault too. He isn't just an ordinary scientist, you see. He's a MAD scientist and that giant ape was his doing.
But while Konga might look like a cheap British knock-off of King Kong, shabbily made and often laughable, it's tremendously good fun. Does any film that's so enjoyable really belong on a list of "bad" films?
In fact, you can extend that out to the titles above too: no matter their limitations, they're all entertaining. Far better them than those bloodless prestigious dramas that get watched out of a sense of duty.
Let's re-define terms: a bad film is one that can't be enjoyed on some level. There's only one unforgivable sin in movies, and that's to be boring (although as we, Tarkovsky fans, know, "boring" is very much in the eye of the beholder.)
So enjoy these movies not because they're "so bad they're good". Enjoy them because they're great fun: who cares if it's only by accident?