When moviegoers decide on what to watch, a lot of people generally look for films praised by critics. Any rational spectator would seek films with engaging dialogue, impressive special effects, and a movie rich with subtext. However, there’s a certain class of fans who clamor for the exact opposite. Sometimes the greatest movies litter the bottom of critics’ best-of lists.
These universally panned films, known as B movies, rest in the clutter of dollar movie bins or on the marquees of midnight screenings. They revel in low budgets, terrible acting, and unrealistic special effects. Even when these films try to inspire drama or horror, they end up being perfect comedy fodder for late night enjoyment.
Here are 25 of the most side-splitting B movies ever made, from big budget flops to obscure masterpieces.
1. Troll 2
Troll 2 may be one of the most misleading titles of all time. The film doesn’t contain any actual trolls, and isn’t even a sequel to Troll. Originally titled Goblins, its distributors feared the film wouldn’t attract any viewers on its own, so they falsely billed it as a sequel. Troll 2 has since enjoyed a legendary status among B movie fans who flock to the laughably lackluster acting and low budget effects.
2. The Toxic Avenger
The rise of The Toxic Avenger is a classic rags-to-riches story. Written by B movie legend Lloyd Kaufman, the low-budget film received little to no response upon its release. Bleecker Street Cinema in New York City exposed cinema-goers to the film through multiple midnight screenings. Since its release in 1985, The Toxic Avenger has earned its place as a B movie essential, inspiring multiple spin-offs and even a kids show.
3. Collision Course
Think of Collision Course as the racist, shoddily-acted counterpart to Rush Hour. Starring a young Jay Leno and actor Pat Morita, the film pairs an American and Japanese police officer fighting crime while trying to reconcile their heavily-stereotyped differences. The result is a film with abysmal production values and cliche-ridden dialogue that defies all logic.
4. The Room
Since The Room’s release in 2003, director Tommy Wiseau has reached a level of fame that’s probably befuddling even to him. The drama focuses on the breakdown of Wiseau’s relationship with his girlfriend Lisa. While the plot seems simple enough to execute, Wiseau stuffs it with confusing plot points, insane twists, and ludicrous dialogue. The Room now has a fervent fan base rivaling the enthusiasm of Rocky Horror Picture Show die-hards.
5. Class of Nuke ‘Em High
Another classic from the twisted minds at Troma Entertainment, Class of Nuke ‘Em High features this incredible tagline: “Readin’… Writin’ and Radiation!” As one would expect, it’s a gloriously awful movie packed with grotesque special effects and plot elements that never bend to logic.
While most B movies feature obscure actors, Leprechaun happens to be Jennifer Aniston’s first film. Critics universally panned the film upon its release, pointing out its schlocky dialogue and ridiculous premise. Of course, both of these criticisms make Leprechaun a riotously funny B movie, which managed to inspire multiple sequels and a remake.
7. Ice Cream Man
The greatest B movies were often intended to be legitimate horror classics. With its $2 million budget, Ice Cream Man sought to be a sincerely scary tale of a murderous ice cream truck owner. However, the only thing terrifying about it is the fact that millions of dollars were spent producing such a spectacularly bad film.
8. Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Killer Klowns from Outer Space is one of those rare B movies that manages to achieve its intended goal. The Chiodo Brothers envisioned the film as a campy horror flick to captivate audiences through slapstick humor and twisted special effects. Currently, the film holds a 71% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, outpacing the critical acclaim of most B movies.
Before the Scary Movie parodies, there were few direct satire films on the market. Piranha made waves upon its release by lampooning the premise of Jaws, much to the chagrin of Universal Studios. Steven Spielberg eventually approved Piranha, lovingly referring to it as “the best of Jaws rip-offs.”
10. Hell Comes to Frogtown
While most remember the late actor/wrestler Roddy Piper for his starring role in They Live, he also stole the screen in another dystopian wasteland. Hell Comes to Frogtown features Piper as a virile vagrant captured by a series of armed nurses who find his fertility valuable. Piper’s journey makes for a perfect midnight movie due to its absurd premise and outlandish violence.
11. Surf Nazis Must Die
Though Lloyd Kaufman didn’t direct Surf Nazis Must Die, Troma Entertainment thankfully still released it to the masses. The film features one of the greatest David and Goliath tales as a mourning grandma seeks revenge on a band of Neo-nazis who killed her grandson while he was jogging on the beach.
12. Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead
Picking out favorites among the Troma archive is hard to do, but Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead certainly stands out as one of the best. Unlike most B movies, Poultrygeist uses its gross-out horror to create meaningful sub-text. The film lampoons the fast food industry in the most disgusting fashion imaginable as angry Native American spirits attack a local chicken restaurant for building on an ancient burial site.
13. Hercules in New York
Before Arnold Schwarzenegger became a noted governor, esteemed actor, and champion bodybuilder, he started his film career with Hercules in New York. It’s clear that casting directors specifically chose Schwarzenegger for his beefy body as his lines were dubbed over due to his accent. Even Schwarzenegger himself regrets appearing in the hilariously hackneyed flick.
It’s safe to say that no one ever asked for a horror movie about a shark-spitting tornado, but that didn’t stop the directors of the aptly-titled Sharknado. While the film never takes it self seriously, it still manages to hit the right notes expected of a classic B movie. Modern special effects give life to the wayward sharks as they terrorize the unsuspecting citizens of Los Angeles.
15. Alone in the Dark
Director Uwe Boll is notorious for his horrendous film adaptations of video games. Alone in the Dark is arguably his worst, because of its many plot holes and failure to tie in with any aspect of the game. However, its many shortcomings have made it a favorite among B movie enthusiasts who treasure its hilarious pitfalls.
16. The Gingerdead Man
If actor Gary Busey deserves any role, it’s voicing a psychopathic gingerbread man. In The Gingerdead Man, Busey stars as a serial killer on death row who finds new life when his mom mixes his ashes while baking gingerbread men. As expected, the revived cookie killer goes on a rampage for maximum comedic effect.
17. Mac and Me
When a movies amasses millions at the box office, there’s always another director waiting in its wake to recreate the film’s success under a different title. Mac and Me is like E.T. if Steven Spielberg had zero directing talent and decided to throw in a five minute dance number with a surprise appearance from Ronald McDonald.
18. Revenge of the Red Baron
Before Tobey Maguire achieved international fame in Spider-Man, he was battling a toy airplane in Revenge of the Red Baron. The film focuses on the ghost of a World War 1 fighter who possesses a miniature airplane to exact revenge on his killer. While most people could take on a toy plane, somehow the Red Baron’s ghost manages a fairly successful killing spree.
19. It Came from Beneath the Sea
Early film directors faced a momentous challenge when making monster movies. In the 1955 film It Came from Beneath the Sea, the directors made an honest mistake in trying to achieve their ambitions with limited special effects. The monster in question fails to strike any fear in audiences, but makes for perfect comedy fodder.
20. Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Some B movies serve as the first place where budding actors are able to cut their teeth. John Barrowman, who later starred in Doctor Who, refined his acting chops in Shark Attack 3: Megalodon. The film was one of his first starring roles, and has since become an internet sensation due to its ludicrous special effects.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 rose to fame for its hilarious criticism of bad movies. However, there are some movies too awful to make fun of. ThanksKilling is a perfect example. The film features a killer turkey who gets summoned from the dead to take revenge on unsuspecting citizens. Naturally, any film with a turkey as its antagonist makes for a hilariously awful movie.
22. Plan 9 from Outer Space
Plan 9 from Outer Space has carved out a legacy as one of the unequivocally worst movies to ever hit the big screen. While some challenge that title due to its charm, the film still retains a legendary status as the quintessential B movie. Shows from Seinfeld to Futurama have paid tribute to the movie’s trailblazing comedy.
23. Hard Ticket to Hawaii
The trailer for Hard Ticket to Hawaii opens with an announcer proclaiming that the movie “has it all.” He’s certainly right, but for entirely different reasons then he intended. The campy classic features all the touchstones of a perfect B movie with brainless dialogue, unnecessary action, and an unbelievable plot.
24. Hobo With a Shotgun
Hobo With a Shotgun is a film made to pay tribute to the wonderful schlock of B movie classics. Based off a fake trailer for the movie Grindhouse, the film follows a disgruntled homeless man with a penchant for slaughter. Though it wasn’t widely released, Netflix picked up the movie where it garnered an active fan base enamored with its extreme gore.
Machete is another essential B movie that started out as a fake trailer for Grindhouse. Danny Trejo stars as the fierce Machete, who seeks revenge on a corrupt Texas senator that tries to frame Trejo for his fake assassination. Director Robert Rodriguez successfully uses Trejo as a vehicle for unrepentant violence propped up with hokey dialogue.
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