Good movies are plenty entertaining on their own, but occasionally, there’s nothing like turning your brain off and enjoying a bit of amusing ineptitude put to film. Watching bad movies is a strangely communal experience, as friends and strangers alike gather in homes and theaters to laugh at a truly baffling failure of a film. It’s tricky trying to label the “best” of these horrible and horribly entertaining films, but here are ten of the most entertainingly bad films of all time that both bad film buffs and uninitiated watchers can enjoy.
10. From Justin to Kelly
Remember when American Idol was a new reality show craze sweeping the nation? This was the shameless cash-in on that craze you never saw. First season winner Kelly Clarkson and runner-up Justin Guarini try to pretend they can act in this head-scratching rom-com musical centered around an oddly wholesome spring break hotspot. The story involves an inexplicably evil friend with a convoluted plot to keep the two leads apart. The songs are among the movie’s most hilarious sequences, for the dated costumes, lousy choreography, and gratuitous shots of skateboarders.
9. The Wicker Man (2006)
Nicolas Cage has become something of a punchline in recent years for his willingness to totally and completely lose it in even the most questionable of films. In this remake of a ’70s classic thriller, he plays a cop who never asks questions visiting a cultish island of only women in order to find his missing daughter. Cage is flat and boring for most of the film while the women ooze over-the-top menace, until he finally explodes into priceless freak-out after priceless freak-out. Beyond screaming about bees in his eyes, he also dresses as a bear and punches a woman at one point. The film aims to be a slow build in tension but instead functions like a slow build in uproarious insanity.
Just watch the trailer for the delicate 2003 dramedy called Tiptoes, and you’ll have some idea what makes this attempt at awards bait so baffling. Matthew McConaughey and Kate Beckinsale star as a young couple struggling with the idea that their first child may be born with dwarfism, as McConaughey is the only one of average height in his family of dwarves. Gary Oldman standing on his knees leads a cast of dwarves featuring a French, socialist, wine-swilling Peter Dinklage. The film itself shifts gears and tones time after time, trying to decide if it wants to be a goofy comedy or a very serious “issues” movie about dwarfism. The titled line readings and the bizarre plotting make this one a treat to watch.
7. Glen or Glenda
Ed Wood is widely considered to be the king of bad movies, a man whose status as the worst director ever even inspired a Tim Burton film (titled Ed Wood, of course). His most famous work is Plan 9 from Outer Space, but Glen or Glenda may be even worse, and therefore even funnier. Wood, a cross-dresser himself, made this film to explore the trials of a transvestite — progressive ideas for a 1953 film, bogged down by some of the worst acting, scripting, and production values ever put to film.
Halle Berry at the height of her career starred in this flop about the DC anti-heroine, reduced from badass vigilante to the weakest hero imaginable, whose only heroics involve charming a police officer and taking down an evil makeup company. The costume is laughable, and the filmmakers devote a lot of time to Berry actually adopting the mannerisms of a cat. Coupled with a painful script and unintelligible direction (see the basketball scene above), Catwoman becomes one of Hollywood’s most fascinating failures.
5. Manos: The Hands of Fate
Manos: The Hands of Fate (translation — Hands: the Hands of Fate) goes beyond standard B-movie bad to become something entirely its own. Even calling it a z-movie seems too generous. The cheaply made horror film follows a family that spends the night in a mysterious home, populated primarily by a goat-legged — yes, goat-legged — creep named Torgo and his mysterious master. The lines are hokey and the production terrible, but the surreal touches are what really make this one shine, from the teen couple perpetually making out by the side of the road to the cast of robed women who devolve into an endless cat fight of no importance to the barely-there narrative.
4. Batman and Robin
This is the film that brutally concluded the ’90s Batman franchise, and it isn’t difficult to see why. Director Joel Schumacher created a garish eyesore of a film, where even the cityscapes look like elaborate sets made up entirely of enormous statues and ugly green lighting. The acting and dialogue is similarly horrendous, with Arnold Schwarzenegger spouting ice puns as Mr. Freeze while Uma Thurman overacts as Poison Ivy and Chris O’Donnell whines relentlessly as Robin. George Clooney plays the caped crusader, who, in this version, carries around a bat-credit card and wears a suit accentuating his nipples. Seriously.
3. Birdemic: Shock and Terror
In essence, Birdemic: Shock and Terror is a shameless Hitchcock ripoff that looks like it was shot on your mother’s camcorder. The effects could be recreated by any four-year-old with iMovie, and it’s easy to tell the film was scripted by someone who spoke English as a second language. The first half of the film is horribly slow, focusing on a bland love story about the dullest man ever put to film. Even funnier than the lousy effects is the lazy moralizing, as characters spout poignant lines like “Why can’t we just give peace a chance?” and “We must act more like astronauts, spacemen taking care of Spaceship Earth.”
2. Troll 2
Troll 2 is a film so bad it earned its own documentary, fittingly entitled Best Worst Movie. Troll 2 features no trolls, but instead focuses on a family of four who visit the not-at-all suspicious town of Nilbog (“it’s goblin spelled backwards!”) and fall prey to a race of strictly vegetarian goblins. This apparent family film is filled with dated ’80s fashions, amateurish acting by amateurs, stomach-churning foodstuffs, and one of the weirdest “sex” scenes in film history, wherein a man and woman make out with an ear of corn that begins popping with the heat of their passion. It doesn’t get much better than that.
1. The Room
Where to even begin with this one? Since its release in 2003, The Room has become a veritable cult classic through a never-ending string of midnight screenings often attended by writer/director/producer/star Tommy Wiseau. Wiseau, who sports an unidentifiable accent, set out to create an affecting drama about a man betrayed by his future wife and best friend, but wound up with a film that looks like it was made by an alien trying to understand human interactions. Every single element of the film — from production design to dialogue, from cinematography to sex scenes — is terrible, like a crash-course in how not to make a movie. With a slew of unnecessary scenes, many of them unendurable sex scenes, and dialogue like “I’m so happy I have you as my best friend, and I love Lisa so much,” The Room is the most entertainingly bad film ever created.
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