Some movies, like The Room and Birdemic: Shock and Terror, are so awful that they’re simply amazing to sit down and watch. You can tell that the people who made these films did so with the best of intentions and seriously had no idea how bad they were, and that’s what makes them so compelling. Naturally, it stands to reason that other filmmakers would want to latch on to that kind of cult status, but it’s hard to make a so-bad-it’s-good movie when you’re actually trying — usually it just ends up being bad. Still, there are some amazing films that were actually intended to be pretty ridiculous, and we’d like to share them with you — if you can stomach the terrible special effects and contrived plots, of course. Let us know your favorites in the comments!
Full of nonsensical action (Rose McGowan has a machine gun leg that she uses to fight off the undead!), grainy images, torn film, “missing” reels that don’t exist, and fake advertisements that later went on to become real movies (like Machete and Hobo with a Shotgun), Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s love letter to the exploitation genre has become a cult hit despite its poor performance at the box office.
Mars Attacks! (1996)
Directed by Tim Burton and based on a trading card game, this science fiction parody has corny jokes, weird celebrity cameos, actors in multiple roles (Jack Nicholson joked after being cast as the president that he wanted to play all the parts, and he got his wish), and effects that were as cheap-looking as they could possibly be. The film was a box-office bomb and received mixed reviews, but it also won several Hugo and Saturn awards and received widespread renown for its intentionally crappy visual effects.
Kung Pow: Enter The Fist (2002)
What do you do when you want to parody a ’70s martial arts movie as faithfully as possible? You take a real martial arts movies from the ’70s and insert yourself with a green screen, then re-dub everybody’s lines yourself. That’s exactly what Steve Oedekerk did when he used footage from Tiger and Crane Fist to make a new story about a “chosen one” who must defeat the man who killed his parents, Master Pain. It currently holds an 11% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, but still has a huge cult following.
The House That Drips Blood on Alex (2010)
Apparently Tommy Wiseau got wise to the fact that people were watching his film The Room because it was awful. We guess he was hoping lightning would strike twice when he made this short film that debuted on Comedy Central a few years ago, which stars him as Alex… well, getting dripped on by a House of Blood. If you’re a big fan of the unintentional hilarity of The Room, you might be a little bit disappointed by some of the more obvious jokes, but considering that he was actually trying to be bad this time, it’s a pretty solid effort. Watch it on Hulu.
Blondes in the Jungle (2010)
This 48-minute romp through the Honduras jungle is about a bunch of preppy school kids in the ’80s who are looking for the Fountain of Youth. It’s full of amateur acting, unbelievably long silent jungle sequences, lots of drug use, and a Mayan jungle god who has sex with teens. Long story short, it’s amazing — and it’s won a couple of film festival awards in Chicago in Melbourne, so apparently the cheesiness works. You can watch the whole thing streaming on the movie’s website.
Freddy Got Fingered (2001)
When this film first came out, it was considered the worst movie ever made because of its schlocky, transgressive attempts at being funny (it is, in a word, disgusting). But over time critics have actually began to embrace the film’s attempt at horrible humor, calling it “performance art” and “underrated.” That didn’t stop it from taking home a Razzie Award for “Worst Movie of the Decade,” though.
The Toxic Avenger (1984)
Here’s a tip: if a film describes itself as a “comedy-thriller,” expect it to have the worst special effects and plot possible. The Toxic Avenger is no exception; a spoof on superhero and horror movies, it features awful, over-the-top acting, amazing amounts of gore, and people who suddenly become dummies when they’re getting beaten up. Considering that the filmmakers used to specialize in sex comedies, it’s no surprise that they’re able to make fun of themselves the whole way through the movie.
Fans of the Tim and Eric Awesome Show know all about their strange, screwball, so-bad-it’s-good, half-real-life-public-access-half-disturbing-sketch-comedy style. Well, never fear: if you want more of that, you’ll get it in the movie version. In the film, Tim and Eric are given a billion dollars to make a movie but they waste it all, so they have to try to make the money back somehow.
Black Dynamite (2009)
Our favorite of the bunch, this loving tribute to blaxploitation movies is about an ex-CIA agent who must avenge his brothers’ death at the hands of drug dealers who give crack to orphans, who are also on the take from the government, in a conspiracy that goes all the way up to the top. There are some great moments in this film, like when a stuntman accidentally hits one of the stars in an action scene and is immediately replaced by a new actor after a jump cut, or when a bunch of bad guys get out of their car but forget to turn off the ignition and have to chase it down the street. The best part? None of these gaffes were planned — they just sort of happened over the course of the movie, and the filmmakers left them in. After all, what’s a B movie without a couple of visible boom mics?