It is difficult to explain why bad films are so appealing to somebody who isn’t already an admirer of them. Certain people simply have a penchant for campy nonsense, which allows them to endure even the most ridiculous of scenes. For such people, a really campy film is like a perfectly conceived piece of comedy. It’s as if every line has been painstakingly crafted to be as funny as it possibly can be, even though, in truth, the humour has occurred entirely by accident.
No film contains more of this strange brand of humour than The Room, which is such an unintentional masterpiece that it is comparable to Leonardo da Vinci sitting down to paint the Mona Lisa, but instead accidentally building the Arc de Triomphe. The film is the brainchild of a peculiar man named Tommy Wiseau, who as well as directing the project, also wrote, produced and starred it, while funding it all with money he had made importing leather jackets from Korea.
Tommy plays Johnny, the film’s main character, who resembles how Michael Jackson might have looked if he had tried and failed to eat his way through a beehive. He is a successful banker whose girlfriend, Lisa, one day decides that she is bored with him and decides to seduce his best friend, Mark.
Even during some of the less strange parts, The Room feels like the work of a person who has spent much of their life locked in dank basement, and who has had to teach himself about the world by watching bad American television. Although it only has a simple premise, a large portion of the film is dedicated to a series of unrelated subplots involving the friends and family of the main characters.
For instance, in one scene Lisa’s mother casually reveals she is dying to her daughter, who doesn’t seem especially interested in her mother’s health at all. “You’re not dying, mom,” says Lisa, incredulously. “I got the results of the test back,” her mother responds. “I definitely have breast cancer.” But besides this one scene, the breast cancer storyline is never revisited or indeed ever mentioned again, and the same goes for countless other scenes, too.
Of all the entertainingly bad films, only Troll 2 beats The Room in terms of both strangeness and number of continuity issues, and that’s only because Troll 2 was written by an Italian man with a very limited grasp of English. The original Troll was very different to its sequel: it was most notable for featuring such well-known actors as Sonny Bono and a pre-Seinfeld Julia Louis-Dreyfus. But Troll 2 in fact has very little to do with the original at all.
Existing in its own utterly insane universe, the films tells the story of a family vacationing in the small town of Nilbog (“It’s goblin spelled backwards!”) that is entirely inhabited by goblins disguised as humans. Yes, there are no trolls in Troll 2, only goblins—a variety of which that happen to be vegetarian and therefore have to turn humans into plants before they can eat them.
Cool As Ice is an entirely different, albeit just as hilarious, type of bad movie, which sees human toothbrush Vanilla Ice don his leather jacket in order to impress a girl who is significantly more middle-class than he is. In years to come, the film will serve as reminder of all the terrible things that were around in the ‘90s, and how Vanilla Ice was responsible for pretty much all of these things. With lines such as, “Words of wisdom: drop that zero and get with the hero,” and, “Let’s G.O.” it is an essential bad film that somehow manages to be more ‘90s than the actual ‘90s were.
Similarly, the film Miami Connection, manages to do the same thing, but with the 1980s. The year is 1987 to be precise, a year in which motorcycle ninjas are the kings of the narcotics trade. But it is also the year of martial arts rock band Dragon Sound, whose members wish to put an end to all the crime by embarking on a tour of crime-crushing justice.
When they’re not performing their hit song “Against the Ninja”, Dragon Sound are kicking and chopping their way through a seedy underbelly of unimaginable proportion. In spite of all the dangers thrown at them, the band vow not to stop until they’ve ousted all crime, which means that they must get rid of drunk bikers, crazy ninjas, the “stupid cocaine” and indeed the entire Miami Connection.
1987 is a significant year for bad movies, for it happens to be the year in which Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 was released, the unintentionally hilarious follow up to one of the most notorious slasher films ever made. In this second instalment, Ricky, the brother of the killer in the first film, talks to a psychiatrist about how he, too, has become a killer. The actor who plays Ricky is what really makes the film, due to his apparent belief that good acting comes not from the heart, but rather from the eyebrows.
Thus much of the film features Ricky looking as if he’s trying to propel his own eyebrows off of his face using only the muscles in his forehead. But his facial gymnastics truly reach their full potential during the film’s infamous “garbage day” scene, which features Ricky performing a full spasm of the face before bellowing, “Garbage day!” and shooting an innocent man who is casually putting his rubbish out on the street.
In terms of internet popularity, only one scene rivals “Garbage Day”, and that’s John Barrowman’s romance thwarting proposition from the film Shark Attack 3: Megalodon, in which Barrowman nonchalantly says to his love interest: “Whadda ya say I take you home and eat your pussy?” The film then cuts to Barrowman and his lady friend necking in the shower like two leeches fighting for room on a forearm, the proposal seemingly having worked.
But the exceptional part of it all is that this hilarious scene isn’t even the finest moment from Shark Attack 3: Megalodon. Indeed, much like The Room, the entire 130 minutes are full of unintentional brilliance, such as the scene involving Barrowman trying to beat to death an enormous prehistoric shark with only a small baseball bat.
For anyone who has even smallest interest in bad films, Shark Attack 3: Megalodon, as well as any of the films mentioned above, are well worth seeking out. These are just a few of the most entertaining ones, the ones that have managed to go unnoticed by the person whose job it is to say, “Perhaps you should re-do that part.” These are the films that are considered established classics amongst many bad film lovers. But there are plenty more good ones out there, and every day the list of bad films is being added to, usually by directors whose ambition to make a dramatic masterpiece is greatly overshadowed by their inability to reassess their own work. So it is to those people I give my thanks.
For more information on bad films, go to reddit.com/r/badmovies.