question of the weekend: what terrible movie do you love enthusiastically?


This weekend’s question once again comes from reader danielm80, who raised it in a comment to last weekend’s question:

What terrible movie do you love enthusiastically?

My choice has got to be Roland Emmerich’s 2009 disaster of a disaster flick, 2012. Allow me to quote myself:

It’s exhausting, this multiorgasmic destructo porn, but it is high-larious. I didn’t think the end of the world would be this funny. Billions are dead, civilization is over… call it Tectonic. But — and here’s where the funny comes in — preposterous coincidence will go on. Ridiculous dialogue will go on. Schmaltz will go on. Hyperbole will go on. And John Cusack will go on. Won’t he? *sniff*

Honestly, I never tire of how stupendously, entertainingly awful 2012 is. I mean: it features the majestic presence of Chiwetel Ejiofor as a White House science advisor compelled to say things like, “The director of the Louvre is not an enemy of humanity!” and “Our culture is our soul and that’s not dying tonight” with a straight face. It’s all so terrible and I love it.

(I’m reviving my “questions” posts — just on a weekend basis — as an experiment, to see if there’s any interest in them. I’m also posting these as free posts at Substack or Patreon. You don’t need to be a paying subscriber at either service if you’d prefer to comment at either of them, but you will need to register with either site to comment.)

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Sat, Aug 21, 2021 4:59pm

Wait a sec’! If I love a movie, then it is NOT terrible!

That being said, in recent years — several of the Fast and Furious movies. Specify, the first 4:
*The Fast and the Furious
*2 Fast 2 Furious
*Tokyo Drift
*Fast and Furious

There’s so much chaos in those movies. So much that is the scriptwriting equivalent of throwing spaghetti at a wall. I especially love how Sean’s dad in Tokyo Drift is obviously also a fuckup because he is a 40-something lieutenant. (Edited to add: I’m not sure that was intentional.)

Other “terrible” movies I have loved include:
*Alexander: The Other Side of Dawn, a TV movie from the late 70s that got rerun SO often. I annoyed several dorm mates by insisting on watching it. (We had a TV in the common room, no one had their own TVs.) It is dreadful. Melodramatic. Trying hard to be sleezy. Lots of feathered hair. It is a sequel to Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway. Yes, the sequel was better than the original!
*Disco Godfather, a Rudy Ray Moore special. Long before Eddie Murphy put him back on the map with Dolemite Is My Name, I had several years when it seemed I was always tripping over movies by him. For a long time, I thought he was better known than it turns out he was. I finally realized that white people did not know about him. I hadn’t realized it because I figured the reason I was one of only a couple white people in the theater was because I was in a Black neighborhood, then I realized they never played in white neighborhoods. My skinfolk don’t know what they missed!!
*Night Nurse, an awful melodrama with Barbara Stanwyck as a nurse and a very young, mustache-less Clark Gable as a bad guy. (There’s another one from a couple years later called Men In White with Gable as a doctor and Myrna Loy as his fiancee. It has affairs, abortion, doctors fighting over the diagnosis of a child, lots of emotion. Sometimes my memory conflates the two.)
*Another Stanwyck movie: Lady Burlesque. It’s about a murder, about LA, about strippers, it’s another throw-spaghetti-at-the-wall flick!
*And Under the Cherry Moon. That one actually IS terrible, but, I like it. So there.

Sat, Aug 21, 2021 5:14pm

I have such a soft spot for the dumb Super Mario Bros. movie. I watched it a zillion times as a kid even though it was widely reviled, and I still think it’s a genuinely admirably weird, underrated movie.

Sat, Aug 21, 2021 8:12pm

From this movie I learned that turkeys can indeed have hairstyles, so then there’s hope for the rest of us, but I was not prepared for the realism of its terrible, twitching nostrils

Paul Wartenberg
Sat, Aug 21, 2021 9:15pm

I’ve given this serious thought and I’ve decided on Con Air.
It’s slightly better than The Rock also starring Nicholas Cage, but the absurdity of Con Air’s plot and its willingness to make most of the bad guys even plausibly likable just puts it over the wall.

Sat, Aug 21, 2021 11:27pm

A terrible movie can provide me with the same thing I get from a great movie: delight at seeing new things – new stories, new ideas that have never been seen before, words that no one has spoken.

One of my favorites is Plan Nine from Outer Space – perhaps an obvious choice, but I was able to see a Rifftrax Live showing, in a packed theater, that reminded me again of the magic of bad movies, and of this movie in particular.

I had assumed that most people who would go to such a thing would have seen the movie before, but evidently most of the audience had not. The Rifftrax guys were funny, as always, but the biggest laughs and gasps of disbelief came from the audience simply experiencing this wonderful film for the first time. One of my favorite moviegoing experiences.

A more recent movie that comes to mind is The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course. There’s really no way this can be considered a “good” movie, but it is a wonderful, delightful one. From MaryAnn’s review:

This is a movie conceived in a delirum by a madman. Probably by a madman
who had never seen an actual movie, and yet still, upon receiving an
explanation of the concept, thought he might have a go at it. And this
is the real kicker: This madman succeeded, if only on his own
lithium-addled terms. This isn’t a good movie; this isn’t a bad movie.
This is a movie that dispenses with the whole good/bad paradigm and
exists on its own plane of reality.

Sun, Aug 22, 2021 4:25am

I’m very tempted to join the folks defending Jennifer’s Body.

These folks, for example:

But I can only really defend 50-60% of the film. Some of the dialogue—including a few of the lines quoted in the YouTube video—actually was just that awful.

The Bronze, on the other hand, I can defend almost in its entirety, mainly because of Melissa Rauch’s performance.

To enjoy the movie, you may need to have precisely my sense of humor.

Except even that isn’t quite true. There are films and TV shows I love where none of the jokes quite work, but they come so close that, in my head, I can replace them with better-worded dialogue and laugh at the jokes I wanted to hear. Most of the recent Harley Quinn projects, like the Birds of Prey movie and the Kaley Cuoco cartoon, fall into that category, and based on my experiences with James Gunn, I may respond to The Suicide Squad the same way when I finally get to see it.

But The Bronze has such memorable—and wonderfully terrible—characters, such original and hilarious situations, and such spectacular acting that I enjoyed just about every horrifying moment of the story, and even when the plot twists got predictable, I could never be certain things were going to turn out the way I expected. I’d be very curious to see Rauch in a dramatic film, if she ever gets another leading role after The Bronze.

Sun, Aug 22, 2021 4:38pm

I have never actually seen Sharknado, but I’ve vicariously loved it ever since I read Linda Holmes’ classic review of it. I’ve reread it several times over the years, and it still makes me laugh.

I also have not yet seen The VelociPastor, but I have a feeling I’d love it if I did. :-)

reply to  Bluejay
Mon, Aug 23, 2021 3:14pm

One of the things I’ve learned from this thread is that sometimes it’s better to read the review than watch the movie. This applies to movies of all kinds, which is why I picked up a Pauline Kael book after purchasing Dreamchild on Amazon Prime.

Mon, Aug 23, 2021 1:42pm

I’m also a big fan of Plan 9. Yes, the script and acting and effects are all pretty terrible. But there’s a “let’s put on the show right here” heart to it, and even an audacity: why not combine serious messagey SF like The Day The Earth Stood Still with zombies? Well, why not?

Also Starcrash, otherwise known as “science fiction is big now, right?”. And The Food of the Gods (Bert I. Gordon himself directs Marjoe Gortner, the kid whose parents ordained him at the age of four to use in their tent revival show). Lords of the Deep (“The Abyss was big, right?”). Shark in Venice, which is even worse than it sounds.

Tue, Aug 24, 2021 3:06am

RogerBW has reminded me of the one I see every now and then, and which always puzzles me – that is, the puzzlement is not only why on earth I like it, but what is really wrong with it. (Someone who wishes to indulge in thought exercises may be able to answer that, but not me.)

My contribution is “Battle Beyond the Stars”. It followed “Starcrash” by a couple years and similarly starred a bunch of people you know. Just tonight I discovered they include for heaven’s sake John Sayles and Roger Corman. Lordy. The cast is as widely diverse as they come, the alien characters Star Trek TOS-lame, the sets and visual effects cheesy, the dialog swings from not-bad to oh-dear. When it’s on, unless there’s something else on that I really want to see I’ll usually stick with it. (Partly because I’ve never seen it all from start to finish.) But see, I don’t laugh at it. I don’t think of it as a parody or anything like that. But I don’t think it’s good. What is this phenomenon?

Well, I’ll throw in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (original 1956 with Kevin McCarthy. Got no use for the remakes.) Always watch that thing. I love McCarthy’s building anxiety.

reply to  althea
Tue, Aug 24, 2021 8:09am

The movie that really puzzles me, oddly enough, is the musical version of The Producers. The stage version apparently worked perfectly well, but the movie doesn’t, and I can’t figure out why, especially when it was made by almost exactly the same people.

reply to  Danielm80
Mon, Sep 06, 2021 6:17pm

i love the movie musical version… a matter of taste, i guess…

Tue, Aug 24, 2021 8:43am

The Forbidden Zone; I think you’re either on that bus or you’re off it, and I’m on. Same goes for The Devil’s Advocate, which truly was Al Pacino at his curtain-chewingest. (I’d add What A Way To Go!, with Shirley Maclaine and a wardrobe or utter insanity, but dammit that’s actually a good movie and the ghost of Edith Head and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.)

Wed, Aug 25, 2021 11:51pm

Movies that are kind of supposed to be bad that I love: Rockly Horror Picture Show, Snakes on a Plane, and Wally’s Wonderland–a movie with Nic Cage fighting satanic animatronics. Bad movies that took themselves seriously that I love: Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom and the Fast and Furious movies.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
Sun, Sep 05, 2021 3:37pm

For me, there can be only one