Trash Films: Why Are the Worst Movies Ever Made So Fun to Watch?

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I love this line:

It’s not that Sharknado and its five sequels don’t fit the definition of so-bad-it’s-good — they can even be fun to watch, once — but there is a certain laziness and dishonesty to them in their lovelessly calculated formula. It holds them back from being infinitely and joyfully rewatchable.

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Jonah made a good point about trying to riff self-aware movies like Sharknado. They may be objectively bad movies, but it is hard to make fun of them because they are already making fun of themselves.

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Sharknado is a comedy anyway. BBI also made comments regarding riffing comedies.

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Yeah, a bad movie is only fun to watch if it thinks it’s a good movie.

It’s like Krusty the Klown’s advice about the pie-in-the-face gag. It’s only funny if the chump has dignity.

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What is typically funnier?

(A) A clown that is trying to deliberately be ridiculous.
(B) A normal person that something ridiculous happens to by pure chance.

As a general rule, I would say that truly funny things are more in the B category than the A category.

When a clown jumps into the center ring and starts getting hit in the face with a pie in what you know is a pre-planned gag then it can be funny. But it’s a sort of “ha ha” funny. You know its coming. It’s blunt. It’s expected. You’re prepared for it.

But when a normal guy is walking down the street, the wind kicks up, and a pie flies off a store shelf and splatters him in the face it combines a moment of horror (oh no is he OK?) followed by a pure joy of hilarity. It’s genuine. It’s unexpected. It elicits a humor response that has no strings.

So bad movies that are deliberately TRYING to be bad movies are more like the Clown. You know they’re being ridiculous on purpose and so the humor they elicit can be good … but they are having to WORK at it hard because everyone knows they’re a clown in the center ring about to take a pie to the face. Their ridiculousness is assumed, and therefore the humor in it is of a lesser order because it is EMULATING something else. And if you watched the same act multiple times? It get progressively less funny with each viewing until it’s just background noise.

Bad movies like Manos that are bad in spite of themselves have a more natural demeanor. They’re not bad because they’re trying to be bad. They are the pure, elemental, Jungian bad that other bad movies seek to copy. And like other genuine things like a sunrise, or waves on a beach … a genuinely bad movie is something you can watch over and over and over again because it is natural and unforced.

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The Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics?

That’s hilarious.

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They’re only really fun if the person pushing them (Wiseau/Breen) are deluded enough to believe they are truly making art.

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Granted Kids/Family movies are a somewhat grey area.

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I think there are three kinds of bad movies.

  1. Movies where they tried and failed- Plan 9 From Outer Space or Manos: The Hands of Fate

  2. Movies where they didn’t care- Hobgoblins or Castle of Fu Manchu

  3. Movies that are intentionally bad- Sharknado or Atlantic Rim

All three types have been riffed successfully by MST3K, but I think type 3 is the biggest risk and, while it has some quotable bits, I consider Atlantic Rim to be a poor choice and a weak entry.

Yeah, I think Hobgoblins and Atlantic Rim are the only intentionally bad movies MST3K has done, and they’re two of the least funny episodes. I hope they never do another one.

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See I don’t think Hobgoblins was intentionally bad, I think they just didn’t care. But Atlantic Rim was intentionally bad. I think The Wild, Wild World of Batwoman is also intentionally bad.

Starcrash was just one of many attempted cash-ins on the sudden popularity of science fiction post-Star Wars. But while it is cynical, it becomes glorious by the sheer gusto exhibited by everyone involved.
So there are some grey areas.

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Care

Though quite honestly I think that Attack of The The Eye Creatures was TRYING to be bad … just not trying as hard as other movies that try to be bad. The scripting was so deliberately hamfisted.

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I LOVE this topic. So many theories and, as we have seen, actual books and acedemic papers have been written about it.

I must repectfully disagree with those who think that Attack of the The Eye Creatures, Hobgoblins, The Wild, Wild World of Batwoman, Castle of Fu Manchu, et al were intentionally produced to be bad. The process of making a movie, even (especially?) a low or no budget movie is SO AGONIZING that I cannot imagine anyone would attempt it without some kind of expectation that it would turn out well.

I can accept the theory that alot of schlock filmmakers were only in it for the money. Crank ‘em out, let the picture play the drive-in circuit a few summer months and maybe make some profit. But those movies more than likely ended up being BORING, (yeah, I’m lookin’ at YOU Roger Corman) which is instant death when it comes to camp potential.

The one thing a great bad movie can’t be, it can’t be boring. It needs to induce a sense of astonishment while watching; it must trigger the “What were they thinking!?” response.

Another element I look for in a bad movie is how the badness progresses, scene to scene, with each terrible scene being one-upped by the next terrible scene, until the whole mess is a pile of crazy bad delight, like a pineapple upside down cake of awfulness. I’ve noticed that many enjoyably bad films are best in the final third, where most films usually flounder, even pretty good ones.

Nay, my friends, I don’t think that the filmmakers didn’t care. Ed Wood cared. Tommy Wiseau cared. Even the guy who made Hobgoblins cared. And it was this very caring that made their cinematic flusterclucks so damn entertaining.

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I gotta tell you, @GustavLongtorso, having worked in the industry, sometimes you’re just in it for the paycheck.