The term “so bad, it’s good” is often used to describe films that are plagued by poor filmmaking and bad acting, but still tend to be fascinating to watch. A lot of these films go on to generate cult followings and can be seen as the very definition of guilty pleasures. Of course, calling a film good or bad is a subjective opinion and not everyone will believe that these films belong on this list. However, here are some of the most notable “so bad, it’s good” films.
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
A list of “so bad, it’s good” films wouldn’t be complete without including Edward D. Wood Jr., who is widely considered to be the “worst director of all time.” Indeed, Plan 9 from Outer Space is not at all a well-constructed film, with its obviously fake flying saucers and posthumous footage of Bela Lugosi, which is supplemented by a double who looks nothing like him. However, even though his films are far from award-winning, the films of Ed Wood have gained a cult following and the director was even the subject of a 1994 biopic by Tim Burton
Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
The low budget horror film Manos: The Hands of Fate is widely regarded as one of the worst films ever produced. The film began to ascend to cult status when it was featured on the television series Mystery Science Theatre 3000 in 1993. The lasting appeal of Manos: The Hands of Fate was demonstrated last year, when a restoration of the film was released on blu-ray.
Troll 2 (1990)
Troll 2 is probably one of the most infamous “so bad, it’s good” movies, with the film even being the subject of the 2009 documentary Best Worst Movie. A sequel in name only, Troll 2 is infamous for its very cheesy looking goblin costumes and lines of dialogue such as “Nilbog! It’s goblin spelled backwards! This is their kingdom!”
Showgirls arguably marked the beginning of the end of Paul Verhoeven’s North American career, with him only directing two more films before heading back to Europe. To many, Showgirls is a film with bad acting and softcore pornography, which practically killed the career of former Saved by the Bell actress Elizabeth Berkley. However, Showgirls has grown a large number of supporters over the past two decades and Toronto film critic Adam Nayman even released a 2014 book entitled “It Doesn’t Suck: Showgirls.”
Batman & Robin (1997)
Look up “franchise killer” in the dictionary and there would probably be a picture of the fourth original-franchise Batman film. It says a lot when a film’s soundtrack album is better than the film, with Joel Schumacher successfully degrading Tim Burton’s vision of the Dark Knight into a full on campy cartoon. The film was so damaging to the Batman franchise, it took a full eight years before Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins breathed new life into the character. Today, people can watch Batman & Robin and laugh at how much of a campy trainwreck it is.
Battlefield Earth (2000)
Next to Tom Cruise, John Travolta is probably one of the most infamous celebrity Scientologists. In 2000, Travolta decided to bring his faith to the big screen, with this partial adaptation of L. Ron Hubbard’s sci-fi epic. Battlefield Earth was universally derided and John Travolta’s career has never fully recovered, with him now being mainly known for mispronouncing Idina Menzel’s name during the 2014 Oscars.
The Room (2003)
In 2003, an eccentric man named Tommy Wiseau directed and starred in a romantic drama that has gone on to be described as “the Citizen Kane of bad movies.” The Room is one of those “so bad, it’s good” films that has to be seen to be believed, with the film continuing to be shown at monthly midnight screenings. The cult status of The Room has grown so strong that the film will be the subject of the upcoming biopic The Masterpiece, based on the book “The Disaster Artist,” which is directed by and starring James Franco.
Ben Affleck’s career nearly derailed when he starred in this romantic crime comedy with his then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez. Gigli was infamous for how terrible it was and it resulted in director Kevin Smith to make plot revelations about his upcoming (and equally derided) film Jersey Girl to calm concerns that it was going to be another “Bennifer” movie. The question that has to be asked is whether anyone bothered to see Gigli, which was already infamous for its badness long before it was released.
The Wicker Man (2006)
The 2006 remake of The Wicker Man is an interesting case of “so bad, its good” cultness. As an example of Nicolas Cage craziness, a scene from the film of him yelling “NOT THE BEES!” become a viral hit. However, the irony is that this is actually a deleted scene that is not at all present within the film itself. However, there are still plenty of Cageisms at play in this misguided remake.
For years, The Asylum has been known for producing cheap direct-to-video knock-offs of popular film franchises, as well as various over-the-top creature features. The studio had an unexpected hit in 2013 when SyFy aired Sharknado, which went on to become one of the most watched original films for the station. The film quickly rose into cult film status, with the Rotten Tomatoes consensus stating that the film “redefines ‘so bad, it’s good’ for a new generation.” The Asylum knew they had a hit on their hands and decided to milk Sharknado for all it’s worth, with a third sequel having been released last year.