25 Movies So Bad They're Unmissable

Horrible! Utterly horrible! And yet, fascinating...


What makes a film so appalling that it transitions from ordinary ineptitude into the sublime; beyond cult status (and all reason) and into that surreal place where you really can't believe what you're watching? RT's regular contributor Michael Adams has a pretty good idea: as part of his new book Showgirls, Teen Wolves and Astro Zombies, he spent an entire year seeking out the greatest atrocities cinema has ever unleashed, watching more than 400 bad movies in a quest to to find the worst film ever made. Along the way, he spoke with such bad movie aficionados as John Landis, Joe Dante, Eli Roth, John Waters and the Mystery Science crew, while himself appearing in George Romero's Survival of the Dead. Here then are 25 of his picks for those films that, awful as they may be, you simply cannot turn away from...




Showgirls (1995)

Following their smash-hit Basic Instinct, director Paul Verhoeven and writer Joe Eszterhas tried to shock cinemagoers with this sensational look at the sleazy world of Las Vegas strips clubs and showgirl casino spectaculars. Audiences and critics were shocked all right. They were shocked at Eszterhas' ludicrously "hard-hitting" dialogue about who has nice breasts, who is a whore, who finds it hard to adjust to no longer being ejaculated on. They were shocked at Verhoeven thinking we'd be turned on by Elizabeth Berkley and Kyle MacLachlan making love in a neon-lit pool like they'd been set on the spin cycle. Most of all they were shocked that this supposedly erotic drama generated nothing but guffaws.





Battlefield Earth (2000)

After his post-Pulp Fiction comeback, John Travolta made himself a laughing stock in this partial adaptation of his guru L. Ron Hubbard's sci-fi novel. Set in the year 3000, a millennium after the Psychlo master race invades Earth and enslaves humanity, this has Travolta as a 10-foot-tall alien who gets around in dreadlocks, nose plugs and KISS boots. Even more over-the-top is his performance, which is all mwu-ha-ha-ing and an almost Shakespearean declamation of eeeeeeevil! Barry Pepper's terrible, too, bringing Christian Bale levels of intensity to his cave warrior. What also makes this badly watchable is that director Roger Christian shoots every scene on a weird askew angle.





Glen Or Glenda (1953)

Ed Wood Jr.'s feature debut is a favorite of David Lynch, who actually sampled some of its sound effects in his 1977 debut Eraserhead. You can see the similarities; the two movies inhabit a shared surreal space. With Wood indulging his transvestite leanings in the lead role(s) and battling his literal devils, Bela Lugosi as a God-like puppetmaster, and acres of stock footage with dissonant Rumsfeld-esque narration, this cross-dressing, sex-changing melo-docu-drama is brain-scramblingly weird.





Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)

Crowned as the "worst movie ever made" back in the 1980 book The Golden Turkey Awards, this is the movies' most famous Z-grade clunker. Despite a discernible lack of talent and resources, auteur Ed Wood Jr. staged an alien invasion epic. It's impossible not to be amazed and somehow charmed that he tried to fulfill this ambition with an amateur cast, unrelated footage of his now-dead friend Bela Lugosi, an unconvincing stand-in for the former Dracula star, model-kit flying saucers, a cardboard cemetery, and an airplane cockpit comprised of a couple chairs and a shower curtain... among other celebrated inadequacies.





Robot Monster (1953)

While Ed Wood's aliens looked suspiciously like fey middle-aged men in silver jumpsuits, Phil Tucker's ET invaders were even less likely, unless, that is, NASA's suppressing knowledge that our cosmic neighbors are gorilla-robots who wear diving helmets and wield genocidal bubble machines. Originally released in 3-D, Robot Monster actually made a small fortune relative to its paltry budget. Viewed today, it's hilarious, but, like Plan 9, compelling for its bizarre plotting and dialogue so dreadful it actually becomes like poetry.



Comments

Stepping Razor

Stepping Razor

Too bad we can't have an awards show for awful movies that gets as much fanfare as the stuffy Oscar show. I'd watch that every time.

Jan 30 - 09:12 PM

alexjgunn

Alex Gunn

Agh, but there is my friend, there is!

http://www.razzies.com/

Jan 30 - 10:33 PM

Tyler H.

Tyler Hall

And next year it's getting televised! True story.

Jul 25 - 06:22 PM

Matthew Butler

Matthew Butler

Now if only there was an award show for the BEST Worst movies, you know, movies so bad they're good. It would inspire a whole new generation of campy classics like Flash Gordon ^^

Mar 7 - 07:58 AM

Chance Ellison

Chance Ellison

what channel will the golden razzies be on

Jan 9 - 08:52 PM

dracula68

michael pacholski

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is the closest you'll get to an awards showcase for awful films.

Jan 30 - 11:37 PM

Isaac P.

Isaac Preston

mykalrose, they do have something like that. It's called the Razzie Awards. Comes on every year just like the Oscars. I forget what channel it comes on tho.

Feb 9 - 08:01 AM

Vits

Vicente Torres

There is.It's called the Razzie Awards.

Feb 18 - 01:32 PM

Melissa S.

Melissa Slade

There is an award show for the most horrible movies of the year...it is called The Razzies (I haven't read all the posts...so you might have already been informed of this!). The worst movie of the past decade razzie award went to "Battlefield Earth" -- it was well deserved.

Also...how can you NOT love "Killer Klowns From Outer Space"? It is not a horrible movie -- it was made to be a parody of horror movies. It served its job. Besides I am terrified of clowns...and there were pretty scary clowns in "Killer Klowns from Outer Space." Also, I agree with someone commenting that "A Clockwork Orange" is one of the worst films ever made...it is a HORRIBLE movie. I cannot believe people brag about how great this movie is. I have tried to sit through this trash NUMEROUS times and failed each time. I feel, as a movie lover, that I should try to watch all types of movies and since "A Clockwork Orange" kept being recommended to me over and over again, I thought I would give it a go. I shouldn't have. Horrible movie...not only is it horrible it glorifies rape (it should make the list of the most horrible movies for that alone!). I understand that the purpose of the movie was to show how they were going about trying to change a violent man into a suitable man, one who can live in society...but seriously...HORRIBLE movie.

Mar 28 - 10:40 PM

Happy Hour Reviews

matt wilson

i dont get why when one person answers a question 30 other people comment answering too.

Apr 2 - 07:31 PM

Brendon D.

Brendon Day

The Razzie awards, last years winner for worse film (2009) was Transformers 2 revenge of the fallen

go to wikipedia if you want to take a look at every past award show "winners"

May 20 - 04:02 AM

allen s.

allen schroeder

What's so stuffy about the oscars? There has to be ONE decent show unlike the frantic, noisy crap that's aimed at kids like the grammys, golden-globes etc. Serious acting is not like that!

Jun 4 - 11:32 AM

Mike M.

Mike McCollum

Ha! Yeah The Howling 2. Incredibly bad and a classic example of "what the hell were they thinking?" after the brilliant "The Howling". Its reported that Sybil Danning ran out of the theater in tears because of the end.

Jan 30 - 09:20 PM

GreenBastard

Craig Storey

Howling 4 the marsupials was awesome! They'll probably remake Howling soon

Jan 31 - 02:01 AM

cinemascribe

Duane Ullery

Back in 1995 I was employed as a projectionist for Cobb theaters. We exhibited "Showgirls' and I was the one who assembled the print when it arrived late Thursday afternoon. That also meant I had to stay after hours and screen the movie film to assure that the film would not jump out of frame where the reels had been spliced together. Since one of the perks of being a theater employee is seeing free films, these screenings usually were attended by roughly half the staff (more depending on how anticipated the film was. When "Titanic" sailed into our theater a few years later, the entire staff showed up).

"Showgirls" was one of the more anticipated ones because it was rated NC-17. The entire staff arrived just one o'clock in the morning, I threaded the film , set the correct lens for aspect ratio, started the movie and joined them.

It was obvious that we were watching what (back in the day) would have been known as a Golden Turkey Award winner (or ,today, a Razzie winner) within the first twenty minutes when it became increasingly apparent that Elizabeth Berkeley was capable of two emotional states- hysterical anger or hysterical weeping- and nothing more .

But the moment when I realized that the film had breached "Ed Wood" levels of awful was when the two women sat at a table discussing which brand of dog food they favored as a snack back in the lean days of their careers. That entire scene has to be be my all time favorite eye-rolling "WTF" moment. For the first time ever, I understood what patrons of cinema must have felt when they paid money to see films like "Plan 9" or "The Main Event". If I hadn't been watching the film free of charge, I might have done something unspeakable (at the very least illegal) to the screen in protest.

After the film concluded ,one of my co-workers (a close friend) asked me for my opinion of the film. I smiled and said "Well, people are gonna be talking about it for a while" and left it at that. Good call including it here. No bad movie list should be without "Showgirls".

Jan 30 - 09:28 PM

Serious Lee

Serious Lee

What a cool WTF story!

Feb 9 - 12:58 AM

iamabadman

ian fisher

you are gay, really, just stop.

Jun 2 - 06:52 AM

iakobos

J Taylor

What! No Killer Klowns from Outer Space. I'm incensed.

Jan 30 - 09:38 PM

gitfiddle09

Jeremiah Ross

haha yeah. I kept reading this list just knowing Killer Klowns would show up eventually, but they got Megaladon on there. That makes me happy.

Jan 30 - 09:45 PM

Damien Lives

m x

you leave Killer Klowns alone godamnitt!!!!

Jan 31 - 11:15 AM

MADDAZ

Darren Anderson

What! No Mulholland Drive. Im even more incensed.

Jan 30 - 09:44 PM

Replicant Lems

david leeman

You're kidding, right?

Jan 31 - 06:21 AM

Devonivitch Morozov

Devonivitch Morozov

I do hope you're kidding. David Lynch is strange but an awesome director. That was probably the only movie you saw of his.

Mar 10 - 12:55 AM

gitfiddle09

Jeremiah Ross

haha yeah. I kept reading this list just knowing Killer Klowns would show up eventually, but they got Megaladon on there. That makes me happy.

Jan 30 - 09:45 PM

Patrick

Patrick Wagner

I have only seen a couple of these, but I can't imagine any of them can be worse than Clockwork Orange. I couldn't sit through that on Blu Ray when I picked it up the other day for $12.

Jan 30 - 09:53 PM

saicam

onaivatco5 november

They are worse then that because "A Clockwork Orange" is a great film.

Jan 30 - 10:13 PM

jaycr

Jay Saenz

Patrick, A Clockwork Orange is a master piece, one of the best movies ever made. How dare you??? Keep watchin Michael Bay's stuff!!!

Jan 31 - 02:52 PM

trgdr777

C Ferguson

It's funny how people aren't allowed to have opinions anymore (specifically in regard to the "classics"). Just because someone doesn't like A Clockwork Orange doesn't mean they're somehow stupid. I think it's boring when everyone claims to like the same films just because they're the ones that people always say are amazing. It often feels like people are just following along. I don't think it's possible to be in love with EVERY so called "classic". That just seems dishonest to me. At the same time, it's wrong to dislike a film just to oppose the general consensus and try to be different. Regardless, I don't think it's a good idea to make judgments about someone's taste in film based off one opinion. Sorry for the off topic rant...

Hooray for good bad films :)
Can't say I'd get a kick out of watching all of these (some would almost certainly be painful to watch), but I definitely need to give some of these a gander.

Jan 31 - 08:18 PM

The F.

The Fletch

Did you Really Just Say A Clockwork Orange is the worst movie you've ever seen?
What Alternate Universe did you grow up in?

Feb 1 - 06:14 AM

filmdudejeff

Jeff Friedlander

WHaaaaa? Clockwork Orange is one of the best films ever made.

Feb 14 - 07:04 PM

Zina M.

Zina M

Gotta say, I agree to a degree. I wouldn't say that A Clockwork Orange was as terrible as any of these, or ever that bad, but it's definitely HIGHLY overrated. Read the book instead. Seriously.

Apr 10 - 02:52 PM

J R R Milton

james ferrera

Yeah i hate to pile on but i just can't say its awful. I like it less than most people i know but its not bad. I would put it in that group of cult movies that if you go public and say its terrible people freak out. I got run for thinking Scarface was over rated.

May 1 - 04:41 PM

Devonivitch Morozov

Devonivitch Morozov

This is coming from a person that gave Fright Night a good rating. Stanley Kubrick is a master at movie making.

Mar 10 - 12:52 AM

Philip Wagner

Philip Wagner

Guess I hate to admit it now, but I agree, for me clockwork orange is one of the few I would never watch a second time. Another classic that everyone is supposed to like is "Brazil", which I regard as the most wasted two hours of my life.

Jul 12 - 02:18 PM

Mr. Bo Ziffer

Mr. Bo Ziffer

Sadly, I have seen a lot of these on this list. Troll 2 and Plan 9 are probably my "favorites". But I have to disagree that "Batman and Robin" is in "so bad it's good" territory . . . it's just bad! Really bad! So bad, that they needed Chris Nolan to rejuvenate the series!

Jan 30 - 10:01 PM

Chris B.

Chris Bellew

wow. that Megalodon movie clip was hilarious.

Jan 30 - 10:08 PM

saicam

onaivatco5 november

Wow all hilariously bad movies.
Notice how Manos the hands of fate translates to
Hands the hands of fate if you say it all in english?

Jan 30 - 10:11 PM

saicam

onaivatco5 november

They are worse then that because "A Clockwork Orange" is a great film.

Jan 30 - 10:13 PM

inactive user

Jared King

These are the movies I live for. I thought the "Giant Claw" was amazing when I first saw it.

Jan 30 - 10:16 PM

luke r.

luke ross

i love roadhouse. it's almost a cult classic in my house.

Jan 30 - 10:23 PM

alexjgunn

Alex Gunn

Agh, but there is my friend, there is!

http://www.razzies.com/

Jan 30 - 10:33 PM

Tyler H.

Tyler Hall

And next year it's getting televised! True story.

Jul 25 - 06:22 PM

Matthew Butler

Matthew Butler

Now if only there was an award show for the BEST Worst movies, you know, movies so bad they're good. It would inspire a whole new generation of campy classics like Flash Gordon ^^

Mar 7 - 07:58 AM

Chance Ellison

Chance Ellison

what channel will the golden razzies be on

Jan 9 - 08:52 PM

RamALamADingDong

That Guy

If there's anything I would add it's Super Mario Bros. It's an absolutely terrible adaptation. And whatever plot it does have doesn't make much sense. But it's such an incredibly fun movie to watch. My favorite line is "Sir, the Goombas are dancing again." Because really, how can the idea of seven foot tall goombas dancing not make you laugh?

Of all the movies on this list the only one I've seen is Plan 9 From Outer Space. I found that one so bad it's just plain awful. I couldn't find a single good thing about that movie, not even incidentally. I own Ghost Rider and Fantastic Four 2. I can watch Super Mario Bros. Heck, I can even name (just) three good things about Batman & Robin. But I just couldn't stand Plan 9. I can't even call it so bad it's good. The worst production values ever aside, it's just a mess every step of the way. Whatever story it may have had I forgot a minute after the movie ended. Bela Lugosi's scenes don't make sense, and the stand in's (who looks so much the exact opposite of Lugosi he might as well have been Shaq) scenes were even worse. The acting was unbearable. The dialogue was horrific, even compared to movies twenty years earlier. It was truly the worst movie I've ever seen.

Jan 30 - 11:10 PM

Janaya W.

Janaya Warren

OMG, super mario brothers movie was awful and u r right completely hilarious. Plan 9 has to be the worst movie ever for sure. I like B movies but that one is unwatchable.

Feb 11 - 11:01 PM

dracula68

michael pacholski

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is the closest you'll get to an awards showcase for awful films.

Jan 30 - 11:37 PM

cinemascribe

Duane Ullery

Perusing this list again, I have to wonder why "Cruel Jaws" wasn't listed.

For those of you who have never heard of this infamous piece of schlock cinema, here's the low down: "Cruel Jaws" -which was promoted by it's producers as "Jaws 5" - is the project where the "filmmakers" shot a series of low budget scenes which are obvious knock-offs of Spielberg's flick (you know the drill: Summer town, upcoming regatta, killer shark, official warning ignored..etc etc) and then, instead of creating a mechanical shark and filming new attack sequences, they simply edited in actual clips from "Jaws", "Jaws 2" , the notoriously blatant Italian "Jaws" knock off "The Last Shark" (aka "Great White") another low budget shark flick known as "Deep Blood" and (I'm reasonably certain) "Tentacles". This champion among bad movies was directed by one of the most recognizable names in the history of trash cinema, Bruno Mattei.

I've included a link here to a funny clip from the film. In this one, two Mafia thugs try to put a hit on the shark, with unpleasant results.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrWeGV_b0mA&feature=related

Jan 30 - 11:38 PM

Chad F.

Chad Fleming

When I was in high school and junior college in the early 90s I was hooked on the "so bad they're good" thought pattern. Some that I loved off the top of my head that didn't make it were: Crazy Fat Ethel II, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-A-Rama,Chopping Mall,anything Ed Wood related,Attack of the Killer Bimbos, and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

Jan 31 - 12:01 AM

Pratt

Cory Pratt

Tokyo. Gore. Police.

Jan 31 - 12:29 AM

GreenBastard

Craig Storey

Howling 4 the marsupials was awesome! They'll probably remake Howling soon

Jan 31 - 02:01 AM

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