25 Movies So Bad They're Unmissable
Horrible! Utterly horrible! And yet, fascinating...
The Giant Claw (1957)
From director Fred F. Sears, who made Rock Around the Clock and Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, this epic about a giant bird from a parallel dimension attacking Earth might have passed muster if producer Sam Katzman had followed the plan for Ray Harryhausen to do the effects. Instead, the cheapo mogul opted for a puppet on strings, so it appears as if mid-1950s jet pilots and hot rodders are being attacked by a mutated Gonzo from The Muppet Show. The dialogue is also brilliantly cheesy, making this one of the funniest Z-grade flicks of the 1950s.
The Terror of Tiny Town (1938)
This all-midget western was homaged by punk band The Dead Kennedys and in the M*A*S*H television series. A Poverty Row production from director Sam Newfield -- who made 14 other movies that year -- it's like a pint-sized version of Deadwood as evil little bastard Bat Haines tries to steal love interest Nancy from heroic Buck Lawson by stirring up a clan war. Midgets walk into full-sized saloons and ride ponies and sing songs and do derring but the weirdest thing is how, given the conventional story and lack of normal-sized actors, you quickly adjust to the tiny cast.
Satan's Sadists (1969)
Aided and abetted by producer Sam Sherman, Al Adamson carved out an incredibly prolific career as an exploitation filmmaker from 1969 to 1978. Unfortunately, many of Al's movies were mash-ups comprising footage from unrelated films, and as such, they're crunchingly dull, despite awesome titles like Horror of the Blood Monsters and Blood of Ghastly Horror. But this biker flick, about the title gang in pursuit of a Vietnam veteran and a waitress across the desert, lives up to its brilliantly sleazy title and trailer. A lot of credit has to go to lead villain Russ Tamblyn. Here he's a long way from the Oscar nomination he once enjoyed, but still hugely watchable as a badass.
Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)
Begun in 1971 by Detroit would-be filmmaker George Barry, this oddball horror flick was finished in 1977 but then failed to land any sort of distribution. Three decades after he started it, Barry discovered by accident that someone had pirated a print of Death Bed and that it had been given an illegal video release in the UK that had resulted in a cult audience. An official 2003 release ensued and now we can all be feasted upon by the four-poster from Hades. The title says it all, and we get to see the chuckling boudoir centerpiece suck assorted hippies into its golden gastric juices, where they're efficiently skeletonized.
Ben & Arthur (2003)
If Tommy Wiseau's The Room is the over-wrought, melodramatic and self-pitying heterosexual camp classic of choice, then Sam Mraovich's Ben & Arthur is its gay equivalent. Where Wiseau used 35mm and spent millions to achieve at least some production value, writer-director-producer-star Mraovich might as well have shot his story of homosexual persecution and fightback on a cell phone with a budget of about $5.67. Every scene, every line, every hissy fit is simultaneously hilariously amateur and hysterically fever-pitched. This is a cult sensation waiting to be born.