We’ve all been there; choking on our popcorn because The Terminator popped up in Batman and dropped a bunch of cool puns about fridges. Or perhaps dripping Ben & Jerry’s all over our laps, because Paris Hilton just got stabbed after belting out a scream less convincing than those in her sex tape.
The fact of the matter is: some movies are just plain awful. But there are always those select few that are SO dreadful, they actually transcend the boundaries of bad taste. Admit it, we just love to hate them; their haplessness, hopelessness and manic misdirection bring us movie lovers a joy like no other. So sit back for a quick countdown of the Top 10 Best Worst Movies of all time; some notorious, some obscure, but all just plain hilarious.
#10 – SANTA AND THE ICE CREAM BUNNY (1972)
Let’s face it, outside the realms of Frank Capra and Billy-Bob Thornton, Christmas flicks are nothing more than seasonal socks from your father: an unwanted gift to the film world. Preachy, patronising, predictable… Indeed. But not a single one of these words can be used to sum up Santa and The Ice Cream Bunny, the brainchild of Barry Mahon. It’s a festive treat that’s so abysmal it actually questions and redefines notions of nonsense.
The set-up? Santa’s sleigh has crash-landed. On a beach in Florida. His reindeer have fled in a frenzy of heat exhaustion, leaving him forever mired in many millimetres of sleigh-stopping sand. The solution? Santa’s trademark telekinetic powers, obviously. Time to summon a bunch of kids, barn animals and blokes in an ape-suits for assistance (yes, really).
Inevitably, the remainder of the narrative features a fire engine, an amusement park, a one hour adaptation of Thumbelina AND occasional narration from Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Oh, and there’s a bunny and ice cream somewhere in there too. Pure Schizophrenia.
#9 – CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN (2001)
A steaming tragi-romance pulled straight from the shelves of your local library’s war section, starring such greats as John Hurt, Penelope Cruz and Christian Bale. Greek seascapes, a tumultuous love triangle, a softly strummed Mandolin… Sounds promising, right? Wrong. John Madden’s film is one of the finest unintentional comedies of The Noughties.
Our dashing love interest, Nicolas Cage’s exotic Italian soldier is about as exotic and Italian as a Lidl Spag-Bol. It’s an accent attempt reminiscent of a hyperactive child, convinced that Italy dwells deep in the heart of the Czech Republic, somewhere just south of the Taj Mahal in The Democratic Republic of Congo. If that isn’t enough to shatter the film’s intended sincerity, the guy also sings Opera, trances out with a trout pout (mid-strum of a Leprechaun’s guitar), and wears a range of very questionable hats, often astride said Leprechaun’s motorcycle.
#8 – ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE (1986)
Ah, the good ol’ Zom-Com. At its best in the 80s, of course. Or is it? Part dreadful detective drama, part poorly-shot music video, Jack Bravman’s hilariously bad horror is a cinematic catastrophe, stretching the boundaries of bad taste near-beyond breaking-point.
The movie is characterised by ludicrously long takes, questionable editing and goofy continuity, all of which are obviously outdone by pathetic plotting, involving something along the lines of a grocery shopping gone-wrong, a voodoo witch doctor and Adam West dusting off a detective badge. Is it a zombie movie? Is it a Horror? Is it a Comedy? Nobody really knows, but one thing’s for sure, it is a nightmare.
#7 – HARD TICKET TO HAWAII (1987)
Think Baywatch meets EXPLOSIVE 80s ACTION. But with superhuman rattlesnakes and killer Frisbees. The direlogue’s cheesier than stilton, the plot’s tighter than Cynthia Brimhall’s (yes, real name) swimsuit and just when you think one of the action sequences has gone just a little too far, it stops, recoils, and suddenly jolts even further. And then some. Andy Sidaris’ cringy cult is a true must-see.
#6 – SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS (1964)
You try looking at that title and telling yourself you don’t want to check this out. Struggling a bit? Thought so. The plot’s somewhere between a migraine and a lobotomy. After 3 viewings, Nicholas Webster’s film remains a pastel-coloured yuletide blur. In space. IMDB summarises the story with, “The Martians kidnap Santa because there is nobody on Mars to give their children presents.”, but apparently those guys were watching a completely different movie.
There’s a man-in-cardbord-box robot, an abundance of laser guns made from ingeniously disguised hairdryers, costumes gayer than the ones from Prometheus and a baddie with a moustache named “Voldar”. And he thought he’d told those kids to stop watching those darn Earth programmes…
#5 – THE WICKER MAN (2006)
No list of best worst movies would be complete without a double dose of Nicolas Cage and, let’s face it, Captain Corelli is by no means the guy’s worst endeavour.
Characterised predominantly by good ol’ Nic wailing about bees and running through the woods in a bear suit (Cage and said bear suit were actually nominated for a Razzie award for worst screen couple), Neil LaBute’s tragic tragedy is, in a word: devastating. If Robin Hardy’s 1973 film was a pinnacle of mystery and suspense, LaBute’s take is an idiot’s guide on how not to remake a movie. Mind you, it is questionable whether remakes should be legal in the first place, unless starring insects and Jurassic Park stars, and placed in the deranged hands of David Cronenberg…
Anyway… Shoddy scriptwork, painful performances, endless continuity flops and the occasional shot of Cage right-hooking a pretty blonde in the face for no apparent reason make this one worthy of #5. An absolute disaster.
#4 – MAC AND ME (1988)
Here’s a fun fact: Mac and Me is the only film ever to have starred Ronald McDonald himself, in the flesh. Naturally performing a dance number at one of McDonalds’ finest family restaurants, of course. Obviously that particular scene is in no way related to the rest of the film, but it does offer a vague clue as to who might’ve handed a pretty penny or two to the producers during funding.
Essentially, Stuart Raffill’s film is an offensive ET rip-off about a disabled kid stumbling across a poorly animated alien. Highlights include a Marty McFly getaway sequence (think less skateboard, more wheelchair) and man-in-spandex aliens pledging allegiance to the flag to become US citizens. Perfect for anyone with a hunger for fast food and bad taste.
#3 – TROLL 2 (1990)
It’s impossible to compile a list of best worst movies without featuring movie that actually inspired a deconstructive documentary titled, “Best Worst Movie.” And boy is it a big one… Claudio Fragasso’s Troll 2 is B-Movie bliss.
The film was directed and written in Italian, by Non-English speaking fantasists, Fragasso and partner, then cast entirely with untrained Utah-based actors. Most notably a local Dentist in a Daddy role and Child Actor-come-aforementioned-Documentary-film-maker, Michael Stephenson.
It plays out like a deranged Tolkien addict’s wetdream; a true testament to just how wrong filmmaking can go. The concept is higher-than-high: a freaky family holidaying in Nilbog (And yes, that is indeed, “goblin”, spelt backwards) encounter evil vegetarian goblins who intend to turn them into plant pudding. No joke.
Naturally, besides one or two niggling flaws (The film’s called Troll 2; so WHY are we dealing with Goblins and not Trolls!?), the film cannot be considered anything less than a masterpiece. Fragasso’s pure sincerity in his message of family bonding, combined with the actors’ cluelessness, and underlined by such an overwhelming level of obscurity, offers a viewing experience that can only be described as magical and unique. Troll 2 needs to be seen to be believed. It almost deserves the #1 spot, but wait! There’s more!
#2 – MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE (1966)
Now this is what happens when you bet a 60s Fertiliser Salesman from Texas that he ain’t not never gonna be able to write, direct, produce and star in his own horror film. Manos: The Hands of Fate is a movie that’s genuinely strenuous and at times even excruciating to endure and, yes, so much so, that any given attempt is nothing short of hysterical.
A strong contender for the #1 spot, Harold P. Warren’s mini-budget movie boasts some of the joltiest edits, crackliest sound mixing and SLOWEST CHARACTER REACTIONS of all time. Unsurprisingly, the ‘plot’, or scraps of storyline Warren miserably manages to conjure amidst the confusion, are utterly unintelligible. It starts with oddball parents singing “row, row, row your boat” to a so-fuzzy-his-face-is-invisible kid in a car (As does Troll 2, funnily enough…), and descends into some tripe about dodgy self-portraits, paganism and semi-nude wrestler women. Torgo, the “MaaAAsteR’s” assistant is a sight to behold, the twitchy actor rumoured not only to have been on various drugs during filmmaking, but also to have taken his own life upon viewing the finished product. Surreal.
#1 – THE ROOM (2003)
The top spot goes to yet another one-man masterpiece. Directed by Tommy Wiseau… Written by Tommy Wiseau… Produced by Tommy Wiseau… As the titles roll, it’s all too easy to get the impression that Tommy Wiseau is probably the guy whose GIANT FACE is on your Blu-ray case.
Hailed by Entertainment Weekly as “The Citizen Kane of bad movies”, Wiseau’s one-man wonder is a sight to behold. The film sits somewhere between pitiful porno, second-rate sitcom, tail-chasing love triangle and manic melodrama, if such a place exists (it doesn’t). The characters change their minds and principles every 30 seconds, steamy sex scenes (occasionally starring rose petals) are recycled to bridge the action and nobody in the film, including serial devotee, Wiseau himself, seems to know who they are, what they’re supposed to be doing or why. Occasionally these guys even seem to forget their own lines mid-sentence.
The dialogue is dreadful, Wiseau and co. couldn’t act their way out of a paper bag, the whole thing’s messier than a burrito and, for those reasons and more, it’s brilliant to the bone from start to finish. The true champion of all bad movies is amongst us.