Why You Should Watch More Bad Movies
By Ben Spaeth
Photo: IMDb – Source
This may sound counterintuitive but hear me out. Now I’m not suggesting people should go out of their way to see the latest flop in theaters or sit through a movie they can’t stand. Rather I’m proposing they watch with a vigilant eye and try to explain to themselves why particular parts of a movie don’t work. Often if you can explain why something doesn’t work, you explain how to fix it. Bad movies provide filmmakers with a chance to analyze the mistakes of previous filmmakers. Similarly to how you can learn what works from watching classic films. Knowing what doesn’t work is just as important as knowing what does.
A film can fail in a variety of ways. Filmmaking is a very collaborative endeavor. Whether it’s the writers, camera team, actors, or editors, a failure to deliver in any one of these departments can spell catastrophe for a film. But when a movie fails in every department, that’s when it gets fun.
The types of bad movies that are the most fun to watch are the ones that are so bad that they’re funny. The mistakes in the film are so readily apparent that their presence is laughable. The best way I’ve found to enjoy these films is by watching them with friends. It tends to make some of the really bad films more palatable when you have good company to talk about the film to as you watch. Watching with others can also help you spot moments and oddities that you otherwise wouldn’t have noticed. You can also turn watching a bad film into a variety of games. Whether that be a contest to see who can tell the best joke or a drinking game. Feel free to create your own Mystery 3000 style atmosphere. Before you know it, you and your friends will be slinging zings at the screen.
Some of my favorites are so bad, and include The Cat From Outer Space (Disney+), Willy’s Wonderland (Hulu), and The Velocipastor (Amazon). Each one of these films is equally absurd as the last. The Cat From Outer Space is exactly what the title would lead you to believe. It is a 1978 live action Disney film about an alien cat who seeks the help of a human scientist to repair his spacecraft. The only problem? The spaceship can only be repaired with $120,000 worth of gold.
Willy’s Wonderland is essentially a Five Nights at Freddy’s movie. It stars Nicolas Cage, who doesn’t say a single word throughout the entire movie. The film has other characters aside from Cage and the animatronic robots, but the other characters basically serve as blood bags to be popped by the robots. However, if you’re in the mood to watch Nicolas Cage brutally disfigure and kill robots with ease, this movie might be your cup of tea.
The Velocipastor is perhaps the most absurd movie on this list. It’s about a priest named Doug Jones who travels to China after he witnesses his parents die in a car explosion. While in China Doug is scratched by an ancient velociraptor claw. After being scratched, Doug now has the ability to turn into a velociraptor. From here goes on to fight ninjas and all sorts of other crazy stuff happens. To quote the director, Brendan Steere, “The movie is made to be fun, and anybody looking for deeper meaning in the man-turns-into-a-dinosaur genre is probably on a fool's errand." The Velocipastor embodies everything fun about bad movies. It knows what it is, doesn’t expect much from the audience, and is unafraid to use screw ups to mine comedy.
Some bad movies even have cult followings like The Room and Troll 2. Screenings of these awful films still bring in fairly large crowds of dedicated fans despite the material having come out decades ago. Perhaps one of the best experiences you’ll have watching a bad movie will be at one of these screenings. Fans of The Room have their own traditions during screenings. For instance, in The Room, a lot of the decorations on the walls are spoons. So when you see a spoon in the movie, it is customary to throw a plastic spoon in the air. Other traditions include yelling “meanwhile in San Francisco!” during the numerous establishing shots in the film and when the film is out of focus yelling “focus!” at the screen.
Not every movie needs to be high art or achieve some deeper meaning. As long as you have a good time watching it is all that matters. Bad movies provide a unique moviegoing experience that a truly great film would never quite be able to capture.