Why watch ‘bad’ films?
Have you ever watched a film and laughed out loud in amazement at what was unfolding before your eyes? We have. A lot.
There is something fundamentally fascinating about a bad film. Whether it is the bargain basement special effects or the fact they clearly didn’t care about lighting, continuity or even a script. That is why they are so infinitely entertaining.
To watch a bad film, you have to have a certain level of schadenfreude – in that you take pleasure from watching the failure of others. However saying that, their failure is often our reward.
Not only are bad films often entertaining, but they provide a fascinating insight in how NOT to make a movie.
Most bad films are often made independently of the studio system and without such oversight, filmmakers are free to make a movie solely on their own merit, even if they don’t have the talent, the money or the idea to do so.
Your traditional Hollywood blockbuster goes through so many rewrites, production meetings and reshoots, that often it is amazing that they are as coherent as they turn out to be.
However bad films are generally one person’s vision. One person who often decides to do the opposite of what the film industry generally does, in order to share their unique vision with the world.
That’s what bad movies often are – someone’s dream that, despite their earnestness, failed to translate to screen in the way they hoped (or in some cases EXACTLY in the way they hoped!)
Edward Scimia, author of “So Bad, It’s Good” said: “There’s more merit to a movie that meant something than something that’s well-made. If you laughed, if you got angry, even if you were just confused, you got something out of it. Your world has changed, even if it’s minutely, because you’ve gained something from the experience. In that respect, there’s no such thing as a bad movie.”
What makes a bad film?
While most people can appreciate a good film, it takes a certain person to appreciate a bad one. You need to appreciate the time and (little) effort that went into making something that has terrible acting, writing and production value.
Bad movies offer little to the viewer in traditional terms (such as astounding performances and gripping storylines), but when a movie fails on so many levels, it can become funny in ways the filmmakers never intended and it is this unique combination of unintentional failure and humour that make bad films so enjoyable to watch.
Most bad films will share these qualities:
This is most often the common feature of bad films. Most movies have a line or two or dialgoue that may make you scratch your head in disbelief, but a truly entertaining bad film has absurd plotting and dialogue throughout.
For example: Plan 9 From Outer Space has a scene where an army colonel is explaining how aliens have “attacked a town – a small town, i’ll admit, but never the less a town of people. People who have died.”
A bad script is one thing, but how the cast interprets and delivers on what they have been given is something else. Often bad films are popoulated by people devoid of talent or actors who have fallen on hard times and can barely be bothered.
On the flipside, you do often get first time actors showing off their passion for the craft with the most over the top delivery possible.
For example: Tommy Wiseau. In every scene in The Room.
Low production values
Whether it is costumes, sets or just bad editing, poor production values set a bad film out from its peers. It could range from anything like simple continuity errors, boom mics coming in to shot or simply scenes where the lack of time, money and effort was clearly apparant.
For example: Matt Hannon’s wig falling off in a fight scene in Samurai Cop and no-one caring.
Most often, the people who made a bad film honeslty believed they were making something great. While The Asylum makes tons of deliberate bad films, we believe that a truly great bad movie can’t be forced. Instead, it is the result of a director’s genuine attempt to make something great and falling way, way short.
For example: Ed Wood’s entire back catalogue.
That special something
While all the above factors are important, there is often an element of the unexpected that makes a bad movie ‘so bad, it’s good’.
This can be anything from Bela Lugosi being shoe-horned in to random scenes in Plan 9 From Outer Space, Weng Weng’s 3ft martial artist in For Y’ur Height Only or Tommy Wiseau’s breakdown in The Room.
These are things you wouldn’t see in any normal film and they make bad films all the more entertaining for it.
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