The Worst Movies that I Happen to Like
Earlier this week, I did a rant about the best movies that nobody likes. My argument with those movies is that they are honestly good – not so bad they’re good, but in fact well-crafted pieces of cinema. For comparison and contrast purposes, here’s the flip side: a list of movies that I know are just plain bad, but which I enjoy anyway. These are the kind of movies that I watch because they’re so cheesy. In my mind, they define the phrase “so bad it’s good.”
I will argue to Hell and back that the movies on the previous list are well made. You might not find them to your taste, but they do what they set out to do and are entertaining for what they are. These films, on the other hand, falter somewhere along the way. They cannot be considered well-made. But, even in their glorious badness, they can still be entertaining.
The Big Hit:
The Big Hit was released in 1998 and starred Mark Wahlberg, who was still relatively new to the whole film scene. See, it’s like this: there’s this crew of hitmen composed of a total rat bastard (played by Lou Diamond Philips…what a surprise), a guy who stutters, a man obsessed with masturbation, and Melvin Smiley, a guy who, in the midst of his career as a hitman, can’t stand the idea of somebody not liking him. They all work for
Benjamin Sisko Avery Brooks, who plays a total psychotic badass. The film alternates between Melvin trying to be nice to everyone and Lou Diamond Philips going insane and trying to kill everybody.
The action of The Big Hit is pretty decent, but most of the other scenes are pretty painful. Mark Wahlberg hadn’t learned quite how to emote yet, and the script is on the trite side. On the plus side, Avery Brooks plays the most gloriously psychotic and scary man alive, and the movie knows that it’s ridiculous. There’s an erotic chicken scene (you heard me), a scene where Lou Diamond Philips drives through the flimsiest forest alive, knocking over multiple trees with his car, and the film culminates with Melvin surviving an explosion thanks to a giant gold movie stand-up. The hilariously over-the-top action is almost on the level of Last Action Hero, but the timing and acting ability of all cast members not named Avery Brooks is lacking. So it’s not really a good movie, but it’s still pretty darned funny.
When I’m told about a bad movie, my typical question is, “Is it Highlander II bad or Highlander III bad?” Highlander II bad means it’s painful to watch. Highlander III bad means it might be fun. (Alternately, if a movie is Highlander: The Source bad, it means I’d rather have roaches eat my spleen than watch it.)
I touched on Highlander III in my Highlander 1994 rant, which explains why the film isn’t a good follow-up to the original Highlander. However, knowing how many bad Highlander sequels there are softens this one up a bit. And while this movie plays out for the most part like a bad ripoff of the brilliant first movie, it’s still fun to watch for the over-the-top acting of Mario van Peebles, who plays the villain Kane. While so many villains in this franchise unsuccessfully tried to duplicate Clancy Brown’s performance as the Kurgan, only Mario van Peebles made it entertaining. Kane is a lot like the Kurgan would be like it he was extremely sexually confused and even less emotionally mature. He has a pair of other immortal soldiers that would give him a huge benefit against Connor MacLeod, but he kills one of them minutes into the film and sends the other to die at Connor’s hands because…well, because he’s an idiot. Even with the power of illusion, he seems more at home cheating at card games and chewing condoms like bubble gum than actually trying to win the Game.
A good example of Kane’s presence in the film can be found below, where he kills Connor’s mentor Nakano.
I can’t help but laugh a bit whenever he speaks. The crowning moment is the moan of sexual arousal he gives when he says, “There can be only one.” I don’t know if the director told Van Peebles to play Kane extremely gay or if it’s just a decision the actor made when he read the script and realized his character had been stuck in a cave for centuries with two other men and nothing else to do, but I’ve never in the history of Highlander seen a villain who derived such erotic pleasure from being an immortal.
To be honest, I’ve only watched this entire movie one time. I have, however, watched one particular scene from this movie several dozen times.
I personally think that every Superman movie has been pretty awful. To me, they’re all defined by stupid moments. The first one has Superman
kill us all turn back time by reversing the Earth’s rotation. The second one has the kiss of amnesia. The fourth one has that same kiss of amnesia, Superman gaining masonry eyebeam powers, and him forcing complete nuclear disarmament of the entire planet while the countries he’s imposing his will on cheer him on. Superman Returns could have been decent, but had Kevin Spacey waste his talents by playing Gene Hackman’s lameass version of Lex Luthor and had the most annoying damned child character ever to grace the silver screen.
I will give the Superman films one thing, though: they all managed to capture that incredibly stupid yet somehow popular feel of the Silver Age of Comics. And nowhere is that more apparent than Superman III. Despite having a completely nonsensical plot and doing the impossible of making Richard Pryor completely unfunny, it has the awesome evil Superman. Superman gets exposed to synthetic kryptonite that, due to an incorrect replication, turns him evil instead of weakening him. He flies around being a total dick to the entire world, then settles down into a bar and gets drunk. This all culminates with one of the most hilarious moments in cinema history when he flies off to a junkyard, splits in two, and fights Clark Kent.
I think the Superman/Clark Kent fight is supposed to be some metaphor for a conflict going on in Superman’s mind, but it’s never really made very clear. As a kid who had watched the first two movies, I thought that Superman had just developed yet another new power for this film: super splitting-yourself-in-two-and-battling-over-possession-of-your-body-and-soul. It’s a bit wordy, but it works.
I also love the way that Superman inexplicably ages when he turns evil. He even gets some gray hair. In the picture above, I swear that Christopher Reeve looks like George Clooney. As such, while I hope never to see Clooney reprise the role of Batman, I’d love to see him play Superman…but only if he plays Superman as evil and then splits in half to fight himself at the climax of the film.
The rest of Superman III sucks hard. But the evil Superman subplot makes the film worth watching at least once.
In 1995, I was a sexually frustrated teenager obsessed with the cyberpunk genre. Because of that, Hackers is a monument of nostalgia. It reminds me how awful almost every part of the 90s was, from fashion sense to what we thought the world was going to be like. Then there’s the real reason I watched this movie over and over again: 20-year old Angelina Jolie in a wet t-shirt. Yeah, I can be a shallow git sometimes. Even though I don’t find Angelina Jolie particularly attractive anymore, there’s something about her in this movie that still makes my jaw drop.
Hey, shut up. I don’t have to have good reasons for liking my piece of crap movies!
Anyway, Hackers is pretty much about a group of high school students who are good with computers and who start pranking the hell out of society…for some reason. The movie’s main characters use code names like Acid Burn and Crash Override. The villain is Fisher Stevens on a skateboard. The film asks the audience to sympathize with a bunch of people who illegally harass a public servant basically just because they can. Well, technically there’s a reason for it, but it basically boils down to, “this asshole had our friend arrested just because he was, um…doing highly illegal things.” The villain refuses to acknowledge anything but his code name, “The Plague.” I bet that goes over really well at board meetings…”Um, Mr. Belford…oh, I’m sorry…Mr. The Plague, I’m afraid we’re not going to be able to reimburse you for your travel expenses because you used them to go to a local high school and harass teenagers on company time.”
Hackers is this lovely bout of nonsense. It’s built entirely on the idea of rebellion, even though there’s nothing really worth rebelling against in the movie. It’s a hilarious yet horrible reminder of the way I saw the world as a teenager, and also a fun reminder that I actually thought the stuff in this movie was a realistic vision of the future. It reminds me of a simpler time, when all it took to get my ass in a movie theatre seat was Angelina Jolie in a tight t-shirt and a line like, “We’ve got to hack the Gibson!” Seeing this movie was one of the few stupid things I did as a teenager that didn’t give me emotional scars.
Honorable Mention: The Worst Witch
The Worst Witch only gets an honorable mention because I haven’t actually seen the full film. The movie itself seems spectacularly bad, though, in a totally hilarious way.
The Worst Witch is a television movie that came out in 1986. My wife watched the hell out of it as a kid, irritating her entire family because of how many times she put it on. In a bout of nostalgia a couple of Halloweens ago, she went to YouTube in an attempt to show me some of this movie that she obsessed about so much as a child. What she managed to find was the clip below:
Before Harry Potter and Dumbledore, there was Tim Curry as the Grand Wizard in The Worst Witch. Tim Curry himself only appears in two scenes, but the clip above is so mind-bendingly bad that it goes all the way around the meter, hits awesome, then goes back to horrible a couple more times before finally landing on hilarious. Like I said, I have never seen this movie in full before, but this single clip makes me want to give it a spin just to see if there are any more trippy scenes like this to bend my mind.
A fun side bonus of The Worst Witch is that it allowed me to learn that Sarah does a spot-on Tim Curry impression under the right circumstances. I bet Tim Curry wishes he could do a Tim Curry impression as well as my wife does.
Thus we have a short list of movies that I am much ashamed to admit that I really like. I enjoy many other bad movies, but these are the ones whose combination of sheer badness mixes in with a proportional amount of ironic amusement on my part to form a strange pinnacle of perverse enjoyment.