Hidden Gems: Movies that are so bad, they're good

Comically bad cult films that are terribly fun to watch

Bad movies can offer cathartic release or be a source of laughter.
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There’s a growing online trend of purposefully watching bad movies. Whether they offer a cathartic release or they’re just plain funny, some movies are just so bad they’re good.

Terrible cult films like Tommy Wiseau’s The Room are often full of cheesy dialogue, clumsy plots, and overacting. They make up for their lack of artistic merit with unintentional hilarity.

Where good movies tend to follow familiar patterns of quality storytelling, bad movies are far more unpredictable, and entertaining as a result. Famously bad films are often justifiably shunned by streaming services, so many cinephiles can be hard-pressed to find them.

If you’re one of these geeky thrill-seekers, you’re in luck. I’ve compiled a list of good “bad movies” that I guarantee you’ll enjoy. 

Samurai Cop (1991)

Samurai Cop is the story of long-haired, smooth-talking cop, Joe Marshall. Marshall takes on the Yakuza, a Japanese organized crime syndicate, with a katana, a Japanese samurai sword, and an arsenal of terrible one-liners.

When he isn’t stumbling through tone-deaf dialogue and dragging the nonsensical plot forward kicking and screaming, the character is mired in terribly choreographed fight scenes and special effects so amateur it’s almost impressive. There’s a visible cameraman or boom mic in almost every fight between Marshall and his hapless, clichéd foes.

The film was obviously made on a shoestring budget, but what’s truly hilarious is that the filmmakers don’t seem to understand what actual human behavior is. The acting is so wooden it feels purposeful, as if it’s meant to make some sort of artistic point.

The filmmakers are under the false assumption that being a cop gives you license to break the law. Even the cheesiest action movies give lip service to real police work by mentioning terms like probable cause and jurisdiction, but Marshall is straight up on an officially sanctioned murder spree.

Despite the buffoonery, Samurai Cop is still a cheesy 80s action film taken to the absolute extreme, which makes it very fun to watch. It’s an endless source of odd surprises and derisive laughter.

Dungeons and Dragons (2000)

In the spirit of the tabletop role-playing game, this movie is about a magical quest and includes all the necessary trappings of a fantasy film. It features an unlikely hero, a princess, and, of course, dragons.

This movie also has CGI that looks like it was rendered with a broken Nintendo 64. The cardboard plot and the campy acting border on self-parody.

Jeremy Irons, Academy Award-winning actor, appears to have been blackmailed into appearing in this mess. That doesn’t stop him from gloriously hamming up the already corny role of Mage Profion, a monotonous evil wizard with a penchant for maniacal rants.

Seeing an accomplished, classically trained actor working with terrible material is both hilarious and awe-inspiring. In the film’s climax, he’s eaten by a pixelated dragon. It’s the funniest scene ever put to film.

Vampire’s Kiss (1988)

On the surface, this movie seems to be another unremarkable vampire flick. It could be justifiably labeled mediocre, if not for its main actor Nicolas Cage, who makes it truly terrible.

A bad movie list wouldn’t be complete without Nicolas Cage. Past directors have been able to wrangle Cage’s notoriously manic energy into making great films, but once they lose control of him, they’re in for some zany results.

In Vampire’s Kiss, Cage plays a depressed literary agent who begins to lose sight of reality after he believes a late-night tryst left him a vampire in the making.

This genre is already inclined towards melodrama, but Cage takes this to such extremes that it’s both hilarious and frightening. From his character screaming the alphabet at his therapist to running around begging strangers to stake him in the heart, Nicolas Cage is ridiculous.

That said, this film is nothing if not entertaining.

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These are just a few of my favorites from a long list of terrible films that are terribly fun to watch.

To complement the viewing of these films, I recommend a case of beer, an extra-large pepperoni pizza, and the company of like-minded friends.

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