Article: The Good, The Bad, The Bloody - The Mystery of So Bad It's Good

Lee takes on the subject of movies that qualify as "so bad it's good".

"Dang, man. You taste good. Better
than I thought you would."
What is it about low budget bad cinema that is so enjoyable? These films rarely see the light of day on the big screen, and if they did, film critics would have a field day trashing every last detail. Interestingly enough, most these films get ignored by the mainstream media. They are the red headed step children of the industry. While most disappear into the forgotten oblivion of failure, there is a small percentage that resonate with viewers. In a bizarre twist of cinematic fate, they become a movie that is “so bad it’s good.”

What exactly does the term “so bad it’s good” really mean?

Perhaps it's the honesty in these films. They’re not trying to be something they’re not. No director approaches a low budget horror production thinking he’s going to make the next best film since The Exorcist. It’s safe to say that the majority of those who do fail miserably. Instead they try to create the best movie possible with their limited resources. These films make no apologizes for what they are. If watching the Toxic Avenger throw a midget in a dryer offends you, too bad. That’s what you get for watching a film called The Toxic Avenger.

Maybe it’s their simple approach, the back to basics style that encourages experimental film making. The lack of a big budget and talent can encourage a production to be inventive. And limited shooting schedules can force a director to come up with spontaneous solutions to the multiple hurtles of film making. The result is a relaxation in standards. It may not be the vision they imagined, but many creative ideas have spawned in the process to get the job done. In the film Redneck Zombies, director Pericles Lewnes was faced with the financial dilemma of providing makeup for a scene involving a large group of zombies. He found the solution in his kitchen cabinets. After blackening the soon to be zombies eyes with mascara, the makeup team smeared honey across the actor’s faces and applied corn flakes to simulate rotting flesh. The finishing touch was globs of homemade corn syrup blood. Genius!

"I am SO more 80's than you, pal.
Worship my mullet."
Just about all of these movies have wild and over the top (pun intended) scripts. Who can forget Patrick Swayze ripping out a man’s throat in Road House? It’s completely ridiculous, and bad ass, all at the same time. No one really believes what they see in these films, but that in it’s self may be the most appealing of all. The simple act of enjoying a film without the need to dissect every aspect to understand the story. Take just about any kung-fu movie for example. Nearly every one of those films revolve around a cookie cutter revenge plot. Sure the story gets old, but watching a severed limb spray blood like a garden sprinkler does not.

Many good/bad horror films are absurdly gory. They’re full of extreme head crushing, gut ripping, body dismembering death scenes that have the tendency to make viewers laugh, cringe, and shake their heads in disbelief. It’s what Troma Entertainment is known for. For reference, take their film Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead. That film alone has more blood than the entire Friday the 13th franchise. And who doesn’t love mutant chickens? Scenes of excessive gore are often what makes these films memorable. Lets face it, blood, intestines, brains, crude humor, and gratuitous nudity can go a long way.

"Nums. I just love the taste
of terrier."
No matter the formula a director takes (deliberately of unintentional), bad films have a strong following. Sure they’re hokey, but they can be a hell of a lot of fun. They often come up in the good old “did you see this movie?” conversation. Some may be big budget flops that find new life in the realm of low expectation cinema. They may star Nicolas Cage uttering overly intense dialogue, like “drop the bunny.” Or John Travolta as a 10-foot tall alien. Yet the heart of these movies are the low budget films that defy all odds. They crawl from vats of toxic waste from another planet and besiege unsuspecting towns with a hunger for human flesh. Simply put, these films are like junk food. We all have a favorite, you know it’s bad for you, but if that’s the case why does it taste so good? Perhaps the fandom for these movies come from the fact that many are hobby projects. They are the result of a desire to make a film. These creative movies are made by any means necessary, and for the soul purpose of enjoyment. Most importantly, they are made without the expectations of a profit. If there is any advantage these films have over mainstream cinema it’s that. A heart and soul (and guts!) that money can’t buy.

- Lee Lind