Much like it’d be unfair to pit players from baseball’s dead-ball era against the heavy hitters of today, special considerations are needed to pit one terrible movie against another: genre expectations, whether professionals were involved, and finally, budget constraints. It’s that last one that really puts The Room in a class by itself as it’s hard to imagine 6 million dollars more poorly spent. Wiseau’s melodramatic masterpiece has got company in other genres, which we’ve broken down here for your edification.
1. BEST GOOD BAD ACTION. Road to Revenge, AKA, Geteven (sic).
The brainchild/vanity project of a California litigator John De Hart, Road to Revenge narrowly misses Worst of All Time considerations but puts itself in the running with perhaps the worst courtroom scene of all time, and the most unexpectedly insane exposition that makes The Room’s breast cancer revelation seem matter-of-fact.
A satanic cult corrupt cop revenge caper, it features an ass-kicking country-singing protagonist, Rick Bode, who endeavors to take out a corrupt judge while his buddy, who’s developed a Weltanschauung – a personal philosophy around Huckleberry Finn (!) – goads him into performing Shakespeare soliloquies in front of disinterested bar flies.
Suffice it to say, Geteven (yes, that’s the keyboard space bar-defying title) is a hallucinatory experience. Wings Hauser is like a bad movie paratrooper, dropped behind enemy lines. He is an entirely separate Tommy Wiseau-like entity, seemingly acting in another film. And what would an action film be without the hero getting up on stage in a bar whose mise-en-scène resembles a Legion hall to warble a terribly off-key country tune which sounds like something Johnny Cash would have sang after downing three bottles of NyQuil: the hypnotically awful yet brilliant “Shimmy Slide.”
The film’s tagline is “Will courage overcome corruption”, put in the form of a statement rather than a question. That’s one among many questions left unaddressed.
[CHECK OUT OUR DISCUSSION OF GETEVEN ON THE PODCAST and tap your toe to the Shimmy Slide below]
HONORABLE MENTION: Samurai Cop. The lunatic fringe police flick Samurai Cop is a very close runner-up to Road to Revenge. How could it not be? It features HAIR CONTINUITY PROBLEMS for chrissakes. A dud of hilarious proportions, the titular cop and his side-kick go after the Yakuza, that notorious Japanese organized crime outfit. Unfortunately, The Sound of Music more accurately depicts Japanese culture.
The bizarre Second Unit footage is matched only by Matt Hannon’s long-haired Lothario, so adept a lady’s man he can pick up attractive blonde doctors by talking into their stethoscopes. Wigs fall off, Japanese is mistakenly translated, and the Samurai Cop’s African American sidekick has little to do but mug “oooohs.”
CHECK OUT OUR DISCUSSION OF SAMURAI COP HERE.
Childhood sweethearts reunite as adults after the male protagonist emerges from a near-death, car accident-induced coma, and his sweetheart is the attending neurosurgeon. Instead of protracted convalescence, the man wanders home in a hospital gown and begins “hacking into the most secret government and corporate secrets.” Wait, WTF?
Fateful Findings bends genres like light in an aquarium tank. One-part drama, one-part mysticism, one-part espionage and 5 cups of crazy, Fateful Findings features what is easily the worst press conference ever brought to celluloid, one so bad even journalists didn’t bother to attend (see the green screen screenshot above). The somnambulist sensibilities of director/writer/producer Neil Breen are something to behold. Much like Wings Hauser, he’s been teleported into a different movie altogether.
3. BEST GOOD BAD DRAMA. The Room.
Cynically billed as a “black comedy”, when the humor is entirely absent or unintentional, The Room makes the strongest case for Best Good Bad Movie of all time, as the misguided mastermind Tommy Wiseau was hubristic enough to shoot this turd in both 35mm film and high-definition video.
We’ve reviewed enough movies shot for under $100,000 on this site to wonder how, save for having a craft services table with lobster, champagne and caviar, Wiseau could have possibly spent 6 million dollars on his opus. To put this in perspective, James Cameron’s The Terminator cost 6.4 million. As Greg Sestero pointed out in his book on the making of The Room, The Disaster Artist, the Chris-R mugging scene took as long to shoot as Steven Spielberg’s Omaha Beach scene in Saving Private Ryan. And speaking of casualties…
A Streetcar Named Desire had audiences yelling “Stella!” for decades. The same for Rocky’s “Adrian!” To add to the list, “JAKOOOOOOOOOODA!” from Strike Commando, one of the worst movies of all time by arguably the worst director of all time, and the only one to have two films on this list, the incomparable Bruno Mattei. You’re known by the company you keep and Mattei’s frequent collaborator was Claudio Fragasso, perhaps best-known for directing that crime against cinema known as Troll 2. We’re not trolling when we say Strike Commando is so inept it makes Rambo: First Blood Part II (the film it so-desperately aspires to be) look like All Quiet on the Western Front.
Mike Ransom battles the formidable Russian commando Jakoda behind enemy lines in Vietnam while saving villagers from the Viet Cong – villagers who incidentally WORSHIP HIM!. Ransom explaining the wonders of Disnleyland while a child is succumbing to injuries in his arms is one of the most dazzlingly inept scenes in movie history.
With ear-splitting squawking and acting so wooden you could frame a home with it, Birdemic is unbearable on so many levels. It gets a slight nod over Troll 2 in that the latter occasionally looks like a real film, whereas Birdemic’s finished product looks…unfinished.
Other natural horrors may be bad, but few are so imbued with as much green/enviro mumbo-jumbo as Birdemic, its messaging as heavy-handed as Lennox Lewis in his prime. When protagonists are battling predatory birds on the side of a busy highway and none of the vehicles are slowing down to assist/help out, you know this is the product of permit-free guerrilla film-making. The real star of Birdemic is ornithologist Dr. Jones (“hey look, it’s an old guy on the bridge”), whose exposition-laden spiel at the end of the film, betrays any knowledge of anything related to birds or wildlife ecology. [CHECK OUT OUR BIRDEMIC PODCAST]
Their son ,meanwhile, is having otherworldly visions of his deceased grandpa, who’s warning that bad things are afoot in the town and they should get the hell out of dodge. When the family sets down to dine on produce that’s looking way too green to eat, grandpa from beyond the grave tells the boy to disrupt the repast, and boy does he ever. Atop a chair, he urinates onto the dining room table and is reprimanded by his father who opines, “You can’t piss on hospitality!” The highlight for us, is the what can only be described as a “corny” lovemaking scene, set to the strains of some bargain knock-off You Can Leave Your Hat On.
Honorable Mention: Manos: The Hands of Fate. In Manos: The Hands of Fate, a pagan polygamous cult holds a Texas family hostage in the home of an evil Master, which sounds a lot more promising than it is.
The Master, however, is wearing a poncho with hands on it, which doesn’t even place on the medal podium when it comes to the Olympic badness of the film. The real star, however, is manservant Torgo, who sports a walking stick, an oversized blazer/dusty hat and looks like he’s escaping an Oklahoma dust bowl.
If you’re looking to spread taekwondo awareness (and really, who isn’t?) you’ve come to the right place.
We’d like viewers of bad cinema to be aware of this total misstep, in which a gang causes havoc over access to stage time at a Florida nightclub. While that plot could be the stuff of a juvenile delinquent rap movie, we neglected to mention that the targets of the gang are a group of orphan taekwondo students (!) who are in a band (!), not for the money nor the groupies, but order to bring taekwondo awareness (!) to their respective multi-ethnic homelands.
Did we mention there are ninjas? The gang looks like meth heads who frequent military surplus stores and their leader has a toupee that would shame Al Pacino. The fight scenes are matched only by the nouveau 80s Miami Sound Machine rock stylings of Dragon Sound. They’re “on top ’cause they play to win!” Still, considering the cast was comprised of martial arts students and their sensei, it’s hard to really fault the White Belt level acting here. [Listen to our Miami Connection discussion here]
Crackerjack 3 is absolutely hypnotic. When bad guys get access to a nuclear weapon and threaten to detonate it at a UN meeting in Germany, a team of Cold War-era enemy spies join forces to thwart it.
A delicious premise, spoiled by some of the worst effects you’ll ever see in any film. CIA headquarters look like the head office for boiler-room telemarketing schemers, and retired intelligence operative Jack (B-movie legend Bo Svenson) fishes in a river that looks like the product of a leaky sump pump.
The cast approaches the material with an easy-breezy casualness, and there are times when you get the impression they’re enjoying themselves, spouting lines which might be considered comedic. That it’s impossible to really tell whether the film is playing it straight or going for the guffaws underscores just how mesmerizingly bad it is. And when plans to infiltrate the UN meeting involve lawn gnomes manufactured in a secret warehouse by orphan children, this tells you everything you need to know about this film. It co-stars nigh-unintelligible Olivier Gruner, a French kickboxing champ and former commando, who plays to his strengths by throwing not even a single kick.
Not THAT Terminator 2! This one, Shocking Dark, sits at a 1 on Rotten Tomatoes (and that’s actually being somewhat charitable). The second Bruno Mattei film on our list features a military tactical force sent into the bowels of Venice, Italy to investigate an evil corporation’s attempt to poison the city’s inhabitants. Or something. It’s legitimately difficult to make sense of this highly underwhelming mess.
The team is known as Megaforce and they dress in “business casual” versions of Michael Jackson’s Thriller get-up.
Shocking Dark is a mega-dud, a muddied Alien/Terminator knock-off with zero visual style and laughably bad (and very murky) action sequences.
Why you’d set a film in Venice, one of the world’s most picturesque cities, and film everything underground is a question best answered by…who, we’re not sure. What is certain is that this thing stinks worse than any Venetian canal.
An evil music mogul and head of BIM Music, one Mr. Boogalow (“BOOGALOO”) sabotages a song contest so that an artist signed to his record label can rocket to super-stardom. This rocket explodes before leaving earth’s atmosphere, however, as this thing is unbelievably tone-deaf. And as it should be. After all, The Apple is a Cannon Film production.
You haven’t lived ’til you hear black backup singers singing “he knows how to be a master.”
Not surprisingly, The Apple, a dunderheaded Biblical parable meant to capitalize on the success of Grease clogged arteries and tortured ear drums with musical crap. Slant Magazine even called it “noxious.” This is true – you’ll find yourself humming some of its tunes.
Christopher Lombardo and Jeff Kirschner are the authors of Death by Umbrella! The 100 Weirdest Horror Movie Weapons and founders of www.ReallyAwfulMovies.Com and the Really Awful Movies Podcast.