Of the thousands of feature films produced every year, there are many that aim squarely for our collective funny bones. Some hit the target, such as this year's The Hangover. Others miss the mark, for one reason or another, and don't get widespread appeal (Land of the Lost; I Love You, Beth Cooper; Miss March). But every so often, a film comes along that — whether it's a casing of trying too hard, or clearly not trying hard enough — fails on all levels in a way that actually makes you want to watch it over and over again. Usually, these were not meant to be comedies. It just "worked" out that way.
Here in New York City, Rooftop Films is "celebrating" the awfulness that was Troll 2 with two nights of special screenings in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Tonight, they screen the actual 1990 "horror" movie, Troll 2; and Friday, they'll screen the documentary Best Worst Movie, which explored the fandom that has sprung up around the film and tracked down the people who were a part of Troll 2 in the first place. But is Troll 2 really the "best worst movie" ever made? That's something that we can readily debate.
Let's meet some of the other contenders…
The Room (2003): Lindsay Robertson (late of Videogum, always at Lindsayism) has made quite the argument for Tommy Wiseau's opus, and you can the Videogum's full report on The Room, and even Charlie Gibson at ABC News anchored a report suggesting this 2003 gem as a diamond in the roughest.
Showgirls (1995): When Showgirls came out in 1995, it was meant to be Paul Verhoeven's dramatic look inside the world of Las Vegas showgirls — we were meant to imagine his hit Basic Instinct, but even more edgy and daring. Instead, the vehicle made us look at Elizabeth Berkley, and swimming pool sex, in a whole new light. We watched it to mock it. Even they know it now, coming out with a V.I.P. edition of the film with its own party games for viewers to play along.
The Warriors (1979): Whenever this movie appeared on TV, it freaked the freak out of me. Couldn't figure out what was happening, why there were gangs in funny costumes creating mayhem in the streets of New York City, and determined never to ride the subways again. Of course, I was just a kid. Now that I'm growns up, and everyone else is, too, we all want to dress up as these guys for Halloween and say "Warriors, come out to pla-ay!" Naturally, it has become a videogame, and someone is trying to remake this, and it will just plain suck the second time around, instead of being the movie we love because of its awfulness. Then again, maybe New York City was really like this in 1979???
Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975): The "original" midnight movie has a fan site and all sorts of rules for viewers to obey, plus groups devoted to keeping the movie's spirit and screening alive. You don't want to mess with them by suggesting another film is more worthy of midnight madness, do you?
Snakes on a Plane (2006): This could be the first movie that was a best worst movie, even before it made it to the cinemas, as the Internet picked up on the simplistic concept — people are scared by snakes and planes, so they'll be doubly scared with snakes on a plane! — and ran with it. I remember going to a midnight screening, where everyone was so supercharged and ready for madness, only for everything to get weird when we all realized just how bad this movie was. Even with Samuel L. Jackson's line readings.
Clash of the Titans (1981): How could a movie with Sir Laurence Olivier and the Gods of Olympus be on this list? Perhaps the cheesy dialogue and stop-motion animation had something to do with it. First Burgess Meredith helps Rocky, and now he's aiding Harry Hamlin, with a robotic owl? Even as a child first watching this, I couldn't stop cracking up.
Evil Dead II (1987): When I first saw an appendage crawling across the floor to attack Bruce Campbell, and found out it was his own severed hand, I knew I was seeing something special. Although with a 98 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, can Sam Raimi's horror film even be on this list? Or maybe, just maybe, that's what makes this the best of the worst movies?
The Beastmaster (1982): One of the great things about cable television is its ability to find bad movies and play them repeatedly, in just the right time slots for impressionable young minds to see them and latch onto them. Marc Singer can talk to animals? Tanya Roberts skimps around in next to nothing? Perfect fodder for adolescent boys everywhere. In fact, I think it was on as much during the mid-to-late 1980s as Law & Order is on today. And that finally prompted a couple of sequels in the 1990s that nobody cares about as much as the original.
Flash Gordon (1980): It has a great theme song from Queen; it had a future James Bond in Timothy Dalton, and Max Von Sydow as the villain. What could go wrong? Everything. And yet, it's also awesome in every way. If you were to tell me it was on TV right now, I would watch it.
And here, is a look at Troll 2.
Of course, you probably have your own favorite films that you love for their awesome horribleness. Plan 9 From Outer Space, anyone?
And as I've written previously, there are groups out there willing to help you enjoy how bad some movies are with their live mock screenings, including the Raspberry Brothers and the many spawn of MST3K. Feel free to weigh in with your input, additions, subtractions, and theories as to why horrible movies can do as much for the comedy genre as actual comedy films.
42 thoughts on “10 Movies So Bad, They’re Funny: Is “Troll 2” really the Best Worst Movie?!”
I would like to nominate the camp-glam 1970s Brian DePalma piece of crap Phantom of the Paradise.
I’m originally from Winnipeg, Canada, which has the distinction of being the only market in North America to make this film a hit. People went to see it 2, 3, 74 times in the theatres (one theatre, incidentally, that my own father was the manager of at the time). It played successfully for months after being mothballed everywhere else in the world.
There’s even a site dedicated to this Winnipeg oddity: https://www.phantomoftheparadise.ca/
What happened to the extensive Montreal wrapup?
News, work (did you know I have other work?), the swine flu, other things, the cable company taking down my service while working on nearby apartments for two days in a row, all have conspired against me. Wanted to get this movie post up before, you know, the actual screening?!
Anyhow. Trust and know that I’ll have a full Montreal report for you and everyone else on Friday.
A friend has suggested Starship Troopers. Hmmm. Would you put this on the list?
Phantom of the Paradise is no piece of crap! Highly enjoyable flick, it’s weird, ridiculously 70s and campy, but it’s all intentional and enjoyable.
I even own the French special edition DVD (signed by Jessica Harper).
The Warriors is on this list? I wouldn’t count that as a bad movie.
Some terrible movies that are incredibly fun to watch:
– Neon Maniacs: one of the weirdest horror flicks of the 80s, it makes little to no sense, but it does make me wish I took drugs or drank so I could enjoy it on a whole new level
– Samurai Cop: I highly recommend the DVD, especially with the Joe Bob Briggs Commentary track
– The Incredibly Strange Creatures who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies – any list of “best worst” movies that does not include a Ray Dennis Stecklar flick is seriously and fatally flawed
– The Pit – a weird horror flick about an austistic kid with an evil talking Teddy Bear who finds a pit in the woods with mutants in it that eat people. Oh the kid is also a pervert. Words cannot really describe this movie accurately.
Ed Wood was robbed.
Plan Nine From Outer Space is still my favorite bad movie.
Van Helsing & any Sean Penn directed film pre 1995.
Evil Dead 2 should not be on this list. Evil Dead 1 could be though.
ED1 was Raimi’s attempt to make a serious horror movie, but it was so campy that you couldn’t help but laugh. Raimi, when he realize ED1 was popular for it’s campyness, embraced the camp rather than running from it. ED2 was actually a remake of ED1 (not a sequel) which was intended to be campy and funny (which is why it shouldn’t be on this list of accidentally humorous movies).
Let’s not forget, Tanya Roberts’ other triumph of cinematography where she co-starred with Ted Wass: Sheena – Queen of the Jungle.
Although it was panned, I enjoyed George Lucas’ Opus:
Howard the Duck
Eating Raoul ( https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083869/ ), and Night of the Comet ( https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087799/ ) were good too.
You might want to add Cannibal Killer Clowns On Dope to the list. Its got TONS of nudity, Blood, Gore Guts & Chainsaws https://killerclowntheater.com The DVD is out on Amazon.
“Valley of the Dolls” Who could forget Patty Duke screaming “Boobies! Boobies!”
I hear you on “Evil Dead II,” obviously. I think that movie actually set the bar for a whole genre of “horror” movies that are quite happy to be laughed at. In college, my friends introduced me to a little movie called “Basket Case 2,” which is beyond silly. Haven’t seen that film in years, and just thinking about it now makes me laugh.
As for “Howard the Duck”?! Been there, seen that. How could Lea Thompson and that duck…oh, the horror. Please don’t make me relive that.
And when you wrote “Valley of the Dolls,” I thought instead of “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.” Win-win? Or lose-lose?
Thanks for the reference to Killer Clown Theatre (I’ll have to check that one out!)- it reminded me of this classic:
Killer Klowns from Outer Space
All due respect, this list is a mess. Both Rocky Horror and Evil Dead II are intentional camp and that’s totally different category than “best worst” movie which is ABSOLUTELY The Room! If you haven’t seen it, see it NOW. If you’re not near a screening, buy the dvd for $9 on Amazon and have some friends over. My friends and I are comptletely obsessed with it. We’ve gone to 2 screenings and we’re going again.
“I’m tired! I’m wasted! I love you darling!”
My favorite bad movie is 1959’s “Suddenly, Last Summer” which stars Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn and Montgomery Clift. It was directed by Oscar winner Joseph L Mankiewicz. Hepburn is the emasculating and carnivorous mother of a gay son. Elizabeth is his beautiful cousin who travels with the son in Europe one summer to attract men for him. (The Hepburn character is no longer beautiful enough to have this effective skill for her son’s sexual desires.) Clift is the tortured psychiatrist whom Hepburn is trying to bribe to lobotomize Taylor. Taylor remembers how Hepburn’s son was killed in Portugal. This part of the movie is fantastic. But, who really murdered him? Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal (the leading homosexual writers of their day) wrote the script that was adapted from Williams’ one act play. Surely, they were writing a comedy, but the film was produced, directed and acted to be highly serious and intellectual. It’s gloriously and laughably awful. I’ve seen it many times.
I didn’t think anything could be worse than Open Water
Dangerous Men by John S. Rad. Nuff said.
i vote “beyond the valley of the dolls” too, and don’t forget “rock n roll nightmare”, “street angels”, “jesus christ vampire hunter”, “black devil doll”, “leprechaun 4: leprechaun in space, or “spider-man 3”!
Road House with Patrick Swayze is a personal favorite. Ben Gazzara is so far over the top in this film. Dial up a stereotype and it’s in this movie. The late Jeff Healy and his group are the bar band in the movie about a legendary bouncer who comes to tame a new bar. Bad to the bone. I must have seen this film a couple of dozen times.
One word: GYMKATA !
Former Olympian Kurt Thomas stars in this quasi Martial-Arts movie which is enjoyably watchable despite being truly awful in just about every sense of the word. It gets extra points for having a collection of the ugliest set of extras (without special effects makeup) likely to have been assembled for any movie, ever.
Bolero. So dumb a theatre full of men laughed when Bo Derek was nude even tho that was all most of them came to see. My date was either groaning or laughing during the whole thing and said it was about as erotic as mastubating with your mother standing outside the bathroom door-whatever that means. Truly awful.
“Glitter”. It’s ridiculously bad, and is written as if the writers were going for one of those Leslie Nielsen “Naked Gun” comedies. It’s just chock full of opportunities for wise ass witticisms. Mariah Carey plays it so seriously it’s apparent that she has no idea whatsoever that it’s horrible in every way.
Top “Worst” films
– Gymkata: included here because someone brought it up, which, in turn, brought up a lot of bad memories
– Beastmaster II: Through the Portal of Time: I consider this one to be far worse. Why? Because Dar gets pulled into a present world and is driven past a movie theatre. What’s playing? “Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time”. ‘Nuff said!
– anything directed by Uwe Boll: do I have to explain this?
I cant believe no one’s mentioned “Battlefield Earth”!!!
Humans are reduced to a caveman-like life and when they emerge from the cave, they are so in awe of a mini golf course that they begin to worship the clown statue on the 9th hole, but by the end of the movie they can read & understand nuclear bomb diagnostics (which just happened to have been left on the overhead projector they found) and they use that in conjunction with the alien teleportetation device to blow up a planet?!?
BEST MOVIE EVER!!! FTW!!!
Frank Hennelotter’s “FrankenHooker”, pal!
A close second would be “Andy Warhol’s Dracula”, favorite quote:”Zee blood of these whores is killing me!”. Or Warhol’s Frankenstein-“You haven’t lived until you’ve f@cked a gallbladder!” Genius, I tells ya!
Starship Troopers has to rank up there. I have soe friends who know the entire movie by heart, and hearing them recite the horrible lines as they watch the movie has to be one of the funniest things I’ve ever experienced.
The only movie that should even be considered is “Black Roses!” I could watch that over and over and still laugh my a** off!!!! What’s better than an evil heavy metal band that comes to town and takes over the minds of the local teenagers, who begin killing their parents???? ROTFL just thinking about it!
“Doctor, You’ve Got to be Kidding” with Sandra Dee and George Hamilton is the worst thing I’ve ever seen.
“D.C. Cab” was the worst movie I ever saw. Released in the winter of 1983(?) and starring Mr. T. I took a girl I really liked and it was so bad it was hilarious. I pitty the fool who paid to see this flick.
Obscurity should disqualify any bad movie from lists like this. I think Scarface is the ultimate bad movie; the more it ages the more entertaining it gets.
Your mention of “Scarface” reminds me of John Mulaney’s stand-up bit about people who love that awful movie (you can see him talk about it on Hulu when he was on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on July 24).
Surprised by how many people are naming either obscure films or truly awful films. The whole point of this was debating the notion that “Troll 2” is the best of the worst. There are countless horrible films that you could not convince me or anyone else to watch a second time.
Granted, though. I’m thinking “Starship Troopers” is a great addition to the list. And I keep telling you that there’s no winning in either including or excluding “Rocky Horror.” Those fans are fierce. And a few comedians I know love to push “Road House” (and, for that matter, “Dirty Dancing” and all things Swayze).
And “Frankenhooker” is from the same guy who made “Basket Case 2,” so I think he was going for comedy all along, even if it was all horribly done.
Lol nice list. They’re eating her! And then they’re going to eat me! Oh noooooooooooooooooo!
Frank Hennelotter who did Frankenhooker (ans Basket Case 2, as perviously mention) makes his movies in a particular intentional style, so I don’t know if they are “best worst” or not. I am a huge fan of his “Brain Damage” movie as well.
I’m glad someone brought up Rock N Roll nightmare, I cannot stress enough how great that is. In Reid Manor we’ve developed a New Year’s Eve tradition of watching Rock N Roll Nightmare every new Years so that the climax of the film is at 12am, I don’t know why we started this, but it’s been going strong for four years now. I recommend it to others.
monsturd. that is all
I consider Julia Roberts’ “Sleeping with the Enemy” one of my comedy favorites.
Especially the guy playing the “enemy”. That crazy eye look.
Manos: Hands Of Fate is THE best bad movie evah!
Aliens Versus Predator: Requiem (AVP-R)
Seriously, they added REQUIEM to the sequel’s title to add some art house icing to this POS cake… it’s just the worst movie.
I saw it in the theater the day it came out, it ruined everyone in the theater’s Christmas. Just horrible.
The best worst: Cannibal: The Musical
also called Alferd Packer: The Musical for those in know at Univ of Colorado.
This is the first, student, work by Parker and Stone of South Park fame. It stars no one except Maki-san, a famous Boulder, CO sushi chef, as the indian chief that saves the Packer party. Typical of Parker and Stone, they (1) bag heavily on Mormons and (2) have great musical numbers.
The rest is history.
Go ROcky Horror Show! The worst of ever- the best!!! I love it, I can watch it every weekend. Cool reviews man – DOn’t be so hard on us Rocky fans- we just like to have fun- and lots of it hehehe
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Ha ha !! That was hilarious post! i am junky of those really bad horror movies, most of the films here i have on DVD’s and i am a huge fun of Rocky Horror Picture Show, the best movie ever!
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