My Unending Search for Crap…

I recently wrote an article for Influx where I talked about my favorite bad movie of all time, The Apple.  Although I love good films, every so often I need a laugh because art, foreign and indie films CAN be depressing.  A great way to break that somber mood is to watch a film where the filmmakers tried so hard to make a great film but failed spectacularly in every single way.  As a teen, my love of bad movies began when someone bought me the amazingly well written book The 50 Worst Movies of All Time and How They Got to Be That Way by Harry Medved.  Not only was the book very, very funny, but it was written by a 16 year-old!!  And, it was done in the era just before home videotape machines were available!  Think of all the work he put into that book!  In fact, I loved the book so much that I vowed to make it my life’s work to see all 50 of the films.  This is a lot more difficult than it sounds, as many of the films never came out on DVD or video because they were crap!  So this not so simple task took me almost 30 years to complete…but I have seen and reviewed on IMDb all 50 films.

When I finished the 50th film, I felt very proud of myself… for about a day.  Then I realized I needed another challenge, so I started watching all the films from IMDb’s Bottom 100 list  as well as from Medved’s follow-up books (such as The Golden Turkey Awards*).  The problem with the list, however, is that the votes have come in from all over the world and many of the films are not available in English or with subtitles.  So, I began to look for directors who made awful films—the true auteurs of the bad film industry.  Many of these masters of schlock have films available on Netflix—though few have all of their films with this service.  But it did at least help me find a few films by some amazingly horrible filmmakers such as Al Adamson, William Grefe, Ed Wood Jr., Ray Dennis Steckler, Arch Hall Sr.** and Larry Buchanan.  Additionally, another guilty pleasure I love is when respected directors make horrible films, such as Phantom of the Paradise by Brian De Palma.

Another great source for finding horrible films would be your friends—and this is perhaps the best source—especially since you can enjoy the films more by watching them with others.  A while back, a lady recommended I see Birdemic as well as The Room—two of the worst recent films I’ve seen—and now she is among my favorite people.  Now this does bring me to a problem, however.  Most lists I’ve recently seen tend to weigh very heavily towards recent films and friends usually focus on the recent as well—though horrible crap has been around as long as there has been cinema!  Try to see crap through the ages, such as the exploitation films of the 1930s and 40s (especially the horrible Sex Madness), Japanese superhero films like the Starman series as well as Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (previously reviewed on this site).

I have one category of bad film I actually try to avoid and that is a bad film that is deliberately made to be a bad film.  Troma has a lot of devoted fans, but with films like Killer Klowns from Space, it doesn’t seem fair to include them with those who were just too clueless to make a decent film.  I know some bad film buffs who DO try to watch these films, though it seems almost like cheating!

So do you have a bad film that is fun to watch that you’d like to suggest?  Drop me a line or leave a comment by clicking the links at the bottom—I’m always in the mood for a horrible film!  However, I want the suggestions to be for films that are terrible BUT fun to watch—not just boring or stupid.  Plus, I plan to soon post a list of my recommendations for the best of the worst—perhaps my own top/bottom 50 or 100. The IMDb bottom 100 can be found by clicking here.

*Sadly, last time I checked the books were all out of print.  However, Amazon and many resellers have the books if you dig deep enough.

**Arch Hall Sr. is an odd one.  Despite making some truly horrible films, he also made a couple low-budget films that I found surprisingly good—such as The Sadist and Wild Guitar.  Interestingly, his films usually starred his son, Arch Junior.

Article by Lead Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Martin Hafer

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