Green font, you always know which questions to ask. To qualify for this “honor,” a movie must be unintentionally engaging. Usually, this means that a film is funny when trying to be serious, or it involves such a train wreck of professional decision making that the result MUST be witnessed. With rare exception, these movies also need to have an element of earnestness or sincerity. Some of the people involved need to have believed in the project until it’s completed.
Since April Fool’s Day was last Friday, I decided to write about movies that are good in a different kind of way. Many entries in this “genre,” though, could be equally enjoyed as clip-show highlights, so I also tried to pick films that were consistently entertaining throughout their runtimes. Finally, this is written knowing that, even more so than regular film criticism, my opinion here is subjective. Hopefully, readers find these films as stupid/delightful as I do—ideally watched with friends and a smidge of alcohol.
Johnny is a successful banker that lives in a townhouse with his beautiful fiancé, Lisa, and a college student named Denny. Unfortunately for Johnny, who’s never done anything wrong in his life, Lisa is manipulative and evil, deciding to cheat on Johnny with his friend Mark. After a series of unrelated and unresolved plot events—Lisa’s mom struggling with breast cancer, Denny’s descent into drug addiction, humanity’s disturbing inability to either catch or throw a football—the romantic machinations come to a head during a party at the townhouse. No one will be the same after this confrontation, and one character will go upstairs and meet their end in… THE ROOM!
This film posed a problem for me: to not include it on this list would’ve been a grave omission when discussing this particular movie category, but the film is so infamous at this point that EVERYONE puts it on their list. Therefore, here’s yet another reminder to watch this deeply weird picture.
Even when James Franco and his pals made a biopic about the making of The Room, they couldn’t replicate the off-kilter direction and alien phrasing. Tommy Wiseau, the actor who plays Johnny, has an oddly lumpy face—while he’s not ugly, his face and expressions are nigh impossible to replicate.
I think one of the reasons this film has become a mainstay of ironic viewing is the levels of oddness one can appreciate on repeat viewings. The first time through, of course, are notorious quotes and bizarre character decisions (“You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!” “I did not hit her, I did not… Oh hi, Mark!), but my second time watching The Room, I noticed that the framing was slightly off in every scene. Most of the shots were just a tad left of center. The special features revealed that Wiseau didn’t know if digital film would replace traditional film, so he shot the entire movie with two cameras shoved next to each other. That’s right, he’d center the shot, then purposely film things incorrectly to cover his bases.
I guess my warning before watching this film is that you may come for the laughs, but prepare to fall down a rabbit hole of not-quite-right “artistry.”
Notorious slasher villain Jason Voorhees lies dead at the bottom of Camp Crystal Lake… until two horny teenagers have a sexcapade on a boat directly over his body. Lightning strikes, going through the boat and anchor directly to Jason’s body, and America’s biggest hockey fan is revived! For some reason, Jason decides to hunt the cousin of the teen that killed him, and she just so happens to be on a boat with a bunch of OTHER horny teens. Where’s that boat’s headed? Only the title of the movie knows that question…
80’s slasher villains have left an indelible mark on American culture. A scar, if you will. Therefore, many people know the characters even without having seen the movies. As many horror fans will tell you, the Friday the 13th series was a blatant ripoff of Halloween and was NEVER revered. Without sacred predecessors, however, Jason could go on adventures that were deliberately trashy and unapologetically ridiculous.
Unfortunately, the Satanic Panic of the mid-80’s put pressure on horror filmmakers to tone down the extreme gore and blood. This leaves Friday the 13th: Part VIII with all of the moronic campiness, but none of the thrill. The result is like watching a house cat “hunt” you, sneaking up on you while you can clearly see it. The scares of Part VIII are so telegraphed, the characters so outsized, and the plot so nonsensical that it becomes an unwitting parody of slasher films—then becomes a parody of itself! Here’s the kicker: only 20 or so minutes of the movie actually take place in Manhattan.
To give you an idea of how “highly” I regard this film, Jason proceeds to go to hell, then space in following entries—and I STILL think this one is more ridiculous.
DC Comics mainstay Gorilla Grodd has finally concocted the ultimate scheme: travel back in time to kill Batman. Of course, Batman tries to stop Grodd at his lab, which is conveniently located beneath Arkham Asylum. The plan goes awry for both heroes and villains, and everyone gets sucked into feudal Japan.
There, Batman, the various Robins, and Catwoman must team up with the ninja clan of the bat to stop The Joker and his gang from making mechanized, transforming castles that will rampage across the countryside.
Did you have an aneurism reading that plot summary? For those whose brains are somehow still intact, words do not encompass how bonkers this movie is. A friend who saw the movie with me remarked, “We’ve now seen inside The Joker’s mind.” When viewed from that perspective, Batman’s bat-shaped monk disguise makes sense, as does Damian Wayne’s heretofore unmentioned ability to summon snow monkeys with a flute.
The baffling decisions made by every production department add credence to my friend’s theory. The art style is the grating kind of computer generated 3D-anime, save for an interlude which seems specifically designed to piss off Masaaki Yuasa fans. Despite Batman Ninja’s 85-minute runtime, you’ll feel fully immersed/drowned by its world and amazed that each character has a moment to… whatever the opposite version of shine is here.
Yet I’m amazed how Batman Ninja continually managed to put a fresh “Whaaat?!” expression on my face. I could make a detailed list of every time I squinted my eyes, dropped my jaw, and cocked my head; but that would take you at least 85 minutes to read. Just watch the movie and experience it for yourself.
Victoria is a young, abandoned cat who’s just been dumped into a London back alley. Alone and afraid, she joins the first posse she meets. This is a terrible idea, as the posse’s a death cult that annually sends one “lucky” participant to the Heaviside layer of the ionosphere via a chandelier tied to a hot-air balloon. Victoria sees various types of felines perform for the chance to be selected by Old Deuteronomy, the cult leader. Macavity, an outcast of the community and dark magician, has decided that he’s going to be selected this year no matter the cost. He kidnaps every other candidate and attempts to force Old Deuteronomy’s hand/paw/no wait, it’s a hand again; they didn’t finish the effects. Only the power of song and good-cat magic can stop him.
Unlike the other entries on this list, Cats is best enjoyed as an unintentional horror film. Though many hilarious moments exist, the half-finished effects, when combined with slapdash set direction, aimless actors, and 80’s synth, create an atmosphere of incomprehensible dread. Do the cats walk like humans or like cats? The movie doesn’t know either. Do the characters have cat feet or dancer shoes? The film gives its audience another shrug. Why do the mice have human children’s faces? Rebel Wilson has eaten too many of them for us to find out.
Much has been said about this movie, from the cataclysmic decisions made by Universal Studios to the infamous “butthole cut.” Something that can only be understood by watching the film, though, is the tragic sense of hope the cast and crew exude throughout the runtime. Tom Hooper, the director, built up a decade of trust in Hollywood in order to fill a litter box this big. Why else would everyone from Jennifer Hudson to Ian McKellen sign up? The special features reveal various department heads creating cutting-edge dance routines and actors bringing their full talent to bear, all desperately trying to reconcile the supposedly “sacred” material with what was happening on set.
In fact, I argue that this movie should be required viewing in film school. This is the result of an absent director, one so full of hubris and high on his past successes that he simply sits on his chair, scrolling on his phone as those below him make uninformed decisions and attempt to pick up the slack. If some smart-ass asks you in the future, “But what does a director actually do?” show them the equivalent of a puzzle with a giant missing piece in the center. Show them Cats.
Dr. Krupp has finally figured out to get his hands on the Aztec Mummy’s treasure. He’s going to—you guessed it—build a robot. Krupp has been driven to this point only because he’s tried and failed twice before, narrowly escaping a pit of poisonous snakes in the process. The problem with Krupp’s design is that the Aztec Mummy goes on an uncontrollable rampage whenever the treasure is removed. To stop this, Dr. Almada, his wife, and his assistant must stop Krupp and his new creation so the mummy can be put to rest for good.
Some sharp readers may have noticed that I say Dr. Krupp has failed twice before. Yes, The Robot Vs. the Aztec Mummy is the third movie in a trilogy. Worry not, though, as large chunks of the runtime are devoted to recap clips of the previous films. Once viewers are caught up, the movie proceeds to add in a completely unnecessary hypnotism plot, confusing everyone anew. The movie also presents burning questions like “Why is the Aztec Mummy resting in a local graveyard?” “How is it that Dr. Almada’s children, having no knowledge or experience with hypnotism, are able to deduce Dr. Krupp’s evil scheme?” “Why is Dr. Krupp collecting human body parts, then attaching them to his robot? Doesn’t that make it a cyborg, not a robot?” All these questions and more are flippantly ignored.
Best of all, this movie is free to stream on YouTube. My friends and I watched it with A.I. created subtitles, adding a new level of lunacy. Every stair creak became a character speaking “Yeah,” while the hispanic names are woefully mispronounced.
One moment, however, encapsulates this film for me: Dr. Almada’s assistant, Pinacate (which YouTube translates as “Pancake”), must find the mummy’s current residence, which is in a mausoleum at the center of a spooky graveyard. Pancake checks every headstone thoroughly, then walks past an enormous mausoleum, the only one there. He pauses, then walks back to the stone door and says, “This just might be it.” The entire film is stuffed with this kind of idiocy. Goofy ’50s sci-fi meets moronic character motivations and head-smacking awful dialogue to craft pure unintentional entertainment. In my opinion, this film is perfectly aged cheese.
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Blow Out: Leftover from August’s theme
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Why Aren’t There More Family Sitcoms Nowadays? A “Why Does Hollywood?” Post
Adventure Time: Partially Obligatory
Why do European movies look different than American ones? A “Why Does Hollywood?” Post
Obligatory Animated Viewing from 2023
Obligatory Live-Action Viewing from 2023
Rocky: Yo, Adrian!
Midnight Cowboy: Hey, I’m Walkin’ Here!
Road House: Pain Don’t Hurt…
The Big Sleep: “You’re Cute.” “Gettin’ Cuter Every Minute.”