Nobody ever sets out to make a bad film, right? And yet such a fate, sometimes, is wholly unavoidable. Serenity, the new film from prolific screenwriter turned director Steven Knight is one such film. Scoring an almighty 19% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s fair to say the film hasn’t exactly been well-received by critics, which is entirely deserved. Yet that doesn’t make it an unwatchable movie. Critics have a job to analyse a piece of filmmaking not only from an emotional point of view, but a technical one, and technically, the film is complete nonsense. But it’s fun. It’s so absurd, and so completely overstated, with a twist that will make you howl with laughter, that you may well want to return back to this film again one day, even if you thought it dire. After all, you can least appreciate the fact it’s quite unlike anything else you’ll have seen before. It’s not the only film of this nature either; there’s a culture of cult-classics that we keep watching over and over again, we pile into cinemas years after release, to watch a film semi-ironically, appreciating all of the things that make it so goddam dreadful. Here’s five examples of films that lie in this somewhat unfortunate category.
Showgirls – I mean, where do you start with this one? It’s the flagship so bad its good production, telling the story of a young dancer, played by Elizabeth Berkley who will not stop at anything to become the most renowned showgirl on the Vegas strip. Directed by Paul Verhoeven, the acting in this film is sensationally bad, the dialogue and over-the-top delivery even more so. Any attempts to be erotic are instead comical, with one sex scene in particular, in a swimming pool, that is so completely bizarre it’s impossible to dislike. More water ends up out of the pool than in it by the time our protagonists reach climax. So, so much splashing.
Batman and Robin- These days, comic-book movies are just good. The genre was turned on its head by Christopher Nolan, where suddenly it wasn’t all about spandex, but instead enriched with a sense of gritty naturalism, leading into the Marvel features that, while not adhering anywhere near as closely to reality, still share one vital thing: quality. But it hasn’t always been this way, and Batman and Robin is a testament to this notion. Whether it was Arnie’s Mr. Freeze, or Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy, it was more akin to a Christmas pantomime in West End than a serious piece of blockbuster filmmaking.
The Room – This film is so bad, another film that an actually really good (The Disaster Artist) was made all about it. The eccentric Tommy Wiseau funded the film himself, he wrote and directed it, and starred in the lead role, and the whole thing feels like it came out of a make-a-wish foundation. Fans still flock to see it today, as have I, twice, and gleefully interact with the film. We take spoons to throw at the screen (long story) and shout out loud when necessary. Like when an alarm goes at 28 minutes past the hour. To a cry of ‘who sets their alarm for 28 minutes past?’ But seriously, who does that? Tommy Wiseau, evidently.
The Wicker Man – This article is nigh on impossible to write without featuring a Nicolas Cage movie. We toyed with Con Air, and Vampire’s Kiss crossed our mind too, but eventually we settled on the remake of The Wicker Man in 2006. There’s a video on YouTube entitled ‘everything that is wrong with The Wicker Man‘ and the video is 18 minutes long, which tells you everything you need to know. Remaking the cult classic film always seemed an odd choice, but then if you are going to do, why not also create a cult-classic of your own, even if for wildly different reasons.
Winter’s Tale – This is a more recent offering, and perhaps doesn’t yet have the benefit of time, as it may take a few more years before we realise the awful brilliance of this Akiva Goldsman monstrosity before we seek to revisit it. But alas, we’re flying the flag early, because this film is legitimately batshit crazy. We’re not going to go into the narrative, because it makes no sense at all, but we will give you this nugget of information: Will Smith plays Lucifer. Colin Farrell and Russell Crowe are also on board this film, so quite how it was eventually so bad remains something of a mystery, but we’re not complaining, because it’s completely unforgettable, and sometimes you can’t ask for more than that.