So bad it’s good: appreciating the joys of cinematic mediocrity

Our absurd obsession with terrible movies

Now that James Franco has earned a Golden Globe for The Disaster Artist, there has been a rapid resurgence in the cult following of The Room. Hailed as one of the worst films of all time, it seems completely irrational that it is so popular. In an age where budgets are soaring, special effects are flawless, and film potential is limitless, why are we choosing to devote our time and money to bad films?

When it comes to poor quality films, there is a whole range to choose from. If you enjoy franchise-destroying sequels then just watch past the fourth addition to any popular film series and I guarantee you bitter disappointment; Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Pirates of Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and Ice Age 4 all fit the trend. If you enjoy shoddy remakes, then brain-drained Hollywood has got you covered with a constant cycle of Spider-man movies and live action animated classics. Or even if you just enjoy appalling movies then shockers like Batman vs Robin (seriously, who thought armoured nipples looked good) and Prometheus have got you covered.

Yet, despite knowing that they’re terrible and a complete waste of our time, we still watch them. We don’t even stop there. We talk about them, mock them, meme them, and even admire them! Then we listen to other people mock them and play drinking games, doing shots at every ridiculous line.

There is only one word that truly explains our overwhelming joy for objective drivel – sadism.

We marvel at how some other functioning human could believe that this concept would formulate a great film, we can’t help but laugh at this poor soul for their terrible mistake. We thrive on the failure of others. There is something undeniably funny about badly rendered graphics in an age of CGI splendour, and something hysterical about clunky dialogue. No wonder there are TV series, books, and other movies dedicated to the detailed dissection of dreadful films.

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This means that some filmmakers seem to actually aim to make a bad film. Cult classics like Birdemic, Sharknado and Zombeavers are particular highlights in this unique genre, famous for being some of the lowest rated films on IMDb.

These films have their origins in American B movies (not to be mistaken with The Bee Movie, although that is another terrifically terrible film to add to your list). These were low budget films played as the second half of a double feature at the cinema, characterised by their poor-quality effects and simplistic stories.

It is also hard to deny the sheer entertainment factor behind our motivation to watch these films. The utter lunacy of sharks in a tornado, zombie beavers, or a bee falling in love with a woman is irritably enthralling, leaving us desperate to know how our Z-list actors escape such awful CGI animals.

At the end of the day, movie watching is a much-loved retreat from our mundane lives, and what could take us more out of our own universe than Nazis at the centre of the earth?

Should we feel ashamed of our inherent enjoyment of filmmaking failures? No. Should we try and have more highbrow tastes instead of finding entertainment in the absurd? Definitely not.

There is certainly a gap in the film industry for these awful films. While it is wonderful to watch an Oscar-winning, brilliantly-acted tear jerker, every now and again we all need to watch some CGI sharks fall from the sky.