A look at the best of the worst
So bad it’s good cinema has existed for years, with Ed Wood serving as the pioneer. With the advent of the internet, many films have reemerged and garnered attention. Audiences are able to access them on a never before seen scale, with huge cult followings arising. So, which of these farcical pieces of cinema have battled their way onto this list?
5) Cool Cat Saves The Kids (2015):
I felt unclean after watching this. This was actually created by a real, fully grown adult. At least he seems to be a fully grown adult physically. This film is just a bit disturbing, and the majority of the laughs come from how strange the concept and characters are. The Oogieloves and the Big Balloon Adventure seems like Citizen Kane in comparison to this mess.
This ‘film’ is about ‘COOOOOOOOOOL’ Cat giving advice to children about how to deal with bullying. Considering how simplistic an issue this is to advise on, director Derek Savage really did make a mess of it. We see Cool Cat, in between his ‘boogie woogie’ sessions, telling children that they should open messages from unknown numbers and reply to trolls, and he has breakdowns over slightly ‘mean’ messages. The film is so misguided, I could write an article in 5 minutes containing better advice than the entirety of Cool Cat Saves the Kids. Oh, and of course for a film so generic the bully would have to be a fat kid. Because no thin people have ever bullied anyone.
Cool Cat’s character design is horrific. He is clearly a man in a suit (Savage the genius is obviously employing Brechtian filmmaking techniques). Which brings us to one of the biggest issues: the relationships between characters. Cool Cat’s age is unspecified, but we know he can drive, meaning that he’d be somewhere in the vicinity of 16 years old. So why does he hang around with small children? He’s clearly an idiot, so maybe he just feels more at home with them intellectually. Either way, he comes across as a creep, especially in his uncanny suit, and the line ‘I love all kids! And babies!’ doesn’t help his cause. And then we get Daddy Derek, played by Derek Savage himself. He is Cool Cat’s dad and is married to Cool Cat’s cat suit wearing mother. WHAT IS THIS?! The family dynamic is baffling. This seems like a film dedicated to furries, made by furries (no offence furries, you do you). It’s hard to understand how Savage wanted audiences to react to this, and I didn’t really want an insight into Savage’s fetishes.
It shouldn’t come as a shock that a film titled Cool Cat Saves the Kids is badly directed, acted, written, shot and edited. You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but with this film, I’ll make an exception. Cool Cat somehow manages to be the worst actor despite being in an expressionless suit. It really does show that this film for kids was made by a middle-aged adult. Cool Cat tries so hard to be relatable and Cool (get it?) that he just ends up being pathetic and irritating, but inadvertently hilarious. Of course, in order to try and stay hip and trendy, terrible transitional effects and fonts are used. The child actors are terrible, but that’s the case in the majority of movies anyway. Writing wise we stray all over the place, never sticking to one narrative for too long. We even end up in Hollywood somehow, with Cool Cat in the Hollywood parade (Hollywood really does set the bar high doesn’t it?).
If you can stomach the high levels of cringe induced by Cool Cat trying to be a cool cat, and you can get around the odd relationships between characters, then you should see this movie just to experience just how low someone can possibly go to try and be relevant, and also for the unintentional moments of humour raised by the abysmal filmmaking of Mr Savage.
4) Samurai Cop (1991):
Oh Samurai Cop, you’re such a beautiful mess. This film has emerged as a major player in the so bad it’s good world, gaining enough attention to warrant a sequel. After watching it, it’s easy to see why. It does nothing right, and yet as a sum of its parts is glorious. It truly does deserve its following.
This is meant to be an imitation of popular buddy cop B-Movies, with the leads mimicking those of the Lethal Weapon franchise, but somehow falls short of this low benchmark. It has a confusing, illogical narrative and set of characters. This film fails fundamentally on every level of filmmaking. The cinematography is choppy and cheap, they clearly knew nothing about exposure and nothing about the composition of a scene. The editing leaves a lot to be desired too, with little continuity between scenes and poor spatial contextualisation. Characters are clearly dubbed by different actors, and the dialogue is often inaudible. The soundtrack sounds like something ripped right out of a cheap 80’s style porn film (maybe Dirk Diggler wanted to test his directorial skills?).
The humour, however, comes from a through different avenues. The acting, if you can even call it that, is some of the worst you will ever see. No one in the entirety of the cast gives a believable performance. Matt Hannon, the Samurai Cop himself, highlights this perfectly in his famous ‘Now I’m telling you bastards’ monologue. To be fair to the actors, they had no good material to work with (‘I will bring you his head and I will place it on your piano’). Amir Shervan, the director, producer and writer of the film, clearly had a loose grasp of the English language. Why none of the actors sought to correct any of the dialogue upon reading the screenplay is a mystery, but the awkwardness of it is horrifically blatant and inescapable:
Nurse: Do you like what you see?
Samurai Cop: I love what I see.
Nurse: Would you like to touch what you see?
Samurai Cop: Yes. Yes, I would.
The dialogue is so stunted and broken and is one of the biggest generators of laughs in the film. The dialogue in the aforementioned scene also highlights another one of the major problems with Samurai Cop, this being its hideous hypersexualisation of ANY female characters. The sheer inappropriateness of its treatment of women does in its own way add humour through its shock value. It highlights how much of a product of its time this film was. Whilst women are still sexualised in cinema, they could never be casually paraded around like they are in Samurai Cop. It contextualises the film and adds to your sense of disbelief and to the facetious feel of the film. To be fair, whilst women aren’t well represented, anyone involved with this movie is a joke anyway. On top of this are the awful hammy jokes, the best being the ‘Undercover Cop’ line. Hannon’s woman’s wig he had to wear because he thought the shooting was over is another highlight, along with the awfully choreographed, shot and performed fight scenes, which look like a group of toddlers imitating a Bruce Lee film.
This film has so much charm. Yes it is clearly terrible in every way, yes it had no degree of care put into it, but it sure does a great job at entertaining. And whilst some would argue that critical acclaim is the most important thing, is a film not made first and foremost for the enjoyment of an audience? AND it’s educational. It taught me that ‘katana’ means ‘Japanese Sword’!
3) The Room (2003):
This is easily the most famous of the so bad it’s good genre of cinema, with Troll 2, Samurai Cop, Birdemic: Shock and Terror and Plan 9 From Outer Space not too far behind. Whilst it seems like a rather obvious, unimaginative choice, the list would be incomplete without it. It truly is a goliath of this cinematic mode, and Tommy Wiseau is the poster boy (I actually spoke to the man himself at a screening of The Room at Leicester Square. Am I famous yet?).
There are so many reasons as to why this film is so entertaining. The overly melodramatic plot is laughable. It is treated far too seriously by director Wiseau considering the absurdity of it. There are several establishing shots of the Golden Gate Bridge when our setting is already wholly contextualised. There are contrivances galore, with incredibly inconsistent characters and motives. Whether this is Lisa’s sudden change of heart towards Johnny, or Mark and Lisa’s awkward and forced love affair. The bad writing is glorious, with so many quotable lines:
[Johnny walks to the apartment rooftop]
Johnny: I did not hit her, it’s not true! It’s bullshit! I did not hit her!
[throws water bottle]
Johnny: I did *not*. Oh hi, Mark.
The stupidity of the writing really does speak for itself. On top of this, the never re-visited plot points are unbelievable:
Claudette: Everything goes wrong all at once. Nobody wants to help me. And I’m dying.
Lisa: You’re not dying, mom.
Claudette: I got the results of the test back – I definitely have breast cancer.
THIS CANCER SUB-PLOT HAS NO SIGNIFANCE TO THE OVERALL NARRATIVE, AND IS NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN!
However, no matter how bad everything else in the film is, there is one glaring light of hilariousity. Step forward writer, actor, director, producer Tommy Wiseau. Tommy, or Johnny as he is named in the film, delivers one of the most bewildering and abnormal performances ever put on film. His line delivery is impossible to fathom. He puts emphasis on words where there is none and his accent is perplexing. He really is one of the worst, and yet most endearing actors ever. Due to the huge popularity and cult following of this film, there are several clips all over the internet and you can easily find it in its entirety on YouTube. So, if you haven’t already, watch this film and experience the hype!
2) Fateful Findings (2013):
Neil Breen, the cult writer, actor, producer, director, and just about everything you could think of, just had to be on this list. I could’ve easily included any or all of his films. They’re all so uniquely bad, and yet all collectively highlight the extent of Breen’s ego. He believes he is an arty, sophisticated, intelligent and innovative director. And whilst he clearly tries, what we get is a baffling end result, with nothing positive (at least from a critical point of view) to take from the experience, but something wholly worthwhile in terms of the comedy on display.
I don’t think many films have made me laugh as much as Fateful Findings. One of the most amusing things is how pretentious some aspects of this film come across as, and how it falls flat on its face. The slow, mysterious feel he tries to evoke in certain scenes, most notably the strange binbag lined room he sits naked in, are just confusing, and not in a positive way. Ambiguity can be good if it asks questions of the audience and makes them contemplate, but here it just seems like Breen trying to show off, and considering how bad his directing really is he has no right to do so.
This film highlights what I call the ‘Breen Tropes’. These are the ‘auteurist’ touches this masterful director applies to his films. Here is a list of these:
- Mastermind hacker Breen exposing those government and corporate secrets and lies that he just he knows is going on: All of Breen’s films return to the idea of bringing down the big evil suit wearing businessmen. Even in Fateful Findings, when the plot seems to be about an author whose marriage is on the brink, yearning for a lost childhood sweetheart, he manages to chuck this trope in. This results in one of the best and most absurd scenes in Breen history, where a group of businessmen just kill themselves because Breen exposed their secrets. You could definitely make a drinking game solely for the times he says ‘Government and corporate secrets’. Say what you want about Breen, at least he knows what’s going on.
- God/supernatural Breen: This really does expose the extent of Breen’s egotism. A recurring theme in his films is him possessing magical powers and being superior to all, or in the case of I Am Here… Now, HE IS A LITERAL GOD. Maybe he’s just a man in a mid-life crisis wanting to play out his unattainable fantasies, and since he is a one-man film-making machine, he has every right to this. And when you see the sheer majesty of his films, you might even see Breen as a God too. The resemblance is uncanny.
- Stunted dialogue/awful acting: Sorry, Neil, you can’t write. Sorry, Neil, you can’t direct. Sorry, Neil, you can’t act. If you ever wanted a lesson in how not to deliver exposition, this is all you need. Every line feels horribly forced and artificial. And every actor, and I mean EVERY actor is terrible. At least they tried… I think?
- Abusing his huge collection of already broken laptops: Where does he get his laptops from? Every Breen film for some unexplainable reason features a huge cluster of laptops in his workspaces. None of them is ever on, and considering how he throws books at them, pushes them to the floor, spills coffee on them or just launches them across a room, it’s easy to see why they’re never on.
- Uncomfortable nudity: In all fairness to Neil, this is one is more endemic of bad films in general. Whether it be Samurai Cop or Tommy Wiseau having sex for five minutes with Lisa’s hip in The Room, these films seem to think that long sex scenes are a sign of artistry. I have a message for you guys: They’re not. Please stop.
- Sporadic deaths: If people died as randomly in reality as they do in Breen’s cinema then humanity would soon be an endangered species. People die for no reason, serving no purpose to the plot. Maybe it’s an intelligent comment on the universality and lack of selectivity of death? Okay, now I’m just making excuses for him.
Whilst this, and Breen’s other films, are awful pieces of cinema, they are made with such passion and sincerity, a sincerity which makes his films all the more charming. This is only matched by The Room, and for this Breen deserves praise. He is not a talented director, but he makes the most of his limited resources and can’t be accused of not trying.
1) Rapsittie Street Kids: Believe in Santa (2002):
This film very nearly isn’t a film, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the American Film Institute, and the British Film Institute state that a feature film has to be 40 minutes or longer. The 42-minute runtime is one of the major reasons this edged out the competition on the list. Whilst the other films are funny, their greater lengths mean that there are long periods of stagnation in terms of the humour on show.
Rapsittie Street Kids is bizarre. It is the only film to date that I have ever seen which has several mistakes in every single shot. Every filmic element is abominable. Other animated atrocities, like Food Fight or Tentacolino, fought for a place on this list, but none of them showed the degree of ineptitude that this film offers. Whether it be the wholly forgettable score, the ugly animation, the bad voice acting, bad writing, pacing and editing, everything about this film is unintentionally hilarious due to how shoddy it is. And it shouldn’t be. They clearly had some money, with the Church of Scientology even giving them funds as Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson and a Scientologist, was onboard the project. I went into this film knowing nothing about it and then discovered Mark Hamill voiced a character and passed out in shock. This film had absolutely no excuse to be this bad. It even aired on TV! I can’t even imagine the shock people had when they turned on their TV’s to this… thing…
The story of this film is generic, cliched, and inoffensive. However, it’s no worse than the standard Christmas fare narratively. It’s merely a story about appreciating what you have and being humble, but through the horrible execution in every department, this story is lost. When I first watched this film I lost count of how many times I paused it to point out something hilariously wrong in the shot. Describing this film really could never highlight just how bad it is. It’s on YouTube if you’re curious to watch it, and I promise it has enough ludicrous moments to make it worth it.
There are a few moments of hilarity that stand out. Whether it be Ricky’s ominous floating bear dream, the abandonment of physics when either Ricky kicks his ball, Smithy throws a box, or someone is sent hurtling across the ice and doesn’t lose any momentum. Or the lack of fluidity in the movement of our characters, especially when running. Or the terrible songs, which are memorable for the fact that they’re so forgettable. They come and go, and leave you in a daze (although I do want Nicole’s ‘Best Kid in the World’ song on vinyl). The thing which evoked the most laughter from me (other than the fact that it actually exists), however, had to be whenever Ricky’s grandma came on screen. Her facial expressions are vague and distant and her dialogue is incomprehensible, she mumbles gibberish. The exchange ‘Grandma, you always know what to say!’, followed by her response of ‘ASHSFNFOAIFHIASFHASHFIHIFHSIA CHRISTMAS!’, sums up the nonsensical nature of this film. Watch it!