I love a great bad film. A truly awful film like Troll 2 or The Room or basically anything by Edward D. Wood Jr. can be enjoyable on a very special level completely unlike a great classic. There’s something about the act of someone trying and dedicating their life to filmmaking when they most likely have no right to be part of that process which is very fun to dissect. It’s exactly why the show Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the podcast How Did This Get Made are so great.
But there is a new, far more sinister entry into the world of bad movies: the intentionally bad film.
Now, there are films today which some may say are purposefully bad, but really they’re more satirical of an era of film making. Movies like Iron Sky and Kung Fury aren’t meant to be bad films; they’re films which relish in the overindulgent (“grindhouse” and/or “exploitation”) filmmaking of the 70s and 80s. Those movies are not bad films even. They’re maybe made with the knowledge that they’ll be cult films, but that’s different than attempting to make a “good bad” movie.
The key word is “attempt.”
There are a series of movies which are the perfect example of attempting to be movies so bad that they’re good, and they have this weird hipster following which I do not understand. The perfect example is the Sharknado franchise. Yes, it is a franchise with the third cinematic turd about to splash in the water shortly and inevitable fourth film to probably come sometime after that.
The Sharknado franchise is the perfect example of the new era in filmmaking where there is a purposefully intent to create a good bad movie. There is an attitude in the film where no one is taking anything seriously, and certain actors are intentionally delivering bad performances. Part of what makes a good bad film is that people are really trying. They’re failing miserably, but they’re trying.
The difference is when your buddy accidentally gets hit in the groan and falls to the ground in pain, and when someone fakes getting hit in the groan and milks being on the ground in pain. One is funny and the other is just annoying. The unintentional nature of something awful happening is much funnier than the intentional nature of something stupid happening. Yet, for whatever reason people are latching on to this awful series. There are a plethora of unimportant cameos in the film, while the film tongue-in-cheek laughs at itself while winking at you to get the joke. That’s annoying. That isn’t funny.
You can make a campy film while still trying and creating something bad, and make it enjoyable for the masses to watch. Lloyd Kaufman has made a career and some of my favorite campy bad films by doing that. But they trick is that those guys still take their jobs seriously. Even the overacting is done because the actors really are trying their best. And if nothing else the SFX guys try their hardest to create fun and disturbing gags to watch (which another sign of a good bad film is that it’s probably a hard R-rating due to the three Bs: blood, boobs, and more blood).
But what is happening with Sharknado (and the multitude of other stupid Syfy channel original films) is that they are trying too hard to be hip and be in on the joke while not delivering anything entertaining. They’re trying too hard to make a bad film, instead of trying too hard to make a great film with no budget. And those types of films use to happen on the SyFy channel. They were horrible, but everyone making them tried so hard. They were beautifully bad, like Tremors 3 or Manticore (oh, how awfully wonderful you were Manticore).
Now they’re in on the joke, and I learned something important about being in on the joke from when I was bullied in high school. When people start to mock you, laugh along with them and show them how to make fun of you better. They’ll soon lose interest and find a fat kid to beat up.
Wait… so am I a film bully? Did I just discover something deep and profound about myself? …Nah!
Just please on the night Sharknado 3 comes on, find a good bad movie to watch or you can go toss a football with Tommy Wiseau. But boycott that hipster film which mocks all of us lovers of good bad films.
… Or don’t… I don’t care.
Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine
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