Simple question up front, dear readers:

Was there ever a film that you've watched that you knew - deep down in your heart - was so irrevocably wretched and terrible that you nevertheless still got a perverse level of entertainment value out of it? 

In other words, have there ever been films that you've sat through that, afterwards, you thought they were so bad that they were, in fact, kind of good?

Well, that is the very nature of this list, my friends.  These 25 films listed below kind of represent a sort of strange, bizarro-like middle ground existence between films that I feel are great and ones that I feel are downright awful.  It's sort of difficult to fully and literally encapsulate my feelings about these films.  Watching them, and re-watching, is much like trying to leave a highly abusive relationship with a loved one.  You know, the kind where you know that the person is absolutely no good for you, but you still stick around and oddly admire them nevertheless. 

That's precisely how I feel about these films.  They are not "good" by the proverbial, standard and accepted definition of what many feel makes a worthwhile entertainment.  However, despite their obvious proclivities into the inanity, implausibility, and silliness, I still find them "entertaining" and sort of strangely enjoyable.  Some of them are completely unintentionally funny, some of them can be regarded for their camp value (again, some of them intended it, whereas others did not), some of them can be loved for their overtly simple-minded, black and white outlooks on humanity, and many more can be revered for how they embrace lunacy and sort of celebrate it.  In other words, SHOWGIRLS is kind of a sick and slimy masterpiece.

For the record, here's a statistical breakdown of the 25 films:

Films from 1985:    6

Films that involved Sylvester Stallone:    5

Films that involved comic book characters:    5

Films from 1987:    3

Films that involved Arnold Schwzenegger:    2

Films that involved John Travolta:    2

Films that involved Dolph Lungdren:    2

Films that involved apes, large and small:    2

Films that involved martial arts:    2

Films that involved bars and stripping women:    2

Films that involve futuristic, post-apocalyptic wastelands:    3

Films that involved Charlton Heston fighting futuristic, post-apocalyptic mutants:    2

Films that involved vampires:    2

Films that involved vampires hunting for virginal men:    1

Films that involved dancers trying to make it big in the industry:    2

Films that involved vigilantes:    2

Films that involved smoking pot:    1

Films that looked like all of the participants smoked lots of pot before they made them:    25




This is the glorious film that introduced me to the wonderful world of Piper Perabo, not to mention a world that includes a bar where the women servers wear next to nothing, spray beer on everyone, jump on to the tables and dance to country music, and shake every curve that they have available.  In other words, this film is the ultimate male fantasy, and it's hilarious persistence to be a sweet and innocent coming of age story about one woman's desire to make it big as a song writer in The Big Apple is cheerfully exuberant.  The film honestly has no real pretensions about what it wants to be, which is a sanitized, PG-13 FLASHDANCE that tries to maintain a modest level of sexual interest and energy for the adolescent and young adult man in all of us.


ROCKY IV (1985)


I must break you, indeed!  Okay, my pick for the most shamefully egotistical and self-indulgent film of all-time would easily be the fourth installment of Sylvester Stallone's boxing series that just felt like it would never end - ROCKY.  ROCKY IV is bathed in ridiculous waters, which finds our favourite Italian, down on his luck boxer trying to avenge the death of his best buddy by fighting his killer- the invincible and gross, ostentatious and moronic walking Russian stereotype that is Ivan Drago.  The politics of this movie are about as flat, one-note, and ostensibly biased as I have ever seen (more simply put - USA = good and pure, RUSSIA = bad and cruel).  And the concluding boxing match is a howler if I've ever seen one, where Rocky goes to Russia at the absolute height of the Cold War and fights their country's BIGGEST hero to which the fans then turn on Drago and start chanting, "Rocky, Rocky, Rocky!"  Yup, sure, uh-huh. 




One internet critic that I like once wrote that this Sylvester Stallone directed sequel to the gritty 1977 film SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER was easily "the gayest movie about heterosexuals" that he had ever seen.  I sure don't know what else is.  John Travolta (amazingly ripped and in fine form, I might add) reprises his role as Brooklyn native, now turned up and coming dancer star, Tony Manero who now must prove himself in the cutthroat world of Broadway dance musicals!  He, of course, manages to strut his way to the big time, and becomes a huge star in, get this, a musical called "Satan's Alley," which is described by its director as "a man's descent into hell," which is  full of laser lights, mist, and scantily clad women.  The throw-away lines are jaw-droppingly awful, with direction and writing by Stallone that demonstrates that, more times than not, he's better in front of the camera than behind it.  And Sly, Frank Stallone never needs to be on a movie soundtrack ever again!




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Before John Travolta was playing an extra-terrestrial slave master that toyed with all of his "filthy man-animals," this Paul Verhoven exploitation film was largely hailed as one of the worst contemporary films that saw the light of day.  The sheer entertainment value of this film is, in hindsight, severely underappreciated, as I see it not as a women's spiritual journey into herself to discover what she needs to make it to the top (which is what writer Joe Eszterhas tried to sell the American public in interviews) but more or less a laugh riot exploration into nudity, pole and lap dancer, and performances and dialogue that tries to be so woefully stern, serious, and earnest that it's impossible not to ridicule them.  In this respect, SHOWGIRLS is a camp classic, a film that relishes in its luridness and simplemindedness, and watching Elizabeth Berkeley in old reruns of SAVED BY THE BELL was never, ever the same.




Comedian Norm Macdonald once aptly described this Sylvester Stallone flick as one that "combined the emotional intensity of a child custody hearing with...arm wrestling!"  This is easily the best film I have ever seen that involves a man reconnecting to his son, embattling in a horrible child custody hearing for him, and arm wrestling his way to gaining respect not only for himself but from his son...that I've ever seen.  Stallone cemented his reputation with this chucklefest for "flogging a dead horse" with plot and characters, right down to the down-on-his luck everyman that must rise to the occasion and face off against the seemingly unstoppable challenger to achieve ultimate moral and literal victory.  And hey, with lines like, "When I get to the table, that person, I don't care who they are, they're my mortal enemy. I hate them..." then it's really hard not to like this film's childishness.


COBRA (1986)


Oh my, great movies are a disease, and COBRA is most definitely the cure!  Stallone plays a stereotypical, one-note, vicious anti-hero vigilante in the vein of Frank "The Punisher" Castle that tries very hard to be a Dirty Harry on acid.  COBRA is kind of the pathetic actioneer that defined the 80's, the ones that had million dollar explosions with ten cent plots and characters, and it contains enough one liners to leave you in stitches for a good few hours after seeing it ("Hey dirtbag, you wasted that kid for nothing. Now I think it's time to waste you!" and  "This is where the law stops and I start - sucker!")  Ah yes, COBRA is the type of recklessly shameful and fun film that's like taking a travelogue to the 1980's when action pictures were not infected by the disease that is Michael Bay.  Movies of such startling one-dimension just are not made like this anymore.




Hey gang, if you wanna see Au-nald waste endless amounts of human beings with everything from axes, knives, cars, grenades, rocket launchers, machine guns, bazookas, and yes...steam pipes, then this 1985 action film is grade A, top choice blood-drenched meat!  The film gleefully details the life of a retired soldier that is a personal one man army (c'mon, what cinematic retired army dude is not a one man army?) that tries to rescue his young daughter from a vicious dictator.  The film is chalk full of great Au-nald one liners ("I eat green berets for breakfast. And right now I'm very hungry," and " [after killing a man in the plane] Don't disturb my friend, he's dead tired," as well as the immoral, "Let off some steam, Bennett!").  This film is a fun-filled exercise in watching one human being annihilate hundreds of others without discrimination and remorse, and for that it's a riot.


KING KONG (1976)


Until Peter Jackson comes out with his "faithful" remake to this famous monster smash, then this 1976 campy exploration into the love affair between a fifty foot tall ape and a young gorgeous blond babe remains a memorable howlfest.  This just may be the most dubious introductory performance by an future Academy Award winning actress that I have ever seen, and a young and sexy Jessica Lang does what she can to instinctively invite our incredulous and stupefied reactions to her dialogue that she is forced to spit out, like, "You chauvinist pig ape!"  KING KONG may have been one of the most notorious flops of the 1970's, but it nevertheless holds up famously as a film polluted by wicked excess, horrendously contrived melodrama, forced sentiment, and lethargic and unconvincing special effects.  And hey, what giant ape would not have wanted to disrobe Jessica Lang?




This...wait a minute...lemmie think...fourth film in the enormously popular PLANET OF THE APES series is absolutely hilarious.  For the not so wise, this film details the future (the 1990's, to be exact) where man has "enslaved" apes to be their docile and controlled servants until, of course, one super intelligent, savvy, and verbally emoting simian leads an ape resistance against the humans.  The film desperately tries to be a parable about modern race issues that dogged America when it really is a silly and innocuous sequel to a film series that was seriously starting to wear dreadfully thin.  Yet, some of the film's satire still works, and the performance by Don Murray as the villain is a ham-infested and over-the-top piece of bravura acting.  "Dear God, the apes are armed!"  Hee, hee.




This is seriously one of the funniest films I have ever seen, and to think that it was apparently a Christian produced  film that was made in the 30's to teach the youth of America about the "dangerous narcotic" that is marijuana, pot, or "reefer" to you and me.  The film plays like one of those horrendously bogus educational videos we were forced to sit through in school with virtues and ideals that were one-sided and biased to the point of inspiring incredibly laughter and skepticism.  Well, this film tried to teach me many things, that pot can turn teens into axe-wielding murderers that can kill their entire families, that pot can lead to incurable insanity, that pot can make teens break out into wild fits of bad dancing and uncontrollable laughter, that pot can make you hallucinate and attempt rape, and finally that pot is and forever will be "a violent narcotic - an unspeakable scourge - and the Real Public Enemy Number One!"




This well-considered "worst films of all-time" is the very epitome of "so bad, they're good."  Yup, this is Ed Wood's CITIZEN KANE of raging stinkers, but when you watch it you get an overwhelming sense of a filmmaker that sort of loves making movies, albeit incredibly bad ones.  This film is one that will have lovers of continuity errors praising forever, not to mention that it contains enough horrid acting, terrible sets that porn films could hold a candle up to, and a lot of bad stock footage that is used over and over again to make one kind of stand up and cheer with incredulity.  If anything, this film had several insights, like that funerals occur at 4am, that there is atmospheric conditions in outer space, that alien spacecrafts are awfully wobbly, and that the sun can destroy the entire universe.  Oh, the film has the single most ridiculous opening monologue of all-time: "Greetings, my friends. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember, my friends, future events such as these will affect you in the future."  Dear God in heaven!




When Charlton Heston was not battling "damn, dirty apes," he was waging ware as the last surviving man on Earth against a breed of damn, dirty, nocturnal zombie beings in THE OMEGA MAN.  This film is yet another tired retread into that preachy genre of science fiction that takes great efforts to be about something (in this film's case, I think it's trying to tell us that one should not tamper with, nor use, biological and chemical weapons...I guess).  Yet, despite its earnest intentions, THE OMEGA MAN degenerates into a mindless and overwrought action film that's mostly sort of hip in a creepy way as it headlines the future President of the NRA seriously packing some heat and taking out the zombie/vampire trash...or whatever the hell those things were!




Okay, maybe Heston was not done fighting those dastardly simians from hell, and the sequel to the truly terrific PLANET OF THE APES sort of testifies to that.  This is most likely the weirdest sequel that I have ever seen, which not only pits the heroes against a society of intelligent apes that dominate over their enslaved humans, but they also have to put up with evil, mutated humans that live underground, can read minds, have telekinetic powers, and worship an atomic bomb!  No...I'm serious.  The film is in silly and goofy overload, and I especially liked how Heston parades around with the "savage lady" Nova, the typical mute, enslaved girl that can't think or speak, wears next to nothing, and looks like a super model.  Oh wait, Heston's character - Taylor - does try to teach her to talk, in one of his more embarrassing moments as an actor: (Pointing to Nova and then himself): "Noooova...Taaaaylor."  Too funny!




"FLLLLLLAAASH!  AAAAHAAA! SAVIOR OF THE UNIVERSE!  HE'LL SAVE EVERYONE OF US!"  Amazingly, this is one of the only major screen adaptations of the famous sci-fi hero that winds up on the planet Mongo to battle the evil Ming the Merciless, all to the wonderfully addictive and memorable rock tunes of Queen!  This film is very much like the 1960's BATMAN TV series in the sense that it takes established characters and their worlds, turns them somewhat upside down while still maintaining a level of faithfulness to the underlining material, and creates a droll, campy escapist entertainment.  The film is a whimsical masterpiece, filled with flashy, tie-dyed visuals, silly dialogue, and that kinetic score that can make even the modest and shy audience member jump and cheer for its hero, even if he is a blond, brainless football quarterback.  This is one of the most enjoyable good-bad films ever, a work that plays for laughs and wonderfully so.




To quote its full and proper title, BATTLEFIELD EARTH: A SAGA OF THE YEAR 3000 is not, in any way shape or form, an acceptable adaptation of the famous L. Ron Hubbard space opera novel of the same name.  So, all fans of the literary work stay clear of this film altogether.  For those that are virgins to the book, the film is a one of the greatest unintentional sci-fi comedies ever made, a silly and moronic story about how an alien race has enslaved humanity in the future and how one lone man rises up to stand up against these oppressors.  More or less, it seems that Earth was not really conquered by monsters but more like human actors walking on stilts that are made up to look like Klingons that are lead by John Travolta, who plays his role to insidiously funny lengths amidst his foulness and arrogance.  It's clear that filthy degenerate "man-animals" were behind this film, but its never boring and remains a truly fun romp into mediocrity.


END OF DAYS (1999)


Well, it seems that Au-nold was growing weary of fighting evil androids from the future and alien "predators", so he seemed to focus his heroic energies on the next most likely target - why, Satan himself, silly!  Yup, it's the end of the world and Satan is looking to take over, an his only adversary is Arnold, who in the film plays the least convincing alcoholic cop ever.  The film's sense of intrigue and plausibility is laughable to say the least, which involves the notion that the only way that the Devil can take over the world is by finding a hot babe in New York and getting it on with her before New Year's is over...hmmm...central or standard time?  The woman he seeks is the not-so-subtly named Christ-ine York, which enables Arnold to have one of those glorious insipid "that's it" moments ("Christ in York!")  The film kind of revolves around the idea that one man with a 9mm can take on the Devil, which is ludicrous in itself, but END OF DAYS still gives us some great Arnold one-lines, especially the largely secular words, "Between your faith and my Glock nine millimeter, I'll take the Glock."  Wise words to all atheists if I ever heard any.


DEATH RACE 2000 (1975)


What some people call exploitative trash and throw in their toilet, I call a misunderstood and sensitive tale about futuristic race car drivers that drive over people on the way to victory!  Not only that, but how can you call this film decrepit dung when you have a main character called Doctor Frankenstein that is dressed all in leather and looks about as intimidating as an The Sphinx from MYSTERY MEN and has to battle his nemesis Machine Gun Joe (Stallone...again!) who plays his part with a zeal that relishes in over-acting at takes it to new inspired heights?  DEATH RACE 2000 is a mindless celebration of violence, and goes to prove that human beings make bad speed bumps.




After the successful release of the blockbuster smash BATMAN in 1989, several studios thought to follow suit and craft their own brand of super hero films to release on the public.  The problem was that many of them just were not quite the class acts that was Tim Burton's take on the Caped Crusader.  Case in point: THE PUNISHER - the type of mindless hero that shoots and kills first and never feels the need to ask questions later.  Dolph Lundgren actually makes an fairly effective Punisher, who believes in the simple and conservative morality of "be good, or I'll shoot you dead in a halo of machine gun bullets."  Like COMMANDO, if you want cinema of the one man taking out endless amounts of bad guys in the most deplorable manner possible, then this is right up your alley.


GYMKATA (1985)


GYMKATA is an amazingly stupid film.  Maybe not just stupid, but a film that reaches for the stars and grabs a hold of its absurdity and never lets go.  Jonathan Cabot is a champion gymnast and this film focuses on his amazing abilities not only with gymnastics, but karate as well. He is sent to a hostile country called Parmistan to participate in 'the game', which has not been won for a few hundred years. 'The Game' features obstacles such as 'the village of the damned', a place with totally insane man-eating villagers, as well, with being chased by 'game marshals'. Death awaits anyone easily at these obstacles.  And so on, and so on....If you take this film seriously, you are in need of help.  This film is the poster boy for works that try to take themselves seriously but subsequently creates a failure so abominable that you are left with a sly grin on your face after seeing it.




Oh yeah, no way I was gonna leave this baby off of my list.  Long before Jane Fonda was a future "Monster-in-Law" or an obnoxious and outspoken figurehead on American foreign policy, she was a sexy, hot, and scantily clad super heroine of the future.  This film is an exercise in eye candy from start to finish that details the exploits of a highly sexually charged and promiscuous woman that is charged with stopping the evil Duran-Duran (yes, Duran-Duran) in the year 40,000.  She does all of this while meeting a colorfully eclectic group of people and losing much of her clothing in the process.  The opening montage is still an erotic classic, which has always held up my theory that bright orange shag carpet with naked women on in makes for the best in spaceship decor.  A sexy, funny, silly giggle fest if there ever was one.




Why is this film a small little gem of inanity?  Well, for starters, its about a eager and pious martial artist named Bruce Leroy (Lee-roy...get it?  Hee, hee).  Second, Mr. Leroy spends most of his time in this film in an endless quest for the most secret of martial art techniques, one that's called "The Glow", which I suppose is a strange illumination that surrounds one's body and is able to make you a highly enlightened being.  Hmmm, kind of like "The Quickening"?  Along the way during his search our young hero must come to grips with a few life altering things, like how to be "black", dealing with his virginity, and being surrounded by scenes that are glorified pop music videos.  THE LAST DRAGON is a carefree mishmash of retro cheese all the way.




Who has the power?  He-Man "HAAAAAASSS THE POOOOOOOWWWWER!"  Oh yes, this is a film that many of us that were young boys back in 1987 are ashamed to admit that they loved, but then again its obvious and derivative visuals and action scenes were meant to inspire a small level of STAR WARS awe in children because no adult could ever take this film seriously.  In actuality, Lungdren makes a serviceable He-Man, the production values are fairly top-notch, and a little know member of the FRIENDS crew makes an appearance in a vital supporting role.  Hey, who the hell said that one of the 1980's most popular action figure lines could not make for a rousing and light-hearted escapist film?




Man, I worshipped this film as a young tyke, and I still do now, in more contemptible ways.  This film sort of plays like a twisted and strange hybrid of James Bond meets the KARATE KID, where a tough as nails cop is seemingly left for dead, taken in by a secret government organization, given a much needed facelift and new identity, and is paired with a meagre little Caucasian man playing an Oriental Martial Artist to learn a secret martial arts to combat evil.  That martial art is one that allows you to dodge bullets, walk on water, have incredible poise and stamina, not to mention the most valuable trick of being able to tap a few times on a woman's wrist and bring her to instant orgasm.  Okay, the film reeks of hokey characters and the plot is fairly pedestrian, but the film does try to teach us things, like Soap Operas are metaphors for the human condition and that rice is the food of life.




The late, great Christopher Reeve must be rolling over in his grave about this one.  After making two of the finest super hero pictures of all-time in SUPERMAN and SUPERMAN II, Reeve disintegrated into the weak SUPERMAN III and the dreadful SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE, the latter which tries to be a humanitarian film about the evils of nuclear war along with an action picture that pits The Man of Steel against the Nuclear Man (what the hell, is this a 1930's movie serial?!)  This was the BATMAN AND ROBIN of the SUPERMAN film series that single-handedly brought a once great string of escapist films to an abrupt and sudden halt, but SUPERMAN IV still is funny and pleasurable in many respects, especially in some of the most cringe-inducing moments of implausibility, such as when Superman and his female companion fly in outer space and when he battles the Nuclear Man in moonscape sets that are so terribly low-budget that you can see the backdrop curtains in the background.






Yes folks, that is a very young, pre-fame Jim Carrey playing a virgin that eventually becomes a vampire in this 1985 forgotten comedy.  The film stars Lauren Hutton as a 400 year old bloodsucker that will not be able to look young anymore unless she feeds on a virgin three times before Halloween.  Maybe someone should have told her to wait for the line-ups for tickets for THE PHANTOM MENACE, but I digress.  Needless to say, finding virgins is damn hard in LA, but she finds one in Mark (Carrey), who only has modest ambitions in his teen years to "do it" with his girlfriend, but alas she wants to wait.  The film is a classic embodiment of 1980's comedies, sex-crazed teens looking to get laid and all done to the background lyrics of an insanely hilarious title song.  If anything, this film should be watched to see a young Carrey slowly developing into the slapstick master comedian that he would become in a decade afterwards.


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