The right trash to treasure
Column like I see em
If you don’t intentionally watch bad movies for your own amusement, then you, sir or madam, are missing out.
A good movie can only be good. It’s almost limiting itself through being a quality picture. The filmmakers set out with a series of goals that were all systematically checked off and completed with flair.
Everything went well and according to plan.
Now, a bad movie on the other hand, a really good bad movie anyway, fails in whatever goals it set for itself. Every theme it tries to touch on is vague and misunderstood, and the scathing dialogue is blunt and mishandled.
A good bad movie is a bad movie that tried so hard yet failed to be a good movie.
Does that make sense?
Any Hollywood wash-up could strap a GoPro to his head and chase some gerbils around town to make a trash movie, but that isn’t what makes a good bad movie. The creators have to believe in their product. It takes pouring a creative spirit through blood sweat and tears into a film that still somehow turns into a raging dumpster fire sprinkled with absurdity.
So what is it that makes this pile of failure into a cult classic masterpiece?
Take “Troll 2” for instance.
At first glance, it has some pretty glaring flaws. The acting is abysmal, the story atrocious, and the special effects are cringe worthy. Upon closer inspection, however, we can see even more bizarre quirks. There isn’t a Troll 1. We just start with the sequel psuedo Star Wars style. There aren’t even any trolls in the movie. All the little monsters are referred to as goblins.
What makes this all work is the film’s bold, dedicated, and deadly serious foreign director, Claudio Fragasso.
To him, this film is a masterpiece and a very serious drama. When the actors tried to ad lib their lines so as to sound more natural or believable, the director berated them and forced them to read off the script seemingly written by a frenchman and split into eight pieces for five men on three different continents to translate before being Frankensteined back together with a sewing needle and a glue gun.
Similarly, other terrible films with swarming fan bases imbue this kind of formula.
Take the recent classic Miami Connection. Not recent in the recently made sense, but in the recently popular. Written and starring Y. K. Kim, the film was lambasted by everyone at its debut thirty years ago. After finally finding an audience, the film was redistributed in 2012 to universal acclaim.
The movie is about a band whose members are all black belts in taekwondo and their misadventures defending themselves against other bands and a ninja biker gang. I dare you to listen to the song "Friends" by Dragon Sound and not feel great for the rest of the day. I saw this movie last month and I’m still beaming.
Watching bad movies is about more than just making light of the quality and continuity errors. They’re a refreshing blast of genuine love for films and filmmaking.
It’s like when your two-year-old niece draws a picture of you and her going to the zoo. She held three crayons at a time, and the scribbles all bleed together in a way akin only to vomit post colored playdoh spaghetti buffet.
You could laugh at her, but instead, you pin it to the fridge and feel a warmth that only her unnuanced passion can bring.
And then you point and laugh at it in private.
Kevin Niederman is a junior studying nursing.