Films are an art form. Even the earliest forms, starting with nickelodeons in the 18th century, were meant to elicit some kind of emotional response from their audience. This emotional response has to be specific, though. If a filmmaker made what they thought was a stirring emotional drama, but it ends up hitting none of its intended beats, then it is considered a failure. I think the word “failure” is completely subjective. Avatar is the highest grossing movie of all-time, meaning it was obviously successful, but I thought it was pretty lame.
The highest praise that I can give any movie is that I was thoroughly entertained by it. I can love a movie like The Godfather, but only watch it maybe a couple of times in my life, but I’ve seen Big Trouble in Little China probably a hundred times, and it is only because I find it infinitely easier and more fun to watch. Even though a movie doesn’t do well at the box-office, or with critics, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have some kind of huge intrinsic value. Going as far as we can to that side of the spectrum, we reach a wonderful kind of movie genre, the so-bad-it’s-good variety. I’ll go one step further and say that these are movies that are so bad that they are just hilarious. Hilariously bad, but endlessly enjoyable. These are movies I can watch over and over again, preferably in a group of like-minded friends.
So here is the Top 10 So-Bad-They-Are-Hilarious Movies. List courtesy of Cultural Atrocities.
One of the things you’ll notice about this list is that most of these are either horror movies or action movies. It makes complete sense, since these are the genres with the most action and have the most opportunity for awful special effects. The ’70s, ’80s and ’90s are a goldmine for unintentional comedy. The ’80s, in particular, were just a perfect storm of cheap, practical effects, cheesy acting and cultural madness. The best part, though, is how innocent most of it feels, like they are making these terrible movies but there is an underlying love for the crap that they are making.
Which brings me to Mosquito. The first thing that I will point out is that every single thing in this movie lends itself to the ’80s. Everything. Then when it is over you find out that, whoops, it was actually made in 1995. There are a few movies on this list that just have ’80s written all over them, but are actually firmly planted in the middle of the ’90s. This makes for a weird movie-going experience. You’re watching it and reveling in the bad blue screen Mosquito effects, but appreciating the effort involved for the time it was made, and then afterwards you realize it was made in 1995, and you could make better horror movie effects at a mall kiosk.
The plot is pretty straightforward. An alien spaceship crashes into the middle of the woods next to a popular camping area. A bunch of mosquitoes snack on the dead alien’s arm and its blood is like super steroids. The little critters grow to the size of a golden retriever and proceed to attack the campgrounds, and any other people that they come across. The rag-tag group of survivors includes a post-Stooges, but pre-Stooges reunion, Ron Asheton and Gunnar Hanson (Leatherface from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre).
Golden Moments: Any mosquito attack scene is great. When Gunnar Hanson picks up that chainsaw it gives you B-movie fandom chills. The bad acting by the main couple is hilariously awful. Junior’s eyeball explosions.
In the ’70s, every studio executive was looking for the next Star Wars. And why wouldn’t they be? It was a glorified independent movie made on the cheap that became one of the most successful franchises of all-time. Enter the Italians. Writer/Director Luigi Cozzi had this script in development years before Luke and Han raided the Death Star, but it was only after the success of Star Wars that he was able to get financing for this film. The only caveat? It had to be almost exactly like Star Wars, and Cozzi’s script had to undergo a couple of changes.
The actual plot is a mess. It’s more of an enjoy-the-ride type of experience. The visuals though, more than make up for the absence of plot. This may be one of the coolest-looking low budget films ever. Everything pops onscreen, from the bright colors to the ridiculous outfits to the stop-motion effects (a la Harryhausen) that we’ll probably never see again in any current film releases. The score also gets major props. Sure it’s a Star Wars rip-off, but there have been far worse Star Wars rip-offs that were made, for far more money.
Last but not least, we have to talk about the cast. Caroline Munro takes the lead as Stellastar, and while her acting chops leave a little to be desired, she makes up for it by being really hot and wearing a bikini for most of the movie. Next we have Marjoe Gortner as Akton, maybe one of the most interesting guys ever. He got into the national spotlight as a child preacher, and then went on to work in both the recording and film industry. Rounding out the I-Recognize-That-Guy files are David Hasselhoff as a Han Solo clone and Christopher Plummer as the humbly-titled Emperor of the First Circle of the Universe.
Golden Moments: The Foghorn Leghorn-inspired robot is a real treat. Akton gaining superpowers as the film goes on without any explanation. Any and all of the special effects.
Ah, Ticks. I saw this movie when I was 11 and I still understood how glorious it was. When the internet took off, it gave me and other little pop-culture junkies the opportunity to hunt down those random movies that we watched on HBO at 2am when we were younger. Also known by its alternate title “Infested”, Ticks was directed by Tony Randel. No, not Tony Randall, esteemed actor, but the guy who directed Hellraiser 2 (which also totally rules).
Ticks is about a group of violent/anti-social/troubled teens being brought on a camp retreat by their psychiatrists/counselors. Included in this group is a post-child actor Seth Green, a thugged-out Alfonso “Carlton” Ribeiro, Mickey “The Monkey” Dolenz’s daughter Ami (star of all sorts of shitty movies), and some other social archetypes. Their counselors are esteemed actors Peter Scolari from Bosom Buddies and Rosalind Allen, who you might remember as the girl that George Costanza pretended to be a marine biologist for so he could bang. Joining this ensemble are a rich, sneezy guy and his redneck buddy, and Clint Howard as a gross guy (typecast much?).
Like Mosquito, the wood ticks eat some steroids and grow to the size of small crabs that are ridiculously fast. It’s a slow burn at first with the Ticks somehow choosing not to attack all at once, but by the end there are thousands of them raining down through the cabin’s ceiling onto our survivors. If you don’t get itchy and check your skin every once in a while then I’m not sure if we’re watching the same movie.
Golden Moments: Every scene with Carlton, including the climax where he turns into a tick the size of a crocodile. Seth Green’s lit broom throw. Clint Howard’s face exploding.