Hello there. My name is Jonathan Christian and I love bad movies.
This is not a shameful confession, but rather a declaration of pride. If finding the very worst of the very worst that cinema has to offer was a worldwide competition, I would be a returning champion.
Looking for B-grade science fiction? You got it. Interested in an unintentionally disturbing family flick? Please step into my office; I have several on Blu-Ray. How about a Chinese film about fetuses and dumpling consumption? Yes, that film exists, and yes, I have seen it.
Let me be clear: There’s a distinct difference between bad movies and really great bad movies. Some films are simply not good. Others are so very terrible that they perform a Tonya Harding triple axle, circle around and become great films despite themselves.
The differences, subtly intricate as they are, do exist. If you’re not careful, you may find yourself watching an irredeemable trash fire instead of a charmingly awful fireworks display. However, this simple equation may help you tell the difference. Here’s the secret to finding the best bad movies that Hollywood has to offer:
(Absurdity + Sincerity) – Self-Awareness = Quality
Of course, no one sets out to intentionally create a bad film, unless you’re Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez. The overall consensus among filmmakers is the shared desire to craft an entertaining work of art. This desire extends to both slapstick comedies and cerebral, conspiracy thrillers.
However, making a film is a difficult task. The margin for error is vast, with hundreds, if not thousands of separate parts working towards a common goal. A flaw arising at any level of the process could render the entire film unpalatable for audiences.
And, as the age-old idiom states, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” One such cove filled to the brim with treasured trash is a streaming service used by over 100 million humans worldwide: Netflix. After sifting through the ashes to pinpoint the worst the platform has to offer, here are the best-worst movies on Netflix right now.
Why you should watch: There are sharks in a tornado. Enough said.
“Sharknado” is the personification of an instant cult classic. For a viewing party with your friends, nothing can beat the sheer unadulterated ridiculousness that is the original “Sharknado.”
While the following films in the series give in to self-parody, the original “Sharknado,” while aware of its obvious flaws, believes its own hype. In fact, “Sharknado” works best when viewed as an unintentional comedy instead of a straightforward sci-fi horror film.
The breakneck pace and ludicrous plot twists never allow the movie to grow tiresome. With one of the most unpredictable endings in cinematic history, “Sharknado” is an endlessly re-watchable train wreck.
Why you should watch: Charlize Theron catches a fly with her eyelashes.
With a name as colorful and eccentric as “Aeon Flux,” it’s not unreasonable to assume the critically-panned science fiction film would be home to a few smiles.
However, one would be hard-pressed to find a single intentional, comedic anecdote within the 93-minute runtime. The film is a loosely-based adaptation of the animated series created by Peter Chung, which debuted on MTV in 1991.
Stylistically, the closest comparison to “Aeon Flux” is “The Matrix.” However, if “The Matrix” is an inventive composition of classical music, “Aeon Flux” is a cover song by a third-tier indie rock band.
That is not to say that “Aeon Flux” is any worse than the Matrix. Both are enjoyable in the right context, and “Aeon Flux” has plenty to enjoy. For example, there are killer plants, telepathic-pill-swapping makeup sessions and Charlize Theron performing slow-motion acrobatics to rival the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team. If that’s not enough, Sophie Okonedo runs around with hands for feet.
This is not Oscar material, ladies and gentlemen. It’s better than that.
Dog Eat Dog
Why you should watch: Who doesn’t love a coked-out Willem Defoe and an overacting Nicolas Cage?
Between “Vampire’s Kiss,” “Face/Off” and the 2006 “Wicker Man” remake, Nicolas Cage has become a deity of campy cinema. But even with Cage’s reputation, “Dog Eat Dog” stands out as one of Cage’s more outlandish ventures.
Defoe and Cage star as a pair of ex-cons tasked with kidnapping a baby, though the plot — what little there is — takes a backseat until the final act of the film. Far more noticeable are the hallucinatory sequences and the politically-incorrect, profanity-laden script, not to mention the ridiculously over-the-top acting.
If you really want a detailed picture of what this film is like, just listen to this: in the first five minutes, Cage’s co-star Willem Defoe has already consumed two types of drugs, murdered a woman and her daughter and worn white socks with sandals.
Comparable to a low-rent version of “Natural Born Killers,” this Paul Schrader-directed flick is a foul-mouthed trip down the rabbit hole which revels in its own brand of amusingly off-color filth. There’s not much of a plot or anything to take away from it, but the gloriously unpredictable performances of Defoe and Cage make this film worth watching.
Why you should watch: You’ve never seen a movie like this. Ever.
I’ve saved the best for last.
Every once and a while, you’ll discover a film so distinctively artistic, you can’t help but tell your friends about it; it’s a bold movie so exceptional in its quality that it cannot pass unseen.
“Tag” is not one of those films. To be honest, I can’t really give you an accurate description of what “Tag” is like. If I were to list out the actual events which take place in the film, you’d probably say I was lying. Still, I’ll do my best.
Directed by Sion Sono, this Japanese film centers around a teenage girl named Mitsuki, who tries to discover her identity while on the run from various paranormal entities.
Other plot points include alternate dimensions, anthropomorphic pigs, wind with the unexplainable ability to cut people in half and a spontaneous killing spree by the main character’s homeroom teacher. (I am not lying. All of these things really happen.)
If David Lynch’s “Mullholland Drive” was an action thriller with video game sensibilities, it would be “Tag.”
If you only watch a single film on this list, please watch “Tag.” For one thing, it is exactly the type of film I described earlier: a work of art so catastrophic, it would be a crime not to see it.
In addition, I want others to share the sense of befuddled joy and confusion I felt as I watched the credits roll. Also, I hope someone might be able to answer some of the many questions I have about “Tag.”
After all, who knows? Perhaps certain indefinable minutiae of the plot eluded me, and the film in all actuality is a masterpiece.
I’m kidding. It’s dreadful and it’s weird, but you should seriously watch it.
In fact, go watch all these films. Then, you might want to try looking for your own best-worst movies. Of course, you could say that seeking out bad movies is a waste of precious time, time better spent furthering relationships or working towards a degree.
Nevertheless, when you stumble across your gem, the one glorious, terrible, inexplicable film that you can’t stop watching, you might understand why I wasted my time with “Dog Eat Dog” or “Tag.” A great bad film is a truly magical experience.