Five Movies So Bad They Became Cult Classics

The Emoji Movie opening this weekend has already raised eyebrows by scoring an 8% rating on the Tomatometer.  Personally I myself can’t remember the last time any movie was bad enough to dip below 10%.  While this is no doubt very disappointing for anyone involved in TEM’s production, they can at least console themselves that they may have made cinematic history; if not in the way they intended.  For there are in fact movies, so ill conceived, so badly written, so horribly directed, so viscerally awful that they achieve a strange grandeur-and cult following.  Behold.

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)  The granddaddy of them all. Written, produced, directed, and edited by Ed Wood who was posthumously awarded a Golden Turkey for Worst Director of All Time. This legendary stinker revolves around aliens intent on stopping humanity from creating a doomsday device by….resurrecting earth’s dead. The recently deceased Bela Lugosi had shots filmed for a separate movie, spliced into the final product and members of the Southern Baptist Convention appeared as grave diggers.  But most famous of all is the film’s iconic flying saucer that resembles a hubcap.

Howard the Duck (1986)  Nowadays Marvel Comic-inspired movies are box office gold but that wasn’t always the case. Go back to the 80’s a confused time when someone decided to greenlight this live action sci-fi comedy based on a Marvel comic book….about a talking duck. Yes, that’s right a talking duck portrayed by animatronics and voiced by Broadway star Chip Zien, and with a distinctive fighting style all his own known as Quack-Fu. It was a huge flop critically and commercially making back only $15 million on its $30 million budget and being nominated for seven Razzie awards. And yet the movie’s very ludicrousness would come to elevate it to cult status-particularly among fans of the comic book.

Showgirls (1995) Starring former Saved by the Bell actress Elizabeth Berkeley (who will never live it down) as Nomi Malone a drifter who hitchhikes to Vegas with dreams of becoming a showgirl. It was the first (and so far) only movie with an NC-17 rating to be given widespread mainstream release. Thanks to the NC-17 rating and uniformly horrible reviews, Showgirls was a box office bomb and the winner of a then record Seven Golden Raspberry awards. Director Paul Verhoeven was a good sport and attended the Razzies in person to collect his award. Then something happened; the movie was hugely successful on home video earning over a hundred million dollars and has since achieved cult status.

The Room (2003) Tommy Wiseau has the dubious claim to fame of having written, directed, starred and produced in this clunker.  Centering on a melodramatic love triangle between an amiable banker, his deceitful fiancée, and treacherous best friend, the movie also scores a number of completely unrelated subplots which thanks to The Room’s bizarre narrative structure are never resolved. It also sports plenty of other technical flaws as well.  One film professor described the movie in EW magazine as ‘the Citizen Kane of bad movies.’ It is now a favorite for midnight viewings across the country.

Sharknado (2013) A freak cyclone scoops up a ton of sharks in water spouts and then deposits them into the newly flooded streets of Los Angeles where they cause mayhem. This one’s a little different for two reasons; one it was made for television and secondly it was intended to be bad.  And it succeeded becoming a viral sensation on Twitter that ensured subsequent airings scored more viewers than the original one did! The Syfy channel had specifically commissioned a number of B movies to be aired but this remains by far the most famous having spawned a franchise with three sequels to date and an fourth one on the way.

Top photo: Bigstock

About Winnefred Ann Frolik (155 Articles)
Winnefred Ann Frolik (Winnie for short) was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She completed the International Baccleareate program at Schenley High School and then attended the University of Pittsburgh where she completed a double major in English Literature and Creative Writing. After graduation she spent a number of years working in the non-profit sector and it was during that phase in her life she moved to D.C.  Winnie co-wrote a book on women in the U.S. Senate with Billy Herzig.  She enrolled in a baking program in culinary school and worked in food services for a while. She currently works in personal services while writing for Woman Around Town and doing other freelance writing projects including feeble personal attempts at fiction. Her brother is a reporter in Dayton, Ohio so clearly there are strong writing genes in the family.  She lives in Pittsburgh, PA, with two demanding cats.