Best of Bad Cinema: An Intro
On November 24th 1988, on a little local channel in Minneapolis and Saint Paul Minnesota, there premiered an original television show that would grow to be one of the most influential TV series in television history. Mystery Science Theater 3000 or, as it would forever be known in google search boxes years later, MST3K. The show introduced a relatively new idea for viewers. To watch bad movies, like really bad movies, for enjoyment. What a bizarre concept?
As time has passed, and the internet has grown, more and more people have found intrigue and joy of the best of the bad. Troll 2 is a film so bad that it has topped many lists of the worst ever made. By all accounts it’s a film you should avoid like the bubonic plague. So why does it have over 17,000 votes on IMDB? Why is it so popular? And why the heck did the lead actor make a documentary about this unfathomable love in his 2006 documentary Best Worst Movie?
The most scientific response possible is that it’s sort of like the uncanny valley. The uncanny valley is a hypothesis in the field of robotics and 3D computer animation that when human replicas look and act almost, but not precisely, like actual human beings it causes revulsion among human observers (think the soulless china doll look of the characters in The Polar Express or Beowulf). The valley is the dip in the graph of a humans comfort level, and yes this is a real thing (30 Rock fans will know it intimately).
When it comes to movies it’s like the graph but inverted. The poorer in quality the film is the less interested audiences are until the valley, or for our purposes let’s call it the peak. The peak is when a film has reached such a point of poor content that the viewer begins to enjoy it. Some respond with shock and awe but most probably with laughter. It’s that moment when what you’re seeing is so far beyond what you thought possible in terms of ineptitude that you can’t help but be mesmerized by what’s on screen.
The fascinating phenomenon of “it’s so bad, it’s good” is what will be discussed and dissected in coming reviews. Most film reviews discuss a movies quality, tell the reader what to like or admire about it and whether they recommend seeing it or not. That’s not what’s happening here. These reviews are going to focus on why a movie’s bad, why that’s awesome and why you should marvel at the ineptitude of their execution, the audaciousness of their conception and ponder just what the heck were they thinking. Simply put this column is going to take the art of reviewing films and flip it on its head.
B-Movies, Z-Movies, Box-Office Bombs; the critically panned and the fanboy scorned will be analyzed at length and hopefully many new drinking games discovered. Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the very best of the very bad.
– Matthew Younker