I love bad music. I love bad poetry. I love bad films. I've featured them all at some time or other on this blog. But let me just qualify what I mean by bad; I mean something made in all seriousness by earnest and genuine people who believed that they were creating something of worth but which turned out to be gut-achingly hilarious. I'm talking about people like Theophile Marzials whose appalling poem 'A Tragedy' appeared on these pages just a few days ago. Or the execrable Mrs Miller who I wrote about back in 2007 (see here and more bad music here, here and here). If it's deliberately tongue-in-cheek, I have no interest.
So, what do I regard as the worst films ever made? That's a toughie. There are some truly terrible films. But if I stick with my original definition of 'bad' I can easily pick five films, all intended to be taken completely seriously, that are so bad they make laugh me so hard that a little bit of wee sometimes comes out. Here they are, in no particular order.
Plan 9 from Outer Space - the grandaddy of all bad films and Ed D Wood's enduring masterpiece. I probably don't need to tell you about star Bela Lugosi dying halfway through filming and all of the interior shots being done using Wood's wife's doctor with a cape over his face. Nor do I need to mention the hubcap flying saucers or the curious shifts between pitch-black night and sunny day. And I certainly won't labour the genius of lines like 'Saucers? You mean the kind from up there?' and 'One thing's for sure, Inspector Clay is dead, murdered, and somebody's responsible'. It's genius from start to finish. Watch it. Watch it now.
The Room - What can I say about Tommy Wiseau's film that hasn't already been said? It's a glorious assemblage of oddly-played scenes, bizarre line deliveries and over-the-top acting that wouldn't look out of place in a Primary School Nativity during a gas leak. Wiseau does everything in this film except write the music. And that's crap. You're tearing me apart Lisa!!!
The Giant Claw - I had to include this as the ambassador for every 1950s ridiculous monster. This giant rubber chicken with its ping-pong ball eyes, variable size and annoying screech is just ahead of the creatures in Robot Monster (ape suit with diving helmet), Creature from the Haunted Sea (Torn bin bags and more ping-pong balls), From Hell it Came (rubbish walking tree costume) and The Creeping Terror (basically three men and a carpet) in the race for crappiest beastie. Everything about this film is perfect. Perfectly bad.
Can't Stop the Music - What were the Village People (and Steve Guttenberg) thinking of when they made this horrible, horrible film? It's a disco-based film released in 1980 just as disco was dead and boasting the campest performances by straight actors since Duncan Norvelle first shouted 'Chase me!' The story is a mess throughout and most of the Village People's hits don't appear - despite the trailer suggesting they do. One high spot of the film is this bizarre performance by the late Glenn 'Leather Man' Hughes. Glorious.
What to choose for my fifth and final bad film? I can't choose modern straight-to-video stuff like Sharktopus or Mega Piranha as they're all a bit too knowing and obvious. Meanwhile there are endless 1950s B movies like They saved Hitler's Brain, Queen of Outer Space, Bride of the Monster, Cat Women of the Moon, It Conquered the World, Donovan's Brain, Nude on the Moon, Santa Claus versus The Martians and Arnold Swarzenegger's mumbling genre debut in Hercules in New York. But in the end I plumped for some 1980s ghastliness with The Ice Pirates.
The Ice Pirates is representative of a whole swathe of terrible 1980s post-Star Wars cash-in films such as Battle Beyond the Stars, Riders to the Stars, America 3000, Forbidden World, Galaxy of Terror and Space Rage. They appear to have been made on a budget of 47p each and some even recycled the same special effects sequences, costumes and spaceships and presumably thought that we wouldn't notice. What sets The Ice Pirates apart is that it's billed as a comedy and yet it's no more funny or awful than all of those other films I just mentioned. I suspect they decided on the comedy angle after seeing the audience reaction to the rushes. It was a toss-up between this and The Humanoid, which is deserving of special mention if only for Richard 'Jaws' Kiel's extraordinarily dull performance, Mrs Ringo Starr's topiary hairstyle, the Darth Vader look-alike made out of an old Samurai costume sprayed black (best line - 'My brother has made his army bloated with peace') and the heroine who, among the Zargons, Gorts and Xebots is reassuringly named Barbara Gibson.
Do check them all out if you ever get the chance. So bad they're good.