Last month, the internet was abuzz with the airing of made-for-television disaster flick, Sharknado, the latest from The Asylum, the notorious producers of such low budget knock-offs as Transmorphers: Fall of Man, Sunday School Musical and Paranormal Entity. Stories of ‘Sharknado gatherings’ were abundant as people came together to experience the must-see television event of the year, and those without friends joined in the mocking on twitter. With this mind, Impact takes a look back at some of the greatest cinematic disasters to grace the silver screen.
Edward D. Wood Jr., better known as Ed Wood, was the first filmmaker to gain notoriety for his lacklustre moviemaking. In 1980 he was posthumously declared the ‘Worst Director of All Time’ by critic Michael Medved, renewing interest in his work. Films such as cross-dressing docudrama Glen or Glenda, crime-thriller Jail Bait and his sci-fi magnum opus Plan 9 From Outer Space were embraced by a new audience for their incompetency. Wood was an unbridled optimist, oblivious to the continuity errors, stilted performances, absurd dialogue and lack of comprehension that plagued his work. Sadly, his movies were never appreciated in his own time and Wood died without a penny to his name.
The Room is arguably the most famous ‘bad’ movie of this generation. A decade ago the passion project of writer/director/star Tommy Wiseau premiered to a bewildered Los Angeles crowd, many of whom demanded a refund. Today, The Room is a cult-classic and screenings frequently sell-out. Fans are encouraged to dress as their favourite characters, throw plastic spoons at the screen and yell quotes at the appropriate times. Had it not been for the passionate fans wanting to share the experience with others, The Room would since have faded into obscurity. Wiseau has subsequently referred to it as a black comedy, but fans maintain it’s a drama gone horribly wrong.
“Had it not been for the passionate fans wanting to share the experience, The Room would have faded into obscurity.”
While The Room was made for $6 million, there have been greater calamities made on a much smaller budget. In 2008, writer/director James Nguyen made Birdemic: Shock and Terror for a minuscule $10,000. Entirely self-funded, word quickly spread about this train wreck, most notably for its wooden acting (putting it mildly), atrocious effects and clumsy editing. Nguyen embraced the rise in popularity, showcasing Birdemic across the U.S. Its success led to a sequel, Birdemic 2: The Resurrection. Nguyen took all he learned making the first and disregarded it, making a film equally as absurd, flawed and downright fun.
Other classics of the genre include 1990’s Troll 2, which doesn’t actually feature any trolls; and Manos: The Hands of Fate , a film so bad even the director acknowledged it as the worst film ever made.
Without the budget for advertising, increasingly absurd premises are relied on to gain traction.
In recent years there has been a resurgence of the made-for-TV monster movie, typically produced by and airing on SyFy. Clips showcasing the dreadful effects from the likes of Shark Attack 3: Megalodon, Sharktopus and Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus went viral creating a new audience for the previously niche genre. Without the budget for advertising, increasingly absurd premises are relied on to gain traction. Unlike the other films discussed, these TV movies are made with the expectation of low quality.
The love for these ‘bad’ movies goes beyond merely pointing out the flaws and laughing at the misfortune of those involved. Fans have a genuine appreciation for these films, flaws and all, and acknowledge the passion that went into making them. If movies are all about entertainment, then these are amongst the most successful movies ever made.