What makes a movie funny? Zany acting and characters? Over the top one liners? A ridiculous plot? It’s all of those things and more. However, sometimes these factors pop up in movies that aren’t meant to be funny at all, and make you laugh at it rather than with it. This is the most obvious sign that the movie you are watching is bad if you are laughing at it, despite the film trying to be serious.
While most bad movies are just plain bad and unenjoyable, some of them are sublime because of their perfect imperfections. This list does not include movies that were intentionally over the top and ridiculous, therefore funny, such as Sharknado and Snakes On A Plane. The following movies were meant to be taken seriously. These movies would be worthy of an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 if the show was still around.
You simply cannot take these movies seriously, and that is why they are considered bad. However, unlike most creative mediums, movies have the ability to be so bad that they are good. So if you watch the below movies and put yourself in the mindset of them being hilarious because of how crap they are, then you will enjoy them. Just make sure you have the popcorn and snacks ready to enjoy the laughs even more.
10. Street Fighter (Steven E. de Souza, 1994)
Although the first movie based on a video game was Super Mario Bros., Street Fighter was another early film to foray into video game adaptation territory and is one of the reasons why movies based on video games have a bad reputation. But what a lot of people seem to forget about Street Fighter, as they tend to simply dismiss it as a bad movie, is that it’s very entertaining and funny (although usually for the wrong reasons).
The film tries to incorporate as many of the video game series’ characters as possible, and that is commendable, especially with the inclusion of Blanka, the inexplicably green man-beast into the film as a genetically engineered super soldier. While that would be a treat for any fans of the games, the film is really about the conflict between Colonel Guile (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and the dictator Bison (Raul Julia).
Van Damme’s character is meant to be an all-American G.I., but his Belgian accent is very thick. Otherwise, the acting is just Van Damme being Van Damme. The film tries to emphasise how “American” Guile is, even going as far as having a close up of a tattoo he has of the American flag. There is also a scene just before Guile’s final showdown with Bison where he takes his shirt off to show off his muscles before fighting Bison, for no reason other than Van Damme to show off his body.
The highlight of the movie is definitely Raul Julia, an actor who is always a delight to watch. Julia was actually dying of cancer when he made this film, and he gives his performance as Bison his hammy all. Throughout the film, Bison is just simply evil and relishes in it. He creates his own currency with his face on it, and plans to build a city called Bisonopolis.
After hearing about how he massacred Chun Li’s (Ming Na) family and how that changed her life, he nonchalantly says he does not remember doing that and says, “The day Bison graced your village was the most important day of your life. For me, it was Tuesday.” Bison’s God complex is definitely the highlight of this film that continues to taint films based on video games.
9. Hercules In New York (Arthur Allan Seidelman, 1970)
Most actors work on bad, low budget films early in their career, and action superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger is no exception. In fact, his bodybuilder physique limited his choices of parts in movies, so he ended up starring as the all-powerful Greek warrior Hercules in his first leading role. In fact, Schwarzenegger was credited as “Arnold Strong” because of his bodybuilding career. It is a role Schwarzenegger does not look back on fondly, and for good reason.
Although it was meant to be a comedy, it’s funny for the wrong reasons. If you thought Arnie’s acting is bad now, watch his very first performance here, and his current acting range will look Oscar worthy by comparison. His delivery is very lifeless. Some versions of the film have dubbed Arnie with another actor, which is funny because of how iconic Arnie’s voice is. But if you do see the version with Arnie’s actual voice, it is still hilarious for how bland his performance is.
Being that this was made when Schwarzenegger was only known as a bodybuilder, there are many scenes where he is shirtless and shows off his muscles just for the sake of it. The Mount Olympias scenes was clearly filmed in a public park, and in one such scene, you can hear a car horn in the background, shattering what little illusion there was that this was indeed the home of the Greek gods.
Since Woody Allen was popular at the time, it seems like Hercules In New York tried to include a neurotic Allen-esque character with Arnold Stang’s character being Hercules’ bumbling sidekick; it is an odd inclusion into the film. In any case, the film’s poor attempt at humour is all over the place.
8. Jason X (Jim Isaac, 2001)
Jason X is the tenth installment of the original Friday The 13th series. The series started with films you could take somewhat seriously, but as it went on, it got sillier and sillier. If you thought the previous nine movies were ridiculous, then prepare to have your mind blown by what’s in store with Jason X.
So what could the tenth film do to stand out from the previous nine movies? Be set in the future and on a spaceship! That is not a joke. The notorious Jason Voorhees was frozen by the U.S. military to prevent him from killing more people. Centuries later, his body is excavated from a now uninhabitable Earth and placed on a spaceship, only to be awoken and start another killing spree.
Being that the film is set in the future, Jason now looks more like a robot than a big man wearing a hockey mask. Despite being set in the future where technology has advanced so much, Jason’s victims are still as stupid as they were in the 20th century, and you will indeed laugh at their bad attempts at survival, over-acting, needless nudity, and their gruesome deaths that are impossible to be scared by and not to laugh at.
7. The Wicker Man (Neil LaBute, 2006)
These days, Nicolas Cage has become a well-known meme, as well as for his acting. Although Cage is often seen overacting in his films, the 2006 remake of the beloved 1973 horror film The Wicker Man is really Cage really reaches his pinnacle. In fact, a few of Cage’s internet memes were based off scenes in The Wicker Man.
What makes The Wicker Man extra funny is that the film was obviously meant to be scary, but the end result is just plain silly. While the whole film is lame, it would not be entertaining if it were not for its Oscar winning star.
Despite his critics, there is no denying that, whether it is intentional or not, that Nicolas Cage is one of the most entertaining actors to watch. Cage’s constant yelling is great, from when he is questioning the villagers loudly and angrily, to the now iconic scene, which was actually a deleted scene reinstated into the DVD release of the film.
The now famous scene with Cage having bees poured onto his head and yelling, “Not the bees! They’re in my eyes!” is comedy gold; Cage really just naturally has a way of making something so horrible so funny.
Besides all the yelling, there is also the hilarious scene where Cage is wearing a bear suit, runs up a hill and punches a woman in the face. While of course violence against women is normally not funny at all, this scene is just so weird that you cannot help but laugh. The forest scenery and the bear costume give the scene an almost whimsical feel, making this scene like something out of a fairy tale that has gone wrong.
6. Staying Alive (Sylvester Stallone, 1983)
Saturday Night Fever was the ultimate movie about disco and was a big hit upon its release, and made its lead actor John Travolta a movie star and an Oscar nominee. Naturally, Hollywood wanted to continue its success with the film’s story of Travolta’s working class dancer Tony Manero.
Six years after the first film’s release, its sequel Staying Alive, named after the hit Bee Gees song on the best-selling soundtrack, was released. It was directed by action movie star Sylvester Stallone, who tried to make the story of Tony Manero from Saturday Night Fever into a dance version of his massive hit Rocky.
Although Stallone’s upbeat underdog story worked for Rocky and its sequels, it did not work in Staying Alive. While the original film was a dark and gritty view of New York youth and the disco scene of the late 1970s, Staying Alive is full of 1980s cheese and extravagant dance numbers on Broadway.
Staying Alive is the very definition of campy. The film’s “plot” consists of Manero trying to further his dancing career and a love triangle with two female dancers, one of whom is the film’s antagonist.
The Broadway show Tony is performing in is called Satan’s Alley, where the dancers are dressed as demons dancing to cheesy ‘80s synth music (composed by Sly’s brother Frank Stallone). The rebellious solo dance Manero does towards the end of the film is simply campy gold. Staying Alive basically has everything that could be wrong with a movie made in the 1980s.
There’s very little sign of the ‘70s disco music that made the first movie such a big hit. It’s almost as if the movie is trying to get away from the disco scene as, like the film’s protagonist, it feels it has moved onto bigger things by heading to Broadway.
Stallone himself said years later in an interview that he was the last person who should have been making a movie about dancing. While Staying Alive is an insult to Saturday Night Fever, at least you will get a few chuckles out of how silly it is.
5. Batman & Robin (Joel Schumacher, 1997)
Most Batman fans hate Batman & Robin, and for good reason. It ruined the serious and gothic take Tim Burton had on the dark knight’s adventures, and made the Caped Crusader become more like the Camp Crusader.
Joel Schumacher’s second Batman movie ruined his reputation as a director, as his name is now synonymous with campiness and killing superhero franchises. However, with no one on Earth being able to possibly take this film seriously, once you get past what an awful Batman movie this, it’s actually hilarious.
While the superheroes are whiny and have bat nipples, the over the top villains are great for a laugh (at their expense, of course). The campy acting from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Uma Thurman is a delight to watch.
Although Thurman has plenty of sexual innuendos and plant related puns as Poison Ivy, Batman & Robin is truly Arnie’s show thanks to his character Mr Freeze’s constantly citing cringe worthy ice jokes. Arnold Schwarzenegger is known for making cheesy puns in his action movies, but his jokes normally vary in their content.
So imagine two hours of ice related jokes; it got an “icy” reception from audiences. But if you enjoy Arnie’s one liners, you are in for a treat. Poison Ivy’s henchman Bane is a mindless and grunting henchman, especially when he grunts “Bomb” after placing every individual bomb in the observatory building towards the end of the film. This Bane is a world away from the Bane who terrorised Gotham City in The Dark Knight Rises.
Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman must have been giggling away when he wrote the numerous puns in the script. Let’s hope his personal amusement was worth all the flack he has copped in the following years due to this film. The film had a budget of $125 million, and this is the result?! Wow. At least there are some cheap laughs on offer here, and the Joker had nothing to do with this Batman tale!
4. Showgirls (Paul Verhoeven, 1995)
One thing that will always get people giggling is sex, or more specifically a movie that tries to be sexy but does it completely wrong. After director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas struck gold with their erotic thriller Basic Instinct, they paired up again to create Showgirls, which was supposed to be a sexy but dark look at the sleaziness of Las Vegas and show business.
Showgirls was trashed upon its release and is often labelled as one of the worst movies ever made. However, the film has since become a cult classic and for good reason for all the wrong reasons, so much so that one DVD release of Showgirls included shot glasses and instructions for a drinking game for all the nonsense that happens in this film.
The overtly sexual dialogue that tries to be titillating really fails, and tickles the funny bone rather than being arousing. With horrendous dialogue like, “Everybody’s got AIDS and shit”, “I liked it when you came, I liked your eyes”, and “It must be weird, not having anyone come on you”, no one could take this movie seriously. It must have been hard for the actors to say these lines with a straight face.
The tackiness of Las Vegas is the perfect setting is the perfect setting for a story this sleazy. With pretty much everyone hitting on the protagonist throughout the movie, there is no escaping the sleaze. Even the film’s main antagonist cannot help herself around the lead actress; Gina Gherson is a delight to watch as the bitchy lead showgirl who is both trying to seduce and destroy Nomi at the same time (mixed feelings much?).
From the over the top strip teases to the campy dance show and costumes that leave little to the imagination, which was meant to titillate male audience members, it is very amusing that the film has a gay following. In a way, Showgirls could be considered a female and ‘90s version of the aforementioned Staying Alive, except with a Las Vegas setting and far more nudity.
Despite all the hilarity throughout Showgirls, the funniest scene is by far the sex scene in the pool. Elizabeth Berkley gyrates like a fish out of water flopping up and down to survive, her and Kyle MacLachlan’s groins are too far away from one another to actually be having sex, and their moaning is just lame. This scene is comedy gold!
3. Birdemic: Shock And Terror (James Nguyen, 2010)
You know how annoying it is when a bird poops on your car? Well, imagine a bird doing that onto a reel of film and the result is basically Birdemic: Shock And Terror. The most shocking and terrifying thing about it is both how bad it is and the notion that it ever got made. However, that does not mean you cannot laugh at it.
Birdemic was inspired by the Alfred Hitchcock classic The Birds, but unlike Hitchcock’s film, Birdemic does not soar like an eagle. The film starts off with long and awkward driving scenes that are uneventful and go nowhere, showing a lack of editing involved. Then the “actors” speak, and it is the most cringe worthy performances you may ever see.
There was no effort from the actors to emote and actually try to be sound convincing, especially when the birds finally attack and the characters show how “scared” they are. The dialogue is also atrocious with the characters’ blunt and boring conversations about work and love.
However, what makes Birdemic especially amusing are the titular birds themselves. They are some of the most unconvincing CGI ever shown on film and are not scary in the slightest. When the actors try to interact with these birds, it is just goofy. To be fair, the film only had a budget of $10,000, which did not allow for convincing special effects. However, that does not make the movie any less bad or hilarious.
2. Battlefield Earth (Roger Christian, 2000)
Although much of the flak Battlefield Earth gets is because of its association with the Church of Scientology, Battlefield Earth is in itself definitely a bad movie. This movie is often on bad movies lists, but no one seems to talk about how hilarious and entertaining it actually is.
While the actors playing humans are not particularly interesting, the hammy acting from both John Travolta and Forrest Whitaker playing the lead evil aliens is simply grand entertainment (although that was not their intention). Travolta’s performance is very much the “mu-ha-ha-ha” type of villainy, very theatrical; he is so much fun to watch.
Surely the scenes with the Psychlos (itself a very unsubtle version of the word “psycho”, as in “psychiatry”, which the author L. Ron Hubbard was very against) were meant to be funny. The comedic timing, and them acting like arrogant and blundering idiots is surely intentional. If it wasn’t, then wow!
A great example is when Terl (Travolta) is drunk after learning he will be stationed on Earth forever, and goes on a drunken rant saying, “While you were learning how to SPELL YOUR NAME, I was being trained to CONQUER GALAXIES!”
There are many comical misunderstandings on the Psychlos part, from thinking dogs were the masters of humans (despite dogs not being very useful for manual labour), thinking humans enjoy raw rat meat.
The over the top evilness of the Psychlos is shown throughout the film, such as when Terl promises that he will not detonate the bomb attached to a human’s neck, but then he hands the detonator to another Psychlo to press the button, emphasising, “As I said, I won’t kill him”.
The plot holes and lack of logic in the story is astounding, as the military jet planes the humans discover surely would have disintegrated over the thousand years of just sitting there. The humans could not just simply learn how to fly these planes in a week, when it takes people actually in the air force years to learn. This lack of logic makes it funny and lets you go along for a silly but wild ride.
The ending is open ended and the filmmakers obviously wanted to make a sequel, one that unsurprisingly never got made after Battlefield Earth’s failure at the box office. If you enjoyed Battlefield Earth, then it is actually a shame no one will get to see what other nonsense the Psychlos get up to next.
1. The Room (Tommy Wiseau, 2003)
Of course The Room was going to be number one on this list! How could it not be? This is the mother of so bad it’s good movies. The Room is in a league of its own. There’s something almost hypnotic about The Room and its poor production.
It’s a bad movie that you actually want to watch over and over again. It’s quotable, and its plot, and subplots that go nowhere, are ridiculous. It was intended to be a serious romantic drama, but is regarded as a hilariously awful unintentional comedy masterpiece. If you have not seen it by now, then you really have missed out and need to see it.
The lack of logic from the characters, the bad acting, and the plot is absurd. A group of men play football while wearing tuxedos, although it’s never explained why they are wearing tuxedos to begin with.
Despite overhearing a conversation where Lisa (Juliette Danielle) tells her mother Claudette (Carolyn Minnott) that she is cheating on him, Johnny (Tommy Wiseau) still is not sure whether she is cheating on him or not, and starts to record her phone calls by attaching a tape recorder to the phone. Claudette also tells Lisa that she was breast cancer, but not only does Lisa not seem fazed by it, but this plot point is never mentioned again, as if it never happened. The same goes for the scene where the young man Denny (Philip Haldiman) is held at gunpoint by a drug dealer that is also never mentioned again once it is over.
There are technical issues throughout the film, such as the bad blue screen background of San Francisco background on rooftop scenes. The bad lip syncing of dialogue happens many times in The Room; this is most notable in the flower shop scene seems to be out of order, and the lip syncing is out of place, giving the scene a disorientating feel.
Despite all of those factors, it is the film’s star, writer, producer and director Tommy Wiseau is both what makes and breaks this movie. The scenes without him are not usually as funny as the scenes he is in. Wiseau’s heavy accent and bad inflections of his dialogue is brilliant, and The Room would not be the same without this madman at the helm.
His “acting” is truly out of this world, and the delivery of his most famous lines “Oh, hi Mark” and “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!” are too funny to be really captured in words, which sums up the whole movie really. The Room has rightfully become a cult classic since its brief 2003 release, and if you are looking for a film to make you laugh really hard at its stupidity, then look no further than The Room.
Originally published here at tasteofcinema.com on Monday 26 September 2016