For Further Reading

For albeit 1.2 we asked our contributors to submit their favorite “so bad it’s good” book, movie, and/or TV show and a brief reason why.

William Christopher Brown:

I am a fan of Blaxploitation films from the seventies. I am not of the camp that thinks that these films exploit African-American actors or cinema-goers; instead, I view the exploitation as exploitation of genres for politicized purposes. Whether Blaxploitation films delve into noir, horror, or gangster movies, they politicize the genre by foregrounding African-Americans. The low budgets of many Blaxploitation films open them to derision, but the passion with which they are acted comes through. One of my favorites is Black Samson, which has much to criticize about it but an ending that is audacious and quite stunning. Readers can see a brief excerpt of the ending in this YouTube clip of the trailer.

I am giving away the ending, so readers interested in the film may want to stop reading. The film concerns white gangsters trying to control the drug trade in an African-American community. The ending plays on imagery of riots in black communities in the sixties and early seventies but with a twist. The African-American community in the film lacks the resources of the white gangsters, so they resist with their possessions and the dilapidated multi-story tenements in which they live. When the white gangsters drive into the community to intimidate African-Americans, the community organizes itself. They rain down their possessions from the roofs and windows, ultimately beating back the gangsters and saving their community.

Terri Coleman:

It might have been an attempt to throw off his teen-dream image after the success of Camp Nowhere and 10 Things I Hate About You. He might have lost a bet with JTT. Maybe he just wanted to make me infinitely happy. I don’t know why, but in 2002, Andrew Keegan starred in Teenage Caveman, a movie that is nothing less than transcendentally terrible. This movie goes beyond bad taste; it melds post-apocalyptic action movie with soft-core orgy scenes. And, if that weren’t enough, there are genetically modified monsters with telepathic powers. Not bad enough? They’re all wearing their coolest early 2000s rave gear. It couldn’t possibly be any better; it couldn’t be any worse.

Dan Dooghan:

My favorite texts dealing with failure are corny or politically suspect movies from the 80s like Real Genius, Purple Rain, or even Top Gun. I suspect this has something to do with my unironic love for the now largely defunct musical genres of the era: new wave and glam metal.

Pearce Durst:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. The main reason is childhood nostalgia, but the film is an especially light-hearted live-action portrayal of mutant ninja turtles transformed by toxic waste, named after Renaissance artists, and led by a master rat sensei that lives with them in storm sewers. Originally a parody of popular comic books in the 1980’s, this film continues the turtle’s battle against Shredder, the evil leader of a ninjutsu foot clan and his new mutant villains, a snapping turtle and gray wolf. If that isn’t enough, Vanilla Ice’s “Ninja Rap” is the epitome of a performance that’s “so bad it’s good.”

Sarah Lonelodge:

While plenty of movies come to mind for this category, I must say that The Wicker Man (2006) starring Nicholas Cage is my favorite. The entire idea of a culture made up of women living on a secluded island performing murderous rituals meant to ensure better harvests sounds (and is) a bit ridiculous, but that is also exactly what makes it so entertaining. And as far as “so bad it’s good” lines go, Nicholas Cage screaming, “Killing me won’t bring back your goddam honey!” really takes the cake.

Geneviève Robichaud:

As for the “so bad it’s good” book or film…I’d have to go with the movie Samurai Cop (1991). The title’s excess, the main character’s spray tan, the unforgettable car chase, and the want-to-be-hollywood-blockbuster-feel all make it very memorable!

Editorial Board Members:

Jonathan Alexandratos:

For the title of So-Bad-They’re-Good, I nominate Rock Lords. “What are Rock Lords?” you ask. They’re small, plastic, action figure robots from the ‘80s that transform. Into rocks. Fake, little, turd-esque rocks that just sit there. They have names like “Slimestone,” “Magmar,” and, my personal favorite, “Nuggit.” They’re basically the love-child of Saturday Morning Cartoons and a Skymall catalogue, and you know what? I love each and every one of those damn toys.

Tracy Bealer:

I have seen every film adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks “novel” produced by Hollywood, and I have seen many of them on multiple occasions. I revel in the cartoonishly sentimental plots, the over-the-top villainy (including nefarious forces like CANCER, DEMENTIA, or TOO MUCH WATER), and the upper-middle-class cottages that are so deliciously decorated and lovingly shot the movies should probably be classified as architecture porn. These adaptations are staunchly and creepily conservative in their adherence to heteronormativity and lily-white casts, but there’s something about the rigid devotion to formula that I can’t resist. Plus, those beachy cottages!

Natalie Leppard:

I will watch and enjoy absolutely any dance or dance-adjacent movie. This includes Center Stage (and the sequel), Bring It On, all 35 movies of the Step Up franchise, Footloose (the remake), Dirty Dancing (and, yes, the second one), Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Mad Hot Ballroom, Flashdance, Strictly Ballroom, and even the barely watchable Honey.