By Svetlana Legetic, John Schork, Jenn Tisdale, Brandon Wetherbee, Alan Zilberman
There’s bad movies and then there’s BAD MOVIES. You know the kind-the kind that are so universally panned that raising the topic of their quality seems like a waste of time. Still, some of those movies you can’t help but love. Not in a guilty pleasure “so bad they are good” way, but in a real, honest-to-God love-this-movie kind of way. So, we’re kicking this week of with a stroll down BEST WORST MOVIES LANE. Please feel free to leave your personal favorites in the comments. There might be a BYT movie swag bag in it for you.
Highlander II: The Quickening (1991) 0% score on Rotten Tomatoes
Remember Highlander? A Scottish guy played by a French/Swiss guy born in New Jersey—Christopher Lambert—meets up with Sean Connery—the most actually Scottish guy—playing an Egyptian-born Spanish metallurgist who teaches him that he’s immortal and part of a centuries-old contest where dudes lop one another’s heads off until there’s only one left (because there can be only one, duh) who then becomes mortal? This fairly insane sounding premise was actually turned into a legitimately good, albeit bizarre, film in 1986.
Well, in 1991, when there were no bad ideas in Hollywood and probably enough cocaine to kill all the horses in Ben Hur, they decided to make a sequel to Highlander. This was no simple stroll back to the well, however. THAT WOULD BE TOO EASY. In Highlander II: The Quickening*, we learn that these pan-ethnic immortals are actually ALIENS.
In the most insane retcon of all time, flashbacks show us that Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery’s swashbucklers were actually freedom fighters on the losing end of a civil war on a distant, fictitious desert planet (thanks, Frank Herbert!). As punishment for their rebellion, they’re sent by a man named GENERAL KATANA (played by MICHAEL IRONSIDE**) to Earth, where they’ll be immortal until only one of them remains unquickened. That’s right. Immortality is a punishment in Highlander II. That is a precise crystallization of how little sense this movie makes***.
Flash forward to a dystopian 2024 and our protagonist, Connor MacLeod, is now a doddering old scientist who has solved the ozone layer crisis. After reclaiming his immortality from a couple of level-99 spacegoths on jetpacks, he has sex with Virginia Madsen in a dumpster, brings Sean Connery back from the dead by simply calling his name, and then they both set about trying to take down the shadowy corporation ruling the planet and General Katana, who is now, of course, on Earth.
Watching Highlander 2 is like getting stuck in a conversation with an 8 foot-tall, coked up puppy that’s also a millionaire. The combination of money, insanity, delusions of grandeur, and legendary on-set strife combine to create a cocktail so mesmerizingly terrible and charmingly bizarre that I can’t help but love it with my whole dumb heart.
Get a hold of it by whatever means are necessary. This is one case where even though it’s available on Blu-Ray, the warped, relatively lo-fi quaintness of VHS creates a real chocolate-and-peanut-butter situation. If I ruled this cruel, silly planet, a copy would be handed out with every purchase of 40 ounces of malt liquor, but sadly the powers that be haven’t come to their senses just yet.
*Decapitation sounds too scientific, so they call it “The Quickening” when somebody gets their head sliced off.
**Imagine a screenwriter and a casting director high-fiving and then synchronized diving Scrooge McDuck-style into a literal mountain of blow.
***It also sounds pretty metal, which rules. -John
Jawbreaker (1999) 7% score on Rotten Tomatoes
Some people may call it the poor man’s Heather’s or the less smart Mean Girls, but trust me, there is A LOT to love about Jawbreaker, the pitchest black of all black teen comedies of the 1990s. And it is GOOD (despite a 22/100 Metacritic score) because it knows EXACTLY WHAT IT IS. Set in Reagan High, the storyline follows Courtney, Marcie and Julie, three super popular girls who accidentally murder their super popular BFF by sticking a jawbreaker as a gag during a prank kidnapping. They almost get away with it because they are pretty and vicious and no one ever questions them.
But there is a witness, Fern, an unpopular girl with some serious mean girl ambitions who sees this whole situation as an opportunity of a lifetime. The cast is perfect. Rose McGowan at her bee-stung lipped/wasp waisted finest, pre-Dexter Julie Benz all silky haired and a post-90120 Rebecca Gayhart are the lead girls. Judy Greer is Fern (and her popular alter ego Violette) and even then, the best thing on the screen always. And Pam Grier and Carol Kane round out the adults (genius). The costumes are the stuff of 90s dreams (cropped cardigans, chokers, and fake fur trims ON EVERYTHING), the dialogue as snappy as any 2014 twitter click bait (“Death totally bites”) and the soundtrack, the kind of bratty girl pop punk rock that they just don’t make anymore. Artists featured include: Imperial Teen (YOO HOO!), Veruca Salt, Shampoo, Connie Francis (LOLLIPOP BOY!) and I can still listen to that “Bad Word for a Good Thing” by the Friggs anytime.
The Donnas, natch, show up as themselves.
Side note: Director Darren Stein made this in 2007, and I want to watch it right now. -Svetlana
Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11% score on Rotten Tomatoes
I’ve rewritten this first sentence about the greatness of Freddy Got Fingered more than ten times. I compared it to UHF, Tosh.0, Andy Warhol, Daniel Johnston, Saturday morning cartoons, all of YouTube, early CKY home videos, Kids in the Hall, Andy Kaufmann and Negativeland. It is all of those things. It’s so much more than all of those things. Since the film is polarizing (everyone I’ve been lucky enough to speak with about the film either LOVES it or HATES it), maybe you’ll watch it with a new set of eyes if you understand the comparisons.
UHF: FGF ran with an absurd plot that made little to no sense in order to include as many types of funny as possible.
Tosh.0: No dead moose scene, no Tosh.0
Andy Warhol: 15-minutes of licking some guys exposed bone or something.
Daniel Johnston: “Daddy Would You Like Some Sausage?” sounds like it could be a “Hi, How Are You” b-side.
Saturday morning cartoons: Of the Ren & Stimpy variety. Or that cartoon with Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky because SHAQ!
All of YouTube: There’s skateboarding videos, injury videos, music videos, prank videos, helicopter videos, sex videos, all of the categories of videos currently being made and viewed on the most popular video watching service.
Early Camp Kill Yourself videos: The opening scene features Green skateboarding through a mall for no particular reason.
Kids in the Hall: The comedy is Canadian absurdity. It’s obvious Green grew up influenced by the 5-member group. Since Green can’t squish another member’s head, he’s stuck trying to scream his partners into existence. Where there would normally be a dialogue between two characters, there’s a disjointed monologue.
Andy Kaufman: Both as Andy Kaufman the likable character actor from Taxi and Andy Kaufman the hated wrestler of women.
Negativeland: Pushing the boundary of film, television and music to advance the art form but probably ensure that he’ll never be able to make a major motion picture with a big studio again.
It’s all of these things. It’s so much more and more than 10-years later, I still can’t pinpoint exactly why I love it.
Maybe it’s because it’s the only piece of entertainment that makes Harland Williams seem like a normal dude.
Maybe it’s because it’ll never happen again. -Brandonhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZVac0GnZ9g
Jonah Hex (2010) 12% score on Rotten Tomatoes
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the same ol’ superhero film. If I have to hear one more time that Peter Parker got bit by a spider or see Bruce Wayne’s parents die one more goddamn time, I am just going to snap. Especially the superhero origin story has become so tired, considering what we already know about these characters through popular culture and the gentrification of style towards all DC and Marvel films. Yet in 2010, one of DC’s first superhero films after the peak of superhero films – The Dark Knight – defied all logic, and made a insane, weird, nonsensical superhero movie that revitalized me for what these films could be.
That film was Jonah Hex.
So often these films are filled with tesseracts and bullshit like that that are so overly explained and everything is made so generic that anything that seemed interesting upon watching the trailer disappears within minutes of walking into the theater. Not with Jonah Hex. The entire film gives you the sensation of “what the fuck is going on here?” It’s not in a way that makes the film bad per se, but genuinely interesting. This is because Jonah Hex was put in the hands of cracked out screenwriting masterminds behind the Crank series, Neveldine and Taylor. Put in the hands of director Jimmy Hayward, who was a Pixar animator and had also directed Horton Hears a Who!, it’s almost like a superhero film in the hands of a coked out Terry Gilliam, where any weird idea is fair game.
But maybe you’re saying, “Hey Ross, I don’t want to see this weird shit just because you like insanity!” Well how about that cast! Besides Josh Brolin as Hex, you have John “IT’S MY HEAD!” Malkovich as the villain Quentin Turnbull. Hell, in the opening, Turnbull brands Hex IN THE FACE with his initials! I mean TRY doing that to any other superhero. Oh yeah, Hex is left to die by Turnbull, but is saved by a Native American tribe that gives him the power to revive people from the dead. It’s basically like if Pushing Daisies took place in the Civil War. But the rest of the cast includes Megan Fox playing a prostitute, Michael Fassbender as a tattooed Irish madman, Michael Shannon, Lande Reddick, Wes Bentley, even Will Arnett as a Dick Dasterly looking villain. Even Mastodon guitarist Brent Hinds shows up.
Look, Jonah Hex isn’t for everyone, but if you’re tired of the onslaught of superhero sequels and the formulaic nature of them all, I’m telling you, it’s hard to get more insane and more flat-out fun than the crazy bullshit levels of Jonah Hex. -Ross
Dirty Work (1998) 17% score on Rotten Tomatoes
The early days of Comedy Central are formative to my sense of humor. Back when I was in middle school, the channel debuted on basic cable, and I benefited from its dearth of content. There were few original shows, so I’d watch Monty Python movies, PCU countless times, and many reruns of Saturday Night Live. Since many of these reruns had Norm Macdonald as host of Weekend Update, I grew to love his deadpan delivery, which is necessary to appreciate Dirty Work, the only film he stars in.
Norm plays Mitch, an idiot who starts a revenge for hire business. It’s a deeply silly movie, full of quotable one-liners and cameo appearances, and it works precisely because Norm is no one’s idea of a leading man. He stands outside the movie, commenting on it, which gives the movie more staying power than other SNL vehicles from the same period. Now let’s get back to doing something latently homoerotic. -Alan
Dracula 2000 (2000) 17% score on Rotten Tomatoes
Initially I planned on convincing the world, not that it would need much convincing, that The Garbage Pail Kids Movie was cinematic brilliance lost to the annals of time. The entire film can be viewed on YouTube. That’s usually indicative of some quality work. I decided to take a different route with an old favorite of mine, vampires, and an old classic: Dracula. Even Dracula needs a good facelift, however, and that came in the form of Dracula 2000. That’s right! A Dracula for the new millennium. Why not? Time marches on and immortality is, well, forever. This was the FIRST time I came in movie contact with Gerard Butler who grabbed the title role. He was sexy in only the way an undead man trying to drain you of your life’s blood can be. Christopher Plummer was his arch nemesis Van Helsing and the former Mr. Angelina Jolie/hacker Johnny Lee Miller was his bumbling assistant. In this revamped (ah, come on) version Van Helsing has kept Dracula barely alive and imprisoned in a coffin while he steals his blood via leeches. Van Helsing is staying alive only to discover the means to finally kill Dracula. But what’s this? At some point Van Helsing had a child who is filled to the brim with alla that Dracula blood. When Dracula is awakened the ONLY thing he wants is that ass. You know how no longer alive men are.
The rest of the film is similar to the Stoker tale. He busts out of vamp jail and immediately makes 3 lady vampires to join his weird gang. Fun fact one of them is former pop star Vitamin C, or in this case Vitamin A positive. This movie will blow your mind in one key way, it provides the most original Dracula origin story I have ever come across in all the vampire lore I have ever read I live alone and own custom-made vampire fangs. Get this…Dracula is Judas. WHAT. As in dude who ratted out Jesus? Same one! That explains his aversion to silver and God’s need to punish him via immortality (at some point someone will explain to me how immortality/being gorgeous forever is a punishment…blood, shmood). If that doesn’t wet your appetite then a shit ton of shirtless Gerard Butler shots will. Bonus: it’s produced by Wes A Nightmare on Elm Street Craven so you know it will at least be a little bit good. -Jenn
Silent Hill (2006) 29% score on Rotten Tomatoes
I never got bitten by the video game bug, but whenever a friend was working his way through one of the Silent Hill franchise, I couldn’t help but watch: the games were the closest you could come to playing a horror movie. From spooky mists to hordes of killer monsters, that town had it all! So I was surprised when critics greeted the actual Silent Hill movie with such opprobrium. They said it was messy, unbelievable and tough to make heads or tails of. Yes, that was the point.
I, too, penned a review of the 2006 film — it was the last thing I wrote for my college paper before graduating — in which I praised its “broken-logic hell” for staying true to the malevolent menace of the source material. Silent Hill is where nothing makes sense and everything is trying to kill you, and the surprisingly effective movie starring Radha Mitchell and Sean Bean is far more sure-footed than 90 percent of horror releases. Welcome to Silent Hill. Population: Underrated. -Tristan