Everybody knows the kind of movies we’re talking about here. Sure, they aren’t Oscar winners, and they didn’t make a bucket load of cash at the box office. We’re not talking about critical darlings and commercial successes, but rather those movies you come across late at night on cable television that is so hilariously bad that you simply can’t turn away. They’re a guilty pleasure, the type of film you can sit around and watch with a few good friends while ruthlessly berating the making of said films for their awful, awful career choices. Maybe it’s got a big name actor before they were famous; maybe it’s got some cringe-worthy dialogue but some epic action pieces; maybe it’s ideal for fashioning a drinking game based on awful idiosyncrasies.
So without further ado, here are 10 movies that are so insanely terrible that they’re also kind of awesome.
10. White Chicks (2004)
Yes, it’s an awful movie. Yes, the Wayans Brothers attempt to subvert racial stereotypes backfired horribly, with the movie perhaps going so far as to reinforce existing stereotypes rather than undo them. And yes, the Wayans Brothers look terrifying in their white chicks makeup, waddling around in skinny jeans like a pair of horribly deformed Michael Jackson clones. With all of those acknowledgments in tow, it’s still possible to enjoy this film in the right state of mind (it’s a state of mind best discovered after one or two cold brewskis on a Saturday afternoon). The movie does have its endearing moments, most notably when the Brothers are interacting with their new female cohorts and learning the subtleties of the female psyche. Not to mention, the few scenes with Terry Crews are legitimately hilarious, as the big, buff bad guy reveals a tender side (set to the piano melody of Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles”).
9. Anaconda (1997)
Pop quiz: you’ve got a cast featuring Jon Voight, Owen Wilson, pre-Gigli Jennifer Lopez, and post-N.W.A. Ice Cube. You’ve got a sizable budget and you need an idea to bring it all together. What do you go with? Aliens? A tender drama, perhaps? Slapstick comedy? The answer, of course, is none of the above. You create a laughably awful film about the world’s greatest snake hunter who uses the remainder of the cast as bait while hunting for the world’s largest anaconda, and you cackle maniacally knowing it will be the ultimate late-night movie fodder for generations to come. A spectacularly terrible film that will have you crying when you’re supposed to laugh and laugh when you’re supposed to cry, Anaconda squanders what is actually a promising cast and some lush rainforest scenery with wretched CGI and even worse monster props. A worthwhile watch when you want something that feels exotic but ultimately is just going to let you down.
8. The Change-Up (2011)
The most recent film on this list, The Change-Up is a little known comedy starring Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, and Olivia Wilde. It received fairly negative reviews, despite the fact that it’s AWESOME. And yes, that deserved all capital letters. It’s that hilarious. Featuring a plotline with the all too familiar “body swap,” wherein two characters spend some time in each other’s bodies while learning valuable lessons about how to appreciate their lives, the film sees its two male protagonists play delightfully off-character for most of the film; Bateman, often typecast as a straight-edge and responsible leading man, plays a total jerk, while Reynolds, best known for his dripping sarcasm and charming machismo, spends most of the film as a well-adjusted family man. It’s a trite formula that works surprisingly well, and the movie’s endless one-liners and insults make for a viewing experience far more hilarious than originally anticipated.
7. Mortal Kombat (1995)
Based on the still-famous video game series of the same name, 1995’s Mortal Kombat makes for a unique viewing experience; it’s phenomenally cheesy, the dialogue is wretched, the effects and action have aged awfully, but you cannot turn this movie off. Once you start, that’s it! Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (not to be confused with Oscar darling Paul Thomas Anderson, also a film director) of Resident Evil fame, Mortal Kombat follows Johnny Cage, Liu Kang and Sonya Blade (played by Lindon Ashby, Robin Shou and Bridgette Wilson, respectively) as they are tutored by the god of lightning, Raiden (Christopher Lambert) and prepare for the ultimate martial arts tournament. Still a hilarious watch (we would know, we watched it last week), Mortal Kombat features some great one-liners…”YOUR SOUL IS MINE!” and enough cheesy karate to warrant a late night watch any day of the week.
6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)
This one will resonate with a good deal of readers out there. The much anticipated follow up to 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991) brought back the titular heroes and their master, Splinter the rat, for one more showdown with the big bad in charge of the foot clan, Shredder. With the addition of two highly criticised mutants for the turtles to face off against, Tokka and Rahzar, the film strayed away from the dark material that characterized the first film, instead focusing on quick one-liners to grab laughs and lots of hand to hand combat (the ninja turtles fight without using their signature weapons for most of this film). While certainly not lauded by critics, who had little good to say about its tonal difference from the first film and its new additions, it did have moderate financial success and led to a third film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time, which was far too awful to make even this list.
5. Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)
Two words: Nicholas Cage. That alone should have you interested in this remake of the 1974 film of the same name. Even at his most composed, Cage is a wacky entertainer who is (very) often made the butt of the joke, and films like Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) don’t exactly help. Don’t get us wrong, it’s a perfectly serviceable film with decent car chases, Robert Duvall and even a little dose of Angelina Jolie, but with all that going for it, how did it end up so…middling? Like many of the films on this list, it features wooden dialogue and a somewhat convoluted plot, but it does have a really solid soundtrack and a strange sort of charm that has you rooting for the underdeveloped characters to succeed in stealing all 50 cars required of them. This is cheesy, mindless entertainment at its finest, even if it means putting up with all of Cage’s zaniness for the duration of the film.
4. Wild Wild West (1999)
There was a time in Kevin Kline’s career when he could do no wrong. That time was before Wild Wild West (1999), one of the most ridiculous films that have been released in the last 20 years. Also starring Will Smith, Salma Hayek and Kenneth Branaugh, all of whom share in the shame just attributed to Kline, Wild Wild West seems an obvious attempt by director Barry Sonnenfeld to capitalize on the success of his 1997 film Men in Black, which also featured Will Smith fighting bad guys with the help of an older partner (in that film it was Tommy Lee Jones, a role here played by Kevin Kline). And while Wild Wild West is no Men in Black, it does seem to feature some of the same buddy-cop hilarity and tongue-in-cheek dialogue of the latter, while Hayek’s presence on screen is almost always a welcome addition to any film.
3. Con Air (1997)
One of the more commercially successful films on this list, 1997’s Con Air starred Nicholas Cage as Cameron Poe, an incarcerated former army ranger who finds himself trapped on an airplane when violent criminals stage a riot and take control. A wonderfully terrible film that earned almost $225 million worldwide, Con Air has developed a somewhat cult status due to its laughably horrid dialogue (featuring an accent by Nicholas Cage that is just…ugh) and face-melting action sequences which are so incredibly over the top they make for great Saturday night movie fodder. It’s mindless but watchable, awful and awesome, and it’s the kind of movie lists like this were made for. It also features a spectacular cliché villain, Cyrus the Virus, played by John Malkovich.
2. Top Gun (1986)
The world owes the late Tony Scott a heartfelt thank you for giving us Top Gun (1986). The stuff of pop culture legend, this action (comedy?) sees Tom Cruise star as a fighter pilot named Maverick at the prestigious Top Gun Academy, where the “best of the best of the best” are put to the test to see who is the top fighter pilot around. Also featuring a young Val Kilmer, Kelly McGillis and Anthony Edwards as Goose, Maverick’s wingman, Top Gun has transcended its original label as an action film, with a surge in popularity in recent years as people watch it not to be taken seriously, but rather as a hilarious commentary on military recruiting and masculinity. It’s also responsible for some of the most quotable lines ever delivered on-screen (“I feel the need…the need for speed!”).
1. Road House (1989)
If Top Gun can be viewed as the ultimate send-up of the action movie genre, complete with underlying homoeroticism and insanely over the top action sequences, then we’re not quite sure what to say about Road House (1989). Featuring Patrick Swayze post-Dirty Dancing and pre-Point Break, this incredible film follows James Dalton (Swayze), a bouncer at the Double Deuce in Jasper, Missouri, as he attempts to protect the bar patrons from an evil businessman in the town. Featuring some of the most ridiculous fight sequences ever put to film, Road House is one of those films that simply needs to be seen to be believed. It’s everything you think of when you hear the words “’80s action movie”; it’s rolling in cheese, it’s got hilarious dialogue, and it’s well worth a watch any time you’re craving a little of that good old fashioned Swayze.