Author Topic: Movies That Should Have Been Bad But Were Awesome  (Read 2120 times)

Mandle

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A partner thread to my "Good Movies You Hate" thread.

This one is where everyone gets to talk about movies that should have been terrible, for whatever reason(s), but turned out to be great, for whatever reason(s).

Once again, this is not a thread to post stuff like "Are you KIDDING me?! That movie SUCKED!!!" in response to someone else's post.

It's just a place to bring up those very rare instances when a movie should have failed but somehow managed to pull it off, and then some (in your opinion)!

Please try to mention why the movie should have bombed and also what you feel are the contributing factors for its unexpected awesomeness, if possible.

Let's try to steer away from the "So bad it's good" kind of movies in this thread as those are a different genre all to themselves.

Also the "bad on purpose" kind of awesome movies like "Killer Tomatoes" etc. don't really belong in this thread.

I will start with:

Tremors

A movie about two good-ole-boys whose town is suddenly under attack by giant burrowing creatures from deep underground for no good reason.

The premise of this movie sounds like the absolute worst schlock from a terrible '50s movie made to just feed drive-ins their monster-movie-of-the-week and then be quickly forgotten.

But Tremors was a huge hit when it came out and has stood the test of time, becoming a movie revered by many, and is often mentioned in "Best Movies Of The '80s" compilations.

I remember renting this movie from the local video store on VHS along with a bunch of crap that we quickly forgot as soon as we watched it, but then my flat-mates and I watched Tremors, and it was a life-changing experience. Here was a B-Movie flick that was low budget, had a ridiculous plot, and was set almost completely in one or two locations, but was as captivating a watch as a multi-million-dollar movie like Die Hard.

This movie spawned a slew of sequels (none of which I have seen) and also an avalanche of imitators.

But what made it work so damn well?

For me, it's about a three-way-tie:

(1) The ridiculous premise was treated with complete respect by the film-makers. The audience can quickly understand the rules that the characters must follow to survive against the creatures and these rules are never compromised in any bullshit ways for the sake of the plot needing them to be broken for the movie to continue. The audience knows that when the little girl is bouncing around on the pogo-stick that the creatures will be coming. We understand how clever the characters are when they pole-vault from rock to rock.

(2) The chemistry between the two main characters. We not only believe that they are best friends, but we can feel a depth to their relationship going back years before the story started. This is, of course, because of the great writing and the fact that Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward are great actors and perfectly cast. And yes, Michael Gross comes back in the third act to carry the movie with a Rambo-esque performance nobody expected from the dad from Family Ties, granted.

(3) The inventive and varied ways in which the monsters, and other plot points, are used, especially on the low budget. When they lead the "Graboid", as I believe they became known as, into the buried concrete wall it's a moment of great imagination from the writers on how to reveal to the audience what the creatures look like and also what their instincts and weaknesses are. When they uncover the weird rectangular object in the dirt and then clear away more dirt and realize it's a car's headlight, it's an easy, low-budget shot but carries a great weight as the audience "builds" the rest of the car buried under the ground in their minds without them having to actually bury a whole car. And the panning shot of Michael Gross opening fire on the Graboid breaking through his bunker wall with the seamless quick-pan from live on-camera actor to miniature set with an animatronic monster breaking through the wall still looks tons better than most CGI effects I've seen. There are entire film class lectures possible based on just that one shot.

These are the main reasons I would boil down to why the movie worked so well. Lightning in a bottle, as the phrase goes (which is why I've never watched the sequels).

But I also want to talk about the fact that nobody knew about this movie when it came out.

The studio just pushed a little bit of money their way in the hopes of getting a monster movie that would return a reasonable profit and didn't give two shits about it after that.

They made little attempt to advertise it. I never saw a trailer for it even though I was a regular movie-goer and major VHS renter.

Even the movie poster was churned out just before the film was released and just look at it:



The studio just told the artist "Ah, whatever. Just have a monster coming up from under the ground. It's just a crappy movie anyway." and the artist just chose a random image of a "scary" monster and pasted it in. It's not even the monsters that appear in the movie FFS!!! And look at how tiny the actors are! They plastered "Kevin Bacon" across the top in the hope that his popularity would be enough. Poor Burt Ward.

I actually love it that such a great and memorable film had such a flop-inducing release and such incredibly bad poster art.

I love everything about this movie.

Anyway... anyone else got one?
« Last Edit: 20 Jul 2020, 06:36 by Mandle »

Darth Mandarb

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Re: Movies That Should Have Been Bad But Were Awesome
« Reply #1 on: 19 Jul 2020, 15:45 »
Without a doubt I would have picked Tremors for this topic.

I have a long history with this movie! I had just turned 14 and we went to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (march of 1990) on its opening weekend but it was sold out. So we took a chance on a movie we'd barely heard of that was approaching its end-time on the big screen (had been out for a few months I think) and wandered into the smallest screen at the cinema and sat down ready to be disappointed that it wasn't mutant turtles. I was mesmerized by Tremors from the start to the end. I used to have this gauge for how much I enjoyed a movie (in a theater setting) where if I ever looked at my watch or noticed my butt was sore from sitting so long it meant the movie wasn't great. When the ending credits rolled on Tremors I had no idea nearly 2 hours had passed. I wanted more! The movie left theaters almost immediately after that and it was around 6 months (an eternity to a teenager) before I could get it on VHS (I still have my old original copy in my collection, it has long since been unplayable). I have owned the movie on VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, HD-DVD, Bluray and digitally (and now it's on Netflix). It's my go-to movie when I need a pick-me-up! About six years ago when my son was born he had a small (we didn't know it was small) infection that was detected and necessitated 15 days in the NICU for treatment. It was horrible! My wife and I spent our days going back and forth from the hospital for every visiting hours period and in between we tried to fill the time and take our minds off our little man we couldn't bring home yet... one of those outlets was Tremors. We watched that movie over and over (seriously I'd wager the only movie I've seen more is Star Wars). So it will always have a very special place in my life.

Another thing I'd mention about it was the editing/continuity. I am an absolute stickler for tight editing and consistency and will pick a movie apart finding all the mistakes (not being critical or insulting, it's just something I enjoy doing). I found only two, very minor, mistakes. Two. That's it. The attention to detail by the cast/crew is mind-blowing when/if you pay attention to it. The scene that stands out the most to me is the first time we see Burt (Michael Gross) and Heather (Reba McEntire) and they're loading up their supplies from Walter's shop. Pay attention to the orientations of the supplies from cut to cut. It's always spot on identical how they're placed on the counter and/or in the box. Whoever was in charge of continuity on that set should have won an Oscar (I've always felt that should be a separate award at the Oscars).

If you haven't seen this movie you should definitely check it out. It's the definition of movie making to me. No politics or agenda nonsense that has ruined Hollywood in modern years. Just an enjoyable good time of a movie that you can tell EVERYbody involved in making really loved working on.

Mandle

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Re: Movies That Should Have Been Bad But Were Awesome
« Reply #2 on: 19 Jul 2020, 16:08 »
Darth, you had me at "Without a doubt..." an then I read the rest and had a bit of a cry. I'm gonna go rent this movie tomorrow at the good old local video store and force my wife to watch it. She hates monster stuff. But I have a feeling she is gonna get into this movie and surprise herself.

So, I stole someone else's pick.

Anyone got another?

KyriakosCH

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Re: Movies That Should Have Been Bad But Were Awesome
« Reply #3 on: 19 Jul 2020, 16:12 »
I never saw Tremors, apart from some scenes (isn't this the one where a monster morphs into a pornstar? :D )

And I dislike Kevin Bacon.
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Mandle

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Re: Movies That Should Have Been Bad But Were Awesome
« Reply #4 on: 19 Jul 2020, 16:21 »
(isn't this the one where a monster morphs into a pornstar? :D )

No.

Anyway, anyone else got one?
« Last Edit: 19 Jul 2020, 16:26 by Mandle »

KyriakosCH

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Re: Movies That Should Have Been Bad But Were Awesome
« Reply #5 on: 19 Jul 2020, 16:25 »
(isn't this the one where a monster morphs into a pornstar? :D )

No.

Lol. Must have been some other 80s monster movie...
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Snarky

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Re: Movies That Should Have Been Bad But Were Awesome
« Reply #6 on: 19 Jul 2020, 16:33 »
Along very much the same lines, The Core!

One of those movies that is just goofy fun, with nobody taking it particularly seriously.

The plot is so daft that it beggars belief, the characters are two-dimensional, the action is nothing particularly impressive, and the whole thing is both predictable and forgettable. And yet…

To me it feels almost like a live-action episode of DuckTales or something. (Perhaps in part because Don Rosa has a Scrooge McDuck story that is pretty similar.)
« Last Edit: 19 Jul 2020, 16:35 by Snarky »

Mandle

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Re: Movies That Should Have Been Bad But Were Awesome
« Reply #7 on: 19 Jul 2020, 16:41 »
Along very much the same lines, The Core!

OMG... such a great example and one I would certainly have picked at some point!

I freaking LOVE that movie. If I start watching it when I catch it on cable I can't stop until it's over.

It should have failed hard because it just seems like another one of those Robert Emerick clones about the end of the world but it has so much charm and whimsy that it becomes something special.

Best line: "What the fuck am I doing?"

Darth Mandarb

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Re: Movies That Should Have Been Bad But Were Awesome
« Reply #8 on: 19 Jul 2020, 16:49 »
Good to know we have another member in the Tremors fan-club :D

Oh boy... The Core. Such an enjoyable mess of a film! Good pick!

A movie I like to recommend to people is Dangerous Beauty (1998). I will, in full disclosure, admit that I only rented it because somebody told me it showed Catherine McCormack, of whom I'd had a big thing for since Braveheart a few years earlier, naked (which it does). The idea of the movie didn't appeal to me at all originally. I was pleasantly surprised at how genuinely good the movie is. I could almost (almost) wish the nudity wasn't in the movie because fickle American audiences tend to be squeamish about boobies and think it cheapens the movie (which, admittedly, can sometimes be the case (Wild Things, Showgirls)) but this movie shines. I can't speak for its historical accuracy as I'm not an expert on 16th century Italy but it is surprisingly enjoyable and the set pieces are breathtaking. It's one of those movies I find interesting that it wasn't more well received (perhaps the nudity made people think less of it?).

Another movie that I loved despite thinking I'd rather dislike was Tristan + Isolde (2007). The setting (England after the Romans left) has always been a fascinating one to me. The production really sunk their teeth into it. Pre-superman Henry Cavil was great. Rufus Sewell (who was also in Dangerous Beauty) owns it. And James Franco and Sophia Miles Romeo and Juliet style chemistry is amazing. It's not a "feel good" movie by any stretch and, spoiler alert, if you're looking for a happy ending to the tale look elsewhere, but still, it's a really good movie. Even though it's anachronistically inaccurate the inclusion of one of my favorite poems of all time, John Donne's "The Good Morrow", works perfectly for the story. I actually had the theme "Love So Alike" play at my wedding rather than the traditional wedding music.

Jack

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Re: Movies That Should Have Been Bad But Were Awesome
« Reply #9 on: 19 Jul 2020, 17:08 »
Demolition Man.

On the surface just a stupid action film, but really it's brilliant.

Topical too:


Re: Movies That Should Have Been Bad But Were Awesome
« Reply #10 on: 19 Jul 2020, 20:39 »
Ahhh...Tremors...I and my friends rented this and loads of follow-ups on VHS back in the day. The Norwegian title translates to "Worm summer", which is incomprehensible unless you know that Jaws was translated into something that means "Shark summer". We must have liked it, or we wouldn't have rented all the other movies in the franchise. The monster bears more than a passing resemblance to the Sandworms of Dune.

And I'll second Demolition Man, too. It shows how much humour has got to say. While many of Stallone's dead serious thrillers are unintentionally funny, the tongue-in-cheek humour of Demolition Man still works.

Mandle

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Re: Movies That Should Have Been Bad But Were Awesome
« Reply #11 on: 20 Jul 2020, 00:33 »
Demolition Man.

Awesome choice!

I'm still waiting for the prequel: "Demolition Man: The Franchise Wars"  :-D

eri0o

Re: Movies That Should Have Been Bad But Were Awesome
« Reply #12 on: 20 Jul 2020, 00:43 »
Erh, not sure if it aligns with the expectation from this thread, but I have been recently pleasant surprised by a particular one.

Me and my SO have been a bit out of ideas for movies, so from a random conversation we settled on watching Gaslight, a movie from 1944. We expected it to be slow, boring, ... Actually, the movie is well paced, it's pretty interesting and the story is very well constructed. If someone is out of ideas for movies and want to try something old, this is a good one!

KyriakosCH

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Re: Movies That Should Have Been Bad But Were Awesome
« Reply #13 on: 20 Jul 2020, 01:55 »
People claimed that Curtains, the 80s horror film, was very bad, but imo it was decent (although not great).

It has two very good actresses and a memorable mask.
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Re: Movies That Should Have Been Bad But Were Awesome
« Reply #14 on: 20 Jul 2020, 03:23 »
It's almost cliche to post this, but The Room really was awesome. My wife and I were in tears because it was so bad/good. Clips from the movie in the below spoiler if anyone wants a walk down memory lane  (laugh)

Spoiler: ShowHide

Re: Movies That Should Have Been Bad But Were Awesome
« Reply #15 on: 20 Jul 2020, 03:36 »
The Overnight was released in 2015 to good/meh reception, but it's so far the best movie I've seen in 2020. If you haven't seen it, don't read anything about it and give it a try. It's unpredictable in ways, which is part of its charm (at least it was for me ~ every five minutes I was like "wait, what?!" (laugh)) IMDB as per usual got it wrong and scored it 6.1.


KyriakosCH

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Re: Movies That Should Have Been Bad But Were Awesome
« Reply #16 on: 20 Jul 2020, 03:57 »
I wouldn't call it awesome. It is trashy. But maybe it will interest you if you like Tremors  8-0

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Re: Movies That Should Have Been Bad But Were Awesome
« Reply #17 on: 20 Jul 2020, 04:08 »
It's almost cliche to post this, but The Room really was awesome. My wife and I were in tears because it was so bad/good. Clips from the movie in the below spoiler if anyone wants a walk down memory lane  (laugh)

Spoiler: ShowHide

I’ve yet to see this and I fear I missed the zeitgeist to fully appreciate the so-bad-it’s-goodness of it. Part of the appeal seemed to be groups of friends endlessly quoting it to each other. If I suddenly watch it and start quoting it to my friends who have seen it, it wouldn’t be the same.


As for bad films I love? I can’t think of an example that I think really matches the title. But the closest thing that comes to mind is Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste. My friend and I watched this over and over again as kids and it remains one of my favourite films of all time. In the hands of anyone else this film would have been utter toilet, but it’s just so bloody fun.

But the reason I don’t think this film falls quite into the category in the title is that pretty much everyone loves this film. It’s not that I like it despite it being bad. It’s actually a genuinely good movie. The low budget and questionable acting are features, rather than bugs, of this film.

Mandle

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Re: Movies That Should Have Been Bad But Were Awesome
« Reply #18 on: 20 Jul 2020, 04:24 »
Cannibalistic Human Underground Dwellers is awesome! I saw that decades ago and still remember having a great time. Will have to rewatch.

I've got a triple Jack Black hand here:

Be Kind, Rewind

Starts out as a stupid comedy with a ridiculous premise and turns into one of the greatest and most heartfelt tributes to modern movies I think I've ever seen.
I don't want to spoil the story for anyone who hasn't seen it but, tone-wise, think Cinema Paradiso but as a tribute to the '80s and '90s of cinema history. Wonderful movie!

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

I honestly only watched this to point and laugh at what an absolute trainwreck it had to be. It came out right in the middle of the fad of terrible reboot attempts at beloved movies, either as soulless cash-ins or desperate gambits for the studio to keep the rights to the property.
There was no way on Earth this movie should have worked: An attempt to reboot a beloved smash movie from many people's childhoods AND which starred Robin Williams, the kind of person who only comes along exactly ONCE in human history, AND Robin Williams was already gone.
But, not only did it work... It was freaking awesome! It was the most fun I'd had watching a movie for at least the previous 5 years.
The sequel was pretty damn good too, especially with the surprise ending setting the franchise up for a definite third movie just when it looked like that would be impossible given the way the story goes. No spoilers, but I'm certainly eagerly awaiting part 3.

Tenacious D

This movie suddenly appeared one day. And it appeared just when Jack Black was in that huge slump in his career where everything he touched seemed to turn to shit. He had the Mexican wrestler movie, and the incredibly tasteless and unfunny one where only he didn't know his girlfriend was overweight, and a few other shitty movies that were just so awful I think my mind wiped them from my memory.
And this had all the trappings of being another one of those: a one-concept-one-joke movie, or a terrible rip-off/reboot of Spinal Tap. That's what I imagined it was going to be, at least, and then... and THEN... AND THEN... the sheer gloriousness of this movie happened and I couldn't fucking believe how good and how right and how wonderful it was.
I thought "Welcome back, Jack. All is forgiven!"
« Last Edit: 20 Jul 2020, 04:41 by Mandle »

Ponch

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Re: Movies That Should Have Been Bad But Were Awesome
« Reply #19 on: 20 Jul 2020, 04:56 »
Outland
Basically "High Noon" in space, it's a mostly forgotten Sean Connery movie with a great design, good performances (except for one kid actor), and a grimy, claustrophobic world that still feels like a very plausible future to me, all these years later. It really shouldn't work as well as it does, and it's one of the best examples of the "used future" look alongside Blade Runner, if you ask me.

Also, Repo Man. I can't explain why that movies hits all the right chords for me.

Lastly Tremors is awesome. Tremors 2 is also very, very fun. (Avoid CHUD 2 at all costs, however)
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