8. Legion (2010)
Legion casts Paul Bettany as a machine gun-wielding archangel who arrives at a truck stop in the Mojave desert to protect waitress Charlie (Adrianne Palicki), who’s about to give birth to the future saviour of mankind. The forces of evil are also present and manifest themselves as potty-mouthed old ladies who can spider walk across ceilings or zombies that can only be stopped by heavy artillery.
Sounds awesome, right? Like a real slam-bang supernatural thriller that just wants to give you a good time. It is, of course, but the critics had to warn everybody off, with Entertainment Weekly denouncing the movie as a “rough and humourless beast slouching its way towards utter ludicrousness.”
Which it probably also is, but it’s tough to dislike a movie where Bettany leads Tyrese Gibson and Dennis Quaid in a heavily armed assault against zombies dressed as ice cream vendors. If ever a movie should’ve been released with a warning about suspending your disbelief, it’s this one.
7. Ghost Rider (2007)
Why is everybody down on Ghost Rider? You cast Nic Cage as a superhero, you know exactly what you’re gonna get.
In order to stop a demon who looks like one of South Park’s emo kids from finding the contract of San Venganza (which will allow him to rule the Earth), Nic transforms into a flaming skeleton who in one of the best sequences saves Rebel Wilson from a mugging. He punishes the mugger by giving him the “Penance Stare”, sucking out the guy’s soul and leaving a black-eyed corpse behind. As an agent of Mephistopheles, the Ghost Rider doesn’t sit around debating vigilantism with his buddies in the MCU, he just gets on with ridding the world of evil.
There’s a lot of dumb fun here, including a scene where Nic transforms into the Rider in a prison cell and floors every convict dumb enough to take him on, but best of all is the chase sequence that follows. Pursued by a police helicopter, Nic grabs the landing skids with his flaming chains, forces his way on board and tells the pilot, “You’re £$%&ing me off!”
Then he drives away on his bike, exploding storefronts as he goes. Every movie should have a sequence like that.
6. Postal (2007)
Postal opens with two 9/11 hijackers, getting cold feet while discussing the number of virgins in the afterlife – is it exactly a hundred or less? If so, how many less? When a call to “Sammy” establishes the figure to be twenty, the pair decide to hightail it to the Bahamas, which is when passengers break in and attempt to wrest control, crashing them into the World Trade Centre. And that’s before the opening credits.
Gleefully revelling in its own outrageousness, Postal is the ultimate litmus test for those who prefer sledgehammer satire to subtlety and nuance. The opening sequence ranks among Boll’s best work, and while this is by far the funniest movie on the filmmaker’s resume, but beware because the film more than lives up to its tagline: “Some movies go too far. Others start.”
As well as a sequence where Verne Troyer (as “Himself”) is sacrificed to a thousand monkeys because of a Biblical prophecy, Boll appears (as “Himself”) to announce that his movies are funded by Nazi gold and it all ends with George Bush and Osama Bin Laden walking away hand in hand while nukes rain down. Even if you don’t find that a laughing matter, you have to admit that movies featuring an American-accented Bin Laden, who won’t drink at the Grind Zero coffee chain because he’s lactose intolerant, are pretty rare.
5. Piranha 3DD (2012)
“Double D swims free,” says the owner of Big Wet Water Park, where “water certified strippers” have replaced lifeguards. “This is a very expensive joke,” someone tells him, and that’s this sequel in a nutshell: it’s $20 million worth of toilet humour for people who thought Piranha 3D was too thoughtful.
That this is going to be a more playful affair becomes apparent with the arrival of David Hasselhoff (“the greatest lifeguard of all time”), who turns up and announces, “welcome to rock bottom.” He pokes fun at himself and at Baywatch, runs in slow motion and watches a child being decapitated by a flying piranha, which must be some kind of first.
Not only does Piranha 3DD have all the blood, phallocentric humour and naked starlets usually found in Troma movies, it also features the immortal line, “Josh cut off his penis because something came out of my vagina.” If that sounds like your cup of tea, then buy the Blu-Ray.
4. GI Joe: The Rise Of Cobra (2009)
Even for a movie produced in association with Hasbro (and released in the same summer as Transformers 2) G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra is a no-brainer of epic proportions. In a plot that fails to make sense at every turn, cackling villain Christopher Eccleston (with a dubious Scottish accent) steals four nuclear warheads and ends up destroying the Eiffel Tower. Oh and there’s a plot to replace the US President with a double, too.
The movie doesn’t make a lick of sense, but boy does it move. Hurtling from one set piece to the next, it throws in ninjas, jet packs, a military base under a polar ice cap and Sienna Miller in a bad wig and Sexy Librarian glasses. Best of all are the “accelerator suits” that allow Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans to leap over cars and jump through walls while pursuing bad guys.
Like all the best bad movies that are secretly awesome, it’s so sincere that you’re not sure if it knows how ridiculous it is. Probably not: there are characters named Dr Mindbender, Baron de Cobray and Heavy Duty, after all.
3. House Of The Dead (2003)
When a director is as widely reviled as Uwe Boll, you expect his filmography to be made up of howlingly hilarious clunkers that justify his reputation as “the German Ed Wood”, and House Of The Dead is the best bad movie on his resume.
According to Dr Stephen Hawking, a film’s tackiness can be measured by how long it takes the women to go skinny-dipping, something Boll accomplishes in the first ten minutes, which rates 8/10 (“gloriously tacky”) on the Hawking-o-meter. Then he has to ruin everything by introducing a group of pinheads who not only think nothing of attending a rave on Isla Del Morte (“that’s Death Island in case you don’t speak Mexican”), but also hire Clint Howard’s hook-handed sailor and Jurgen Prochnow’s Captain (named Kirk) to take them there.
Fortunately, Howard’s fears turn out to be well-founded and our apathetic airheads are eventually dispatched one by one in a series of cheesy ‘bullet time’ sequences but by then you’ll have given up on the story and the characters and started enjoying it for the stupid situations and daffy dialogue.
2. Catwoman (2004)
Winner of four Razzies (including Worst Picture) and one of Empire Magazine’s Fifty Worst Movies Ever, Catwoman is the superhero movie everyone loves to hate, but who doesn’t enjoy a good train wreck?
Watching newly minted Oscar winner Halle Berry being resuscitated by a hilariously unconvincing CG cat is one thing, but the movie shifts into high camp when it turns out that the animal is some kind of mystical Egyptian feline that’s imbued Halle with super strength and cat-like reflexes.
In order to save America from a deadly skin care product (long story), Halle receives a superhero mask the cat’s owner just happens to own, designs a skimpy costume that brings to mind Blade’s retort from Blade: Trinity (“Is that supposed to be tactical?”) and engages in some of the campiest shenanigans since Adam West hung up his bat cape.
It’s not every movie, for instance, where you have to show your character’s newfound feline side by hissing at dogs, consuming tuna straight from the tin or, erm, defeating the guys at basketball. Not sure why the filmmakers chose basketball to show off her powers, but apparently 8 out of 10 Catwomen prefer it.
1. The Wicker Man (2006)
In order to make this remake ‘work’ for a multiplex audience, all the nudity and weirdness have been excised along with the original setting, which leaves only the cop hero, and thank God the filmmakers chose Nicolas Cage.
Whether dropping the F-bomb in front of small children, stealing a teacher’s bicycle at gunpoint or knocking out a woman while dressed as a bear (don’t ask), Nic’s the whole show here and his over-the-top-and-through-the-woods shenanigans elevate an otherwise uninteresting failure to Bad Movie Heaven. In order to convey his character’s frustration, Nic shouts his lines, says everything three times and, when the going gets weird, eventually resorts to Kung-Fu.
According to director Neil Labutte’s commentary, the star demanded daily rewrites so that his character would be more believable, martial arts apparently being common among motorcycle cops.
If the point of a remake is to refashion a story for a new age – and the original did take place in different era – than for all its lack of atmosphere and suspense, Labutte’s film is an attempt to do just that.
Then again, Cage travels to Summerisle not as a policeman but as a caricatured haunted soul seeking redemption, finds not Pagans but a cult of tyrannical women (why?) and after 75 minutes of weird dreams, cheap scares and near-fatal accidents, finally concludes that “Something bad is about to happen.” So it’s just not a very good attempt, that’s all.