5. Michael Shannon in Elvis and Nixon
Michael Shannon is probably one of the greatest actors working now, so it’s painful to write his name on this list. However, no matter how great he is, it doesn’t mean that every role perfectly suits him. And his turn as Elvis, though incredibly entertaining, seems so out of place, so unreal, that it has to be a joke, like a big middle finger at every Elvis impersonator.
Shannon does his best, however, using every Elvis mannerism known to man to sell his performance, but anyone who has ever seen footage of the King of Rock and Roll knows that this isn’t Elvis.
Though, in truth, you couldn’t call his performance necessarily bad, because even though this isn’t Elvis, he does portray a fascinatingly narcissistic character, and this Elvis has probably a lot more depth than most of his movies (besides the great “Bubba Ho-Tep”).
Most of the comedy, however, comes from the hilarious choice of Shannon as Elvis, as well as from picturing all the Elvis impersonators getting a heart attack watching his performance.
4. Jon Voight in Anaconda
Classic Line: “Never look in the eyes, of those you kill. They will haunt you forever. I know.”
Jon Voight is an incredible actor, there’s no doubt about that. But, like most of Hollywood’s victims, he couldn’t reach the stars without losing his sanity. This is a natural process; it’s in the contract, sign here to sell your soul, sign here to lose your sanity.
This does not mean this isn’t entertaining for the general public; we love when a Hollywood star loses his freaking mind. In fact, we encourage it. It’s the least they could do. Please continue, Mr. Voight, tell us what’s really going on in the world?
This doesn’t mean he isn’t incredibly talented, because he is. He won an Oscar for playing a Vietnam vet in “Coming Home” and was nominated for several other awards, but none of them are as impressively insane as his turn as villainess hunter Serone in “Anaconda”.
Like most of the other roles on this list, it’s the most entertaining thing in the whole damn movie. He goes all out in this film; bulging eyes, an accent that makes no goddamn sense, and he even gets the best death scene of them all; after being swallowed up by the Anaconda, the snake pukes him out just so Voight could wink to the audience…. it’s incredible.
Siskel and Ebert rightfully felt that he should have won an Oscar for this role. Ebert even said that the love story between Voight and the snake brought tears to his eyes.
3. Cameron Mitchell in Deadly Prey
Classic Line: “Today the nobodies who made you rich are gonna win. Die you sonuvabitch!”
Red Letter Media and “Mystery Science Theater 3000” has given a lot of love to Cameron Mitchell, who could now be considered a B-movie icon. While his early career was filled with respectable supporting turns, his later career became B-movie gold, with his appearance redeeming the many torrid movies he was paid to appear in.
His greatest turn has to be in “Deadly Prey”, the loveable “Rambo” knock-off. Credited as “Jaimy’s father”, he steals the film as the father who wants to save his daughter from ‘corporate bigshots’ and kills his way to save her. If Mitchell was still alive, we would have no need for the likes of the prissy Liam Neeson!
His monologue to one of the main villains is a work of magic. With squinty eyes, he gives the speech that was written for all us losers, all the little guys who never caught a break. Only the great Cameron Mitchell could have done justice to its Mamet-esque writing.
2. Tommy Wiseau in The Room
Classic Line: “Anyway, how’s your sex life?”
Tommy Wiseau is probably the most famous of the great bad-good actors on this list. His masterpiece “The Room” has become a cult classic, and many of its lines are fondly quoted by his fans. Wiseau, who is both the star, writer, producer, and director of this cinematic classic, has cheekily changed the marketing for this movie.
If you read the hilarious tell-tale book “The Disaster Artist” from co-star Greg Sestero, you know that this movie is a giant unaware ego trip that would make Donald Trump blush; but if you ask Wiseau now, he says that the film was ‘intentionally comedy.’’
The movie could never have been this well if it was intentionally bad, just like all the other great ‘bad movies’. It’s in its earnest nature, the passion that reeks all over it, combined with Wiseau’s inability to work the language of cinema. This is why filmmakers like Michael Bay make us want to kill ourselves while the Tommy Wiseaus of the world give us hope.
Much has been written about the film, and the film has garnered so much love from Hollywood itself that James Franco is adapting “The Disaster Artist” with Franco playing the titular Wiseau. Other co-stars include Seth Rogen (wow, big surprise), Sharon Stone, Dave Franco (not related at all), Zac Efron, and the knock-about Bryan Cranston. While it won’t garner as great a following as the original “The Room”, we hope Franco can do justice to the mind of Tommy Wiseau.
1. Divine in Pink Flamingos
Classic Line: “Kill everyone now! Condone first degree murder! Advocate cannibalism! Eat shit! Filth is my politics! Filth is my life!”
The icon of bad-taste cinema, the filthiest person ever to have graced our planet is the one and only Divine. In a way, her part on this list might not even be fair. Her acting is was all tongue-in-cheek, never meant to be taken too seriously. It was all in good fun. Nevertheless, her part in cinema history, as well as her contributions to the gay and transsexual community, should not be forgotten or underestimated. You don’t have to be Meryl Streep to be a cinema icon.
The most infamous role of hers is in “Pink Flamingos” as Babs Johnson, the head of a crime family and who is hailed as “the filthiest person alive.” She is forced to defend her title when the Marbles, a jealous couple, aim to destroy her career.
Thus a glorious battle of debasement commences, and needless to say, Divine ends up being victorious. I won’t spoil exactly what she and the rest of her co-stars had to do in order to win, but let’s just say it involves dog shit, an unfortunate chicken, and a singing asshole.
It’s not for everyone’s taste, but if you are sick of watching all those artsy-fartsy fares, all these films with all these ‘serious messages’, take a break and watch “Pink Flamingos”. I can promise you, it’s much better date movie than “La La Land”!
Author Bio: Chris van Dijk is a writer and a self-proclaimed cinematic-connoisseur who started his unhealthy obsession with film at a very young age. He’s famous for being an incredible slob, taking himself way too seriously and getting along brilliantly with anyone who agrees with him.