Bottom Of The Barrel

The best worst movies.

By Bruce Hamilton

When I was younger, I loved spending time with two older cousins. The three of us would usually spend hours in front of the TV, watching whatever was on during Saturday afternoons. If you’re not familiar with Saturday afternoon cable, it consists of reruns of shows no one cares about, and bad movies.  The latter is much more enjoyable.

The older cousin of the two claims he has been able to detect a bad movie ever since he was six years old. He never had the opportunity to enjoy a children’s movie that children enjoy and parents dread; he could always critique the components of the movie in a mature fashion. Thus, as I witnessed him laughing at goofy acting or horrible plot twists, it rubbed off on me. I became able to watch a bad movie and walk away chuckling, as opposed to ending up angry because of the wasted time that resulted from it. That’s probably a metaphor for something, but I don’t know what. Here are some real stinkers with an overall “enjoyibility” aspect:

Howard the Duck

I never thought this would sound good on paper: “A sarcastic humanoid duck is pulled from his homeworld to Earth where he must stop an alien invader.” Okay, I’m lying, it sounds sort of cool. Plus, George Lucas produced it and it stars the young mom from Back to the Future and Tim Robbins! This film has a lot of cool things going for it, but in the end, it’s fairly bad.  The plot is centered on a snappy, pseudo-misogynistic duck and his lover, Bea Thompson. The girl falls in love with him (not the other way around, oddly enough), Tim Robbins tries to get his genetic code to impress other scientists, and they battle another scientist who morphs into a demon. I heard from the aforementioned older cousin that Howard the Duck was created so George Lucas could show off his state-of-the-art special effects, and I believe it – the special effects are pretty cool. The movie fails to deliver a plot that makes any sense at all, but you cannot help but laugh at the wretched duck puns and the awesome 80s atmosphere that Howard the Duck has to offer.

Troll 2

This is a biggie. Anyone with a fetish for bad cinema has seen it and loved it. Released in 1990 (by somebody who spoke Italian as a first language), Troll 2 manages to everything wrong in the best possible way (Ed. note: they made a documentary called Best Worst Movie about this film).  The acting is horrible, the sets are shoddy, the dialogue is foolish, and the special effects are cheesy.  The context of the movie makes it that much better: The original Troll was made by different people, Troll 2 features no actual trolls, but goblins (they never say the word “troll” once), and the movie was released only on VHS.  I’d rather not explain the plot because it is a thousand times better if you don’t exactly know what you’re in for.


This one is between “so bad, yet fun to watch” and “downright painful”. Picture an ET rip-off, but ET has a British accent and vaguely resembles a bear.  I don’t really know where to begin with this one…our main character, Nukie, is separated from his twin brother, Miko, as they are flying through space. Miko lands in America and Nukie lands in a third-world country in Africa. The movie focuses on Nukie and his efforts to reunite with his brother, as well as interactions with the nearby African tribes. This movie takes itself a bit too seriously and has a considerable amount of filler.  I suspect at least 30 percent of this movie is stock footage, specifically of African animals wandering around and eating.  There really is a God, because this movie is divided into ten parts on YouTube.  If not for that, I am positive it would remain at the bottom of VHS bargain bins around the globe.

Super Mario Bros

If it weren’t for the inconsistent and quirky Mario references, this movie would make no sense. Scratch that- it still makes no damn sense with them. This gem features Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as Mario and Luigi, two Brooklyn plumbers who encounter another dimension populated by dinosaurs and other beings. This movie does a lot of things wrong, but I have to give the movie credit: 1) the plot is actually sort of memorable (it’s so absurd, you’re forced to remember it) and 2) it’s the freaking Super Mario Bros. movie. The game had such a limited plot that I don’t think any fan of the original video games would expect it to be that good.  Despite the thoughtless script and vomit-worthy puns, Super Mario Bros. is fun to watch and definitely worth seeing. Still not convinced? Dennis Hopper is King Koopa.


2 Comments on “Bottom Of The Barrel”

  1. Super Mario Brothers is one of my FAVORITE movies of all time. That being said, yes, it is in fact terrible. But I love it.

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