Considering how intensely the amount of entertainment in the world outweighs the amount of time any one person has to enjoy it, nobody wants their time wasted by a bad movie. So when a movie's hype turns out to be undeserved, the results are usually quite anger-inducing.
But every now and then, an amazing exception to this rule comes along that has to be seen to be believed. These little gems can turn out so ineptly made that audiences will find them campy, funny, and endearing rather than cringy. And while everybody has different tastes, these enjoyably bad movies have a reputation for hitting that sweet spot.
The Room (2003)
It's not often that a movie manages to be so fascinatingly bad that it almost seems like a work of absurdist genius, but The Room is one of those rare examples. And its appeal largely comes down to the bizarre creative vision of writer/director/star Tommy Wiseau, who seemingly came out of nowhere in 2003.
Between the sometimes incomprehensible script, Wiseau's unpredictable acting choices, and a character whose actor was replaced mid-movie without explanation, it's hardly surprising that The Room would develop a cult status. And its troubled production was fascinating enough to inspire The Disaster Artist.
Much like the original books, the Twilight movie series is incredibly polarizing. But while those who weren't proud Twilight fans bitterly hated the films at the time, some of the hate has since taken a less serious eye to the franchise.
The sparkling vampires, the questionable relationship dynamics, the awkward acting, and the sometimes cringe-inducing dialogue that once inspired torches and pitchforks can now seem endearingly goofy in retrospect.
On paper, Showgirls is a gritty movie that looks into the titillating world of Las Vegas stage shows and tackles some genuinely serious subject matter.
However, the film's clunky treatment of that subject matter, its baffling performances, and its choreography that borders on self-parody make it hard to watch and impossible to look away from.
Dungeons & Dragons (2000)
This honestly standard adventure film rose to infamy in 2000 for its annoying comic relief character and its audacity to tread on source material that has only become more beloved as time passes. And as The Guardian reported, Dungeons & Dragons reputation isn't helped by co-star Jeremy Irons' admission that he took the role to recuperate the cost of a castle he bought.
However, his scenery-chewing performance makes the movie a delight, especially with a group of friends who know what they're getting into.
Troll 2 (1990)
Sometimes called the "best worst movie," Troll 2 earned its infamous reputation by not only failing to feature any trolls (these are goblins) and failing to have anything to do with the 1986 original but also failing to make any sense in most of its scenes.
The results are clearly inept but captivating to watch because if Troll 2 is good at one thing, it's keeping the audience guessing as to what kind of bizarrely written, poorly-acted absurdity will happen next.
The Wicker Man (2006)
Although the original The Wicker Man from 1973 remains a respected horror classic, Neil LaBute's 2006 remake was a confused mess that turned the story's climax from suspenseful to ridiculous.
But it's also a showcase of Nicolas Cage's uncanny ability to elevate some rough material with his unpredictable and often over-the-top acting style. This is why the clip of him screaming "not the bees" went viral, even though that part is sadly not in the final film.
The Happening (2008)
Although M. Night Shyamalan's career as a filmmaker was already on a downward trend before he made The Happening, this disaster movie put his worst traits on full display in one awkward mess.
Mark Wahlberg's bizarre performance manages to come across as unintentionally sarcastic, and the nonsensical interactions he has with other characters and the unclear threat he faces don't help matters. As a result, every scene that's supposed to be dramatic and tense just turns out hilarious.
Roland Emmerich has often played fast and loose with real science to make his disaster movies, but Moonfall is the most egregious example to date. The premise is already operating on ridiculous ground, but the execution is such that Emmerich and his cohorts seemingly refuse to make sense as the movie progresses despite the implication that its events should be taken seriously.
And if that wasn't already a recipe for a rare breed of delicious fiasco, it's honestly amazing how many significant character deaths are treated as complete afterthoughts by the people who are supposed to be their friends.
Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)
Considered the father of enjoyably bad cinema, Plan 9 From Outer Space was the signature film of Ed Wood, an auteur of boundless enthusiasm that refused to be constrained by his lack of filmmaking ability.
And appropriately for that description, the movie contains some of the cheesiest special effects the movie world has ever seen, and that cheesiness permeates every aspect of the project. However, so does the heart Wood showed in making it, which makes Plan 9 From Outer Space an endearing watch over half a century later.
Battlefield Earth (2000)
John Travolta considered Battlefield Earth a serious passion project, but that sentiment was not shared by most people who saw it. Instead, the movie was a bloated farce with laughable character designs, incredibly hammy acting by Travolta, and an ending that inspires logical questions as to why any of the film's events even happened.
When even the camera angles are distracting and bewildering, it's clear that the world was treated to a miracle of bad filmmaking at the turn of the millennium.
Cool as Ice (1991)
Given that Vanilla Ice's career was already in a severe downward spiral by 1991, Cool as Ice managed to be dated as soon as it came out. But to the delight of bad movie fans everywhere, it would only become more quaintly passé as time went on.
It was already asking a lot to expect audiences to buy the rapper as a charismatic and cool leading man. But that became impossible when his witless lines, embarrassing fashion choices, and hysterically goofy dancing propelled this otherwise forgettable movie into unintentional hilarity.
Judge Dredd (1995)
A relic from a time when they hadn't quite perfected comic book adaptations yet, Judge Dredd took on some gritty source material that would be adapted much better in 2012's Dredd.
But rather than match the tone of the comic books, the 1995 Sylvester Stallone vehicle managed to make this grim setting as goofy as possible, a prognosis not helped in the least by Stallone repeatedly shouting, "I am the law!"
Reefer Madness (1936)
Beginning life as a public information film intended to warn families about the dangers of drug use, Reefer Madness developed into a camp classic among the very people it sought to demonize.
This was partially due to its glaring and sometimes hysterical inaccuracies when depicting the effects of the titular drug but also due to the hilariously over-the-top performances therein.
Street Fighter (1994)
Street Fighter is a prime example of a cheesy '90s video game adaptation. Between the miscasting of Jean-Claude Van Damme and the lack of development for most of the movie's characters, it wasn't difficult to see what led critics to savage Street Fighter at the time.
But at the same time, Raul Julia's legitimately captivating performance as Bison makes the movie an enjoyable watch. It also helps that enough of the dialogue straddles the line between embarrassingly goofy and honestly clever, which is perfect for such a campy movie.
Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010)
Intended as an homage to The Birds with an environmentalist message, James Nguyen's Birdemic: Shock and Terror transforms from a wooden, awkward romance into one of the world's most unintentionally hilarious disaster movies.
The inept filmmaking and awkward performances come as both a blessing and a curse to the movie, but that goes double once the audience is confronted with the fact that the killer birds in this movie are really just badly-edited GIFs, GIFs that can spit acid and explode for some reason.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Considering how well-made his first two Spider-Man movies were, it came as an upsetting shock to audiences at the time that Peter Parker's corruption by the famous symbiote spider suit would turn out to be fodder for such a muddled, strange movie.
But while Tobey Maguire's "emo" transformation in Spider-Man 3 was widely reviled in 2007, fans could appreciate its cheesy ridiculousness on its own ironic merits once they calmed down. As a result, what was once embarrassing is now the stuff of meme legend.
Staying Alive (1983)
Saturday Night Fever remains an all-time classic, but the same can't exactly be said for its Sylvester Stallone-directed sequel, Staying Alive. The dark undertones and restraint of the original are gone, and in their place is a campy dance movie that gets even more ridiculous as it goes on.
And that absurdity comes to a head once the audience catches a glimpse of Satan's Alley, the ludicrous Broadway show that John Travolta's character Tony Manero spends the movie trying to join.
When Michael Bay's Armageddon came out, there was a clear divide between critics and audiences on whether it was a brainless waste of time or an action-packed thrill ride.
Of course, both of these things can be true at once. And indeed, Armageddon can be an enjoyable watch despite basing its action off a premise so ridiculous that — as Newsweek reported — even its co-star Ben Affleck made fun of it in the DVD commentary.
Batman & Robin (1997)
Until Batman Vs. Superman came out; there was no debate that Batman & Robin was so ridiculous and poorly executed that it deserved the title of the worst Batman movie ever. Between the questionable Bat Suit, the inexplicable inclusion of a Bat Credit Card, and Arnold Schwarzenegger's constant ice puns as Mr. Freeze, audiences found much to hate about this movie.
However, since Batman Vs. Superman proved the caped crusader could be handled just as badly in a dourer and more overserious context; some can't help but see the campy fluff of Batman & Robin as refreshing in retrospect.
Jupiter Ascending (2015)
For some, Jupiter Ascending is simply a mediocre romantic space opera with some bizarre elements, but other viewers came away from the sci-fi flop with the opinion that the more baffling decisions made during its production elevate it into "so bad it's good" territory.
In particular, Academy Award-winning actor Eddie Redmayne's performance is largely responsible for this appraisal, as his jarring shifts between creepy whispering and over-the-top screaming rescue the movie from being a complete bore.
Unlike most movies that develop a cult following years later, Face/Off was actually a commercial and critical success upon release. And despite how over-the-top the whole movie manages to be and how ludicrous the premise is, it's honestly not hard to see why.
Whether it makes sense or not, the action is practically non-stop and legitimately engaging. And both John Travolta's and Nicolas Cage's commitment to imitating each other in the process of imitating themselves are impressive and yield entertainingly unhinged results.
Winter's Tale (2014)
Although Winter's Tale gave every impression that it would be a straightforward story of star-crossed lovers, it was clear that things didn't go according to plan during the production.
Because so many ill-conceived ideas burdened the film's magical realism elements and script that it's legitimately difficult to tell what's supposed to be happening for the bulk of the movie. But while that means Winter's Tale failed at everything it set out to do, these follies also make for an unforgettable and fascinating viewing experience.
Bee Movie (2007)
It can be a little hard to explain what made Bee Movie such a baffling project for Jerry Seinfeld as, at first glance, it seems like just another second-rate 2000s animated movie such as Over the Hedge or Shark Tale.
But perhaps the best way to explain the compelling madness of Bee Movie isn't that its main character sues the human race over commercial honey production. Instead, it's the fact that this happens after he starts a romantic relationship with a human woman. And that the audience isn't supposed to agree when her boyfriend finds that incredibly weird.
Jingle All The Way (1996)
Arnold Schwarzenegger showed he could make his typical acting style work in comedies with Kindergarten Cop, but Jingle All The Way proved to be a far less successful outing. And at the time, the movie's frenetic energy irritated audiences and critics alike.
However, that mad energy has also earned Jingle All The Way its share of defenders in the years since. As has the normally stoic Schwarzenegger's willingness to give himself over to the movie's bewildering shifts in tone and wacky set pieces.
Ben and Arthur (2002)
Considering its pro-LGBTQ+ rights message, Sam Mraovich clearly meant well when he made Ben and Arthur. However, that doesn't make the resulting movie any less clumsy, nonsensical, or awkwardly acted.
From the villains' increasingly strange plans to the unnatural dialogue to Mraovich's decision to copy a scene from Scarface almost word-for-word, most people watching this movie will either laugh or sit in stunned silence as each plot point seemingly comes out of nowhere.
Fateful Findings (2013)
Although Fateful Findings is likely the most infamous of Neil Breen's films, all of them have fairly similar plots and are strangely compelling for similar reasons.
Whether that's because of Breen's tendency to either underreact or overreact to the story beats he wrote, the barely-comprehensible government conspiracies his character is always fighting, or the new magical powers or technological abilities he gives himself as his stories go on, it's hard to get enough of him.
From Justin to Kelly (2003)
As Kelly Clarkson made clear to The Los Angeles Times, she and fellow American Idol contestant Justin Guarini only did From Justin To Kelly out of contractual obligation. And nowhere is this more clear than when the two don't even look at each other during what is supposed to be a romantic ballad.
But while Clarkson was rightly unenthused by this often cringe-worthy project, the movie has proven unintentionally funny to some fans because of her lack of chemistry with Guarini and the movie's dated perception of the internet and its users.
Dancin': It's On (2015)
Although the plots and characters of dance movies aren't always the reason people watch them, the dancing is about all that Dancin' It's On gets right.
The acting is consistently wooden, which isn't helped by the apparent fact that most of the lines were dubbed over in post-production. But the film's ineptitude crosses the line from boring to amusing, particularly in a hilariously awkward sequence where one of the main characters dances through his frustrations by a pool.
Even taking aside that it's essentially a propaganda piece for John Gotti and his son, Gotti failed on just about every conceivable level upon its release in 2018.
But while the shoddy wigs and exaggerated accents that permeate the film are worth a chuckle on their own, the real morbid curiosity comes from the movie's inept storytelling and Pitbull's consistently and hilariously inappropriate soundtrack choices. Director Kevin Connolly was likely aiming for a non-linear narrative but hit one that seems like a randomly selected sequence of events.
Ax' Em (1992)
Those seeking a fascinating trainwreck of a movie that seemingly manages to do everything wrong need look no further than 1992's Ax 'Em. Blurry to look at, often indecipherable to listen to, and loaded with baffling decisions, what could have been a by-the-numbers horror movie became an unbelievable sight to behold.
From its severely misspelled opening text to director and star Michael Mfume's incomprehensible decision to start dancing out his lines and stage business halfway through the movie, Ax 'Em is a certified must-see for bad movie fans.