Director: Anthony C. Ferrante
Most films from cheapo-cinema mavens The Asylum fall well short of “fun bad” and into the unfortunate realm of “bad bad,” but Sharknado is one of the rare few to rise above. Unlike so many other creature features from the same studio, it’s not stingy in its premise. It promises sharks propelled by tornados, delivers on that promise in the very first shot of the film, and then keeps on delivering. It’s eminently more watchable than just about any other Asylum film, which is a large part of what made it such a phenomenon when it premiered on Syfy in the summer of 2013. This July, it will even be graced with a live Rifftrax treatment when the former MST3k stars riff the film in theaters nationwide.
Director: D’Urville Martin
Rarely has any movie genre turned from sincerity to self-parody as fast as blaxploitation did in the 1970s. Only four years after Shaft, comedian Rudy Ray Moore crafted this absolutely outrageous send-up of blaxploitation films and “ghetto culture,” playing superhero pimp Dolemite, a badass with a penchant for rhyme and karate-trained hookers. This movie is absolutely bonkers, providing many of the visual and stylistic cues that would become part of the genre forevermore. The 2009 comedy Black Dynamite often plays like a shot-for-shot parody of Dolemite, but in some areas it’s actually less ridiculous than the original. Case in point: the four-minute scene where Dolemite stands in a parking lot and waxes poetic in rhyming verse about the sinking of the RMS Titanic for absolutely no reason. There’s nothing else like it.
88. It’s Alive
Director: Larry Cohen
Even in the cheapo horror genre, babies are typically handled gingerly and obliquely. A film like Rosemary’s Baby is really about body horror and the strangers we live next to every day. It’s Alive, on the other hand, is a trashy horror movie about a mutated killer baby—see the difference? With creature effects from future Oscar-winner Rick Baker, it’s suitably gross, but something about how seriously the film takes itself makes it inadvertently hilarious. Just look at the trailer, which sounds like a full-blown disaster picture. A city in peril! The national guard is mobilized! Every time you think to yourself, “This team of soldiers packing assault rifles are combing the city for a killer infant,” you can’t help but smile. It was followed by It Lives Again and It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive, and director Larry Cohen went on to create another classic 1980s entry on this list, The Stuff.
87. Ninja Terminator
Director: Godfrey Ho
Describing a Godfrey Ho movie to a friend is sort of like standing in the shower in the morning, trying to remember the specifics of last night’s dreams and failing utterly. Widely referred to as the “Ed Wood of Hong Kong,” Ho is currently credited as the director of 122 films according to IMDB. The true number is impossible to know, thanks to the dozen or more pseudonyms he used to hide the shoddy quality of his “cut and paste” moviemaking style. In films like Ninja Terminator, Ho would literally combine unrelated footage from two or three different unfinished features to assemble an abomination of a whole. Often these films unwillingly starred American actor Richard Harrison, who appeared in a few early Ho features before being edited into many others. This is absolute Z-grade ninja action. The fights make no sense, the plots make no sense and the costumes make no sense, and yet the movie is a joy to analyze.
86. The Blob
Year: 1958 and 1988
Director: Irvin Yeaworth and then Chuck Russell
Separated by an even 30 years, the two versions of The Blob are both perfect examples of a B-movie from their own time period. The 1958 version of The Blob is one of the quintessential 1950s teen drive-in classics, starring a 27-year-old Steve McQueen as a high school student battling the big pink pile of goo that eats everything in its path. It’s campy and chaste, a Cold War classic with heavy themes of McCarthyism. The 1988 The Blob, on the other hand, was reimagined as a more serious but sleazy gross-out horror flick. Reflecting a more cynical society, the Blob is a government experiment gone awry rather than a monster from space, and the deaths are ramped up in terms of gore and shock value to match other 1980’s B-movie classics. Which Blob is for you is a matter of your own taste.
85. The Vampire Lovers
Director: Roy Ward Baker
1960s and 1970s horror classics from Hammer Film Productions are rightly held in high regard, especially films in their revived Frankenstein and Dracula series. The British studio also produced plenty of “off-brand” horror flicks as well, though, and one of the most infamous was surely The Vampire Lovers. Daringly depicting what is strongly implied as a lesbian vampire relationship, it was quite ahead of its time, especially for a British production. Like so many other Hammer films, the best things it has going for it (besides the heaving bosoms) are sumptuous production design, great costumes and the presence of Peter Cushing, who acted in seemingly every British horror film made between 1958-1975. This was the first in the “Karnstein Trilogy” of erotic vampire flicks, which also includes Lust for a Vampire and Twins of Evil, but the original remains the best.
Director: Joe Dante
Thank god for Roger Corman, the prolific B-movie producer/director who gave first chances to so many young filmmakers. In 1978, that director was Joe Dante and the flick was Piranha, the most fun of all the “natural horror” movies that proliferated in the wake of Spielberg’s Jaws. This one is cheap but funny, giving a first impression of the dark humor found in Dante’s later work on 1980s classics such as The Howling, The Burbs and Gremlins. The trailer doesn’t even try to pretend it’s not a rip-off, claiming “These are the man-eaters who go beyond the bite of all other jaws. Sharks kill alone, but piranha come in thousands.” This is the kind of drive-in film that simply has an x-factor and cleverness not present in most of its forgotten peers, thanks to a director who had ambition and bigger ideas.
83. Alone in the Dark
Director: Uwe Boll
Uwe Boll, man. All of his films are bad, but only Alone in the Dark makes it into fun-bad territory with any reliability. That’s what happens when you cast Tara Reid as a “brilliant archaeologist” and give her a bunch of pseudo-scientific dialog to deliver like she’s a non-English speaker just phonetically sounding out the words. Christian Slater, meanwhile, plays a paranormal investigator searching for clues on some sort of native American/Lovecraftian monster dimension—I’d be lying if I said I understood what was happening, even after the insultingly long and detailed opening exposition scrawl read aloud by the narrator. It’s more fun to focus on the action, which by and large looks like a subpar episode of Walker: Texas Ranger with a dash of The Matrix for flavor.
82. Double Trouble
Director: John Paragon
This may be the quintessential early 1990s, straight-to-video action movie. Starring bodybuilding brothers Peter and David Paul, better known as The Barbarian Brothers, it’s just a nothing of a movie, existing only because they had a few guys on hand whose skills included “being huge” and “knowing an identical huge guy.” Even in the cheap action movie segment, neither of them would ever have gotten a chance on their own, but together there’s magic in the air. You could probably fill in the plot-related blanks without any further information: One brother is a cop, the other a criminal. But things are about to get wacky because now they’ll be forced to work together! Both of the brothers have the naïve charm of non-actors who have recently discovered that action movies are way easier than professional body-building. You can see that they’re having a blast doing this.
Director: Rick Sloane
The first entry on this list to receive the MST3k treatment, Hobgoblins often makes appearances on “worst movie ever” lists, but to be perfectly honest it’s one of the more entertainingly bad movies featured on the series. It’s in the absolute cellar as far as production values and filmmaking competence are concerned, but the acting, creature effects and attempts at comedy are so atrocious that it never once gets boring. There’s so much surreal anti-humor, from the extended garden tool fight scene to the hobgoblins themselves, completely unarticulated puppets that need to be held against the characters like a modernized version of the octopus strangling Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood’s Bride of the Monster. Every single thing that makes this film entertaining is unintentional.