People love bad movies. When I asked Facebook friends what they thought was the best worst movie ever, titles flooded in—within days I had a list of more than 140 movies. Many I had seen, others I’d never heard of (hello, Hard Ticket to Hawaii). From epics (Ten Commandments) to epic flops (Howard the Duck), from the bad (Valley of the Dolls) to the simply awful (The Apple), I was surprised by the diversity in choices. Well, except for the fact that most were made in the ‘80s. Narrowing down the list was difficult—many titles were added and removed from the list several times. So using only movies that are considered rotten on RottenTomatoes (except #3), here are my picks for the 21 best worst movies of all time.
21. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The best of the live-action movies based on a ‘80s cartoon. That is until Muppet Babies: Electric Boogaloo is finally made.
20. National Treasure
Hey, how did they get from Independence Hall to Reading Terminal—on foot—so quickly?
19. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
The reason to watch this glorified (and totally ‘70s) music video is for the finale. As friends said, it features “hairy, obscure celebrities” in a “precursor to ‘We Are the World’… only not as good.” Look out for Carol Channing: who obviously didn’t learn the lyrics.
18. Girls Just Want to Have Fun
“DanceTV is on the air.”
17. To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar
This derivative Priscilla, Queen of the Desert stars Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo. In drag.
Among the ‘90s natural disaster films, nothing compares to this Michael Bay-helmed monstrosity. Well, perhaps Dante’s Peak.
15. Battlefield Earth
What accent is John Travolta trying to do anyway?
Kim Cattrall plays a store mannequin that comes alive at night. Andrew McCarthy plays the man who loves her. Yup.
13. Drop Dead Gorgeous
Somehow, it even makes Denise Richards seem funny.
12. Weekend at Bernie’s
Along with Stallone, Swayze, Seagal, and Schwarzenegger, Andrew McCarthy is king of good bad movies. This might be his finest work.
As Philly Post managing editor and contributor Erica Palan noted, it “improves markedly when it’s on network television and they insert CGI bras on the topless dancers.” So true.
10. Road House
Mullets, switchblades, explosions, boobs, and good ol’ throat ripping. Starring Swayze, it’s like all other ‘80s action flicks were distilled into one gloriously sleazy movie. Just remember: Be nice.
9. Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead
“I’m right on top of that, Rose.”
8. The Pirate Movie
Whoever thought it was a good idea to modernize Pirates of Penzance with a ‘80s pop score should have lost their jobs in ’82. But now, we must thank them for their bravery in casting Kristy McNichol as a musical ingénue.
Gene Kelly on roller skates. ‘Nough said.
6. Mommie Dearest
This master class of overacting has to be the most quoted, bad movie of all time. “No wire hangers.” “Don’t fuck with me fellas. This isn’t my first time at the rodeo.”
5. The Day After Tomorrow
Yes, they outrun a wall of water. Yes, somehow they survive by keeping one, stupid fire going. But, it has Dennis Quaid saying “upper troposphere.”
4. Troll 2
A movie called Troll 2 is about goblins. “Oh my GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWD!”
3. Suddenly, Last Summer
Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn, and Montgomery Clift star in this loose adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ play. It’s got cannibalism, thinly veiled homosexuality, and an insane asylum. In other words, it’s amazing.
2. The Room
No words can adequately describe the marvelous ineptitude of The Room—written/directed by and starring Tommy Wiseau (a man whose accent is unidentifiable). Filled with marvelous quotes (“leave your stupid comments in your pocket”) and nonsensical plot points, the “Citizen Kane of bad movies” has to be seen to be believed.
1. Roller Boogie
Linda “Exorcist” Blair plays a wealthy flautist who just wants to compete in the local Roller Boogie contest. Directed by the same guy who did Firestarter and Commando—freakin’ Commando!—this ’70s should-be-a-classic features lengthy, choreographed roller-skating numbers where guys wear wrestling singlets and women wear bikinis. If you have not seen this, get a group of friends together and watch it on Netflix. You’ll thank me.