The joy of the "so bad it's good" movie is hard to explain if you're unfamiliar. Generally, the filmmakers have set out to make something good and important—and then missed the mark so badly that everyone agrees it's terrible. Whether it's a well-funded independent movie or big studio film, everyone has to be putting in effort to make an absolute cinematic turkey. But then. In a stunning turn of events, every tragic misfire becomes unintentionally hilarious, and the project tips into campy, compelling fun that fans love to watch and rewatch. (If you need more than what we've provided here, longstanding classic podcast How Did This Get Made?, which specializes in this type of movie, will give you even more good-bad movies to love).
Below, 32 of the most terrible movies that accidentally turned into must-watch films.
Did you know that the Moon is actually a hollow megastructure being overrun by evil alien tech? (Spoiler alert, I guess.) Well, that's where this movie is taking us, and it only gets more ridiculous from there. There's a moment where the characters try to outrun the moon!
'Look Who’s Talking Now'
The third movie in any trilogy is always going to struggle with the weight of expectations. But when the third movie is the conclusion of a talking baby saga in which we instead hear the inner monologue of the family dogs (voiced by Danny DeVito and Diane Keaton, naturally), it's something exceptional.
At the time, fans were excited for real-life couple Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck to star in a movie together. But they certainly didn't want this highly expensive flop, in which one of the main problems appeared to be that the pair didn't have any chemistry. Also, unrelated, Al Pacino is in this!
'Howard the Duck'
As explained by Zach Kornfeld on a Watcher YouTube video about good-bad movies, this is why you shouldn't trust the auteur theory (i.e., that talented creative people only ever have good ideas). George Lucas had just made the original Star Wars, and then he produced this.
When it came out, this film was just seen as bad-bad instead of good-bad, winning just about every conceivable Razzie (plus, the production company went bankrupt!). But it's been parodied and referenced so much that, in hindsight, it's tipped into self-parody.
'Jingle All the Way'
This unintentionally hilarious holiday film really understood that Arnold Schwarzenegger could be funny—but that was the extent of its brilliance. Imagine having the audacity to put the actor in small-town America and making him a desperate salesman and normal family guy.
After the massive success of Jurassic Park, filmmakers grabbed other Michael Crichton books. The result was Congo, with a similar plot but replacing dinosaurs with monkeys; The above image is a pretty decent representation of what we ended up with, including the level of special effects.
If you've never watched the movie where Eddie Redmayne whisper-screams his way through all his scenes, throw this one on. I'll warn you now, though, that you're going to want to ignore the plot, dialogue, and characterizations. Just let the experience wash over you.
This image really gets at the spirit of this film (including a very fake snake, "terrified" Ie Cube, and miserable J. Lo) but doesn't include a lot of the film's terribleness. Come for the bad snake CGI, stay for whatever accent Jon Voight is doing (and a mystifying death scene to top it off).
It's kind of a shame (and extremely foreshadowing) that the main characters of this film end up in a dumpster. Part of the reason this movie was overlooked was because it was released around the same time as Mean Girls. But the other reason is, despite its very famous cast, it's...a really awful movie.
'A View to a Kill'
The James Bond franchise has given us many a weird, wacky, aged-very-badly movies. But A View to a Kill is something special, with Christopher Walken hamming it up as a villain, Roger Moore in his final role as the character (and looking exhausted at 57), and Grace Jones in a totally different movie and being the best part of it.
I know what you're thinking: Oh, I didn't know they made a film about the well-known neighborhood in New York City! Well, I have some news: This is actually about the Little Italy in Toronto, Canada, and that's just the start of the film's many, many hilarious challenges.
Martial artist Y.K. Kim, who wrote, directed, and starred in this martial arts film, had never made a film before this. The result, Miami Connection, tanked immediately, but upon its rerelease was held up as a magnificent specimen of good-bad filmography, and it's now a cult classic.
'Plan 9 From Outer Space'
Proving that the "so bad it's good" movie is not a new invention! This 1957 Ed Woods-directed movie is campy and weird and self-serious and out of sync and clunky and badly edited and full of errors and, frankly, a messy, low-budget delight from start to finish.
'Mac and Me'
Have you ever wondered what would have happened if E.T. had been bad? Well, you've just described Mac and Me! It's almost a replica of the former film's plot, but with real bad creature effects and even worse product placement for brands like Coke and McDonalds.
'Star Wars: Episode 1 - Phantom Menace'
I am perhaps being unkind to the first of the Star Wars sequels (which has had a sort of redemption arc in more recent years), but I stand by it: When fans of the series, myself included, heard there was going to be a new movie, we couldn't have been more excited. And then it was this movie.
There's an (unverified) story that this movie started life as an R-rated comedy that really leaned in on the raunch, but was heavily re-cut and re-packaged as a light and fun PG comedy. The result is a tonal-shifting nightmare that remains absolutely fascinating in execution.
A movie based on a video game is already treading on thin ice, so to speak, but casting Jean-Claude Van Damme and the late Raul Julia (that's the award-winning actor who played Gomez Addams) and then giving them a whole lot of nonsense to say and do is...compelling.
'The Devil's Advocate'
Al Pacino's the devil (and he's scream-acting almost the whole time)! That might sound like a spoiler, but if you've seen the trailer, looked at the poster, or considered the title in any way, you won't be surprised. What's hilarious is that the movie waits over an hour to tell you as if it's some big reveal.
Take a bunch of convicts and put them on a plane, where they immediately hijack it—oh and the ringleader is John Malkovich, swinging for the fences—with John Cusack and Nicolas Cage (the latter in a very bad wig) trying to stop them. Camp doesn't even begin to describe it!
Any "good bad film list" is going to have The Room on it. Tommy Wiseau (who conceived, wrote, and starred in it) may retrospectively call the film a dark comedy, but it was absolutely designed to be a dramatic film—and it will be the worst drama you've ever seen.
'Drop Dead Fred'
If you like film podcasts, check out the Drop Dead Fred episode of How Did This Get Made?. Two of the four hosts absolutely love the film for its message about self-love and identity, and the other two think that this is the worst, weirdest film they've ever seen. It inspires division to this day!
If you're familiar with bad movies generally, you might know about the troubled history of Cats, with many stars (including Taylor Swift) attached to the project and a rushed production resulting in terrible visual effects. But nothing will ever be funnier to me than the fact that a rough cut of the film apparently exists where the CGI cats all had...buttholes.
(CW: sexual assault.) This film (notable for, among other things, to be an NC-17 movie with a wide release) was not designed to be a satire—but it's now considered high art by film fans for its bad acting, weird nude scenes, nonsensical plot, and general incoherence.
Let's start with the fact that Troll 2 isn't a sequel, despite having a two in the title. Then add in the fact that the crew spoke Italian and the cast spoke English. Then the plot (goblins turn people into plants, then eat them). It's considered one of the worst films ever made!
'Kung Pow: Enter the Fist'
The history behind this movie is already wild: The new film took footage from an old film and then replaced the main character with Steve Oedekerk and changed the "plot" entirely. The result is a "satire" of martial arts films that is complete, unintentionally hilarious nonsense. (It's also aged...very poorly! But in a funny way!)
With two over-the-top actors impersonating each other (sort of) and each one trying to outdo the other's performance, a movie about a cop and criminal who literally switch faces is the best possible use of everyone's time. John Travolta and Nic Cage deserve retrospective Razzies/Oscars.
Where to begin with this Shyamalan disaster? Before the dreadfully miscast leads, before the hilariously inept script, there's the premise (spoiler alert): Plants are now emitting toxins to kill people. Which means there are a lot of scenes of people running and then a cut to some grass gently waving in the wind.
'Deep Blue Sea'
Deep Blue Sea was hoping to outdo Jaws in every way, with bigger sharks, better effects, and cooler deaths. It failed in every single way, but that failure was so delightful that it remains beloved for fans of bad movies (including an epic How Did This Get Made? podcast).
'Batman and Robin'
See also: The movie that George Clooney still apologizes for. His take on Batman is...not good (the bat suit has nipples on it, for starters), but frankly, his performance is mild compared to the OTT glories of Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy (yes, that's Arnold Schwarzenegger and Uma Thurman).
'The Wicker Man'
"Not the beeeeeees!!" If you're familiar with that particular meme, and you want to experience it for an entire movie, then I highly suggest you put on this film and watch Nic Cage go wild for almost two hours. It's so much more than the bees, promise.
The only movie Stephen King ever directed (he's on the record saying he was very strung out during production) is about murderous technology—specifically, a killer truck with a green goblin face attached to the front that forces the humans to give it gasoline. No, really.
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Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.
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