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Me, on A and E: Good Bad Movies

By Pete Barell18 - Petes column

At least with my friends, watching horrible movies is a bit of a tradition. The Halloween season provides the perfect context to sit back, browse Netflix and find a classic like “Gingerdead Man,” “Troll 2,” “Leprechaun 5: in the Hood” or the infamous “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” But what is appealing about a bad movie? We don’t watch them for their gripping stories. We don’t watch them for their amazing special effects. We don’t watch them because they’ve got good ratings.

We watch bad movies because they don’t challenge us like other films do. Take a heady film like “Interstellar” or “Requiem for a Dream,” you can’t simply watch them with a group of friends, unless your friends are cats who don’t talk at all. The attention span of the viewer casually watching a movie with friends is short. We are prone to distractions, we love to talk, and so we welcome bad movies that provide zero substance and all (bad) thrills. These types of films rarely have statement to say, relying instead on the pure entertainment of genre tropes.


We watch bad movies because in world of high-tech CGI and overproduced blockbusters, sometimes it’s nice to see a laughable attempt at special effects. Take the original “Evil Dead” films from the 1980s. The creative use of clay animation in the film may seem oddly outdated now, but the viewer has to appreciate the tedious effort involved in making them — stop motion, prosthetics, wax and fake blood intermingling to create creatures and gore. A use of practical effects has become signature to low-budget B horror films, and the effects are one of the qualities that so endear the viewers.

We watch bad movies because they’re funny. When all of the elements of filmmaking fail, when a drop in quality from the norm is apparent, humor can be derived from the experience. Relinquishing all expec- tations of quality, the viewer can allow him or herself to purely enjoy a bad movie for the communal aspects involved. Bad movies bring people together.

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