It’s been said that the only truly bad movies are boring movies. If a movie comes along that fails to leave an impression on you in any real way, that’s a sign that it was a pretty awful waste of time. However, it is possible to watch a movie that you know in your heart is awful, but you keep returning to anyway.
This is not an uncommon effect. It’s the same effect that keeps bad pop songs in our heads for weeks on end and inspires us to go to McDonald's after a night out of drinking even though there are much “better” options available.
What’s so strange about guilty pleasure films, though, is that there are certain bad movies that are so near-universally beloved that you really have to question if you can even call them bad movies anymore. We gravitate towards these films because they ultimately offer something that we don’t get from any other movie. Granted, that “something” is usually something that we’re better off without, but you do have to admire the way that the mention of these awful movies make people feel a sense of belonging.
As it turns out, you're not the only one who would choose them over watching Citizen Kane.
These are 15 Awful Movies That Everyone Still Loves.
15 It (1990)
When it was first revealed that 1990’s It was being remade, a fair number of people lost their minds. “How can they remake It!,” they said. “That’s like...one of the scariest movies ever made!”
Of course, those who have watched the It miniseries recently have likely discovered that it’s pretty awful. The dialogue is terrible, the scares are barely there, and the less said about most of the adult actors, the better.
What saves 1990’s It is, of course, the efforts of Tim Curry. He didn’t have much to work with, but Curry’s Pennywise stands as a memorable take on the character, even when compared to Bill Skarsgård’s excellent portrayal. Whether or not It continues to be remembered fondly remains to be seen, but it’s a classic in the eyes of many.
14 Mortal Kombat
In defense of the Mortal Kombat movie - boy, that’s not something you get to say often - it was clearly made by people who’d either played the games or talked to people that played the games. Characters in the film looked and behaved like characters in the game, there was an actual fighting tournament (looking at you Street Fighter), and we even spotted an Easter egg or two.
As nice as those little touches are, they do remarkably little to cover up the film’s larger problems. Sure, the writing and acting are terrible - minus a few genuinely entertaining exceptions - but we’re especially disappointed at how bland the film’s fight scenes are.
Still, there’s enough charm in the Mortal Kombat film to ensure that it triggers the nostalgic pleasure centers of those who grew up on the game.
13 Jingle All the Way
Jingle All the Way was almost universally despised upon its 1997 release. Critics called the film hokey, juvenile, insultingly stupid, devoid of any original concepts, and unfortunately full of scenes that featured Sinbad.
All of those points are valid criticisms. AdJake Lloyd was especially annoying in this movie, even by child actor standards.
Yet, Jingle All the Way manages to get just enough right as to justify the strange cult following it has to this day. Arnold Schwarzenegger gives a genuinely fun performance throughout the movie, Phil Hartman will always be a Canadian treasure, and the movie’s commentary on the consumerism of Christmas is surprisingly dark and clever.
Granted, Jingle All the Way really only works as a holiday film, but it works well enough for what it is.
12 Hocus Pocus
We move now from a technically underwhelming movie usually watched around Christmas time to a technically underwhelming movie usually watched around Halloween.
Hocus Pocus was a much-hyped children’s horror movie that ultimately bombed at the box office and received scathing reviews. At a time when Disney was re-establishing themselves in the premiere name in intelligent and well-made family entertainment, Hocus Pocus came along and failed to impress many with its shoddy story, cheesy humor, and overall made-for-TV feel.
Kids seemed to like it at the time, though, and many of them still do. The film’s lasting appeal can partially be traced to children’s nostalgia for spooky films, but there is an energy to the movie which some have compared to a Spielberg film.
Plus, Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker kill it as the movie’s villains.
11 Demolition Man
There are some action films that end up achieving beloved status because they are truly great movies (such as Die Hard and Terminator 2) and some that are fondly remembered because they are lovably awful (Commando, for instance).
Demolition Man falls somewhere in the middle. If you’re analyzing it from a critical perspective, you’ll struggle to find many redeeming qualities. Most of the actors are clearly giving it their all, but there is some truly awful dialogue in this film that hinders their efforts. The action, meanwhile, is surprisingly forgettable.
The one thing that Demolition Man has going for it is its premise. This film portrays a unique take on the future where political correctness and pleasantry have been taken a step or two too far. What’s left is a happy-go-lucky utopia that doubles as hell for some.
It’s just a shame that idea isn’t attached to a better movie.
10 Short Circuit
Raise your hand if you knew that the Indian character in Short Circuit was actually played by a white guy named Fisher Stevens. Now put your hand down because you’re on the internet and nobody can see that you’re raising your hand.
Even if the gross “brown face” aspect weren't present, Short Circuit would still not be a good movie. It’s like a children’s adventure film minus the children. Instead, we get a robot that was created with the best technology that ‘80s movies had to offer. Which is to say that the technology was very, very bad.
If there is a tangible appeal to Short Circuit, it can probably be traced back to just how purely ‘80s the movie really is. Nothing defines a decade of cocaine-fueled creativity like Steve Guttenberg hanging out with a robot.
9 The Mighty Ducks
Years ago, movie studios went through a brief obsession with the “children playing sports” genre. Angels in the Outfield, Little Giants, Rookie of the Year...if it had kids either playing or involved with sports, there was a good chance that a studio was going to throw a few million dollars at it.
The Mighty Ducks is typically remembered as one of the better examples of this trend. Sure, it was no The Sandlot, but compared to a legion of awful sports movies that came out around that time, Mighty Ducks is generally considered to be pretty great.
It’s not, though. Mighty Ducks is about as “good” as all the other sports movies that came out at that time, which is to say that it’s average at best. Why is it so fondly remembered, then? Because Ducks fly together.
8 Masters of the Universe
Masters of the Universe is one of those movies that you first see as a kid and are shocked to learn later in life that it really, really sucks.
When you’re a child, it’s really easy to overlook certain... negative aspects of the movie. For instance, we never used to appreciate that this film is such a blatant copy of the original Star Wars.
What Masters of the Universe lacks in almost everything, though, it makes up for by being the kind of bad movie that’s just competent enough to be entertaining. This is a horribly misguided movie studio’s take on that He-Man thing that seems to be making a lot of money, and we’ll always kind of love it for its status as such.
7 Road House
Road House should have been a slam dunk blockbuster - instead it was a major let-down. It starred Patrick Swayze at the height of his Patrick Swayze game and promised to provide a good ‘ole fashioned action movie experience. Instead, Road House proved to be a bizarre little movie filled with Eastern philosophy, Western violence, and a whole lot of Southern charm.
What’s funny is that Road House has almost always been considered a “so bad, it’s good” movie. Upon release, critics like Roger Ebert pointed out that they couldn’t quite tell whether or not Road House’s awfulness was too much or just enough. Given how beloved the movie is, we’d say it’s an example of the latter.
6 Deep Blue Sea
There’s a simple rule for telling whether or not a shark movie is actually good or not. If the movie is not named Jaws, there's about a 98% chance that it’s awful. Deep Blue Sea, for those who don't know, is not named Jaws.
What makes Deep Blue Sea so ridiculous is the idea the idea that the film’s sharks are somehow “smart sharks.” This leads to a lot of nonsense science babble dialogue and eye-rolling sequence involving sharks doing slasher film stalker things.
Ultimately, it's Deep Blue Sea’s complete lack of shame that makes it so endearing. It’s a movie best summarized by that emphasis scene where Samuel L. Jackson gets eaten after giving an epic monologue. There are a whole lot of attempts at making something great which are ultimately made good by their inherent silliness.
Next up on our creature double-feature is everyone’s favorite movie about a snake that is terrorizing rapper/actor Ice Cube.
There’s no reason that Anaconda should be well-remembered today from a purely filmmaking standpoint. We assume this is supposed to be a horror movie, but it’s hard to tell given that there’s not a single scene that resembles anything scary. If Anaconda is supposed to be an action movie, it fails by virtue of its lack of memorable action moments.
It seems that fond memories of Anaconda can be traced back to the fact that everyone needs some bad movies in their diet, and most people saw this particular bad movie by virtue of its high-profile cast and big budget. Anaconda fails at everything it tries, which is particularly amusing considering how many talented people worked on the movie.
4 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II
We’re not going to say that 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a great movie, but it’s easy to understand why people remember it fondly. Who would have ever thought that a studio would do a decent job turning a ridiculous cartoon into a semi-competent, somewhat mature action movie?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II is an entirely different story.
Even though the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is famous for its surprisingly down-to-Earth tone, the studio behind the sequel chose to completely overlook that aspect of the film. Instead they toned nearly everything down to appeal to kids who preferred the original movie.
All the same, how do you not fondly remember a movie that features Vanilla Ice coming up with a Ninja Turtle rap on the spot? For better or worse - mostly worse - this is what we thought a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie was going to be.
3 Bad Boys II
Bad action movies are the most commonly beloved “bad movies.” This is because there’s an inherent ridiculousness to most action movies that cannot easily be overcome.
Bad Boys II is basically a bad action movie epic. It’s like the Ten Commandments of bad action movies. That approach leads to the film’s biggest flaw; its almost two-and-a-half hour runtime. There is just not enough plot in this movie to possibly justify that time of time commitment.
What Bad Boys II does have a lot of, though, is campy charm. Have you and your friends ever performed exaggerated readings of your favorite bad action movie moments? This movie is the big screen version of those moments. It’s kind of a tribute to the entire idea of lovably bad action films. Sure, Hot Fuzz does that better, but Bad Boys II plays it straight.
In the late ‘90s, Nicolas Cage decided he devoted enough time and energy to acting in critically acclaimed films and preferred to appear in the most schlocky blockbusters that Hollywood had to offer.
With respect to Con Air, Face/Off is the ultimate example of this stage of Cage’s career. It’s a movie about a cop and criminal who literally switch faces. That leads to both main actors (Cage and John Travolta) still playing themselves, but playing themselves as the other person might play them.
Face/Off is a film entirely devoid of subtlety. Director John Woo and his leading men decided that they were all going to try to one-up each other in terms of outlandishness. It’s a film hangover and the junk food you use to cure that hangover, all-in-one.
1 The Fast and the Furious
It’s shocking to think that the Fast and the Furious franchise has grossed billions of dollars. What began as a cheap cash-in attempt on a late-’90s street racing pop culture boom has become one of the most globally beloved film series ever.
Don’t try to explain why that is using any kind of conventional critical logic. You’ll drive yourself mad. Every the first movie in the franchise, The Fast and the Furious, features thin plots, atrocious acting, and all the other things that they teach you to avoid in film school.
What makes the Fast and the Furious franchise work is that it’s really the last of its breed. We don’t get a lot of high-profile, big-budget, “bad” action movies anymore. People need guilty pleasures like that in their lives, which has turned each Fast and the Furious release into appointment viewing - especially as the later films have stepped up their quality significantly, turning them into critical darlings as well.
Which bad movies do you love? Let us know in the comments!