We are now fully entrenched in the awards season; the Oscars, that opulent granddaddy of all award shows, will cap off the season this Sunday. But as we celebrate the great cinematic works of art that have been created this year, let us turn to honor the other works that make such greatness possible: bad movies.
Rex Huppke of the Chicago Tribune paid tribute to these films in a recent interview with professor Lance Duerfahrd of Purdue University who teaches a course entitled “Bad Films.” Duerfahrd claims:
“Bad films are awesome in their own way… Traditionally people say you have to study the bad films to know how good films are made. But I think watching a bad movie is a qualitatively different experience than watching a good movie. I think we enjoy bad films more intensively than we enjoy good ones.”
This is proven in part by the great success that bad films can achieve in the box office. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was named one of the worst films of recent decades by Duerfahrd and leads in nominations for this year’s Golden Raspberry Awards, aka The Razzies, which award the worst “achievements” in film. The same film took in about $402 million at the box office. Although Duerfahrd comments, “It was like watching the Mattel factory explode for two hours,” clearly such badness was appealing to hordes of people.
Some films become cult hits solely because of their badness. One example Duerfahrd highlights is The Room (2003), referred to as the Citizen Kane of bad cinema. Showings of The Room provoke screaming and throwing things at the screen, not unlike showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, another film of dubious taste that has gained cult status.
Duerfahrd points out that a film’s very badness may actually make it more relatable for the audience:
“Most of the things that go on in our own life look like they’re out of a bad movie,” Duerfahrd said. “Forgotten lines, dropped engagement rings, poor acting. That’s what makes the bad movies so much like the life we lead.”
What are your favorite bad films?
For more of the interview: Finding Treasure in Trash Films, by Rex Huppke (Chicago Tribune)
Darcy Zacharias, CC ’10