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7 movies so bad they’re great to watch again and again

A female cat sings in Cats.
Universal

Plenty of bad movies get released in any given year (Madame Web is just the latest example), as well as some that are genuinely great like Oppenheimer. What’s much rarer, though, is the kind of movie that is so bad it’s good. These are movies that are so incompetent at everything they are trying to do that they circle all the way around to become cult objects that people love in spite of their many flaws.

These titles are terrible, and isn’t that wonderful? Without much in the way of production values, competent acting, an interesting script, or good direction, these movies stumbled forward and eventually hit theaters, and now, we get to walk you through each and every one of them.

The Room (2003)

A standing man looks down at a seated man in The Room.
Wiseau-Films

Perhaps the most famous so-bad-it’s-good movie ever made, The Room has become an object of cult fascination in the two decades since it first hit theaters. Tommy Wiseau’s singular vision is so disjointed and poorly acted that the best way to watch it is to ignore whatever is supposed to be happening altogether.

Instead, just relish every line that feels like a total non sequitur and let Wiseau do whatever it is he feels is necessary in any given scene. The actual plot of The Room, to the extent that one is discernible, may be a little offensive, but we’ll never get tired of Tommy climbing up onto the roof and saying, “I did not hit her, I did not. Oh hi, Mark.”

Mac and Me (1988)

Two kids look at an alien in Mac and Me.
MGM

A pretty shoddy riff on E.T.Mac and Me may be best-known today because Paul Rudd loves to play a clip from it whenever he appears on a talk show with Conan O’Brien. That clip is genuinely horrendous, and the rest of the movie isn’t much better. Although child actors are not known for being perfect, the kid actors here are especially terrible, as are the effects.

It’s telling that E.T. came out six years before Mac and Me and has much better effects. Of course, that movie was directed by Steven Spielberg, so it’s also much better shot and designed than Mac and Me could ever dream of being.

Fateful Findings (2013)

Fateful Findings Trailer

Declared one of the “worst films ever made” immediately after its release, Fateful Findings is director and star Neil Breen’s magnum opus. The film follows a mystical hacker who uses his powers to hack into government databases.

The movie’s stilted performances, poor plotting, and cheap production values are often cited as reasons for its generally bad reputation, but those things are also the reason some people are fascinated with it. Much like The Room, no one is taking this movie as seriously as Neil Breen is, and that’s exactly the point.

Cats (2019)

Two cats gaze upwards in Cats.
Universal

The most recent entry on this list, Tom Hooper’s 2019 adaptation of Cats is as bizarre as musical adaptations get. From the weird CG fur skins that all of the actors were given to the overhaul the film’s plot takes as it’s adapted from a play to live-action, everything about Cats is odd and alienating.

Fortunately, the movie is so genuinely strange that it has already become an object of cult fascination. After all, it’s not every day that you can see a humanoid cat that resembles Rebel Wilson unzip herself from a cat skin only to reveal more fur underneath. It may be nightmare fuel for some, but for others, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)

A man holding a woman's body in his arms in "Plan 9 from Outer Space."
Valiant Pictures / Valiant Pictures

The original cult movie, Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space has had a devoted following for decades, so much so that Tim Burton made an entire movie about the trials and travails of its B-movie director, ed Wood. Telling the story of aliens who threaten to raise an army of the undead to prevent humans from creating a weapon that could destroy the entire universe, Plan 9 is cheaply made and features a lot of truly uncanny performances.

The movie’s many shortcomings are the reasons it’s so beloved though, and a reminder that Wood may not have been a natural filmmaker, but his passion for his projects somehow overcame his evident lack of skill.

Troll 2 (1990)

Troll 2 (1990) Official Trailer

A sequel to the 1986 film Troll that has exactly zero things to do with that movie, Troll 2 follows a family as they are terrorized by goblins (emphatically not Trolls) who want to turn them into plants so the goblins can eat them. So far, so run-of-the-mill, but what earns Troll 2 a spot on this list is how truly terrible it is on a moment-to-moment basis.

There’s not a good performance or filmmaking decision to be found here, which is why it’s been an object of fascination for so many for so long. It’s bad, and in its badness, many people have found plenty of joy.

The Happening (2008)

People gaze up at the sky in The Happening.
20th Century Fox

M. Night Shyamalan’s filmography ranges from full-blown masterpieces to unmitigated disasters, and The Happening is just the right level of bad to make this list. The movie follows a scientist who discovers that the people around him are killing themselves en masse.

Featuring a truly terrible Mark Wahlberg performance and a totally nonsensical premise, The Happening has its moments of genuine terror, but they’re overshadowed by the absurdity of what happens in the movie, and how dumbfounded Wahlberg’s character seems to be by the whole thing.

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Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance writer based in upstate New York focused on movies and TV.
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