Trying to Keep Our Sanity: In Unironic Praise of Bad Movies

Trying to Keep Our Sanity: In Unironic Praise of Bad Movies

Here’s a bit from my recent article, published at Film Inquiry:

On April 14th, Netflix will begin showing new episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the cult series devoted to watching, and making jokes about, bad movies. During the show’s 20-year absence, bad movie fandom has ballooned to the extent that incompetent movies have now arguably supplanted intentionally weird films as the dominant cult subgenre.

Part of this boom can be attributed to the increased visibility of bad cinema. These past two decades have seen the release and discovery of some truly awful movies, films that rival Plan 9 From Outer Space and Manos: The Hands of Fate for their utter absurdity. The bad movie canon now includes the troll-less creature feature Troll 2, David Prior’s testosterone-fueled Deadly Prey, the Hitchcock riff in James Nguyen’s Birdemic, the utterly inexplicable Neil Breen films Fateful Findings and Double Down, and of course, Tommy Wiseau’s feature-length pity party The Room, easily the most popular of the bunch.

But Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K, as it’s known to fans), which has only increased in popularity since its cancellation, also deserves much of the credit, simply for showing us that we can enjoy movies that seem unenjoyable. However, as instrumental as it has been in fostering a love of bad movies in people like me, the show’s premise also advances a stereotype that still plagues the genre: we watch bad movies to make fun of bad movies.

Read more at Film Inquiry!

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