10 Awesomely Bad Films with Cult Followings

Bad movies come in all shapes and sizes: boring, too long, filled with plot holes or terrible actors. But there's a strange phenomenon that can occur when these bad-film qualities and others are combined in the right proportions. The movie becomes a cult classic, so ridiculous or poorly made that people can't help but be entertained by it. Here are 10 enjoyably bad movies that have gained cult followings for their strangeness, low budgets, or campy qualities.

  1. The Room

    This film was written, produced, and directed by Tommy Wiseau, who also happens to be the lead actor. It's also one of the best bad movies out there. Wiseau plays Johnny (and also looks like he's made of wax), whose future wife is cheating on him with his best friend. The Room could be a moving story about betrayal and love if it weren't for the terrible writing, acting, character development, and pretty much everything else. Wiseau's strange use of English and thick accent, along with his dubbed lines and bizarre timing, make him the worst actor in his own film and make The Room more comedy than drama. Though the movie played briefly in Los Angeles, it can be seen at midnight viewings across the U.S. and other countries where fans throw spoons at the screen and toss footballs to each other as references to strange occurrences in the film.

  2. The Beastmaster

    It's easy for fantasy movies to go wrong, but a fantasy movie that goes so wrong that it's right again is a rare gem. The Beastmaster is that kind of film. Even the beastmaster Dar's birth is ridiculous; before he was born, he was transferred from his mother's womb to a cow's by a witch. Maybe it's this strange origin that gives him the ability to talk to animals and see through their eyes. The whole plot revolves around Dar trying to defeat the people who destroyed his village. He does this all with the help of animals, most notably, his two ferret pals. The movie about a shirtless guy and his ferrets wasn't a strong performer in theaters, but became a fan favorite as it was showed on TBS and HBO almost daily sometimes during the '80s.

  3. Plan 9 from Outer Space

    Made in 1959, this movie about things to come was directed by Ed Wood, Jr., who is famous for other bad exploitation films like Glen or Glenda and The Violent Years. In fact, he was given the Golden Turkey Award for worst director ever. Quite an honor! Plan 9 is the story of aliens who release zombies on Earth to create panic and keep Earthlings from creating a doomsday weapon. If the low budget didn't make the film bad enough with boom mikes and strings on UFOs visible, Wood clinched the poor quality of the film by letting deceased actor Bela Lugosi "star" in the film by using unused footage of him, and then alternating in Wood's wife's chiropractor to play the same character throughout the film. The movie became very well known after it was called the worst movie ever made by someone with movie authority, and has since been referenced countless times in pop culture and adapted for the stage.

  4. Showgirls

    Showgirls was released in 1995 and features Saved by the Bell's Elizabeth Berkley playing a hysterical Vegas stripper-turned-showgirl (if there's any difference). Between Berkley's overacting, her character's dream of headlining in a topless dance show no matter the cost, and the bizarre dialogue, the movie is a seedy, awkward attempt at eroticism. The film begins to spiral out of control when Berkley pushes another showgirl down the stairs, followed by revenge attacks on other enemies. The film was rated NC-17 because of nudity and gratuitous sex, and though it saw a wide release in theaters, it received bad reviews. The home movie sales were surprisingly high, however, and cult status has been achieved through midnight showings and Showgirls irony parties where viewers make fun of the film.

  5. Mommie Dearest

    Based on a book that was undoubtedly better than the movie, Mommie Dearest stars Faye Dunaway as actress Joan Crawford. Crawford came to be known through her daughter's autobiography as the worst mother possible, worse than any Tiger Mother or girl on Teen Mom. And the movie came to be known as one of the best worst films of all time. Though the story itself is supposed to be true and horrible, the movie straddles the line between campy horror film and soap opera, and Dunaway is a maniac like you've never seen a maniac before. She flips out over unclean bathrooms, overacts her way through fights with her boyfriend, and wields an axe like a serial killer. Catch a showing of this classic, but be sure to leave your wire hangers at home.

  6. Death Bed: The Bed That Eats

    If you have a hard time going to bed after seeing a horror movie, watching this movie isn't a good idea. But probably because you'll be laughing so hard you can't get to sleep, not because you are afraid that your bed is going to eat you. The Death Bed in this movie was possessed by a demon and now has some sort of acidic stomach foam under its sheets to devour people and telekinetic powers to lure them to their deaths. There's also a man trapped in a painting, but his relevance is questionable at best. Death Bed was made in 1977 but wasn't released until 2003, and earned cult status almost immediately. The director says he forgot about making it, but that sounds highly unlikely. Who could forget about a bed that eats?

  7. Reefer Madness

    This is the movie that teaches you that smoking marijuana will get you addicted, make you crazy, and ultimately lead to your death. Granted, it was made in 1936 when the effects of the drug weren't as well known, but that hasn't kept Reefer Madness from becoming a classic among today's population, particularly those who smoke pot. Originally meant to serve as a warning and titled Tell Your Children, the movie shows good kids turned into marijuana's slaves, which leads to debauchery, murder, and insanity. From the uncontrollable bouts of laughter to the hallucinations suffered by cannabis' victims, the movie is over the top and ridiculous. Because of its popularity, the film was re-released in color in 2004, with even more campy visuals, and has been made into an off-Broadway musical satire.

  8. The Rocky Horror Picture Show

    When people think of cult classics, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is likely the first thing that pops into their heads. When the film was originally released, the audiences were very small, causing it to be pulled from theaters and canceled in other markets. But when it was tested in the midnight movie market, it gained an instant cult following. Midnight showings happen throughout the year with fans showing up dressed as their favorite characters and talking back to the screen, and the film even earned a tribute on Glee, a move which would never be allowed in a real high school. The movie itself is a strange parody of other bad horror films combined with a campy musical and circus freak show. The bizarre nature of the film is what has made it the longest-running release in film history.

  9. Big Bad Mama

    In this ridiculous revisit to Bonnie and Clyde, the audience is treated to a terrible William Shatner character, lots of unnecessary nudity, and one small plot basically on repeat. You can essentially get the idea of the movie by looking at the video cover where the three main female characters are topless with guns. Angie Dickinson plays Mama and takes her daughters on a crime spree, where they share men and kill people. It starts with innocent moonshine and progresses through a Shatner love scene and a kidnapping. If you want to see more of Shatner than anyone should ever see, plus uncomfortable love triangles, this movie is right up your alley. The quality of the movie is bearable, and the bad acting and ridiculous plot are entertaining, which have earned Big Bad Mama a place in the hearts of those who love so-bad-they're-good films. It's now sold as a double feature with Big Bad Mama II in director Roger Corman's Cult Classics line of DVDs.

  10. Killer Klowns from Outer Space

    Out of all the strange alien depictions directors have come up with over the years, this has to be the strangest. Aliens that look and act like clowns come to Earth to eat humans and enjoy the overall merriment of death. They fly down in a circus tent and run about the town covering corpses in cotton candy, releasing popcorn monsters, and making fatal balloon animals. But don't worry; the Klowns can be killed if you shoot them in the nose, obviously. The oddities in the film get even more bizarre when the heroes of the story make their way deep into the alien spaceship in order to defeat the man-eating Bozos. You'll probably never look at a circus the same way after seeing this movie. The comedic horror film has gained quite the following, and even though it was made in 1988, there are still collector Klown masks, costumes, and figurines available.

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