What’s The Best Worst Movie Ever Made? We Filled The Bracketless Void In Your Life To Try To Find Out
With the world currently in the midst of a massive public health crisis, many of us have found ourselves stuck at home playing video games, reading, or watching movies and television shows.
As time goes on, the watchlists you’ve put together on various streaming platforms over time are going to shrink, but that’s because most people only consider watching good movies. If you add some garbage to your list, you’ll never run out of things to watch.
We’re all going through bracket withdrawal thanks to the cancellation of March Madness, but fear not— alternative brackets are here to whet your whistle while you practice social distancing.
As a result, I decided to whip one up to figure out the best worst movie of all time using the tried-and-true bracket format everyone loves and misses.
No one has time for a full 64-seed tourney so I’ve selected 16 bad movies and divided them into two divisions: Classic Crap and Modern Crap.
Here’s the seeding for the Classic Crap entrants. I’ll admit the distinction between the two eras is slightly arbitrary, but for our purposes, this one is going to include anything released up to 2002.
- Plan 9 From Outer Space
- Jaws: The Revenge
- Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever
- Batman And Robin
- Troll 2
- Reefer Madness
- Wild, Wild West
- Battlefield Earth
Here’s what we’ve got in the Modern Crap division:
- The Room
- Jack And Jill
- The Happening
- Transformers: Age of Extinction
This leaves us with a bracket that looks like this (for the record, I took some inspiration from the NHL’s playoff structure as opposed to a more traditional route because I have a severe case of hockey withdrawal right now):
I never said I was good at graphic design but at least you get the picture.
All of these movies suck in their own unique way but only one can be crowned the Best Worst Movie of All Time. We’re looking for the terrible flick that’s the most enjoyable to watch. Sure, they’re not good films by any stretch but you can still have a good time watching them.
Let’s start things off with the Classic Crap division
1. Plan 9 From Outer Space vs. 8. Battlefield Earth
There’s a distinct space flavor to our first matchup. Here, we’re pitting Ed Wood’s legendary 1959 sci-fi blunder against John Travolta’s ode to Scientology.
Both of these films were passion projects for their respective masterminds. Ed Wood famously convinced a church to pony up the funding for Plan 9 while Travolta worked for years to bring L. Ron Hubbard’s book of the same name to the big screen.
The thing that makes Battlefield Earth brutal is that it takes itself seriously. It’s trying to make a statement, maaaaaaaaan!
Meanwhile, Plan 9 doesn’t feel like it takes itself seriously with its irrefutable kitsch and a bizarre, eclectic cast consisting of television host Vampira, wrestler Tor Johnsson, and even recycled footage of horror movie icon Bela Lugosi, all of which help make it a more enjoyable watch by a mile.
Winner: Plan 9 From Outer Space
2. Jaws: The Revenge vs. 7. Wild, Wild West
Jaws: The Revenge is probably best known for having the biggest Rotten Tomatoes disparity between an original film and one of its sequels. 1975’s Jaws has a 98% rating from critics while its 1987 followup has a big ol’ goose egg with a whopping 0%.
Wild, Wild West stars Will Smith and Kevin Kline as Secret Service agents tasked with protecting the President of the United States from anything dangerous out West (which was essentially everything). It’s an action-comedy but falls into the same trap many hyphenated genre-bending films do: they end up as watered-down versions of the two genres that the filmmakers are trying to combine.
Still, the thing that makes Jaws: The Revenge so aggravating is that it serves as the abysmal bookend to the franchise launched by one of the greatest films ever made. Being frustrated never makes for a good movie watching experience. Will Smith is always at the very least watchable, which is why I’ve got to hand this round to his trainwreck of a film.
Winner: Wild, Wild West
3. Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever vs. 6. Reefer Madness
Reefer Madness is the oldest movie in this bracket. It tells the cautionary tale of the perils of marihuana addiction. Its opponent is Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, an action film starring Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu.
Some of these movies are populated with casts consisting of unknown actors but Ballistic is one of the exceptions. Everyone has at least heard of Banderas and Liu (even if your familiarity with the former somehow only stretches as far as the voice of the bee from the Nasonex commercials).
The problem Ecks vs. Sever has is that it seems like someone decided to make an “action movie” in the broadest sense of the word possible. It feels generic and even the character names—“Jeremiah Ecks” and “Agent Sever”—will shoot a douche chill straight up your spine.
The over-the-top melodrama offered up by Reefer Madness is hilarious by today’s standards, which is how it became a cult favorite in the 70s (nearly forty years after its initial release) and still has staying power today.
Winner: Reefer Madness
4. Batman & Robin vs. 5. Troll 2
Troll 2 is all about a family that moves to a small farm and is terrorized by—you guessed it—goblins?
That’s about all you need to know about Troll 2: not much about it makes any sense. Sure, it’s a sequel, but don’t worry about feeling lost if you didn’t see the original because they’re virtually unrelated in any way aside from the title.
Meanwhile, we’ve got Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin, the film that set out to answer one of life’s greatest questions: what if Batman’s suit had nipples?
The 1997 superhero flick delivers on star power with the titular characters played by George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell, while Arnold Schwarzenegger, Uma Thurman, and Alicia Silverstone respectively star as Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Batgirl.
The thing most people remember about this movie is the gratuitous number of “ice” puns Arnold delivers in his trademark accent. Given the popularity of dad jokes (at least if the many Tinder bios I’ve seen are any indication), I’m giving the edge to the Caped Crusader and Co.
Winner: Batman And Robin
Well, well, well. It looks like the matchups for the Classic Crap semi-finals are set.
Classic Crap Semifinals
1. Plan 9 From Outer Space vs. 7. Wild, Wild West
Wild, Wild West is a movie that still sometimes pops up on cable and I feel like there are those out there who actually like it unironically and, in fairness, the theme song is kind of a jam.
Meanwhile, literally anyone who has seen Plan 9 knows it’s not good but that’s what makes it a fun watch. Bad costumes, bad dialogue, a thin plot, and liberal use of stock footage make it the epitome of 1950s B-movie drivel. That’s why we still talk about it and why it’s moving on.
Winner: Plan 9 From Outer Space
4. Batman & Robin vs. 6. Reefer Madness
Reefer Madness has some longevity on its side but Batman & Robin managed to mess up Batman, one of the more tried and true characters in movie history.
It’s certainly a close matchup.
I have to give a slight edge to Reefer Madness because it features a wider array of crap. There’s outdated beliefs and medical advice that are capped off by bad acting and a lousy plot.
Batman & Robin just has a weird look and a lot of ice puns (and Bat Nipples. We can’t forget Bat Nipples).
Winner: Reefer Madness
We’ve now arrived at the Classic Crap championship and we’ve got two legendary hunks of shit squaring off.
Classic Crap Final
1. Plan 9 From Outer Space vs. 6. Reefer Madness
The two oldest films in the bracket have macheted their way through the competition and find themselves fighting for the right to represent the Classic Crap division for the overall title of “Best Worst Movie of All Time.”
Both of these films have that old-school crappy aesthetic that is kind of funny in its own right thanks to bad editing, special effects, and acting.
What I think is going to be the decider is the subject matter that each film decided to tackle.
Reefer Madness went for the real-world story about the dangers of drugs. Plan 9 is about space aliens creating zombies. I’d be insane not to hand the W directly to the film about space zombies.
Congratulations, Mr. Wood. See you in the finals.
Winner: Plan 9 From Outer Space
Now, let’s move onto the Modern Crap side of the bracket.
1. The Room vs. 8. Transformers: Age of Extinction
The first matchup is between two titans of trash who are on opposite ends of the budget spectrum.
Tommy Wiseau’s magnum opus of mediocrity was made for $6 Million (which still seems like quite a bit when you consider the finished product) while Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction was made for $210 million.
Despite Mark Wahlberg as the lead, Age of Extinction features nothing even remotely memorable (save for its ungodly 165-minute runtime). Two hours and forty-five minutes is about 45 minutes too long for a movie that feels much more like someone’s special effects demo reel.
The Room earned the number one seed by being a throwback to the kind of bad movies that become good viewing experiences thanks to their shittiness.
It’s an easy win for The Room.
Winner: The Room
2. Sharknado vs. 7. The Happening
Marky Mark makes another appearance in this tournament, this time as the leading man in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening, the movie where everyone starts suiciding themselves because plants decided they had enough of humans.
Sharknado was the first in a franchise released by the modern-day masters of schlock: the SyFy Channel. The film became a cultural event thanks to its unabashed willingness to go big through cheap special effects and stunt casting. That makes it an entertaining hunk of garbage.
Shyamalan is one of the most inconsistent filmmakers ever. For every Sixth Sense, there’s a Lady In The Water. He makes some bad movies but not really “so bad they’re good” movies.
Sharknado is moving on.
3. Birdemic vs. 6. Jack And Jill
Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds is one of the most famous horror films. Birdemic isn’t.
I’m not sure what to make of Jack And Jill. It’s such a bad comedy that it almost seems like a parody of a bad comedy where the actor plays multiple parts. Was the Sand Man going for some sort of Andy Kaufmanesque joke on the movie-going public?
Birdemic is known for its lackluster special effects that helped director James Nguyen make it for under $10,000. It shows, but that’s kind of what makes it a good bad movie.
Despite a lifelong fear of birds, I’m handing this victory to Birdemic.
4. Catwoman vs 5. Cats
We’ve got a feline showdown on our hands, folks.
Halle Berry’s turn at playing the iconic comic book character went about as swimmingly as throwing an actual cat into a pool. Just go watch the cringe-inducing basketball scene and you’ll get the gist of the movie as a whole.
2019’s Cats is the most recent film in this bracket and probably features the most star-studded cast of any of the movies we’re talking about. Still, star power wasn’t enough to save this film from becoming the latest entry into the “best worst movie” conversation.
You have to wonder who thought Cats was going to ever be a good movie in the first place. I thought that the whole appeal of the musical was in its weirdness. It’s the show you go to if paying $100+ per ticket and having actors dressed as cats rub themselves all over you is your idea of fun.
What gives the edge to Catwoman is they thought they were making a good movie and even had the source material to make that happen but still managed to mess it up.
Modern Crap Semifinals
1. The Room vs. 2. Sharknado
Like I said before, This bracket was set up like the one the NHL uses in the playoffs, which is why we’ve been left with such a big matchup in the semifinals.
The Room and Sharknado are this generation’s crappy movies that future generations will get together and laugh at decades from now.
I wish I could send them both through but that’s not how brackets work.
This matchup comes down to the longevity these flicks will have. A lot of Sharknado’s popular appeal is thanks in part to its use of publicity-generating casting throughout the entire franchise. However, years from now, seeing Ian Ziering or Tara Reed in a movie won’t have the same irony factor that it does for today’s audiences.
The Room is timeless in this respect and that’s why it’s moving on.
Winner: The Room
3. Birdemic vs 4. Catwoman
Here’s another matchup where two movies represent two different styles of shitty films: Birdemic is one that is bad due to financial limitations while Catwoman is an example of a Hollywood film that just failed to stick the dismount (and by that, I mean both of its legs shattered upon landing).
It’s a matter of taste as to which is a better recipe for a crap movie. I tend to favor the low-budget flicks because I like the spirit that comes along with it. Birdemic wasn’t a cash grab but Catwoman was.
Still, casting Halle Berry as Catwoman should’ve been a slam dunk (remember the basketball scene?) and it still was fouled up to the point of making it into this bracket. In fact, it didn’t just make it but it earned a place in the Modern Crap final.
Modern Crap Final
1. The Room vs. 4. Catwoman
Both of these movies deserve a spot in the Modern Crap division final but there can only be one flick that moves on to compete against Plan 9.
The Room feels like a movie where all of the bad movie stars aligned. It’s a generational talent in the world of bad movies. Catwoman, on the other hand, feels like a missed opportunity; like the initial goal was to make a kickass comic book movie, but somewhere along the line, the wheels fell off.
For that reason, it’s an easy decision.
Welcome to the finals, Mr. Wiseau.
Winner: The Room
After all that, we’ve arrived at the championship matchup and it features two absolute legends going toe to toe.
1. Plan 9 From Outer Space vs. 1. The Room
It’s fitting that these two films would meet up in the final. In the world of bad movies, these two are MJ and LeBron. They’re the greats and your favorite likely has to do with when you grew up.
There are a lot of similarities between the two films. Both were byproducts of their respective director’s singular visions; films that only Ed Wood and Tommy Wiseau could have concocted. These movies are passion projects of auteurs who were both able to somehow figure out a way to procure the resources needed to make a feature film despite having no business presiding over one.
In fact, both movies have even spawned good ones that tell the stories of their productions in the form of The Disaster Artist and Ed Wood.
These are also both ripe with everything that makes for a great bad movie: clunky dialogue, continuity errors, weak special effects, and plots that don’t really seem to go anywhere.
It’s a tough call, but based on its old-school charm and its lovable crappiness—as well as being an innovator in the so “bad it’s good” genre—I’ve got to hand this victory (and the overall title) to Plan 9 From Outer Space.
Our Champion: Plan 9 From Outer Space