There are many different standards when it comes to the quality of a film. Some films blow audiences away with their profound ideas and artistic presentation, while others are so lazily slapped together that it makes you wonder why the people involved even bothered to make them in the first place.
However, there is this generally ignored area somewhere in between, in which a movie is so baffling in its delivery that it actually becomes a unique and enjoyable viewing experience.
This area is the “so bad it’s good” pantheon of filmmaking. From “Plan 9 From Outer Space” to “The Room,” these films are a peculiar brand of their own. But why is it that these films stand out and thrive in their awfulness rather than fall to the wayside like thousands of other mediocre films?
The best way to pinpoint exactly why these films gain their cult followings begins with the people behind making them. The two most recognizable examples of films such as these are “The Room,” by Tommy Wiseau, and “Troll 2,” by Claudio Fragasso. What is most interesting about these two films is that they are revered and beloved by many for very similar reasons, while at the same time being universally recognized as poor attempts at filmmaking.
The directors/writers of these films were men who should not be in the business of making movies. They had no prior experience and no understanding of how a film is made, and both are from foreign countries and clearly have little understanding of what makes a movie a success in America.
However, these two men both share something that is invaluable to making such catastrophic masterpieces: unrelenting, unrivaled passion.
Everyone who has ever seen “The Room” or “Troll 2” understands that they are basically comedies of error. Not one performance, line of dialogue, or edited scene works or makes sense by any stretch of the imagination. The directors of these two films, however, believe with utmost certainty that they not only did a good job, but also did an incredible job. This in and of itself is laughable, but, in a way, it is charming and begs to be respected.
It takes a special brand of dedication, honesty, and passion to create a movie that ends up “so bad it’s good.” These films are the unfiltered brainchildren of some of the kookiest minds ever to step foot on a film set, and it is fascinating to witness what they came up with.
It is useless to try and make sense of anything because there is very little rhyme or reason as to what happens. All we know is that these men wanted to make movies and were willing to do anything to achieve their dreams. Wiseau did not care that his scene in which his main character (played by him, of course) walks into a flower shop was so needlessly rushed that it appears as if every line of dialogue is out of order. He just cares that he was able to film the scene at all, and the fact that it exists is a point of pride to him.
Fragasso could care less if his teen actor’s delivery of the common term of “Oh my god” was so awkwardly delivered that it became meme-worthy. He is just happy to be in the director’s chair, watching his vision become a reality and his dream come true right before his eyes.
Unwatchably bad films certainly exist, but the reason they are deemed unwatchable is mostly due to how little effort was put in to the final product. It would be ignorant to assume that all of these movies were a failure due to the lack of caring from those involved. However, when the final cut of the film comes out, and the mistakes bringing it down come off as a lack of attention and passion, it is difficult to fully get behind those films.
For example, M. Night Shyamalan’s adaptation of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is not an enjoyable film to watch. It has some of the same mistakes seen throughout “The Room” and “Troll 2” (poor acting, lackluster visuals, questionable casting, etc.) but it is not as enjoyable to sit through due to Shyamalan’s clear lack of respect for the source material. All of the changes he made to adapt the show to the big screen were ones that were proof of the fact that he never truly cared for the beloved Nickelodeon property, most evident in the baffling race-swap of all of the characters.
Affection for the craft comes through in full force throughout both “The Room” and “Troll 2,” and it is a part of what makes watching these films so enjoyable. When someone is creating something with fire in their belly and a smile on their face, it is contagious. Intentionally bad movies exist, but even the sharpest minds could never come up with something so endearingly terrible as Wiseau and Fragasso’s films.