IMDb Bottom 100: The Omega Code

The Omega Code

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“The Omega Code” is pretty much what you should expect of a theatrical release by the televangelist extraordinaires at the Trinity Broadcasting Network. It is a conservative, evangelical trash script played out by mediocre actors under the hand of an incompetent director, all for the lowest possible cost (and it shows). “Omega Code” in particular plays off of the popularity of conspiratorial thinking and the general public anxieties surrounding the year 2000. The plot is focused around the thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory of “The Bible Code”, and (of course) the book of Revelations. The movie covers all of the Christian apocalypse themes that you would expect, with some conservative talking points thrown in for good measure (the UN is totally horrible, you guys). Just going by the Christian apocalypse beats, there’s the makings of a half-interesting end-of-the-world movie here, admittedly. However, this attempt was pretty badly whiffed on a number of fronts.

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Trinity Broadcasting Network: the same quality brand that brought a Jesus theme park into the world

First off, the screenwriting is horrible. The dialogue is all excessively heavy-handed, every line oozing with self-importance. Nothing is subtle or inconspicuous at all, and that problem starts with the words that are on the page. The plot becomes completely unbelievable pretty damn quickly, unless you live in a conservative fantasy-land of constant fear. Part of the blame there has to go to the directing and the acting, but I don’t know how anyone could have made this script acceptable without dramatic re-writing. That said, the acting isn’t getting off without a mention.

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These two aren’t getting out of this without some credit/blame

I’m not sure whether I love or hate Michael York’s performance in this movie. He goes from half-likable politician to mustache-twirling villain in a heartbeat, but does play a hammy evil role pretty impressively. Still, it is impossible to take Austin Powers’s boss seriously as (spoilers) the Anti-Christ. He is just way too over-the-top and goofy throughout the movie to consider a legitimate villain, and moments where he is supposed to come off as menacing play out as ridiculous. However, at least he isn’t Casper Van Dien. Or, to a lesser extent, Michael Ironside. Ironside, for one, is completely wasted in this movie as a one-dimensional B-villain who mostly exists to fire guns (occasionally) and smoke cigarettes (menacingly). He must have gotten a hefty paycheck, otherwise I can’t imagine why he would have considered this bit role. Van Dien, on the other hand, is given far too much responsibility in this film. The whole movie is essentially resting on his shoulders, which is an apocalyptic plan if I’ve ever heard of one.  His acting, as usual, is just abysmal. His line deliveries are awful throughout the movie (I wouldn’t rely on him to deliver a pizza), and whenever he is depended on to really show his capabilities, he reveals his internal vacuum of talent to the world. Early on in the movie, his character is giving a motivational speech, which is supposed to set the tone and background for his character (as well as the premise for the movie). He needed to really convince the audience of his charisma and speaking abilities in that scene to sell his character, and he fails quite astoundingly. It essentially starts the whole movie off on the wrong foot.

To the movie’s credit, the special effects are not horrible for the financial constraints they were working with (the finale still looks pretty crappy, but I won’t harp on it). However, that’s definitely semi-polished brass on the Titanic that is this movie. The acting and writing in particular just drag this whole production down, to the point that it has sort of a cult following as a good-bad movie. In any case, it certainly failed in its intent to evangelize to the conspiracy theory crowd. The movie did its damnedest to do so though, injecting unnecessary computer-magic and millennium-related bits into the background here and there. In particular, the final shot of the film mentions the millennium as a new beginning (after Satan is defeated and all that jazz). The movie did do pretty well in the South preaching to its own choir, not unlike “God’s Not Dead” and a handful of other evangelical religious movies over the years. However, it has cemented itself as a bargain bin staple in recent years, right next to all of the Kirk Cameron “Left Behind” films. It did manage to spawn a comparably crappy sequel, which I intend to check out sometime in the near future.
omega3“The Omega Code” was briefly in the IMDb Bottom 100 some years ago, and still boasts an impressively low IMDb score at 3.4. I’m not super-surprised that it isn’t down there any more, as religious movies sort of live in their own dominion that most just try to ignore. At the same time, they do have their target audience, and those folks are going to relatively inflate the scores for movies like “The Omega Code” on any democratic ranking sites (such as IMDb). The movie certainly has a low enough quality to dwell in the Bottom 100, but not too lowly I don’t think. Little things like sound editing, cinematography, and continuity were adequate, which gives it a leg up on films like “Birdemic” and the MST3k movies in the Bottom 100 ranks. There is some fun to be had with this movie, but it isn’t on the top of my list for a good-bad watch.

 

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BMFcast on IMDb Bottom 100

I recently wrote in to the popular bad movie podcast Bad Movie Fiends (BMFcast for short), asking about their general thoughts on the IMDb Bottom 100. I just checked out their most recent episode on “I, Frankenstein” last night, having totally forgotten about the email, and it turns out that they responded to it in the show! It starts just after the 1:24:00 mark towards the end, but I’ll list some key excerpts below:

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[on the IMDb Bottom 100]

“It is a good representation of the most publicly well-known bad movies”

“One of the problems with the Bottom 100 is that a lot of people vote MST3k movies on there, but you are watching those movies through different means…if you are sitting in a room with three guys who are ripping the shit out of a movie, it is going to alter your opinion of it a little bit…it bothers me that a lot of that list is MST3k movies, but there is shit like Foodfight and Theodore Rex on there*, which deserve to be there”

“Because of crowd-sourced stuff, an Indian movie called “Gunday” is at the worst spot on IMDb due to a political thing…a twitter campaign to take it to the bottom of the Bottom 100″

“My problem with that whole list is that so much of it is the painful shit that you don’t want to sit through. That is truly the worst, but we look for entertaining bad. That is always our goal”

“It used to be movies like “Plan 9” and “Manos” at the top, and then everyone was like “OMG Birdemic”, and it gets to the top 10. Then it levels out..and it starts dropping out of there.”

“My recommendation to you, Gordon, is do not do this solo. Do not take this journey alone. Don’t. It will only end in pain. When you are solo, it hurts. It hurts bad.”

“I don’t trust [The IMDb Bottom 100]. The community as a whole can’t agree on what a bad movie is…I wouldn’t go by that Bottom 100 list, and watch them just because they are bad movies…those things are pain”

“If you are going to keep on this path, skip the comedies…a bad comedy has nothing left. For the love of god skip comedies. They will all be “Disaster Movie”, don’t do it”

*Foodfight isn’t on the Bottom 100 currently due to not meeting the vote quota criteria. Theodore Rex has a low enough score and enough votes, but is not in the ranking due to unlisted criteria.


Overall, they responded almost exactly how I expected. They brought up the flaws of an open democratic ranking system, the recent “Gunday” controversy (I’ll cover that in a future post), and the over-representation of features from MST3k in the Bottom 100. They also specifically caution against bad comedies, which is something I learned pretty damn quickly (but I’m not skipping them, that’s cheating). Bad comedies are, 99 times out of 100, irredeemably awful with very little takeaway value. Then again, this challenge is supposed to be difficult, after all.

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It would be much easier if Paris Hilton would have never gotten into film, though

One aspect that I do find interesting about their responses is something I consider a sort of…philosophical difference between what they do and what I do here. The BMF guys are, with their show, specifically chasing down good-bad movies, using their sliding scale of 5 bags (bad) to 5 Jox (good, from “Robot Jox”) to rank everything they watch. They specifically go after lesser-known movies more often than not, and aim to raise the profile of what are basically diamonds in the rough: amazingly good-bad movies that have either been popularly forgotten or overlooked. I think that is a kick-ass goal, and something I am working on doing myself eventually with the Bargain Bin(ge). It isn’t very often that people find those golden good-bad movies, and you never quite know where they are going to come from, so all the more power to them for doing the leg work on digging them up. However, finding good-bad movies isn’t my goal with going through the IMDb Bottom 100. By nature of the voting quota for the list, movies in the IMDb Bottom 100 are already relatively well known, so it wouldn’t really make sense to use the list for that. There is still the chance that I will be surprised here and there (and I have been), but that isn’t the idea behind the challenge.

While the democratic system of the Bottom 100 has significant drawbacks, it also means that this ranking of bad movies is compiled by the quasi-consensus of the internet mob: the list has a zeitgeist to it, and a sense of cultural relevance. The fact that it is constantly updating actually fascinates me, whereas the BMF team sees that as a sort of weakness to the list. I think that it needs to be fluid to keep up with the times: just look at the archive rankings that I dug up from 2004, and check out the immense change that the list has undergone in that time. The will of the IMDb voting mob is ever-changing and fickle, and can be influenced by the times. I don’t think the Bottom 100 should be though of as a concrete and final list, but more like a sort of bad movie barometer for current trends.

tenSo, there is a sense that the IMDb Bottom 100 has cultural relevancy to it, and that definitely influenced my interest in taking on this challenge. However, that’s also not the whole reason why I am doing it. This is where the real philosophical difference comes in: I like watching bad movies. Not just good-bad movies, but all bad movies. If a movie doesn’t have that special charm that makes it so bad it is good, that doesn’t mean I won’t watch it. With that sort of movie (“The Maize: The Movie”, for example), I just take a different approach to it. Instead of enjoying the spectacle like a good audience should, I approach watching these crap movies more like you would approach an autopsy. I want to understand what went wrong with it, and what dysfunctions were fatal to the film. I want to know who/what killed it, the cause of death, and perhaps the motivation (if it is known). I like knowing how movies tick, and there are a lot of aspects to film-making that are invisible to the audience unless something is going wrong. As someone who doesn’t have a film background, I like learning these things by reverse engineering bad movies and poking at their flaws, so I can better understand what makes good movies good. I still absolutely adore good-bad movies, but I’ve learned how to approach bad-bad movies as well. The IMDb Bottom 100 offers a variety of films that have failed in countless different ways, and I’m personally interested in digging into that sort of thing. It may be difficult to watch through them at times, but I always wind up getting something out of the experience when all is said and done.

Kind of like that, yeah

Lastly, I chose to do this challenge to force me to write regularly and become ever-so-slightly more competent at video editing. And, of course, just to say that I did it. That alone is a good enough reason for me.

Also, I’m over half way done now. Might as well stick it out.

If any of you BMFers come across this, keep being awesome, and thanks for the response!

IMDb Bottom 100: Captain America (1990)

Captain America (1990)

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With the recent cinematic successes out of the Marvel Universe, there has been some increased attention towards Marvel’s earlier, less impressive attempts to break into the big screen. Whereas DC saw successes with Superman and Batman on the big screen long before our current comic book movie boom, Marvel was a bit late to the game. Before Raimi’s “Spider-Man” and Singer’s “X-Men” franchises, there were a small handful of attempts to cash in on Marvel properties at the box office. My personal favorite of those was an Ozploitation version of “The Punisher” featuring Dolph Lundgren, but this blog is rarely about things that I like. So, today I am going to talk about the formerly IMDb Bottom 100-ranked “Captain America” from 1990, directed by the infamous Albert Pyun.

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It really kicks ass

There were a lot of factors working against the team creating “Captain America (1990)” that certainly contributed to the movie’s failure. They were battling a resistant studio, rigid restrictions from Marvel, and were working with a very small budget. All of those issues are evident while watching the movie, particularly the budget whenever any kind of special effects are needed. The costuming issues (rubbers ears, for example) also certainly stemmed from the restrictions from Marvel on how they could present their properties on screen, which I think Pyun did the best he could with. However, there were certainly some bizarre creative decisions going on as well.

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I’m pretty sure that rocket is made of cardboard

First off, the casting of Captain America is beyond perplexing at first glance. Matt Salinger was not an experienced actor, and was clearly not suited to be the lead in a movie. Apart from the fun-fact that his father is JD Salinger, there isn’t much notable about him. In a behind-the-scenes feature, Pyun claimed that he wanted to have two different actors to play Steve Rogers (pre-transformation) and Captain America. At the time, that might have been the best way to pull off a convincing transformation (this is the trick they used for “The Incredible Hulk” on TV, after all). However, apparently this idea was shot down, so Pyun had to cast someone who could be convincing as a muscular hero and as the unintimidating Steve Rogers. That doesn’t quite excuse going with Matt Salinger, but the decision is a little more understandable in that lens. I still personally think it is more likely that Matt Salinger was the cheapest option on the table, so they ran with it.

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Gotta love those rubber ears

As is not uncommon with an unpolished, low-budget movie, Pyun was essentially locked out of the editing room after the funding ran out for filming. At that point, the movie was cut together with what was available, despite an entire filming location being cut for lack of funds. The result is a somewhat jarring final product that is clearly missing pieces needed to flesh it out.

Personally, I’m not convinced that any budget could have made this film good. Albert Pyun I don’t think has the talent to pull off a top-tier Hollywood flick, but I would have been interested to see what he would have come up with. I do assume that Salinger would have been out if the money permitted a bigger name, but rumors I have seen included Dolph Lundgren and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role, which would have been a little odd either way. In any case, I think that “Captain America (1990)” is pretty entertaining for what it is. Some seem to find it pretty painful to sit through, but I thought that there were enough hammy moments between the bad special effects and Cap’s carjackings to make it a pretty good watch.

The best news is that with the recent success of Captain America on the big screen, this movie has been re-released on Blu-ray! If you are interested in watching this movie, I totally recommend checking that out (especially the interviews with Salinger and Pyun about the movie’s production).

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IMDb Bottom 100: The Titanic Animated Movies

The Legend of the Titanic

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Titanic: The Legend Goes On

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There are two foreign animated movies about the Titanic disaster that star talking animals. Both movies are, as you would expect, thoroughly bizarre. Due to the similarity of the titles and a mix up on my part, I wound up watching both of them, despite the fact that only one of them is in the IMDb Bottom 100. Interestingly enough, “The Legend of the Titanic” has an overall IMDb score of 1.3, which is well below the 2.4 of “Titanic: The Legend Goes On”, which is actually listed in the Bottom 100. There are more factors that go into the IMDb Bottom 100 ranking than score alone, though, which is why “The Legend of the Titanic” isn’t included. Most notably, there is a minimum quota of votes necessary for a movie to qualify for the list, a number which “The Legend of the Titanic” hasn’t reached yet. Still, given I had already watched the movie and that the score is so tremendously low, I figured I might as well review it in conjunction with “Titanic: The Legend Goes On”. In fact, if “The Legend of the Titanic” qualified right now for the IMDb ranking, it would come in at #1 in the Bottom 100. That is good enough for me.

“The Legend of the Titanic” was a far more entertainingly bad movie than I could have possibly expected. I honestly absolutely loved it. The villains were all over-the-top in the best possible way, including the notably eye-patched whaling baron primary antagonist (who was an absolute delight). The voice acting of the character reminded me of Harvey Korman playing Hedley Lamarr in “Blazing Saddles”, in that it was perfectly seething with high-class malevolence. The character also orchestrated one of the most elaborate and nonsensical plots I’ve ever seen in a movie, which certainly earns extra credit. Somehow, this man devised a plan to work with a gang of talking sharks to sink the Titanic in order to secure a monopoly on the Atlantic whaling market. It is even more ridiculous than what you are picturing.

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These three organisms are primarily responsible for the sinking of the Titanic as part of a whaling monopoly conspiracy

There are a plenty of other astoundingly nonsensical characters and plots in “The Legend of the Titanic”, including a woman who can talk to animals due to the reflections of moon beams in her tears, an octopus capable of throwing icebergs for miles, and talking Brazilian mice who apparently introduced soccer to the Americas. Needless to say, I can’t recommend this movie highly enough: the constant stream of nonsense in this movie is entertaining throughout.

This talking octopus prevents anyone from dying on the Titanic. Everyone survives.

“Titanic: The Legend Continues” is quite a different case. “The Legend of the Titanic” has an entertainingly nonsensical plot, but it is more or less half-competently assembled. “The Legend Continues” is an absolute wreck (ha) in comparison. The voice acting and animation are both massively jarring and out-of-sync, making the act of watching the movie a chore (more-so than it would have been anyway). It is also a musical, which adds a whole new layer of misery to the film.

The most famous scene of “Titanic: The Legend Continues” is undoubtedly a specific sequence featuring a poorly-animated rapping dog. However, there are two different versions of the movie which feature entirely different songs during the sequence. Both are pretty horrible, but I think there is no doubt as to which one is the worst. Check out this comparison:

Something else that is very clear about “The Legend Continues” is that the animators were not bashful about ripping off other works. There are character designs and sequences pulled straight out of other features unashamedly. For instance, check out a couple of the dog characters from “The Legend Continues”:

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Look familiar? Of course they do. There is the potential for a fantastic (perhaps lethal) drinking game based on spotting the cliches and ripoffs in this movie.

One of the other huge problems with “The Legend Goes On” is an overabundance of characters, none of whom get much screen-time to develop personalities or stories. There are countless unnecessary one-dimensional characters in this film, such as the lounge singer, the first officer, the under-cover New York cop, and the jewel thief family. None of them play much into the plot, and those are just a handful of the useless human characters. I couldn’t even keep track of all of the stereotype-dependent animals wandering around on the ship.

I suppose “The Legend Continues” should get points for acknowledging that the Titanic disaster actually happened (unlike “Legend of the Titanic”), but everything was so hastily and lazily thrown together, I can’t help but like “Legend of the Titanic” more. “The Legend Goes On” is a move painful watch than “The Legend of the Titanic” if you ask me, and doesn’t have nearly as many laughs. There are plenty of nonsense moments that are entertaining, but most of the value of “The Legend Goes On” comes from basking in its incompetence in the realms of voice acting and animation. If you don’t get a kick out of watching cinematic failures, it is going to be very hard to sit through. However, I think these two movies go very well together. They are so astoundingly similar in plot and characters that they are very often confused with each other, and they even make a lot of the same mistakes. If you aren’t interested in sitting through them in their entirety though, The Nostalgia Critic has reviews of both movies that hit all of the highlights (below).

The Creep Behind The Camera

Right now there is a lot of buzz in the bad movie world surrounding James Franco’s involvement in an upcoming film adaptation of “The Disaster Artist”, a recent book about the making of cult-classic bad movie “The Room”.

disasterI’m just as excited as everyone else about seeing “The Disaster Artist” translated to film, but I just came across another movie that is currently hitting film festivals about the making of one of the most notorious bad movies from the 1960’s: “The Creeping Terror”

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“The Creep Behind The Camera” is a dark comedy docu-drama that tells the story of the people behind “The Creeping Terror”, integrating interviews and stories with live-action reenactments. I’ve come across a few snippets of information about the making of “The Creeping Terror” while reading up on it for the IMDb Bottom 100 (coming up soon), and I am really looking forward to hearing more. From what I can tell, “The Creeping Terror” was a chaotic, low-budget disasterpiece run by a swindler/egomaniac who manipulated people into participating in the film. It also features one of the most perplexing, least convincing monsters that has ever hit the big screen. Needless to say, the “Creep Behind The Camera” crew had plenty to work with.

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Stand as close as possible to the monster to shoot at it

I highly recommend checking out the trailer for “The Creep Behind The Camera” (below). It doesn’t look like it will shy away from some really dark territory, but it still strikes as a comedic work at heart. Reviews so far look pretty promising, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it gets distributed soon.

IMDb Bottom 100: Gigli

Gigli

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Gigli was a very public, big budget critical and financial disaster. Unlike most movies in the IMDb Bottom 100, this is neither an old grindhouse picture from MST3K or an obscure foreign film. This movie was huge. The celebrity status of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez was at an all-time high, and their presence in the movie was almost sure to make it a financial success. However, someone forgot to make sure that the script was…socially acceptable. Or, y’know…good.

Apart from a couple of more or less unprompted and unnecessary cameos by Christopher Walken and Al Pacino, the movie is nearly unwatchable. The characters are incredibly unlikable, the story manages to be massively offensive to an astounding number of people, and Affleck / Lopez put in two of the most uninspired performances you can imagine. You can tell that it is supposed to be a dark mob comedy, but it doesn’t pull off the necessary banter or chemistry to make that sort of thing work. It also fails to keep any kind of consistent tone, which is astoundingly one of the lesser issues with the film. With a serious re-write by someone with the necessary skill and a more competent director, I think there might have been a decent movie made out of this premise. Maybe.

The fallout of this movie cost writer/director Martin Brest his career, and in conjunction with “Jersey Girl” and “Daredevil” almost ended Ban Affleck’s career in front of the camera. Likewise, Jennifer Lopez’s stock has never really recovered from the one-two punch of “Gigli” and “Jersey Girl”. The film managed to sweep the Razzies, and set a record for box office drop-off in the second week. The paychecks for Affleck and Lopez alone dwarfed the total revenue brought in by the film’s release.

Since this movie, Ben Affleck has won his second Academy Award and Golden Globe, had a Golden Globe nomination for playing Superman, and has been cast as Batman. Huh.
Since this movie, Ben Affleck has won his second Academy Award, his second Golden Globe, had a Golden Globe nomination for playing Superman, and has been cast as the next Batman.

“Gigli” is unarguably one of the biggest combined critical and financial flops of the century so far, which may be enough to keep it cemented in the Bottom 100 despite the film’s high production value. However, I can only recommend two scenes out of the movie:

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Now you are good. There is nothing else in “Gigli” worth seeing, unless you really want to be bored and angry at the same time for some reason.

Paste Magazine’s 100 Best B-movies

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PasteMagazine.com recently published a list of the 100 “Best” B-movies of all time. In general, there are some great entries in the list, and it is a great starting point for someone new to the realm of bad movies. There are a few intentionally bad movies and Troma-style films that I’m not typically fond of due to their lack of earnestness, but that’s more of a personal preference.  I still recommend checking out the whole list, but here are some particular selections from it that you can expect to see from me soon:

“Troll 2”

I’ve been holding off on this one, but it is coming. It has cemented itself in recent years as one of the modern paragons of bad cinema, and has built a phenomenal fan base. It has dropped in the Bottom 100 significantly, but it is still on there and I am definitely going to review it.

“Ben & Arthur”

I’ve never seen this one, but I have heard many comparisons of it to “The Room”, so I have high expectations. It is still hanging around in the Bottom 100, so you can expect this one sooner rather than later.

“Mac & Me”

You had better believe that this is coming. It isn’t in the Bottom 100 anymore, but it used to be. That’s enough of an excuse for me to check this out in the near future.

“BibleMan”

I have a pretty significant BibleMan DVD collection, and I can’t wait to dig into them. I’m focusing on the Bottom 100 first, but expect a bunch of these to show up in my (God)Awful Movies section in good time.

“Robot Monster”

I don’t know much about this one, apart from the fact that I found it in a bargain bin and it is an alumni of the IMDb Bottom 100. Also, the monster looks hilarious.

“Hobgoblins”

This is an old MST3k classic with some of the worst puppeteering I have seen since “Elves”. I’ve already watched it for the Bottom 100, but I haven’t written up my review yet.

“Hercules in New York”

Another alumni of the IMDb Bottom 100, known for being The Governator’s hilariously bad film debut. I’m looking forward to checking out this dubbed mess pretty soon.

One of the few things that I disagree heavily with the list’s author on is the #1 selection, “Hard Ticket to Hawaii”. It was featured recently on Red Letter Media’s Best of the Worst, and came in 3rd behind “Deadly Prey” and “Miami Connection” there. I personally prefer both of those movies to “Hard Ticket” as well. I recently watched all three, and while “Hard Ticket” has great inexplicable moments (death Frisbee, the infamous snake), it also has a lot of down time. It is also a movie that was designed to be tongue-in-cheek and is intentionally low quality (it is just barely not a porno), which doesn’t always work for me when it comes to bad movies. Both “Miami Connection” and “Deadly Prey” are, in contrast, honestly made movies, and are even more entertaining for it. If you ask many B-movie fans, earnestness is a really important quality in enjoyably bad movies, and for any “#1 Bad Movie” to lack it would fail to represent a key trait of the nebulous genre.

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