20 Best Worst Movies That You Need To See To Believe
11. Over The Top (1987)
Sure, there are lots of movies about custody battles, fathers bonding with their children, and Robert Loggia. More importantly, how many of those movies are centered around the exciting world of competitive arm wrestling?
At the height of the 1980s, Sylvester Stallone still genuinely believed he could do anything. Over the Top makes abundantly clear the threshold of his talents as an actor and writer. Yet the intense, heavy-handed seriousness of this film is compelling.
When most movies take themselves way too seriously, they lose most of what makes them enjoyably bad. Over the Top somehow sidesteps this, which is a quality that Stallone deserves credit for pulling off again and again. This is the peak of that concept, and you will probably root for Sly and his idiotic dreams in spite of yourself.
Watch if: You don’t think custody battles have enough arm-wrestling. Avoid if: You hate annoying kid characters in movies.
Despite the presence of stilted dialog, uneven performances, and odd side plots, Miami Connection is an incredible low budget achievement. It tells a fairly expansive story of drug-dealing, ninjas, a weird brother and sister relationship, friendship, rock and roll, father/son reunions, and a plethora of martial arts. This is done with what were clearly a limited range of resources.
Yet for its notable flaws and issues, Miami Connection is nonetheless exciting in its own strange way. Star/co-writer/co-director/producer Y.K. Kim is another example of someone who creates a “bad” movie that nonetheless wins you over. In Miami Connection’s case, it’s the idea of telling a $10-million dollar story with considerably less than that.
Watch if: You want a movie with Miami, ninjas, decapitations, and sturdy rock and roller numbers about friendship. Avoid if: You absolutely despise friendship in every form.
13. Road House (1989)
Fairly successful when it came out, Roadhouse has gone on to enjoy one of the most unique examples of the afterlife of a cult classic.
The story of a bouncer who goes up against a local criminal and his small town empire (with Sam Elliott as the sexy mentor to Patrick Swayze’s heroic bouncer) is another one of those ridiculous movies that speaks to you in a most somber tone. This movie never stops taking itself seriously, even as some of the most ridiculous scenes and fights populate the relentless, inevitable pursuit of a showdown with Ben Gazzara.
Part of the enjoyment of Road House involves being okay with how straight-laced this ridiculousness seems to be.
Watch if: You can observe Dalton’s 3 rules. Avoid if: You can’t.
14. Troll 2 (1990)
If you do a Google search for “Best worst movie”, you will probably get the documentary of the same name. It is a documentation of not only the making of Troll 2, which was not a sequel to anything, nor a movie that actually had trolls, but of the decidedly odd impact this film has had on people over the years.
Troll 2 is another one where a plot summary seems pointless. There’s a remarkably unlikable family, an RV full of idiots, and a town full of goblins. Nothing else really matters. Troll 2 is absolutely wretched in every sense of the word. Its strangeness is what ultimately makes it so memorable.
Watch if: You want to see something stupefying in its stupidity. Avoid if: You might have an issue with a movie that assumes goblins are the same as trolls.
15. Nothing but Trouble (1991)
One day soon, Chevy Chase will die, and movies like Nothing but Trouble will make up the bulk of his dubious legacy. That aside, Nothing but Trouble is also directed by, written by, and stars Dan Aykroyd. While Dan has had his share of bombs in his long career, nothing compares to the fact that Nothing but Trouble was so poorly received upon release, it was almost treated as an elaborate war crime.
It’s another train wreck of a film, to be sure. Yet it escalates its madness with such recklessness that you have to stay to see what happens next. If nothing else, what happens from one moment to the next in this regrettable trash masterpiece will leave you stunned. Worth watching for a small role by Tupac, as well as John Candy in a role that will make you want to weep quietly, and alone.
Watch if: You want the early 90s more or less summed up in one bad movie. Avoid if: You can’t stand Chevy Chase in any form or fashion.
The most expensive movie ever made at that point in time, Waterworld marked the beginning of a lengthy down period for star/producer Kevin Costner. The movie has since become an example of a film that gets a bad reputation before it even comes out. Certainly, Waterworld was plagued with a wide range of production woes, which sent the budget into a tailspin. An aggressive marketing campaign didn’t do much to help the film, which would eventually go on to make back its budget.
If you don’t care about any of that, Waterworld isn’t as bad as its longstanding reputation might suggest. To be sure, it is one of the silliest movies made in the 90’s, with Costner’s performance failing repeatedly to match with that of the film, which frequently seems to take itself much too seriously. Yet Costner’s performance ultimately doesn’t really hurt the movie.
Surrounded by incredible sets, his nameless hero provides perfect foil for Dennis Hopper’s villain. Hopper is playing a fairly standard type (for him) here, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun all the same.
Waterworld is also interesting because it probably could have been a much better overall film, under better circumstances. As it is, it’s a urine-drinking weirdo with considerable odd charm. Perhaps, that’s all it really needs.
Watch if: You want to see a bad movie that’s more fun than not. Avoid if: You don’t miss 90s blockbuster silliness, and you have no desire to revisit it.
17. The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)
What could have been a stellar remake and triumph for Dust Devil director Richard Stanley eventually turned into a hellscape for pretty much everyone involved.
Stanley was eventually forced out, a confused, embittered John Frankenheimer came in, Marlon Brando scared everyone to death, and Val Kilmer was a dick to virtually every member of the cast. How David Thewlis, as a plane crash survivor who winds up on a mad scientist’s island, populated with horrible human/animal hybrids, even survived this film is a wonder we will never fully understand.
The Island of Dr. Moreau is quite possibly the worst movie on this list. That is saying something. That also doesn’t mean it’s unwatchable, unless you’re particularly fond of the 1930’s version, or even if you are a really big H.G. Wells fan. In fact, the chaos of this film’s troubled production history somehow creates a movie that seems to exist in spite of almost immediately collapsing, after the opening credits. It is a series of bizarre monologues, nonsensical ideologies, and Marlon Brando in one of the strangest things he’s ever done.
One thing is for sure: In spite of its many problems, The Island of Dr. Moreau is far from boring. I promise you won’t forget just how fucking easily this movie just keeps amping up the madness.
Watch if: You want to see a baffling tribute to the audacity of perserverence. Avoid if: Again, you’re a particularly significant fan of HG Wells, or of the 1930s classic with Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi.
18. Spice World (1997)
If you want to bookend your bad 90s movies experience, I honestly don’t think you can better than Spice World. A feature-length movie that features all of those spicy English ladies in a movie that more or less feels like a rip-off of something The Monkees and/or Beatles might have done.
To be sure, if you found the Spice Girls grating in the 90s, this isn’t going to change that. I would nonetheless recommend soldiering through anyway. This is one of the worst musical comedies in film history, and it is a quite frankly amazing example of what happens when you spend millions of dollars on something and have no idea what you actually want to do with it. The sea of celebrity cameos is not to be missed either.
Watch if: You want to see a star-studded, oddly endearing misfire. Avoid if: You absolutely hated the 90s, and you wish this current wave of nostalgia would go away.
19. The Room (2003)
At this point, it is almost impossible to appreciate The Room as the weird little turd of a movie that it is. Thanks to James Franco, RiffTrax, and thousands of midnight screenings, it has become an event movie on par with the likes Rocky Horror Picture Show. Still, this banal story of a guy who loses his girlfriend to his best friend has more than just an awkward approach to misogyny.
Watch if: You want to get all those quotes. Avoid if: You hate the fact that something like The Room is more famous than thousands of better films will ever be.
20. The Wicker Man (2006)
As more and more movies embrace their badness to the point of constantly winking to the knowing audience, it gets harder to find bad movies that are also enjoyable. The worst movies of the 2000s and 2010s are largely cynical, joyless affairs. At best, they are funny, but the fact that they know what they are all about makes it hard to actually have a good time.
That’s why, in case you’re wondering, Sharknado isn’t on this list. I don’t have time for movies that are too smug to be sincere. It’s boring, and it’s a lazy jackass approach to satire. It has created an entire generation of movies that are being made with the intention of being terrible. Virtually all of the best worst movie of all time were made by people who genuinely set out to do the opposite.
The Wicker Man, an alarmingly misguided remake of a classic, is absolutely sincere. You seem to get that with Nicolas Cage, regardless of what you hire him to do. Not only is The Wicker Man ridiculous and terrible for its own unique reasons, but it is also a very impressive affront to everything that made the original film so good. In the universe of so-bad-it’s-good Nicholas Cage movies, which occupies a significant place in bad movie history these days, The Wicker Man is a deeply delusional, glorious king.
Watch if: You want to know what’s in the bag. A shark or something? Avoid if: You get a little uncomfortable around bees. Or Nicolas Cage. Or bees covering Nicolas Cage’s face.
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