Not every movie gets to be the Oscar darling of its time, but sometimes we love the bad movies the most. These movies exist to be found in the bottom of bargain DVD bins and are met with squeals of excitement. Movies like Red Planet, Enemy Mine, The Faculty — these aren't successful by any standards other than the people that love them and treasure watching them for the 14th time. So I asked around and pulled a sampling of what I believe is the science fiction equivalent to Point Break. Here's our list of the greatest bad scifi movies of all time.
Now it needs to be said, these are movies that aren't trying to be bad. So no, you won't find Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (though it is awfully great), Innerspace or Attack of the Killer Tomatoes here. We'll build another list of intentionally campy movies later. These are strictly films that were made in total seriousness but turned out ridiculously awful and we LOVE THEM FOR IT.
Chronicles Of Riddick:
There are so many awesomely terrible moments in this movie that I can recite or reenact on command. How about the fact that you can prevent the death-inducing sun from burning you alive with a little water? Diesel is literally STEAMING in this film. It's awesome. Or what about the line: "It's been a long time since I smelled beautiful"? Plus the whole Necromonger mythology is so fascinating. How about the machines that stab your neck or the crazy heat-sensing drones that follow the warriors around. None of it was ever really explained or made any sense, but it was all still amazing. I don't think I have ever passed on a Chronicles watching party, ever. One of the my 5,000 Chronicles favorite scenes is below, "Death By Tea Cup."
Don't even pretend that you haven't tried to do the splits in your underwear on the kitchen counter after watching Jean-Claude Van Damme prance about in his mullet. This is such a bad/awesome movie, it's no wonder that on any given day of the week it's on some TV channel at 3 AM (split clip below). This is strictly a smash 'em up, everyone-tells-Van-Damme-what-a-badass-he-is movie, and that's all we wanted from it. Notice the seductive come hither look as he jumps?
Monster in a trench coat played by Doug Jones? That's horribly fantastic.
Terrible, horrible writing with a "we make things go boom" ending, but I can't stop watching this flick just to see the CG muscle monkey and to watch invisible Kevin Bacon torture the poor girl across the way. It's one of those movies you view between your fingers because the science and the reasoning behind all the characters' actions are so bad, you can't let yourself fully embrace it as a whole. But you still want to see them get locked in the freezer and then magnetize the dead bolt because it's silly.
Planet Of The Apes (Tim Burton's Remake):
The monkey people are cool — sorry those of you that hated it, but the makeup was wonderfully done. The plot? Well it took a backseat to a half-naked Estella Warren. Honestly, the shock ending was so slapdash, it's laughable. But the overall look is compelling — you can't not watch. Plus, if you put Kris Kristofferson in a movie I'm going to watch it 1,000 times. The man is a legend.
The Last Star Fighter:
A movie where a kid gets to go fight space war video game style? How could this not be a best/worst movie.
I own four copies of Starship Troopers, no lie. I go into a panic when I can't find it, and I just go buy another. Starship Troopers is so ridiculously gory and tongue and cheek that I almost axed it off this list for being campy. But you know what, this movie is also totally awesome and deserves a place here. It's got Neil Patrick Harris as a Nazi know-it-all, goo-filled arm casts, a fake head having its brains sucked out, and one of the funniest death scenes I've ever seen when Dizz scream-dies her way out of this world from the arms of Rico himself.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse
This was a tough one, I seriously wanted to include all of the Resident Evil Paul W.S. Anderson movies but I feel that this truly was the best of the bad trilogy, because you have crazy super soldier Milla Jovovich as Alice, fighting Matt Addison as project Nemesis, the half dead human with a heart of gold. Oh and it introduces L.J., who is a fantastic character.
Besides the fact that this movie killed off Newt (which I thank them for), the doggie Alien was silly, but amazing. If you like terrible action movies that kill off characters the minute you start liking them, then this is a classic. I know Fincher is great, but he never really bothered to get into the backstory of a woman stuck in a once-prison-now-monks planet and the whole Ripley suicide at the end was really gratuitous. But I'd watch that bald lady jump backwards clutching her alien baby a million times, and secretly root that this time Clemens (Charles Dance) doesn't get killed off, (how quickly we forget Hicks, Miss Ripley). Like I said before, it killed Newt and has a doggie alien (sheesh).
This was a hard call for me. I'm really torn between Blade Trinity and Blade. But the original doesn't have a blind computer programmer and Ryan Reynolds, who you know pissed off Wesley Snipes to know end. Sure Parker Posey just played herself with fangs, but she's entertaining to watch alone, it's like seeing the unraveling of a mind. Plus the Kris Kristofferson rule applies to her as well.
You knew who the bad guy was from the first second you watched this alien invasion movie, but who cares? Famke Janssen's head is walking around by itself. Plus there are tons of quality one-liners and run-for-your-life scenes. Who didn't dream of their high school getting invaded by aliens, and you get to kill that dick coach who made you fun the mile on Friday. You gotta love the home-remedy alien kill sticks made from ball point pens and crushed speed pills that Josh Hartnett had a lab for. Who needs a whole lab to crush pills?
Is this movie worse than Armageddon? I would say yes, but its failure makes it much more appealing as a best/worst scifi flick than Armageddon could ever be. Strictly because you get to see the end of the world actually happen which is something many movies don't deliver, but in a more realistic sense than The Day After Tomorrow, where people are being chased by frost.
Alien Versus Predator
It delivered exactly what it promised. Aliens fighting Predators in an illogical maze because of an ancient back story. Oh who cares? It's Aliens fighting with Predators.
This scifi horror movie was pretty ridiculous with the eye-pulling out journey that Paul W.S. Anderson tries to take us on. You know it's a bad movie when a space ship opens up a portal to hell, but you know it's a bad/good movie when you include Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill and Hellraiser-esque clips. You can't beat the scene where Neill has ripped out his own eyes and says with a smile, "where we're going we won't need eyes."
A classic example of a bad movie that is more fun to watch for free than to have paid for. I like people getting stopped in time and crazy bloody children creep me out just as much as the next person. It's spooky, but that's about it.
Reign of Fire
Shirtless Christian Bale and shirtless Matthew McConaughey fight dragons in a future world where our mining interrupted their slumber. I'll let the fighting to the talking:
The Fifth Element
I'm sorry but Chris Tucker in a leotard running around trying to save the world from a giant black rock that can make phone calls is not a good movie, it is a GREAT movie. Forget the silly writing, this movie is all about the cool future gadgets, Milla running around in a band aid, wacky aliens and a great chemistry between all of the characters as an ensemble. Many of you may want to argue that The Fifth Element is indeed a good movie, but there are too many people falling from the sky landing in cabs, frozen commanders, and an extremely confusing bad guy and his jumbled henchmen. (What was the back story to Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg anyways?) But honestly, who cares — Gary Oldman sells that character, one-dimensional as he may be. The Fifth Element is like chicken soup: It will always make you feel better, especially the Diva Dance. Is it a movie that's changing lives? No.
Learn important moral values from Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr. Who doesn't want to learn about prejudice from two mortal space enemies marooned on a deserted planet for years? Especially when one of the guys get's pregnant and dies and Quaid has to raise the baby himself. You knew that kid was going to get the crap beaten out of him by humans, and you couldn't wait to see Quaid get unhinged.
Red Planet was a bad, bad movie made good only by the lovable robot that goes crazy, which adheres to the doggy alien rule stated above, doggy versions of anything scifi are highly regarded as terribly awesome.
Signs starts off strong enough, but then pitters off into a bad monster movie with a dude in an an alien suit. Either way, you try and change the channel when Joaquin Phoenix puts on the aluminum hats with his niece and nephew. Sure, the ending is Shyamalan's greatest stab at desperately trying to show that everything happens for a reason, but I still like that it all ties up in a cute poorly written bow. It's a poor man's thinking movie, and gives you exactly what you're looking for when you're bored on a Wednesday night.