I had an epiphany this week, while watching one of the worst movies you are likely to see this year. It was The Circle (it’s available to view on Netflix if you fancy wasting your life) a movie so terrible it’s no surprise that everyone in it has stopped talking about it and probably phoning IMDb right now to get it erased from their CVs.
It has all the hallmarks of a successful movie: it’s based on a best-selling novel, features John Boyega and Emma Watson – two great actors who have starred in the world’s biggest franchises – and even Tom Hanks makes an appearance.
Anyway, back to the epiphany. I was watching The Circle and it dawned on me: Every actor, no matter how good, is one step away from making a bad movie and it probably isn’t their fault. With The Circle, the actors weren’t awful but the script made them look awful. The film looked great, but it was an aimless mess of cliches and inconsistencies. With these pieces of the filmmaking puzzle missing, it meant The Circle ended up being pap.
Despite this The Circle will never be seen as a BAD movie, just a bad one. A BAD movie – one that is certain to have a place in – needs all or a combination of the following:
– Not one title, but a variety for all the times it’s been re-released
– A title with the words (or variants of): Death, Blood, Sexy, Killer, Giant, Attack.
– Terrible acting, the type that makes Nic Cage look reserved and stately.
– A movie that doesn’t get better no matter how much alcohol you’ve consumed.
– Special effects not made on a computer but sketched out, faxed then plonked on to acetate for the director to do as they wish.
– More boobs.
– No plot.
– A plot so detailed it takes three hours to explain it.
– A mention in Not On My Watch.
Ninja Vengeance (1985)
The Premise: A ninja takes on the Ku Klux Clan in a no-holds barred tussle between murderers who hide behind robes and their mystic beliefs and the Ku Klux Klan.
Ninjas, eh? They bloody love a bit of vengeance and Jesse in Ninja Vengeance is of no exception. His reason for retribution is a sound one, though – he witnesses a black man die at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan so decides to take the law into his own hands and use his ninjutsu powers to kick some racist wizard butt. The only problem is, he’s not a very good fighter. Scene after scene is him getting his ass handed to him. Whether locals, clansmen or even his own martial arts teacher, he’s the meat to their beat. At least when he’s being beaten up it stops Jesse from speaking, walking or trying to act – all are more painful to watch than his hilarious inability to take a punch without writhing on the floor in agony.
Best watched when: you have watched every other ninja film, even the one with Chris Farley, and have to complete the collection or the kidnappers who have your mother will act upon their threats.
Journey to the Center of the Earth (1988)
The Premise: A ragtag group of ’80s fashionistas travel to the centre of the world where they find a long-forgotten race of ragtag ’80s fashionistas.
Journey to the Center of the Earth is a cut-and-shut job of a movie – even the director admits it. It’s essentially 10 minutes of his footage spliced with a completely different movie to fulfil contractual nonsense with the distributer, none other than the enfant terrible of movie making Canon Films. Not that we are letting the filmmakers off with that excuse. A terrible movie is still a terrible movie.
EastEnders, The Bill and Casualty alumni Nicola Cowper stars as a British nanny who gets kicked out of her job for being terrible. Naturally she decides to take a nanny job for an off-the-rails rockstar in Hawaii, where she ends up looking after his dog. As it’s Hawaii, she then visits a volcano with a group of folks straight out of Cindy Lauper’s Girls Just Want To Have Fun music video and find out it’s a portal to the long lost world of Atlantis. After that it’s a rigid rendition of the Jules Verne classic, including a faithful adaptation of that famous scene where a mad professor wants to clone Dancing With The Stars legend Kathy Ireland who just happens to be the first human in the world.
Nothing makes sense in this movie, but there is a lovely dog in it.
Best watched when: you have journeyed to the centre of the earth and liquid magma is slowly eating away at your body, having already taken your eyes.
Creature Lake (2015)
The Premise: There’s a creature in a lake.
I like the found footage genre. When done right you can have a fantastically creepy movie but when done badly it looks like something your nan shoots by mistake when she’s trying to text someone with the phone you told her to get because it will change her life. Creature Lake has been made by nan, unfortunately. It starts of with promise – a bunch of bros descend to a cabin by a lake but it turns out that every single one of them will annoy the crap out of you every single time they are on the screen. Given this is a film that’s 95% them, it means the movie entirely consists of jerky handheld shots of a bunch of jerks. At least there’s a bit of nudity to perk things up but this excitement is soon dampened when we finally get to see the CG-why? creature.
Best watched when: you actually found the footage of this movie in a skip and are watching out of pure curiosity why someone would throw a whole film away.
Enemy Empire (2013)
The Premise: Sol is a man with a robot arm. He’s also someone stranded in the desert with a bunch of enemies for company who have watched far too many Mad Max movies.
Enemy Empire was originally called Furious Road, which tells you all you need to know about this mock Mad Max mess around. It stars Tristan James Butler, you may know him from such films as Alien Theory and Riftwood Bend, as Sol an escaped prisoner who just so happens to have a robotic arm much like Furiosa in, well, you get the idea.
He’s stranded in a dystopian world that looks like it’s been shot in some sand dunes, with a cast that consists of three people all dressed like extras from a Village People shoot. The plot involves a king who likes to annoy people and, for the love of everything people, Mad Max: Fury Road is also on Prime, watch that instead of this bland sand story.
Best watched when: you are just about to partake in an MMA fight but you’ve lost your mojo and need something to make you angry, no, furious in a very short amount of time.
Marc Chacksfield is a former film journalist (and TechRadar’s global managing editor) who is already regretting agreeing to watch terrible movies for the sake of his column Not On My Watch.