There was a discussion over at Hollywood Elsewhere from Jeff Wells (who has admitted previously that when he watches a bad movie he falls into a regressive fugue state, moaning and curling into a fetal ball to the discomfort of those seated around him) on the subject of really bad movies, and it led me to think about really bad movies. We're all familiar with 'so bad they're good' movies, the films of Chuck Norris in the '80s or Ed Wood in the '50s where the absurdities are so intense as make the experience fun and enjoyable, just not necessarily as the filmmakers intended.
On the other hand are movies so bad they're bad - movies that are so badly made that there's no response from the audience but bored dejection, depression, and annoyance, movies worse than even the worst studio-produced piece of garbage, which at least can be guaranteed to be semi-competent. I've encountered many of these while seeking out the next Gymkata or Death Bed: The Bed That Eats, so maybe it's time to share.
The worst movie I've seen this year was Severe Visibility, a dire political film in the mold of JFK from director-actor Paul Cross, who I knew from an '80s figure skating movie called Ice Pawn. Obviously troubled by 9/11 conspiracy theories and 'documentaries' like Loose Change (I'm not a fan), Mr. Cross directed a talky, disheartening thriller about an Army officer who was in the Pentagon on 9/11 who begins to suspect there's more to the official story. Imagine your favorite disjointed internet conspiracy blog, then stick bad actors into it and sit there quietly for 90 minutes.
I'm a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, but there were some movies even they couldn't salvage. The nadir of those was probably Red Zone Cuba, a ramshackle mid-'60s anti-Castro adventure movie from the mind of Coleman Francis, who mysteriously was able to make three cheap movies. Of course 'adventure' is misleading because nothing really happens in this movie - we're given a bunch of blurry images of men wandering through California scrubland standing in for Cuba, there's a brief glimpse of someone who may or may not be an actor playing Castro, and I think someone gets shot. I've watched this one three times and I really couldn't tell you what happens in it. To its credit, it does feature John Carradine singing the title song.
The worst of the worst, for me these days, is something called Psyched by the 4-D Witch, from the early '70s, when you could book a movie into theaters as long as you had a semblance of a story and some naked boobs. Barely even categorizable as a movie, Psyched features a voiceover telling the story of a young woman's sexual awakening thanks to the intervention of the ghost of an ancestor, the titular witch. This accompanies a string of random images of young women and trippy LSD colors and probably some stock footage and leader and whatever would get the film long enough to be called a 'feature'. It's pretty much the least watchable movie I've ever seen. When you're the bottom half of a double feature with Monster A-Go Go, you're in bad shape.