Why I Like Bad Movies

Phil Christman in The Hedgehog Review:

I watch bad movies, a pastime and a passion I have long shared with my father. When I was a child, we would sit on one of a series of couches scavenged from yard sales or curbsides, eating microwave popcorn while watching, say, Teenagers from Outer Space (1959) or Zontar, the Thing from Venus (1962). My father would set the VCR to tape movies like these in the middle of the night from the sorts of TV channels that programmed them, with palpable desperation, between reruns of The Incredible Hulk and camcordered ads for local mattress-store chains. Amusement, like couches, had to be taken where found.

Ours was neither a wholly singular nor widely shared hobby. A few years later, the television series Mystery Science Theater 3000 made text of this subtext: Its framing device consisted of a man and two robots cracking wise over the soundtrack as bad movies played onscreen. It was important that the man wasn’t simply alone, and that, at the same time, he was somewhat isolated: a Crusoe-like figure alone on a satellite, forced to build himself a minisociety of talking robots. Watching bad movies was a social yet marginal activity; it was a way of watching that orbited the normal enjoyment of film.

In the canon of bad films, Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) is the anticlassic. On the satellite where bad-movie watchers gather, it is our Citizen Kane, our Seven Samurai, and in the ages before Amazon, you had to really search to find it.

More here.