How do you rate "so-bad-it's-good" movies?

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#1 Posted by Dichemstys (3929 posts) -

When using sites like IMDB or Letterboxd, what kind of rating do you give to shitty, campy movies that you know are bad but have a good time watching? Take a movie like Deathstalker or The Room for example. Not high art by any means, but a blast to watch.

I tend toward rating the films purely on how much fun I had watching them, which is a bit funny because movies like Deathstalker have the same rating as movies that I legitimately love like Blade Runner.

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#2 Posted by Justin258 (15676 posts) -

If you're being critical about something, then you need to be critical about it. If you had fun with something because it's bad, then it doesn't really deserve a good score. It deserves a bad one because it's bad.

This is also another reason why applying a logical, objective thing like a number to a subjective thing like criticism of art is actually very silly and probably shouldn't be done, but which we do anyway because it's very easy to process.

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#3 Posted by Dan_CiTi (5237 posts) -

The classic ones are those Ed Wood movies, being called "the worst movies ever" etc. which is pretty ridiculous to say. The worst movies actually are like super shitty, undramatic, cringey, technically abysmal homemade things no one cares about, that wouldn't make MST3k in a billion years. Then there's things like Grown-Ups (as Rorie has said) are the most soul-crushing things that fail in the most miserable way.

The so-bad-its-good ones aren't as bad as those examples at all, and provide a genuine entertainment. They're even better when they are not knowingly doing That Thing. That's where, like the post above said, putting this empirical-acting number on art gets a bit silly. As Orson Welles said, the intellectual is the enemy of the performing arts. These films have a craft and value, even a "quality" that is unique and valuable. It's there to be appreciated in all sorts of ways by all sorts of people. That being said even in this realm there's certainly the haves and have-nots, but it always edges towards the personal.

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#4 Posted by ghost_cat (2290 posts) -

No one tells me what's bad and what's good. Everything gets a five-star rating from me!

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#5 Posted by ShaggE (9284 posts) -

Since I watch horror more than any other genre, and the overwhelming majority of horror is "so-bad-its-good" (or "so-bad-its-bad", to be fair), I rate by pure entertainment value. Sure, Halloween 3 is an incoherent mess of a film that should have guaranteed that nobody involved in its creation would ever work again, but if it's not a five star experience, I don't know what is. They stole Stonehenge, for cryin' out loud! That's beautiful!

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#6 Posted by Brackstone (925 posts) -

Rate films based on entertainment alone. Basically, were you bored or uninterested? Will you remember the movie at all?

I love The Happening as much as I love actually good movies, because The Happening is consistently entertaining. The movie keeps getting goofier and crazier until it ends and only gives you a little time to breath before something else stupid happens. Same thing with Troll 2, same thing with Miami Connection, same thing with most classic bad movies, really. It's almost like they need to unintentionally happen upon excellent comedy pacing for their goofy bad stuff.

And that's where most intentionally bad movies fall short, they have poor pacing and poor escalation of absurdity. The only one that really pulls it off is Black Dynamite, which is probably about a 50/50 split of intentionally bad movie and genre spoof. The reason it works is because it treats it's poor film making as a joke like any other, paces it well, and doesn't run it into the ground with overuse.

This is why I actually don't think the Room is that great of a bad movie, because it relies so heavily on Tommy Wiseau's performance. Sure other wacky things happen along the way, but most of the time it's just Tommy being fucking weird, which while very entertaining, gets a bit old eventually. It's probably the best so bad it's good performance ever, but the movie itself needed a little something more. It stops surprising you a while before the movie ends, whereas something like Miami Connection never really lets up on giving you new things to laugh at.

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#7 Posted by Rahf (517 posts) -

How are people supposed to know it's absolutely terrible, unless it has a terrible score?

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#8 Posted by TobbRobb (6585 posts) -

Honestly, I actually value enjoyment of something that is poorly crafted as it's own merit. So even if the acting, cinematography, script and budget are all 2/10. I will still give it a 6 or something when the combined mess turns into something enjoyable. It's worth acknowledging even a mistake when it ends up in genuine entertainment.

There are also weird edge cases where I LOVE something bad. In those cases where something is a 10/10 in my heart, but a 2/10 in craftsmanship. I tend to just dock a point or two off of that perfect score but still rate it highly.

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#9 Posted by whitegreyblack (1968 posts) -

I don't rate them, I just enjoy them then make sure to tell others about them.

Case in point: Wish Upon is the most silly and enjoyable dumb horror movie I've seen in a while. Check it out; it has Ryan Phillippe in it and he plays a saxophone at one point.

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#10 Posted by Fear_the_Booboo (1088 posts) -

I rate them low but that’s because I’m a film critic and I have STANDARDS!!!

No really it doesn’t matter, film scores are quite silly in essence and I basically use them for my personal canon, hence why I rate them low because I only want to have slow and depressing movies up there! But if Manos The Hands of Fate is something you love more than anything else, five stars away, nobody’s gonna think it’s an actually good movie by seeing that rating (and if happens it would be quite funny anyway).

I personally don’t enjoy so bad it’s good movies more than once as a curiosity, so it makes sense to keep them with a low score for me.

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#11 Edited by clagnaught (2136 posts) -

Here it is (ratings based on a 10 point scale)

  • Good Movies: 7 to 10
  • Meh / That wasn’t great / It’s fine: 6
  • Bad Movies: 4 to 5
  • Really Bad Movies: 0 to 3
    • Entertaining Bad Movies: 2 to 3
    • “No seriously, this movie sucks” / ”This is among the worst vies I have ever seen”: 0 to 1

As a person who purposefully watches bad movies here is my theory. 6 through 10 are various degrees of good. 4 through 5 can be at least (if not multiple one of these) boring, dull, uninteresting, “not my thing”, etc. It is far from the worst, but you are not going to walk away feeling fulfilled or entertained. 2 through 3 are where the “so bad it’s good“ movies generally lie. They are still bad, but they are entertaining, unintentionally funny, or fascinating to the eyes. For example, The Room is not a good movie. However, I will have more fun watching it than a C tier, manufactured, boring drama that is a copy and paste of a movie I’ve seen before. Of course not all 2 or 3 movies are like The Room. Some movies are just “really bad”. 0 to 1 is where the fun scale quickly drops off again. Sure there may be a couple of things that make you laugh, but a couple of chuckles ain’t going to make something like Manos: The Hands of Fate “a good time”.

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#12 Posted by meaninoflife42 (678 posts) -

On Letterboxd I make sure to give a low rating and a like heart to bad movies I love.

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#13 Posted by Danteveli (1441 posts) -

I rate them how I feel about them. The Room would be a 5 star on Letterbox because its a thing I can rewatch and enjoy again and again and it is fun. You don't have to feel bad about ratings. Its not like there is a way to objectively rate every movie ever since its always subjective.

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#14 Posted by soulcake (2813 posts) -

Don't rate movies just copy the opinion of Red LetterMedia that's what i do. And it has made me a better person, also more people should see Wish Upon.

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#15 Posted by Atlas (2739 posts) -

You're reviewing the film, not the viewing experience. If it's a film that you wouldn't watch sober, or wouldn't watch without friends laughing at how bad it is, then the film deserves a poor grade. How much you enjoyed a bad film can be the difference between giving a film and 2/10 or a 4/10, but if you can objectively admit that a film is bad it's probably disingenuous to rate it any higher than a 5/10. It's fine to rate a film a 0/10 and then gush about how much you enjoyed watching it; I think that's better than overinflating the score for a bad film.

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#16 Posted by MrGreenMan (225 posts) -

When it comes to bad movies it's a matter of how entertaining it is. A score or rating is honestly pointless, film is supposed to evoke an emotion and trying to put a score or a number on that not only is a waste of your time, as well as it's going to be a different experience for everyone else. If you are going into a movie knowing it's bad I'm not sure you can properly rate it as you have already lowered your expectations on what to expect.

Me and a few friends will once in a while get together to watch all kinds of movies and someone had brought this DVD Things. It was a shot of video garbage that was probably made for a few $1000 at best. It was so cheap, very terribly acted and the structure of the film was just utter nonsense, yet it was one of the most memorable and entertaining times we have ever had watching anything together. A movie like this you couldn't even rate as it has such a low standard that it's more of the experience and the situation of watching the movie itself then the art of the movie itself.

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#17 Posted by nutter (2206 posts) -

I rate based on enjoyment more than a ctitical level, as I’m just a layman viewer rather than some trusted authority on film. I basically just rate on services that might recommend a film to me based on past ratings.

Mad Max: Fury Road, The Godfather Parts 1 & 2, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, This is Spinal Tap, The Raid: Redemption and The Raid 2, Pan’s Labyrinth, all five star movies for me.

I’d rate Evil Dead or Big Trouble in Little China better than a ton of critical darlings, even if I can appreciate said darlings.

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#18 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (7613 posts) -

I think I would score a cult movie low, unless it was spectacularly produced. I think you can give a movie a low score and then describe how delightful it is in your text. I think film rating do have to take into account craftsmanship and skill. Film is a visual medium telling a story; if it fails at that the score needs to be there to reflect that.

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#19 Posted by Eurobum (487 posts) -


Personally, I don't understand the "so-bad-it's-good", usually people call out some obscure examples, which nobody has seen or is going to watch anyway. There must be examples of movies everybody has seen, if "so-bad-it's-good" is really supposed to be a thing. Furthermore I can't think of a game, book, comic, painting or even food that would be fittingly and appropriately described as such.

I've yet to see a movie lambasted by Red-letter-Media, that fits that description.

Guilty pleasure, Cult, Genre, Low budget, Cannon, Direct-to-Video, unintentionally funny.... those are movie terms I understand. But So-bad-it'S-good is a contradiction used by people, who erroneously accept contradictions and wrongfully assume that everybody does.

There are of course stage plays and movies of people just sitting in a room, or sitting in a car taking into a phone you can't hear, who set out and prove that you don't need a huge budget or sets or "vistas" to make a compelling film. Recent example: Locke (2014).

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#20 Posted by csl316 (14981 posts) -

@soulcake said:

Don't rate movies just copy the opinion of Red LetterMedia that's what i do. And it has made me a better person, also more people should see Wish Upon.

And Suburban Sasquatch

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#21 Posted by billmcneal (1261 posts) -

If I'm rating a film I rate based on its quality, but a low score shouldn't keep people from being entertained if that's what they like.

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#22 Posted by Arcsurvivor (13 posts) -

I got to IMBD or and read some of the reviews. If some people say watch this for action or the story, it might be worth renting DVD.

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#23 Posted by Ungodly (449 posts) -

It’s subjective. There are movies that I can tell are bad, but they have a charm or essence about them that I still find enjoyment in. For my money though, if there isn’t any legitimacy behind it, than I’m not interested. Stuff like Sharknado, are just lazy. I want something where it’s clear that the people involved are trying to make a good movie, and they have just lost their way.

Judge Dredd staring Sylvester Stallone is a bad movie, but I think it’s dumb fun and I enjoy it. From Armand Assante total devouring the scenes he’s in, to the cheesy effects. I would only recommend it to someone that I know would enjoy that specific kind of stupid.

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#24 Posted by DorkyMohr (263 posts) -

I typically go laughs-per-minute, which is weird because something like The Room which is considered a classic ranks pretty low on that scale. I guess you also have to account for the absurdity of the movie as well.

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#25 Posted by Rejizzle (1124 posts) -

In all seriousness, I think that rating sites should have a regular rating system, and a secondary "ironic enjoyment rating". It's become a big part of the moviegoing experience, or maybe it always was.

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#26 Posted by blackadder88 (119 posts) -

I think the worst of the horror movie the Better is to watch..

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#27 Posted by Veektarius (6410 posts) -

I can't think of a movie that I enjoy watching that I would feel uneasy about rating highly as well. I may not believe in the concept of "so bad it's good".

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#28 Posted by Deo_Brando (54 posts) -

@dichemstys: I agree. The film should be fun when watching. If I can enjoy the film, then I am ready to put a high mark. I don't care if the film has any deep meaning.

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#29 Posted by Damenco (62 posts) -

I, too, tend to personal rating, not rating any sites. I, like you, am absolutely right.

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#30 Posted by not_a_bumblebee (133 posts) -

So Bad It's Good Movies need to be made with an honest intention from the filmmakers to create what they believe will be a genuinely good movie but through circumstances like lack of experience, low budgets, or terrible actors it turns out to be a disaster. That's why I hate movies like Sharknado and Samurai Cop 2 because if the filmmakers are in on the joke than it just becomes an unfunny comedy.

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#31 Edited by Eurobum (487 posts) -
@ungodly said:

It’s subjective. There are movies that I can tell are bad, but they have a charm or essence about them that I still find enjoyment in. For my money though, if there isn’t any legitimacy behind it, than I’m not interested. Stuff like Sharknado, are just lazy. I want something where it’s clear that the people involved are trying to make a good movie, and they have just lost their way.

Judge Dredd staring Sylvester Stallone is a bad movie, but I think it’s dumb fun and I enjoy it. From Armand Assante total devouring the scenes he’s in, to the cheesy effects. I would only recommend it to someone that I know would enjoy that specific kind of stupid.

Judge Dredd (1995) had a budget of 90 million. It was quite unique, original and memorable. We'd be lucky to have something like that in 2018. It was clearly intended as a lesson how neither swift simplified justice nor hard punishment work as a deterrent to crime. It's not even that dumb.

So I respect the attempt to provide an example, but clearly this can't be it. A movie can be both good and bad at the same time, like the first and second half of Judge Dredd or have great actors and a bad script.

I'm still not convinced that something can be good, by being sooo bad.

Judge Dredd even got a spiritual remake in The House I live in(2012) 94% Tomatometer

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#32 Edited by MrCup (16 posts) -

Same as you really, fun factor.

Commando for example is just an unadulterated blast of entertainment.

Why are all the bad guys lining up in open grass?

How is that hedge protecting him from bullets?

Why is that girl hanging around with him still?

It doesn't matter!