As a lover of undeniably bad movies like Miami Connection, Troll 2 and Plan 9 From Outer Space, this new video from PBS Idea Channel host Mike Rugnetta hits close to home. In it, Rugnetta posits that you can’t intentionally make a film that’s so bad it’s good. Once you start thinking about this, it’s sort of like debating the whole chicken or the egg thing.
Rugnetta’s argument is that making a good bad movie basically requires intent and an understanding of what makes a good movie in the first place – or maybe a good bad movie – which means you’re actually making a good movie that just sort of pretends to be bad. The best good bad movies (which the French refer to as nanar) are so effective because of the earnestness and obliviousness that went into making them. The Room, for example, is brilliant because it’s so completely unaware of how terrible it really is. Trying to purposely re-create that sort of vibe doesn’t really seem to work. Therefore, Rugnetta argues, you can’t intentionally make a nanar – they have to happen organically.
If you’re like me, you probably read that theory and immediately thought of the Asylum. The studio behind movies like Sharknado has been cranking out intentionally awesome and awful movies for the past few years, and seems to be the prime example that disproves Rugnetta’s hypothesis. Not so fast, though – the fast-talking host has an explanation that takes the Asylum and Sharknado into consideration without defeating his own theory in the process.
My personal view is that you can set out to intentionally make a nanar. Something like Hobo with a Shotgun is another good example along the lines of the work of the Asylum, perhaps an even harder one to dismiss in some ways. That being said, I don’t think intentional nanar ever have quite the same impact as the ones made earnestly, so I’m with Rugnetta there. An intentional nanar may hit all the right (and wrong) notes, but they never manage to capture the complete ineptitude of something like The Room – because Tommy Wiseau really thought he was making a serious and dramatic feature. For the audience, who knows better, that makes the film all the more amazing (and confounding) -- which ups the entertainment level considerably. Man, this is giving me a headache...
What do you guys think? Is it possible to set out to make one of these so-bad-they’re-great movies, or does the intent automatically eliminate a project from earning the title? Make your case in the comment section below.
[via Laughing Squid]
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