I have to admit that I am a lover of “good” bad movies. A “good” bad movie is so bad and clichéd that despite taking itself seriously, it is still entertaining. The 1980’s was a great time for this genre and here are 5 of my favorites.
5. “Electric Dreams” – This movie tackles one of the great recurring themes in 80’s cinema, the self-aware computer. A quiet loner, Miles, buys a computer that starts to express human feelings. Both the computer, who calls himself Edgar, and Miles fall in love with the same woman played by Virginia Madsen. What makes this movie so ridiculous is that like other ’80s computer movies, like War Games, the technology shown is far beyond even what we have today.
4. “The Wizard” – Fred Savage made several bad movies in the ’80s but this one is my favorite. Savage plays the older brother to Jimmy, a boy that is mentally scarred after the death of his younger sister. Savage’s character Corey discovers that Jimmy is really talented at playing video games. Corey decides to hitchhike across the country with Jimmy to a Nintendo championship competition. This movie contains the great 1980s components of the road trip and the portrayal of technology that was ahead of its time. To show you how bad this movie was, despite its portrayal of only Nintendo products, Nintendo did everything it could to separate itself from the movie.
3. “The Stuff” – The 1980s was a great time for bad horror movies and “The Stuff” was no exception. In this absolutely ridiculous movie, two miners discover a sweet gooey substance bubbling up from the ground. The miners do what anyone else would do; they package it and sell it as a dessert called “Stuff”. The dessert is highly addictive and those that eat it become zombies that will do anything to eat more of it. The heroes of the movies, a FBI Agent and a young boy, team up to find the source of the stuff and to destroy it.
2. “The Toughest Man in the World” – In this delightful made for TV movie, Mr. T stars as a lovable club bouncer that also runs an after school program in a crime ridden neighborhood in Chicago. The afterschool program resides in a building that is about to be auctioned off due to back taxes that are owed. An evil corporation is ready to buy the building and tear it down if Mr. T cannot come up with the money. So, what does Mr. T do? He enters the “Toughest Man in the World” competition where the prize is exactly the amount of money he needs for the taxes.
1. “Gymkata” – This is by far my favorite bad movie from the 80’s. Awarding winning gymnast Kurt Thomas plays Jonathan Cabot, as you guessed it, a champion gymnast. Cabot, the son of a missing spy, is recruited by the U.S. Government to compete in a life or death game in the island country of Parmistan. If Cabot wins, the U.S. will be allowed to build a military site on the island. Cabot is trained, according to the tagline of the movie, to combine “the skill of gymnastics, with the kill of karate.” This movie is ridiculously delightful. You will be absolutely amazed at the number of parallel bars and pommel horses there are just lying around Parmistan.
So, as we enter the winter season and our time outside starts to become limited, take a break from your normal watching habits and take a walk on the “bad” side. Did I miss any of your favorite bad movies from the 1980s? Let me know in the comments section below.
David Peterson, Assistant Editor
David is a self-proclaimed movie snob and social vagabond of the obscure. In his spare time he enjoys referencing books that no one has read and watching movies that no one understands. It is rumored that his beard once poured sugar into the gas tank of Chuck Norris’s car.[/author]