"They're eating her! And then they're going to eat me!" Why I love my garbage movies

Jessica Fuller • Aug 27, 2018 at 5:00 AM

What’s the fun in reviewing good movies? 

Sure, there’s a lot that can be said about critically-acclaimed films, but don’t discount the hilarity of awful movies either. I’ve always enjoyed cheap thrill of wading through an hour or two of nonsense with my friends, drinks in hand and laughing at cringeworthy dialogue that was probably written by aliens and acting from a small-town dentist doing his best.

See, there are bad movies, and then there are great bad movies, and the latter is what I’m talking about.

Of course, B-movies are nothing new. I’m not sure when they started rolling out as double features, but it was long before I was born. Since I didn’t debut on this planet until 1991, I regretfully didn’t grow up with treasures like Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Day the Earth Stood Still or even Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, but lucky for me, I made friends in college who owned just about every season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, so I dove head-on into appreciation for the beautiful garbage of low-budget science fiction films. 

Those great bad movies that I’ll dub “Beautiful Garbage” can really be divided into two main camps: The self-aware movies in which you can tell filmmakers had a blast making their dreams of a shark-filled tornado into reality, and the misguided masterpieces in which filmmakers are trying their best with an estimated budget of 40 cents and a subscription to Dollar Shave Club and no experience in filmmaking whatsoever.

My favorite Beautiful Garbage tends to fall into the latter category, where a good-intentioned director with a head full of dreams produces a tangle of absurdity that has fueled many a birthday party among my friends. The most notorious example of this is almost certainly Troll 2, no connection to Troll 1 whatever that movie is, and essentially exists because an Italian lady was mad that her friends were becoming vegetarians. 

From the acting to the dialogue to the shoddy costumes to the meaty plot twist (which I wont’ spoil here), Troll 2 embodies everything I love about Beautiful Garbage. It’s an experience I simply cannot sum up here. Also worth the watch is the follow up documentary, “Best Worst Movie,” directed by the film’s lead child actor and features most of the film’s cast, most of whom had their acting careers stained for delivering such lines as “Aaahhh! Think about the cholesterol! Think about... THE TOXINS...!” 

On the other hand, you have movies like Sharknado, a series which carries its own brand of absurd comedy through six or eight or 41 movies, I’m not even sure now. Those movies are still fun, but I’m still partial to movies where you can see a faded dream of a serious movie lurking behind poorly-delivered lines of an even worse screenplay.

A few of my other favorite Beautiful Garbage movies are Birdemic, Robot Monster, basically every movie referenced at the beginning of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and anything with Danny Trejo in it. The best thing about Beautiful Garbage is that it’s an endless trash can of wonder, and from Manos: The Hands of Fate to Troll 2, it’s like a smelly box of chocolates you should probably just throw away but you’re going to indulge in anyway and you might feel a little sick afterward. 

If you’ve got any suggestions for me, leave them in the comments or send me an email of your favorite Beautiful Garbage at [email protected].

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