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10 Classic “So Bad, It’s Good” Sci-Fi Movies

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In the immediate post-World War II era, sci-fi became one of the dominant genres occupying theaters and drive-ins across the United States. Audiences were captivated by the potential of such new, exciting developments as atomic energy, space travel, and gene-splicing. In turn, they poured out in droves to watch movies covering these subjects, regardless of how shoddily made they were, and producers like Roger Corman and Samuel Z. Arkoff enjoyed incredible profits.. Over the years, however, these films found assorted second, third, and fourth lives on television, becoming Sunday afternoon fare and fodder for shows like Mystery Science Theater 3000.The audience these films found in their later lives, viewing these films in hindsight, found themselves much less willing to enjoy these films absent irony. Whether it’s because science simply moved on far from anything these films predicted, rendering them quaint compared to other sci-fi films that got it right, or because they’re simply too shoddily made to stand up, these films have become beloved punchlines in film fans’ hearts.. 10 ‘Earth vs. the Spider’ (1958). Image via Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. In this Bert I. Gordon-directed oddity, small-town teens join forces with their science teacher to battle a giant mutant spider.. RELATED: The 12 Scariest Villains In Sci-Fi Movies, Ranked. This film is a classic example of so-bad-it’s-good cinema. The effects, executed by way of perspective trickery on an actual live tarantula, are more charming than terrifying. The acting, courtesy of a number of Corman and AIP staples, is so over-the-top as to be hilarious. The film was memorably lampooned by Joel and the bots in season three of MST3K, and it’s easy to see why this movie was chosen for the show.. 9 ‘Teenagers From Outer Space’ (1959). Image via WBDiscovery. In this film, nearly a solo creation by writer, director, producer, editor, and cinematographer Tom Graeff, a young alien turns rogue from his crew to seek pleasure and fortune on Earth. However, this is quickly stymied by the rest of his crew attempting to harvest the planet as a food source for giant alien lobsters.. This film has become notorious over the years for its horrendous acting, staging, and poor special effects. While better regarded than many other Z-grade cheapies of the era, contemporary and modern reviews both note that Graeff spread himself too thin to really execute any particular element of his work well. It’s impressive that Graeff made an entire movie like this nearly by himself, but the result is more amusing and charming than frightening and bone-chilling.. Image via Wade Williams Distribution. In this film, directed by Phil Tucker, a family consisting of the last eight survivors on Earth must negotiate and contend with a creature known as Ro-Man.. This film attracted immediate and ongoing notoriety for its cheap Ro-Man costume, consisting of a diving helmet on top of a gorilla suit. The Ro-Man suit has become one of the most widely mocked and parodied images in classic cinema, and it’s easy to see why; in his nonfiction book Danse Macabre,Stephen King describes watching the movie while under the influence and “almost laughing himself into a hernia.” Some sci-fi films of the 1950s are still relevant today; Robot Monster, however, was irrelevant when it first released.. 7 ‘The Brain that Wouldn’t Die’ (1962). When a doctor’s fiancee is decapitated in a car accident, the doctor keeps her severed head alive and attempts to prepare her for the world’s first head transplant.. Right off the bat, this film attracts attention with its completely absurd premise, which is somehow treated with deadly seriousness by the film itself. While similar films of the time were able to do mad-scientist plots like this well, this AIP-distributed potboiler isn’t anywhere near able to rise to the challenge and ends up looking ridiculous. This was the first movie used for Mike Nelson’s tenure on MST3K’s Satellite of Love, and it’s immediately easy to see why.. 6 ‘Eegah’ (1962). In this slice of regional weirdness directed by Arch Hall Sr., a group of people discover a caveman (Richard Kiel, better known as Jaws in the James Bond franchise) and attempt to bond with it.. RELATED: 10 Best Sci-Fi Movies Under 90 Minutes, Ranked by Rotten Tomatoes. This movie was largely ignored at its initial release but began attracting notoriety as one of the worst films ever made in the decades to follow. Between the uncomfortable subtext to the relationship between Arch Hall Sr.’s character and his on-screen daughter (making them look more like lovers than family members), the disgusting scene in which Kiel laps shaving cream off of his own face with his tongue, and a multitude of technical mistakes, this film is one of the most odd ever set to celluloid. MST3K fans hoping to get through this one without Joel, and the bots should “watch out for snakes.”. 5 ‘They Saved Hitler’s Brain’ (1968). Image via Mill Creek Entertainment. In this film, the Nazis save Hitler’s brain at the end of World War II, and a top scientist is kidnapped to keep the brain alive. This movie’s title alone demands attention, being simultaneously a bluntly self-explanatory description of the movie’s premise and a complete absurdity.. RELATED: 10 Old-School Sci-Fi Movies That Are Now Technically Set in the Past. While the actual film itself has fallen into relative obscurity, its title and high concept have become so widely parodied as to make it legendary in pop culture regardless. While the film itself doesn’t quite live up to the complete absurdity of what it promises, They Saved Hitler’s Brain is a must for any bad-movie aficionado.. 4 ‘Gorgo’ (1961). In this Western-style kaiju film, pearl divers discover and attempt to exploit a giant lizard. Clearly attempting to ride on the coattails of Godzilla, this film fails to live up to even the worst Showa-era film starring the Big G.. The special effects are admittedly impressive, being one of the only proper Western attempts at the suitmation style of effects pioneered by Eiji Tsuburaya, but more so in the sense that they were attempted at all. Everything else about the film is laughable, rendering the film a classic of so-bad-it’s-good cinema.. 3 ‘Horrors of Spider Island’ (1960). Image via Severin Films. In this 1960 German film, a talent agent and a group of girls find themselves on a deserted island, where they encounter one spider and few horrors.. RELATED: The 10 Most Rewatchable Sci-Fi Movies, According to Reddit. This film has become legendary over the years for how awful it is. With its slow, plodding pace, this film is an endurance test for even the most seasoned bad-movie aficionado. When this film was featured near the end of MST3K’s original run, Mike and the bots nearly tapped out, and that should serve as a fair warning that this one isn’t for newbies.. 2 ‘Reptilicus’ (1961). Image via Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. In this Danish-American kaiju film, miners dig up a section of a lizard’s tail in Lapland, which then regenerates into a Godzilla knockoff.. This AIP attempt to cash in on the Big G fails to measure up, with its poor effects and laughable script. Even Godzilla’s Revenge, famously the worst Godzilla film, is a better pick to scratch the giant lizard itch. It’s easy to see why the film has a cult following in Denmark, being likely the only kaiju film where the monster destroys Copenhagen: for audiences elsewhere, Reptilicus is best avoided.. 1 ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ (1959). Directed by the legendary Ed Wood, this film centers around aliens who resurrect the dead to prevent humanity from constructing a bomb… somehow. Before there was The Room or Birdemic, there was Plan 9 from Outer Space. Plan 9 is one of the most legendary bad films of all time, becoming so incoherent and so shoddy that it somehow breaks the scale and transcends into accidental art.. It’s hard to even picture how Wood thought this film was releasable, with lines such as “future events such as these will affect you in the future” somehow not even standing out in the script, and every film fan owes it to themselves to watch this abomination at least once.. KEEP READING: 10 Best Sci-Fi TV Shows of the 2000s, According to IMDb¬†

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