So, I have a confession to make.
I love bad movies that are the right kind of bad. I’m not going to say I enjoy them ‘ironically’ because that implies I don’t derive actual enjoyment from them. I absolutely do though – there’s something gleefully exciting in the earnestness of some of this absolute train wrecks of filmmaking. It’s like listening to a small child tell a story they’re very excited about – they are happy and excited and meander about randomly and tend to wander into odd segues and sometimes you can’t understand what they’re saying, but the sheer joyful energy is infectious.
So, I decided that today, I’d share some of my favorites that are currently available on Netflix. Do keep in mind I’m not saying any of these are good movies, and I make no defenses for their artistic merit – but if you love bad movies the way I do, you might find something in here you’ll like.
Unlike every other movie on this list, Doom was large enough that when it was in theaters a lot of people heard of it and it stars well-known actors. I mean, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is in it before he’d become a major box office draw, which shows you how badly Mr. Johnson was slumming it when he first moved into the film world – especially considering he’s one of the biggest names in Hollywood right now.
An adaptation of the video game of the same name, Doom concerns a group of Marines who go to a Mars station that is currently overrun by…something. The movie is never quite sure if they are mutated humans, ancient Martians that were cloned, or actual demons. The movie doesn’t care what they are, and doesn’t expect you to care either.
Instead, what the movie cares about is delivering a huge variety of gun battles against humans in zombie makeup and CGI monsters of all stripes, including a first-person sequence near the end that feels more like a live action video game than anything else put to screen. It’s badly written but if you want a fun way to kill brain cells for a bit, it’s hard to go wrong with Doom.
Also, apparently, we’re getting another Doom movie, so that’s something that…is definitely a thing that is happening.
Unless you are as into bad movies as I am, you probably have never heard of Battle Drone. As its very on the nose title indicates, the movie is about a battle drone. Specifically, a high-tech humanoid battle drone that does battle with a team of mercenaries sent into Chernobyl alongside the CIA as part of a test of the drone’s capabilities – not that the mercenaries know that’s what’s going on.
What follows plays out like a discount Predator where the alien was substituted for a Terminatior. It’s exactly the kind of goofy action movie that makes for great b-grade shlock, with every line of dialogue delivered in the seriousness of a Jason Bourne movie. There are twists and turns and some truly stupid decisions made by both heroes and villains, but watching the titular battle done go through its paces is a sight to behold.
A Netflix Original, Spectral is a war movie that takes follows a group of soldiers sent to investigate a mysterious disturbance in Moldova alongside a DARPA researcher that is trying to find out the source of an ephemeral apparition that can kill with a single touch. The first half of the movie focuses on exactly how useless weapons would be against something that insubstantial, and you get some really cool action and chase sequences involving these ghostly forms chasing the military through the streets of Kishinev.
Then, halfway through the movie, we find out a bit more about what’s going on with these spectral forms, and near the end, a full answer to their source is revealed. I’m not going to spoil the ending, but the result was the exact delicious blend of real science and technobabble that makes for wonderful bad Science Fiction. The final action set piece is a wonderful sight, and there’s some stronger-than-average for a movie of this type characters to carry you until you get there.
Skyline and Beyond Skyline
Skyline and its sequel, Beyond Skyline, were both made by Aliens vs Predator: Requiem and Battle: Los Angeles directors The Brother’s Strause. Try not to hold it against these movies, though. They got theatrical releases, although not particularly wide ones, so the odds that you’ve already seen these movies are low.
Both Skyline movies are about the invasion of Earth by an unnamed alien species. The sole reason to watch the movies are the aliens themselves, which feature some truly unique and interesting designs in their biology and technology. Every single scene with the aliens in it is visually engaging and has the kind of unique creature design that makes me forgive so many of a movie’s flaws. If you’re a sucker for creature design, you’ll be able to forgive the wooden dialogue and stilted acting that happens between the alien encounters.
Oh, and fair warning? As they proved in Aliens vs Predator: Requiem, the Brother’s Strause can get a bit weird about pregnancy in their films. While what happens in Skyline is nowhere near as horrific as what happened in Requiem, a sequence so bad it ruined the movie for me, it’s still good to go in prepared for that.
Oh, and apparently Skyline is somehow getting a third sequel, so if you want more after the heavy cliffhanger the second movie ends on, you can rest assured that you’re going to get it.
I saved the best for last here. Kill Command might actually be a good movie wrapped up in a bad one. It follows a group of Marines doing a training mission against an artificial intelligence and is a proud entry into the killer robot genre of movies. Taking place in the near future, the protagonist is Katherine, a cyborg who can interface with the technology the team is up against. Kill Command is saved from being a paint by number killer robot movie by…absolutely nothing for the first two acts. If you like killer robots, you’ve seen this movie before.
However, I still recommend Kill Command for lovers of bad movies. Unlike most killer robot movies, the robot in question here – SAR-003 – is not a humanoid construct but rather a quadrupedal machine that definitely owes some of its design influence to actual robots seen in the real world, making the threat seem alien and real in a way that Terminator knockoffs never quite manage.
The movie really comes alive when it starts taking advantage of the unique opportunities offered by Katherine being a cyborg, at which point the movie finally stops being a retread of areas covered by other movies and, while it never quite reaches anything truly original, it definitely goes from fun but uninspired to fun and creative.
Have some bad movies you’d like me to see? Let me know in the comments below! And while you’re here, pick up a free book!