Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Watch and cringe: Why bad films are important

Hannah Cohen/Collegian

I have seen a lot of movies. No, seriously. I’ve made lists of all the movies I’ve seen and all the ones I want to see in a painfully obsessive fashion. Thankfully, many have been entertaining and some are certainly better than others. But every now and then I come across a film, and regardless of production value, cast of characters or time of release, these films stay with me because they are the worst movies I’ll ever admit having watched. And these aren’t the “Plan 9 From Outer Space” films that have a certain endearing aesthetic to them. These are the films that were made that the realm of cinema could have done without. Here are some of the movies I’ve seen that are so ridiculously execrable that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry watching them:


I’ve Loved You So Long (Written and directed by Philippe Claudel, 2008)

Don’t get me wrong, I love French films – I’ll be the first to say I’m a complete snob about Truffaut, Goddard, Varda and all the other new wave cinema auteurs. But I must confess I was fairly disappointed watching the critically-acclaimed “I’ve Loved You So Long,” starring the very talented Kristin Scott Thomas. This film about a woman struggling to face her family after being imprisoned for 15 years started out as intriguing, because her crime is not at first revealed. So I sat there, waiting through scene after scene of vague references, crying and yelling over this hidden plot point for 116.5 minutes until the totally anti-climactic misdemeanor is unleashed and ends at 117 minutes. Really, Kristen Scott Thomas? I watched you too long.


Gigli (Written and directed by Martin Brest, 2003)

OK, everyone has got to agree with me on this one. Over winter break I was bored, and since I had Netflix streaming I decided I’d watch a movie I had never seen before. I’d only heard about how terrible this movie was, but I had to see it for myself because maybe there was something to salvage from its shallow depths. I ignored how it had only received a one star rating, the first blatant indication of regret, and I watched the first 10 minutes, and, well, that’s how far I got. I can honestly tell you that I would rather get my hand slammed in a car door every day than have to sit through the rest of that steaming pile of Ben Affleck.


The Room (Written, directed and starring Tommy Wiseau, 2003)

“Oh Hi, Mark! Oh Hi, doggy! Oh Hi, sidewalk! Oh Hi, worst film ever made!” Where to start? Is it Tommy Wiseau’s black beauty mane or his terrible acting? Three dudes playing “catch” with a football in an alley? “Me underwears?” If you haven’t seen the YouTube clips already, this film is slowly gaining cult status, and there are even screenings held where the audience gets to throw things at the screen. I went to one in Northampton last semester and it was an infinitely more gratifying experience than seeing Hollywood’s latest 3D-concocted nightmare. I dare you to sit through the 99 minutes of this self-proclaimed “film with the passion of Tennessee Williams.” The only thing this movie has in common with Tennessee Williams is that they are both dead to me.


Cool As Ice (Directed by David Kellogg, 1991)

You didn’t know that Vanilla Ice – one of the greatest entertainers of all time: hip-hop artist, professional dancer, hair-style guru, parachute-pants enthusiast, engrossing reality TV star and real thug – was also an Oscar-worthy actor? Me neither, until I watched this at 3 in the morning because there was nothing else on On-Demand worthy of my inebriated attention span. The plot line is a total rip-off of “Rebel Without a Cause.” Ice rides around on a yellow motorcycle monstrosity, and the tagline is: “When a girl has a heart of stone, there’s only one way to melt it. Just add ice.” Wait, doesn’t ice freeze things? I’m not a science major, but something is clearly lost in translation here. Anyway, this was his first film, and his last. Stick to what you know, Ice, like your successful rapping career and fashionable neon.


Watchmen (Directed by Zack Snyder, 2009)

If there are any other true graphic novel fans out there then you must agree that this film adaptation was beyond terrible. What, was the incredibly original plot line too awesome to translate to cinema? I mean, if you’re going make a film 162 minutes, then there is absolutely no excuse for changing critical plot points, characters and most importantly, the ending. Shame on you, Zack Snyder. Get your head straight or take a Rorschach test, for God’s sake, before you tread on another great piece of literature.


Even though I can never get those hours of my life back, and every now and then I wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night to the sounds of Ben Affleck delivering lines in my head, I wouldn’t say I fully regret watching these films. Ultimately, what would be good taste without the bad? Would the Oscars or acclaimed films be such pinnacles of achievement if there weren’t those “bad” films to remind us of why we hold those reels of celluloid to such high standards?

Emily Felder is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected].


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    Tony RFeb 13, 2012 at 4:06 am

    I think seeing a few bad movies, makes finally seeing a good movie Strikingly better. Because of the contrast of say 3 bad movies you just saw, when you then see a good movie it is like getting a really good cold drink after a full hot day in the sun. If all you see are good movies, then they aren’t as striking to you. I’m not saying they have to be just awful, but maybe something just ok. People seem to get wrapped up in “it’s got to be earth shattering good” every time, not realizing that maybe that could knock there effect down a notch or two because of it. Like my piano teacher pointed out to me once I never forgot. Many piano piece are written in movements, like 3 to 5 separate pieces that are to be played together in order. Often the second to the last is slow. She would ask herself “why do these composers always have to write this slow boring movement that I must suffer through to learn.” Then she said she understood, to make the last movement that was fast with an exciting melody seem that much better in contrast. Most of us never want the contrast that makes the fast movement better, we just want all the movements fast. Which in turn causes us to lose something without even realizing it.