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What’s your favorite trash movie?

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Our staff discuss the movies they love that are so bad, they’re good.

You know the movie. The one you know is trash, but can’t help but stop every time it’s on TV. It’s the perfect good-bad movie. Or bad-good movie. One of those that is SO terrible, it crosses back into the realm of perfection. The ones you hide in the back of your movie collection. The ones you quote and no one has any idea what you’re talking about.

Well, hide in shame no more.

We asked some of our staff to chime in with their favorite good-bad movies, so bust out the VHS player, clear your weekend, and settle in for some classics.

Con Air – Caroline Darney

Con Air is the perfect movie. War hero Cameron Poe (played by the incomparable Nicolas Cage) is sentenced to seven years in prison after killing a man while defending his pregnant wife (those fists are deadly weapons, as the judge will have us know). On his release day, Poe is transported on “Convict Air”, which is inevitably hijacked by Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom and hijinks ensue.

The cast is incredible as John Malkovich plays the perfect villain in Grissom and is joined by Ving Rames (Diamond Dog), Dave Chappelle (Pinball), M.C. Gainey (Swamp Thing), Steve Buscemi (Garland “The Marietta Mangler” Green), and Danny Trejo (Johnny-23) in the film with undoubtedly the best bad guy nicknames.

Cage’s southern accent is one for the record books, especially as he drawls out “put the bunn-ay back in the bo-uhx” and somehow manages to turn the word ‘box’ into two syllables.

The guitar-riff heavy background music only adds bad-assery to the mix, and I haven’t even begun to touch on John Cusack as a US Marshal, Colm Meaney and his dumb car with the ‘KICK AZZ’ license plate, and Mykelti Williamson (AKA Bubba from Forrest Gump) as Cage’s best buddy. Oh, and Cage’s hair. Woooo-weeeee.

From the opening credits to the moment Lee Ann Rimes’s “How Do I Live” starts blaring as Cage — decked out in a wife beater and jeans and bleeding from being shot in the arm —reunites with his wife and meets his daughter for the first time on the Vegas strip next to the burned out wreckage of the aircraft he helped crash land … this movie is everything I could ever ask for.

Strongly considered: Battleship, Pacific Rim

Killer Klowns from Outer Space and Return of the Killer Tomatoes! Ryan Van Bibber

Horror movies take themselves so seriously. Not these two trash horror comedies from 1988. Tomatoes featured a young George Clooney, casting about after his Facts of Life days and just a few years before E.R. There’s one scene where they go all-in on product placement (after they break down the third wall and clue the audience in on the movie going broke, you see) that ends with ninjas and cowboys and someone beating the hell out of ‘80s bad guy “Muammar Gaddafi” for one big FUCK YEAH! ‘80s moment.


I don’t remember exactly why the Klowns came to earth to wrap people up in their cotton candy cocoons after shooting them with oversize novelty laser guns. They use an idiot sheriff’s deputy as a ventriloquist dummy (it works on sooooo many levels!). One word of warning, two dogs die in the film, but one’s a balloon dog the Klowns used as a tracker. But everyone comes back in the end and gets a pie in their face.

Oh, The Dickies did the soundtrack.

Vantage Point – Kofie Yeboah

It was a cool idea for a movie that I watched way too many times at my grandma’s house.

Semi Pro – Nate Scott

This movie doesn’t have a plot, really. Or any characters that are memorable, let alone character development. Whatever. I still laugh like an idiot every time I watch it. I am a simple man, and I’ll be damned if Will Ferrell saying “What he just said. What that guy said.” doesn’t make me howl every time. I quote that all the time, and no one has any idea what I’m talking about.

They Live – Christian D’Andrea

It stars Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David. It once spent 827 consecutive weeks as TNT’s “Saturday Movie.” It features a six-minute fight scene BETWEEN THE TWO PROTAGONISTS.

Nothing about this movie isn’t a marvel of its own design. Honorable mention goes to Euro Trip, which you may remember as being good, but in reality is just six funny jokes wrapped around 90 minutes of awful filler.

Under Siege 2 — Grant Brisbee

It’s hard to believe, but the first Under Siege was something of a critical success, comparatively speaking. After about 30 or 40 movies that had titles like Murder of Kill, Steven Seagal made Die Hard, But on a Battleship, and it worked.

The sequel was Die Hard, But on a Train, and it sucked in the most watchable way. Everett McGill was a perfect villain, and the entire movie sets him up on a collision course with Seagal. They’re both presented as absolute badasses the entire time, and you’re expecting the final battle scene to be amazing.

Instead — SPOILERS — Seagal absolutely wrecks him. There’s no back-and-forth. The bad guy gets two licks in, and at no point are you wondering if Seagal is going to get out of it. It’s just the main character being offended that the screenwriter even pretended they were on the same level.

Yes, that’s Katherine Heigl, and, yes, there’s a horrible story that goes along with it. But as far as bad-good movies go, this is extremely watchable.

Cocktail — Sarah Hardy

Everything about his movie screams 1988. Cynical characters who are obsessed with making money. Loud, flashy clothes. A paper-thin plot that relies entirely on the charm of mischievous pre-Scientology Tom Cruise and the winsome, permed-out Elisabeth Shue. A mishmash soundtrack best known for earworming “Kokomo” into our lives. It’s all excess. Style over substance.

And … it kind of works? Thirty years later, this Razzie winner is both outdated and the perfect Saturday afternoon cable movie, a nostalgia trip you can wrap yourself up in like an old familiar blanket you can never bring yourself to get rid of.

Even if Cruise’s character’s redemption arc isn’t entirely earned, he gets just enough of a wake-up call (courtesy of a friend’s death) to bring him back to Shue and give this movie its happily ever after. The bartending moments are undeniably fun (and no doubt led to many broken Bacardi bottles for all the people who decided to try it at home). And any movie moment involving Cruise or Shue singing and dancing around is guaranteed to be enjoyable:

Steel — John Ketchum

I have no shame in saying this is one of my favorite movies. Shaquille O’Neal puts on a truly breath-taking performance as John Henry Irons, a weapons designer who fights crime while covered in a steel suit. The villain in the movie is Nathaniel Burke (played by Judd Nelson), a soldier who puts high-tech weapons into the wrong hands. It is up to Irons to use his intelligence, power, and sheer will to stop him. With the help of his friend Susan Sparks (played by Annabeth Gish), his brother Martin (played by Ray J!), and Uncle Joe, (played by Richard Roundtree) he works to get the high-tech weapons off the streets and out of the wrong hands.

Now, this movie got a 12 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and I for one disagree with that rating. The movie has everything. If you can find a VHS player you should def fire it up one weekend.

UHF — Eric Stephen

It pains me to even use the “trash” label for UHF, which is not only my favorite such film but also my favorite movie of any kind. I was 13 when this movie was released, and in the adolescent sweet spot for the humor of Weird Al Yankovic, having listened to his music growing up.*

My cousin and I watched this movie together dozens of times, and much to our giggling delight even rewound and paused this scene over and over again, trying to nail the exact point when UHF television station owner George Newman hits his friend Bobo The Clown with a frying pan.

I still laugh at several parts of the movie, like Raul’s Wild Kingdom, the trailer for Ghandi II, and the tease for the upcoming Town Talk: “Lesbian Nazi hookers abducted by UFOs and forced into weight loss programs.”

Another fun exercise is pausing the Conan the Librarian (“Don’t you know the Dewey Decimal System?”) commercial to see that a dummy — not a human — was cut in half by Conan’s sword.


*I still listen to Weird Al, by the way, and even attended his concert earlier this week, wearing this “Spatula City” T-shirt.

Battleship — Fooch

The movie opens with Riggins (that’s how the Friday Night Lights running back will forever be referred to) stealing a burrito from a convenience store to impress a girl. You really know right off the bat where you stand with this movie.

Battleship is not a movie so much as an experience — by which I mean, the only way to enjoy this movie is with a large group, Mystery Science Theater 3000 style. I watched this in the movie theater when it came out (don’t judge me), and the crowd made the movie.

At one point, as they are trying to figure out how to blow up the enemy ships, they figure out a grid system to hit the ships. There was a palpable buzz in the theater as we realized what was about to happen — they were about to play the game as part of this movie. An F26 and “we hit ‘em!” later, and the crowd erupted. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a movie theater yell as loudly as they did during this scene.

The movie as a whole is atrocious. Riggins plays Riggins, and Landry plays Landry (again, Friday Night Lights forever!). Rihanna might be the best actor in the movie, while Liam Neeson is mailing this one in from the first scene. One day we’ll see this on Mystery Science Theater 3000, and I can only hope you’ve got a large group of friends and a lot of alcohol.

Robot Jox — Sam Eggleston

By the time 1990 rolled around, I was entering my double-digit years and was in love with so many movies. But one really bad one that sticks out as a favorite I would still watch today is Robot Jox.

Long before Pacific Rim was a wet dream for Guillermo del Toro, Robot Jox had all the giant robots a boy could need. In the movie, outright war has been outlawed thanks to near destruction of the planet through nuclear holocaust. The answer? Nations have giant robots, piloted by jox, that fight our battles for us. Each jox is required to fight 10 battles — if they can survive that long.

The movie pits Alexander (played by Paul Koslo) against good-guy Achilles (played by Gary Graham). Both have won their past nine fights (Alexander having won through killing his opponents!) and they are set to face off in Alaska with the winner becoming the first ever to take all 10 of their contracted matches.

Things go wrong, of course, and Achilles is shaken by the accidental death of over 300 spectators. A rematch is called by officials, and … well, you kind of have to watch it yourself, right?

You’ll get it all — action, love, a weird chain-saw robot penis, jealousy, murder, betrayal, giant robots, and, of course, a 41-percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 5.3 out of 10 on IMDB. That, my friends, is pure gold.

Strongly considered: Dredd (my wife, Kim, said so when I asked which trash movies I like to watch); 300; The Toxic Avenger

What are your favorite trash movies? Leave a comment below!

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