Monster movies haven’t always had a good run. For much of Hollywood’s history, we’ve been presented with bad stories, poor funding and somewhat terrible special effects. Rarely do films in this genre get the same kind of love you find in superhero films or war movies.
But sometimes they get something right. Every now and then, a monster movie shows up that knows it isn’t going to be a huge blockbuster and just doesn’t care. What’s even more impressive is when the movie turns out okay as a result.
It’s worth noting that despite the age of some of these movies, they’re still available either for rent, on demand or via stream. If you decide to take the streaming option, it may be prudent to load yourself up with a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service to ensure secure streaming and access to full services (particularly if you reside outside the US). There’s a guide by Secure Thoughts if you’d like more information.
That said, we’ve got some bad monster films for you. Each one is worth watching—if that’s your sort of thing!
Young Frankenstein (1974)
If there was ever a film that did everything it could to be a corny monster movie throwback, Young Frankenstein is it. As these films go, this one is more of a spoof of the genre. The entire premise is a parody of the original Frankenstein films and old horror flicks in general, with the whole film even going so far as to be shot in black and white.
Most any film featuring Gene Wilder is bound to be entertaining, but I think it’s Mel Brooks who really outdid himself with this one. We’re treated to Dr. Frankenstein’s grandson (played by Gene Wilder) who is very interested in disassociating himself from his grandfather’s infamous work, but ends up in Transylvania on a wacky adventure of self-discovery and reanimation.
The film received positive reviews, proof that going out of your way to blend awful movie elements with talent can yield something great.
Swamp Thing (1982)
Given how bad it was, I didn’t realise until recently that Swamp Thing was a DC Comics character. Admittedly DC has produced quite a few bad movies (Batman Forever, for instance), but this one has to be a top contender.
Not only are the special effects pretty bad, but the entire premise of Swamp Thing is relatively uninteresting. But somehow this battle between the Swamp Thing (who is actually the mutated Dr. Alec Holland) and his arch nemesis, Dr. Anton Arcane (who also becomes a mutant later in the film) manages to become amusing in its sheer awfulness.
Reviews are fairly mixed, but Swamp Thing has become a sort of cultural phenomenon that will never be forgotten. If you’re a big DC fan or just like bad monster movies, this one is a great pick, and it’s less than two hours, so it isn’t TOO offensive.
Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters (1968)
A little disclaimer: I know there are tons of Godzilla fans out there, and I’m certainly no stranger to the franchise. But Godzilla movies have always had a “low budget” feel to them, and Destroy All Monsters takes the cake for the sheer number of costumed beasts appearing on set.
The aside, the movie is awesome. What’s not to like about a bunch of kaiju fighting it out all over the world like it’s a battle royale for monsters? The gigantic cast includes Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, King Ghidorah, Anguirus and a few other lesser known creatures.
If that weren’t enough, the movie has a plot: aliens are trying to invade, and it’s up to earth’s monsters to stop King Ghidorah and the aliens…but only after destroying numerous cities because… well… that’s what they do.
When watching Destroy All Monsters don’t forget that it was made back in 1968, so the special effects do deserve a little credit. This is cheesy as all heck, but it’s great fun.
I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)
There are few instances where such a low amount of effort has produced such an incredible return. I Was a Teenage Werewolf is one such instance; the entire shoot for the movie only took seven days, yet it yielded some two million dollars…in 1957!
The film is about what you’d expect for such a low amount of investment and involvement, but it has since become a part of the horror movie canon. The title says it all. A teenage boy becomes a werewolf and does exactly what werewolves do. It’s fairly predictable and is made for a 1950s teenager, but it spawned a series of sequels and references that have lasted until today.
When I first saw Tremors, I loved it. It was a classic example of a cheesy monster movie looking to build on the glory days of the 1950s. It even features Kevin Bacon, although allegedly he wasn’t too proud of it.
In Tremors, we’re taken to a remote area of Nevada where residents are faced with a mysterious death by decapitation, followed by a quick escalation in mayhem once the “Graboids” actually appear.
While the special effects are of low quality for an early ‘90s movie, the writing is excellent; the actors all carry their roles well, and the dialogue has wit to spare. Much like Young Frankenstein, Tremors knows exactly what it’s doing and when it’s time to show off the foam monster.
What is a “Bad” Movie Anyway?
After going through the list, it feels odd to call any of these movies bad. At first glance, there are some terrible ideas amongst them, yet somehow they manage to come off as good entertainment.
So if you’re feeling in the mood for some bad movies, don’t forget to complete the package; grab a few friends, throw some popcorn on, and get ready to have a great time.
Do you have any favourite monster movies that you know are terrible, but you love them anyway? Share some of them with us in the comments!