Top 10 Guilty Pleasures: Action, Sci-Fi and Horror

The Shawshank Redemption, The Godfather, Pulp Fiction; these classic films are respected by the masses and hailed as the greatest of all time, never set to be seen on such a list as this. However, what films are deserving of the ‘guilty pleasure’ categorisation? What are the worst of the worst, the films so bad that you can’t help but have a soft spot for them?


Sharknado

10. Sharknado (2013)

The title says it all. Sharks in a tornado? Pretty cool. A man jumping 10 feet in the air with a chainsaw, chopping a shark in half? Even better. Tara Reid gives a tremendously bad performance, as always. However, it’s the memorable quotes that make this film such a gem!


Alone in the Dark

9. Alone in the Dark (2005)

Uwe Boll had to hit this list at some point and, as we’ll find out later, game adaptations never go well. Alone in the Dark is just terrible in every way, from its truly horrendous performances by Christian Slater and Tara Reid (AGAIN!) to its awful heavy metal action sequences. The truly horrendous performance from Christian Slater and another atrocity from Tara Reid make the awful heavy metal action sequences that bit better. With incomprehensible dialogue and an abysmal plot, it’s no surprise that you can pick it up in the Amazon marketplace for a penny.


Highlander

8. Highlander (1986)

This is a much loved cult classic starring Christopher Lambert (whose Scottish accent is beyond unbelievable) as an immortal warrior battling other immortals. With the efforts in the film taking place for an unknown ‘Prize’, the storyline is preposterous and the special effects really haven’t aged well. Sure, the film was made in the eighties but there’s no excuses when 2001: A Space Odyssey was made twenty years before, providing impressive effects even by today’s standards. However, with all this in mind, Highlander is corny in the most beautiful way, defining eighties cheese.


Birdemic

7. Birdemic: Shock And Terror (2010)

A ‘romantic horror’ never sounds promising, despite few successes in the genre with Bram Stroker’s Dracula and Let The Right One In. Made on a budget of $10,000 without any support, Birdemic is notorious for being just plain awful yet thoroughly entertaining. The special effects are something to behold, with what appears to be stock footage of animated birds just hovering, occasionally coming towards the camera as if a child has drawn over the lens. In addition, the acting far surpasses terrible. It’s easy to go on forever how appalling this film is but at least it provides one hell of a chuckle!


House of the Dead6. House of the Dead (2003)

Another video game adaptation by Uwe Boll, here opting for a shoot-‘em-up zombie ball of garbage. The plot is ridiculously stupid in addition to being hugely clichéd. 5 young whippersnappers attend a rave on an unnamed island that turns out to be deserted. Here, they find 3 fellow partygoers who inform them that zombies have killed everyone. In a nutshell, this film is pretty much every other shoestring budget zombie flick, only with a distinctive lack of bodies and blood. House of the Dead gets so bad, there might be some confusion as to why it’s even considered a guilty pleasure. It manages to get by on unintentional laughs, including characters blowing themselves up with dynamite and a bizarre explanation for the zombies. The acting is so wooden, you could watch 90 minutes of trees swaying in the wind and tell no difference. Shocking non-stop bad effects, weird montage action sequences and the worst possible soundtrack imaginable helps to cement this adaptation as a true guilty pleasure.


Sharktopus

5. Sharktopus (2010)

Another shark film, this time focusing on a mutant shark-octopus engineered for battle. In true B-movie, TV film fashion, it really doesn’t have much of a plot. Sharktopus escapes from captivity, goes on an hour long killing spree and eventually gets blown up. Thankfully, there’s plenty of laughable scenes that are fully aware of the films ridiculousness. With awesome sequences of a half-shark, half-octopus walking on tentacles and stabbing people with them, Sharktopus is a truly beautiful experience.


Doom

4. Doom (2005)

Dwayne Johnson hasn’t had a brilliant career in the film industry but his worst film came just after he left WWE, performing in a film adaptation of the Doom videogame franchise. Unlike the other adaptations on this list, the film had an incredible $60 million budget which is sort of blatant, but you can still find yourself wondering where the money went. It lacks originality when it comes to sci-fi horror, feeling like yet another Alien rip-off. It’s the first-person scene, paying tribute to its origins, that makes the film, despite telling a small part of the story. Other than that, it comes down to the monsters that look like rubber, the apparently highly trained Rapid Response Tactical Squad blasting at weird zombie(ish) people, and the completely unnecessary badass fighting scene between a jacked up Karl Urban and Dwayne Johnson.


Mars Attacks

3. Mars Attacks! (1996)

As guilty pleasures go, this is a gold mine. Paying homage to the shoddy sci-fi films of the fifties and sixties, based upon a cult trading card game of the same name, this spoof takes the cheese and gimmicks to a whole new level, fantastically recreating the schlock, Ed Wood feel that audiences came to hate by the end of the sixties. The very odd humour works very well with the B-movie feel that just oozes from every seam. The huge budget didn’t reflect brilliantly into the box office, however, as it appears audiences couldn’t get on board with what the film represented. The star-studded cast helps provide us with a campy, enjoyable tribute to all that was great about the cheap and cheerful sci-fi originals.


Starship Troopers

2. Starship Troopers (1997)

On its release people were unsure whether this film was satirical or plain action. We later found out that it was, in fact, a satire, comprising of humans travelling to eliminate the ‘bugs’, an alien species, on their far away home planet of Klendathu. The film makes massive use of hilarious propaganda, pitching the idea that the greatest reward from battle is further battle, and that “the only good bug is a dead bug!” On the surface, it’s a dumb and goofy action film with wooden acting and peculiar combat sequences with the bugs, but dig a little deeper and you have a highly political satire taking jabs at the right wing. It’s highly misunderstood but for a film that has a serious message and roots in important issues, it is incredibly fun and silly.


Iron Sky

1. Iron Sky (2012)

Imagine Hilter hadn’t died at the end of World War II, but instead took the last of his loyal subjects and hid on the dark side of the moon so his successors could attack the planet. Yes, this is the concept of Iron Sky. It has an “albinism serum” which “Aryanizes” its intended victim. Sarah Palin (who, by the way, is the President of the United States) teams up with a couple of the Nazis who land in a flying saucer and uses them to try and win her upcoming election. The Nazis end up powering their super weapon spacecraft, the Götterdämmerung, and have a Star Wars-esque battle with the leaders of the world, all who have militarised their own spacecraft. It ends bleaky with a nuclear war caused by Palin, but throughout it uses the concept to bring about some well-timed humor. Impressive visuals and elaborate costumes means the film never looks cheap and throughout the idea that this could just be a well-produced low budget sci-fi never crosses our minds. I was left wondering how this could get any better, until I found out a sequel is on the cards. Get excited, all who are reading, it will be a wild ride with Sarah Palin turning into a lizard and Hilter riding a dinosaur!


Do you agree with the list? What films would you take out or add?

Comment with your thoughts.

– Phil Wilson

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