Admit it. You know there are some movies that are so bad they’re good. The kind that you just want to watch with a group of friends and laugh at because they’re so ridiculous. The kind with terrible acting, corny dialogue, and cheap special effects. These movies are definitely better if you watch them with other people. I once watched a midnight television showing of Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) by myself. It was quite the experience. I had no one with whom to confirm, through laughter or exchanged glances, that what I was watching was indeed as insanely campy as I believed. Why else would midnight showings of The Room or Troll 2 (which I’m eager yet frightened to watch, thanks to the clip below) be so popular in movie theaters?
Perhaps no one does bad-good movies quite like Syfy. The channel has become famous for its corny, supposedly scary movies with increasingly low production values. They continue to pit mythically large creatures against each other in battles to the death, combine two unlikely creatures into one mass killing machine, or place giant versions of scary animals in places they just don’t belong. I’ve watched quite a few of these gems. I’ve learned that there are a number of criteria for a good Syfy movie. Some fall flat, and it’s probably because they’re missing one of these crucial aspects. I’ve compiled these rules for your reading (and viewing) pleasure. Don’t judge me. It takes a refined skill to make movie so bad that it’s good. And there always has to be something for The Soup to make fun of. As Joel McHale says, please to enjoy.
Syfy Rule #1: An Attractive Hero.
You have to have at least one male actor who’s great to look at. Ruggedly handsome is preferred, but not required. An actor who’s relatively unknown is a good choice. The reason for this is simple. First of all, one might argue that women are less likely to watch Syfy movies. I wouldn’t argue that, of course, because my female friends and I value them highly. But some might argue that. A handsome leading man, therefore, would be very important to bring in some female viewers. Maybe a girl passes the couch as her boyfriend watches a Syfy movie. She initially rolls her eyes, but once she catches a glimpse of the sexy man assigned to fight whatever monster happens to be featured in this movie, she’s finds herself seated on the couch, engrossed. No one plays the part of the strong, handsome hero quite like Kerem Bursin as Andy Flynn in Sharktopus. He has the dashing good looks, the charisma, and the action hero potential. And who else could pull off that unbuttoned plaid shirt? Matthew McConaughey, eat your heart out.
Syfy Rule #2: A Has-Been Celebrity (Or Two, Or Three…).
What fun is a corny movie without someone desperately trying to revitalize their career? You gotta have at least one celebrity who you haven’t seen in a while. It also helps if this celebrity isn’t known for acting. The recent Mega Python vs. Gatoroid featured three has-been celebs who weren’t known for their acting chops: Syfy alum Debbie Gibson, teen pop sensation Tiffany, and former member of the Monkees Mickey Dolenz. Check out Tiffany’s splendid acting on Hulu. I find that yelling all of one’s lines usually leads to a great performance, don’t you?
Syfy Rule #3: Terrible Acting.
We already kind of covered this in the last rule, but that’s bad acting on the part of has-been celebrities. That’s all well and good, but the best bad acting usually comes from the unknown character actors. Sometimes their delivery is so wooden, robotic, or overly emphatic that I can’t believe what I’m hearing. Who could forget the woman who incessantly asks to see the room where Elvis stayed in Dinocroc vs. Supergator? And what about Jerry the poolboy, from the same film? Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you’ve probably seen this clip.
Syfy Rule #4: Stupid Promiscuous Girl(s).
I already mentioned that Syfy movies need handsome leading men. Well, they need attractive, scantily clad ladies as well. These women are usually promiscuous and ditzy, and they usually get eaten. Whether the inclusion of these women’s fates is meant to inspire sympathy for the women or the monsters who eat them really depends on the viewer. A classic example comes from Dinocroc vs. Supergator. Watch the clip on Hulu.
Syfy Rule #5: People Getting Their Happy Experience Cut Short by Sudden Death.
It’s a rule. In a Syfy original movie, there will be at least one scene in which someone who’s enjoying themselves and loving life will suddenly be killed. The people might be in love, on vacation, or simply enjoying a fun, relaxing day out, when out of nowhere a monster or natural disaster swallows them whole or slices them in half. It’s preferable that they be laughing or screaming giddily before they’re killed. A sad example is the sledding scene in Ice Quake. Watch it unfold on Hulu.
Syfy Rule #6: Bad Special Effects.
Perhaps this is what Syfy is best known for. Nothing makes a bad-good movie even worse-better than some crappy computer generated images. And there are usually a lot of them. From the monster itself to the blood that spurts out when it bites someone in half, it’s all bad CGI. There’s something so wonderful about watching a scene which already lacks believability become even less believable with the help of fake-looking effects. Below, in a scene from Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, a shark … well, you’ll see … Terrible FX ensue.
Syfy Rule #7: Villains With Personality.
Although the villain is supposed to be someone you root against, it’s always nice when he has some attitude. Maybe if he’s relatable in some way. In both Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus and Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, the monsters are lured to their doom by pheromones. Hey, giant killer creatures get horny, too. In Dinocroc vs. Supergator, Dinocroc is actually quite cute with his little arms. Sharktopus gets sassy when he walks on land. But perhaps no one has more attitude than Yeti of Yeti: Curse of the Snow Demon. Just watch this trailer to see why.
Syfy Rule #8: A Nerdy Girl Who Takes Off Her Glasses and Looks Hot.
This isn’t present in all Syfy movies, but it certainly makes them better. It’s the classic sexy librarian cliche. And Syfy loves cliches, so of course this cliche is included in their movies. The best example is Nicole Sands, the nerdy scientist girl in Sharktopus who ends up taking off her glasses and letting her hair down. Surprise! She’s hot! Watch a scene with her on Hulu.
Well, now you know what it takes to get a bad-good Syfy movie. If we’re lucky, Syfy will keep giving us the worst-best of the worst-best, year after year.