A New Shitty Standard

From humble beginnings back in 2008, to a feature that now dominates this website, film reviews on Missile Test have always been for fun. When it comes to film, nothing has been more fun for me than horror flicks, but a close second, and often intertwined, are shitty movies. I can’t get enough bad cinema. True ineptness, without intent, makes for a more enjoyable movie to watch, for me, than high art that is a slog to get through. I love and enjoy great film, but I enjoy low art much more.

When it comes to writing about film, I naturally gravitated to the types of films I watch the most. But, I’m also somewhat wary to approach truly great films. I am not a professional film critic, I am not recognized by any associations of critics, I’ve read few books on film, and the only film class I’ve ever taken...well, I’ve written about that before. It was an easy A. Most of what I know of criticism I picked up from reading the pros, and those pros have already had their say on great film. When it comes to something like Citizen Kane or The Godfather, what more can I add? It’s only with the highest of pretensions that I think my site contributes.

Shitty movies, on the other hand, are a weird grey area in film. Easily dismissed and hard to rate, many shitty films have profit as their highest aim, and used ruthless cost-cutting as a means to achieve it. We are not seeing the best a filmmaker or production team has to offer. Or, we are, and that is just more evidence of their ineptness. Shitty movies have kitsch value, which is about as amorphous a term for low art as have ever been conceived. Kitsch can mean silly, ironic, campy, stupid, offensive, bright, colorful, gay, incompetent, folk, untrained, uneducated, plastic, old, or any other number of terms one wishes to apply. Kitsch is something that people collect.

I’ve been collecting shitty movies here on Missile Test for a while, now, and last year I passed a milestone, having published my 200th Shitty Movie Sundays review. What began as a whim, has since become an integral part of my experience with film, as writing about shitty movies has drawn me deeper into their bizarre orbit than I had ever wished before.

In that first SMS review, for Doom, I wrote a throwaway line at the end, writing that while Doom isn’t worth watching, it was still better than Alien: Resurrection. I don’t remember why I chose to pick on Alien: Resurrection. Perhaps I had seen it recently. But I decided to stick with it. Rather than issue a star rating or giving a shitty movie a thumbs up or a thumbs down, I decided to rate all shitty movies I review against Alien: Resurrection. I figured that movie was just bad enough to represent a middle ground of shittiness, and it’s worked well enough, but not perfectly.

Now that I have a sufficient sample size of reviews to draw on, I feel it is time to retire the method of comparing every movie to Alien: Resurrection. Instead, I’ve created a Shitty Movie Sundays Watchability Index, where all the shitty movies I’ve reviewed are ranked, not necessarily by quality, but by their ability to keep me entertained. The shitty movies I’ve found most enjoyable, like Anaconda and Deep Blue Sea, are near the top. The truly unwatchable dreck, movies such as Birdemic and House of the Dead, movies I implore my readers to avoid, reside at the bottom.

A shitty movie can be an objectively good film, or it can be bad. Shittiness is a category of film all its own that doesn’t necessarily mirror objective quality, and the index is designed to reflect that. A watchability index could be created for all film, of course, not just shitty movies. But with shitty movies, there’s a unique gamble. A shitty movie that’s also a bad watch is time wasted. It’s not high art, and it wasn’t entertaining, so a part of one’s life is irretrievably gone with no positive experience to look back upon. So, the index is a tool for the shitty movie watcher — one that may help them avoid the long and empty slog of Spice World in favor of something uplifting, like Maximum Overdrive.

The index will be updated with every new Shitty Movie Sundays post. Or more often, as the feeling strikes me. This is merely another list in a lonely corner of the internet, after all. In the big scheme of things, it doesn’t matter where a film ranks in the index, or if there’s an index at all. What does matter is that there is this whole type of movie out there for potential viewers to discover and enjoy. Life without art, even bad art, is dull and grey, and belongs to people who think there is no value in creativity. Should one wish to escape the drudgery for an hour or two, might I suggest a movie?