A Survival Guide to Bad Scifi Movies

Illustration for article titled A Survival Guide to Bad Scifi Movies

If you have ever willingly or unwillingly sought out science fiction in the movie theater, you know what dangers await. Sure, you may find yourself blown away by a 28 Days Later, but you might just as easily find yourself rolling your eyes through a Jumper or Transformers. But even if you do find yourself having to watch Hayden Christensen in front of a green screen, there is hope. Here to deliver the good news about surviving bad scifi movies is Sherilyn Connelly, who has for years been a ringleader of the weekly Bad Movie Night at San Francisco's Dark Room. She worked with her Bad Movie Night colleagues* to come up with a few ways you can turn a horrible movie experience into one the whole theater will enjoy.


First, some basics.

A few signs of a bad movie

  • Sunglasses in the poster. If human adults are wearing them, it's bad. If babies or animals are wearing them, it's worse. If adults are looking over the top of the sunglasses, it's horrendous. If a baby or animal is looking over the top, it's a sign of the apocalypse.
  • If someone falls into a swimming pool.
  • If there's a hot-air ballon. (Quoth Roger Ebert: "Good movies rarely contain a hot-air balloon.")
  • If Hayden Christensen is involved.
  • If it's too awful before the opening credits end.
  • If it takes place in Venice Beach. Very few good movies were shot there.
  • If the product placement's written in the script: for example, when the Transformers talk about Nokia phones.
  • It has the following credits: "Directed by Richard Benjamin,"or "Jamie Kennedy is..." or "Based on the screenplay by Gore Vidal"

If your movie is beginning to look bad, there is only one thing you can do to stop the madness. You must loudly and insistently comment on it, sharing your feelings with your fellow oppressed audience members. Improvising is encouraged, but here are a few basic guidelines.

How to Make Fun of a Bad Movie

  • A human or any other animal skull shown with its jaw open should always be singing opera.
  • Bizarre camera angles should be mentioned and explained. For instance, a camera shot from the ground looking up may be the "Amy Winehouse cam."
  • If a movie is playing on a teevee screen (it's often something like "Casablanca," or "It's a Wonderful Life" for xmas movies), remember to state the cardinal rule: "Never reference a good movie inside your bad one."
  • Identify all actors who even remotely or insultingly look like the popular celebrities the film could never afford. Bonus points if it's a relative like Don Swayze or Joe Estevez.
  • When a character spouts exposition, be sure to think them.
  • The more recent a death, the funnier the joke. Heath Ledger jokes are currently hilarious. If someone makes a joke about, say, the Kennedy or Lincoln assassinations, chide them: "Too soon!" 9/11 jokes, however, will never go out of style.
  • Always answer rhetorical questions. The characters wouldn't have asked if they didn't want you, the audience, to respond.
  • When a scene is really insistently horrible, make a lucid comment about the color of the room or the billboard in the background.
  • When the movie makes the entire audience squirm simultaneously in silence, it never hurts to announce, "This film hates me."
  • Any shot of sand or a desert is worth at least one "The worm is the spice! The spice is the worm!" Except during Dune.
  • Don't be afraid to make the obvious joke; most often it is the joke everyone wanted to make but were to drunk to form the words.
  • Boobs instantly make any movie the "BEST MOVIE EVER!" Temporarily.
  • The brother is always the Nth to die. The brother is always the Nth to do ANYTHING. ("Why is the brother always the third to get on the plane during pre-boarding? This movie is so racist!")
  • When the picture lacks detail for whatever reason—and especially if it's intentional—holler at the tech to "Focus!"
  • Inside jokes are encouraged. If you make a joke that only one other person gets, it's even better if that one other person isn't in the room.
  • Also, explaining a joke at length makes it funner, especially if the audience didn't laugh in the first place.
  • If preshow entertainment is required, your best bet is The ABC of Sex Education for Trainables. This is especially helpful for so called "erotic" movies like Cyberella.
  • If a woman is running: "Boing Boing Boing Boing Boing Boing Boing Boing Boing Boing Boing Boing Boing Boing Boing." Why? Sheena!
  • Tears are not tears. They are face pee.
  • If you refer to someone as the lost Baldwin brother, name him Gummo Baldwin.
  • Whenever Shatner speaks Esperanto, everyone has to take a drink.

* Mike Spiegelman, Phil Darnowsky, Geekboy, Mikl-Em, Maura Spilia, Jim Fourniadis, Alexia Staniotes and Rhiannon Charisse

SPECIAL NOTE: io9 does not advise that you try this in a theater full of people who have not consented to hear you yell things. If you choose to try this technique with a non-consenting audience, we do not take responsibility for you getting punched or having pop dumped on your head.

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Annalee Newitz

@jonathan29: This only works if you have a consensual agreement with the crowd. Do not attempt in a crowded theater of strangers! We take no responsibility if you are crushed by angry fans.