But all is not lost! Those awful films were a gold mine of research. Why? Because they can teach us valuable writing lessons.
Here’s a list of truly horrible movies (made less horrible by the fact I watched them via RiffTrax because I can only take so much torture) and the valuable lesson I learned from each one.
Grizzly – A grizzly terrorizes and kills campers but they don’t want to close the park. Basically, it’s Jaws on land. Lesson – make your plot original.
Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny – Santa’s reindeer abandon Santa and at the end the Ice Cream Bunny drives his truck to rescue Santa. However, Santa could’ve at any point in time simply got out of the sled on his own and walked off the beach. Lesson – fill in those plot holes.
Roller Gator – A miniature talking gator entices a roller skating girl to hide him from bad guys. Endless insults from gator, pointless scenes and chatter, and lots of meandering. Lesson – don’t make up for a lack of plot with empty padding.
Lesson – make the villain believable.
ROTOR – Futuristic robot cop goes on killing spree in science fiction thriller. In reality, very boring and the only thing more cardboard than the acting are the sets. Lesson – don’t dress up a story as one genre and then deliver something completely different.
The Little Unicorn – A girl and her unicorn avoid detection in this star-filled film. However, most of the stars are wasted and look really bored. Lesson – give your characters something interesting to do.
Lesson – just because you think it’s brilliant doesn’t mean it is–get a second (or third or fourth) opinion.
Zindy the Swamp Boy – Drama about boy living in swamp with grandfather and eventually on his own. He dies at the end. Lesson – if your story is aimed at children, make sure it won’t scar them for life.
Sharknado 2 – Category seven hurricane spawns sharknados in New York City. (Need I say more?) Lesson – readers must buy the story concept.
Lesson – fancy and colorful words won’t make up for a story that makes no sense and goes nowhere.
Cool as Ice – Featuring flash in the pan rap star Vanilla Ice. 1991 never looked so bad. Lesson – don’t use elements, terms, or slang that will date your work in less than five years.
Lesson – threats in your story must be believable.
The Last Shark – Giant shark terrorizes coastal town. At one point, he jumps out of the water and takes down a helicopter. Lesson – make sure your thrills and scares work and don’t cause readers to roll their eyes or laugh.
The Star Wars Holiday Special – Chewbacca’s family waits for him to come home to celebrate Life Day. Poorly acted, heavily padded, and featuring ninety minutes of mostly Wookie cries. Lesson – never rush a story (or sequel) and toss it out there just to please others.
There you have it! Next time a terrible movie crosses your screen, sit back and learn from it. If you can stomach the awfulness and can’t find it on RiffTrax, of course.
What lessons have you learned from bad movies?