Does Sharknado Crack The Shitty Movie Hall Of Fame?

Illustration for article titled Does Sharknado Crack The Shitty Movie Hall Of Fame?

There's been a lot of press surrounding last night's Syfy debut of Sharknado 2: The Second One. Which makes sense, given that last year's original was a smash success (as far as these types of movies go), and the sequel takes place in New York, where there's not just a high concentration of media members, but a high concentration of media members who cannot fathom anything taking place outside New York. Even sharknadoes.


But the Sharknado phenomenon mostly resonates with people because it embodies all the greatness of what a shitty movie can be. It works because it sets out to be awful. It isn't like a Hollywood blockbuster that just happens to be awful. The intent of Sharknado was always to be so ridiculous that no one anywhere can ever take it seriously. For fuck's sake, the tagline was "Enough Said."

So where does the original rank among intentionally campy films, and what's so great about it?

Well, for starters, Sharknado isn't just a shitty movie—it's a very specific type of shitty movie. There are many things that can make movies awful. But Sharknado wasn't:

Sharknado is self-aware, consistently entertaining, not serious in any way, incredibly cheesy, and something you giggle about because you feel silly that you enjoy it this much. It's a guilty pleasure quite similar to masturbation, except publicly vocalizing your love for this movie is more acceptable around children and less likely to get you disinvited from Bible study.

Many films have intentionally excelled at sucking long before tornadoes began throwing sharks around. Here's a rundown of the best.


Shitty Movies, Ranked:

6. Snakes on a Plane

Samuel L. Jackson was definitely aware of the B-movie feel of this 2006 film: That's why he prevented them from changing the title to something boring like Pacific Flight 121.


"The title was what got my attention," Jackson told USA Today. "I got on the set one day and heard they changed it, and I said, 'What are you doing here? It's not Gone with the Wind. It's not On the Waterfront. It's Snakes on a Plane!"

A big reason Snakes makes this list is because of classic (and internet-inspired) lines like this:

Which somehow gets even better during the TV edited version:

5. The Toxic Avenger

Troma Entertainment built their business around the self-aware crappy flick, and 1984's The Toxic Avenger is their poster child. It's sort of like Spider-Man if Peter Parker was more pathetic, and became more mutant and violent. Most of the sequels (there's been four, and a TV spinoff) are enjoyable, too. But for pantheon purposes, accept no substitutes.

4. Gayniggers From Outer Space

This might be the most radical movie title ever. A satire of blaxploitation and sci-fi, it's about gay black men from the planet Anus who plan on eradicating Earth's females to create an entirely gay male society. There's plenty to like here, including a computer voice that informs the men, "GERMAN FEMALES ARE USUALLY BLOND, BE VERY CAREFULL (SIC): THEY DON'T LIKE DARK SKIN." Fun fact: It was "taped in front of a live studio audience," or at least claimed to be.

3. Return of the Killer Tomatoes!

Yes, this is a sequel. Most people probably prefer the 1978 original, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes pretty similar in humor and quality. However, this '88 sequel has something the first movie doesn't: George Clooney.


Yes, before he was People's Sexiest Man Alive and became the living embodiment of Esquire magazine, Clooney dealt with tomatoes who could morph into people. This trailer successfully captures the intentional wackiness of the movie, and also why I sometimes fantasizing about penetrating tomatoes until they turn into pasta sauce.

2. Sharknado

Yes! Both SyFy (the channel it premiered on) and the Asylum (its distributor) have distilled shitty movies down to a science, similar to what record companies do with pop stars. They specialize in outrageous plots, ridiculous characters, and just the right amount of has-been stars.


Like in Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus there was Jaleel White (yes, he did do that). In 2-Headed Shark Attack, you got Carmen Electra and Brooke Hogan. Sharknado started off promising with Tara Reid, but then it got even better: Ten minutes in, you're like, "Who the hell is that sloppy drunk? God, he looks familiar." And later, when you finally realize, "It's the dad from Home Alone!" they already have you hooked because of stuff like this:

Sharknado 2 follows these same principles, and even arguably takes them to new heights with its plethora of cameos. But it's too early to rule on this film's greatness, which is why it's not on this list. It needs to be digested first to prevent a knee-jerk ranking.


1. Thankskilling

This killer-turkey movie was allegedly made on a $3,500 budget, and it'd take more than 3,500 words just to touch upon its awesomeness. Unlike Sharknado, though, it isn't quite for everyone. You have to be a bit twisted to fully appreciate a dated and disgusting JonBenet Ramsey joke being retold every 10 to 15 minutes. But if you like these types of crappy movies, that shouldn't be an issue. Nor should a man soliciting prostitution being fooled by a killer turkey in disguise be a problem. Because that's what this movie is all about.

But what makes it the best of its kind isn't just the hilarious initial film. It is how meta things got afterward. After the movie came out, the creators launched a Kickstarter and raised over $100,000 to create a sequel.


What they created wasn't Thankskilling 2. It was Thankskilling 3. Which was about the turkey's quest to seek out and destroy the only remaining copy of Thankskilling 2, which was "filmed" in outer space and considered the "worst movie ever made." In the trailer it's advertised as "The first movie to skip its own sequel."

Now what makes a movie "good" is entirely subjective. And having "bad taste" is an insult pretentious people use a crutch to boost their insecure egos. Like any other list, this is all arbitrary.


But why should Oscar-winning movies be the only ones people consider "great"? What's wrong with unironically enjoying movies with low production, outlandish plots, and bad acting, if you happen to find that entertaining?

Netflix and the web make these types of movies more accessible than ever, and their audiences more visible than ever. These times probably aren't quite like The Year Punk Broke, but with Sharknado's popularity and the cheap cost of these movies, why wouldn't more of these films get produced? Since they require only a small amount of investment, and aren't deemed "worthy" or not based on an artificial sense of prestige or reputation, what the hell is preventing more of these from being made?


It's not like shitty movies can jump the shark.