The Bad Film Club

By Kat Brown

We’re not exactly stuck for films in London. We’ve got Rock n Roll cinema, vintage cinema, art house cinema and multiplexes coming out of our arses, but sometimes it’s nice to have a good laugh at something properly bad for a change, and for that there’s Nicko (left) and Joe’s Bad Film Club. It started, as all good ideas do, from something blindingly obvious: that sitting around watching a terrible film with your mates is extremely fun. Not ExistenZ terrible: think Doctor Of Evil: The Mutations, late night on BBC2 terrible, films that are so bad they become hilarious. With a DVD-style commentary from hosts Nicko and Joe and a guest comic, and audience heckling and slow-claps actively encouraged, this surprisingly uncynical enterprise is always blissfully funny. Even when it’s Michael Winner.

Why a bad film club then?

Nicko: The best kind of bad films are made in all seriousness but turn into comedy. When you take a (bad) comedy it has a tendency to turn into some boring Czechoslovakian melodrama, so you need people like Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay.

How did you end up screening crap films at the Barbican instead of in the upper rooms of a theatre to two men and a dog?

N: We started this when we were doing a show up at Edinburgh 2005. We were only working an hour a night, so we used to watch movies and get people round, and by the end we had more people in our flat watching us watching movies than at our actual show. We asked our local arts centre if we could do this as a proper show in January 2006, and within a minute we were contracted until the end of the year and then the Barbican asked us.

Have you ever shown a bad film that’s just been too bad?

N: No, it’s always worked on some level although we had an interesting time when Stewart Lee chose March Of The Penguins. Because we have guests to Bad Film Club, they all have their own take on what makes a bad film. Stewart had very much taken against the anthropomorphic representation of the penguins and said it was no more than a prop for the right-wing Zionist church. It’s very hard to battle against something furry, but eventually everyone got into the swing of shouting.

What’s your own favourite bad film?

N: Shark Attack 3! Why would you even ask? Massive giant shark, terrible CGI, filmed in the Eastern bloc to save money, John Barrowman trying to be heterosexual… Have you not seen it yet? God’s sake. You sicken me. There’s one line in it that pretty much sums up the true excellence of bad films. Don’t print it because people should find it themselves, but it involves the words “Pretty wired.” It’s a classic everywhere.

Why do people like watching bad films so much?

N: People don’t like watching bad films on their own, that’s boring and soul destroying and you will kill yourself. It’s another way of interacting with films, recreating that atmosphere you get with your mates and a film comes on, you just want to recreate that feeling on a bigger scale, what’s this idiot done? There’s a great line in Bail Out, where David Hasselhoff says “Hey! That guy just called me a fuck face!” In a normal film you just wouldn’t get that. Or David Hasselhoff.

The audience “participation” is one of the best things about the shows we’ve been to – what’s the best heckle you’ve ever had?

N: The best was when we played Jaws 4 in Winchester. It was a really odd night because we’d never played there before and all these older people came dressed up in like glittery tops. Towards the end, Lorraine Brody steers off to kill the shark and it’s cuts to Michael Caine and at that precise moment someone shouted out, “You were only supposed to blow the bloody jaws off!”

You’re showing Top Gun in April which seems a bit good by comparison. Defend your choice please.

N: Top Gun goes into that Highlander/Die Hard 2 territory. People remember it being good because they watched it when they were younger, and now people have developed and you look back and ask how can that posturing not be ridiculous? How can it not be extremely gay?

Are bad films still being made or are people too self-aware?

N: Oh lord no, there’s still a lot of bad films: the remake of The Wicker Man, The Black Dahlia, Final Destination 3 was a bit tongue in cheek. That British film about the vigilantes, Outlaw – I can happily sit through shit movies on the big screen or at home.

What would a BFC bad film be like?

N: I’m writing one at the moment. It’s called Death Storm and it’s about a killer mutant haunted wind. We’d get any of the Baldwin brothers to star in it. Daniel probably.