Great science fiction movies can thrill us, and make us think. On the other hand, bad sci-fi movies combine the worst of science and fiction. They usually have terrible production quality, a low budget and bad scripts acted out by no-name actors. The result can sometimes be so bad, it’s good. We spent some time probing the depths of Netflix, Rotten Tomatoes and elsewhere to find a few sci-fi films so terrible, just watching their trailer is entertaining. We leaned toward more recent releases, but included a few classics from yesteryear … because bad never goes out of style.
10. The Thing With Two Heads (1972)
Even by the low standards of “Blaxploitation” films of the 1970s, this is a ridiculous premise. A wealthy white racist who is dying has his head transplanted onto a healthy body — a black death-row inmate. It’s hard to believe the 65-year-old Ray Milland, a former Academy Award winner for best actor, had reached the point in his career where he would take this idiotic role. And that’s former NFL All Pro Rosey Grier as the inmate.
9. Jurassic Shark (2012)
At one point in 2015, Jurassic Shark (aka Attack of the Jurassic Shark) was the lowest-rated movie — out of thousands of movies — on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB). Yes, the worse movie ever. It’s just what it sounds like: a prehistoric shark is on the loose. The scene around the 0:27 mark where the shark eats the man gives you an idea of the ridiculous special effects.
8. Robot Monster (1953)
The evil moon monster is clearly a man wearing a diving helmet and a gorilla suit, yet somehow it manages to kill all but eight humans on Earth. Before it can finish the job, it falls in love with one of the survivors. The robot’s leader brings dinosaurs to Earth to kill the remaining humans. The filmmakers did all this on a $50,000 budget, which wasn’t a lot for a movie even by 1950s standards.
7. AE: Apocalypse Earth (2013)
Humans fleeing an alien invasion on Earth board a spaceship and venture to another planet — where they find more hostile aliens. If that sounds appealing, the movie is currently playing on Netflix.
6. Zaat (1971)
A deranged Nazi scientist invents a formula that can transform people into giant walking catfish. It gets even better; after trying it on himself, he goes out looking to find a mate.
Also known as The Blood Waters of Dr. Z. A ridiculous monster suit, but the narrator really puts this trailer over the top: “He creates a new deadly radioactive substance and pollutes rivers and lakes. His goal — to pollute THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE!”
5. Icetastrophe (2014)
This made-for-TV movie aired on the Syfy network. When a meteor breaks in two and strikes a small town, everything begins flash freezing. A New York Times film critic called it “mindlessly ridiculous” but amusing. Oh, the trailer was nominated for a “Trashiest Trailer” award. It’s short but epically bad.
4. A Sound of Thunder (2005)
A group of “time tourists” in 2054 venture back millions of years to hunt dinosaurs. That sounds like the plot of a hundred bad movies, but this film had the backing of a major studio (Warner Bros.) and some big-name actors, including Edward Burns and Ben Kingsley. Maybe the film blew all its money on the cast, because the special effects here are legendarily bad by CGI standards.
3. Battlefield Earth (2000)
Unlike most of the other “B” movies on this list, the principals involved in this film, including star John Travolta, all thought — or at least hoped — they were making a decent film. But the big-budget project crashed and burned at the box office and with critics. As for the trailer, it’s not any worse than many other space-invasion movies, but Travolta’s psychotic laugh at the end will haunt your dreams.
2. Sharknado (2013)
Sharknado elevated the practice of intentionally making a so-bad-it’s-good movie to an art form, and turning it into a social media phenomenon. But at its core, Sharknado is still bad.
1. Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)
You really can’t have a story like this without mentioning this classic. In fact, it may have launched the whole “so-bad-it’s-good” theme in movies. Many years after its release, film critics rediscovered it and mocked it for its ineptness.