When it comes to bad movies I rarely hate or love them.
I can usually find something I dislike about even the best bad movie, and I can certainly get a few laughs out of an excruciatingly bad one. But I have two films that stand out as enigmas.
The two films could not be any more different. One puts a smile on my face no matter how blaring its flaws are, while the other could only ever bring some enjoyment from its absurdity. These movies are the masterpiece that is “Who Killed Captain Alex” and the literal pile of garbage that is “The Amazing Bulk.”
“Captain Alex” is a movie made in the small town of Wakaliga, Uganda with a budget of $200. This movie is one of the most heartwarming movies I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. The movie was made as a fun project so that the people of the village could have a movie to watch and call their own.
Although the plot isn’t the most interesting, it’s just there to connect all the action scenes together. And when I say action, I mean real action — not the play-fighting you see in Turkish Star Wars.
Everyone in the village is self-taught in Kung Fu, and the fighting in the action scenes shows just how much time and work these people have put into their training. The scenes are amazing to watch as they pull off moves I could never dream of getting right without falling on my face.
Not only is the martial arts great, the gun fights are great too. Each shot they take has a realistic fire rate and weapon recoil, probably stemming from the fact that some of them may have used real weapons in the civil war that was going on in their country at the time.
The creator then painstakingly mapped every muzzle flash onto the end of the guns at the correct times and in the correct direction and synced up the gunshot sounds perfectly … All on a computer that would have been considered trash by most people’s standards.
In opposition way, The Amazing Bulk is a movie that fails in every respect despite having the resources and ability to do better. With its budget of $14,000, this movie was entirely made to turn a profit by selling itself as the best-worst movie.
They even emailed this to Youtubers who were famous for reviewing bad movies in an attempt at marketing it, but the plan completely backfired as most of them agreed that the movie was just garbage.
Almost all of them panned the film for being what it is — a shameless cash grab.
The development of this movie started with the director buying an obscene amount of 3D assets on an online asset store. He bought backgrounds, characters and anything else he could get his hands on. And I’m not talking normal, nice-looking 3D graphics. I’m talking ones that look like they crawled out of the ‘90s.
He then brought his “actors” to a warehouse he had rented for a week that he had set up a single green screen in. They then spent under a week filming the whole film in front of that green screen. Not a single shot was done without the green screen, and it just looks awful because of it. He then spent over a year editing the film with the original shots from that week, and he never had any reshoots or retakes.
Not only does the movie not look good — it also sounds awful. Instead of doing the reasonable thing and having the “actors” wear small microphones or even have a boom mic nearby, the director instead just used the audio captured by the camera he used. He also didn’t have any sound foam or anything to soften the sounds, so the whole movie sounds like it’s taking place exactly where they filmed it: in the middle of a large industrial warehouse.
The director said he liked the way it sounded. I say the man is delusional and needs to never pick up a camera again.
Now, after this movie already puts you through some of the worst visuals, audio and acting ever seen in film, it adds insult to injury with its last scene.
After he had finished his “story,” the director thought the movie was too short, so he literally just threw together over five minutes of the unused 3D assets into a completely nonsensical running scene that, to this day, gets me seething mad.
These two films are the best and worst of not just bad movies, but movies altogether. When a movie is made with heart by people who love what they’re doing and actors who genuinely enjoy their roles, you get something that is good even through its shortcomings. On the other hand, it’s really obvious whenever a movie is made purely for its potential profits.
When this happens, the movie feels bad-to-watch no matter how much visual spectacle or deep storytelling they try and throw on top of it.
I rate movies from a -10 to a 10, with negative ratings meaning the movie is enjoyable despite being badly made. “Who Killed Captain Alex” gets a -10 by a mile. It is an endearing movie that makes you laugh and smile through the whole thing. I cannot recommend watching this movie enough — I suggest buying an official release to support Wakaliga.
Bulk gets a 0. It is a movie that managed to make me angry by merely existing and made me even more so for having to sit through it. Never watch it. Never recommend it to anyone and, most assuredly, never give these creators a cent of your money. This movie deserves to be forgotten and lost to the sands of time.
This was originally written for The University of Tennessee’s Daily Beacon and edited by Margot McClellan.