The Greatest Bad Movies Of All Time by Phil Hall (book review).

The author, Phil Hall, has compiled ‘The Greatest Bad Movies Of All Time’, a book of what he thinks is the best of the worst movies of all time and, of course, within this list and of relevance to readers of SFCrowsnest, there are many Science Fiction examples. We are used to such lists on television, Channel 4 in the UK coming to mind, but what makes this different? Being involved in the film industry for many years, Hall has the experience and a valid credential for making up his own list. Of course, as with any list, other readers will definitely disagree. While on reading through the book, the feeling is there that this would be much better on TV, it nonetheless is very rewarding and is the next best thing.


You are hit between the eyes right from the start with ‘Abbott And Costello Go To Mars’. Made in 1953, by this time the duo had become stale with audiences, the jokes and antics tired and frankly boring, so this effort was rather flat and tedious. Well past its sell by date!

Listed in alphabetical order, they are not all low-budget affairs. From 1973 we have Ross Hunter’s ‘Lost Horizon’ which was a musical remake of the earlier black and white movie. Shangri-La was set to song. Hold on, I remember going to see that with a girlfriend and I even got the music cassette. Okay, it was bad but I have seen worse, including ‘Mother Riley Meets The Vampire’ from 1952 but I would disagree with his inclusion of ‘The Merchant Of Venice’ which had Al Pacino playing Shylock. Phil Hall says that it was a desecration of Shakespeare. Maybe it was not the best adaption I’ve ever seen and maybe he could be right but I enjoyed the movie.

You will have a lot of fun going through the list to make up your own mind about his conclusions. You’ve got to agree that ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ was really bad, likewise ‘Santa Claus Conquers The Martians’. Yes, plenty of fun looking for your favourite worst movie. Generally, this is a thoughtfully written book, interesting and intriguing, also appealing to lots of people out there.

There are a couple of points of contention. On their website, the publishers give a list price of $21.95. While that’s okay with a hardcopy, charging the same price for a PDF is really not on. This is certainly excessive for what appears to be a rather mundane PDF version. On Amazon, in the UK, the book is priced at £16 with free delivery. There’s no other electronic version listed on Amazon despite this being quite easy to do these days. Worst of all, no Kindle version! You would have thought that the publisher may have been more astute in its marketing strategy. The latter points act as a spoiler to a very good book but hopefully this situation will be improved in the future.

Rod MacDonald

(pub: BearManor Media. 258 page paperback. Price: $21.95 (US), £16.00 (UK) for hardcopy and PDF alike.  ISBN: 978-1-59393-731-7)

check out website: www.bearmanormedia.com/

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