Bad movies are a dime a dozen. You can throw a football and send it careening into a bad movie. Animated movies are also just as common. However, what really isn’t common is a bad movie that transcends reality: a bad movie that’s so emphatically awful, it loops back around to greatness. This might sound like an oxymoron, but I can promise you that not only is this sort of thing possible, it happens more often than you think. On a personal level, I love movies like this, just because they’re unexpected. In many ways, a movie that’s this level of terrible can be a movie-going adventure, but the movie can’t just be any level of bad, it has to be five star bad. Finding these hidden treasures is almost like a joy for me.
These movies, while rare in their own right and very hard to appreciate, are incredibly special, like diamonds in the rough, because it only takes a change in perspective to make them great. Maybe they’re not going to be great in the grand scheme of film, but they’ll earn a place in your heart and some rewatchability, at the very least.
We can make quite a few lists for these movies, but for the sake of brevity, we’re going to narrow our scope to animated movies. There are a lot of live-action movies that could fill out a list like this, but animated movies have just that, the animation. Without any further ado, here are 15 animated movies that are so bad, they’re actually amazing.
15. Sausage Party
This movie came out not too long ago, and anyone who’s seen it knows that the movie has a very weird premise. Basically, this movie is exactly what it says it’s going to be: a bunch of sexually active food items having a party. That’s weird, guys. No matter how good you thought this movie was, it was starting from behind just because of the premise. The fact that the filmmakers were able to turn this premise into a movie that people wanted to see in theaters is proof enough that starting off with something terrible can make that something great just because of how you did it.
I’ve seen this movie before, but the day I tried showing it to my roommate (because awesomely bad movies deserve nothing less than the full word of mouth treatment), my TV actually refused to play it at first. That honestly speaks to how ridiculous this movie is. If you’ve got a half hour, watch it here.
Basically, the movie is a giant cluster. Surprisingly, the backgrounds and all that weren’t all that bad. The problem is the way the people are animated, the fact that the script is a hot mess, and the fact that it’s a completely silent movie that subtitles dialogue that isn’t actually happening because the animation of everyone’s mouths is bordering terrifying and totally uncanny. Even watching this a second time didn’t offset the creepiness of some of this animation. This isn’t even taking the end of the movie into account, which makes no amount of sense at all. However, even if the movie didn’t entertain me, watching the reactions of my roommate certainly did, so I count this movie as a win.
13. Heavy Metal
For those of you who aren’t familiar with this 1981 Canadian movie, Heavy Metal is an anthology that tells the story of the fight against something called the Loc-Nar. It’s a ridiculous movie, in part because everyone is some kind of undressed and the animation kind of looks like a fever dream. However, this movie ends up squarely in awesome territory because this movie has a soundtrack made of dreams. The concept is actually really interesting, and Robert Rodriguez got the rights to make a new movie based off the original back in 2011. Time will tell if that movie gets made, and time will tell if it retains its awesomely bad status.
12. The Legend of the Titanic
If I told you that there was a movie that attempted to bring whimsical talking animals onto the Titanic, you probably wouldn’t believe me. Unfortunately, not only is this a real thing, the moviegoers altered the ending. Let me repeat that: they altered the ending of a real event that actually happened that killed several hundred people. That on its face is beyond ridiculous. However, this is also the movie that gave us the scenario where a mouse talks about having a crush on a human female by saying, “There’s one thing that I’m not, and that’s a racist.” Really think about the kind of logic behind this script. On top of that, there’s a sequel to this called Tentacolino, which focuses on the crazy giant octopus that saves the ship. However, we’ll talk more about that one later, because we’re going to have to.
11. The Hobbit
There’s been some trial and error in the time leading up to Peter Jackson‘s Lord of the Rings trilogy. First, let’s start with The Hobbit, which gave us some crazy character designs, plus a lot more singing than you’d expect. To be fair, Tolkien’s books have quite a few songs in them, and the songs in this movie that actually use Tolkien’s lyrics aren’t that bad, but when it careens into the weird, hippie tunes, you might actually wonder if this movie was made on drugs. This movie is out there, but at least the songs are decent and it sticks with the story for the most part. To be fair, that could be more than we could say about the live-action trilogy. Rock people, Peter Jackson? Really?
10. The Lord of the Rings
Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings has its high points, but its low points are very, very low. However, that doesn’t really affect this movie’s watchability. The movie was supposed to be a three part trilogy, but thanks to some meddling from Hollywood, it got shrunk down to two movies, and the second movie never got made. That means that this isn’t really the whole story, it’s basically the first book and half of the second (the second movie was eventually made by Rankin and Bass, but more about that later).
The rushed-ness of this movie isn’t Bakshi’s fault, really, since he was working with less runtime, but the crappier animation bits and some of the creepier aspects of the movie are. On the other hand, Peter Jackson took a lot of inspiration from this movie, and a lot of it is actually genuinely funny, like the whole “Saruman of Many COLOOOOORS” thing and Frodo’s famous aside glance. This won’t be the best movie you ever watch, but you should totally watch it.
9. The Magic Voyage
The title of this one sounds innocuous enough, but this German movie is definitely not. The Magic Voyage tells the story of Christopher Columbus sailing out into the world to prove that the world is round and help his motormouth woodworm friend rescue his girlfriend. Said girlfriend is a magical princess from the moon who was stolen by a swarm of bugs and taken to the new world. Once the Swarm is defeated, the natives celebrate Columbus of ridding their land of the evil and pestilence.
That sounds ridiculous already, but it gets even crazier: Christopher Columbus didn’t sail out into the world to prove the world is round, he sailed out to find an easier trade route from Europe to Asia, and rest assured, the natives of the New World did not thank him for it. This is revisionist history at its finest. This is also a cartoon where we see Christopher Columbus’ naked butt shown twice and he’s running through the forest in his underwear. On top of that, Columbus’ sidekick does. Not. Stop. Talking. Sometimes, what he’s saying isn’t even consistent with the animation. It’s a wild ride, especially the English dub, which is what I saw. Corey Feldman is in it, and he doesn’t even bother to match the mouth flapping of the characters half the time. It’s a good time once you forget, y’know, who Christopher Columbus is.
8. Freedom Force
Freedom Force is a perfect example of how a movie can be greater than the sum of its terrible parts. We’ve got a good cast here (Christopher Lloyd and Sarah Michelle Gellar are part of this movie), but the editing is on another level of suckiness, and the script sounds like it has inverse logic at times, especially during the parts where they adapt upon the stories of Jules Verne, which is what this movie is based on. Also, the comedic timing of this movie is a mess.
And yet. In all seriousness, the deep flaws this movie has led to one of the more entertaining experiences I’ve ever had watching a terrible movie. Once I got past the “improvements” done to Verne’s original work, the experience was actually a lot of fun. It’s like all those wrongs really did make a right somewhere down the road.
7. Happily Ever After
Let’s talk about Happily Ever After, shall we? This movie tells the story of the evil queen from Snow White’s brother, Lord Maliss, who can turn into a dragon and has a pet talking bat and a talking owl that smokes. You can actually watch this movie here, and see it for yourself. Meanwhile, the dwarves have moved away and left their cousins the Dwarflettes behind, who have elemental powers. Snow White, for her part, is journeying with the female, magical dwarves to find her He-Man look alike prince, but she’s unaware that the prince is actually following her in the form of the Shadowman.
This was Filmation’s last movie, because this bombed at the box office, but I actually vaguely remember seeing this as a kid and I liked it then. The animation is pretty good and you can see that there’s a lot of heart in this movie, which is more than I can say for some box office smashes of late. On top of that, some people actually like this movie better than Disney’s version, and there’s actually a good sized cult following.
Okay, you might need to stay with us here: Rock-A-Doodle is an expansion of the story of Chanticleer the rooster, who kind of looks like an Elvis impersonator you’d meet in Vegas, at a run-down but still very homey bar or chapel, and this is in turn a very loose interpretation of the play ”Chanticler” by the French writer Edmond Rostand, of Cyrano de Bergerac fame. Basically, Chanticleer abandons his dream of controlling the weather with his music to move away and become a rock star, but eventually has to come back and saves the day because, wouldn’t ya know it, his singing really does control the weather and the farm is now flooding from rain. There’s also the villain, his manager Pinky the Fox and the evil wizard owl who hates rain that he works for, who are trying to stop him so it can rain all the time and forever. That is the actual plot of this movie.
You’d be surprised to know that Don Bluth made this movie, and actually went bankrupt because of it. However, it’s Don Bluth’s influence that makes this movie good. While the story is craziness incarnate, the character design and the animation are actually really good for what this is, and I found myself having a lot of fun with this. There’s also some debate to be had over whether the events of the movie actually happened or were part of a sick kid’s fever dream.
5. Food Fight!
Rounding out the top 5 is Food Fight, which is another movie that makes my roommate not trust me with the remote ever again. This was supposed to be the food brand name’s answer to Toy Story and The Lego Movie, and that… didn’t quite work out so well. However, before I talk about the movie itself, let’s talk about the decade long fight to get this turd made. The movie was started in 2002, but after a series of unfortunate events that included actually having the animation disks stolen and having to start again from scratch, it got delayed for seven years until it was finally finished in 2009. However, it didn’t get a release date until 2011, and that was only in Europe, and North America only got a DVD release in 2013, so we here in America have only had this movie for a couple of years.
Unfortunately, Food Fight blew a lot of their $60 million budget on the licensing and probably the star studded cast, so there wasn’t a bunch left for the animation or the script. The storyline is blatantly ripped off of Casablanca, the characters look really creepy, and there are jokes that make Sausage Party look clean. It’s so bad, it’s absolutely hilarious. I’m pretty sure this is the movie that gave us Charlie Sheen as we know him.
4. Freddie as FRO-7
This is probably the weirdest kid’s movie I’ve ever watched. The British made it during the same time that Disney was churning out such classics as The Lion King and Aladdin. This movie boasts such inanities as the Loch Ness Monster in medieval France saving a prince who turns into a frog secret agent in modern Great Britain. Yeah, you read that right. This isn’t even considering the fact that Brian Blessed is playing the villain, who’s called El Supremo and is the hammiest dude you ever set eyes on (he’s sort of playing himself, let’s be real). And that isn’t even considering that his Villain Song contains such insane imagery as dancing Nazis and KKK members roller skating. This is also a musical and Boy George is counted among the credits, so take of that what you will.
You can watch it here, but watch at your own risk, because while this is really entertaining, it’s straight up bewildering as well. However, the animation quality is apparently better in the original film: there’s an explanation in the description talking about how the uploader got their hands on this movie, and apparently some quality got lost in translation. That being said, the animation here makes Food Fight look even worse, and I bet they didn’t have $60 million to make this one.
3. Titanic: The Legend Goes On
You might not have believed that there was one musical movie that tried to rewrite the real life tragedy of the Titanic. Alas, now I must tell you that there are two, and that this one is quantifiably weirder. We have our main human couple, which is a role reversal of the famous Jack and Rose from the James Cameron movie (the poor girl falls for the rich guy instead of vice versa), and a reveal about the girl’s mother (spoiler alert, she’s the rich guy’s nanny).
That’s not especially noteworthy, but what is noteworthy is the parallel story that we as the audience are also supposed to emotionally invest ourselves in: there are anthropomorphic animals also boarding the Titanic, and among them are an immigrant family, three Mexican mice, and a rapping dog, who gets a song that I have yet to stop remembering, if only because it was so out of left field. Oh, also almost everybody makes it out of the Titanic alive in this one, or did you not remember that part of the story?
Needless to say, this movie is so out there, even if it’s not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, you will remember this one, and that’s part of what makes a movie great: its ability to dig its claws into your memory and never, ever let go.
2. The Return of the King
I would put this movie at number one, but journalistic neutrality bids me to put it second because while this movie might be my favorite among awesomely bad movies, there is one movie that does take it further and deserves that recognition. However, now isn’t the time for that. Now is the time to celebrate one of the greatest bad movies that has ever existed.
The Rankin/Bass version of The Return of the King makes The Hobbit look like small potatoes. There’s a reason why there’s so much space between the movies on this list, and that reason is that there are several. The movie takes out several very important characters (while literally taking pages out of the book for a few scenes, so that’s a bit strange for us book fans), turns the character of Aragorn into a walk on role, adds a weird mythos that involves hobbits turning into human men, makes the Ringwraiths skeletons riding black pegasi, and gives the very uncanny orcs a song. Yes, this is a musical, and the orc song is just… magical. The first time I saw this, I was completely bewildered, but the second time, this movie whiz-cracked its way into my heart.
You might have balked at the idea of two Titanic themed animated musicals, but I promise you, this particular theme has not been exhausted yet. Remember The Legend of the Titanic way down on this list? This movie got a sequel, and the sequel focuses on the fictional giant pink octopus thing that saved the Titanic in the first movie. Y’know, the giant octopus that didn’t exist doing the thing that never actually happened? This thing’s name is Tentacles, and weirdly enough, for a movie named after him, he’s not exactly the focus, which is why the movie has an alternate title of In Search Of The Titanic.
Basically, the movie follows a guy named Don Juan and his girlfriend Elizabeth, along with a dog and the mice from the last movie, as they try to find the Titanic inside a weird submarine thing. A lot happens, but the movie ends with them actually finding the Titanic, which ends up on a secret island. Needless to say, the story of this movie is beyond out there. However, it’s so out there, and so beyond ridiculous, that it actually becomes fun.
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