SBIG Film Fest: The Rise of Bad Cinema

While bopping around the internet recently, searching for freaks and strange stuff to occupy the day, I stumbled onto something quite remarkable. Something even more exciting than a Jacuzzi full of pudding, or even a talking frog: The So Bad It’s Good Film Festival.

The So Bad It’s Good Film Festival – or SBIG Film Fest as it’s affectionately known – hosts a monthly midnight screening at the Vista Theater in Los Feliz, honoring Bad Cinema for a mere ten bucks. Being a bad movie connoisseur myself, I was ecstatic, as well as outraged. How could such an amazing group have been screening bad movies under the radar- in Los Angeles no less- all this time?


In all fairness to the SBIG Film Fest, their first screening was only in January of this year, but after learning they had already screened Gymkata, as well as the granddaddy of all bad movies, Plan 9 from Outer Space, it was suddenly imperative to track them down.

Friday, March 30th. Midnight. They were screening Tony Curtis’s laser beam-happy horror flick The Manitou, a 1970s movie steeped in bad film lore. Stella Stevens, my childhood crush since The Poseidon Adventure (well, her and Shelly Winters), was also in the movie and was scheduled to appear.

The venue was the incredibly gorgeous Vista Theater, hopping early with lots of movie-goers buzzing around, looking for a chance to meet the lovely Stella Stevens. Navigating the crowd swiftly and with purpose were two individuals. These were the masterminds behind this event: SBIG founders David W. Smith and Kimberly Blagrove. They were normal enough, pleasant, bright, attractive folks, not unlike the trendy thirty-somethings that file in and out of Starbucks or Subway each day. They were nice, good-natured people, but little did they know that on this perfect night, they had become heroes to bad movie mavens everywhere.

We of course fell into a discussion of bad film, other movies that buffs would be overjoyed to see on the big screen: Troll 2. Shark Attack 3. Leprechaun 4.  They were fans of these films but made it clear that their festival would not be host to just anything. Oh, no. David Smith and Kimberly Blagrove take their bad movies quite seriously. In fact, they would say they have a standard, a system if you will, for choosing films for their monthly screening. They even have an SBIG Board that carefully reviews each film.

“These films cannot just be bad,” declared Smith. “I mean, we could just run out and grab a print of Soul Plane if that were the case. So Bad It’s Good Cinema is an art form in and of itself.”


And that’s when David proceeded to lay down the rules:

One: The filmmakers had to have been trying to make an entertaining film. This rules out anything from Troma Entertainment for instance, like The Toxic Avenger or Class of Nuke ‘Em High.  If one sets out to make a bad movie, well, one will end up with a bad movie. But is it so bad it’s good?

Two: You have to want to watch it again. Most times, immediately.

Three: You have to want to invite a friend or five over to see it afterward. You’ll want to tell them to bring beer.

Four: The quotes that you find hilarious will not make any sense to anyone else, and you will scarcely be able to utter them without cracking yourself up, which will have people crossing the street to avoid you. 

Five: There is rarely an actual clever or funny thing in such a film; all the humor is derived quite inadvertently.  A tender moment between a dying grandmother imparting life wisdom to her grandson may end up causing seizures, if improperly- or even properly- done.

After listening to the rules, it was obvious these guys would never let something like Harry and Walter go to New York onto their roster. If you’re curious, this classic stars Elliott Gould and James Caan in a pre-Ishtar version of Ishtar. Sort of. But that’s not important right now.

What does matter is that after speaking to these mavericks, it became crystal clear that the bad movie freaks of Los Angeles were in very good hands.

And although the answer was obvious, the following blurb wouldn’t be possible unless the question was asked: “Why bad movies?”

 “Why not?” Kimberly quickly chimed in. “There are revival theaters that show good movies all the time, but what about the good-bad movies? To be honest, I was never into bad movies in the past, but once Dave introduced them to me, I became hooked. Then we found more people were coming out of the woodwork to tell us how much they loved bad movies and giving us a whole bunch of recommendations. It’s a guilty pleasure. And there are a lot of people with a fondness for good-bad movies in this town. Now there’s a place where these aficionados can come together once a month to enjoy some wonderfully bad cinema.” Yes, Kimberly really talks exactly like that. 

Friday, April 27th. Midnight. This month they’re showing Lady Terminator —a Terminator knock-off from Indonesia that looks completely, utterly absurd. And of course, that’s a very good thing.

The So Bad It’s Good Film Festival is currently screening monthly at the Vista Theater: 4473 Sunset Drive, Los Angeles 90027.

For more info check out their MySpace page at www.myspace.com/sbigfilmfest.

SCOTT OTTO studied journalism at the University of Las Vegas until a fateful メcareer dayモ excursion with a crusty and bitter journalist turned him off from the profession. After giving up on this dream, he moved to Los Angeles and has lived there for the last ten years, writing things no one in their right mind would publish. Drifting along through the music and film industries, heユs finally settled into a comfortable rut, pursuing a burgeoning voice over career and, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, has decided to begin writing again. Heユs never been nominated for any awards, and heユs never saved anyoneユs life. On the plus side, heユs a really nice guy, takes good care of his family, and makes a pretty mean pasta sauce.