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97. The Open House (-#58)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, The Bottom 100 is a subset of the fortnightly The 250 podcast, a trip through some of the worst movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. The Bottom 100 is a special series of episodes that will be randomly interspaced with regular releases, covering the way in which the Internet Movie Database recently renovated their list of the worst movies ever made to include more populist fare.

This time Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote’s The Open House.

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Bottom’s Up: The IMDb Bottom 100 and the Art of Identifying “Worst” Movies…

Readers of the site might be aware that I co-host a weekly podcast called The 250 with my good friend Andrew Quinn, in which we pick a movie ranked on the Internet Movie Database as one of the best movies of all-time. It’s a dynamic and public list, which means that it covers a wide variety of films and tastes. In the part couple of months alone, we’ve covered everything from Mission: Impossible – Fallout to Battle of Algiers to Paper Moon to The Secret in Their Eyes to The Prestige. I’m very proud of the podcast, and a lot of the discussions that we’ve had on it.

Part of this podcast has also involved looking at the list that the Internet Movie Database maintains of the worst movies ever made. We originally planned to rotate through both lists in an even-handed manner; five episodes of the top two-hundred-and-fifty for two episodes of the bottom one hundred. Indeed, we cover a number of the bottom one hundred as part of the show; episodes like Crimea and United Passions. However, we moved away from covering the bottom one hundred because we found that the movies populating the list weren’t so much awful as just mind-numbingly dull; Lawnmower Man 2, Crossover.

However, something vaguely interesting happened in the middle of July. The Internet Movie Database made a change to their list of the one hundred worst movies of all time that radically revised the nature and composition of the list. Suddenly, a lot of the smaller and stranger titles disappeared. Fringe films like Space Mutiny, Die Hard Dracula, Invasion of the Neptune Men and Santa With Muscles were all wiped out in an instant, replaced by more familiar and recognisable films like Jaws 3D, S. Darko, Blair Witch II: Book of Shadows, The Wicker ManBatman and Robin and Fifty Shades of Grey.

The result was a list that was suddenly a lot more fun to talk about, composed of films that people had actually seen instead of disastrously bad cult curiosities. Indeed, one very small consequence of this change is that we’re actually going to try to get back into talking about these terrible movies on a semi-regular basis on the podcast, because the list is now populated with films that will engender more interesting discussions both about the films themselves and their larger cultural context.

At the same time, it raises larger questions about what we consider to be the “worst” films, how we rank and access bad cinema and what that actually means in the grander scheme of popular culture. The change implemented to the IMDb’s bottom one hundred list is a conscious attempt on the part of the organisation to answer these questions, to create a broad consensus about what it means to be the “worst” films ever made. It’s an intriguing effort, and arguably something very different from trying to pick the “best” films ever made.

After all, it’s broadly possible to forge something resembling a consensus on the best movies. Trying to identify the worst is a much more difficult proposition.

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