When Bad Means Good: The Bad Film Society
Sure, Southern Oregon is host to a number of top shelf film festivals revealing great local talent, but another group in the area is celebrating films so bad films that they can be (and are) appreciated as good. Fittinlyg, that group is called the “Bad Film Society.”
On its website, the society is described as “equal parts horrid actors, terrible directors and droll viewers, The Bad Film Society is a gang of local people huddled together in the basement of the Ashland Elks Lodge to enjoy films most people didn’t even know existed.”
When it comes to how founder Ed Polish decides which film is worth viewing, he says, “It’s kind of like the Suupreme Court definition of pornography, ‘you know it when you see it.’ It’s truly in the eye of the beholder. It’s something that will make you laugh and also cringe.”
Polish explains, “I like the top one-percent and the bottom one-percent” of movies. Having such a specific taste in movies allows him to weed out which bad movies are and aren’t worth watching. “The bottom [one-percent] are great because they are so intentionally fun and entertaining,” he adds.
On Sunday, July 31, the Bad Film Society will show The Swinger, a film starring infamous 60s actress Ann-Margaret. The event will take place at Ashland Elks Dungeon.
“The Swinger is a slap-in-the-face burlesque of jaw-dropping ‘WHAT were they THINKING’ incredulity,” describes Polish.
A review by Tony Mastroianni that was published the same year of its release,1966, says, “There are parts of The Swinger that are so bad they are funny; other parts so bad they are awful. As an honest to gosh swinger, [Ann-Margaret] looks like a well-endowed high school girl trying to pass a course in loose living.”
Not only will the film be shown, but also a number of other short films, cartoons, and trailers that are considered bad will also be shown at the event. Short films and ads from past events have been anti-drug films, comedy shorts like “The Three Stooges,” and even cat videos. These shorts are also chosen and provided by Polish, but he’s always open to suggestions. Polish also encourages attendees to bring their own bad movies, books, and music to share and swap with others.
What started as friends appreciating bad films together, Polish decided to found the society in 2001. He says he and his friend “just came up with this idea to see if there were other people in the Valley who were interested in them.”
Apparently quite a few people are interested in guffawing and shaking their heads at bad films. Polish reports that an average turnout at an event is anywhere between 20 and 50 people. The events take place every couple months and each one is a potluck, where everyone who attends brings a dish to share.
Past viewings have featured infamous directors and films as Rod Amateau’s The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, Roger Corman’s A Bucket of Blood, and Claudio Fragasso’s Troll II. The last showing was of the 1971 film If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?, directed by Ron Ormond.
“People were baffled and mistified” by the film, Polish says.
Polish doesn’t have one favorite bad film, especially since he’s seen so many in his life. He says The Swinger, for example, is “very neglected and I consider it a lost classic gem!” Many bad films fall through the cracks in the box office or go right over the audience’s heads, but the Bad Film Society’s purpose is to identify those movies and appreciate them for what they are—bad.
Bad Film Society Screening of The Swinger
6 pm, Sunday, July 31
Ashland Elks Lodge, 255 E. Main Street, Ashland