Prof says bad movies find their place during awards season

February 6, 2014  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Critically acclaimed has a new meaning as bad movies get their own spotlight and find an unusually dedicated fan base, says a Purdue University expert.

"The appeal of bad films is increasing for two reasons," says Lance Duerfahrd, an associate professor of English. "In a time of economic downturn, audiences feel the need to enjoy even their cinematic pain. Maybe the weakened economy has changed our attitude toward scraps, and therefore even the sorry carcass of 'After Earth' might look tasty in the eyes of the hungry.

"The other reason bad films are increasing their appeal is because they have a negative glamour to them, just as the Razzies inverts the award ceremony of the Oscars."

This is the 34th year the Razzies, Golden Raspberry Awards, will be awarded. The awards ceremony, March 1, precedes the Academy Awards.

"The Razzies are meant to be a parody, but bad films are evolving into their own as mainstream media report on the results and some celebrities embrace the moment. There's something anthropologically interesting about terrible cinema," he says. "Making a great film is difficult and partially the work of accident. It's the same with a terrifically bad movie, where the sorriest moments are so unendurable that we are too numb to get up from our seats or work the remote, and where we are pushed past the standard reactions of either boredom or cruel laughter. Timeless bad films like 'The Room' put us in this space of knowing neither what is intended nor what is exactly happening on screen."

Duerfahrd predicts that "Movie 43" will sweep the Razzies, and the close second will be "After Earth." Both movies have well-known actors, including Will Smith in "After Earth." Another film with a leading actor being recognized by the Razzies is Johnny Depp's "The Lone Ranger."

"I don't think 'The Lone Ranger' is as terrible as critics claimed it would be. I'd rather watch a film of Johnny Depp tying his shoes than watch most other actors try to render Julius Caesar," he says. "The talent of great actors can actually be highlighted by how they handle the bad movie they are trapped in."

Duerfahrd studies film history and he has published articles about bad movies and can discuss their appeal, as well as the humor and their place in pop culture. He also can talk about trends, such as movie sequels and prequels, the role of background extras in movies and what success at the box office reveals about current events. 

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723,

Source: Lance Duerfahrd, 

Related websites:

College of Liberal Arts

Department of English

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