3. Bad movies can be great in their own way.
If you’re gonna fail, you might as well do it spectacularly.
I admit it, I have a soft spot in my heart for B movies. I’ve watched Plan 9 From Outer Space more times than I can count. I’m thrilled Netflix is bringing back MST3K. I’d rather review a horrifically terrible movie than simply a so-so one, without question.
There’s a difference between a run-of-the-mill, forgettable bad movie and a terrifically bad movie. The best bad movies are singular, daring works—products of vision made of creative fever-dream, joyful ineptitude and, often, a shoestring budget. They may fail because they lack skill, talent, money and modesty. But these products never lack daring. They never lack courage. These folks put their works out for all to see and that takes guts. We may laugh at their creations, but we should give their creators—as delusional as they may be—props for taking a risk.
Bad movies are often the result of great belief—belief in a story, belief in one’s own ability, an outsized love for the craft itself. Ed Wood, the creator of Plan 9 and plenty of other terrible movies, was unquestionably an awful filmmaker. And yet, through sheer zeal and determination and the dint of his plain awfulness, he’s earned many a movie-lover’s respect and affection.
Christian films should be also products of great belief—not just belief in the narrow story they’re telling, but in our own Storyteller. I’d like to think that Christian moviemakers are motivated by an outsized love—one that sometimes outstrips reason.
And you know what? I think that’s the way love–particularly our love for God–should be. We never love anything because it seems like the prudent thing to do. We don’t love our spouses because it’s logical. We don’t love our children because they’ve proven themselves worthy. And while the decision to become Christian can be rooted in rational, logical decision-making, to truly be a Christian means, on some level, abandoning ourselves to a mysterious, inexplicable love.
I’d like to think that Slamma Jamma, whatever its faults might be, was a product of that love. And while I might snicker at it a little, I’m smiling, too. I’d like to think that, like David, this film was a celebration before the Lord.