Q&A with The Worst Film Club
Jackalope Magazine met with Nicolas Chavarria, who transferred to Santa Fe University of Art and Design’s Film School last year and started The Worst Film Club. Chavarria is the sole showrunner, and hosts on Monday nights, adding to the weekly menagerie of campus film clubs.
Jackalope Magazine: What is The Worst Film Club?
Nicolas Chavarria: It’s, well, the worst film club. It’s a film club where we show the ‘worst’ of cinema, really meaning films that are so bad, they’re good.
What type of film qualifies being the good type of bad?
What I think makes a movie so bad it’s good, versus just flat out bad, is usually intention. For example—and no one has suggested this, thank goodness—the Sharknado (Anthony C. Ferrante, 2013-2015) movies. Those filmmakers just didn’t care. People who make good bad movies don’t usually realize that they’re making a bad movie. No one sets out to make a bad movie, it just kind of happens. So I think the best kind of bad movies are the ones where someone said, ‘We’re going to make this great thing and it’ll be fantastic!’ and then it just isn’t. It’s kind of evil that we laugh at it, but it’s just so entertaining.
So what makes the films you show worthy of Worst Film Club?
Usually for the kinds of films that I show, I just try to stay up to date about weird stuff that I find on my own or on the internet. I watch a lot of reviewers and they’ll say something is awful or terrible, so I look and watch it. So if I see it and am like, ‘Oh wow people need to see this,’ or if it’s one of those pop movies like Troll 2 (Drake Floyd, 1990) or something, then I’ll definitely show those. If it’s just really funny or weird, like ‘this movie exists?!’ So we have to watch it.
Why show the worst films?
My motivation, besides for just pure entertainment for people, was that I think you can actually learn a lot from bad movies. In film school, you watch all the good movies, and you can learn a lot from them. But, and I don’t mean this in a bad way, when you watch these great movies, you’re thinking, ‘Gosh, I wish I could do that.’ If you watch a bad movie, though, you think about how it’s bad and how you could do better than that, and kinda see where they went wrong; therefore, when you try to make your film, you can try to avoid those mistakes. Like, ‘oh that actor said that line weird,’ or ‘that boom is in the shot for the seventh time, I better make sure not to do that.’ So I think you can learn just as much from bad movies as you can from good. We have a bunch of different clubs that show good movies, so I figured, ‘hey, why don’t we show terrible ones, just kind of for the fun of it.’
Do you feel like those goals comes across and are received well?
I mean, I hope so! When I first started, there were a couple of regulars. I wouldn’t say that I see any certain group of people that always come, yet, but I’d like to think people are getting it. I hope they think it’s fun. Sometimes when I tell people that I’m gonna show a certain movie, they’re just like, ‘Oh my god, you’re showing that movie, really?!’ It’s like a shock that this is really going to be shown in a theater at my school. That’s kind of how it was at the start of the semester when I showed Trapped in the Closet: Chapters 1 – 22 (R. Kelly, 2005-2012) and people were so surprised that I would play it here. Though sometimes when I say a movie people will say it’s not a bad movie, and I’m like, well…it kind of is… But, yeah, I’d like to think the club is doing well.
Even when you were just thinking about the club, were there any movies that you absolutely knew that you had to play because they were so terrible but amazing?
Oh yes. I already showed one of them last semester, Troll 2. I figured that would be the big one. That was pretty good. There’s a movie called Manos: The Hands of Fate (Harold P. Warren, 1966) that I’ve shown and that one went pretty well as well. There are a lot of quirky movies that I like and have planned but I don’t know if a lot of people will get, like Birdemic: Shock and Terror (James Nguyen, 2010), which is kind of a reimagining of The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 1963) mixed with some environmental love story and it’s really bad. I do plan on showing The Room (Tommy Wiseau, 2003) but I don’t have a set date yet. There’s quite a few, a lot that I feel like I just have to show here and it’s just a matter of time. […] I’m holding off on some, like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first movie, Hercules in New York (Arthur Allan Seidelman, 1969); that one is definitely one of my top favorites. I love that movie, it’s so good.
Do you get a lot of suggestions for bad movies?
I’ve gotten a few. I got one through the Facebook page, which was Jupiter Ascending (The Wachowskis, 2015). I’ve heard a lot of fun things about that but I haven’t watched it yet. Typically when I tell people that I run the club, or when they know about it, they tell me what they think I totally have to show—it’s kind of like when you tell people you’re a screenwriter and so people try to tell you what movies you should write. Sometimes my friends will find movies they think I should try, like recently a friend told me about this movie starring one of the guys from High School Musical (Peter Barsocchini, 2006) where he gets like food powers? It’s on Netflix so they showed me one scene from it, and I was like, ‘I hate you, now I have to finish this whole movie.’ Because I know I show bad movies, but I don’t want to watch them all the time! So, yeah, I’ll sometimes get a few casual suggestions like that.
The Worst Film Club plays on Monday nights at 10 p.m. at The Screen. Students can keep up with the club’s schedule and updates via its Facebook page.