Arthur Gousset

Bristol's Bad Film Club

Arthur Gousset
Bristol's Bad Film Club

We all know a film that is ‘so bad it’s good’. For example, I’m more than happy to watch the universally panned ‘Batman & Robin’. Why? I hear you cry. Well, partly because of Arnold Schwarzenegger delivering lines like “Allow me to break the ice. My name is Freeze. Learn it well. For it’s the chilling sound of your doom” without a single hint of irony. And also just to prove to myself that even George Clooney is human.

A bad film is something we love to watch, something that gives us a strange sense of comfort. Films with scripts that have more clangers than the moon, bad acting that would make your aunt’s am-dram group look like the Royal Shakespeare Company. Essentially, a bad film lets us think that even we, if we can be bothered to drag ourselves away from watching whatever Netflix recommends, could one day make a film. This is a sentiment that production companies like Asylum and channels like Syfy have tapped into. Movies like Sharknado and Nazis at the Center of the Earth (regardless of what you think about bad films, you have to admit these titles peak your interest) are prime examples of why a bad film can be great. They are funny, often not intentionally, and offer us something different than what we are used to. And it is people’s love of these cinematic eccentricities that have helped the Bristol Bad Film Club to flourish.

The BBFC (not to be confused with the British Board of Film Classification) started out with a sell-out screening of Plan 9 From Outer Space in an upper room of a Clifton pub, and has gone from strength to strength since then. It is a club that unites Bristol’s film lovers with “entertaining trash”, films that are in no way masterpieces but do exactly what you want a film to do to you – make you think differently, and above all, entertain. The BBFC may have started small but now their screenings have become one of the most sought after events in Bristol; this year’s screening of Valley of Gwangi (a film where cowboys face off against dinosaurs – yes you read it correctly: Cowboys vs. Dinosaurs) in Victoria Park had over five hundred people come to watch. These larger outdoor screenings are appropriate for all ages, too, which just goes to show that a bad film can transcend all film classifications.

The BBFC is certainly a group that utilises its surroundings. It is hard to imagine such a niche group being as successful in a city that is less vibrant than Bristol. The manager, and one of the founders of the BBFC, Timon Singh, told me that they try to find venues that tie into the film they are showing. From previous screenings at The Planetarium and upcoming events at Thekla, it’s clear that it is a club with its finger on the pulse of what is a truly different city. The BBFC offers us all a chance to become aware of and witness something so incredibly different from what we are used to when we watch a movie. But most importantly, it gives us the chance to have a good time whilst making us completely re-evaluate how we think when we think about films. As in – ‘oh wow, compared to this the Matrix sequels weren’t actually that bad’.

Not only does the club allow us to be entertained, it also does a lot for charity. Or to put it better, “these bad films are actually doing good”. The profits of all the screenings go to various charities based in the local area. If that wasn’t enough, the BBFC are about to host a 24 hour bad film marathon to help raise money for Children in Need. Starting at 9am on the 7th of November the BBFC hope to watch some truly terrible films for a truly terrible amount of time alongside other Bristol film clubs: Seventyseven, Hellfire Video Club and The Cube. Anyone is free to come and join in for any amount of time that they choose, all that is asked is that they throw some money in the donation bucket. I think this sense of fun and community make the Bristol Bad Film Club a truly special group. I mean, what could be better than watching films with your mates and raising money for charity at the same time?

Check them out here: http://www.bristolbadfilmclub.co.uk/

Nick Herbert