The good, the bad and the ugly — Matthew Baringer watches them all, but has a particularly soft spot for the bad and the ugly movies, so much so, that he made a hobby of it.
Baringer, an Athens native and graphic designer, runs a free monthly event at Cine called “Bad Movie Night,” where he screens some of the most notoriously bad films in the history of cinema.
“I’ve been collecting bad movies my entire life — well, since middle school at least — and eventually, I decided I wanted to share them with other people,” Barringer said. “Cine had just opened up at the time, so I reached out to them about it, and they were instantly on board and have been just as supportive ever since.”
Bad Movie Night started around eight years ago (its anniversary is coming up in April), and Baringer has never failed to host his monthly screening, priding himself on running one of Athens’ most reliable events.
“I have no shortage of movies, that’s for certain. I’ve probably got like 400 or 500 movies in my collection, enough films to do Bad Movie Night for the next 50 years,” Barringer said. “I literally have so many I had to cut myself off from getting anymore.”
Thrift stores are where Baringer finds the bulk of his films, as he discovers the “best and worst stuff in all the weird little corners of the world,” but he loves getting recommendations from friends, family and people who attend the event.
“Through hosting this event, I’ve met so many people I never would have met otherwise,” Baringer said. “There’s this 60-year-old woman who has come to every screening recently and loves bad movies just as much as I do. We talk about them for hours.”
Baringer’s criteria for what flicks make the cut for Bad Movie Night? They have to make him laugh in the first 15 minutes.
“If it can’t make me laugh in the first 15 minutes, it’s definitely not going to make an entire room of people laugh either,” Baringer said. “There’s a fine line between movies that are that are so boring, they’re hilarious, and movies that are just boring.”
To Baringer, his favorite bad movies are the ones that are meant to be good, but just aren’t.
“The best films are the ones that are earnest. Like they really wanted it to be good, you know? But you’re just sitting there like ‘oh, this is a giant failure, what were they thinking?’” Baringer said.
The movie that started it all for Baringer was Crippled Warriors, a movie about “two guys, one without legs, and one without arms, attempting to become kung fu masters.” But he says his all-time favorite is be Alien Private Eye.
“It’s just an incredibly low budget film about some guy wearing a zoot suit and ‘Spock’ ears running around solving crimes and having misadventures,” Barringer said. “It definitely hits all the sweet spots for me.”
As far as most popular showings at Bad Movie Night, Baringer said that a film called Uninvited drew the biggest crowd he’s ever had.
“Uninvited is about a radioactive cat that terrorizes a cruise ship full of people. The house was packed, even though I didn’t promote the event more than I usually do. I guess a psychotic, murderous cat just really resonated with people.”
Baringer attributes to both internal and external factors to staying motivated and keeping Bad Movie Night running as long as he has.
“I consider myself to be pretty well-organized and a bookkeeper at heart, but I also just really enjoy just finding little project to do and keeping up with them forever. I’ve had so many laughs with this one and I love doing it,” Baringer said.
Will he ever get sick of it? Baringer thinks not, as to him it’s more than just a hobby, it’s a social experience.
“At times, these movies can be exhausting to watch on your own, but when you get together with friend and family, it’s a totally different experience. It’s awesome,” Baringer said. “If people keep coming Bad Movie Night, I’ll keep doing it, that’s for sure.”
Baringer hosts the showings in Cine’s lab space on the third or fourth Tuesday of every month. Bad Movie Night’s next showing will be of Science Crazy on Feb. 20.