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Nicolas Cage, John Travolta and their best bad movies

Nicolas Cage and John Travolta are two of our finest actors, having given their leading man imprimatur to all-time classics ranging from “Adaptation” to “Pulp Fiction”; from “Moonstruck” to “Saturday Night Fever.”

This is not a story about those thespians or those movies.

No, today we salute the flipside of Cage and Travolta’s superstardom: Their undeniably deep, passionate love for crappy genre movies. The actors, who joined forces and swapped faces in “Face/Off” (1997), one of the all-time great B grade action movies, will this weekend return to movie screens in classic form.

Cage stars alongside Elijah Wood and, yes, Jerry Lewis, in “The Trust,” about cops planning a robbery. Travolta plays a vengeful husband in “I Am Wrath.”

If you’ve got a hankering for Travolta and Cage in their most low-rent forms, and you’ve already seen “Face/Off” a few too many times, these are three essential picks for each actor:

Nicolas Cage: 'The Wicker Man'

The first thing to understand about this remake
Photo Credit: Alan Markfield / Warner Bros.

The first thing to understand about this remake of the Christopher Lee horror classic, starring Cage and directed by Neil LaBute, is that both men knew exactly what they were doing. They are too smart to have not comprehended how incredibly ridiculous it was to have Cage run around angrily in a bear costume, punching and kicking women, screaming about a burned doll and shrieking in terror as his head disappears in a swarm of bees. That doesn't make it any less awesome.

Nicolas Cage: 'Vampire's Kiss'

Cage, at his core, is an absurdist performance
Photo Credit: Shout Factory

Cage, at his core, is an absurdist performance artist as much as he is anything else. And there has never been, and never will be, a better example of the man's brilliant mania than this movie, wherein he chews scenery with such wild abandon as a man who thinks he's becoming a vampire that you can't take your eyes off the screen.

Nicolas Cage: 'Con Air'

If
Photo Credit: Touchstone Pictures

If "Wicker Man" and "Vampire's Kiss" are sterling examples of Cage at his most heightened and overwrought, "Con Air" represents such a full-scale 360 degree turn in the opposite direction that it's no less hilarious. Cage's Cameron Poe isn't just the straight man on a plane full of prisoners; he's so one-note and so one-dimensional that when he demands that John Malkovich's bad guy "put the bunny back in the box," it's as funny as any moment he's had on screen.

John Travolta: 'Battlefield Earth'

When a movie is this bad, this tone
Photo Credit: Part 2 / Pierre Vinet

When a movie is this bad, this tone deaf, attention must be paid. And Travolta's 10-foot tall alien with a weirdly elongated tongue, the villain in this Scientology piece, must be seen to be believed.

John Travolta: 'Swordfish'

Travolta has played a lot of over-the-top bad
Photo Credit: Andrew Cooper

Travolta has played a lot of over-the-top bad guys, none more ridiculous than the powerful hacker Gabriel Shear who has weirdly articulate thoughts about film theory and Hollywood realism.

John Travolta movies from 1981-1994

Every movie Travolta made between 1981 and 1994
Photo Credit: NBC Photo

Every movie Travolta made between 1981 and 1994 -- "Staying Alive," "Two of a Kind," "Perfect," "Basements," "Eyes of An Angel" and the list goes on.

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