Sunday, August 12, 2007

List of the week: The 10 Worst Movies I've Ever Seen...Ever

While studio executives were pleased by the box office results for The Haunting, they couldn't have been as happy with audience reaction -- a poll of moviegoers revealed that 33% felt it was the worst movie they had ever seen; 33% said it was the worst movie ever; and another 33% said it was the worst movie they had ever seen...ever.
--Craig Kilborn, circa 1999

I hate all ten of these movies. How much? You know how much I complain about Michael Bay, right? He's not on this list. That's how much I hate these movies. In a way, these aren't really the worst movies ever made, but something far more subjective: these are the ten movies I hate more than any others.

At varying points in time, I have called six of these films the Worst Movie I've Ever Seen; I've reconsidered five of them. The other four left with me a strong urge for vigilante justice. There's not much more I can tell you in the way of preamble, other than this: I really, really hope I never have to add anything to this list. It pains me to think that someday, somehow, I may end up watching something worse than...

10. Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows
Oh, where to begin? How about the nonsensical title: nowhere in the film is there a book, nor does the plot have anything to do with shadows. Say what you want about the original Blair Witch Project -- love it or hate it, you have to at least respect its ethos, as the filmmakers actually tried to find something new in the exhaustingly repetitive horror genre. This moneygrubbing sequel, on the other hand, totally abandons that attitude and churns out exactly what the first film was supposed to combat: a shitty studio horror movie. As if that wasn't bad enough, the movie is inexplicably meta, as all of the characters have seen the first movie and refer to it whenever the mood strikes. Their actors, meanwhile, are so atrocious that casting must have simply pulled them at random from a Blair Witch fanclub meeting. The only thing saving Book of Shadows from being much, much further down on the list (like, in the bottom three) is the ending, which provides a stunning blast of ambiguity and intelligence that the film doesn't deserve. But then, on the DVD commentary, director Joe Berlinger (yeah, Some Kind of Monster director Joe Berlinger) blames the film's disastrous nature on the studio, saying they reshot scenes and recut the movie without his consent. Yeah, sorry -- you don't get off that easy, Joe.

9. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
It isn't often you can sum up all of a movie's problems in only four words, but try this on: "Directed by William Shatner." Every frame of this piece of crap is driven by his ego and, apparently, his loathing of his own audience. Is there any other explanation for the scene where Uhura materializes fronds in the middle of the desert and sings a "sexy" siren call to the bad guys? Or Spock's retconned half-brother, Sybok? Scotty's descent into a slapstick caricature, complete with Three Stooges pratfalls? The Enterprise's descent into an interstellar Yugo? "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"? And then there's Kirk, who starts the movie scaling El Capitan and ends it by telling God (well, "God") to go fuck himself. This is another movie wrenched from the hands of a poor, talented director and ruined by the studio -- they just wouldn't give Shatner the money he needed to film his original vision, which included a 1-on-10 fight between Kirk and some rock monsters, which I'm sure he'd easily win singlehandedly. At least the studio knew a rat when they smelled it -- of the first six Trek films, this is the only one they wouldn't spend money to "spruce up" for its DVD release. The others all get new special effects, director's cuts, and all that shiny new stuff. Shatner asked for money to do the same, and was flatly denied. Hey, fool me twice, shame on me, right?

8. The Fifth Element
Oh, man, I can feel the flashburn from my friends' hostility already (especially considering the two movies above it and, more damning, some of the movies that aren't on this list). And listen: I wanted to like The Fifth Element, really, I did. I've watched it at least three times now, trying to believe, trying to find that magical spark that attracts the attention of pretty much everyone I know. But you know what? There is no Santa Claus, Barry Bonds is the new home run king, and this. movie. sucks. Every character is annoying, every performance is abysmal, every costume is ludicrous, every piece of music from the score makes me pray for death, every scene is more painful than the one before, and everything just adds up to a big pile of stupid. There is no part of this movie that is not pain. But let's take a special look here at Gary Oldman, who can normally save a crappy movie all by himself: Oldman, one of our finest actors, somehow makes this movie worse with his inexplicable performance as the film's villain, Zorg. The awful accent, the grating mannerisms, and that dumb little helmet -- what the fuck, Sirius? I'd like to blame it all on writer-director Luc Besson, and you know what? I'm going to. Screw you, Luc. I hate, hate, hate, hate this goddamn movie.

7. Rookie of the Year
This imbecilic kids' movie from 1993 is like that annoying guy you know that watches ESPN for ten minutes and then wants to tell you how the Astros can solve all their problems: it doesn't understand baseball, not at all, but knows just enough about it to be a pain in the ass. That little Henry Rowengartner (?) has a freak accident and becomes not a power-hitting superstar but a relief pitcher is the sign that someone knew what they were doing. But that's it -- the rest of the movie is like rubbing peanut shells in your eyes. Even if you cut out Daniel Stern's idiotic "comedy" sidekick (and though I'd like to do you like Oldman and blame your hideous persona on the director, you directed this dungheap, Mr. Stern, so no dice), the "baseball" portions of the film range from the inane to the downright maddening. Logical and sane rules of both baseball and good storytelling are thrown aside and ignored for more cheap, juvenile laughs. "Pitcher's got a big butt"? Come on! Yes, it's a kids' movie, but I was twelve at the time of its release, the same age as the protagonist, and I nearly walked out three times. I mean, the entire plot swings on the Chicago Cubs -- the Chicago Cubs -- not selling enough tickets to their home games. The Chicago Cubs. If you understand why that's ridiculous, then you understand my pain. If you don't, then you probably wrote this movie.

6. Pitch Black
I hate Vin Diesel. Well, now, let's be clear: I don't hate Vin Diesel, per se. I'm sure he's a nice enough guy, and his bit parts in Saving Private Ryan and Boiler Room proved he had some acting chops. I hate Vin Diesel™, the gravel-voiced, sleepy-eyed, coldly bland persona he developed into when they thought he'd be the next Bruce Willis. And that run started here, in this inexplicable and inexcusable sci-fi vehicle that left me screaming. Not in fear. In rage. So it's an Alien rip-off, that's not a big deal -- at this point, there's very little left that's not an Alien rip-off. But lining up several scientifically ludicrous concepts all in a big row and hinging your entire story on them is never a good idea. But then, neither is writing an amoral, psychopathic serial killer into your plot using clich├ęd tactics and then making him your protagonist. Casting a bad guy as your good guy can work, if said bad guy is exceptionally charming, or talented, or intelligent, or in some other way admirable. Riddick, though, is just an evil motherfucker, and the realization that this guy was going to be our hero left a sick feeling in my stomach. Fortunately, that nicely distracted me from the migraine headache everything else in the movie had induced. Upon walking out of this one, Steve and I agreed: worst movie we'd ever seen.

5. Super Mario Bros.
Hey, Uwe Boll. Next time you rape a mediocre video game license to make a cheap, awful flop, and gamers everywhere unite to clamor for your crucifixion, don't challenge anyone to another boxing match. Just take a deep breath, look them in the eye, and say, "Hey: at least it's better than fucking Super Mario Bros." How anyone -- anyone -- anywhere thought any piece of this movie was a good idea is well beyond me. And unbelievably, they kept making video game movies after this, even though each and every one has been utter shit. (Well, except for Silent Hill, which was shit with an asterisk.) Seriously, how did Goombas go from tiny mushroom-shaped guys to towering, suit wearing thugs with shrunken heads? And casting Dennis Hopper as Bowser? Dennis Hopper in a kids' movie?! The only way to have made a less entertaining movie would have been to film someone playing Super Mario Bros. 2 for an hour and a half and show that. And on second thought, that would have been better. And for shame: I actually saw this movie before its release. A friend of my mother's got me passes to a critics' screening, so I got in before all of my friends. Thus, I had to deliver the bad news: worst movie I'd ever seen.

4. House of 1000 Corpses
I've already written at length on this film, so I don't really need to go further. I really, really don't want to go further, tell the truth. I think this movie is a disease, and if I keep talking about it, it might spread, like the invisible menace of a Japanese horror film. Just, please: never, ever watch this movie. After it was over, I wanted to die. I wanted you to die, too. One day, the blood will have to be repaid for House of 1000 Corpses, one of the worst movies I've ever seen.

3. Highlander: Endgame
Well, what did I expect, exactly? The original Highlander wasn't High Art, you know, even though I loved it when I was nine. And the sequels? Please. But never in my sickest, most masochistic nightmares was I prepared for this, one of the most pathetic excuses for entertainment I've ever been subjected to. A baffling plot, made all the more confusing by the endless flashbacks (and flashbacks within flashbacks); and then made truly incomprehensible by introducing characters from the television series (!!) without any explanation whatsoever; and then made physically painful by inserting endless, redundant, impossible-to-follow swordfights, one right after the other. Christopher Lambert's accent had somehow become more French between films, making his Connor MacLeod even less believable. His acting, meanwhile, had somehow become even worse than before; I've heard more convincing emoting from a Speak & Spell. The final act, where Connor decapitates himself by tricking Duncan (the other good guy) into doing it for him, followed by the climactic swordfight lit only by an enormous JVC sign, made me want to cry. FRINAN and I barely escaped this train wreck with our lives, and quickly spread the word to all who would hear: worst movie we'd ever seen.

2. Watchers
[That's Watchers, mind you, not The Watcher, the Keanu Reeves movie. Though that sucked, too.] The novel by Dean Koontz was the first adult novel I'd ever read; I was going through Encyclopedia Brown books at the rate of two a day, and my mom felt it was time for me to read something a little more mature. So I read it, and I loved it, and I count it among my favorite books to this day. And I know that things have to change between the page and the screen. But come on. Half of the characters (and two-thirds of the plot) are abandoned. The main character in the book turns thirty-eight on the first page; in the movie, he's a teenager (played by fucking Corey Haim, of all people). His love interest in the novel becomes his mom in the film -- no, seriously. And for a movie that relies so heavily on monster effects, they didn't seem to have very good effects; guess they must have spent all that money on Michael Ironside (and a pre-90210 Jason Priestley, in a bit part). Watching this on video as a child, I felt violated. Really, when you're a kid, you like pretty much everything you're exposed to; it's only later you realize that The Last Starfighter is actually cheesy and poorly acted, you know? But Watchers was a beast escaped from the darkest level of hell. This was a corruption of everything I held dear. I yelled at the television so loudly my great-grandmother sent me to my room. Though I'd rescind the declaration later, my sister and I agreed: worst movie ever.

1. The Passion of the Christ
I hate this fucking movie. My hatred isn't about being Christian. It isn't about conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, any of that other cultural bullshit drummed up during the film's release. It's about being human. Mel Gibson's crazy Jesus movie is the most deplorable, most disgusting, most insulting, most repulsive, most repugnant stretch of celluloid ever produced. That the Christian right can attack Hollywood's "soulless" violent films nonstop, then turn around and praise -- no, no, revere -- this snuff film is an act of appalling hypocrisy. That they spent millions of dollars indulging Mr. Riggs in his torture fetish, in his Antisemitism, in his homophobia, is almost as disgusting as the movie itself. Mel props up his cardboard cypher Jesus, hires all the extras he can find, and they all take turns beating the shit out of him. For two hours. There are occasional breaks, as when Mel wants to focus on some Hook-Nosed Jew™ yelling at Jesus, or show Jesus falling into the dirt in endless slow-mo freefall. But other than that, it's just blood. Blood blood blood blood blood blood blood. The entire affair is utterly and completely revolting. Afterwards, I wasn't moved by Jesus's sacrifice. I wasn't stirred by his teachings (which are, of course, nowhere to be found in the film). I didn't reconsider my life as a sinner. I wanted to kill someone. Anyone. Preferable Mel Gibson, but anyone would have done. I walked from the theater to my car, got in, locked the door, and screamed. Hands down, no doubt, no question at all. Worst movie I've ever seen. Ever.


  1. Steve8:30 AM

    I'm with ya about 95% of the way. It would be 90 but, you know I like the fifth element. Therefore I grant you half credit for that one.

  2. Of course you like The Fifth Element. You *all* like The Fifth Element. For reasons I cannot possibly fathom.


  3. Wait, you mean you didn't get the $2,500 check from Luc Besson to watch The Fifth Element?

  4. Oh, is *that* what that was for? I thought it was some sort of new bad movie tax. I was excited.

  5. I have to come clean here. I didn't hate The Fifth Element. I will admit it was quite odd and there's no reason I shouldn't hate it, but I don't.