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The 15 Worst Movies Ever Made

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When it comes to declaring whether a movie is “good” or “bad,” there’s no one person who can make that call. Sure, there are celebrated critics—some of whom you may always agree with—but even still, that’s just a matter of opinion. The only fair way to give a movie a general thumbs up or thumbs down is to consider a range of opinions and reviews, which is exactly what we did.

To figure out which movies both critics and audiences have deemed the worst movies ever made, we cross-referenced the lowest-rated movies on both Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb, then figured in the opinions of several critics who’ve contributed to a handful of all-time worst-ever movie lists (like this one from Empire Magazine) to calculate which films the moviegoing populace has determined to be the medium’s biggest turkeys. Here they are—in all their terrible glory.

1. BALLISTIC: ECKS VS. SEVER (2002)

Thai director Wych Kaosayananda has directed five feature films. Only once did he ever choose to use a pseudonym. That film was Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, the clunky action sci-fi film that starred Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu as two former government agents each trying to get their hands on what is supposedly the world’s most dangerous weapon. But if you look at the film's credits, you’ll see that it was directed by “Kaos,” which could be a nickname—or a statement on the production itself.

In 2014, Kaosayananda admitted that the experience of making this bomb turned him off to the idea of moviemaking altogether. “For the first two years after Ballistic, I couldn't really bring myself to do movies,” the director told Film Combat Syndicate. “The experience I went through in post-production on that movie was very painful. I still did take meetings after just signing with CAA and they were doing a great job of sending me out and getting me to meet execs. I even got a couple of directing offers, but I simply didn't have an interest."

Though it’s certainly not the only film to earn a zero percent rating on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer, it’s one of the few films to maintain a nothing score after more than 115 critical reviews. (Audiences were only slightly more forgiving with their 17 percent rating.) “For many viewers,” wrote AP critic Jocelyn Noveck in her review of the film, “the big question may be not whether Ecks and Sever will get together, or why they are fighting in the first place, but why am I sitting here, anyway?"

2. SUPERBABIES: BABY GENIUSES 2 (2004)

Just when we thought the ‘90s had offered up its final talking baby movie with 1993’s Look Who’s Talking Now, along came Baby Geniuses (1999). While hardly a box office behemoth with its $36 million haul, the film (which was shot for $12 million) made enough of a profit that, five years later, we got a sequel. Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 saw a gaggle of talking toddlers banding together to rid the world of an evildoer intent on controlling the minds of the entire human population. And it was all kind of creepy (or, according to The Wall Street Journal, “unspeakably ghastly”).

The A.V. Club’s Nathan Rabin articulated what most people were thinking when he wrote, “Why? Seriously, why? Why would anyone make a sequel to Baby Geniuses, a 1999 film whose existence, from its title on down, appeared to be a cruel joke about the gullibility of the lowest common denominator? It would be easy to say that the answer has more to do with commerce than art, but it's probably a mistake to factor art into the equation at all.”

3. UNITED PASSIONS (2015)

If Leni Riefenstahl were alive today, she probably would have been the first choice to direct United Passions, a cinematic retelling of how the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) came to be. Unfortunately, the timing of this movie could not have been worse, or more intentional: At the same the movie was playing film festivals and art-house theaters, 16 FIFA officials were being indicted on charges of racketeering, money laundering, and wire fraud, following decades of alleged corruption wherein they used the organization to line their own pockets.

While not necessarily poorly made, the film—which stars Gérard Depardieu, Sam Neill, and Tim Roth—is propaganda at its most obvious (which isn't surprising, considering 90 percent of its production budget came directly from FIFA). Or, in the words of The Wrap’s Tim Appelo, it’s “One of those rare films so unfathomably ghastly you could write a better one while sitting through its interminable 110 minutes.”

4. JAWS: THE REVENGE (1987)

When Jaws 2 was released three years after Steven Spielberg’s groundbreaking summer blockbuster, nobody went into the theater thinking it would be able to even come close to the original. And they were right. By the time the fourth film, Jaws: The Revenge, rolled around, even the very obviously fake-looking shark couldn’t be bothered.

Though some (read: this author) consider it a guilty pleasure, the film is, well, pretty damn awful. Especially when you consider the plotline: that the shark is essentially a serial killer with a taste for the Brody family, and swims all the way from Amity Island to the Bahamas to finish off its last remaining members.

In 1987, Michael Caine—whose career was on a downswing—famously had to skip the Academy Awards, where he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters, because he was on location shooting Jaws: The Revenge. When asked about his role as Hoagie in the shark drama, Caine admitted that, “I have never seen [the movie], but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”

5. BUCKY LARSON: BORN TO BE A STAR (2011)

Adam Sandler co-wrote and produced this totally misguided “comedy” about a buck-toothed grocery bagger from Iowa who, upon discovering that his ultra-conservative parents were two of the 1970s’ biggest porn stars, decides to head to Hollywood and attempt to follow in their footsteps. There’s just one very, well, small problem: Bucky is not very well endowed. Ultimately, he manages to use this shortcoming to his advantage.

“I’m not sure how many tedious sex jokes and humorless physical gags people can take before they run out of the theater screaming, but Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star certainly tests the limits,” wrote We Got This Covered’s Amy Curtis.

6. MAC AND ME (1988)

In the wake of the amazing success of E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, every studio in Hollywood wanted in on the alien action. The most memorable of them, for all the wrong reasons, just might be MAC and Me. It’s the story of a family of aliens who are kidnapped from their home planet and brought back to Earth to be studied. After a brazen escape attempt, the youngest alien, MAC—short for Mysterious Alien Creature—befriends a young boy named Eric. Yes, it’s as blatant a rip-off as it sounds, but with none of the sincerity of the Spielberg classic. Oh, and it’s so full of product placement that it may as well have been a commercial for McDonald’s and Coke.

“Possibly aware that they have something less than a classic on their hands,” wrote the Philadelphia Daily News, “the makers of MAC and Me have cut their losses by making the film into a kind of cinematic billboard: all space is for sale.”

7. ALONE IN THE DARK (2005) 

More than a decade before Christian Slater won a Golden Globe for his role in Mr. Robot, he starred in what might have been the very worst film of 2005. Alone in the Dark, a loose adaptation of the video game, follows a detective (Slater) with a heightened sixth sense that allows him to observe the paranormal. Frankly, the plot doesn’t really matter. All you need to know is that Tara Reid co-stars as Slater’s love interest, a curator at a natural history museum, and it was directed by Uwe Boll, the temperamental moviemaker who once challenged his harshest critics to a series of boxing matches. That list only grew with the release of this bomb, with Rue Morgue’s Jovanka Vuckovic declaring that, “How Uwe Boll manages to scrape together enough investment money to give wing to this type of overblown, amateurish gibberish is truly a mystery of the cosmos.”

8. DISASTER MOVIE (2008)

The jokes practically write themselves here. For more than 20 years, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer have made a career out of spoofing popular movies and genres. They’re the guys behind the Scary Movie franchise, and are currently at work on Star Worlds Episode XXXIVE=MC2: The Force Awakens the Last Jedi Who Went Rogue. In between, there was Disaster Movie, which is arguably their biggest disaster yet, and led critic Elizabeth Weitzman to wonder: “Why would you watch a bad movie about better movies, when you could just rent the originals instead?”

The Village Voice’s Jim Ridley had an even harsher criticism: “Rushed into production with no better drape for its threadbare gags than Cloverfield, this carpet-fouling mongrel of a movie no more deserves release than do anthrax spores.” Also: It stars Kim Kardashian.

9. SIMON SEZ (1999)

We’re really not sure who told Dennis Rodman that he should try his hand at acting, but we’re holding that person responsible for the many travesties he has brought to the screen, including 1997’s Double Team (co-starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and a pre-Comeback Mickey Rourke) and this abominable actioner, in which Rodman plays the titular Simon—an Interpol agent who is tasked with saving the world from an evil arms dealer. “If you must watch it—and I shudder to imagine the circumstances under which one must—watch it in a light mood, perhaps under the influence of something,” advised critic (and Mental Floss contributor) Eric D. Snider.

10. ED (1996)

Being a star of one of the most popular television shows ever can be a double-edged sword: Sure, it brings you fame and fortune and the opportunity to hone your skills in front of an enormous audience. But when the credits on that show roll for the final time, it can be hard to escape that character. Which is probably why Friends star Matt LeBlanc thought starring in a family movie would be a smart career move just a couple seasons into Friends’s run. But there’s a difference between starring in a kids' movie and starring opposite a monkey. Unless you’re Clint Eastwood, it rarely works out.

Such was the case with Ed, in which LeBlanc stars as a minor league baseball player who could learn a lesson or two from his new teammate—a chimpanzee named Ed. Or, in most of the scenes, a dude in a chimp suit that doesn’t even bother trying to make it look realistic. Yet it was LeBlanc who got most of the blame. Writing for The New York Times, Stephen Holden said that, “Mr. LeBlanc ... is so blank that the only impression he makes is of having teeth that are very large and unnaturally white.”

11. A THOUSAND WORDS (2012)

Eddie Murphy has been one of Hollywood’s biggest comedic movie stars. He’s also been nominated for an Oscar. In addition, he has starred in a handful of truly terrible films. Just when you thought he could sink no lower than 2007’s Norbit, along came A Thousand Words. The film sees Murphy playing a fast-talking literary agent who, after lying to a spiritual guru, becomes cursed and can only speak as many words as there are leaves left on a Bodhi tree on his property. Yes, it’s all a bit of a stretch and watching Murphy trying to find ways to express himself without using words is a gag that loses its funny pretty quickly. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Eddie Murphy should have just said the word ‘No’ to this tired, formulaic comedy."

12. SURFER, DUDE (2008)

A few years before he surprised the world by winning a Best Actor Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club (2013), a pre-McConaissance Matthew McConaughey was better known as a mediocre actor whose good looks and slacker charm made him an alright, alright, alright choice to headline a movie—usually as some sort of laid back stoner dude who’d find a reason to be shirtless much of the time. Surfer, Dude sort of did away with any pretense of a real plot … unless you think seeing a surfer have his mellow buzz chilled by an existential crisis has the makings of something you’d want to invest 83 minutes in.

Instead, the movie served more as a starring role for McConaughey’s abs. While it seems it was meant to be a stoner comedy, it even fails at that. The Houston Chronicle’s Louis B. Hicks wrote that, “Surfer, Dude is a bizarre throwback. It feels 25-30 years out of date and seems to be meant to be watched on VHS, oops, make that DVD, while stoned."

13. IT’S PAT: THE MOVIE (1994)

With the exception of Wayne and Garth, Saturday Night Live characters have a terrible track record when it comes to making the transition from small to big screen. While Julia Sweeney’s androgynous Pat brought laughs on the sketch comedy show, the joke—is Pat a man or a woman?—is simply not enough to sustain even a meager 77-minute running time.

Not even when Pat finds love with Chris, yet another person of an indeterminate gender, which just exacerbates the tediousness of the one-joke plotline. “Ever hear the one about the pic that was too bad to be released, so it escaped?,” wrote Variety critic Joe Leydon. “Well, that old joke now has a new punch line: It's Pat, a shockingly unfunny Saturday Night Live spinoff.”

14. STOLEN (2009)

The past and present collide in Stolen (also known as Stolen Lives), a less-than-enthralling murder mystery in which a detective (Jon Hamm) searching for his missing son stumbles upon a 50-year-old murder of yet another young boy, which he desperately tries to solve as a way to help find closure in his own loss.

The story unravels in two different time periods, 1958 and 2008, and is riddled with clichés in both decades. “One poorly told story would be bad enough,” wrote critic Coley Smith, “but with Stolen we have two.” To be fair, had the film not featured an impressive cast—Jessica Chastain, Josh Lucas, Morena Baccarin, and James Van Der Beek all join Hamm in this overwrought journey—it probably would have just fallen off the radar completely. But a bad film filled with familiar faces is always going to be judged more harshly.

15. KIRK CAMERON’S SAVING CHRISTMAS (2014)

“Do you ever feel like Christmas has been hijacked?” That’s the question that kicks off the trailer for this holiday offering from outspoken Evangelical Christian Kirk Cameron. Yes, the man formerly known as Growing Pains’s Mike Seaver apparently isn’t a fan of the inclusiveness that has led many people and businesses to exchange “Merry Christmas” for “Happy Holidays,” and this movie was his attempt to do something about it. So much so that, in the trailer alone, the filmmakers manage to compare the commercialization of Christmas to a carjacking, “but like of our religion. And guess what? Santa got in the car, kicked Jesus out, and was like, ‘Rolling, rolling, rolling’ and took it.” Cameron’s goal? For audiences to join him and his family and “put the Christ back into Christmas.” Not a lot of people were buying it, not even its intended audience.

The Chicago Sun-Times’s Bill Zwecker declared that, “This may be one of the least artful holiday films ever made. Even devout born-again Christians will find this hard to stomach.” Peter Sobczynski, writing for RogerEbert.com, was even more direct: “Perhaps the only Christmas movie I can think of, especially of the religious-themed variety, that seems to flat-out endorse materialism, greed and outright gluttony.” Within a month, the movie made headlines when it managed to become IMDb’s lowest-rated film.

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30 Facts About Your Favorite Martin Scorsese Movies
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In the pantheon of iconic American film giants, Martin Scorsese gets to sit at the head of the table and carve the turkey. In a career spanning 50 years, he has created some of the most visually spectacular and quote-worthy material ever put on celluloid. To celebrate the auteur’s 75th birthday, here are 30 facts about some of your favorite Scorsese movies. Ready? Great… now go home and get your #@$%ing shinebox!

1. MUCH OF THE MEAN STREETS BUDGET WENT TO ITS SOUNDTRACK.

Clearing songs for 1973's Mean Streets ate up almost half of the film's $500,000 budget. Staying true to his well-documented love of rock, Scorsese used tunes by The Ronettes, Eric Clapton, and The Rolling Stones for the soundtrack. “For me, the whole movie was 'Jumping Jack Flash' and 'Be My Baby,'" the director said in Scorsese on Scorsese.

2. LAURA DERN HAD A TINY ROLE IN ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE.

Future Oscar nominee Laura Dern made one of her earliest, albeit uncredited, appearances toward the end of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. Working alongside her mother, Diane Ladd, Dern—who was seven years old at the time—played a little girl eating a banana-flavored ice cream cone at Mel’s Diner. It took 19 takes to get the shot, which required Dern to consume 19 ice cream cones. Impressed by the budding actress, Scorsese told Ladd that “if she doesn’t throw up after [19 takes’ worth of cones], this girl is ready to be an actress.”

3. THE “YOU TALKIN’ TO ME?” SCENE FROM TAXI DRIVER CAME FROM BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN.

Robert De Niro improvised that whole paranoid monologue, including what would become the movie’s most famous line. (The film's screenwriter, Paul Schrader, later said, “It’s the best thing in the movie, and I didn’t write it.”) De Niro got the line from Bruce Springsteen, whom he’d seen perform in Greenwich Village just days earlier, at one in a series of concerts leading up to the release of Born to Run. When the audience called out his name, The Boss did a bit where he feigned humility and said, “You talkin’ to me?” Apparently it stuck in De Niro’s mind.

4. MUCH OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK WAS IMPROVISED (WHICH MAY HAVE BEEN ITS DOWNFALL).

In 1977, Scorsese released New York, New York. What was meant to be an epic musical turned out to be one of the director’s biggest bombs, due partly to the fact that the normally very regimented director decided to take a more improvisational approach to the film. “I tried to have no idea at all what I was going to do, as much as possible, on the day of shooting—as opposed to having a fairly strong idea of what I was going to do,” he said. “I was really testing the limits … I had a very chaotic style, on purpose, on New York, New York. And I found it didn't work for me."

5. A LOT OF FAMOUS CINEMATOGRAPHERS WERE INVOLVED IN THE MAKING OF THE LAST WALTZ.

The seven 35mm camera operators who shot The Last Waltz, Scorsese's 1978 concert documentary, included Michael Chapman (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull), Vilmos Zsigmond (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Deer Hunter), and László Kovács (Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces). Scorsese and Robbie Robertson (who also served as a producer) came up with a 300-page shooting script of diagrams and text that assigned the camera positions with the music lyrics and cues. According to the film's production notes, it was the first music documentary made on 35mm.

6. JOE PESCI WAS RUNNING AN ITALIAN RESTAURANT WHEN SCORSESE AND ROBERT DE NIRO APPROACHED HIM ABOUT RAGING BULL.

Joe Pesci had been a professional actor and musician (he sang and played guitar) off and on since childhood, but he called it quits in the 1970s. His 1975 Broadway show with comedy partner Frank Vincent (whom he would later recruit to play Salvy in Raging Bull) had closed after a week, and his first movie, 1976’s The Death Collector (also featuring Vincent), was a flop. But Robert De Niro happened to see that film in 1978, and was so impressed by Pesci’s performance that he pitched him to Scorsese. The two tracked Pesci down and called him at his restaurant to coax him out of showbiz retirement to co-star in Raging Bull.

7. SCORSESE INITIALLY DIDN’T SEE HOW THE SCRIPT FOR THE KING OF COMEDY WOULD WORK AS A MOVIE.

Robert De Niro passed Paul D. Zimmerman’s script for The King of Comedy on to Scorsese, hoping that he could interest him in directing it. "I didn't get it," Scorsese later admitted. "The script is hilarious. But the movie was just a one-line gag: You won't let me go on the show, so I'll kidnap you and you'll put me on the show.” Eventually, he came to see how it could be turned into a feature.

8. GRIFFIN DUNNE HAD TO GIVE UP, WELL, PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING TO STAR IN AFTER HOURS.

In order to capture the desperation and paranoia to play word processor Paul Hackett in After Hours (1985), Scorsese gave star Griffin Dunne some very specific instructions. “I was at a symposium with Marty Scorsese and he said, ‘I really had to be hard on Griffin for this part. I said, no sex, no going out, none of it,’” Cher told People at the movie’s after-party. “It must have worked,” she added. “He’s so good at being frustrated.”

9. IT WAS PAUL NEWMAN WHO APPROACHED SCORSESE ABOUT THE COLOR OF MONEY.

Walter Tevis had written the book The Hustler and its sequel, The Color of Money, yet Paul Newman didn’t care for the adapted screenplay to the latter. So Newman went to Scorsese, as he was a fan of his work, particularly Raging Bull, which he felt had a similar tone to what The Color of Money should be.

10. SCORSESE GOT THE IDEA FOR GOODFELLAS WHILE SHOOTING THE COLOR OF MONEY.

In a rare moment of downtime on The Color of Money set, "I read a review of [Nicholas Pileggi's] Wiseguy ... and it said something about this character Henry Hill having access to many different levels of organized crime because he was somewhat of an outsider," Scorsese told Rolling Stone. "He looked a little nicer. He was able to be a better frontman and speak a little better. I thought that was interesting, because you could get a cross section of the layers of organized crime—from his point of view, of course. So I got the book, started reading it and was fascinated by the narrative ability of it."

11. THE FAMOUS “FUNNY HOW?” SCENE IN GOODFELLAS WASN’T IN THE SCRIPT.

The most famous (and certainly the most quoted) scene in Goodfellas comes at the beginning, when Pesci's Tommy DeVito jokingly-yet-uncomfortably accosts Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) for calling him "funny." In addition to being the driving force behind the scene on screen, Pesci is also responsible for coming up with the premise.  

While working in a restaurant, a young Pesci apparently told a mobster that he was funny—a compliment that was met with a less-than-enthusiastic response. Pesci relayed the anecdote to Scorsese, who decided to include it in the film. Scorsese didn't include the scene in the shooting script so that Pesci and Liotta’s interactions would elicit genuinely surprised reactions from the supporting cast.

12. STEVEN SPIELBERG TRADED CAPE FEAR TO MARTIN SCORSESE FOR THE RIGHTS TO SCHINDLER'S LIST.

Scorsese was set to direct Schindler's List, but was apprehensive about making it after the controversy surrounding his previous two films, Goodfellas and The Last Temptation of Christ. At the same time, Steven Spielberg was set to make Cape Fear, but decided that he "wasn't in the mood" to make a movie about a "maniac." So they traded projects. Spielberg had Bill Murray in mind to play Max Cady. Scorsese had other ideas.

13. THE CASINO OPENING TITLES WERE DESIGNED BY THE LEGENDARY SAUL BASS.

Saul Bass is certainly the most famous (and possibly the only) well-known designer of opening credit sequences, with more than 50 to his name. If there was a movie in the '50s or '60s with distinctive opening titles, odds are good that it was Bass's work, often in conjunction with his wife, Elaine. (Among them: Vertigo, Psycho, North by Northwest, West Side Story, Spartacus, and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.) Bass did the titles for Scorsese's Goodfellas, Cape Fear, The Age of Innocence, and Casino, which turned out to be the final film of his career. He died five months after the film opened, at the age of 75. 

14. GANGS OF NEW YORK WAS 32 YEARS IN THE MAKING.

Scorsese read Herbert Asbury’s 1928 nonfiction book The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld in 1970 and immediately thought it would make a good movie. He didn’t have any money or clout yet though, so he had to wait. He bought the movie rights to the book in 1979, and even got a screenplay written around that time, then spent the next 20 years trying to get the project off the ground.

15. THE DEPARTED IS A REMAKE.

While Scorsese and screenwriter William Monahan claim they did not watch the 2002 Hong Kong action movie Infernal Affairs before making The Departed, the two films share more than a few similarities. Infernal Affairs director Andy Lau unsurprisingly prefers his own film, saying of The Departed, “Of course I think the version I made is better, but the Hollywood version is pretty good too.” 

16. “GIMME SHELTER” IS SCORSESE’S UNOFFICIAL GANGSTER THEME SONG.

Before The Departed, Scorsese had previously used the Rolling Stones song in Goodfellas and Casino. It seems Billy Costigan loves the Stones, too; the CD that he mails to Sullivan is housed in the case for the Rolling Stones album Exile on Main Street.

17. MEAN STREETS TOOK ITS TITLE FROM A RAYMOND CHANDLER ESSAY.

Originally titled Season of the Witch, the film’s name was changed to Mean Streets from a line from Raymond Chandler’s 1944 essay “The Simple Art of Murder.” Writing about the art of storytelling and plumbing the depths of humanity, Chandler wrote. “In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption. It may be pure tragedy, if it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man. But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.”

18. DE NIRO WANTED TO MAKE RAGING BULL AS A PLAY, TOO.

This was in early 1978, before it was even written as a movie yet, when De Niro was collaborating with Mardik Martin to adapt LaMotta’s memoir, while simultaneously trying to convince a noncommittal and increasingly drug-addled Scorsese to take on the project. De Niro’s idea was to stage it as a Broadway play (to be directed by Scorsese), and then, during the run of the show, spend the daylight hours shooting the movie. De Niro liked the idea of the day’s filming influencing the way they performed the play that night. But Martin’s script wasn’t yet ready for either medium, and Scorsese was in no shape to do it then anyway. 

19. SCORSESE WAS WORKING ON NEW YORK, NEW YORK AT THE SAME TIME HE WAS MAKING THE LAST WALTZ.

Scorsese was supposed to be in New York editing the Liza Minnelli/Robert De Niro musical drama when he was in San Francisco preparing and shooting The Last Waltz. According to Scorsese, New York, New York producer Irwin Winkler was "very upset" when he learned this.

20. CHANDELIERS FROM GONE WITH THE WIND WERE USED ON THE LAST WALTZ.

The performance recorded for The Last Waltz was designed by Boris Leven, who has served as production designer on West Side Story (1961) and The Sound of Music (1965). Leven created a backdrop inspired by the films of Luchino Visconti (Death In Venice, The Leopard), borrowing props from the San Francisco Opera's production of La Traviata and chandeliers designed for Gone with the Wind. Robertson wasn't sold on the elaborate decor. He told Leven, "Chandeliers? I don't think that's going to go over with Neil or Bob or the rest of the musicians. These people don't do chandeliers, Boris."

21. THE FIRST SCENE SHOT FOR GOODFELLAS WASN’T DIRECTED BY SCORSESE. 

As you might know, the business of filming is rarely chronological—directors tend to jump scenes for cost, scheduling, and efficiency reasons. For Goodfellas, the scene that broke shooting ground was the intentionally low-budget Morrie’s Wigs commercial, which plays just before Henry and Jimmy hassle Morrie about a debt near the beginning of the film. To get the feel of the commercial right, Scorsese contacted Stephen R. Pacca, who had created his own ultra low-budget ads for his replacement window company, to write and direct the Morrie’s Wigs ad. 

22. REESE WITHERSPOON BLEW HER CAPE FEAR AUDITION. SO DID DREW BARRYMORE.

"It was my second audition ever," Witherspoon said in 1999. "My agent told me I'd be meeting Martin Scorsese. I said, 'Who is he?' Then he mentioned the name Robert De Niro. I said, 'Never heard of him.' When I walked in I did recognize De Niro, and I just lost it. My hand was shaking and I was a blubbering idiot.''

Drew Barrymore auditioned for the role, too, but believed she overacted for one of Scorsese's assistants. In 2000, she called the audition "the biggest disaster" of her life and said that Scorsese thinks she's "dog doo-doo" because of it.

23. GEORGE LUCAS HELPED WITH SCORSESE OUT WITH AN ELEPHANT PROBLEM FOR GANGS OF NEW YORK.


ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

The Star Wars creator, then working on Attack of the Clones, had visited the massive set in Rome and told Scorsese that it was probably the last of its kind, that such large re-creations would be done on computers now to save money. Lucas’s know-how in such matters came in handy later, when Gangs needed an elephant and none of the animal wranglers in Italy were able to produce one in time. So Scorsese called his old friend Lucas and asked for help: “We’re effed," Scorsese told Lucas. "We don’t have [an] elephant! Tell us how to shoot it!” Lucas, an old pro at such things, guided them through the process of filming without the elephant and having it digitally created later. It’s the only thing in the movie that’s completely computer-generated. 

24. SCORSESE WAS INSPIRED TO CAST GWEN STEFANI IN THE AVIATOR AFTER SEEING HER PICTURE ON THE SIDE OF A BUS SHELTER.

The Marilyn Monroe-inspired pictures, taken by Herb Ritts for a Teen Vogue cover, caught Scorsese's eye. Stefani told MTV the story, as she heard it from DiCaprio. “Martin Scorsese’s driving in New York City and he sees my Teen Vogue cover on the side of a bus stop shelter. And he’s like, ’Who’s that girl? Let’s get her!’ I had Leonardo DiCaprio tell me the whole story in Martin Scorsese’s voice, so it was pretty bizarre.” Stefani portrayed Jean Harlow; it was her first film role. 

25. BERNARD HERRMANN DIED JUST A FEW HOURS AFTER RECORDING THE MUSIC FOR TAXI DRIVER.

Scorsese was lucky to get Bernard Herrmann, a Hollywood legend who had scored Citizen Kane, Psycho, Cape Fear, North by Northwest, and dozens of others. Herrmann wrote the Taxi Driver score and conducted the recording sessions himself, finishing in Los Angeles on the evening of December 23, 1975. He retired to his hotel and died sometime during the night, officially Christmas Eve morning, at the age of 64. He was posthumously nominated for an Oscar. 

26. DANIEL DAY-LEWIS WAS TRAINED BY REAL BUTCHERS FOR GANGS OF NEW YORK, BECAUSE OF COURSE HE WAS.


Miramax

Ever the Method actor, Day-Lewis first took lessons from two Argentine brothers with a butcher shop in Queens, then from a master butcher specially flown in from London.

27. SCORSESE THREATENED TO TAKE HIS NAME OFF OF RAGING BULL OVER ONE MINOR SOUND ISSUE. 

Very late in the post-production process, when the film was due to premiere soon and Scorsese was still tinkering with the final sound mix, producer Irwin Winkler gave him a drop deadline: All work would cease at midnight on a certain night, and that would be it. When the hour arrived, Scorsese was obsessing over one minor line of dialogue someone says to a bartender —“Cutty Sark, please”—which he didn’t think was audible. Winkler told him too bad, we’ve got to send this thing out. Scorsese declared that if Winkler released the film this way, he wanted his name taken off it as director, because it no longer reflected his vision. Winkler said, “So be it.” Like all good producers, he knew that sometimes you have to let an overtired director throw a tantrum and say things he doesn’t really mean. Sure enough, Scorsese recanted sometime later.

28. SCORSESE AVOIDED AN X RATING ON TAXI DRIVER BY MAKING THE BLOOD LOOK MORE BROWN THAN RED. 

Scorsese desaturated the color in the film’s gorier scenes, rendering the blood less realistic and more like a black-and-white tabloid newspaper (without actually being black-and-white). Not only did it fit the lurid tone he was going for, it soothed the nerves of the ratings board. 

29. CATE BLANCHETT DID HER HOMEWORK FOR THE AVIATOR.


Miramax

At Scorsese's request, Blanchett watched all of Hepburn's first 15 movies for The Aviator. Blanchett also screened Hepburn's 1973 interview with Dick Cavett, read a memoir about her, took golf and tennis lessons, and took cold baths just like Hepburn. On June 29, 2003—the same day that Blanchett arrived on set for the first time—Hepburn passed away. "I picked up the paper thinking, 'Isn't it odd that Katharine Hepburn's on the cover?'" Blanchett recalled. "She had such a remarkable life, and then with her death, she was even more present in everyone's mind."

30. WE MAY NEVER KNOW WHAT THE REAL SAM “ACE” ROTHSTEIN ACTUALLY THOUGHT OF CASINO.

Lefty Rosenthal—the inspiration for Sam Rothstein, who died in 2008—said he only ever saw Casino once. If that's true, it was the screening of a rough cut that was also attended by Nicholas Pileggi. Pileggi sat with Rosenthal—they were the only ones in the screening room—and said Rosenthal's reaction was positive. But near the end of his life, when an interviewer mentioned that, "You only saw Casino once—and you don't like the movie," Rosenthal replied that "It lacked the detail of what I did. There are scenes where the Rosenthal character repeated the same thing twice. I would only tell you to do something one time—that's all I needed. And there was that scene that still angers me when I think of it—I never juggled on The Frank Rosenthal Show. I resent that scene. It makes me look foolish. And I only did that TV show [at] the behest of the chairman of the board of the Stardust so that the public would realize I was a decent guy and not a mobster as portrayed by the media covering us at the time.” Did Rosenthal change his mind over time? Did Pileggi misinterpret his initial reaction? We'll never know.

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25 Things You Might Not Know About Home Alone
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20th Century Fox

On November 16, 1990, what appeared to be a fun-filled little family yarn about a kid left to his own devices at Christmastime and forced to fend off a couple of bungling burglars became an instant classic. Today, no holiday movie marathon is complete without a viewing of Home Alone, the movie that turned Macaulay Culkin into one of the biggest kid stars of all time. And while you may be able to recite its dialogue line for line, here are 25 things you might not know about the John Hughes-penned picture. So settle in and enjoy, ya filthy animals. 

1. WITHOUT UNCLE BUCK, THERE’D BE NO HOME ALONE.

The idea for Home Alone occurred to John Hughes during the making of Uncle Buck, which also starred Macaulay Culkin. Always game to play the precocious one, there’s a scene in which Culkin’s character interrogates a potential babysitter through a mail slot. In Home Alone, Culkin has a similar confrontation with Daniel Stern, this time via a doggie door.

2. THE ROLE OF KEVIN WAS WRITTEN SPECIFICALLY FOR MACAULAY CULKIN.

But that didn't stop director Chris Columbus from auditioning more than 100 other rascally pre-teens for the part. Which really was all for naught, as Culkin nailed the role.

3. MACAULAY WASN’T THE ONLY CULKIN TO APPEAR IN THE FILM.


20th Century Fox

Macaulay's younger brother Kieran also landed a part, as Kevin’s bed-wetting cousin, Fuller. Though the film marked Kieran’s acting debut, he has since gone on to build an impressive career for himself in movies like The Cider House Rules, Igby Goes Down, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

4. CASTING CULKIN TAUGHT CHRIS COLUMBUS A VERY IMPORTANT LESSON.

Since Home Alone, Columbus (who also wrote the scripts for Gremlins and The Goonies) has gone on to become one of Hollywood’s premier family-friendly moviemakers as the director of Home Alone 2, Mrs. Doubtfire, and two movies in the Harry Potter franchise. But one lesson he learned from Home Alone is that when you agree to work with a kid actor, you’re also agreeing to work with his or her family.

“I was much younger and I was really too naive to think about the family environment as well,” Columbus told The Guardian in 2013. “We didn't know that much about the family at the beginning; as we were shooting, we learned a little more. The stories are hair-raising. I was casting a kid who truly had a troubled family life.” In 1995, Culkin’s parents, who were never married, engaged in a very public—and nasty—legal battle over his fortune. 

5. THE FILM IS A GUINNESS WORLD RECORD HOLDER.

In its opening weekend, Home Alone topped the box office, making $17,081,997 in 1202 theaters. The movie maintained its number one spot for a full 12 weeks and remained in the top 10 until June of the following year. It became the highest grossing film of 1990 and earned a Guinness World Record as the highest-grossing live-action comedy ever domestically.

6. THE MOVIE’S UNPRECEDENTED SUCCESS LED TO ITS TITLE BECOMING A VERB.


20th Century Fox

In his book The Big Picture: Who Killed Hollywood? And Other Essays, two-time Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman admitted that the unexpected success of Home Alone contributed a new phrase to the Hollywood lexicon: to be Home Aloned, meaning that other films suffered at the box office because of Home Alone’s long and successful run. “More than one executive said to me, ‘My picture did 40, but it would have done 50 if it hadn’t been Home Aloned,’” wrote Goldman.

7. IT SPAWNED MORE THAN A SEQUEL.

While all of the main, original cast members reprised their roles for Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (with Columbus again directing a script by Hughes), the success of the original led to a full-on franchise, complete with four sequels, three video games, two board games, a novelization, and other kid-friendly merchandise (including the Talkboy). 

8. POLAND LOVES THE MCCALLISTERS.

Showings of Home Alone have become a Christmas tradition in Poland, where the film has aired on national television since the early 1990s. And its popularity has only increased. In 2011 more than five million people tuned in to watch it, making it the most watched show to air during the season. 

9. THE MCCALLISTER HOME HAS BECOME A MAJOR TOURIST ATTRACTION.


A Syn via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Located at 671 Lincoln Avenue in Winnetka, Illinois, the kitchen, main staircase, and ground-floor landing seen in the film were all shot in this five-bedroom residence. (The dining room and all other first-floor rooms, with the exception of the kitchen, were shot on a soundstage.) In 2012, John and Cynthia Abendshien, who owned the home when it was used as one of the film’s locations, sold the property for $1.585 million.

10. KEVIN’S TREE HOUSE WAS NOT PART OF THE DEAL.

Kevin’s backyard tree house was not originally part of the property. It was constructed specifically for the movie and demolished once filming ended. 

11. ALL OF THE FILM WAS SHOT IN THE CHICAGO AREA.

Though the main plot point is that that McCallister family is in Paris while Kevin’s back home in Illinois, the production was shot entirely within the Chicago area. The scenes supposedly set at Paris-Orly Airport were shot at O’Hare International Airport. And those luxurious business class seats they’re taking to Paris? Those were built on the basketball court of a local high school—the same school where the scene in which Kevin is running through a flooded basement was filmed (the “basement” in question was actually the school’s swimming pool). 

12. ROBERT DE NIRO TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF HARRY LIME.


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As did Jon Lovitz. Then Joe Pesci swept in and made the part his own. Bonus fun fact: The character is a slight homage to Orson Welles. (It was the name of Welles’ character in Carol Reed’s The Third Man.) 

13. JOE PESCI GOT ALL METHOD ON MACAULAY CULKIN.

In order to get the most authentic performance possible, Joe Pesci did his best to avoid Macaulay Culkin on the set so that the young actor would indeed be afraid of him. And no one would blame the young actor for being a bit petrified, as he still bears the physical scar from one accidental altercation. “In the first Home Alone, they hung me up on a coat hook, and Pesci says, ‘I’m gonna bite all your fingers off, one at a time,’” Culkin recalled to Rule Forty Two. “And during one of the rehearsals, he bit me, and it broke the skin.” 

14. PESCI WASN’T USED TO THE WHOLE “FAMILY-FRIENDLY” THING.

Considering that Pesci’s best known for playing the heavy in movies like Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and Casino, it’s understandable that he wasn’t quite used to the whole family-friendly atmosphere on the set of Home Alone—and dropped a few f-bombs as a result of that. Columbus tried to curb Pesci’s four-letter-word tendency by suggesting he use the word “fridge” instead. 

15. DANIEL STERN HAD A FOUR-LETTER WORD SLIP-UP, TOO.


20th Century Fox

And it wasn’t cut out of the film. He utters the word “s***” when attempting to retrieve his shoe through the doggie door (look for it at the 55:27 mark on the DVD). 

16. IN REAL LIFE, HARRY AND MARV MAY NOT HAVE SURVIVED KEVIN’S ATTACK.

BB gun shots to the forehead and groin? A steaming hot iron and can of paint to the face? A flaming blowtorch to the scalp? The Wet Bandits endure an awful lot of violence at the hands of a single eight-year-old. So much so that neither one of them should have been walking—let alone conscious—by the end of the night. In 2012, Dr. Ryan St. Clair diagnosed the likely outcome of their injuries at The Week. While a read-through of the entire article is well worth your time, here are a few of the highlights: That iron should have caused a “blowout fracture,” leading to “serious disfigurement and debilitating double vision if not repaired properly.” And the blowtorch? According to Dr. St. Clair, “The skin and bone tissue on Harry's skull will be so damaged and rotted that his skull bone is essentially dying and will likely require a transplant.” 

17. THE ORNAMENTS THAT MARV STEPS ON WOULD CAUSE THE LEAST AMOUNT OF DAMAGE.

"Walking on ornaments seems pretty insignificant compared to everything else we've seen so far,” said Dr. St. Clair. “If I was Marv, I'd be more concerned about my facial fractures.” Fortunately, the "glass" ornaments in question were actually made of candy. (But just to be on the safe side, Stern wore rubber feet for his barefoot scenes.)

18. THE TARANTULA ON STERN’S FACE? YEP, THAT WAS REAL.


20th Century Fox

At one point, Kevin places a tarantula on Marv’s face. And it was indeed a real spider (Daniel Stern agreed to let it happen—but he’d only allow for one take). What wasn’t real? That blood-curdling scream. In order to not frighten the spider, Stern had to mime the scream and have the sound dubbed in later.

19. JOHN CANDY WRAPPED IN ONE DAY.

But what a long day it was: Twenty-three hours to be exact. Candy was a regular in many of John Hughes’ movies, and Gus Polinski—the polka-playing nice guy he plays in Home Alone—was inspired by his character in Planes, Trains & Automobiles. 

20. KEVIN’S OLDER SISTER IS A JUDO CHAMP.

Two years after appearing in Home Alone, Hillary Wolf—who played Kevin’s older sister Megan—landed the lead in Joan Micklin Silver’s Big Girls Don’t Cry… They Get Even. She also appeared in Home Alone 2, but hasn’t been seen on the big screen since. But there’s a good reason for her absence: In 1996 and 2000, she was a member of the Summer Olympic Judo team for the U.S.

21. DON’T BOTHER TRYING TO FIND ANGELS WITH FILTHY SOULS.

The Jimmy Cagney-like gangster movie that Kevin channels as his inspiration throughout Home Alone? Don’t bother searching for it on eBay. It’s not real. Nor is its sequel, Angels With Even Filthier Souls, which is featured in Home Alone 2. 

22. OLD MAN MARLEY WASN'T IN THE ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY.

Kevin’s allegedly scary neighbor, who eventually teaches him the importance of family, wasn’t a character in the original script. He was added at the suggestion of Columbus, who thought the film could do with a stronger dose of sentimentality.

23. THE LYRIC OPERA OF CHICAGO BENEFITED FROM THE MOVIE’S SNOWFALL.

When filming of Home Alone wrapped, the production donated some of the artificial snow they had created (the stuff made from wax and plastic) to the Lyric Opera of Chicago. It has since been used in a number of their productions.

24. MARV WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE GOTTEN A SPINOFF.

Greg Beeman’s 1995 film Bushwhacked, which stars Daniel Stern as a delivery guy on the run after being framed for murder, was originally intended to be a spinoff of Home Alone. The storyline would have been essentially the same: After giving up a life of crime, Marv would have been framed for the same murder.

25. IF YOU BELIEVE THAT ELVIS IS STILL ALIVE, THEN YOU MIGHT BELIEVE THAT HE IS IN HOME ALONE.

No hit movie would be complete without a great little conspiracy theory. And in the case of Home Alone, it’s that Elvis Presley—who (allegedly?) died in 1977—makes a cameo in the film. Yes, that’s right. The King is alive and well. And making a living as a Hollywood extra.

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