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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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Charles Dickens Wrote His Own Version of Westworld in the 1830s
John P. Johnson, HBO
John P. Johnson, HBO

Charles Dickens never fully devoted himself to science fiction, but if he had, his work might have looked something like the present-day HBO series Westworld. As The Conversation reports, the author explored a very similar premise to the show in The Mudfrog Papers, a collection of sketches that originally appeared in the magazine Bentley's Miscellany between 1837 and 1838.

In the story "Full Report of the Second Meeting of the Mudfog Association for the Advancement of Everything," a scientist describes his plan for a park where rich young men can take out their aggression on "automaton figures." In Dickens's story, the opportunity to pursue those cruel urges is the park's main appeal. The theme park in Westworld may have been founded with a slightly less cynical vision, but it has a similar outcome. Guests can live out their heroic fantasies, but if they have darker impulses, they can act on those as well.

Instead of sending guests back in time, Dickens's attraction presents visitors with a place very similar to their own home. According to the scientist's pitch, the idyllic, Victorian scene contains roads, bridges, and small villages in a walled-off space at least 10 miles wide. Each feature is designed for destruction, including cheap gas lamps made of real glass. It's populated with robot cops, cab drivers, and elderly women who, when beaten, produce “groans, mingled with entreaties for mercy, thus rendering the illusion complete, and the enjoyment perfect.”

There are no consequences for harming the hosts in Westworld, but the guests at Dickens's park are at least sent to a mock trial for their crimes. However, rather than paying for their misbehavior, the hooligans always earn the mercy of an automated judge—Dickens's allegory for how the law favors the rich and privileged in the real world.

As for the Victorian-era automatons gaining sentience and overthrowing their tormenters? Dickens never got that far. But who knows where he would have taken it given a two-season HBO deal.

[h/t The Conversation]

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Library of Congress (LOC), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
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10 Fascinating Facts About Ella Fitzgerald
Library of Congress (LOC), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Library of Congress (LOC), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Today marks what would have been the 101st birthday of Ella Fitzgerald, the pioneering jazz singer who helped revolutionize the genre. But the iconic songstress’s foray into the music industry was almost accidental, as she had planned to show off her dancing skills when she made her stage debut. Celebrate the birthday of the artist known as the First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz, or just plain ol’ Lady Ella with these fascinating facts.

1. SHE WAS A JAZZ FAN FROM A YOUNG AGE.

Though she attempted to launch her career as a dancer (more on that in a moment), Ella Fitzgerald was a jazz enthusiast from a very young age. She was a fan of Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby, and truly idolized Connee Boswell of the Boswell Sisters. “She was tops at the time,” Fitzgerald said in 1988. “I was attracted to her immediately. My mother brought home one of her records, and I fell in love with it. I tried so hard to sound just like her.”

2. SHE DABBLED IN CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES AS A TEENAGER.

A photo of Ella Fitzgerald
Carl Van Vechten - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Fitzgerald’s childhood wasn’t an easy one. Her stepfather was reportedly abusive to her, and that abuse continued following the death of Fitzgerald’s mother in 1932. Eventually, to escape the violence, she moved to Harlem to live with her aunt. While she had been a great student when she was younger, it was following that move that her dedication to education faltered. Her grades dropped and she often skipped school. But she found other ways to fill her days, not all of them legal: According to The New York Times, she worked for a mafia numbers runner and served as a police lookout at a local brothel. Her illicit activities eventually landed her in an orphanage, followed by a state reformatory.

3. SHE MADE HER STAGE DEBUT AT THE APOLLO THEATER.

In the early 1930s, Fitzgerald was able to make a little pocket change from the tips she made from passersby while singing on the streets of Harlem. In 1934, she finally got the chance to step onto a real (and very famous) stage when she took part in an Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater on November 21, 1934. It was her stage debut.

The then-17-year-old managed to wow the crowd by channeling her inner Connee Boswell and belting out her renditions of “Judy” and “The Object of My Affection.” She won, and took home a $25 prize. Here’s the interesting part: She entered the competition as a dancer. But when she saw that she had some stiff competition in that department, she opted to sing instead. It was the first big step toward a career in music.

4. A NURSERY RHYME HELPED HER GET THE PUBLIC’S ATTENTION.

Not long after her successful debut at the Apollo, Fitzgerald met bandleader Chick Webb. Though he was initially reluctant to hire her because of what The New York Times described as her “gawky and unkempt” appearance, her powerful voice won him over. "I thought my singing was pretty much hollering," she later said, "but Webb didn't."

Her first hit was a unique adaptation of “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” which she helped to write based on what she described as "that old drop-the-handkerchief game I played from 6 to 7 years old on up."

5. SHE WAS PAINFULLY SHY.

Though it certainly takes a lot of courage to get up and perform in front of the world, those who knew and worked with Fitzgerald said that she was extremely shy. In Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography of the First Lady of Jazz, trumpeter Mario Bauzá—who played with Fitzgerald in Chick Webb’s orchestra—explained that “she didn't hang out much. When she got into the band, she was dedicated to her music … She was a lonely girl around New York, just kept herself to herself, for the gig."

6. SHE MADE HER FILM DEBUT IN AN ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MOVIE.

As her IMDb profile attests, Fitzgerald contributed to a number of films and television series over the years, and not just to the soundtracks. She also worked as an actress on a handful of occasions (often an actress who sings), beginning with 1942’s Ride ‘Em Cowboy, a comedy-western starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.

7. SHE GOT SOME HELP FROM MARILYN MONROE.

“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt,” Fitzgerald said in a 1972 interview in Ms. Magazine. “It was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the ’50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him—and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status—that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard … After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman—a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”

Though it has often been reported that the club’s owner did not want to book Fitzgerald because she was black, it was later explained that his reluctance wasn’t due to Fitzgerald’s race; he apparently didn’t believe that she was “glamorous” enough for the patrons to whom he catered.

8. SHE WAS THE FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN TO WIN A GRAMMY.

Ella Fitzgerald
William P. Gottlieb - LOC, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Among her many other accomplishments, in 1958 Fitzgerald became the first African American woman to win a Grammy Award. Actually, she won two awards that night: one for Best Jazz Performance, Soloist for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook, and another for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook.

9. HER FINAL PERFORMANCE WAS AT CARNEGIE HALL.

On June 27, 1991, Fitzgerald—who had, at that point, recorded more than 200 albums—performed at Carnegie Hall. It was the 26th time she had performed at the venue, and it ended up being her final performance.

10. SHE LOST BOTH OF HER LEGS TO DIABETES.

In her later years, Fitzgerald suffered from a number of health problems. She was hospitalized a handful of times during the 1980s for everything from respiratory problems to exhaustion. She also suffered from diabetes, which took much of her eyesight and led to her having to have both of her legs amputated below the knee in 1993. She never fully recovered from the surgery and never performed again. She passed away at her home in Beverly Hills on June 15, 1996.

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