No one sets out to make a terrible film, yet of the two hundred and fifty to three hundred films I see a year, most of them will be bad. Not horrifically so, though perhaps ten will get there, but most movies made are not very good.
When is a film truly terrible? When it repulsed the audience with just how truly terrible it really is, when it does the unthinkable and wastes my time. When the acting is a joke,when the direction and writing are less than amateur, when everything about the film is just wrong. When the end credits are rolling and you realize just how entirely unnecessary the film you have seen really is.
I have the luxury of seeing films for free, but I value my time, it is precious to me, and when I see a film that wastes my time, I get angry because quite often the movie should never have been made in the first place. THAT to me is a bad film, when you time has been wasted in every way, when there is not a single redeeming quality. I do not care about budget, I do not care who is involved, if it is bad I call it bad.
Films are put into production after a fairly long process of decision making as to whether or not it is a good investment, will make money, could win or be nominated for Oscars, how it will do overseas, and finally, how will it fare in the home market. Based on all of that it gets green lit. Now there are times a director or actor being attached gets it made, but that is happening with less frequency. The box office failures of Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply (2016) and Martin Scorsese’s Silence (2016) will be the end of that.
1. Exorcist II – The Heretic (1977)
Incoherent, ridiculous, confusing, just a mess of a film. Set years after the first, it has something to do with Africa, the demon, Linda Blair wearing white, and Richard Burton in the worst performance he ever gave. Incredibly the film was directed a great director, John Boorman. What the hell happened? Saw it forty years ago, watched it again the other day, and it is the singular worst film I measure them all by. Awful, disgracefully bad.
2. Caligula (1979)
Insultingly bad. Penthouse publisher Bob Guicionne produced the film based on the Gore Vidal screenplay about the twisted Roman emperor Caligula and intercut the action with pornographic scenes he shot at night when the actors, the real actors had gone home. Sex is everywhere throughout the film, along with mayhem and violence for the sake of violence. Sadly Malcolm MacDowell is the perfect choice to portray the mad emperor but not ever given a chance. Just insulting on every level.
3. Battlefield Earth (2000)
A John Travolta vanity project, based on the L. Ron Hubbard book about Scientology (metaphorically) the film is a science fiction film with Travolta as a nine foot alien. The film sucked on so many levels it is impossible to find a single redeeming quality. Just wretched. Bad effects, terrible looking, and acting that’s so terrible it is hard to explain how it even got made. How did the great Forest Whitaker ever get tied up in this disaster?
4. Revolution (1985)
Hugh Hudson directed this terrible film set during the American Revolution, and frankly I have seen it four times and still cannot tell you what happens. I can say Al Pacino is terrible as Scottish trapper with a wandering Bronx accent, and Donald Sutherland gives the worst performance of his career as a sadistic military man who enjoys sodomizing young boys. Much was made of Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox in the film, but blink and you will miss her. Pacino fled movies for three years after this.
5. Swept Away (2002)
Guy Ritchie made the huge mistake of remaking the classic Lina Wertmuller film, then made a greater mistake casting his wife, Madonna as the elitist shipwrecked with a servant. They fall in lust, then love, she bending to his will, but it is hardly believable. It is in fact downright appalling and embarrassing. It might be the worst performance of her career, she has been terrible so often, and the most terrible remake of all time.
6. Howard the Duck (1986)
Based on the cult comic, I kid you not, George Lucas executive produced this lame, stupid, humiliating film that must be the lowest point of the actors careers. Tim Robbins, Jeffrey Jones and worst of all poor Lea Thompson act opposite a little person in a duck suit who smiles keys cigars, cracks wise and has a thing for the ladies, be they feathered or not. Yes there is a live scene between Thompson and the duck, yes it is creepy, like the whole film. If money makes you entitled and stupid here is the proof.
7. The Wicker Man (2006)
A remarkably bad remake of a cult classic that sees Nicolas Cage in a strange world where women dominate and seem to worship bees. The Great Ellen Burstyn must have needed a pay cheque, that is the only thing explaining her presence in this true horror show.
8. Staying Alive (1983)
Director Sylvester Stallone remade actor John Travolta in his own image, pounding the young star into incredible shape for this half-hearted sequel to Saturday Night Fever (1977). Tony (Travolta) is now a struggling dancer auditioning for a Broadway choruses, and when he lands one, of course the lead dancer will get hurt, of course he will step in and save the show. Of course he will sleep with the star will reject him. Travolta did not stay ripped for long, and was soon overweight again. His career did not stay alive too long after this.
9. Cutthroat Island (1992)
Who asked for a pirate film? Or who thought a pirate film, in 1992 would work? Runny Harlin thought so, cast his girl, Geena Davis opposite Matthew Modine (there is a star for you) and together they had zero chemistry. None. I mean none, did you get that? It was in theatres a week…maybe.
10. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978)
Released the same summer as Grease (1978), one soared, not this one, one was a miserable flop, this one. Despite having Beatles music, it was just dumb, and the casting, from Peter Frampton through the Bee Gees to Steve Martin was just awful. Not even hit and miss, just a complete miss.
11. The Jazz Singer (1980)
A remake of the classic first talking and the first thing I found myself wishing was that this were a silent film. The acting is atrocious, with Neil Diamond bad, and Laurence Olivier, if possible worse, as son and father struggling with the limitations of their life with their faith. There are times I thought Olivier was portraying a Jewish woman, not a man. There are two aspects of the film I admire, the songs are superb, and the performance of Lucy Arnaz is very good. They are the only two bright spots in this mess.
12. The Scarlet Letter (1995)
Is it right to film a classic and alter the story? Um, NO!!! But they did. Demi Moore is the woman forced to wear the A after committing adultery within her Puritan village around 1700. Robert Duvall, the great Duvall is unwatchable here and Gary Oldman is terrible. Yep you read that right.
13. Jack (1996)
Francis Ford Coppola is among the greatest of all directors, which makes the staggering failure of this terrible film all the more puzzling. Nothing he has ever made was as bad as this, it is so dreadful, so bad on so many levels one wonders what the discussions on set had been like? How did they not know that what they were creating was just bunk? Robin Williams, Diane Lane, Bill Cosby? Coppola? How could they not know?
14. Batman and Robin (1997)
Though I do not agree Joel Schumacher alone ruined the first Batman franchise his choice of Arnold Schwarzenegger as pun throwing Mr. Freeze did not help. I quite like Batman Forever (1995) and though Jim Carrey was terrific as the Riddler, though yes I could have done without Tommy Lee Jones, Uma Thurman and Chris O’Donnell. In this one George Clooney dons the mask and cape, and is pretty good, but God, that O’Donnell is dreary as Robin. Way too colourful, and too many annoying characters, I mean did we need Batgirl?
15. Freddy Got Fingered (2001)
Who thought anyone would be interested in a film starring bizarre comic Tom Green? Is the high point of this listening to him sing “Daddy would you like some sausage?” I mean, who cares? Someone got fired for this as they should have.
16. The Human Centipede (2009)
Sickening does not even begin to describe this horrific horror film that crosses so many lines to become horror porn torture porn. Crazy doctor decide to make a human centipede by attaching three people together, mouths to anus connecting them. I am not kidding? Could I make something that appalling up? I think not. The eyes of the actors say it all…what did I get into here? You will not forget anytime soon you saw it, and that is most certainly not a good thing.
17. Pinocchio (2002)
Oscar winner Roberto Benigni decided for his follow up act, his encore he would portray the little puppet come to life, choosing to portray him with a screeching falsetto voice. It is beyond bad, it is beyond embarrassing, not to just in the film but for we poor folks having to watch it. It is like Benigni sold his soul for the Oscar and the devil came to collect. One of the worst films ever made by an Oscar nominated actor.
18. Glitter (2001)
Glitter or litter, which is it? I can never tell. The sad part is Mariah Carey can act, as she more than proved in Precious (2009) as the compassionate social worker. In this, she is simply a joke, and a bad one.
19. Jack and Jill (2011)
When will they stop making films with Adam Sandler? His time has come and gone, and though he is not without talent, he tends to make crappy films in an attempt to showcase his comedic gifts. This time out he plays the title roles, twins, with Al Pacino as himself falling in love with Jane. Is this really the gpbest script he is being offered, Pacino? I mean seriously? And he stinks!! The whole film is like enduring a meal of all the foods you hate, knowing you must consume it to get out of the room. Ugh.
20. The Room (2003)
If you do not know why, then why are reading this site? Bad beyond belief. I have made every attempt to erase it from my mind, and failed.
Read More: The 10 Worst Movies of 2016