The Worst Movie Released Every Year Since 1950
Year after year, "so bad it's good" finds a worthy champion.
The history of cinema has given us some indelible classics, movies like Citizen Kane, Gone with the Wind, The Godfather, and Casablanca. But there have also been some grade-A stinkers, movies so terribly conceived—poor production values, amateurish directing, and some of the worst acting this side of a middle school play—that we’re not sure whether to laugh or cry. We laugh mostly, because there’s just something satisfying about a movie that’s so bad it’s good. Spectacular failures have a certain charm that’s undeniable. Perhaps it’s because they remind us of our own humanity, and how none of us are really perfect.
Or maybe it’s just fun to watch other people screw up so badly. Call it cinematic schadenfreude.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the rich canon of “I cannot believe someone gave this the green light” classics. Find out what was the absolute worst, mind-bogglingly awful, everyone-involved-still-owes-an-apology-to-the-planet movie released every year since the middle of the last century. And for some Hollywood pitfalls that were this close to happening, check out these 50 Original Titles for Hit Movies We’re So Glad Didn’t Happen.
1950: Rocketship X-M
A mission to the moon goes off track and five astronauts end up on a radioactive Mars instead, where they find out that an atomic war decimated what was once a thriving Martian civilization. But more importantly, one of the astronauts is a woman, and she needs to be condescended to as often as possible. Lloyd Bridges’s character questions her with, “Why does a woman need to go on space trips and fill her pretty little head with facts and figures for?” Yeah, you might want to spend your time watching something better, like these The 40 Greatest Teen Movies Ever—Ranked!
1951: Bedtime for Bonzo
Ronald Reagan tries to teach morality to a chimpanzee, and it unfolds pretty much like you’d expect. This movie would likely have been forgotten if the lead didn’t go on to become president of the United States. But as such, it became the B-film that late night talk show hosts and punk rock bands loved to reference, with one critic mentioning that Reagan was “the first president in history to be out-acted by a chimp.”
1952: Big Jim McLain
Arguably John Wayne’s worst movie—and one that practically reeks with McCarthy-era paranoia—Wayne plays a commie-busting investigator for the House Un-American Activities Committee who travels to Hawaii in pursuit of “dirty” commies. It’s not just bad filmmaking, but a reminder of how ugly the Red Menace scaremongers actually were. If you want something actually worth your time, check out these 100 Best Movies to Watch on Netflix.
1953: Robot Monster
It features what the Golden Turkey Awards named the “Most Ridiculous Monster in Screen History,” a creature called Ro-Man who’s basically just an actor in a gorilla costume and what appears to be a diving helmet. The thing attacks a picnicking family with a Death Ray designed to destroy humankind, but luckily the dad is a scientist who just so happens to have a special serum that protects against Death Rays. Castle of Frankenstein magazine called it “certainly among the finest terrible movies ever made.” To browse horror movies that are actually worth seeing, check out these 40 Best Horror Movies for Totally Freaking Yourself Out.
1954: Killers from Space
Directed by Billy Wilder’s less talented brother, it’s a black-and-white apocalyptic tale of a scientist who swears he was kidnapped by aliens, and he’s pretty sure they’re going to conquer us all with giant insects. It was supposed to be a psychologically terrifying in a Twilight Zone kinda way, but it ended up being just the opposite. It didn’t help that, because of the low budget, the aliens were just actors with plastic egg trays over their eyes, which looked hilariously like googly eyes. Probably the least scary aliens ever created for a low-budget film.
1955: Gigantis, the Fire Monster
A Godzilla sequel that decides to rename Godzilla for some terrible reason. Yeah, sorry, Gigantis just doesn’t have the same ring. This also has the dubious honor of being the first Godzilla movie that crosses over into pure silliness. And for a film series about a giant, fire-breathing lizard, that’s saying something. The plot involves two guys in rubber suits fighting over a miniature city, with occasional shots of Japanese citizens looking terrified and running. And then in the end, Godzilla—er, we mean Gigantis—gets buried under an avalanche of ice cubes.
1956: Fire Maidens of Outer Space
A celluloid train wreck that movie historian I.Q. Hunter once hailed as “the worst British film ever made,” it’s about the lost civilization of Atlantis—all of whom, mysteriously, are attractive young women—who for some reason are living on Jupiter now. Oh, and there’s a monster called “Black God” on the prowl for white women, so it’s not racist or anything. Yikes!
1957: Attack Of The Crab Monsters
This gem from director Roger Corman, known as the “King of the Bs” (as in b-movies), is about gigantic crab monsters bent on destroying humanity. It’s got some of the worst dialogue ever captured on film, including this hilarious line from one of the monsters: “So you have wounded me! I must grow a new claw, well and good, for I can do it in a day, but will you grow new lives when I have taken yours from you?”
1958: The Wild Women Of Wongo
If you’re looking for a movie so astonishingly sexist and racist that you won’t believe your eyes, this is the movie for you. It’s the story of a tribe of beautiful female warriors stuck on an island with hideous, weak men, who soon discover that there’s a nearby island full of strapping, handsome men cursed with, you guessed, egregiously unattractive women. They unite to fight an army of ape men, and there’s a super-annoying parrot that provides running “commentary.”
1959: Plan 9 From Outer Space
Master of schlock Ed Wood’s pinnacle, and a movie heralded as the “Worst Film Ever” by The Golden Turkey Awards, it has so many cringeworthy moments that you’ll barely be able to take them all in with just one screening. The terrible script, the laughable acting, the special effects that could’ve been done better by a 5-year-old. It’s also horror legend Bela Lugosi’s last movie, and when he died before Wood could wrap, he was replaced by his wife’s chiropractor, who just concealed his face with a cape.
1960: Goliath and the Dragon
No less an authority than Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson picked this cinematic disaster as one of the most enjoyable bad movies ever made, including it in his Official Razzie Movie Guide. What makes it so awful and yet simultaneously great? It’s got “laughable beasties,” Wilson wrote, including a three-headed hound from the underworld that “looks more like a three-headed bearskin rug.” Ouch.
1961: The Beast of Yucca Flats
Reviled by critics and comedians alike—even the gang from Mystery Science Theater could barely sit through it—it’s about a Soviet scientist who defects to the U.S. and become a radioactive monster. (If you haven’t noticed by now, being a scientist in the mid-20th century was a very dangerous profession.) Renown sci-fi film critic Bill Warren claims that Yucca Flats “may very well be the worst non-porno science fiction movie ever made.”
Arch Hall, Jr., may have achieved the dubious honor of achieving “the worst male lead in the history of cinema,” according to many fans and critics online, with this terrible movie about a caveman who wanders into Palms Springs, California and falls for a teenage girl. Crow T. Robot from Mystery Science Theater 3000 summed up his character this way: “He’s a cyst with teeth and hair.”
Also known as The Atomic Brain, this black-and-white cult classic follows a rich old woman who wants to use atomic power to have her brain transplanted into the body of someone younger and hotter, like a foreign housekeeper who “won’t be missed.” If it sounds terrible, that’s because it is (and yet, it’s also beloved enough by some that a Kickstarter campaign raised $27,000 for a full restoration of the film).
1964: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
Monster Times, which was the New Yorker of horror films during the ’70s, dismissed (or perhaps celebrated) this absurdly-titled B-film as “Absolutely the worst science-fiction flick ever made, bar none.” It opens with a truly odious song, “Hooray for Santa Claus”—in which a choir of children pronounce his name “Santee Claus”—and it just gets more bizarre from there. Martian parents are worried that their kids are watching too much TV, so they kidnap Santa to bring some Christmas cheer to Mars. And then human kids set out to save Santa, and there’s a robot named Torg that looks like a bunch of cardboard boxes spray-painted silver that tries to kill Santa, but it all works out in the end.
1965: Monster a Go-Go
It’s difficult to pin down just one thing that makes this film such a cinematic mess. It helps that the original director quit after running out of money, and then another director picked it up and decided to recast the entire thing. In the finished film, characters appear and then disappear, only to reappear later. There are confusing dance sequences, and a monster who lives in the Chicago sewers, except in the end he’s gone. “The line between science fiction and science fact is microscopically thin,” the narrator explains, as if that wraps up the confusing plot nicely. Film critic Dennis Schwartz called it “one of the most incoherent films ever made,” and we have to agree.
1966: Red Zone Cuba
Kevin Murphy, a writer and performer who’s sat through literally hundreds of terrible movies for Mystery Science Theater 3000, was asked during a Reddit AMA to name his personal pick for most hated film. He picked Red Zone Cuba, and it’s easy to see why. The plot involves an ex-convict and his buddies who sign on to take part in the Bay of Pigs invasion, then get captured, but manage to steal one of Fidel Castro’s planes and fly home, only to go mining for precious metals, where everybody gets killed in a shootout with the cops.
1967: Hurry Sundown
If you expect only stellar performances from Jane Fonda and Michael Caine, prepare to be disappointed. An attempt to paint the South as a racist hellhole, it ended up doing the opposite. Life Magazine called it an “execrable film” that was “very possibly the worst major production to come out of Hollywood in the 1960s.” Not just the year but the entire decade.
1968: A Place For Lovers
There’s something about a really, really bad film that turns movie critics into poets. This French-Italian rom-com about a dying fashion designer (played by Faye Dunaway) who falls for a race car driver looks harmless enough. But Roger Ebert called it the “most god awful piece of pseudo-romantic slop I’ve ever seen!” And LA Times critic Charles Champlin added that it was “the worst movie I have seen all year and possibly since 1926.”
1969: Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?
Actor and singer Anthony Newley produced, directed, co-wrote, and starred in this insane and disjointed musical about… himself. Or rather, all the women he’s been intimate with. As Film Threat summed up their review in just one word: “Eeek!”
1970: Myra Breckinridge
Even though we’re big fans of Raquel Welch, we can’t understand why she agreed to appear in this X-rated dud, which features a few scenes so shocking and in such bad taste, we can’t even describe them. It was featured as one of the worst movies of all time in The Book of Lists, and Leonard Maltin called it “as bad as any movie ever made.”
1971: The Last Movie
Included in that seminal guide to contemptible cinema, The Fifty Worst Films of All Time, this neo-western was Dennis Hopper’s follow-up to Easy Rider, and it nearly tanked his career. There are so many whispered rumors surrounding it—like that it played for just a few weeks at a single New York theater, and it sent Hopper into exile from Hollywood for over a decade—and it only recently got a restored release, thanks to efforts by Hopper before he died. It remains a cinematic warning of what happens when you give a million dollars to an actor and tell him, “Go to Peru and do whatever.”
1972: Doomsday Machine
This is a movie that took six years to make—it was abandoned by the original cast and director—and is still one of the worst movies of the 20th century. The plot involves a team of astronauts, evenly split between super hot men and women, who learn after being launched into space that their mission is really to procreate and carry on humanity since the Chinese government is planning to destroy the world with a doomsday device. Just how bad is it? The website PopMatters described is as a “MST3K Season 4 level challenge.” If you’re nerdy enough to know what that means, you just might have the sarcasm defense mechanisms to survive a screening.
1973: Lost Horizon
Esquire rewarded it with the dubious honor of “Worst Movie of the Year,” and Arthur Cooper, writing for Newsweek, found it “as uplifting as a whalebone bra—and just as dated.” So what’s it about? A magical town called Shangri-La where everybody is young and peppy and caucasian and they sing terrible songs that were somehow written by Burt Bacharach. (Bacharach went on to complain that this musical nearly killed his career.)
1974: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
Sam Peckinpah, the director who gave us The Wild Bunch and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, also gave us this road trip movie about a sex worker and piano player who try to collect a million dollar bounty on a dead gigolo. As the Wall Street Journal griped upon its release, “the only kind of analysis it really invites is psychoanalysis.”
1975: At Long Last Love
You know you’ve got a bad movie when the writer and director sends a press release apology to every newspaper in the country. An attempt to recreate the magic of 1930s Hollywood musicals, the cast includes a singing Burt Reynolds, which should give you a pretty good idea what to expect. Esquire called it “the worst movie musical of this—or any—decade”, and it won a Golden Turkey Award for the “Worst Musical Extravaganza of All Time.”
1976: The Missouri Breaks
How could a movie with an all-star cast, featuring icons and movie legends Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, and Harry Dean Stanton, be so bad? Trust us, it’s baaaaaad. It’s about a gang of rustlers using a farm as a disguise for their law-breaking, and they get away with it until Marlon Brando tries to gun them down, often while wearing bizarre costume including (brace yourself) frontierswoman drag. Leonard Maltin called it “one of the worst ‘big’ movies ever made.”
1977: Exorcist II: The Heretic
How do you go wrong with a sequel to one of the scariest horror movies in film history? Who knows, but that’s what happened with this profoundly unfrightening movie, which original Exorcist director William Friedkin called “one of the worst films I’ve ever seen.” In this installment, Regan MacNeil is now a teenager and still not over her “I was possessed by the devil” childhood. The Golden Turkey Awards picked this as the second-worst movie ever made, just after Plan 9 from Outer Space.
1978: I Spit on Your Grave
The kind of movie you wouldn’t force your worst enemy to suffer through. Supporters have claimed it’s pro-woman, but it’s anything but. We agree with Roger Ebert, who gave the movie zero stars and dismissed it as “a vile bag of garbage … without a shred of artistic distinction” and claimed that sitting through it “was one of the most depressing experiences of my life.”
A movie about the sex life of Roman royalty, bankrolled by Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione. How bad could it be? Variety, summing up the critical consensus, called it a “moral holocaust.” If you’re a glutton for punishment, there’s a 930-minute “Imperial Edition” out there, but we can’t imagine what horrors weren’t included in the original cut.
1980: Can’t Stop The Music
Jack Morrell (Steve Guttenberg) is a struggling musician trying to get a record deal, so he enlists the help of a singing police officer, cowboy, construction worker, soldier, Indian, and biker. You know, as one does. A movie that not only inspired the creation of the Golden Raspberry Awards (or “Razzies”), it was the first winner, beating out Xanadu for Worst Picture of the Year.
1981: Tarzan, the Ape Man
Most critics and audiences dismissed this Tarzan remake—one critic called it a “cinematic atrocity” and “one of the all-time worsts”—which starred Bo Derek as Tarzan’s wife, or girlfriend, or whatever, delivering scintillating lines like “I’m quite capable of taking a bath without assistance.” But the New York Times were a bit more accepting, applauding the filmmakers for presenting Mrs. Derek “in as many different poses, nude and seminude, as there are days of the year.” Also, there’s a character named Tarzan in the movie, but nobody really noticed.
1982: The Toy
A spoiled and rich white kid hires Richard Pryor, an African-American man, as his “toy.” Um… please no. We think Richard Pryor was one of the funniest comedians who ever lived, but not even he could pull off this “it’s like slavery but funny” premise. The critical response ran the gamut from “painfully precious” to “absolutely awful!”
1983: Staying Alive
Rocky directs a sequel to Saturday Night Fever, because of course. If a movie about dancing, written and directed by Sylvester Stallone, sounds like the dictionary definition of “abomination”, you would be correct! It was one of the first movies on Rotten Tomatoes to get a 0 percent Tomatometer score, a record it continues to hold to this day.
1984: Cannonball Run II
A dreadful sequel to an already pretty terrible movie. Did the world need another Cannonball Run? Legendary Chicago Tribune critic Gene Siskel called it “the worst movie ever made,” but it wasn’t even awful enough to be the best at being awful. Despite being nominated for eight Golden Raspberry Awards, it didn’t take home a single prize.
A multi-Razzie nominee that feels like John Travolta was thinking, “I want to make sure audience appreciate the true depths of my mediocrity.” If they didn’t before, they knew it with this stinker. Though Quentin Tarantino has insisted that this love story set in a fitness club is “greatly under-appreciated,” that’s probably only true if Jamie Lee Curtis getting a wedgie in workout clothes while doing extreme squats is your idea of high art.
1986: Howard the Duck
Long before Iron Man and Avengers: Infinity War and all the other heroic Marvel Cinematic Universe masterpieces that came between the two, this was the first big-screen, live action adaptation of a Marvel comic character. And it starred… an anthropomorphic duck. TV Guide declared that it was “one of the worst big-budget movies ever made,” and it remains the lowest-rated George Lucas production in Rotten Tomatoes history.
This “lifeless, massive, lumbering exercise in failed comedy,” according to Roger Ebert, stars Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman as a pair of talentless lounge singers who travel to Morocco looking for work. Yes, it had a bloated budget and didn’t make much at the box office. But that’s not the reason this film was such a spectacular failure. It was just profoundly, insultingly unfunny, or as Time Magazine described it, one of the worst ideas of the 20th century.
“Oh, man, you have no idea the torture it was to watch this movie several times in the space of a week,” said Mystery Science Theater 3000 writer Paul Chaplin, on having to sit through several screenings of Hobgoblins. “It shoots right to the top of the list of the worst movies we’ve ever done.” A blatant rip-off of Gremlins, this abysmal horror wannabe is truly excruciating to watch, and not nearly as scary as it pretends to be.
A film so bad—and a movie whose biggest claim to fame is giving adult film actress Amber Lynn her mainstream debut isn’t aiming for anything but “bad”—that even a magazine calling itself Cinema Sewer would dismiss it as the “worst movie ever made,” adding that it could “mentally wreck anyone who watches it.”
1990: Troll 2
It’s hard to even keep track of the number of critics claiming this sequel—a film which, despite its title, contains no trolls whatsoever—is the worst movie of all time. From NPR to the A.V. Club, they all agree that it doesn’t get much worse than this. Former child star Michael Stephenson was so traumatized by appearing in the only movie ever made about vegetarian goblins that he made a documentary about his experience (and the film’s weird cult following), 20 years later, called Best Worst Movie.
1991: Highlander II: The Quickening
We’ll be honest, the only thing we remember about this dystopian non-classic is that the plot involves Sean Connery, the ozone layer, and a huge dome that makes everything dark. Also, one of the actors spoke in an obviously contrived baritone, which he admitted later was intended to make him sound like Orson Welles. This sequel has a perfectly imperfect 0 percent “Rotten” rating, and Roger Ebert called it “almost awesome in its badness,” suggesting that “in decades and generations to come, this film will be remembered in hushed tones as one of the immortal low points of the genre.”
1992: Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot
The Sylvester Stallone comedy about a cop and his gun-wielding elderly mom, which Roger Ebert insisted at the time was “one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen,” was so utterly unfunny and ill-conceived that even its star thinks it’s horrid. Stallone called it “maybe one of the worst films in the entire solar system, including alien productions we’ve never seen.”
1993: Look Who’s Talking Now
The third (third!) sequel in a movie series about babies having sarcastic, lovable conversations that only they can hear. But now there are puppies that talk too, so obviously you know this one is going to be a little more intellectual. It bombed at the box office, essentially ending the series in much the same way that the dog in Old Yeller was ended, and with its 0 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it remains one of those films that’s morally indefensible even to screen for prisoners of war.
Rob Reiner’s ensemble comedy should be remembered as Scarlett Johansson’s film debut, but instead it’s remembered mostly as the inspiration for Roger Ebert’s most celebrated single-sentence review: “Hated hated hated hated hated this movie.” (It went on to be used in countless memes, and became the title of one of Ebert’s books.) Years later, screenwriter Alan Zweibel recalled bumping into Ebert on the street and telling him, “That that sweater you’re wearing? I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate that sweater.”
Few movies have been as celebrated for being so abhorrent. This story of an exotic dancer (played by Elizabeth Berkley) who moves to Las Vegas to become a star didn’t become a box office hit. It did, however, become a hit at the Golden Raspberry Awards, winning seven Razzies and 13 nominations, a record that has yet to be matched by any movie since. It was also named Worst Picture of the Decade by the Raspberry Awards—and given the competition, that’s quite a feat.
Just a year after Showgirls, another movie about women who take off their clothes—this time Demi Moore, who becomes an exotic dancer so she can get custody of her daughter—arrived in theaters to prove, as cultural critic Joe Queenan once famously observed, “that on any given day, Hollywood has the potential to release the worst film in history.”
1997: Batman & Robin
The film that killed a franchise. Yes, after years of endless Batman sequels, each of which made more money than the last, it seemed that Gotham City’s caped crusader was unstoppable. But then George Clooney put on a rubber suit with nipples and it all came crashing down. Clooney and other cast members are still apologizing for the disaster to this day, and director Joel Schumacher even admitted it was a mistake on a special edition release of the movie.
It’s saying something that in a year with two terrible movies about giant asteroids plummeting towards Earth—Deep Impact was the other one—Armageddon stood out as not just the more laughably insipid of the two, but one of the worst things that human beings created all year. The melodrama was painfully over-the-top, even by disaster movie standards, and “redefined the standard for summer stupid,” according to the Wall Street Journal. In addition to winning Bruce Willis his second Razzie, the movie was also picked by Roger Ebert as the worst film of 1998, just barely beating out the Spice Girl movie Spice World.
1999: Baby Geniuses
They say that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Which is the only plausible explanation for why the world had to endure a movie like Look Who’s Talking and somebody in Hollywood actually thought, “We should do more of that, but with creepy digital effects.” This unnecessary tale of babies who talk in complete sentences has only one lasting legacy: Being at the top of the Internet Movie Database’s Bottom 100 list. At least until it was knocked off by its equally nightmare-inducing sequel, SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2.
2000: Battlefield Earth
Winner of seven Golden Raspberry Awards, including Worst Picture and Worst Screen Couple (for John Travolta and “anyone on the screen with him”), this is the best possible way we could have entered a new millennium. Based on an L. Ron Hubbard novel about alcoholic aliens with weird hair, it’s a Travolta bad acting tour de force, like he was trying to prove to the world, once and for all, that he’s the worst actor alive.
Even the screenwriter, JD Shapiro, wasn’t happy with the movie, publishing an apology in the New York Post in which he complained about the “campy dialogue, aliens in KISS boots, and everyone wearing Bob Marley wigs.” And if that doesn’t sate your taste for cinematic nonsense, check out these 40 Hilariously Impractical Things That Always Happen in Movies.
It was supposed to be pop hitmaker Mariah Carey’s breakout role as a movie star. Instead, it’s most notable for being the only movie in Golden Raspberry history to get a nomination for cleavage (Mariah’s) for “Worst Screen Couple.” The critics weren’t kind to Carey’s acting: “Carey seems most concerned about keeping her lips tightly sealed like a kid with braces,” the Village Voice snickered. “And when she tries for an emotion—any emotion—she looks as if she’s lost her car keys.”
Carey still hasn’t taken personal responsibility for the disaster, once insisting that the movie only bombed because it was released on September 11, 2001. “Could there be a worse day for that movie to come out?” she asked. Yes. Literally any other day.
2002: Swept Away
Madonna had a history of making terrible films with her boyfriends and hubbies, from Warren Beatty in Dick Tracy to Sean Penn in Shanghai Surprise, but this Italian art-house remake, directed by her (soon to be ex-) husband Guy Richie, stands apart as her absolute worst.
Starring as an insufferable rich snob, she brought nothing to the role but impressive abs. “I have a good feeling about this,” she predicted before the premiere, but it turns out her feelings were lying to her. Richie at least took comfort in how much Swept Away was loathed. “It must be the first film to make front page news with a review,” he observed. “I think 21 papers in America ran a story on how appalling it was.”
Most bad movies are quickly forgotten after a few years, but Gigli was so bad that it left a lasting impact on the English language. According to the Global Language Monitor, a company that tracks linguistic trends, “Gigli” has taken on a new meaning in modern culture, serving as a shorthand for “really bad.” As in, “I ordered food from that new take-out place. It was Gigli. I had stomach poisoning for days.”
We feel a little guilty making fun of this much-maligned film, so we’ll leave the cruelest assessment to the satirical newspaper the Onion, which once ran a story with the title “Gigli Focus Groups Demand New Ending In Which Both Affleck And Lopez Die.”
When a movie has Halle Berry in a skin-tight catsuit and it’s still reviled as one of the worst superhero movies ever made, that’s an accomplishment. To her credit, Berry showed up at the Golden Raspberry Awards to accept her Worst Actress Award in person, and while holding her Oscar (for Monster’s Ball), she thanked the studio, Warner Brothers, “for putting me in a piece of (expletive), god-awful movie… It was just what my career needed.”
2005: Dirty Love
Before she became the voice of anti-vaxxers, Jenny McCarthy was a former Playboy model who for some reason thought becoming the female Tom Green sounded like a good career move. Although her gross-out spectacle Dirty Love won four Razzie Awards, including worst picture, director, actress, and screenplay, Roger Ebert was reluctant to even praise McCarthy for being awful, dismissing the movie as so pitiful “it doesn’t rise to the level of badness. It is hopelessly incompetent.”
Oh, and to add insult to injury, the movie was directed by McCarthy’s husband, and the couple got divorced less than a month after the movie opened. Not that the two things are related but, you know, it probably didn’t help.
2006: Basic Instinct 2
It took over a decade of so-called “developmental [Hades]” to make this sequel that nobody asked for. There’s no Michael Douglas in this one, and director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas opted out. Only Sharon Stone is back, and she’s doing more than wearing a skirt with no, um… well, you remember.
It’s like someone watched the original Basic Instinct and thought, “This is way too subtle. How about we get rid of all the clever dialogue, and everybody is naked all the time and there are gratuitous orgies, and it makes the first Basic Instinct feel about as scandalous as The Muppet Movie?”
It takes a special something for a comedy not to just be aggressively unfunny, but to leave the audience feeling vaguely depressed and despondent about humanity. The normally hilarious Eddie Murphy creates a movie that’s wall-to-wall fat jokes and manages to be so jaw-droppingly offensive that Murphy won three different Worst Actor Razzie awards, for the three terrible characters he played in the movie. There were rumors that Norbit was so gob-smackingly awful, it sabotaged Murphy’s chances of winning an Oscar for Dreamgirls. The weird thing is, as conspiracy theories go, it’s not that unbelievable.
2008: The Love Guru
It’s the “comedy” that either destroyed Mike Myers’ career or convinced him to retire from show business. Whatever happened, it was the last time that Myers appeared in a feature film (other than doing the voice for a Shrek sequel), and ten years later, the nation is still so emotionally scarred that his presence isn’t missed.
The New York Times summed it up best, describing the movie as “downright antifunny, an experience that makes you wonder if you will ever laugh again.” To his credit, however, Myers at least has a sense of humor about it. While playing Dr. Evil in a 2014 episode of Saturday Night Live, he suggested to the Sony studio, who had been recently hacked by North Korea, that if they “really want to put a bomb in a theater, do what I did. Put in The Love Guru.”
2009: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
A sequel that tests the theory: If we make everything BIGGER and LONGER and LOUDER, maybe nobody will notice how badly it stinks. Yeah, sorry, we noticed. Ranked by Comcast as the 4th worst sequel of all time and the 25th-worst movie ever made by Empire, this CGI-heavy assault on the senses is way too long (a head-splitting 149 minutes) and cost way too much money ($200 million? For a movie about alien robots? C’mon!).
The one bright side, according to Roger Ebert, is that someday this Michael Bay-directed farce “will be studied in film classes and shown at cult film festivals. It will be seen, in retrospect, as marking the end of an era. Of course, there will be many more CGI-based action epics, but never again one this bloated, excessive, incomprehensible, long, or expensive.”
2010: The Last Airbender
M. Night Shyamalan isn’t really known for subtle filmmaking, but this big-budget sci-fi monstrosity is so overstuffed and over the top that it sometimes feels like a very expensive joke. Where to begin with its awfulness? The script is incoherent and confusing—it has something to do with people controlling each of the four elements, Air, Water, Earth, and Fire—and the acting is downright wooden.
The special effects come on way too strong, with 3D added like an afterthought late into production, making everything look dark and out of focus, or as Roger Ebert noted, “like it was filmed with a dirty sheet over the lens.”
And then there’s the controversy over Shyamalan’s decision to cast white actors to play Asian characters—a site called Racebending.com was boycotting the movie before it even premiered. Shyamalan continues to feel proud of his disaster, once complaining that critics just don’t “get” him or his “European sensibility.”
2011: Jack and Jill
Adam Sandler has made a lot of abysmal films, so it’s really saying something to single out this stinker as not just his worst, but a contender for one of the most heinous, unfunny comedies ever committed to celluloid. Adam Sandler has two starring roles, as an ad executive named Jack and his annoying sister named Jill. If you think this movie can’t be nearly as terrible as its premise, think again. It won an unprecedented ten Razzie Awards in every category, with Adam Sandler winning both Worst Actor and Actress, and beating out Battlefield Earth for the most Razzies given to one terrible, terrible movie.
In what we can only assume was Hollywood admitting they were officially out of ideas, they created an action movie based on a Hasbro board game. Not something obvious like Clue or Monopoly, which at least have some semblance of a plot. No, they based a movie on Battleship, a slow-moving game of naval combat strategy in which the loser shouts, “You sank my battleship!”
They added a plot about aliens—which is as ridiculous as turning Go Fish into a movie and then adding a bunch of killer robots—and cast pop singer Rihanna, who made her film debut in this debacle. Thanks to scintillating dialogue as “Tango 1-9, loaded” and “Box 24. Ready to fire,” the Grammy-winning performer netted her first (and so far only) Razzie award, for Worst Actress of the year.
2013: Movie 43
Richard Roeper hailed Movie 43 as “the Citizen Kane of awful,” which is probably more credit than this train wreck of a film deserves. It seemed to have everything going for it—superstar director Peter Farrelly, who had hits with comedies like There’s Something About Mary, and a cast of A-listers like Hugh Jackman, Emma Stone, Uma Thurman, and Richard Gere. It might’ve just been too ambitious for its own good, with fourteen different storylines and dozens of characters.
Maybe it’s just us, but we’d take one well-constructed, mildly interesting story over fourteen meh ones. Farrell didn’t take kindly to the negative reviews—one of which wondered if the cast had been blackmailed into starring in the movie because of compromising pictures or kidnapped children—and he attacked the critics on Twitter, reminding them that they “always complain that Hollywood never gives you new stuff, and then when you get it, you flip out.” To paraphrase Shakespeare, “Methinks the embarrassed director doth protest too much.”
2014: Left Behind
It’s like someone said to Nicolas Cage, “You’ve made some real stinkers, but at least nothing about a Christian apocalypse that tries to be a mainstream action film with a lot of cringe-worthy Old Testament moralizing,” and then Cage said, “Hold my beer.” The film was so bad that even Christian film critics panned it, with one calling it an “ignorant piece of garbage that’s easily one of the worst films of 2014, if not all-time.” To that, we can only add, Amen.
In a year that gave us Fifty Shades of Grey and Pixels, a movie in which a gigantic Pac-Man attacks New York, one would assume that the competition would be fierce for worst movie of 2015. Not really. Entourage, a completely unnecessary big-screen revival of the HBO series about a rich and famous bro and his bro friends, is so overbearing and smug, so sure of its nonexistent cleverness, that you want to punch each and every person who participated.
At least the reviews were entertaining. It was called the “movie equivalent of dad bod,” and compared to a drunk but enthusiastic puppy. One critic, to really drive home how repulsed he was by the movie, claimed that The Human Centipede, a horror movie in which victims are mutilated by a crazy surgeon, was “more sensitively attuned to issues of gender politics (than Entourage). And it had better jokes.” Ouch!
2016: Alice Through The Looking Glass
Thank goodness Lewis Carroll never lived to see this frightful adaptation of his classic novel. We’re huge Tim Burton fans, but somebody needs to lay off the green screens and CGI and remember how to tell a story with actors again. We may never recover from Helena Bonham Carter’s disproportionately large head, and whatever crazy dance Johnny Depp was doing that will now be haunting our dreams for eternity.
2017: The Emoji Movie
It’s a movie about emojis. Seriously. Sir Patrick Stewart, a former Shakespearian-trained actor with multiple prestigious awards, plays a Poop emoji. Pointing out that the movie won Worst Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Screen Combo (for “any two obnoxious emojis”) at the 2017 Golden Raspberry Awards would just be redundant. It’s a movie… about emojis. Oh, and if you do find yourself with the misfortune of having to sit through this travesty, you’d best familiarize yourself with the 25 Secret Second Meanings of These Popular Emojis.
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