There are a number of elements that go into making a movie truly awful. It can be a bad script, often torn apart by numerous rewrites, horrible acting, incompetent direction, and even something as simple as the microphone appearing in every shot. Just one of these is enough to ruin an afternoon at the cinema for some folks, but, for me at least, it takes a combination of all those pieces to make for a truly memorable, for all the wrong reasons, movie going moment.
The history of truly awful moviemaking can be traced back to one man, Ed Wood. His movies were so spectacularly bad as to be almost comedic. Such classics as, Glen Glenda,” and, “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” have gone on to become cult classics despite the nonsensical storylines, and clumsy acting and directing. He deserves all the credit for the horrors that were to follow.
The worst movie I have ever seen was a low, low budget horror flick called, “Meateater.” It had the look of a home movie, shot without the use of any lighting, and dialogue that must have been written by a 5 year old. One particularly great scene in the movie features 2 actors sitting across from one another in separate chairs. The camera is aimed directly between them with both actors off screen save for their feet. Truly, truly ghastly.
I’m almost sure I may be the only living person who has seen that particular beauty, so let’s take a peek at some recent movie disasters. Kevin Costner made a bunch of money, deservedly so I might add, for, “Dances with Wolves,” and parlayed that fortune into 2 horrible big budget bombs. “Waterworld,” and, “The Postman,” are a couple of spectacular duds that border on the unwatchable. A couple of post-apocalyptic “epics” that you think will never end.
Joe Esterhaz was another that enjoyed a great deal of success, the head writer for “Flashdance,” “Jagged Edge,” and “Basic Instinct,” to name just a few. It was the latter of these three that catapulted him to real fame, but he ostensibly killed his career, and that of Elizabeth Berkley, with, “Showgirls,” an oversexed piece of garbage that followed the career of a would be Vegas showgirl. Sounds ridiculous just saying it.
Spin-offs have made for some great failures as well. The mild success of, “Daredevil,” led to Jennifer Garner reprising her role as, “Elektra,” a midriff baring, leather clad, knife wielding superhero that came very close to putting me to sleep in the theater. Worst spin-off of all time though, has to go to Halle Berry and her version of, “Catwoman.” The main selling point of the movie seemed to be Miss Berry in a barely there cat suit, but shockingly poor CGI effects, coupled with laughable performances from the lead and Sharon Stone, sunk this one like a lead brick.
The 1990’s saw the rise of the Scientology religion, and it came as no surprise when the number one member of the flock, John Travolta, decided to adapt author, and Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard’s novel, “Battlefield Earth,” to film. Shunned by all the major studios, Travolta finally gained financing from an independent production named Franchise Pictures, whom he rewarded with a spectacular mess. To try and explain the plot of the film would require me to inject myself with caffeine and barbiturates, so better if we just agree not to see it……deal?
If there were an Italian word meaning, terrible movie, I’d imagine that word would be, “Gigli.” Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck star in this dud that somehow manages to combine mob hits, lesbianism and Baywatch into the plot. You have to imagine that the 2 main stars of the movie, involved in an off screen romance at the time, were so busy gazing into each others eyes that they failed to notice how terrible the script was.
Hollywood seems to be able to produce major flops at an alarming rate, so much so, that I could probably rattle on for hours about truly awful movies. Who can forget, “Ishtar,” “Heavens Gate,” “Howard the Duck,” “The Adventures of Pluto Nash,” or, “From Justin to Kelly”? I can’t and, believe me, I’ve tried. Sometimes the images portrayed on celluloid are so bad that they will stay with us forever, and the bad news is that there is most likely no end in sight. Stay tuned to this space for, “The Worst Movies Of 2009,” sure to be another large list.