Get us in your inbox

Howard the Duck
Image: LucasfilmHoward the Duck

The 40 best bad movies ever made

From crass cash-grabs to no-budget disasters, these cinematic monstrosities must be seen to be believed

Written by
Matthew Singer
Written by
Sean McGeady
Advertising

Nobody sets out to make a bad movie. But strange things can happen between the thwack of the clapperboard and a film’s release date: ever so slowly, they mutate, swelling and splitting until they ooze onto screens as malformed beings far removed from their authors’ intentions. ‘No, this is a serious movie…’. ‘Actually that’s not meant to be funny…’. ‘Audiences just didn’t get it…’. Oh, we got it alright. The thing is, it’s ours now – and we can do what we want with it.

It’s the audience’s job to decide what’s good, what’s bad, and what occupies that genre Elysian in between. We’ve been doing it for decades, though bad films are by no means a thing of the past. It’s unwise to look at a 1950s sci-fi and deem it poor on the basis of dated effects and performances alone, just as it’s foolish to assume that modern blockbusters can’t be every bit as shambolic as the works of Ed Wood. Sometimes it’s studio interference, sometimes it’s the wrong actor in the wrong role, sometimes it’s the director’s bone-deep (and bone-headed) misunderstanding of the material – the hurdles are legion.

You’ll notice recurrent hurdles throughout this list too, small details that inexorably lead to dodgy movies: directors for whom English was far from a first language; excessively horny children’s characters that’ll have you reconsidering your views on childcare; the presence of John Travolta – the list goes on.

Yes, there are infinite flavours of bad film. Here we present 40 of the most palatable (mostly), entertaining (hopefully) and unique (absolutely) in cinema (or at least direct-to-video) history. Watch at your own risk.

Recommended:

💩The schlock and awe world of brilliantly bad movies
🤘The 40 best cult movies of all-time
🫠 20 great movies to watch when you’re high
😵 The 15 most monstrous vanity projects ever made

Best Bad Movies

Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
Image: Sun City Pictures

1. Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)

Dredged from the well of history in the 1990s by purveyors of trash cinema, Mystery Science Theatre 3000, this no-budget satanic-panic horror flick has since earned a ‘legacy’ far greater than anyone involved ever intended. It was essentially made on a dare, and after screening a few times locally in El Paso, it disappeared without a trace, only to miracuously reappear decades later to be mocked on cable television by a pair of snarky androids. It really is a miracle, too, because Manos is transcendently bad. It could almost be called ‘proto-Lynchian’ if there was any indication that its many continuity errors, technical mistakes and head-scratching narrative digressions were purposeful…but there isn’t. 

TL;DR: an unassuming family on a road trip is besieged by a Satanic cult with a hand fetish.

Highlight: John Reynolds’ bizarre, idiosyncratic turn as Torgo, the caretaker of the cult’s compound.  

The Room (2003)
Image: Wiseau Films

2. The Room (2003)

Is Tommy Wiseau a mad genius or just a rich weirdo who tried to make a prestige indie drama about romantic betrayal and whiffed spectacularly? Whether or not The Room is an honest failure or some kind of performance-art long-con is still up for debate, but no matter the reality, it’s one of the strangest works anyone has chosen to make available to the public. While those who insist the many, many bizarre narrative decisions are actually evidence of Wiseau’s brilliance are certainly pushing it, it’s a film everyone should see at least once – preferably at a raucous midnight screening. 

TL;DR: it’s a glimpse of what would happen if an alien crash-landed on Earth and decided to make a movie without ever having seen one.

Highlight: uh, the flower shop scene? Back-alley tuxedo football? ‘You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!’? How about we just say ‘all of it’?

Advertising
  • Film

John Carl Buehler had to be pissed. He goes and makes a perfectly crappy late ‘80s horror flick about murderous trolls, only to have it fully overshadowed in the bad movie canon by some unaffiliated knockoff Italian ‘sequel’ that doesn’t even have any trolls in it. Instead, there are goblins – referred to as such, despite the title – who turn humans into shrubbery before eating them. Why not just make the monsters carnivorous man-eaters? Because the director’s wife had a vendetta against vegetarians. That insane backstory – combined with the Spirit Halloween-level effects, Google Translate dialogue and sub-community-theatre acting – earned the movie a place in infamy even in the already infamous realm of no-budget horror. 

TL;DR: vegetarians are the real monsters.  

Highlight: a young townsperson witnesses a friend being consumed by goblins and reacts with the shock and terror of someone realising his bus going to be five minutes late.

  • Film
  • Science fiction

Long considered the Citizen Kane of bad movies, time has been kind to Ed Wood’s legendary sci-fi disasterpiece. Yes, the ‘effects’ are spectacularly bad even for the era of UFOs-on-strings, and the technical gaffes are only accentuated by the earnestness of Wood’s screenplay. But in the more than half-century since, the world has seen much worse, made for much more money, and done for much worse reasons than the sheer love of cinema. Any kid who borrowed their parents’ camcorders and made a movie with whatever was lying around the house will see a piece of themselves in Plan 9. And while its deficiencies will still make you laugh, it might also make you wonder what you could do if you still had a camera and a little bit of time. There are worse legacies. 

TL;DR: aliens invade, as well as zombies, but maybe it’s mankind that’s the real enemy?

Highlight: anything involving the stand-in for the late Bela Lugosi – who was spliced into the film via footage from a different, unfinished Ed Wood project – who is very obviously not Bela Lugosi.

Advertising
  • Film

For years, Paul Verhoeven smuggled socio-political satire inside big, loud, absurdly entertaining blockbusters pretending to be much dumber than they are. With Showgirls, whatever message he was trying to get across about the corruption of the American Dream was drowned out by its deafening surface-level stupidity. In retrospect, it’s hard to believe critics saw his many odd choices – casting teen-sitcom star Elizabeth Berkley as a violent drifter-cum-stripper, the sex scenes seemingly modeled after a 16-year-old’s conception of sex – and didn’t think Verhoeven was trying to get another one over on everyone. Years later, the movie has been reappraised as a camp classic, no smarter than it was in 1995 but oodles more hilarious.

TL;DR: Jessie Spano breaks bad.

Highlight: the poolside bone-down where Kyle McLachlan can’t seem to figure out if Berkley is having an orgasm or a seizure

  • Film
  • Thrillers

Viewed straight, this is an overlong and irresponsible mob glorification story that paints crime boss John Gotti – murderer, tax evader, general scumbag – as a loving family man who jus-a wanted ta make a lil’ dough, eh. Pull on your bad goggles, though, and Gotti reveals itself as a low-key I Think You Should Leave sketch stretched out for two hours. As the Teflon Don, John Travolta (hello again) mugs his way through the whole thing in a variety of shit wigs and worse make-up as the timeline hops around with impunity. It took 44 producers to make this movie.

TL;DR: gangster film created by a duff algorithm

Highlight: Travolta literally opens the film with: ‘New Yawk is da greatest fuggen city in da world’

Advertising
  • Film
  • Comedy

One can only look back in awe at the influence Tom Green wielded over the late ’90s zeitgeist. The dude got famous by humping a dead moose and pranking his parents on MTV, then somehow married Drew Barrymore and convinced a major studio to put out a movie with the title Freddy Got Fingered. The film itself is a kind of social experiment to see what Hollywood will let a briefly famous person get away with if they think it’ll make them money. Playing child sexual assault allegations for laughs? Swinging a freshly born baby around by its umbilical cord? A song called ‘Daddy Would You Like Some Sausage’? Uh, sure! It ended Green’s mainstream career, but the fact the movie even exists counts as some kind of pyrrhic victory.

TL;DR: a loser manchild gets revenge on his mean dad by falsely accusing him of sexually abusing his brother. Highlarious!

Highlight: exiled in Pakistan, Green jerks off an elephant until it ejaculates a firehose of semen on his father, played by Rip Torn

Verotika (2019)
Image: Dark Risen Pictures

8. Verotika (2019)

As a horror anthology directed by goth-jock reprobate Glenn Danzig, you might expect Verotika to be fun for at least some of the right reasons. It isn’t. Based on the ‘adult’ comics of Danzig’s own company, Verotik, this borderline soft-core film features three segments seemingly designed to showcase the director’s personal turn-ons: women bathing in blood; women wearing other women’s faces; women with eyes for nipples whose magic tears summon anal-obsessed six-armed man-spiders – you know how it is, guys. The accents are uniformly atrocious, the script is dismal, and Danzig’s idea of cinematography begins and ends with zooming in and fading to black. Watch this with a beer – you’ll need it.

TL;DR: edgelord fetish film made by a teenage man in his sixties

Highlight: When one ‘French’ cop says to another: ‘Sahjeant… ’er breast… eyes?’. ‘Oui,’ comes the reply. Fade to black. End of segment

Advertising
  • Film
  • Action and adventure

For those exhausted by the stranglehold Marvel and Star Wars currently hold on popular culture, know that it could be much, much worse: if this bloated and incompetent sci-fi actioner was even just slightly better than absolutely awful, we’d probably be on Phase 5 of the L Ron Hubbard Cinematic Universe by now. Instead, this adaptation of the Scientology founder’s novel of the same name bombed in just about every capacity, nerfing any possibility of ever seeing the sequel that producer, star and avowed Scientologist John Travolta very clearly wanted to happen. It also cratered Travolta’s career (for the second time), turning him into more meme than actor. But he’s the best part of the movie, albeit unintentionally, skulking around with Predator dreads and delivering every terrible line with heavy-handed seriousness that’s impossible not to laugh at. 

TL;DR: it’s the end of the world as we know it, and my Thetan levels feel fine!

Highlight: a depressed Travolta, as a villainous alien named Terl, delivers a drunken soliloquy at a space bar. 

The Man Who Saved the World (1981)
The Man Who Saved the World

10. The Man Who Saved the World (1981)

Known as Turkish Star Wars, this is a riotous example of Turkey’s cut-and-paste attitude to midcentury cinema. The Man Who Saved the World takes Death Star-sized liberties with copyright – you’ll see stolen footage from Star Wars and hear music from Flash Gordon, Raiders of the Lost Ark and more. There are ninjas, zombies, skeleton warriors, and a 1,000-year-old wizard, and the late, great Cüneyt Arkın is in god mode throughout. If you’ve ever felt like Star Wars has become bogged down by incomprehensible budgets and unfathomable lore, this apocalyptic sci-fi fantasy martial-arts superhero adventure movie might be your antidote – because it doesn’t have either.

Advertising
  • Film
  • Drama

On the one hand, the creators of the 1973 British folk-horror classic could probably mount a successful defamation suit against everyone involved with the remake. Then again, the memeification of Neil LaBute’s baffling pass-through probably brought more eyes to the original than any critical proselytising. Such is the duality of Nicolas Cage in full gonzo mode. His off-the-rails performance as a cop infiltrating a pagan community dooms the movie to unseriousness from the start, but also makes it more memorable than it would’ve been otherwise. What would you rather have, a straight-faced redo of a film that didn’t need to be redone or Cage screaming about bees? Here, you can have both.

TL;DR: Nic Cage freaks out and does karate on an island of prairie women

Highlight: Cage, in a bear costume, absolutely wrecking a young pagan girl with a right cross.

Robot Monster (1953)
Image: Three Dimensional Pictures Inc.

12. Robot Monster (1953)

Of all the atomic-age cheapies, this one features the shoddiest monster. The story unravels in the mind of an excitable young man named Johnny. Ro-Man Extension XJ-2, a pear-bodied gorilla with a TV for a head, has used his death-ray to wipe out all but eight (or is it five? or six? or four?) of the two billion people on Earth. Now he’s out to strangle the rest. The moon brute throttles a young girl and throws a dude off a cliff before having a crisis of conscience (read: he gets horny for Johnny’s older sister). Eventually his boss gets so fed up with his fannying about that he kills Ro-Man and literally ‘smashes the Earth out of the universe’. How’s that for an executive decision?

TL;DR: chunky gorilla tries to choke out the last ‘hoo-mans’ on Earth

Highlight: ‘We enjoyed her as long as she was with us,’ says a professor, seconds after burying his murdered daughter. Nice one. Cheers, dad.

Advertising
The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)
Image: Atlantic Entertainment Group

13. The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)

In the 1980s, it seemed like every kids movie was designed to permanently scar the childhoods of its target audience. When the sight of David Bowie’s thin white package in Labyrinth and the dystopian nightmare of Return to Oz didn’t work, Hollywood brought out the big guns: a live action Garbage Pail Kids movie. Rushed to production to capitalise on the fleeting popularity of the gross-out trading cards that were briefly the scourge of school teachers across America, the studio rounded up a bunch of dwarf actors, shoved them into some truly upsetting costumes, spent the rest of the budget on stage vomit, then crossed their fingers that oblivious parents wouldn’t know what they were taking their children to se. It, uh, didn’t work out. 

TL;DR: grotesque alien children teach a bullied teen to stand up for himself, then take part in a fashion show for some reason. 

Highlight: Windy Winston uses his signature flatulence to keep his buddies from getting shanked by a biker gang, blowing off one of the assailants’ moustaches in the process.

Elves (1989)
"Elves"

14. Elves (1989)

Kirsten has a lot of problems – her mom’s a lunatic shrew, her brother’s a desperate little perv, and she does not care for Christmas. She’s about to hate the holiday season a lot more when she she learns that it’s her destiny to mate with a ‘fucking little ninja troll’ in order to bring about a Fourth Reich master race of magical elf-human hybrids. Thankfully, the local department store’s brick-shithouse Santa is a former detective, which means he knows how to use a gun. This Nazisploitation holiday schlock sits somewhere between unpleasant and hysterical – and its risible pseudo-religious mythmaking isn’t even its biggest sin. Worse? There is only one killer elf in the movie Elves.

TL;DR: a young woman is pursued by a single Nazi elf desperate to get laid 

Highlight: ‘Are you asking if I believe in Elves? No, I don’t… but God did!’

Advertising
  • Film
  • Science fiction

Half the entries on this list are monuments to crass commercialism, but none is more vulgar in that regard than this glorified Happy Meal toy masquerading as a movie. A bald-faced ripoff of ET that redefines shamelessness, the name of the titular lost alien – who looks like a shaved chicken – is an acronym ‘Mysterious Alien Creature’ but once the copious amounts of McDonald’s product placement hits the screen you realise what it really stands for. (The producer pitched the movie as a promotional tie-in with the fast food chain, with part of the profits going to the company’s charity.) The film did, however, give us the long-running Paul Rudd/Conan O’Brien gag, so it’s not all bad. 

TL;DR: an off-brand ET shills for McDonald’s

Highlight: the scene from the aforementioned Paul Rudd prank – in which the movie’s wheelchair-bound human protagonist rolls off a cliff – is probably the most exemplary, though the dance number in McDonald’s is maybe more emblematic of what the movie is really about

  • Film

Long the ugly duckling of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Howard the Duck has earned ironic reappraisal through the character’s cameos in Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Endgame, but the film itself still has ‘bad idea jeans’ written all over it. It’s not that you can’t make a good movie about a randy anthropomorphic mallard from a foreign planet who travels to Earth and bangs Lea Thompson, but you should probably decide if you’re making an interspecies sex comedy or a kids movie and not just combine the two. Still, those who saw it at a certain age hold a nostalgic soft spot for it, even if the design of Howard himself is pure nightmare fuel.

TL;DR: a horny space duck charms and disturbs earthlings.

Highlight: the implied post-coital bedroom scene between Howard and Lea Thompson which raises many questions we don’t really want answered.

Advertising
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)
Image: Lawrence Applebaum Productions

17. Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)

The killer Santa Claus movie so nice they made it twice! Like, literally – the first Silent Night, Deadly Night did well enough, relatively speaking, that the cheap-ass producers initially wanted to simply recut the first film and pass it off as a sequel. About a third of the movie is indeed recycled footage, but it’s far eclipsed the original Christmas-themed slasher in Z-movie lore thanks to the nutso performance of Eric Freeman. Playing the brother of the murderer from the first iteration, he cranks the Insane-O-Metre to 11, his eyebrows nearly dancing off his face as he delivers evil ‘ha-ha-ha’s’ as if they were wrapped in speech bubbles above his head. 

TL;DR: a department store Santa goes on a hilarious killing spree

Highlight: if you’ve been on the internet long enough, the phrase ‘Garbage Day!’ has lived in your head rent-free for over a decade now. But the full six-minute suburban killing spree where that scene comes from is a gift from schlock cinema heaven 

  • Film
  • Fantasy

What should a live-action adaptation of the world’s most beloved, kid-friendly video game franchise look like? Not many fans back in the ’90s would’ve said ‘like a Terry Gilliam acid nightmare’. The end result of numerous rewrites and changes in direction, the story takes a fairly wild detour from the source material, venturing into an alternate-reality New York run by reptilian mafiosi, led by a lizard-tongued Dennis Hopper as ‘President’ Koopa. That honestly sounds kinda awesome on paper, but the film’s tumultuous production left it a weird jumble of ideas that never cohere. The visuals are pretty insane, though, and Bob Hoskins, as the titular princess-saving plumber, turns out to be the best Mario this side of Captain Lou Albano.  

TL;DR: a video game movie made by people who’ve never played a video game before.

Highlight: the scene in which a group of towering, pin-headed ‘goombas’ inexplicably slow-dance inside a crowded elevator

Advertising
Samurai Cop (1991)
Image: Hollywood Royal Pictures

19. Samurai Cop (1991)

American machismo as rendered by an Iranian émigré. Amir Shervan’s delirious Lethal Weapon rip-off rehashes almost every Hollywood action cliché you can think of and lashes them together with little regard for continuity or basic logic. Our ‘hero’ is sleazier than the villains, is supposedly fluent in Japanese but never speaks a word of it, and his shaggy black mane is sometimes real and sometimes a wig. The dialogue is brain-breaking, the editing is helicopter-crash bad, and the love scenes are gratuitous and hideous. Worst of all, nobody in this movie seems to know what a samurai is. Essential viewing.

TL;DR: clinically dopey cop film that likes to dick around with swords

Highlight: within a minute of meeting him, a nurse asks the protagonist whether he’s been circumcised, then ridicules him and walks away

Bratz: The Movie (2007)
  • Film
  • Comedy

What this live-action adaptation lacks in substance, it more than makes up for in Bratitude. Bratz fizzes along with a bubblegum energy that’s difficult to resist. The flick follows fashionable freshmans Jade, Yasmin, Sasha and Cloe as they compete with high-school nemesis Meredith to see who can be the most abysmal role model for young women. Expect a tone-deaf deaf character, a fresh-faced Chet Hanks, and Jon Voight in a prosthetic nose. All of this is far more fun than you’d think.

TL;DR: living dolls put their school to rights 

Highlight: the film’s ludicrously placed two-year leap forward in time (curse you, Comic Sans) 

Advertising
Leprechaun in the Hood (2000)
Image: TriMark Pictures

21. Leprechaun in the Hood (2000)

Through four movies, the Leprechaun franchise had already gone to both outer space and Las Vegas, so there was really only one other option left to keep the series going: inner-city Los Angeles. In the horror-comedy brand’s fifth entry, the evil Irish stereotype faces off against a crew of rappers who’ve stolen his magic flute. As usual, Warwick Davis, as the titular murderous elf, bumps up the proceedings by giving way more effort than is required, but he’s joined by Ice-T, whose never met a ridiculous line of dialogue he won’t try to deliver with upmost seriousness.

TL;DR: well my name is Lubdan and I’m here to say/Give me me magic flute before I ruin your day!

Highlight: the movie-ending Leprechaun Rap. 

No Holds Barred (1989)
Image: New Line Cinema

22. No Holds Barred (1989)

Hulk Hogan is still the one pro-wrestler almost everyone can name, but that’s only because guys like the Rock and John Cena have become legit movie stars and transcended their fake-fighting roots. The Hulkster certainly tried to do the same, but stuff like Suburban Commando and Santa With Muscles wasn’t getting it done, brother. Neither was No Holds Barred, his first star vehicle, but at least it captured the live-cartoon energy of his day job. Hogan, more or less playing himself, is a wrestling champion coerced by a slimy TV exec into an anything-goes fight to the death against a massive ex-con named Zeus (Tiny Lister). 

TL;DR: Rocky for audiences who find the sophistication of Sylvester Stallone intimidating.

Highlight: A growling, bug-eyed Hogan grabs a weasley henchman by the collar and inquires about a sudden foul stench. His response? ‘Dooookiiiiiieeeeee!’

Advertising
Miami Connection (1987)
Image: PJK Group

23. Miami Connection (1987)

Yes, there are many, many ninja flicks worthy of this list. But only one of them features your new favourite band. Dragon Sound are a taekwondo-based yacht rock act made up of five cohabiting orphaned adult men who hand-feed each other grapes. For reasons that aren’t quite clear, the local coke dealers and their ninja affiliates really hate yacht rock. The film culminates with the band’s wholesale slaughter of their enemies before a parting message advocates for the abolition of violence. Most of it takes place in Orlando.  

TL;DR: Hall & Oates fight back.

Highlight: Friends’. Or ‘Against the Ninja’. Or ‘Tough Guy’. Or ‘Tae Kwon Do Family’. You know what, all the songs are Oscar-worthy 

  • Film
  • Thrillers

The quasi-mythical backstory of Blackbird – shady festival premieres, a four-year disappearance, irrepressible rumours – threatened to overwhelm the film before it even hit screens. Thank the Lord, then, that this spy thriller is every bit as bad as we’d hoped. Written, produced, funded, directed by and starring Michael Flatley as former MI6 agent Victor Blackley, this is a magnitude 10 ego trip destined to become a legendary midnight movie. The 64-year-old Lord of the Dance swears it’s not a vanity project. We beg to differ: men say ‘he’s irreplaceable’; women readily disrobe before him; he beats a ‘big unit’ to death with his bare hands; there’s an uproariously unnecessary topless shaving scene… we could go on.

TL;DR: ego-drunk dancer remakes Casablanca and Casino Royale simultaneously but without the action, charm or tension.

Highlight: when Flatley’s on-set hat assistant helps him swap his flat cap for a fedora. 

Advertising
For Y’ur Height Only (1981)
Image: Liliw Productions

25. For Y’ur Height Only (1981)

Bondsploitation comes in many shapes and sizes, and Filipino actor, stuntman and martial artist Weng Weng’s version is at the Nick Nack-sized end of the spectrum. As Agent ‘00’, he’s 2’9” of jet-packing, nut-cracking charisma. The film has fun with his stature but Weng is never the butt of the joke. He can do everything Bond can – up to and including being a ‘sexual animal’. He’s a formidable fighter too. A merciless killer, even. Weng’s body count hits 80 here – that’s more than Sean Connery racked up in his six Bond flicks put together. Don’t worry about the plot; each scene careens into the next with no regard for structure or tension, and the English-language dubbing artists are absolutely on one throughout. For sheer brain-frying nonsense, this is tough to beat. 

TL;DR: Pint-sized James Bond murders his way through the Phillipines.

Highlight: Weng stops to slap a kiss on a stranger midway through his amazing umbrella escape.

  • Film
  • Horror

Director Ray Dennis Steckler is one of the kings of 1960s and 1970s American kitsch, and his most beloved and absurdly titled film is a bona fide trash classic. Tenuously billed as both a monster movie and a musical, the plot is gossamer-thin but it’s really the grimy aesthetic and queasy atmosphere that you’re here for. Films like this exist far beyond the purview of such obstacles as good taste. There’s nothing good about The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?, which is precisely its brilliance. 

TL;DR: free spirits caught up in an occult carnival are forced to suffer through terrible, interminable dance numbers.

Highlight: every one of actor Atlas King’s disorientingly daft line readings.

Advertising
The Fanatic (2019)
Image: VMI Worldwide

27. The Fanatic (2019)

For a while it looked like Limp Bizkit’s cover of ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ would be the nadir of Fred Durst’s career. Not quite. His third(!) directorial feature opens with a title quote from one of its own characters and only gets more incredulous from there. John Travolta (hello again again) miscalculates every move as Moose, an autistic film buff whose obsession with action star Hunter Dunbar takes a dangerous turn. The Fanatic continues to confound even as the whole thing curdles into grim hilarity. Fred Durst, who hurt you?

TL;DR: Limp Bizkit frontman’s private revenge fantasy

Highlight: when Hunter Dunbar forcibly makes his son listen to Limp Bizkit before saying: ‘Oh my God, that is nice. That is nice’

  • Film

Believe it or not, there are more good-bad superhero films out there than MCU movies (until phase five wraps up anyway). Spain’s Supersonic Man is one of the silliest. The titular trouble-quasher can see through walls, deflect bullets, dematerialise trucks, turn guns into fruit, and steal champagne from restaurant kitchens. It’s down to this gormless goody-goody to defeat Dr. Gulik, who plans to take over the world using robots, cigarillos and science. Hey, how come Paul has a moustache but his alter ego doesn’t? That’s because the dude in the glaring orange spandex and glittering blue cape is a different actor.  

TL;DR: desperately skewed, extremely European take on 1978’s Superman

Highlight: Supersonic chases Dr. Guliik into space and flies right up his ship’s big ol’ exhaust pipe (not a euphemism)

Advertising
Skinned Deep (2004)
Image: Center Ring Entertainment

29. Skinned Deep (2004)

This retro-styled family slasher’s marketing suggested that Surgeon General, who has an ‘evil bear trap’ for a mouth, would be its breakout horror icon. We prefer his brothers: Brain wears denim dungarees and has an inexplicably huge head; and Plates (Warwick Davis in his wildest role) flings porcelain at people and carries a crockery quiver on his back. Like Plates, director Gabriel Bartalos slings surprises left and right – just wait till you find out what the headless bodybuilder is hiding. Perhaps the biggest bombshell though? Nobody gets skinned at any point during this film.

TL;DR: fathomlessly surreal comedy masquerading as a humble slasher

Highlight: when a Brain daydream sequence shows him – engorged cortex and all – galloping naked down around Manhattan, a scene for which actor Jason Dugré was arrested.

  • Film
  • Fantasy

You just knew that someone was eventually going to take a shot at turning Andrew Lloyd Webber’s inexplicably mega-popular musical Cats into a movie. And it was always going to be terrible, because it’s a story about humanoid felines slinking, singing and dancing around the back alleys of London. But if it was destined to happen, at least director Tom Hooper also managed to make his adaptation unintentionally terrifying, the bad CGI making everyone from Judi Dench to Taylor Swift look like they crawled out of one of those creepy AI meme generators. Hooper does deserve some kudos for embracing the full weirdness of Webber’s vision, without the safety of ironic distance. But please, Tom: release the butthole cut already!   

TL;DR: a bunch of famous people sing, dance and purr in the uncanny valley

Highlight: the introduction of anthropomorphic cockroaches – all of which are designed to look like women, complete with implied breasts – doing a Busby Berkeley routine before being eaten by Rebel Wilson

Advertising
The Pumaman (1980)
"The Pumaman"

31. The Pumaman (1980)

No actor has ever looked less comfortable flying through the air than Walter George Alton. In this Italian production, he plays a palaeontologist reluctant to learn that he’s the descendant of an Aztec space god. As the new ‘Pooma-man’, he must defeat Donald Pleasance’s evil Dr Kobras, who’s using an ancient golden puma mask and a bunch of mannequin heads to mind-bully world leaders. This is another fine slice of superhero euro-kitsch – a trashy throwback to a time when supermen were milksops and not wise-cracking one-man armies. 

TL;DR: white-bread palaeontologist retrains as a flying man-cat

Highlight: When our hero goes to sleep for a while and pretends to be dead – we feel you, Puma

Hard Ticket to Hawaii (1987)
"Hard Ticket to Hawaii"

32. Hard Ticket to Hawaii (1987)

Andy Sidaris directed coverage of countless sports events, and even won an Emmy for his coverage of the 1968 Summer Olympics. His movies, however, are less top-drawer and more top-shelf. In Hard Ticket to Hawaii, buxom babes Donna and Taryn are secret agents who get embroiled in a drug baron’s diamond-smuggling operation. Meanwhile, due to a snake mix-up down the warehouse, there’s a boa with rat cancer slithering around the island. Eventually, after much love-making, hang-gliding and casual misogyny, the ladies prevail – but not before the snake smashes through a porcelain toilet bowl and takes a missile to the head for its troubles. Enjoy the Sidaris brand of Playmate-led 1980s machismo? Good news: all of his movies are exactly the same.

TL;DR: Playboy Playmates play with Uzis (did we mention the cancer snake?)

Highlight: a henchman gets his throat opened by a razor blade frisbee.

Advertising
Foodfight! (2012)
Image: C47 Productions

33. Foodfight! (2012)

You know a children’s animated movie is unhinged when the fact that its characters are about 100 times hornier than necessary is only the second-most disturbing thing about it. The first? Fascism. Dex Dogtective, voiced by a presumably prostrate Charlie Sheen, has to defend a supermarket micro-world populated by beloved brand mascots – and, inexplicably, loads of tiny humans – against the tyrannical Brand X, whose plot to replace them with generic products reads a lot like ethnic cleansing. Don’t worry, it’s all played for laughs! This is up there with the most unappealing-looking films ever released. Do not let your children near it.

TL;DR: What if Toy Story but food?

Highlight: Whenever the film cuts away from Cheeso the Weasel, who looks like a carrier bag full of worms and loose hot dogs

  • Film

Even the fiercest defenders of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have had a hard time justifying the existence of this utterly superfluous entry to the canon. A sleek, corporate-synergistic fusion of horror and superhero blockbuster, it stars Jared Leto as a doctor who undergoes an experimental procedure to cure a rare blood disorder and ends up turning himself into a vampire. Full of incoherent plotting, even more incomprehensible action sequences and a typically self-serious lead performance from Leto, it was critically panned upon entry, bombed at the box office, and then memed into oblivion. Everyone making fun of it somehow convinced the studio to re-release the movie in hopes of salvaging its investment. It failed.

TL;DR: Jared Leto vants to suck your blood, but he mostly just sucks. 

Highlight: the dual post-credits scenes that confuse the established comic book mythology and try to shoehorn Spider-Man into the whole mess. 

Advertising
Dangerous Men (2005)
Image: Sima Sin International

35. Dangerous Men (2005)

It took director John S Rad more than 20 years to finish Dangerous Men. It takes less than 20 minutes to work out how wild it is. This 1980s/1990s crime drama concerns a wronged woman who becomes a sex worker and starts slaying johns for fun – until the film forgets about her anyway. When actor Melody Wiggans broke her leg, Rad refused to pay her hospital bills, so naturally she refused to return to set. No matter. The rest of the film, shot years later, follows a cop hunting down a debauched biker named Black Pepper instead. Imagine a movie drunk enough to slur its scenes and you’re halfway there.

TL;DR: Men Are Creeps: The Movie

Highlight: the comically jaunty electronic slap bass, which scores almost every scene, no matter how inappropriate

Twisted Pair (2018)
Image: Neil Breen Films

36. Twisted Pair (2018)

Alien auteur Neil Breen operates on a plane inaccessible to mere mortals. In his fifth feature, he stars as Cade, a ‘Humanoid’ secret agent whose mission to mete out justice is somehow complicated by his evil twin Cale, also Breen but wearing the world’s worst fake beard. The plot concerns an evil business magnate who plans to use ‘programmable virtual reality – the corrupt version’ to execute his ‘biological mutant warfare plans’. Human translation: Neil Breen mopes around a college campus while things explode. The special effects are a hazard to your health.

TL;DR: bizarre sci-fi techno-thriller made by a man with delusions of grandeur

Highlight: any scene that features computer-generated imagery 

Advertising
Serenity (2019)
  • Film
  • Drama

Steven Knight’s colossal flop features Matthew McConaughey as the preposterously named Baker Dill, a fishing-boat captain obsessed with an elusive tuna, the preposterously named Justice. No, Serenity is not subtle. The big fish isn’t the only thing lurking beneath the surface of this deeply stupid mystery thriller either. Spoiler: Dill is long dead and the entire world of the film is a digital construct designed by his dweeb son – as well as a director who has no better understanding of virtual spaces than Neil Breen.

TL;DR: Matthew McConaughey screams at a big fish (but does he really?)

Highlight: Baker Dill swanning around naked and copping off with local gadabout Diane Lane – why would any son want to see so much of his dad’s butt?

  • Film

It should’ve been fairly easy to make a passable He-Man movie, or at least a popular one, particularly with an ideal muscle-man like Dolph Lundgren in the lead role and an exceedingly gung-ho Frank Langella as the villainous Skeletor. As with the Super Mario Brothers movie, though, the creators just had to go and futz with the established lore, sending the cast of interdimensional warrior gods to Earth to interact with Courtney Cox and her doofus boyfriend. All the young target audience wanted was to see their action figures come to life and have magical sword fights, and instead had to suffer through interminable stretches of forced culture-clash comedy. 

TL;DR: He-Man comes to life, spends an inordinate amount of time with Monica from Friends

Highlight: the decidedly anticlimactic-climcatic duel between He-Man and Skeletor. 

Advertising
  • Film
  • Horror

M Night Shyamalan takes his high-concept schlock seriously. Old is a big-budget blockbuster about a beach that makes you old. Stay and you go senile. Try to escape and you get a headache. Even if you go into this film with no good-bad preconceptions, it will eventually beat you into giddy submission with its absurd science and the creative but clunky ways Shyamalan writes his way out of narrative trouble. Yes, there’s a twist. No, it doesn’t make sense. Expect Old to age gracefully indeed. 

TL;DR: bad beach makes tourists get old real quick (but why?)

Highlight: whenever Rufus Sewell starts ranting about Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson

Ninja Terminator (1985)
Image: Filmark

40. Ninja Terminator (1985)

There are many ninja flicks worthy of this list. But only one of them has a Garfield phone. Director Godfrey Ho has been called the Ed Wood of Hong Kong cinema, which should give you a clue as to how ruthlessly incoherent this is. Here’s another: Ho frequently cut his footage together with that of other films. His half of Ninja Terminator follows an empire of ninjas seeking fragments of a golden statue but, given that the other half is made up of scenes from a now-lost Korean film from 1984, don’t assume you’ll ever really know what’s going on. The fight scenes are spectacularly nonsensical.

TL;DR: a ninja movie made using William S Burroughs’ cut-up technique

Highlight: the protagonist receives a death threat via a toy robot before answering a call on his Garfield telephone. Stop laughing, this is serious

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising