Really Bad, Insultingly Bad Movies

Keep in mind that these are opinions and not everyone will agree.  For example, one woman I dated threatened to leave the theater during a showing of Blade Runner claiming that it was the worst movie she'd ever seen.  Oh well, at least I have reasons for my dislikes.

Rules for Being Offensively "Bad"

Nearly everyone puts Plan 9 from Outer Space on top of their really bad movie list.  It's the thing to do.  You're one of the "in-crowd" if you make it the very worst movie ever conceived and recorded on celluloid and you're a member of the misanthrope set if you don't.  In fact, it's become so trendy to put Plan 9 at the top of the worst list, it's become a cliché.  So, guess what?  It's not on my list of really bad, insulting movies.  Ed Woods may not have had the talent to be a director, but he tried for all of the right reasons.  He really wanted to make movies.  Today's counterpart would be Uwe Bolle. 

This page includes movies that are so bad that I may not have watched them all of the way through.

So let's define what it takes to be a really bad, insulting movie in my book.  It's a movie where the answer is "Yes" to at least three of the following questions:

  1. Does it distort a historical event for commercial purposes?
  2. Does it violate its own laws of reality?
  3. Is the acting really bad?
  4. Is the dialogue inane?
  5. Are there blatant continuity gaffs?
  6. Is the "surprise" twist broadcast early on?
  7. Was there a point to making the movie other than milking a cash cow?
  8. Did an expensive film use pedestrian special effects?

Here're explanations...

#1 If a movie takes a historical event and deliberately rewrites history in a way that minimizes the efforts of those who performed the deeds being depicted, then this is a bad thing.  Heroes and heroines should be remembered for their actions and not for some politically correct drum banging activity. Likewise, villains and villainesses should not be glorified.

#2 Laws of physics can be violated all over the place and not fall into this group.  For example, in Batman Returns, our favorite lunatic in a bat costume falls fifty or sixty feet in one scene and lands on his back.  In real life, this would result in his rib cage coming out through his back along with all of his internal organs.  In the movie, he's shaken up but still in one piece.  "But," you may be saying, "doesn't this violate the laws of physics?"  The short answer is yes.  But, within the context of the movie, there is an assumed law that states "If you're wearing armor, your outside and inside are protected."  No scene in the movie violates this special law, so everything is alright.  Another example is in The Rundown.  In this movie, the specific rule of "Knives can only wound, they can't kill" is never violated.  It's shaky, but it holds up.

Not all of the laws are physical. For example, a character can't have amnesia one second and then talk about their childhood the next.

#3 Some movies use bad actors who try their best.  Sorry, but this is still bad acting.  Some movies use good actors but they still can't help.  Robert De Nero in 15 Minutes anyone?  Finally, some movies use good actors who are not convincing in the role.  For example, Jack Nicolson was convincing as the confused and vulnerable retired police detective in The Pledge but he was not convincing as the humdrum retiree of About SchmidtThe Pledge was good.  About Schmidt was bad.  Not offensive unless you count seeing Kathy Bates naked, but still bad.

#4 Sometimes it's the dialogue that stinks.  Really bad dialogue isn't forgivable.

#5 Continuity is important.  Lack of continuity takes me out of a movie and makes me go, "Huh?"  For example, in Donny Darko, there are multiple scenes where characters just kind of pop around the set.  He's sitting on a bar stool.  No!  Wait!  He's standing!  Or he's close to the teacher and talking with her.  No! Wait!  A second later he's fifty feet away and leaving the building and still talking with her!   This is just bad editing.  In Donny Darko's defense, these blunders aren't noticeable in the "Director's Cut".  I wasn't that impressed with the movie until I watched the deleted scenes.  Then, it came together and was more enjoyable. The bothersome gaps don't have to be physical lapses of continuity. Gaps in logic can have the same adverse effect.

#6 Sometimes what the writers and directors think is a "plot twist" or a "surprise" is so obvious, it's boring.  For movies coming out of Hollywood, it's a given that the main character will be betrayed by a co-worker or boss.  This is no longer a twist.  It's standard boring fare for a movie.  Movies like Matchstick Men that rely on this single twist are a waste of time to watch.  (The last was not a spoiler.  If you didn't see it coming within the first ten minutes of the movie, you should start watching movies from the beginning.)  Another cliché is faking your own death.

#7 Most movies that come out of Hollywood are not intended to merely to make money, they're intended to make hundreds of millions of dollars.  "Chances are for chumps" could be the Hollywood motto.  To a point, this is understandable.  Past that point, this is blatant pandering.  When good movies are remade and the result is pap like Rollerball, then this is offensive.  What was the point of the Rollerball remake?  To make money!  Here's a thought, finance something good that's more than just a showcase for lights, sounds, and pretty people.  (In all honesty, I never watched the remake, so it's doesn't fit into any of my categories.  But the blurb on the DVD case and comments from friends were enough to make me avoid it.)   Or  what about Ocean's TwelveOcean's Eleven was an example of a good remake.  Ocean's Twelve?  Well, it made this list.  What was the point? (If your unsure, re-read this paragraph.)

#8 When I watch a movie and say, "That's a special effect" then the effect isn't so special after all.  You'd think that if a movie company was going to invest millions of dollars in the making of a movie, the special effects would be transparent.  Look at Fred Astaire.  Yes, the dancer.  When he danced, the effect wasn't, "Look at me.  Do you know how hard I've worked?  Respect my sweat and tears!"  When he danced the effect was, "Look at him.  So effortless.  So graceful."  Special effects should be the same.  Motion blur?  I've got bad eyes and need to wear glasses.  Motion blur is my special effect without glasses.  It's not good.  Or, if I'm looking at a figure in a movie, I shouldn't have to decide if it's a mannequin or a person.  If it looks phony because it's computer generated, it's a bad special effect.  It's not how much money is spent on special effects, it's how the effect looks on the screen.  If the image takes me out of the movie, it's a loser effect even if it did cost a fortune to generate.

For all rule interpretations, extra disdain is given to movies with budgets of millions of dollars and a little extra compassion is shown for small dollar labors of love.

Nasty Movie List

Here are the movies.  Fortunately, it's a short list.

Ocean's Twelve
Velvet Goldmine