In response to last week’s list of the Best Films of All Time, I have decided to name the Worst Films of All Time.
Talking about the films you hate is sometimes even more subjective than talking about the films you love. I know that sometimes I carry a personal vendetta against certain directors or stars who have made me endure something horrible in the past. Also, there’s a difference between a bad film, and a BAD FILM. Everyone knows that an Ed Wood production, a video-game film adaptation from Uwe Boll, or the latest film staring Paul Walker is going to be laughably horrendous. It also seems that every month there’s another horror movie, comic-book adaptation, or romantic comedy that is shrieking and unwatchable. There are also those films that are so festering and bilious (Showgirls) or downright silly (Santa Claus Conquers the Martians) that they actually become entertaining. The truly BAD FILMS are the ones where a considerable amount of talent, effort, or money went into the production and most of the people involved had the intention of making something worthwhile. Well, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Here, I, David H. Schleicher, present my
Unlucky Seven: The Worst Films of All Time:
7. They (2002, director: Robert Harmon). This contains the “bad movie” trifecta of hackneyed writing, inept direction, and god-awful acting. This moronic horror film really takes the cake, though, because it tries so hard to be a clever psychological thriller. Maybe it should have tried harder at not totally sucking.
6. A History of Violence (2005, director: David Cronenberg). Seasoned auteur Cronenberg actually manages to un-direct (I think it maybe a film history first) this non-story about an Everyman whose small-town heroics uncover a very dark and violent past. There’s also an onslaught of over-acting that makes all the non-sense seem that much more non-chilling. Ultimately this is a non-film I completely non-cared for.
5. In the Bedroom (2001, director: Todd Field). Similar to my feelings about the film at number 6, this film irks me a little bit more because it is so overtly artsy, and actually, quite well directed from a technical sense. The acting is also fairly solid. So how come the film rings so un-true and banal? They all tried too hard to make an unrealistic story seem gritty and compelling, and Field’s presentation of the material comes across as smug and arrogant. Never have I wanted to like a film so much and ended up hating it with every fiber of my body and soul once the credits rolled.
4. 8MM (1999, director: Joel Schumacher). When he stopped making fairly decent film adaptations of John Grisham novels, Joel Schumacher began making some of the worst films of recent memory. This vile piece of trash is rotten to the core, demonically nihilistic, inhumane, and cynical for no other reason than to show the basest form of human behavior. Clueless Joel directed it like some average action-thriller/mystery. This is the only film in history where I seriously considered asking for my money back (alas, I have a fear of confrontation). Never has a film made me so angry.
3. Armageddon (1998, director: Michael Bay). With his new corporate-sponsored toy-tie-in flick Transformers currently raping audiences at the multiplexes, I couldn’t leave a Michael Bay film off this list. For my money, he is the worst successful big-budget director of all time. This film is his masterpiece. It contains all the hallmarks that make Bay so awful: a bombastic sense of jingoism, an erotic military fetish, a perverted view of romance that sentimentalizes misogyny, special-effects and action sequences edited with a hack-saw that occur mostly out of frame, the inability to sustain a shot for more than ten or fifteen seconds, and slow-mo sequences that insult his audience and are used to remind us what’s important or who the hero is (as if his simplistic stories needed any further explanation). This film is often so loud and pointless (Bay has no sense of scope or of building suspense and is also apparently tone deaf both figuratively and literally) that I actually fell asleep during the middle stretch of this mind-numbingly stupid exercise in action adventure as machismo snuff.
2. Signs (2002, director: M. Night Shyamalan). Shyamalan is a director who has never been able to get past the “glory” of his first big hit (and only decent film) The Sixth Sense. Here he uses an alien invasion as a vehicle for one man (Mel Gibson) to explore his faith. The McGuffin set-up is not scary, and the philosophical ponderings lurking underneath are juvenile, nonsensical, and inauthentic. Then, of course, there’s that twist, where character B finally realizes that character C died simply to so she could tell character B to “Swing Away.” This is the prime example of an overly-confident self-indulgent director performing cinematic masturbation while trying foolishly to recapture the magic of his only genuine artistic success. Somehow, this film was a monster hit.
1. Moulin Rouge (2001, director: Baz Luhrmann). I’ve never been a fan of movie musicals, and this film has to be the worst of the lot. Loud, pompous, arbitrary, idiotically romantic, and overly stylish, Baz “The Spazz” Luhrmann truly outdid himself with this piece of frilly, glossy trash. “Oh, the film is so lush and sumptuous! Look at the inventive camera work! Oh, I can’t take my eyes off the passion! Oh, how clever to use modern pop songs in a period piece!” There are people who LOVED every poisonous drop of this film. This movie is too dumb to even be considered cynical in its ploys. This is vapid, soulless, insipid cinematic trickery in its most pop-culture inspired and artistic form. For that reason, I consider it the worst film of all time.
These films surely would’ve snuck in had I been able to stomach a longer list:
Battlefield Earth, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, Catwoman, Chuck & Buck, The Green Mile, Howard the Duck, In the Cut, Interview with the Vampire, Jeepers Creepers 2, Patch Adams, Pay it Forward, Psycho (the 1998 remake), Raising Cain, Sliver.
Written by David H. Schleicher