The Unlucky Seven: The Worst Films of All Time

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.


Dishonorable Mentions:

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



  1. 10. The Messengers
    9. Mulholand Dr. (no offense Dave)
    8. Legally Blond (1, haven’t seen 2)
    7. Jaw Breaker
    6. Running Scared
    5. Ghost Busters 2 (1 was awesome)
    4. The Prestige
    3. Mask (Jim Carrey)
    2. Citizen Kane
    1. Kazaam

    Heath, Ghost Busters 2? Oh, C’mon! I loved that as a kid. I can’t argue with Kazaam, though. And I liked The Prestige. –DHS

  2. Some of these I’m not so sure about but the one selection here that damn near made me jump out of my seat and scream “YES! YES! OH MY GOD, YES!” was Signs. That movie was a huge disappointment. You know what you’re missing, though? The Patriot with Mel Gibson. That was a damn terrible movie.

    Sean, I didn’t feel The Patriot was all that bad. On the topic of Mel Gibson, I found his Passion of the Christ, however, to be unbearable. –DHS

  3. I won’t say which, but I actually like 2 of your top 7. I’ve been told I have no taste and I’m too easy on movies. Oh well. For what it’s worth, the top 7 worst of all time from me (in no particular order because they’re all bad):
    1. Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
    2. Way of the Gun
    3. The Opposite of Sex
    4. Eyes Wide Shut
    5. New York, New York
    6. The Heart Is Most Deceitful Above All Else (or something like that)
    7. My Big Fat Independent Movie

    Mr. Tait, The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things ranks up there with 8MM as just pure filthy vile trash. I only watched it because of the scandal surrounding the not-so-true “true story” behind it, and because I wanted to see how experimental Asia Argento would be as a director. Well, all of my worst nightmares came true. Hot bloody hell, that movie was terrible! Had I not almost completely wiped it from my memory, I may have included it on the list. The Opposite of Sex was putrid, too. –DHS

  4. You’re crazy! Moulin Rouge was fabulous. How can Blair Witch 2 only make the ‘nearly there’ list?
    And what about Dusk till Dawn – that hell-awful contribution of Tarantino’s?

    Lita, let’s be honest, did you actually think Blair Witch 2 would be any good? I expected that film to be bad, and it turned out to be monumentally awful. That’s why it isn’t ranked. I never expected much of it. The truly BAD FILMS are the ones I expected to be good. –DHS

  5. I gotta agree that you’re crazy on Moulin Rouge – I’m one of those freakish people that loved every minute of it – but the rest are fair enough.

    Dusk Till Dawn though? That’d be in my top 10 best for sure!

    Phronk, well, there’s no denying it, a lot of people loved Moulin Rouge. It just makes me passionate about my hatred for it that much more. –DHS

  6. The Hills Have Eyes 2. The original sequel.

    I considered suicide during the first 5 minutes, and literally had a failed attempt at it during the final 5 minutes.

    Horsie, I tried to gouge out my own eyes during the previews! –DHS

  7. The Worst Movies Of All Time? This should have been called the Worst Movies Of The Last 9 Years because that’s as far back as DHS’s list goes. Has everyone forgotten about “Billy Jack” from 1971?

    Bob, as I actively try to erase bad movies from my memory, I do admit a certain short-attention span when it comes to listing movies I hate. –DHS

  8. Finally, someone is prepared to see Moulin Rouge for what it is: the cinematic equivalent of a diabetic hallucination. The film is just a collection of shallow, saccharine observations on love, designed to make 16 year old girls sob. Sadly, I think most people are about 16, emotionally speaking… which is pretty much the only reason I can find to justify this film’s success. Moulin Rouge follows in the Baz Luhrnmann tradition of treating love like it’s something simple. Nowhere else is there a better example of this than the sickening “Romeo + Juliet.” Juliet blows her brains out… ridiculous.

    The one place where I’ll disagree with you is in Battlefield Earth. No, I’m not a Scientologist… but I am a fierce defender of Good-bad movies… cheesy bits of nonsense that are, at times, better than the best movie on your shelf. Roadhouse is another movie like this – a movie so bad that it’s good.

    Battlefield Earth is three of the best hours you’ll ever spend, if you’ve got a few drinks in you, and two to three friends with you.

    I saw that film twice in the theaters. Each time I went with three of my closest friends. Never have I had more fun in a movie theater.

    Watch it again… this time, do it with friends.

    a. -Your elaboration on Moulin Rouge is apt. I can see how Battlefield Earth could be entertaining in the way that you describe, though I just couldn’t see myself watching it again under any condition. –DHS

  9. Save the panning of In The Bedroom, I couldn’t agree more. Eww and double eww for (almost) the entire list.

    Kit, for months I had misread your comment and had posted a response which made absolutely no sense. Now there is this response that will be equally nonsensical as I erased the original response. Oh well, thanks for stopping by! –DHS

  10. I have to disagree with you on Armageddon. It was based off military sci-fi, and if you don’t like that kind of literature you’re not going to like this kind of movie. It had ALL the elements of great scifi, a believable and scary end-of-the-world scenario and a larger-than-life yet still believable plan for dealing with it. And then there was the fact that the fate of the world rests in the hands of a couple bozos, and the audience is left like “oh boy we’re all gonna die,” and somehow by sheer strength of will they pull it off. It’s plot-driven, not necessarily character driven like most mainstream trauma-drama. I don’t feel the romance was misogynistic because Liv Tyler’s character was a very defiant and successful female, as illustrated by her relationship with her dad. It won a bunch of awards, it’s action, geared for younger audiences, but I think anyone who doesn’t like this movie just gets queezy from adrenaline-overrush.

    Nicole, I wouldn’t give Liv Tyler’s character that much credit, but even with your points well taken, it was very poorly directed. –DHS

Provide your own Spin and tell us what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s