Hollywood is no stranger to making truly awful movies. But while many of us shake our heads at the derivative plots, lowbrow humor and general crappiness they tend to churn out, there are still some movies that go above and beyond. Movies so bad, they’re rotten. So how do you separate the mediocre from the truly rotten? That’s where Rotten Tomatoes comes in.
In honor of IFC and Rotten Tomatoes teaming up for Rotten Fridays, we thought we’d wade through the murky waters of movies that scored zero positive reviews resulting in a 0% rating. Which movies are the worst of the worst? Find out below, and for more “too rotten to miss” movies, be sure to catch Rotten Fridays starting August 12th at 8P with a double feature of Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear and Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult. O.J. and Anna Nicole Smith in the same movie? Now that’s rotten!
10. Top Dog (1994)
The movie that all but ended Chuck Norris’ feature film career found the martial arts master mumbling through this Turner & Hooch knockoff that was released about 10 years too late to be relevant.
Billed as an action/comedy, the action is pedestrian and the comedy, well, if you find jokes about dogs eating food off the table hilarious, this is the movie for you. The fact that the flick has a goofy tone aimed at young children, and over-the-top violence befitting the R-rated action star’s heyday, makes this a movie for no one.
Coming out shortly after the Oklahoma City bombings with a plot centered on a terrorist attack surely colored the reviews of this fairly bland flick, damming it to the basement of Rotten Tomatoes. Norris would get one more chance at movie stardom after this, but sadly his turn as a magical woodsman fighting loggers in Forest Warrior was so bad, no one even bothered to review it. What’s worse than a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes? No rating at all.
Pull Quote That Should’ve Been on the Movie Poster: “Nothing in the film is remarkable…What is remarkable is that Norris, America’s nicest tough guy, keeps coming back.” (Joe Leydon, Variety)
9. Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice (2001)
Sure, this isn’t the worst movie on the list. But when you compare this cheap, corny knockoff to the original Slap Shot, an undeniable classic, well, it’s hard to argue that they missed the net with this one. Has there ever been a steeper drop in movie star charisma than the lead role downgrade from Paul Newman to Stephen Baldwin?
Add in a by-the-numbers plot that sees this ragtag hockey team face off against a buttoned-up businessman trying to take the violence out of hockey, and this movie goes from a bad idea to a complete cliché. The fact that Gary Busey, of all people, plays the straight-laced villain just shows how many drugs the casting department must have been smoking when putting this project together. Even cameos by the Hanson Brothers, now 25 years older and yet still out on the ice, can’t save this bland mess of a sequel.
Pull Quote That Should’ve Been on the Movie Poster: “I was sent a copy of this film to review on DVD. For free. I still want my money back.” (IGN Movies)
8. The Starving Games (2013)
If the biggest selling point you have going for your movie is that it’s “from the guys that brought you Meet the Spartans and Vampires Suck,” well, you’re in trouble. This movie is so dumb, so uninspired, and so cheap, it will make you long for the days of classics like Scary Movie and Not Another Teen Movie.
A cheaply-made parody of The Hunger Games, this painfully forced spoof is less a movie and more a series of dated pop culture references (Remember “Gangnam Style”????) Mix in a few lowbrow sex jokes, rampant crotch injury and a few borderline homophobic jokes and you have a movie that could kill the comedy lover in all of us.
Pull Quote That Should’ve Been on the Movie Poster: “[The Starving Games] has the look and feel of a talent show put on by a high school whose imminent closing has not inspired any noticeable public outcry.” (Peter Sobczynski, RogerEbert.com)
7. Pinocchio (2002)
Winning an Oscar buys you clout in Hollywood. That dream project you’ve always kept in your back pocket suddenly becomes a viable property. Unfortunately for Roberto Benigni, the writer/director and star of the treacly Holocaust fairy tale Life is Beautiful, he had always wanted to play Pinocchio, the wooden toy that dreamed of becoming a real boy.
The fact that no one reminded him he was, in reality, a 50-year-old man, and that playing a young boy would be incredibly creepy, just goes to show you how blinded people can be by the chance to make some money. One of the costliest movies in Italian film history, Pinocchio bombed internationally, raked in scathing reviews and all but ended Benigni’s film career outside his native land.
Pull Quote That Should’ve Been on the Movie Poster: “What can one say about a balding 50-year-old actor playing an innocent boy carved from a log?” (Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle)
6. Viktor (2014)
In between the sandwiches and cigarettes, Gerard Depardieu tries out his best Liam Neeson impression in this limp, ugly thriller. Unfortunately, his special set of skills seems to be drinking wine by the carafe and taking mid-afternoon naps.
Neeson has owned the “pissed off dad seeking revenge” genre the last few years, although every actor with an AARP card has tried to get in on the act. Still, Depardieu proves to be the worst of the lot, lacking the psychical dexterity to do more than stumble along, waving a gun and hoping that no one notices a plot that barely holds together. Let’s just be grateful he didn’t have to face off against his greatest enemy: Stairs.
Pull Quote That Should’ve Been on the Movie Poster: “Depardieu lumbers through the film looking as though he’s tormented by indigestion rather than a lust for vengeance.” (Maitland McDonagh, Film Journal International)
5. Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt? (2014)
The novel Atlas Shrugged is fairly controversial in its own right. Some see it as a roadmap to life. Others see it as a heartless how-to guide for aspiring sociopaths. Which doesn’t necessarily mean it couldn’t be adapted into a decent movie, provided the rights hands shepherd it to the big screen. Sadly, whoever owns those hands, they were nowhere near the making of this, the third in a trilogy of films that were meant to expose Ayn Rand’s vision to the masses.
After two failures, and without the cash to continue on, each subsequent film in the series is cheaper and blander than the last. This third installment gives up on even trying to tell a compelling story, simply mirroring the final chapters of the novel in all its inert, condescending ineptitude. That’s how we get a whole movie about rich people sitting around in log cabins, talking about how stupid everyone else is over sips of whiskey. That’s how we get a movie in which trains still play a major part in the U.S. economy, ignoring more than 50 years of progress. If you like your political drivel heavy handed, with Ron Paul cameos and soap opera style acting, then this is the movie for you. For the rest of us, well, maybe it would be better to just leave John Galt alone.
Pull Quote That Should’ve Been on the Movie Poster: “We get it, we get it: Capitalism is good, government is bad. But ‘Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt?’ is worse.” (Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic)
4. Deadline (2012)
This movie has its heart in the right place, and not much else. Loosely based on true events, it tells the story of a reporter desperate to solve the murder of a rural African American boy whose case has gone cold. The pitch here seems to be, if you liked A Time To Kill, but found the filmmaking way too competent, well, then we have a movie for you.
Clearly a passion project for screenwriter Mark Ethridge, who based the script on his work as a reporter for the Charlotte Observer, there is a worthwhile story to be told here somewhere. Unfortunately, being a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and piecing together a coherent, intelligent screenplay are vastly different talents. Like a John Grisham knockoff without the twists and turns, the plot is driven by coincidence and chance. Reporters stumble onto easy answers, and never have to do any real work. Their problems almost solve themselves.
Add in a group of actors who seem like they won a contest to star in the film, and you start to feel like you’re watching a home movie instead of a professional production. Poor Eric Roberts, who long ago was nominated for an Oscar, seems to be cashing a check here — although, with the overall cheapness of the production, we can’t imagine that check was very large. A saccharine, low budget affair, this movie is an example of when passion trumps talent or even competence.
Pull Quote That Should’ve Been on the Movie Poster: “Has all the dramatic punch of a community theater production.” (Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times)
3. Lost Boys: The Thirst (2010)
Banking on nostalgia to bring in some box office gold (or at least bronze), the third Lost Boys film, and the second to go straight-to-video, makes a big deal out of reuniting the Frog Brothers from the original film. Sadly, landing Corey Feldman, whose recent credits include a Sharknado cameo and whatever this is, isn’t really much of a selling point these days.
With a script that mixes clichéd plot points and some pretty standard vampire drivel, there isn’t really much here for fans of the original. More a cheap Blade knockoff than the ’80s neon nightmare of the first Lost Boys, this cheap looking money pit seems to bank on filling Feldman with enough cocaine to keep him sleepwalking through the movie. When the tagline of your trailer is, “just try to relax, this will all be over soon,” you may want to rethink why you even bothered in the first place.
Pull Quote That Should’ve Been on the Movie Poster: “Feldman’s got to eat, I guess…” (Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed)
2. My 5 Wives (2000)
Poor Rodney Dangerfield. He may not have gotten any respect, but he deserved so much better than whatever this was. The story of a rich jerk who ends up buying a group of Mormon wives along with a new ski resort, the politics of this movie are pretty sketchy. Watching an elderly, infirm Dangerfield make love to countless young women is uncomfortable. And the jokes, such as they are, have all the subtlety of a Bill Cosby pickup line. (When two of Dangerfield’s young wives lift their shirts, he exclaims, “Nice booby traps!”)
A one-note limerick in search of a story, there isn’t much here beyond the absurdity of suddenly finding God so you can have sex with a bevy of young women. When Rodney yelled, “Hey everybody, we’re all gonna get laid!,” at the end of Caddyshack, it was ridiculous. 20 years later, it’s just gross.
Pull Quote That Should’ve Been on the Movie Poster: “Humor generally doesn’t get any broader than Dangerfield’s one-liners, but in his new film…each joke strikes like a creaky swinging barn door.” (Robin Rauzi, Los Angeles Times)
1. MegaForce (1982)
With the visual palate of Mad Max: Fury Road, the budget of an Ed Wood movie, and the sexual confusion of Top Gun, Megaforce is clearly the work of a visionary — it’s just unclear what that vision was. The brainchild of stuntman Hal Needham (Smokey and the Bandit), the movie feels a live-action post-apocalyptic G.I. Joe cartoon. With rocket firing motorcycles, battle tanks and 3D holograms, this movie love its toys. What it doesn’t love is a coherent plot.
The “story” depicts two fictional countries, the peaceful Republic of Sardun and the evil Gamibia, who find themselves at war for some inexplicable reason. Led by the spandex wearing, flirty Commander Ace Hunter (Barry Bostwick), the Sardum army must protect the peace, and bury their bromantic love deep down inside, where no one can ever spot it.
A truly bizarre experience, Megaforce is so bad that it’s had a second life as a cult film. In fact, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are such fans, they heavily referenced it in their puppet action movie parody Team America: World Police.
Pull Quote That Should’ve Been on the Movie Poster: “The film maintains an actual ‘plot,’ but views it more as a nuisance than a necessity, probably because it would detract from the scorching homoeroticism of Bostwick in his spandex unitard.” (Rob Vaux, Mania.com)
Catch Rotten Fridays on IFC starting August 12th at 8P.