Having detailed what I felt were the five worst songs ever recorded, I felt it was beholden on me to weigh in on the five worst pieces of cinema ever unleashed.
I’ve sat through a lot of bad films in my life, both intentionally and unintentionally. In other words, there are lots of movies I’ve watched where going in I was in full knowledge of how terrible it almost certainly was going to be and that was part of the appeal; and many where the badness sucker punched me. This is a catalogue of those feature length films I have deemed the worst.
I will say off the bat that this is simply my opinion on the matter, so don’t get upset if some film you love appears below (although if you do actually genuinely love any of these films, please seek help). Different strokes to move the world and all of that. If it’s any consolation, I have kind of weird taste. For instance I think Plan 9 From Outer Space is not only not a bad film, but one of the 100 greatest films ever made. So bear that in mind as you read on.
5. Revenge of the Sith
If I were to do a 100 worst films ever, all three Star Wars prequels would definitely make the list. Not for any lame, George Lucas ruined my childhood reason – they are just three of the worst films ever made by anyone. There’s nothing interesting about that revelation, I realise – most people who have seen the films will at least partially agree with me. However, I am of a minority opinion in regards to thinking that each prequel was significantly worse than the one that preceded it. So to clarify, Phantom Menace is the best prequel, in my opinion. It’s only in the mid-80s in terms of all time stinkers; Attack of the Clones makes the top 30 but stalls there; it took this last instalment to hit the top five.
Yes, Phantom Menace had Jar Jar Binks, that extremely annoying kid that says “Yippie!”, and made absolutely no sense whatsoever. But it also had Liam Neeson and some bits (the Tatooine segment I’m thinking of) that were sort of Star Wars-esque at least. It also did not contain Hayden Christensen anywhere. Attack of the Clones was much worse: the terrible love story with zero chemistry, Anakin being a dick the whole time, “Begun the Clone Wars Have”. But Revenge of the Sith is definitely the worst for several key reasons.
After the first two piles of cinematic horse manure, this one only had to achieve three things to redeem itself. One, don’t fuck up Darth Vader. Two, make Anakin’s transformation into Darth somewhat acceptable in the suspension of disbelief sweepstakes. Finally, don’t fuck up the Obi Wan v Anakin lightsabre battle. It manages to fail on all these counts so unbelievably I sort of admire the film a bit for it.
On the first failed attempt at redemption: if you’ve seen the final five minutes and recall the “Noooooo!” scene, you’ll know nothing more need be said on this one. In terms of Anakin’s transformation into a bad guy: he finds out Palpatine is a Sith Lord. So he…tells the Jedi about it. This is with half an hour to go in the entire film. Then a fight breaks out, Palpatine goes nuts and is about to kill everyone, then Samuel L Jackson is about to kill the Emperor and…Anakin cuts Jackson’s hand off, leading to the Bad Motherfucker’s demise, and then pledges to do whatever Palpatine wants, including murdering a fleet of children and pretty much everyone he’s ever known. I’ve never seen anything in an Ed Wood film, or a video nasty, or a shoddy B-movie that remotely compares in terms of nonsensical character motivation.
On the lightsabre battle: some of why this is one of the most boring scenes of all time has to be laid at the door of the entire trilogy: there’s no tension because Obi Wan and Anakin are never remotely anything like friends at any point throughout the three movies. But we still didn’t need the cheesy sabre flailing at the start,”I believe in democracy!” and – worst of all – “I have the upper ground!”
4. The Back-up Plan
An absolutely shocking J-Lo vehicle, this one starts with our heroine deciding to get herself pregnant via insemination because….she can’t find any guy who will go out with her. It becomes very clear, very early into The Back Up Plan that the character Lopez is playing is clearly supposed to be 20-stone and rather masculine looking besides. Now pregnant, J-Lo defines bad timing and meets the man of her dreams, who fancies her as well: he’s a guy who runs a cheese stand. He’s clearly supposed to be skinny, withered and spotty in the script, the kind of guy who might possibly be a virgin at 35. However, in this piece of poop a male model plays the character. And I’m not exaggerating for effect: Alex O’Loughlin, who performs the role, actually was a male model.
So we watch an hour and a half of this play out, all of which would have been clichéd and kitschy even if they’d cast believable actors in the main roles, but is so much worse for having two incredible looking people go through the motions. It feels sometimes as if the pair of them are making fun of the less fortunate looking, giving the film a nasty edge. Added bonus: J-Lo attends a “wacky” NCT class, one which provides us with some of the most misogynistic scenes in cinematic history.
3. Rock n’ Roll Nightmare
Wow, this one is actually hard to describe. But I’ll try. First things first: it’s Canadian. That says a lot. Secondly, a hair metal singer who calls himself Thor in real life plays the main character. Three, it’s about a hair metal band practicing in a country house who all get possessed by demons. Four, it’s chock full of horrifically cheap looking puppets. Fifth, it’s got the all time best final scene in bad movie history, with extras essentially throwing sponge starfish at Thor from off-screen while terrible music plays over the soundtrack. A comment on YouTube sums the film up perfectly: “This is what gay porn would be like if an 80’s B-horror flick maker got stoned behind the camera.”
2. Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe And Find True Happiness?
In 1969, Anthony Newley was on top of the showbiz world. He’d starred in several hit musicals, including Stop the World – I Want to Get Off, which he co-wrote and won a Tony for. He decided to take the goodwill he’d built up with his success and blow it all, writing, directing and starring in what is the most pretentious movie ever made.
Describing it in full is a tough ask of anyone, so I’ll only give you snippets. The film is basically Newley watching Fellini’s “8 and Half” and saying to himself: “What a bunch of random crap. I can make a bunch of random crap and get called a genius. In fact, that’s exactly what I’m going to do”. Joan Collins is in it and plays a character called Polyester Poontang (Newley and she were husband and wife during the production. They divorced shortly after the film was released). Bruce Forsyth plays his father. Milton Berle plays someone called “Good Time Eddie Filth”. It is a musical with horrendously bad songs in it, some of which are sung almost ten times throughout. The whole film was shot on a single beach in Malta. It is so self-centred, the movie closes with a song entitled “I’m All I Need”.
None of this communicates in anyway how agonising it is to sit through this piece of shit even once, incidentally. My Chicago Connection, who I watched it with the one time I ever made it all the way through, gave the best ever review of the movie, midstream: “This film is making me ashamed to be human.”
1. Monster a Go Go
However, this is the all time king. The worst movie ever made.
Monster a Go Go challenges every assumption you can think of in terms of movie making. Even stuff like Rock n’ Roll Nightmare is clearly trying to entertain its intended audience. This film I don’t think is even attempting to do that, and I do mean at all. It’s not trying to be art either; it’s just so half assed, it’s beyond anything ever made in the history of visual storytelling. There’s a scene in which a guy just walks around in a field for three minutes. No dialogue, no voiceover, no music even. People forget what characters are called and just call them something different. At one point, a phone rings; they clearly had someone on set go “ring ring” before the actor picked it up, with the thought to put in a real phone ringing sound effect in post; they couldn’t be bothered in the end, and the guy saying “ring ring” is still there.
The film ends by collapsing in on itself: we are told in a voiceover that the whole movie was sort of a collective dream, and there was no monster at all. This is the only film ever featured on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 that ended with all three characters booing at it collectively. It is thoroughly deserved.