From B-movie flicks about killer poo to bloated studio epics that got it all wrong, the annals of cinema are packed with surreal oddities and jaw-dropping flops that’ll have you laughing and cringing in equal measure.
Some of the following films are entertainingly terrible. Others are just plain bad. Without further ado, here are thirty of the very worst movies ever made.
The Room (2003)
Dubbed the “Citizen Kane of bad movies”, this unintentionally hysterical melodrama from writer, director and star Tommy Wiseau has deservedly become a cult sensation.
Sub-plots involving life-threatening illness and a violent drug dealer are introduced and dropped for no apparent reason; shell-shocked actors utter atrocious dialogue in surreal, stilted exchanges; and Wiseau’s bizarre delivery of his own awkward lines has to be seen to be believed. “YOU’RE TEARING ME APART LISA!”
Troll 2 (1990)
There are no Trolls, and it isn’t a sequel. Confused? You will be.
Centering around one family’s battle against vegetarian monsters that want to turn them into plants, this delightfully dreadful creature feature is a feast of horrendous writing, rubbish visual effects and absolutely dire performances. The Italian filmmakers could barely communicate with their largely amateur American cast, which included – we kid you not – a pot-smoking psychiatric patient on day release.
Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)
Ed Wood’s seminal ’50s turkey serves up a gleefully dumb B-Movie blend of zombies and flying saucers, complete with party shop costumes and laughable lines.
Best of all is the use of pre-shot footage and a completely ill-suited stand-in to crowbar recently-deceased Dracula star Bela Lugosi into the film. Resorting to Bowfinger-esque levels of crazy, Wood had his wife’s chiropractor run around with a cape over his face pretending to be the legendary actor – despite the fact that he was noticeably taller, fatter and balder than Lugosi.
Samurai Cop (1989)
Winner of the award for ‘Worst Wig in a Fight Scene Ever’, this endearingly terrible crime thriller boasts baffling sex scenes, hilarious shoot-outs and some of the most side-splitting cut-aways ever committed to film.
Highlights include an insanely camp restaurant owner and a very sexually-forward nurse, while the presence of stalling vehicles during a chase scene and actors visibly fluffling their lines suggests that this is the world’s first movie to be constructed entirely from outtakes.
Captain America (1990)
Nope. Not the new all-singing, all-dancing blockbuster version. We’re talking about the unintentionally hilarious early ’90s flop – where the hero has dorky plastic wings on the side of his head, and looks like a fancy dress wearing student taking part in some absurd amateur spoof.
Boasting terrible effects, awkward stunts, jarring shifts in tone and laughably poor, charisma-free performances, it also packs one of the most ludicrous plots ever conceived for a superhero film (and that’s saying something). So bizarrely mis-judged, you’ll swear you hallucinated it.
Sean Connery sports a bright red version of the Borat mankini, while a giant stone head flies around chucking swords at people. John Boorman’s weirdest work – and that’s saying something – has understandably become a cult sensation.
Is it a load of nonsensical rubbish, or a misunderstood slice of genius? We’re tempted to go with the former, though the startling imagery and entertainingly bizarre action mean this is definitely still worth a watch.
The Happening (2008)
M Night Shyamalan’s jaw-dropping fall from grace was confirmed with this glorious piece of catastrophic trash. It’s so painfully bad, you wonder whether the Sixth Sense director is in on the joke.
Everybody in this apocalyptic car crash is woefully mis-cast; moments intended to be thought-provoking or shocking end up being laugh-out-loud funny; and, in a scene you’ll think you dreamt, Mark Wahlberg pleads earnestly with a potted plant. “Cheese and crackers!”
Packing some of the worst visual effects you’ll ever see, this low-budget ‘birds gone bad’ shocker is full of naff monotone acting and memorably bad moments.
The use of clip-art and jpegs to create hostile airborne attackers is enjoyable enough, but the real kicker is the stunningly inane first half of the movie – in which we spend long and eventful scenes with our protagonist filling up his car, sitting around the office and talking about how economical his Mustang is.
Batman and Robin (1997)
The movie that killed a hit franchise – until Christopher Nolan brilliantly resurrected it of course – there’s so much wrong with this tacky, garish and preposterous car crash it’s almost impossible to know where to begin.
There are nipples on the Batsuit, the sets look like something out of a travelling funfair, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cheesy quips are just the tip of the wince-inducing iceberg (sorry). “You’re not sending me to the cooler!”
Three Giant Men (1973)
Brilliantly awful in a so-bad-its-good kind of way, this completely insane Turkish spin on American comic book heroes has understandably acquired an enthusiastic cult following.
Unrecognisable versions of El Santo and Captain America fight an inexplicably villainous Spider-Man – who sports an outfit Kick-Ass wouldn’t be seen dead in, attacks women in the shower, and stabs people with a flick-knife in battle. Known as 3 Dev Adam in its original title, it’s a mind-bending acid trip of a movie.
Son of the Mask (2005)
The runaway success of slapstick fantasy comedy The Mask should have just been left to bow out on a high. But this follow-up got it spectacularly wrong.
Littered with unbelievably naff special effects, cringe-worthy attempts at humour, and an infant ‘son of the mask’ that doesn’t even look real, this time around it’s a baby left to wreak havoc – having been born with the powers of Loki’s mask. Which makes life rather challenging for new parent Tim Avery, played by Jamie Kennedy. And for us.
Marvel as a rogue cyborg cop dorkily stumbles through static chairs, beats-up buck-toothed fast food workers, and faces off against a muscle-bound female scientist with the world’s worst dress sense.
Laughably silly and mis-judged, this atrocious, jaw-dropping ‘thriller’ boasts some of the oddest line delivery and lamest fight scenes in film history. As the icing on the cake, the climactic martial arts showdown takes place in the background of a fix-angled shot.
The Gingerdead Man (2005)
Gary Busey stars as a serial killer brought back from the dead as a murderous Gingerbread character, after his mother mixes his ashes in with some bake-your-own cookie dough.
Further outings of the bloodthirsty digestive included battles with a sentient bong and the religious epic Passion of the Crust.
Basket Case (1982)
A sexually-frustrated, egocentric blob-man who lives in a basket and is carried around as a constant burden to his formerly conjoined (and wholly normal looking) bro Duane.
Belial loves nothing more than cock-blocking his sibling and attacking any girl that gets within a few yards of his brother’s piece. That is if Duane gets that far: nothing screams steamy boudoir more than a mumbling head watching from the corner.
In which Superman’s kid cousin travels to Earth to enroll at a private school, and battle an evil witch whose sole scheme is to seduce our hero’s love interest using a dastardly spell.
Yep, that’s right: the whole crux of the plot is two women fighting over some guy. A real hammer blow for gender equality in action films if there ever was one. Amazingly, the supporting cast includes Faye Dunaway as the villain and the late, great Peter O’Toole as a Kryptonian mentor. Bizarre.
The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
A film so naff it led Sean Connery to retire, and provided pretty cast-iron evidence for Alan Moore’s eternal cynicism about adaptations of his work. The whole thing descends into epic farce before your very eyes, complete with extremely dodgy effects, performances and outfits.
While the steampunk aesthetic is cool in theory, in practice it’s criminal how a movie that unites Dr Jekyll, Captain Nemo, Mina Harker and Allan Quatermain can fall so consistently flat. “I’m waiting to be impressed!”
The Wicker Man (2006)
Ever wanted to see Nicolas Cage lamping women while dressed as a bear? Or screaming the immortal line: “Killing me won’t bring back your goddamn honey!”? You’ve come to the right place.
This shockingly ill-conceived ‘re-imagining’ of the classic British chiller combines one of Cage’s most unhinged performances with a ludicrous plot and countless visually silly scenes. Ultimately, it comes across like a surreal slapstick parody, rather than the affectionate homage it was supposedly meant to be.
Death to Smoochy (2002)
The name alone should be a huge warning to stay away, but if that doesn’t do it surely Edward Norton dressed as a horned Barney should.
A black-comedy that falls flat as a dead purple rhino, Death to Smoochy explores the dark underworld of children’s television. The film was directed by DeVito, which may explain (but not excuse) the fine cast.
Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (2004)
A sad swansong in the career of late Porky’s director Bob Clark, this universally slated sequel to the already hated family ‘comedy’ that spawned it is a cringe-inducing horror show of awkward CGI, cheap garish sets, lame unfunny gags and a script that seems like it was all but made up on the spot.
Yep, through the miracle of modern-day effects, we get to see confused-looking toddlers weirdly participating in Matrix-light action and espionage hi-jinks. Jon Voight will probably be forever haunted by his involvement.
Yes, this exists. When serial killer Jack Schmidt encounters a radioactive dump, it transforms him into a walking stack of fecal matter. Hilariously terrible, Monsturd really is a sh*t movie, literally and figuratively.
Robot Monster (1953)
The tone is weird, it’s shot like a drunken home movie, and the title creature is portrayed by a bloke wearing a gorilla suit…with a diving helmet on his head.
Welcome to the world of Robot Monster, another ’50s B-Feature rendered comical by lack of budget and general filmmaking ineptitude. Special bonus fact: legendary film composer Elmer Bernstein wrote the music.
Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987)
The effects are terrible, the actors look like they don’t want to be there, and taxi-bothering villain Nuclear Man – whose voice is weirdly dubbed by Gene Hackman – may be the first comic book bad guy ever to have had a frontal lobotomy.
This widely derided sequel had a troubled production from start to finish, and boy does it show. Viewed now, it’s a ludicrously funny curiosity. At the time, it killed careers.
The costume is absurd. The acting is abysmal. The whole thing looks like a lousy, cheap, made-for-TV effort. And Sharon Stone plays a dastardly cosmetics queen, whose skin cream has granted her super-powers. Sort of.
Don’t even get us started on the horrific watered-down rock music that accompanies the lame fight scenes. Halle Berry picked up a Razzie for her troubles but, let’s be fair, no one in this disaster of an action turd really stood a chance.
You’d think by now that most authors would refuse to let anyone mutate their works of genius into a heartless piece of cinema. Sadly, when money is involved, that’s just not true. As is the case with Christopher Paolini’s Eragon.
This beloved children’s fantasy book from 2003 duly became one of the worst-reviewed films of 2006. It lacks any kind of texture or depth and – for the majority of its running time – comes across as incredibly idiotic. It’s basically a terribly bad rip off of the original Star Wars trilogy with dragons, combined with stilted, lifeless and wooden performances by its cast. Don’t ever, ever, ever, watch it. You’ll thank us later.
The Avengers (1998)
Not to be mistaken for Marvel’s slightly more successful superhero film, The Avengers follows two British agents protecting the world against a bizarre scientist (Sean Connery) who wants to control the world’s weather.
Armed with an absolutely mad plot, and adapted from the TV series of the same name, the film scores a measly 5% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Believe it or not, there has been seven outings for this crude Irish racial stereotype. No, not Louis Walsh. The Leprechaun! A top-hat wearing little fella that’ll take you to the end of his rainbow and do you in.
Oh, and is that Jennifer Aniston starring? Yes. Yes it is.
Blood Freak (1972)
One summer’s evening, nice guy war veteran Herschell is cruelly tricked into smoking a blunt by a beautiful temptress. A few tokes later and Hersch’s life is on a downward spiral. Instantly addicted to blazing a fat one, the former Vietnam hero takes up a job as a guinea-pig for a pair of turkey farmers with an interest in science, who pay him in marijuana.
One fateful experiment later and Hersch finds himself transformed into a murderous man-turkey. Of course, possessing a beak means he can no longer smoke the zoot, so Hersch resorts to killing to sate his need for weed. Drugs are bad kids.
Perhaps the worst movie ever to be nominated for an Academy Award. That must be because make-up genius Rick Baker works in a bubble, unaffected by the incompetence of others.
Despite Eddie Murphy ‘winning’ three individual Razzie awards, Norbit‘s bulging fat suit, complete with realistic cellulite, was deemed Oscar-worthy. Some theorise that Norbit cost Murphy a potential Oscar for Dreamgirls, for which he won the Globe. Poor timing.
Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem (2007)
AVP may have been bad, but Greg and Colin Strause’s squalid turd of a follow-up makes the first film look like The Godfather. In theory, Aliens and Predators descending on a small-town could provide an enjoyable bout of schlock. In practice, the execution is abysmal.
The characters are so clichéd it hurts, the script is cringe-inducing, and the movie also suffers from supremely bad taste – starting with the gory on-screen death of a young kid, and reaching its zenith with a frankly revolting scene in a maternity ward. Avoid.
Battlefield Earth (2000)
This notorious adaptation of L Ron Hubbard’s epic novel was a labour of love for producer John Travolta – who takes the starring role as a giant dreadlocked alien with thoroughly impractical facial accessories, left in charge of security on a future, colonised Earth.
Featuring such wonders as a bunch of rebel cavemen flying fighter jets, and a thoroughly unsexy ‘erotic’ sequence involving a gigantic tongue, few movies have justly earned such gleeful mockery. Still (whisper it), it’s kind of entertaining – if you accept it for the pile of tosh it is.