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June 03, 2008

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If anyone knows how to get a copy of Stigma, please email me too. Before Hilzoy.

Lost In Space

Starship Troopers actually has a lot of merit, people in the US didn't get it at the time, I think it would have a very different reception were it to come out now, post-9/11, post-Pat Tillman and all that.

Green Berets

Starship Troopers actually has a lot of merit

Any movie that puts Doogie Howser in a SS uniform has some merit. Plus, the CGI of the Bugs still holds up.

Yeah absolutely, the CGI in Starship Troopers looks great, I wonder why. So much better than most films even today. Spiderman, the Indy Jones etc., the CGI looks rubbish in most of these movies, I'll never understand the hype.

I still kind of reeling that nobody is backing Showgirls.

I went to see that in the theater, opening night, with a bunch of crass heterosexual college guys, and we were left blubbering in our seats "No... more... breasts... I beg you!"

People may forget that even with all the sexual content it was meant to be a "serious drama". It had a brutal gang rape scene that was I guess meant to be proactive but was just so appallingly bad that you couldn't even believe it was happening.

Though I saw on wikipedia that apparently hipsters view it as campy midnight movie fodder... but I just can't fathom watching that again to find out if it's aged better than I think.

Er... that was meant to be "provocative" not "proactive"... not the typo I was looking for when discussing brutal gang rapes.

Cliffhanger stands out in my memory as something I wish I could scrub from my memory. Much much worse than Lost In Space.

Such merit as may exist in Starship Troopers is all in the shower scene.

hilzoy, Circle Game is a great song

we can't go back
we can only look behind, from where we came

Worst movie ever?

I am going to nominate the 2008 Democratic Primary.

Terrible acting, horrible and tedious plot with racist and sexist subplots, it seemed to go on forever, the direction was hideous, was filled with horrible bit actors who constantly mangled their roles and their lines, and everyone I know hated it.

I hope I never see anything like it again.

I will never watch the movie Titanic.

1. Er...I have never my own self dated a film critic, but since I sometimes pretend to be one, I'm sure hilzoy will believe me when I say that Leave It to Beaver is just the tip of the Bad Movie Iceberg. Really. You were *lucky*.

Really...really really.

2. Simply as a curious data point re Endless Love, the film was based on a hugely praised "literary" novel, and was not, as I recall, all that unfaithful to it (except the book didn't have Lionel Richie and Diana Ross). I frankly loathed both of them; in fact, I think I loathed the novel more.

3. And finally -- as a belated b-day present -- here is the info you desire: By an amazing coincidence it appears that Stigma is coming out on video in less than two weeks. That's assuming it's the *right* Stigma; there appear to have at least two Stigmas that year.

You could google on "Ot Kain DVD". I have already forgotten, not only how to post links, but also where Gary directed to learn how, so until I really apply myself, suffice it to say that a quick trip to dvdpricesearch dot com will show a variety of prices and vendors.

Congo I think is the worst.

I actually didn't hate Cliffhanger enough to put it in the bottom 100.

Scholar. Ethicist. Blogger. Domestic Political Activist. International Do-Gooder.

AND she knows how to play the guitar ...?

Try here for the DVD

It would be impossible for me to single out any one bad film for special opprobrium -- not only because there are so many but because they are bad in several different ways. If I had to name my *least* favorite of the past few years, Christmas with the Kranks would be a likely contender. It so offended me that I drove my friends crazy ranting about it.

When I first saw Starship Troopers, I walked in late, thus missing some moments of crucial context that, when I caught them, literally reversed my assessment. It's really pretty great.

To really date myself I submit Neighbors with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as the worst movie I ever saw. It was truly awful.

Whoa. Two Dan Aykroyd films cited in two successive posts. Coincidence? Or trend?

The movie that I recall driving me closest to existential despair might have been _The Crow_. (The kind of movie about which Mick LaSalle of the SF Chronicle once said something like, "As you sit and watch, your mind starts to do the grim math. 30 years of life left . . . about 11,000 days . . . 263,000 hours of life left . . . and I spent two of them watching this??") Although it was also, I can't believe a young man died to make a movie as wretched as this.

AndyK: it was worth it ;) . But Leave It To Beaver was truly awful.

I am so psyched about Stigma. I have pre-ordered it. I hope it is the right one. I had no idea it would ever make it to DVD.

"Dune" still ranks as the worst movie I ever paid full price for in a movie theater. It was one of my first dates with the gentleman who is now my husband, and we wouldn't have stayed until the end except I was telling him "it's going to rain! it's going to rain!" and he thought that was preposterous. We were both right, of course.

If you haven't paid full price, you haven't *really* suffered. Especially these days.

Tee hee. The one on Amazon is the right Stigma.

This has made my year.

The book Congo was wretched: formulaic, woodenly-written, badly-plotted, far below the already-mediocre quality of Crichton's earlier work.

going for three:

My Stepmother is an Alien

disagree on Congo. It's got some of the best dialog ever. "Follow the gorilla. I don't have her passion." and from Laura Linney no less. "Freed from the chains of Ceausescu". A pricelessly bad Romanian accent, from Tim Curry no less.

ah nuts. my prior was supposed to follow AndyK's comment. too slow.

Congo is pretty awful, but it *does* have Ernie Hudson's wonderful performance.

Dune is a mess, but what floats in David Lynch's toilet is *still* more interesting than many of these films.

Congo is wonderful cheese, and not only is Hudson's performance great, but so is Tim Curry's scenery-chewing. Plus: Joe Don Baker. Plus: Bruce Campbell in a bit part.

I offer the Dan Ackroyd/Chevy Chase megaflop Nothing But Trouble as One To Avoid (though watching truly bad movies has its own pleasure, in the MST3K sense.) A remarkably strange and repellent moviegoing experience.

I can't be the only person here who loves Dune, surely. The production design was incredible, the interiors that mixed imperial Europe with space opera. I love the rocking music too.

No no, Dune is wonderful. Probably my favorite Lynch (proving I am not a true Lynchead.)

Oh! Life Is Beautiful! The concentration camp comedy. Avoid at all costs.

300 is probably the most terrible thing I've seen recently, I literally found that unwatchable, and I've been known to watch all kinds of trash, especially when stuck on a long-haul flight as in this case. I think every single line of dialogue was yelled, at least every second shot was gratuitous slo-mo. To call the political-psychological subtext puerile would be an insult to mindless angry young boys.

Sure, yeah. Many of those movies are bad. But how many movies, in addition to being bad by every conceivable artistic measure, are also morally evil? I submit Aquamarine.

David Kilmer: moral evil is one of the many reasons why I go with Endless Love.

Where's Gary. Any true Heinlein fan has to rate Starship Troopers as one of the worst movies of all time. And I read the book about 1974, a full seven years before Stigma. The movie may be new, but the book's a different story.

Hilzoy - I will have to take your word for it, because honestly, I did not make it through much of Endless Love. There must have been a documentary on about Zachary Taylor or something.

Also - You forgot to mention the "David" character's last name.

OMGOMGOMG -"Barber Saloon"!

Another cringeworthy movie that my family has an inordinately sentimental attachment to is "The Natural". Toward the end, Robert Redford says to Glenn Close: "Some mistakes you never stop paying for." which is what I thought about when I read about "Barber Saloon caught on film!"

"Dune" for us crashed on the rock of "nothing like the book". Also, when the Director's Cut begins with a *45-minute voice-over* explaining what's going on, You're Doing It Wrong.

Howard the Duck

The scene where she pulls the condom out of his little duck wallet. Vomit vomit vomit.

Nashville Girl

Seen as part of one of Quentin Tarantino's film fests at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin as part of an "Exploitation All-Nighter", and it pretty much killed my will to stay for the rest of the night. (I did stick around for the following feature, "Death Collector", which has the distinction of being Joe Pesci's debut, and which wasn't half bad, but I bailed after that.) Nashville Girl begins and ends with nasty rape scenes, and is punctuated throughout with some of the worst country music ever. SO. BAD. In SO MANY WAYS.

Ah, damnit. Two people using the same handle round here (we're both named Francis - or at least I am and I assume the same is true of the other one).

/me switches handle to Francis D

Uh. Crash. Crash. Crash.

I've seen movies that have sucked. I've never taken in a film that made me livid, tho. not like Crash.

Perhaps I'm dating myself too, but a list of films to die before seeing that doesn't include anything directed by Ken Russell. Surely not!

Which "Crash", G.D.? 1996 or 2004?

I thought The Crow was good stuff - still do.

The sequel, OTOH ... god, it was awful stuff.

The commenters at Crooked Timber never dated a movie critic. If, like me, they had, they might have seen a lot more truly bad movies.

My degree is in film and I worked for film distributors for five years. I saw some truly dreadful crap, including a softcore porn film called Chatterbox. I'll leave it to your imagination.

Every year we used to go to the Independent Film Project to see films for potential acquisition. Some were good, some were hideous - and I'm being charitable.

to the other Francis -- my initials are FDL (which made the launch of the firedoglake blog a little disconcerting). Any further modification of your identity possible?

Hillary Clinton just conceded!

Boy oh boy, talk about wishful thinking.

Goddamn you The Modesto Kid!

Well I thought she conceded! It seemed to me like she had just said "I'm going to do what's best for the Party" and since that obviously means she's removing herself from the race, I got all ecstatic and then she went on talking about what a great candidate she is, and then about ten minutes later she said "and that's why I'm not making any decisions just yet." What the @#[email protected]#%!(??

Starship Troopers is better understood as a commentary on the book than as a movie version of the book.

togolosh:

What comment is the movie *making*, do you think?

Am I the only one the remembers Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band?

George Burns singing Beatle's songs.

Starship Troopers actually has a lot of merit, people in the US didn't get it at the time,

Gotta disagree on this one. Yeah, I got the subtext about fascist government, the critique of jingoism, the satire of mass media, etc. I just didn't think any of it was very subtle, insightful, or effective, and a limp-wristed stab at depth isn't nearly enough to make up for the fact that the rest of the movie is a mind-numbing orgy of gratuitous violence, T&A, and terrible acting. If you want to watch a smart, fiercely intelligent action/war movie from that era rent Three Kings. Starship Troopers is something fratboy film students would come up with after an all-night bong bender. Certainly not the worst film of all time, but hardly good.

My nominations for movies I wish I had never watched:

1.)Swordfish. Just awful. Oozes contempt for the audience with one long, cynical pander to the lowest common denominator after another, as if the filmmakers were checking off a list, in addition to the standard incomprehensibly stupid plot, and lousy acting all around.

2.)Battlefield Earth. Rented this one with a bunch of friends in college because we thought it'd be a hoot to make fun of, but it wasn't. Overbearing, headache-inducing soundtrack, cheesy special effects, and junior high drama club caliber script and acting that makes you wince rather than laugh. (These two selections, along with other dreck like Wild Hogs, are why John Travolta is possibly my least favorite actor in Hollywood).

3.)Pearl Harbor. This one does have some unintentional comedy value, but since you've got to sit through three hours of explosion-porn, Ben Affleck, and romantic dialogue that sounds like it was penned by George Lucas to get to it, it's not worth it. As an effort to make a "serious" film it's perhaps the hackiest effort in the oeuvre of hack's hack Michael Bay.

I watched this one from beginning to end one night after finding it on Comcast Digital OnDemand. I love zombie movies, but this one is truly awful. I only watched the whole thing because I couldn't stop, being aflicted with Amazement of the Badness. Half of the movie was shot in a warehouse - the same warehouse - from what I could tell, regardless of the diversity of the intended settings. Sorry for being too lazy to link; I don't have my HTML cheat-sheet on hand.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0463392/

Uh. Crash. Crash. Crash.

Oooh, forgot about this one. Easily the worst Best Picture winner ever for my money.

Oh, and does anyone remember The Hand with Michael Caine?

hairshirthedonist,

Directed by Oliver Stone

I saw some truly dreadful crap, including a softcore porn film called Chatterbox.

This is the movie about the woman with the talking vagina, yes?

My one and only comment on Starship Troopers: Anyone who does not have fun watching this movie hates the entire concept of fun. And I'm not at all certain how to account for the opinion of someone who voluntarily contributed money or time to view Swordfish, Battlefield Earth OR Pearl Harbor, or any combination thereof, and expected them to be anything but unmitigated garbage.

That said, the worst movie I've seen in recent years -- it was on my Netflix list, and I watched it with extremely low expectations -- was Transformers. Absolutely terrible even by the standards of movies based on cartoons based on toys.

for a long time, i hated the movie "Independence Day" for both being incredibly stupid and hackneyed and for being a sci-fi movie (I love sci-fi) that was stupid. i felt patronized; in hindsight, i was being a bit of a snob. it's kind of a fun movie.

i continue to hate the movie "The Patriot". i thought it felt like emotional blackmail, and i had a very strong negative reaction to it in the theater. probably not the worst movie i've seen, but the one i've had the worst reaction to-- i felt personally really insulted, i guess because i'm a real patriot and this was using cheap "patriotism" as a tear-jerker. rant over :-)

And I'm not at all certain how to account for the opinion of someone who voluntarily contributed money or time to view Swordfish, Battlefield Earth OR Pearl Harbor, or any combination thereof, and expected them to be anything but unmitigated garbage.

With the exception of Battlefield Earth (which was a rental, hence involving a minimum investment), no money was involved - I saw Swordfish on DVD (my friend was unfortunate enough to receive it as a Christmas present) and Pearl Harbor on TV. As for time, yes, I did make an investment, which I regret, but that's the whole point of this thread, correct? ;) Note also that I saw all three of these in college, expecting them to be garbage, but garbage mitigated by ironic entertainment value (which they weren't). I did a lot of things that wasted time/money and which I now regret when I was in college.

I'd like to hear you mount a serious argument as to why Starship Troopers is less of a piece of crap than these three, or Transformers, for that matter. The only arguments I've ever heard in its defense are 1.)"it's got a sharp critique of right wing government buried within" (which I already noted I didn't find particularly sharp, and certainly wouldn't be fun, even if it were sharp), and 2.)"it's so bad it's good" (which it's not, IMO, but is a pretty weak rationale for spending two of your precious hours on earth watching it in any case).

Directed by Oliver Stone

I had no idea. He's done a few bad ones, but still - all the more delicious.

>>a mind-numbing orgy of gratuitous violence, T&A, and terrible acting.

You say that like it's a *bad* thing. There are days when the films are so dull I'd sell my birthright for some of that there pottage.

>>2.)Battlefield Earth. Rented this one with a bunch of friends in college because we thought it'd be a hoot to make fun of, but it wasn't.

Here's where you got suckered: Unless they've put out a new edition, the DVD of BE was NOT the theatrical release, which was so humorously embarrassing that it was recut. Removing the film's "worst" elements diminished its pleasures.

More really awful films are leaping to mind, sadly. Some movies (like Christmas with the Kranks) offend me morally; others offend me aesthetically (like Perfect Stranger, the Halle Berry/Bruce Willis thing). I'm not sure which variety of offense makes me angrier.

That said, the worst movie I've seen in recent years -- it was on my Netflix list, and I watched it with extremely low expectations -- was Transformers.
It purported to be mindless CGI porn, and it did its job alright. Fully agreed w/ you re: Starship Troopers, though.

The first movie I walked out on, and still ranks as the worst in my book, is Speed. A black hole of stupid, making everything around it dumber.

If you hated The Hand, be sure to miss Stone's very first feature, Seizure (aka Queen of Evil, aka Tango Macabre)! With Jonathan Frid, Martine Beswick, Troy Donahue, Mary Woronov, and Herve Villechaize!

Whoa! Duuuude!

>>The first movie I walked out on, and still ranks as the worst in my book, is Speed. A black hole of stupid, making everything around it dumber.

It must have done that to me, because I thought it was great. Made my Top Ten list and all.

Talk to Her.

Any movie which:

1) asks me to have sympathy with a creepy retarded boy as he stalks and then fondles a girl in a coma

2) attempts to impart serious dramatic themes via a giant claymation vagina (complete with a little guy running around in the pubes)

should come with a warning label.

In fact, I think this rule could reasonably be extended to any non-satirical use of a giant claymation vagina.

I just edited the Leave it to Beaver Wikipedia entry. Some smartass had shifted a comma. I could not bear the thought of anyone actually believing that smegma-encrusted rag of a film earned over a hundred million domestically.

Did anyone notice that the full name of the lead male character in Endless Love is David Axelrod? Weird.

Sure, yeah. Many of those movies are bad. But how many movies, in addition to being bad by every conceivable artistic measure, are also morally evil?

Many movies are morally evil. The one that I found most offensive was "Mississippi Burning." The plot is basically Jack Bauer joins the Civil Rights movement. Seriously! It's all about how a couple of Jack Bauer type FBI agents torture evil rednecks to advance the cause of the Civil Rights movement. No ticking bomb, even.

Count me with the people who hate "Dune." My understanding is that it was a 5 hour movie that the directors had to cut down to 2 hours. My family compared it to cutting a 500 page book to 200 pages by cutting out 3/5 of each page -- they left enough of each subplot to tantalize a little, but not enough to actually go anywhere. That may be why the whole thing was basically incomprehensible to anyone who had not read the book.

"If they were more antiquated, as I am, they could not possibly have failed to mention the worst movie of all time: Endless Love."

I take it you've never seen Plan 9 From Outer Space, or any other Ed Wood film?

"3) The commenters at Crooked Timber have never been conscripted into a movie while on kibbutz. I was."

I bet you've never been conscripted into a movie (video, technically, in 1976) where you're handed a broom, and told you're being chased by a giant time traveling blancmange, and to act according to The Method, and show your fear.

I was. Just sayin'.

The movie: "Starship Troopers actually has a lot of merit"

If you care nothing for the book, or anything resembling sense, sure. Red Mike got it right.

Geez, Chasing Amy is one of my top fifty favorite films of all time, and a favorite of innumerable Kevin Smith fans.

I guess we should all stop now.

"Any further modification of your identity possible?"

With due respect, if you use a perfectly common name, alone, as a handle, what do you expect everyone else who thinks they'll never, in the whole internet, run into one of the other people with that handle, to do? Is it a surprise that there is more than one "Francis," or Frank, Jim, Jane, Sarah, Fred, Sam, Jennifer, Joan, Sandra, etc., around?

What are people thinking when they pick a name they know lots of other people are going to use? That they'll never be anywhere another person with that name, and lack of thinking, will be? Or what?

"Anyone who does not have fun watching this movie hates the entire concept of fun."

Or had the faintest interest in Robert Heinlein, or didn't hate the book.

"The one that I found most offensive was 'Mississippi Burning.'"

Yes! The movie that turned Hoover's FBI, the one that for most of its history only had as an African-American agent, Hoover's valet, the FBI that engaged in COINTELPRO, that was involved in the targeted killing of Black Panther leaders, that furiously worked to "prove" that all civil rights leaders were communists led by the Soviet union, that bugged Martin Luther King having extra-marital sex, and sent him the tape with an anonymous note suggesting he commit suicide, and sent the tape to several journalists, the FBI that was Hoover's perverse tool to crush the civil rights movement -- that FBI -- is turned into a fictional hero of the Goodman, Schwerner, Chaney, murders.

A more disgusting Big Lie is hard to find in any "historical" movie, and there are some real contenders.

"The first movie I walked out on, and still ranks as the worst in my book, is Speed."

That's just bizarre, because it's so utterly subjective: it was a hit movie, both critically and at the box office, so while you're 100% entitled to your own opinion, putting it up as any sort of objective worse -- and I do see tht you wrote "in my book," of course -- seems rather odd.

Besides, compared to Speed 2? That's better? Are you kidding. (I know, you never saw it, but we are supposed to be talking about the worst, not "the movie I personally disliked the most," I thought.)

Personally, I'd stick to movies that are objectively technically That Bad, or to movies that so utterly fail to meet the director's intentions, rather than by any sort of subjective criteria, but that's me, again, all over.

If the question was "which movies did I hate most of all?" or "which movies did i find most boring?," I'd give a different answer than to the question seemingly put here. Though I see that the CT header is "101 Movies to avoid watching before you die," which leaves me highly unclear as to what, exactly, is being categorized or solicited: according to whom?

Taste is, after all, completely subjective, and inarguable.

"It's all about how a couple of Jack Bauer type FBI agents torture evil rednecks"

But wait, that's not true. Neither Gene Hackman nor and Willem Dafoe use any violence at any time. They do bully and use harsh words, but torture? Am I forgetting something? Always possible, and I suppose I must be.

"Jack Bauer"? In what sense?

Haha. Hilzoy, that's a great story. ( I've been roped into some cameos, mainly dead and dying soldiers in period films. I like yours better.) Please post the video when you get it!

Gary, in Mississippi Burning they copter in a black agent to threaten one of the rednecks with torture near the end. It's a bluff, but an effective tactic for them in the movie.

I had a friend in college who wrote a paper on that film and its historical accuracy — for instance, apparently James Chaney, was driving the car, but in the film they put him in the back seat. My friend used it as a perfect metaphor for the film as a whole – putting blacks in the back seat. Director Alan Parker apparently was aware of some of the problems with the film, but still felt it was important and that he had to make compromises to get it made at the time. I find the film problematic, but I do know some people who had a powerful experience seeing it. So my main concern is about people who don't go beyond the film to learn more.

I actually have a soft spot for Dune, not that I think it's a great film. My younger brother and I used to play the six degrees of Kevin Bacon game, except with Dune, because, well, that's the type of geeks we were (err, are).

Battlefield Earth is pretty damn bad. I won it this year as the Oscar Pool prize. But I was sorta fascinated by its awfulness. The people I watched it with did not feel as charitable. What I loved about that film is that, when it came out, even all the suck-up Hollywood shows felt comfortable trashing it.

"Jack Bauer"? In what sense?

Maybe torture is an exaggeration. They have a large black guy pull out a razor and threaten to castrate one of the conspirators in order to make him give up the plot. (Granted he does not actually do it, but the credible threat is bad enough). They also ask a store keeper for change and then threaten to slam the cash register door on his hand in order to make him step outside so his fellow Klansmen will see him talking to the FBI.

I'm sorry, to do these things when a nuclear bomb is about to blow up Los Angeles is bad enough. To do them in the name of civil rights is grotesque beyond description.

"If they were more antiquated, as I am, they could not possibly have failed to mention the worst movie of all time: Endless Love."

I take it you've never seen Plan 9 From Outer Space, or any other Ed Wood film?

I think perhaps the bar needs to be set differently for Ed Wood than it does for Franco Zefferelli. IMHO at least.

Also, this:"Anyone who does not have fun watching this movie hates the entire concept of fun."

Or had the faintest interest in Robert Heinlein, or didn't hate the book.

My suggestion to everyone, everywhere, at any time, ever, who goes to a movie expecting to see a book that they have read and enjoyed: Re-read the book instead. Otherwise you are generally going to be sorely disappointed in one manner or another.

Starship Troopers is much better after you realise it's supposed to be a part of the world it depicts. It's the war propoganda movie from that world. And if you say it's far too over the top to be effective even in that world, Rupert Murdoch has a media empire that would disagree with you.

OK, to expand on a few of those now that I've showered:

1. Xeynon, I was just yanking your chain about those three movies. I certainly didn't mean for it to be a serious look at your judgment and taste.

2. My opinion of Troopers -- and I'll state that I've never read the book, but doubt I'd feel much differently if I had, as, again, book, movie, different things -- is that it's in such gleefully bad taste that it approaches a mid-period John Waters movie; it has well-executed action sequences and clever creature design; and it uses American action-movie and war-movie tropes against its own genre in a way that Michael Haneke might be capable of if he weren't a humorless scold.

Plus, it has Michael Ironside saying, "It sucked his brains!" That's capital-F Fun and capital-C Camp right there, and if you don't like it, well, I guess you don't like it, but to me, them's good times.

3. The reason people jump so easily to stuff like Plan 9, Gary, is - IMHO - largely due to conventional wisdom. I'm willing to bet that a large proportion of the people who use that as their go-to "worst movie" have never even seen it and are instead relying on the opinions of tastemakers. Certainly, neither it or any other Ed Wood joint are objectively any worse than the dozens of pieces of drive-in fodder that appeared on MST3K over the years. Hell, at least Ed Wood had vision of a sort -- Coleman Francis's cinematic abortions are an order of magnitude worse than anything Wood ever tried. And most Roger Corman movies are not "good" under any objective standards, but many are revered for their cleverness and efficiency, and their reputations as incubators for people who went on to become major industry talents.

And, again, I set the bar differently for people shooting movies in 10 days for $100,000 and where the cast is also the crew than I do differently for a studio-financed picture involving millions of dollars and hundreds of skilled craftsmen. To me, there was no reason whatsoever for an incomprehensibly stupid piece of navel-gazing like Ocean's 12 to ever appear on the screen. It's objectively bad, and a waste of anyone's time. The entire cast are dumber for having participated.

To me, a bad movie is one that fails the Gene Siskel rule: Is this movie more interesting than watching a movie of its cast having lunch together?

4. Finally, I don't think there's any such thing as a "worst movie," any more than there's anything like a "best movie." There's only movies you like, and movies you don't. But for contrast, perhaps some of those who have posted could name what they feel is the best movie ever. Or, if they've only been naming "bad movies," then some counterexample "good movies."


Oh, and a last word on Transformers: I've got a pretty big TV at home -- 50" -- and I watched the movie on HD-DVD, and I was appalled at how clumsily the blocking and framing of some of the action was done. I know I shouldn't expect otherwise from Michael Bay and his average 1.5 second shot length, but I literally cannot imagine watching that film on anything less than a 40" screen and expecting the action to make any sense whatsoever. The attack on the military base, when not being shot in frenetic closeups of explosions, had its action so deep in the background you'd be unable to see anything at all on a smaller TV.

Re-read the book instead.

Very true, or they could watch one of these boring BBC literary adaptions. But I'm afraid this particular misunderstanding disregarding the different nature of the two art forms will be with us forever.

I suffer from severe trashophilia cinematica myself and many "bad" movies are actually extremly entertaining. Really bad movies are often not B but A category (and might have been acceptable without the ambition*).
The greatest contrast between ambition and effort on the one side and results on the other I have seen for quite a long time is Das Mädchen Johanna (Joan the girl), the Nazi made version of the Joan of Arc story. That was a prestige project with the creme de la creme of German actors etc. The script turns almost everyone into pure caricatures and the only one who is able to retain at least a shred of credibility is Gründgens. Joan is turned into a pure minor character with a minimum of dialogue (most of it consisting of the same two phrases repeated again and again) and she is just a useful tool, not a "mover" at all.
While I am at the topic of nazi movies: the (in)famous Jud Süß is in my opinion also a not just morally repellent but also extremly badly made movie. It only works (and even then just barely), if one already believes its premise. Some scenes also make sense only, if one knows the British movie Jew Suess it was the answer to (starring Conrad Veidt who delivers a stellar performance).
---
As for US movies: look for the pseudo-Japanese "I tie your shoe, you tie my shoe" of WW2 era war movies

*A good claim could be made that Godzilla works perfectly well when done tongue-in-cheek with rubber suits but completely fails, if taken into "serious" (budget) territory

I was unable to resist the idea of getting my hair cut in a place with a sign that said: "Barber Saloon", because it was so wonderful

The drunken barbers strike again!

Thanks -

"Dune" still ranks as the worst movie I ever paid full price for in a movie theater.

"Gwendoline" or "The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak", stands as the worst film that I've seen in a theater. "Nothing But Touble" was truly awful, but that at least I saw that on cable.

Among the worst historical movies, "The Greatest Story Ever Told", with John Wayne as a centurion rates admission to the pantheon, though contenders abound.

"Dune" was a travesty for all fans of the book.

Gary, many Ed Wood films arguably rate as Great Bad Cinema, but then I admit a perverse appreciation for "Re-Animator".

But "Re-Animator" is unimpeachably great!!

Is this Stigma? Apparently AKA Ot Kain?

Looks like it is available online.

Lifeforce will just suck the life-force out of you.

Maximum Overdrive is one of the few movies I've walked out of. Craptastic!

I agree with a few of Xeynon's choices above; Swordfish was just horrible. But I give extra credit for bad physics. Battlefield Earth was so bad I couldn't watch it all at once. And, of course, I think Starship Troopers was just awful. It captured practically none of the goodness of the original Heinlein story, and what it did capture, it tritened. If that's a word. As Phil suggested, though, it probably had a different appeal if you'd never read the book.

The old version of Dune sucked, but at least we had the movie-trivia goodness of sandworm segments made from condoms. The newer version of Dune was, on the other hand, outstanding. IMO, of course.

Perils of Gwendoline is evil, and must be destroyed. I've never seen a (non-porn) movie before where the plot was practically written around making sure the heroine stays topless for as much of the movie as possible.

My suggestion to everyone, everywhere, at any time, ever, who goes to a movie expecting to see a book that they have read and enjoyed: Re-read the book instead. Otherwise you are generally going to be sorely disappointed in one manner or another.

With some exceptions, possibly. Shawshank Redemption was better than the source material, but I think that was actually a short story, or possibly a novella. 2001, more fittingly. Although with the movie, you can't quite understand what's happening as well as if you've already read the book.

That's capital-F Fun and capital-C Camp right there, and if you don't like it, well, I guess you don't like it, but to me, them's good times.

That's Starship Troopers, the movie, encapsulated. It's just so deliciously over the top. It might have been an accident, but Verhoeven captured the same atmosphere in Robocop, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

With some exceptions, possibly.

I'd nominate Witness for the Prosecution as another exception. (The Hayes Code dictated a change in the ending, which actually improved the story, in my view.) Another short story; I suspect that's not an accident.

"The Hayes Code dictated a change in the ending, which actually improved the story, in my view."

What was the original ending?

The short story ended with the revelation that Christine (Marlene Dietrich) knew that Vole (Tyrone Power) was guilty.

Slartibartfast,

Lifeforce at least had the benefit of Matilda May and an incredibly low budget for her wardrobe.

That was its sole redeeming feature, though. It made for a rather hilarious Joe Bob Goes To The Drive-in, as I recall.

She kind of wiped Patrick Stewart's presence from the film entirely. Even now, I can barely remember that he was in the film.

I can think of another excellent page-to-screen adaptation: The Maltese Falcon. All of the action and snappy dialogue is right there in Hammett's original.

"My suggestion to everyone, everywhere, at any time, ever, who goes to a movie expecting to see a book that they have read and enjoyed: Re-read the book instead. Otherwise you are generally going to be sorely disappointed in one manner or another."

I wouldn't disagree at all, but I do have more to say than that.

I could write a long essay about the perils of book-to-film, and what can and can't be done. As it happens, I spent years working both as a freelancer and as an inhouse editor on the job of, among other duties, reading thousands of movie scripts with the goal of sorting out those worth buying the rights to novelize, assigning a writer, or advising on it, and either doing further work on getting the novel done and out, or handing off the project to someone else after we've bought the novelization rights.

So even if I weren't an amateur student of this stuff, I've had long occasion to give it a lot of thought. And I'm not going to write about most of that stuff here and now.

But in short, if you want to see most of the plot of a piece of text, it's very hard to get that into a film unless you're working from a short story.

Then, there are all sorts of kinds of writing, and that which is plot and character heavy can translate well into film, or one can simply lift the themes, and preserve one essence of the text.

But fiction whose main strength is that of the prose, rather than the plot, that is writerly, rather than a potboiler, won't translate other than thematically, or through a lot of filters.

And, of course, films do very different work than text.

And so, yes, I couldn't agree more that one can't go looking for a film from a text to simply be a reproduction of the text.

But having said that, it's one thing to use a text as a lift-off point for an idea for a film, and another to try to seriously adapt it, and in cases where the main appeal of the text is that it's a book or story beloved by millions of people, it's usually wisest to either: a) make something so different of the film that you'd never really dream of directly comparing the two, save by noting some bits in common; or b) stay reasonably close to what's important and what was valued in the text.

Starship Troopers, love it or hate it, was a serious book, as well as an adventure, and it had serious things to say. It's a much misunderstood book, and a book much over-praised and over-criticized. It's fine to hate it if you hate it while understanding it well.

But what the film did was make a mockery of the book, to say that the story was the opposite of what it was, and that's pretty sickening to anyone who found anything of value in the book. It trashed the book, and that hurts if you have any fondness for any of the good aspects of the book, and it doesn't just make the themes of the book not just pointless, but is a complete attack on them.

Lastly, as you might note if you read Jim MacDonald's review, it makes no sense whatever as any kind of military adventure, since everyone in the film acts like an idiot, and these people are the most incompetent folks to be in any military since F Troop and McHale's Navy. Worse.

Of course, since you care not about the book, and about the author, it's fine for you to love what you love about the film. More power to you.

But the film wouldn't exist without the book, the film was sold as the film of the book, and the film trashed the book. That's real, too, and so I have to disagree when you use phrasing like "Anyone who does not have fun watching this movie hates the entire concept of fun." Because that's just not true, and you're disparaging people who disagree with you. That's unnecessary, and that's all I'm saying.

Me, I'd still like to see a film of the book someday (for chrissakes, do we really need yet another remake of Dune?), since one has never been made.

Oh, and I was watching Ed Wood movies in 1971, including Plan 9; we're not all just followers of popular wisdom.

"To me, there was no reason whatsoever for an incomprehensibly stupid piece of navel-gazing like Ocean's 12 to ever appear on the screen."

I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the actors having a good time, and doing some fun acting things, and I laughed a lot.

I guess I shouldn't have. I was equally wrong the second time I saw it, too. I'm just dumb.

i continue to hate the movie "The Patriot".

I was watching "The Patriot" on TV, and was appalled. The "hero" thinks it's fine for every other person to be harassed by the British, but as soon as anything happens to his kid, he's at war. That's NOT a patriot. Not even a little bit.

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Perils of Gwendoline is evil, and must be destroyed. I've never seen a (non-porn) movie before where the plot was practically written around making sure the heroine stays topless for as much of the movie as possible.

Was it sold as anything other than sexploitation? It seems to me that it's more a case of you not being the target audience.

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Every once in a while, a very decent film is made that's true to the book. Two example: "Gorky park" and "Hunt for Red October".

"But for contrast, perhaps some of those who have posted could name what they feel is the best movie ever."

I don't play "best" or "worst" games, myself.

But some of my favorite movies, just off the top of my head, and forgetting lots of them, because there are so very many, in no order whatever: The Royal Tennenbaums, Lawrence of Arabia, 2001, Batman Begins, Broadcast News, Chasing Amy, Raising Arizona, The Commitments, all the Star Wars films, Star Trek II, ST: Final Contact, Rushmore, The Life Aquatic, Annie Hall, The Wind And The Lion, Manhattan, Sleeper, Love and Death, Mean Streets, The Man Who Would Be King, Love, Actually, Ghost World, Lost In Translation, A Hard Day's Night, Almost Famous, Buckaroo Banzai, My Man Godfrey, It Happened One Night, Philadelphia Story, Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, Reds, Free Enterprise, look, I have a few hundred Top Favorite films, ok? The list goes on and on and on.

And that's not even including tv, like The Wire, neo-Battlestar Galactica, Deadwood, Hill Street Blues, etc., etc.

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