We all have a list of bad movies and many of them are the ones that we continually go back to, we don’t know why but they stay in our collections. Some of those movies go on to become cult favorites that we hold up on pedestals. Those pedestals give us the ability to celebrate both how bad they are and what they mean to us and a specific franchise.
Then… There are moves that do not fit into either category. Join me as I share my list of 5 Really Bad Movies and decide if they belong on your pedestal or if they should be relegated to the trash bin – as many have already done.
This movie should have been called “when board games go bad” for the sheer ridiculousness of its premise. If you haven’t ever played Battleship, let’s do a quick recap. The box included two battlefields, red and blue pegs, and little ships. Each one fits into the board with pegs and allows the ships to sit in line or across lines. Your job is to sink your appointed ships before they sink yours. Sounds simple but that would make for a bad movie right? What could make it more interesting, you ask? Well how about the world’s navy is competing in battle drills as an alien force decides to invade earth. As the aliens start their attack, they cut off the ships from anyone else and systematically start taking them out. Our Armed Services must stop them, but how?
Leave it to humanity to call aliens to earth that want to take us over. There is a long list of movies under the same principle. In this one, an outcast of a naval office is the one who appears to have the ability to save the world and mankind. Again, a troupe that is far too often used in Hollywood. In some ways, this movie is meant to bolster the faith we have in our military, as they are seen taking on and beating a far advanced alien force with our missiles, bullets, and battleships. I am not sure there are any memorable moments in this film as it seems so many things were thrown at the audience to see what sticks. In effect, it is a film that tries to glorify the American Military complex and not very well. What is even worse is that the ammo the aliens use to attack the navy ships bears a close resemblance to the actual pegs used in the Battleship game. Hey, that makes it a movie about the game, right???
This movie just fails to deliver on every front. The drama between the lead character and his brother and girlfriend seems forced at best. The battle between the humans and aliens seems sorely over focused on the ramp up before a shot is fired and the continued focus of slow moving destroyer devices fails to give us any kind of connection. They tried to make it a success by adding some big names like Liam Neeson and Rihanna to the film, but it just didnt materialize. And yes, you read that correctly Rihanna made her acting debut in this movie as a gunner on the ship and her most memorable line from the movie… “Boom!” Sadly, the movie was more of a thud than a boom. Not all games make great transitions to the big screen. Wait…. Has there really been any good transitions from games to movies, so far?
Universal decided to reboot its movie monster franchise under the auspices of the “Dark Universe.” The idea was to reboot the classics in a more shared universe where they could interact with one another. At present, only one other movie made it to the “Dark Universe” header, The Invisible Man. It would seem that the appalling turn out at box offices for the Mummy made Universal table their foray into rebuilding the franchises.
Universal and the creators of the movie brought Tom Cruise into the project, which I assume was to try to get more people to turn out to see this too tightly wrapped up (see what I did there?) movie. They also use the ongoing war as the backdrop for the movie. In the opening we see Nick Morton (Cruise) and his partner Chris Vail (Jake Johnson)Kill a bunch of Iraqi insurgents in an attempt to loot a recently discovered temple before the war swallows up the area.
In this version, we see the original Mummy Imhotep recast as a female sorcerer called Ahmanet and becomes the embodiment of all that is evil in an attempt to take over the world. Morton, after ransacking the newly uncovered site takes the sarcophagus out of its resting place and thrust the long buried mummy, Ahmanet, into our world where her reign to bring Set into a mortal body to be her King starts anew.
The entire movie feels more like a revenge flick for a jilted lover than an all powerful resurrected queen from yesteryear hell bent on ruling the world with the god of death. There are more movie references than there is good dialog and even the star power of Cruise cannot save this flick like Dr. Henry Jekyll does with imprisoning Ahmanet. So much for our visit to the Dark Universe.
Ghostbusters: Answer the Call
Sometimes, franchises should just be left alone. Sadly, there are no more new ideas in Hollywood, that means that writers decided to reinvent the wheel and make something that elevates or offers a new take on an old classic. Sounds good on paper, but does it really work?
Ghostbusters: Answer the Call is just another in a long line of movie reboots that try to create something fresh from a cherished and much loved source. You would have thought that the sequel of the original would have been enough of a flop to make producers and directors cringe at a reboot – well that is until someone decided to create a proper sequel with Ghostbusters Afterlife. (Hold your comments for the section below). Melissa McCarthy had been gaining traction in her acting career and was a notable comedienne, so it seemed a good idea to cast her as the lead role.
Before we continue, this is not anything against the entire cast being female, my whole view is based on there not being any relevant or good material throughout the entire movie. It is rumored that there was a very loose idea of a script for this movie and that mostly it was the actors improving a lot of lines. This couldn’t possibly go wrong, right? Watch any episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race that features the Snatch Game or improv challenges to see just how bad it can go. The villain in this movie is a mortal who has a penchant for summoning ghosts to do his evil deeds and try to bring on the apocalypse. What is even worse is that the leads of this movie are unlikely heroes as they are forced to drag out the tired old troupe of being ostracized for their “spooky” beliefs and as a result emotionally damages them into adulthood. That leaves us with a movie where the humor is tied behind a need to prove how smart and right they are.
McCarthy is a notable comedienne in her own right and this movie just seems to tie her hands in a bad script and sad play to women not being as good as men. How does the movie combat this? By including Chris Hemsworth as the secretary role. I am all for equal representation in movies, see the MCU pushing more and better female roles, but this movie failed to get out of the stereotype mode to let any of these actresses be who they truly are, great comedy performers.
The Happytime Murders
If this movie feels a tad familiar, it shouldn’t come as much of a shock. Back in 1990, Peter Jackson released a movie called Meet the Feebles that is reminiscent of this modern movie – The Happytime Murders. What is even more disturbing about this movie is that it was directed by Brian Henson. Confused? No worries, I have you covered. Brian Henson is none other than the son of well known puppeteer Jim Henson, who is known for his work on Sesame Street.
The Happytime Murders is set in a noir-sequence Los Angeles where puppets exist are considered second class citizens – a la Who Framed Roger Rabbit. We see puppets kill other puppets, engage in sex, take drugs, and, yes, even watch porn. What can make this movie even more cringey-feeling is how they draw parallels to how puppets are treated with racial issues we still see besetting our world today.
The Happytime Murders was so bad that Sesame Workshop filed a lawsuit against the parent company, STC Productions, that released the film. It became a target for them when they released the movie tagline “No Sesame, All Street.” Over the top gratuitous puppet violence, sad gender and sexuality troupes, over the top drug usage leave this film as more disgusting than remotely entertaining. All of that being said, the movie does try to create a parody of how Hollywood and classic movies seem to be stuck in the past.
Highlander II: The Quickening
Highlander has as many people who pick it apart as it has fans that hold it up on a pedestal. However, most will admit that Highlander II: The Quickening was a hard movie to swallow. On the surface, it is easy to question why there was a second film. The original Highlander repeated its famous tagline over and over, throughout the movie and marketing, “ There can be only one!” The entire movie we watch as one immortal teaches a newly raised immortal how to live and fight. The rest of the movie is the bad immortal trying to take his head to be the ruler. The end of the movie sees the prize being won and it is actually mortality and the ability to understand all people and things (sort of as the power is never really fully explained). Also, the 80s was not known for building franchises as much as churning out movies. So why would the director and lead actor sign on for a movie that obviously ended with the first one? In one word, money. The movie jumps to a weird dystopian future where the earth is going through a lot of bad things. There are still immortals fighting, odd since MacLeod killed what was thought to be the only other immortal.
In the first quarter of the movie, we watch the director essentially retcon the entire franchise, before it really gets started. Okay spoiler alert here, seriously this movie is over 30 years old is this really a spoiler at this point? We see Sean Connery’s character Ramirez resurrected, we find out that they are not immortals but aliens, and MacLeod, Christopher Lambert, is actually the leader of the aliens who has some kind of domestic partnership with Ramirez involving some weird space gel. Even more weird is that a newer release version came out that removed a lot of what the second movie had already stated. The Worst part is that it is almost impossible to find the original release of Highland II, we are forced to see the remake of a reboot.
The movie, no matter the version, is a cobble together meth fever dream that wouldn’t fly in our current times. Oh wait, maybe it would – looking at your Thor: Love and Thunder.
Be kind, please rewind
No matter your feelings, bad moves plague us. From simply bad to cult classics, they are out there. What makes them bad changes from genre to genre and personal feelings. If it was as simple as bad editing, technical issues, and acting, we all could see them for what they are. The harder part is when what constitutes a bad movie is subjective to our own personal feelings. This list combines all of these issues and more. Bad movies will never leave us and part of me is glad for that. It gives us a median to gauge other movies and allows us to form connections to them.
How does this list measure up to your bad movie lists? Do you feel these movies qualify as bad? Let me know your thoughts below. If you have movies you feel needs to be on the list, share those as well.