Sunday, April 06, 2008

Fantasy & Sci-Fi Hall of Shame

I was watching TV the other day and saw a feature on a news show about the worst movies of all time, and I had to cringe at how many were sci-fi or fantasy films. But the sad truth is that while movie makers try to explore the unknown through our entertainment, they've managed to make some real turkeys. Funny thing though, I grew up watching a lot of these movies, and I am a little embarrassed to admit, some of them may have contributed to my love of the genre. But as an adult I can no longer look away and pretend they don't stink up the room just by being on the screen.


I haven't watched Xanadu in years, so all I really remember is that Olivia Newton John starred as a roller skating muse who falls in love with a mortal. That's right, roller skates figured into this gawd-awful movie. The soundtrack was a massive success but the movie was universally panned-- with good reason. This was actually on TV recently and I couldn't sit through five minutes of the horrible acting. I still can't believe Gene Kelly was in this atrocity.

Battlefield Earth

I have never actually sat through this film. It was crucified so severely when it came out that I knew to never attempt to sit through it. About the only thing I know about the movie is that it was based on a book by L. Ron Hubbard and adapted (poorly) by well known Scientologist John Travolta. I think the best way to sum up this movie is to simply quote the critics:

Bakersfield Runner MICHAEL A. LIEBEL In short, "Battlefield Earth" is a big, moronic, lumbering dud that is so absolutely dreadful to watch that it winds up inciting more laughs than it should. Holding a magnifying glass up to “Battlefield Earth” won’t do anyone any good, really. This is, hands down, one of the worst science fiction films ever made and that’s saying a lot.

Box Office Magazine "It is, in fact, utterly inane and innocuous in the most harmless, uninteresting way--the fruit of an overrated star’s overblown ego, recklessly indulged by studio excess." Review: Logic loses in 'Battlefield Earth': Let's get one thing straight. "Battlefield Earth" was only made because John Travolta wanted it made. It's been his baby from start to finish. It's not a pretty baby.

Colorado Daily "It’s a battle to not walk out" I don't think cult-followers need worry unless they're concerned for the health of some members they know. If those Scientologists are fans of film, they may consider "Battlefield Earth" a call to mass suicide.

'Nuff said.

Jaws 3-D

Sadly, I did see this movie when it came out in the theatre. In some ways my friends enjoyed it simply for the cheese factor, but even as teenagers we knew a dud when we saw one. But really, a shark movie sequel in 3-D? We should have known better, though the audience may be forgiven for assuming a movie starring Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr. would be halfway decent. Quaid starred as the oldest son from the original Jaws movies, grown up and now working for SeaWorld and getting ready to open an "Undersea Kingdom"-- which ironically is very like the Shark Encounter SeaWorld now has. I don't remember all the details of the movie, but I do remember two things: A shark coming through a glass enclosure to attack the people observing it; and a shark being blown up. All in 3-D. Terrible plot and terrible special effects.

Superman III & IV

I also watched Superman III in the movie theatre, but that experience prevented me from wasting my money on Superman IV. In fact, for many years I totally forgot that a Superman IV had even been made. It was on TV one day and I remember looking at my husband and asking did they make a Superman IV? and I also remember him looking at me and saying I don't know... We flipped on the movie and it only took a few seconds of seeing some really bad special effects to know why we had never seen this movie. Superman III on the other hand was a cruel sort of bait-and-switch done by the movie studios. The original Superman and Superman II were both pretty darn good movies and knowing that Christopher Reeve was going to star in the third installment probably drew a lot of people to the theater despite hearing some bad reviews. Again, I haven't seen Superman III in many years because, like all of this list, it was so bad that I wouldn't watch it again except under duress. What I do remember is Superman turning evil after being exposed to some synthetic Kryptonite, Richard Pryor trying really hard to be funny and the absence of Lex Luthor. Why bother?

Batman and Robin

The original Batman film franchise had already been dying a slow death with the merry-go-round cast of Batmans including Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer before George Clooney decided to take on the role. Apparently deciding that Batman, and the slew of villains (this time including Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze and Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy) were no longer interesting enough to carry a film, the writers decided to add Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone) to the story, and bring back Robin (Chris O'Donnel who was introduced in "Batman Forever"). Again, there isn't a whole lot to remember about this film. It was busy without being interesting and the overload of muscular costumes and cod-pieces kind of hurt my eyes after awhile.

Howard the Duck

I can't believe this movie was ever made. Watch THIS to see what I mean.


I actually know people who liked this film, but frankly, I think it belongs in the Hall of Shame. The best thing about the character of Catwoman is that she's a villain. Michelle Pfeiffer was probably the best thing about the original "Batman." She played the role with relish and knew that being a bad girl was way more interesting than the alternative. But this lame movie attempted to make Catwoman more of a hero and essentially took the teeth out of the character. Add an overacting Sharon Stone and you end up with a mess.

Highlander II

I don't think movie makers have ever really done this series justice. But the original movie manages to avoid the Hall of Shame because it's kind of like the original "Terminator" in that despite its low budget, the idea takes hold. It also didn't hurt that Sean Connery had a starring role. But even Bond himself couldn't save this awful sequel. Again, I have to apologise for my hazy memory (c'mon, how many of you have recently watched any of these movies?) so all I really recall is something about the ozone layer, aliens and the ghost of Sean Connery. You make sense of that...

Now I know there are a lot of other atrocious movies out there. I have looked up lists of the worst sci-fi and titles like, "Bloodsucking Freaks" comes up. But the truth is I think a Hall of Shame belongs to the big-budget movies that actually star people whose names we know and make it to the big screen. There should be actual shame involved on the part of movie makers who should know better IMHO. So tell me, what shameful movies would make your list?


Carl V. said...

For once I can safely say that I never did really like any of these and many of them I have thankfully never seen because of their terrible reviews. I say for once because there are any number of 'bad' movies that I really enjoy. I do have to say that I love the Xanadu soundtrack and have watched clips of the film with the songs on You Tube and they are quite fun to revisit. I just don't think I could actually sit through the film.

Gabrielle Faust said...

It really is truly amazing how much money is out there to produce absolute trash. My question is, where's my chunk? ;)

Charles Gramlich said...

I've never seen Xanadu but I'll agree with you on the others. Howard the Duck was so lame. I don't know why I bothered to watch it. I think I was on a date or something.

Jhianna said...

Battlefield Earth was awful. Even my husband (who liked the book) thought it was bad.

I've tried to block Howard the Duck (saw it on a blind date, can't remember the guy's name) and Highlander II (what were they thinking?) from my mind.

I'd add Event Horizon. Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neill and we get that? (Granted, I was anticipating a smart sci fi movie and was very disapointed that it turned into a bad horror flick in space. But still...)

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Unfortunatley, a lot of the movies run on Sci Fi channel fit squarely into this category. No room for serious thought or a provoking subject matter, we want Mansquito!

Fab said...

Howard the Duck gave me nightmares. There is something really disturbing about that duck. I didn't trust it's shifty eyes...

I feel the 80's have been hard an many... though what is the excuse for Battlefield Earth? Hm...

GFS3 said...

"Battlefield Earth" really is in a category of badness that's hard to describe.

SQT said...

It seems there's a definite consensus that Battlefield Earth redefines the word "suck."

I've heard it called an ego project for Travolta and I think that's probably right. How else would such crap make it to the big screen?