Usually it isn’t hard to agree that a movie is spectacular when it is, but then there are those more rare gems that get terrible ratings, are hated by almost everyone universally, and yet somehow they still manage to live on in the hearts of a diehard fanbase. Many people consider movies like this to be cult classics, but in essence that denies them the prestige that they have earned as just being, well, bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. They may be bad because of a weak plot, or non-existent character development, or just because no one could really understand them and all of their shining qualities.
But since they are still awesome in a weird and embarrassing, “Why do I like this? But I do so don’t tell anyone” kind of way, we’ve decided to include them in this list of must-see bad movies. By all reasonable accounts, these movies should probably be completely forgotten at best, or at worst used as examples of what not to do; but because they seem to survive through the years, even with the additional bad movies that fail to impress every year, piled on top of them, these gems must be worth something to someone, somewhere, and for that we needed a list.
Here are 15 movies with crap IMDB ratings, but are still pretty awesome in one way or another.
15. The Ninth Gate – 6.7/10
This is an odd movie, even for Johnny Depp, as it blends strange elements of the occult, religion, sex, love, hate, and even self-immolation into a misunderstood, and woefully under-appreciated piece from Roman Polanski. Yeah, that Roman Polanski. Actually, that could be why this movie didn’t do as well as everyone who paid for it may have hoped, as old grudges die hard in the Hollywood system. In this movie you will find Johnny as a half-detective, half-bibliophile freak in a manic pursuit of the devil’s diary. The concepts are fun, the acting is mostly spot on, and Frank Langella does a solid job of making you hate his character once again, so there’s really not much to dislike about this piece other than the fact that it doesn’t make much sense. If you get past that, you’ll love this movie as much as the critics hated it.
14. The Number 23 – 6.4/10
Jim Carrey has dropped out of the limelight a bit lately, and that’s a shame because if he did more movies like The Number 23, we would all appreciate his acting chops a bit more. This movie has a pretty well-written story about a man trying to find meaning in his life by tracking down the meaning of a book he reads that he believes was actually written about him. As the story and tension build, the similarities between his life and the main character’s become too much to be just a coincidence, and some very strange shit starts to take place. With high quality acting by Jim, on the order of The Truman Show or better, and great follow-up work by Virginia Madsen there really isn’t any reason this movie didn’t do better in it’s time other than that the main focus of the plot was getting a bit stale at this time in the Hollywood system. Still, you should see it if you haven’t already.
13. Hitman – 6.3/10
Imagining a faceless organization that takes unwanted children and adapts them into super assassins sounds like a great plot, and when you add the talent of Timothy Olyphant to the mix, it only gets better, but alas, this movie was not well received, by almost anyone. It did entertain, and it did manage to not fall apart in terms of plot or even character growth, but it also didn’t connect with anyone. Who knows, maybe it’s because no one was raised to murder their fellow man just because they were weaker in the boxing ring, or it could just be because none of us are experts at wire-fu. As action movies go, there isn’t much more you could ask from this one. It had it all, from high quality fight scenes, to gorgeous leading ladies (thanks to Olga Kurylenko,) and even explosions that looked more real than computer based like everything else coming out at the time. Oh well, with any luck they will make a sequel, or a video game out of the deal. Wait, it came from a video game? Time to go murder some people.
12. Rocky IV – 6.8/10
It was hard to even include a Rocky movie in this mix of bad movies that we love, and love to hate, but in the end, it had to be done. Quite possibly, it got such a bad reception because the world was tired of Rocky movie reboots at this point, the way they’re tired of Superheroes— or it could have been the impressive acting capacity of Dolph Lundgren, but whatever it was, this one missed the mark. Ultimately, Rocky goes through his usual routine of being the one that is destined to lose the fight, only to train really hard (this time in a Russian Siberian wilderness with huge logs through snow no less) and then back into the ring for one last bout. While the formulaic nature of this movie didn’t help it gain brownie points, it certainly wasn’t as bad as the fifth Rocky movie which never achieved cult status. So, if you want to watch steroid driven slow-mo, face smashing boxing scenes with Russians, this is movie will hit the spot for sure.
11. Waterworld – 6.1/10
Waterworld has definitely reached the cult classic movies status, but for what specifically no one is really sure. The plot has holes in it wide enough to dive through, the characters are boring, the acting is miserable, and the world of Waterworld itself is scientifically impossible. About the only good part of this movie is the introduction where the Universal Logo is seamlessly blended into an ever rising ocean that becomes the set of Waterworld. Oh, and there’s Dennis Hopper. He’s got an eye patch, and a penchant for smoking cigarettes that have to be so old they might actually be petrified tobacco rocks. All that being said, it’s pretty fun. Things blow up, it’s cool to think about, and Jeanne Tripplehorn is pretty hot, so you might actually like it, or you might feel how Roger Ebert did about it. “[It’s] one of those marginal pictures you’re not unhappy to have seen, but can’t quite recommend.”
10. Last Action Hero – 6.2/10
When you think of action movies, and you think of action stars, one of the first names that still comes to people’s minds is Arnold Schwarzenegger, so it’s somewhat of a mystery as to why Last Action Hero was such a flop with audiences. It’s quite possible that it never materialized because Arnold had the extra task in this movie of actually speaking through most of it, which is a departure from his better roles like The Terminator, or whatever he was in Predator. Another reason that this movie might not have come together as the studio planned is because there really wasn’t a female lead to speak of, and the antagonist angle was flimsy at best. All that being said, it was still way better than many of Arnold’s other projects, like Kindergarten Cop, so we feel it deserves a chance to live on in our hearts, minds, and in a folder of movies to watch again in a decade or so when we forget why they weren’t that great.
9. No Escape – 6.1/10
You may be thinking that we’re referring to the No Escape with Pierce Brosnan as that would make sense in a flowing sequel sort of way, but no. This movie was a Ray Liotta gem of epic proportions. The movie holds to its world with the grip of a two-year-old clutching candy, and it shows at every plot hole, and character defect. Truthfully, there is very little that was done well with this movie, but all that aside, if you want to imagine yourself on a desert island with people who have been transported there and abandoned to run their own penal colony, you won’t do much better than No Escape. Errr, there is all of Australia, but that had women, and this movie doesn’t. That is part of the problem, but we feel that it’s the combined efforts of total disregard for international law, science, or even fiction that makes this movie hard for the critics to swallow.
8. Hudson Hawk – 5.7/10
While this wasn’t one of Bruce Willis’ best creations, it was campy, fun, action-packed, and even humorous from time to time. It dabbled with international spy syndicates, love of the art world, and even a religious connection to tie it all together. Add in some musical numbers sung by Bruce and Aiello while dangling over city streets or skateboarding through priceless art museums and you’ve got a real winner. Or not, according to, well, nearly everyone really. This movie has become more of a cult classic, and that has kept it alive in the hearts of fans of Da Vinci’s work, those who desire to transform lead into gold, or just fans of Richard E. Grant. Who doesn’t love this guy, right? All told, if you haven’t seen Hudson Hawk, and you need a fix of Richard or Andie MacDowell, then you’ve found the right movie, and you may just fall in love with this one the way so few other people have.
7. Alien vs. Predator – 5.6 / 10
It’s hard to make a movie as bad as Alien vs. Predator that still manages to enthrall audiences, not get people blacklisted from all future Hollywood movies, and still secure a sequel to the concept, but AVP did it, and did it in unmistakable, unremarkable style. Looking back at this masterpiece of poor filmmaking, it might be that they decided to go with a Sanaa Lathan as the lead predator/alien killer, rather than oh, a predator that we actually care about. Who says that a human audience won’t become emotionally involved with the predator just because he’s a giant beast, totally unlike a human, and can see in every spectrum of light? As disastrous as this movie was, it still managed to entertain at a number of levels that the other Predator and Alien movies did not— like basing the whole endeavor in an ice world where we get to see blood splatter on snow instead of just concrete or metal like all the other movies in this series.
6. Escape From L.A. – 5.7/10
Following up his awesome work in Escape From New York, Kurt Russell reprises his role as Snake Plissken, a vigilante convict hellbent on doing things his own way. While this movie is more of a vehicle for cameos from the likes of Peter Fonda, Bruce Campbell, and Pam Grier, it also had a lot of fun action scenes, quality fight sequences, and even a technological bent that made the whole thing believable and fun— the way a futuristic dystopia should be, dammit. There’s hang gliding, surfing through L.A. river systems, and even a real time basketball death race that, rumor has it, was a nightmare to film. If you liked the character of Snake from the first movie, you won’t be disappointed with Kurt’s revival of the role and all the fun things that Snake says as he wantonly murders people without remorse. Escape From New York set the tone, but Escape From L.A. is the culmination of the awesomeness for sure.
5. The Island Of Dr. Moreau – 4.4/10
Despite having Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer star in this science fiction novel masterpiece turned junk costume drama, it never really touched on all of the things that made the book so intriguing– like the science and philosophy. They could have even delved into the nature of what it’s like to be a human by exploring the nature of being half-human, but that would have been too complicated. Or at least it would have been too complicated for the diminutive perspective that Hollywood producers have for these things, and if they don’t get it, no one can, right? Instead, there were half-animal, half-human hybrids running around an island that our protagonist, David Thewlis liberates by starting an uprising. All told, the hokey nature of this movie may have been its downfall, but it does have some saving graces too– like Fairuza Balk as a really hot half-cat.
4. L.A. Story – 6.7/10
Determining what love really is, how it shapes our world, and what it means to us all as individuals is a tricky subject, and kudos to this movie for trying to take it all on with Steve Martin at the helm. The problems with this flick aren’t as evident as they may be with many other movies on this list, and it’s by no means a great movie, but a tightly woven love story, great laughs and insider jokes for anyone who has ever set foot in Los Angeles, all coupled with the witty humor of Steve Martin as both writer and lead actor, and even decent acting from Sarah Jessica Parker make for an enjoyable experience with this piece. If you haven’t seen it, or you haven’t been to LA, kill two birds with one stone, and check out this movie for a quick laugh, and a fun look at what a man will do for true love.
3. Roadhouse – 6.5/10
Roadhouse is not one of the late Patrick Swayze’s greatest movies, but it is a fun look at what life might be like if being a world famous bouncer were actually a thing. While the movie starts out pretty slow with Dalton (Swayze) taking a job at a dive bar in a dive town, it escalates quickly as he realizes that the rich guy in town is actually a huge dick who thinks he’s a one man mob and thus forces everyone to pay protection money from, well, him. This is the kind of movie where you get the sense that if Kelly Lynch wasn’t in it getting relatively naked, that even the producers would have started questioning why they spent their money on it. On the other hand, Swayze does rip out some throats, and with the help of Sam Elliot there are some pretty fun bar brawl and fight scenes that were even cooler before the likes of wire-fu movies and CG nightmares.
2. The Lawnmower Man – 5.4/10
When you think of great sci-fi experiences, you probably conjure up memories like 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Matrix, or even Jurassic Park at the layman’s end of the equation, but in truth, The Lawnmower Man tackled the plot that The Matrix attempted and it did so almost a decade earlier. Beyond that, it’s a Stephen King idea and that is usually a great starting point. Just look at Jurassic Park. It very well could have been the execution of this film by director Brett Leonard, or it could have been the fact that the “stars” were Jeff Fahey, and Pierce Brosnan who aren’t traditionally considered action stars, sci-fi stars, or…. stars at all really anymore. In the end, it may just come down to the fact that the entire plot was stolen from Flowers for Algernon, and then broken in a truly cheeky sci-fi way that only movies of the early 90s could accomplish. All told, it won’t ever be redefining the genre, but they did make a sequel. So if you don’t get enough ‘lawnmower man’ turned super genius, turned pure energy with the first one, there is always a second chance.
1. Prayer Of The Rollerboys – 5.4/10
There isn’t much to say about Prayer Of The Rollerboys when you learn that it is a blend of futuristic sci-fi dystopia combined eloquently with the impressive acting from Corey Haim. With Corey Feldman, and like in most of his other movies, this one does have a truly sexy performance by Patrica Arquette. It touches on all things that you think Los Angeles will be if it drifts into a bad corner of the future, from drug abuse to grit, grime, and an economic system teetering on collapse. Add in the awesome action scenes using the lost art of rollerblading, and you have one of the best action movies on this list. The only reason this movie might not have made it to the top of critics’ lists at the time is because it is as awful as it is fun and ridiculous. If you want a bit of nostalgia for the days when rollerblading was cool, or if you just want a blast of old school Corey Haim fame, then this is the movie for you.
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