There are some films that are able to maintain their appeal regardless of the era they originated from or the lack of evolved special effects. Films like The Godfather film series or The Shining have become classics in the eyes of moviegoers and no matter how much time have passed, their legacy will live on. There is a certain style to the cinematography, a spark in the chemistry with the actors and a storyline that will always allow audiences to connect to the plot. Yet, not all films have that certain sense of magic that makes them timeless and a great watch for any time of the year.
There are some films that have a certain amount of charm just because of its simplistic sense of humor but not all of them reach the status of such films like Dumb & Dumber or Zoolander. Audiences know what to expect when sitting down for one of those types of films but it’s interesting to see the type of films that tried to be so much more. Obviously, technological advancements in filmmaking have made some older films look comical in comparison to today’s blockbuster films but sometimes it’s more than just the props and special effects. Today’s audiences have changed the standard in what they want to see in a feature film and the expectations that follow. Check out our list of the 15 iconic films that suck by today’s standards and see how even former blockbuster hits look like duds for a current moviegoer.
15 Teen Wolf
There is no other actor besides Michael J. Fox that could have portrayed a teenage werewolf with the same likability on the big screen in the 1985 film, Teen Wolf. Fox had come from a hugely successful television career and became a favorite leading man in the ‘80s. Yet, the storyline and special effects were downright comical. His transformation into a wolf that somehow becomes socially acceptable in order to further the success of the high school basketball team is something that today’s audiences would look at with a quizzical eye. The heart of the film is actually a romance but it’s hard to even grasp that with all of the crazy fur and basketball shenanigans. The concept was remade in 2011 for the Teen Wolf television series but the special effects were greatly improved and there was a much darker motif in the characters.
14 Back To The Future
The Back to the Future film series is one of the most iconic films in cinematic history and is still referenced today. The most interesting part about the franchise is the fact that the world has caught up to the future date depicted in the films. Michael J. Fox did an amazing job at transitioning from a TV actor to the big screen and is probably best remembered for his role as Marty McFly. However, it’s hard to take the film seriously with so much of the franchise having an obvious ‘80s theme. The original film was released in 1985 so there is a little leeway audiences give the film for having an overall dated look. While people can excuse the way the future has a decidedly ‘80s esthetic, the special effects and the time machine DeLorean is incredibly cheesy by today’s standards.
When Jaws was released in 1975, it was coined “The most terrifying motion picture from the terrifying No. 1 best seller.” This iconic Steven Spielberg film was the reason why millions of people all over the world were afraid to go into the water. It spawned a number of memorable phrases and inspired a series of water-related horror films for years to come. While the storyline wasn’t that bad by today’s standards, it’s the special effects that have people laughing when they rewatch the film. The shark looks like it’s made out of rubber and it’s difficult to be afraid of a giant puppet coming out of the water. It’s interesting that the world still references Jaws whenever there is talk of a fear of sharks and even the background music remains haunting in the minds of audiences. However, the special effects surrounding the shark are extremely comical compared to more recent shark films like the 2016 film, The Shallows.
12 Freddy Krueger
The majority of horror films in the ‘80s relied on the premise that the villains had a supernatural ability to never be killed. From Jason to Michael Myers, there was a consistent theme that made the audience wonder why they won’t just stay dead. While all of these film franchises have evolved over the years to become far better in storyline and special effects, watching some of the earlier versions are more than just a little bit cringe-worthy. The first Freddy Krueger film was released in 1984 and, at the time, A Nightmare on Elm Street was a horrifying movie that made audiences afraid to go to sleep. Yet, watching it by today’s standards of what a horror film should be is tricky since Freddy is comical in his exploits.
11 Child’s Play
There has always been something incredibly spooky about dolls, especially the ones with porcelain sculpted faces and eyes that appear far too lifelike. In fact, dolls have become a common theme in horror films in recent years with hits like The Conjuring and Annabelle. Yet, cinematography has come a long way in recent years and it’s made former doll horror films seem incredibly cheesy in comparison. When the first Child’s Play film was released in 1988, the world became traumatized by the terrifying Chucky doll. However, seeing the film by today’s standards is practically comical. Chucky seems more like an annoyance than something that should be feared and audiences are left thinking, “Why can’t the people just squash that little thing?” Obviously, the filmmakers make it seem like Chucky is incredibly strong because it is possessed by a killer’s soul but it’s difficult to believe that it could actually overpower a fully grown man.
When the original Gremlins was released, it’s interesting that there was controversy over the violent nature in some of the scenes. This seems quite tame by today’s standards, especially since the film is categorized as both a horror movie and a comedy. The creatures, themselves, are hard to be deathly afraid of and the mix of the cute and simple creatures is just downright confusing. Audiences truly loved the film and it became an instant favorite that spawned a myriad of sequels and related products. Yet, the poor special effects and the utterly ridiculous storyline would have been a definite straight-to-video film by today’s standards. It’s interesting that so many people have seen this iconic film, the creatures are instantly recognizable by millions of all different ages around the world.
9 Batman & Robin
There have been a number of actors that have portrayed superheroes over the years but they weren’t all heralded for their stellar performances. In fact, some of their superhero roles have actually gone on to hurt their careers and become a stain on their filmography. In 1997, George Clooney seemed like he could do no wrong as he was solidifying himself as one of Hollywood’s favorite leading men. Yet, that all changed after he appeared in Batman & Robin. Clooney is often thought of as the worst actor to have ever portrayed the Batman character and the entire cast just didn’t seem to have that magical chemistry to bring the film together. From Chris O’Donnell starring as Robin to Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, even Uma Thurman wasn’t thought of as the best choice to portray Poison Ivy. There was something far too cartoon-like in this Batman film and fans are just hoping that the remake will be far better.
Prior to Jennifer Aniston becoming one of the highest paid TV actresses during her run on the hit series, Friends, she was still trying to gain experience and a paycheck through other roles. Her 1993 film, Leprechaun, was one of those horrible choices an actor makes when they haven’t yet made it big. The film didn’t do well at the box office and definitely never made it on any lists for the top scariest films of all time. The dialogue was dreadful and the leprechaun looked like a painted piñata rather than anything to be truly afraid of. Yet, the obsession over Aniston’s Rachel Green character on Friends led people to want to see the Leprechaun film just to see what Aniston did with such a role. Aniston undoubtedly regrets her decision to appear in this B-flick horror movie, especially since it still haunts her career.
7 Drop Dead Fred
The 1991 film, Drop Dead Fred, became iconic to all the little girls that ever saw it growing up, simply because of the idea of actually having an imaginary friend like him. While there were some interesting visual effects and some shenanigans that made for an interesting storyline, closer inspection of the film reveals a much darker plot that probably wouldn’t have gone over well with today’s audiences. There is a major emphasis on mental illness in the film, as well as self-medication and emotional abuse at the hands of the mother. While it pawned itself off as a visually stimulating movie with a lot of heart, it was actually a strange mix of something that doesn’t really have a category that would suit an audience of today.
The 1980s weren’t exactly filled with the best ideas for movies and there are obviously some concepts that seemed to slip through the cracks. The 1987 film, Mannequin, was definitely not going to be the next Citizen Kane but it was supposed to be a feel-good movie that had a bit of romance. Andrew McCarthy had already solidified himself as a formidable actor in the ‘80s and Kim Cattrall had a huge breakout moment as the impossibly beautiful mannequin that came to life. Yet, today’s audiences would never be able to get through a film like this if it were pitched nowadays. The fact that the storyline was able to hold an entire length of a film is probably the most surprising thing about the entire movie.
5 Weird Science
In 1985, Anthony Michael Hall had already appeared in a number of other films and was a popular addition to the Weird Science cast. While he was thought of as a beloved young actor, it’s not just the actors that make the movie. The storyline, in general, was absolutely absurd. From using an actual doll to try and generate a real-life woman to the over-the-top antics littered throughout the movie, today’s audiences wouldn’t have been able to sit through a film like this today. It would have gone straight to video because there’s no way it could stand up to other films released at the movie theater nowadays. Yet, the most cringe-worthy element of the film is the fact that the boys were supposed to be around 16 or 17-years-old and Lisa is supposed to be 23-years-old. Today’s super sensitive audience would never have gone for this type of scenario, especially with all of the sexual references in the film.
4 Love Potion No. 9
Although Sandra Bullock is thought of as a highly respected actress after her Oscar win for the film, The Blind Side, roles from earlier on in her career weren’t exactly of the same caliber. She appeared in a few films in the late ‘80s but really had her breakout moment in the 1992 film, Love Potion No. 9, alongside Tate Donovan. The film went on to become an iconic romance film but probably because everyone secretly hopes there could be some magical potion that could make someone fall instantly in love with them. Yet, the film is actually extremely corny in its plot and the subtleties of the film just make it seem even more cringe-worthy. From the cartoon-like scientist ensembles to the stereotypical nerd look, it’s easy to get distracted when watching the film. This might be due to Tate Donovan being cast as the leading man, which was a little bit difficult for female audiences to get past. However, the worst part of the film is the practically zombie-like effect of “love” it had on the men towards the end of the movie.
3 Weekend at Bernie’s
When Weekend at Bernie’s was first released in 1989, Andrew McCarthy was considered one of the hottest actors in Hollywood due to all of his success in the ‘80s. From Pretty in Pink to the much darker, Less Than Zero, starring alongside Robert Downey Jr., it was great to see him in a comedy for a change. Perhaps this is why the film did so well because the entire premise was completely absurd. Pretending that Bernie was still alive and the contrived mob connection in the film were just a few elements of the film that would make it cringe-worthy by today’s standards. Yet, it somehow resonated with audiences and was even referenced on an episode of Friends. When participating in a game to see who knew each other better, it was revealed that Rachel’s “actual” favorite movie was Weekend at Bernie’s.
2 The Mask
During the 1990s, Jim Carrey was thought of as one of the most successful and funniest comedic actors. He never shied away from taking the over-the-top roles and definitely proved that when he was cast in the 1994 film, The Mask. The cartoon-like effects and the ridiculous green-faced mask was somehow a hit for audiences and the film went on to gross over $350 million at the box office. It also introduced the world to Cameron Diaz and was her breakout moment to become Hollywood’s newest favorite leading lady. However, there’s no way that today’s fans would be able to accept the premise of the film nowadays. It’s actually pretty surprising to know that the film was received so favorably by audiences and even went on to receive numerous accolades for its visual effects.
1 Star Wars
The original Star Wars film that was released in 1977 was a huge event for moviegoers at that time. It sparked an obsession with all thing Star Wars around the world and became instantly iconic due to the characters, futuristic setting and unworldly creatures. While the film was hugely successful and led to a number of sequels and prequels, it’s almost shocking to see the special effects compared to what the latest Star Wars film contained. The space scenes looked as if it was being held by strings and there so many obvious mistakes that it has become a great movie to scrutinize while watching. From Stormtroopers having trouble holding their helmets on to clunking their head against a low door frame, even the iconic fight scene with Obi-Wan Kenobi had a wire showing through his onset costume. The franchise has definitely come a long way in conveying the Star Wars storyline on the big screen.
Sources: IMDB.com; Wikipedia.org
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