Just before Christmas, Kirk Cameron’s holiday film Saving Christmas got the best gift ever: After some coordinated trolling on Cameron’s part, it was bestowed the title of worst movie on IMDb and rocketed to the No. 1 spot on its bottom 100 chart, where it still sits.
We got curious. What else was down there?
So we took a deep dive into IMDb’s bowels (roughly the bottom 20 worst movies) to see how bad it really smells. Enter at your own risk. —Audra Schroeder
Birdemic: Shock and Terror
Poor, poor James Nguyen. Perhaps someone told him he was destined to be the next Alfred Hitchcock—and he took it a little too literally. Sadly, his claim to fame, Birdemic: Shock and Terror, is not even a fraction of the masterpiece that Hitchcock’s The Birds is.
Typically, a bad movie has horrible acting and an unbelievable story. While Birdemic is no exception, it also has something we haven’t seen since the science-fiction flicks of the ’50s: really bad special effects. The “birds” are so absurdly and obviously superimposed into every scene that their presence would have been more believable if a highly visible crew member was wandering around with stuffed birds on sticks. Maybe everyone in the small California coastal towns was running from the “birds” because they were terrified that horrible special effects still existed in movies in 2008. —Mike Fenn
If a sequel to Slumdog Millionaire was produced by Michael Bay and co-directed by Robert Rodriguez and Baz Luhrmann, the result might be something like Bollywood’s Gunday. It’s over two hours long, looks exuberantly expensive (especially the dance numbers), and features very cheesy fights (including one in which the two male leads rip each other’s shirts off and fight in slow motion). The funny thing is, this isn’t really a bad movie. It might even be the best movie to play at bars.
The reason for its IMDb score lies in its first 20 minutes, during which the eventual Kings of Calcutta are mere children running guns for a gold-hearted criminal who’s taken them in from the streets. This segment establishes that the country of Bangladesh was founded as a result of the war between India and Pakistan, ignoring the fact that its independence was due to a nine-month war waged by Bangladeshis. Bangladesh was not fond of this omission and waged a brand new war: a 4chan-esque battle of voting. And that’s why a movie with a 100 percent from critics on Rotten Tomatoes (albeit from only five critics) has an 8 percent rating from audiences. Until Saving Christmas came along, it was the worst-rated film on IMDb. —Joey Keeton
The Hottie and the Nottie
I’m tempted to blame this film’s IMDb placement on branding. With a title like The Hottie and the Nottie, it’s practically begging for people to downvote it, especially once you factor in the presence of Paris Hilton. Not that it isn’t terrible, but it’s nothing compared to the spiritual agony of watching the other Hilton movie on this list, National Lampoon’s Pledge This!
I can’t quite figure out the target audience for The Hottie and the Nottie. The dorky male lead and blatant misogyny imply that it’s aimed at a frat-boy crowd, but it also portrays all men as shallow creeps. If anything, the women come out better than the men, although the main storyline relies on the idea that the titular Nottie is so unfuckable that one guy literally jumps into the ocean to avoid her. (In reality she’s an attractive actress in a wig and false teeth, with what may be the only depiction of female leg hair I’ve ever seen in a Hollywood movie.)
The premise is that our dweeby protagonist is unlucky in love and decides to track down his childhood crush, the Hottie. She seems inexplicably receptive to his advances but won’t date him until her ugly best friend gets laid. After various revolting attempts to either seduce the Hottie or get the Nottie out of the way, Nate falls for the Nottie instead—but only after she’s had a makeover, obviously.
Offensive and nonsensical on many levels, but not much worse than your average shitty rom-com. And the friendship between the Hottie and the Nottie is kind of sweet, in its way. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw
I’m going to make the world’s most obvious joke and say that Disaster Movie is actually a pretty accurate description. The film was part of the crop of ultra-lame, make-it-stop parody films of the early 2000s, a hellish parade that included fare like Superhero Movie, Date Movie, and pretty much every Scary Movie installment after the third film.
The D-list cast is all here, including Matt Lanter, Carmen Electra, Tony Cox, and even Kim Kardashian. Together, they attempt to parody blockbuster Hollywood flicks they would have never been considered for, most notably Kung Fu Panda and the first few Marvel Cinematic Universe movies (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk). Unlike the successful disaster movie parody Airplane!, it’s a very safe bet that you won’t catch Internet geeks quoting Disaster Movie nonstop 30 years from now. —Mike Fenn
This movie opens with Adam Sandler explaining that it’s a zero-budget project that only exists due to access to a cruise ship. It’s a funny, fourth-wall-breaking joke until it becomes apparent that it’s not a joke.
Many of the 4:3 aspect frames feature a vignette from terrible camera lenses, most scenes play out from static angles with no cuts, the sound is horrible, and the film’s production value is just total shit. But there’s some charm in this story of a cruise ship waiter with dreams of becoming a comedian, and Sandler’s gusto in a project that was obviously dead before the camera started rolling is really quite admirable. It also has very early performances from Peter Berg, Billy Zane, and Billy Bob Thornton, whose brief appearance is so good that it’s jarring.
Overall, the actors seem to have no illusions that they’re making a good film—they’re in what might be the last real screwball comedy, a cheap movie filled with ’80s keyboard music and hair that really has no business existing by 1989, and use the opportunity to go for broke and give absolutely insane performances. While the production value is nearly impossible to get past, Going Overboard really is hiding a fun movie in it somewhere. —Joey Keeton
Turks in Space
Turks in Space is a sequel/homage to a notorious 1982 Turkish film called Dünyay? Kurtaran Adam, or The Man Who Saved the World. Known for its use of unauthorized footage from Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and Star Trek, as well as the soundtrack from Indiana Jones, Dünyay? Kurtaran Adam has become a cult hit. Although it’s known as the “Turkish Star Wars,” the story remains on Earth, focusing on a middle-aged martial arts fighter with the dubious power of being able to split things (rocks, people) in half. Over the course of the film, the frumpy Turkish Bruce Lee battles a host of werewolves, mummies, aliens, and a weird-looking bear, mainly by doing trampoline jumps over their heads.
Needless to say, the 2006 sequel, Son of the Man Who Saved the World, had a lot to live down to. Since the Turkish Star Wars never actually made it to outer space, it must have seemed like a no-brainer to set its follow-up there—this time focusing on the frumpy martial arts fighter’s equally frumpy middle-aged son. The titular son is a beleaguered spaceship commander who loses one of his crew members, Dirkman, whose name comprises 80 percent of the movie dialogue. The ostensible hunt to retrieve Dirkman from the wilds of space leads to an inaction-filled plot where crew members bicker while standing around a lot.
But Turks in Space doesn’t repeat the past; there’s no B-footage from other movies superimposed over an incomprehensible plot. Here, the plot drips with scripted homages to both Star Wars and Star Trek. In one scene, two villains hilariously hop around a spaceship like they’re in a Kris Kross video while holding light sabers and glaring at each other.
Turks in Space is a clear parody, as self-aware as Spaceballs or any one of the many other space opera parodies dotting our universe. It’s also repetitive, unfunny, and boring, which leads us to ponder the question: If a movie is trying to be bad, does it really belong here on the bottom 100 list? Should it be rewarded for its efforts? Apparently the 11,000 IMDb users who claim to have sat through this snorefest in its entirety think so. —Aja Romano
Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2
The conceptual goldmine that is Baby Geniuses’ premise (that all babies can speak to each other in a highly intelligent manner until they grow out of it around the age of 3) was too vast to walk away from after a single film, therefore prompting a sequel to continue the story by vaguely mentioning one of its characters and making Scott Baio play his son.
Baio and his wife, Vanessa Angel, run a daycare, which is the perfect place to set a movie with talking babies. The babies basically sit around looking confused and indifferent while CGI work shoddily matches their mouths to dubbed lines. One of these babies tells the others a story about an evil soldier that ran an orphanage for vaguely insidious reasons in East Berlin during the Cold War. He ran a tight, gloomy ship there, until a 5-year-old named Kahuna attacked the compound and freed all the orphans. Kahuna’s a special kid because, despite his age, he can still speak baby-language. He also drinks glowing green steroid juice that makes him strong enough to fight henchmen with ease. Think this is weird? It gets better.
The evil soldier is played by Jon Voight. After the baby tells the Kahuna story, Jon Voight—in a huge coincidence—shows up at the daycare for a big press announcement: His company’s new children’s programming network is about to debut on TVs nationwide. Kahuna shows up, too, because he’s been tracking Voight for the past 50 years, and it turns out he hasn’t aged. (This is explained, if that matters.) He’s gotten pretty good at whatever it is he does in the years following the Cold War: He has a Batman-meets-Wonka cave that is easily one of the creepiest sets to ever hit celluloid, and has a direct line to George W. Bush and Whoopi Goldberg. Surprisingly, the ending boasts a twist that is mind-blowingly awesome. So there’s that. —Joey Keeton
Manos: The Hands of Fate
Manos: The Hands of Fate could easily battle Plan 9 From Outer Space and The Room for the coveted title of “the Citizen Kane of bad movies.” It was one of the many selections the good old MST3K guys latched onto and mocked nearly every frame of, thus restoring its prominence.
In Manos, a family’s peaceful drive through Texas takes a turn for the worse when they’re captured by a group of polygamist cult members. The cult members hold the family hostage and torture them with everything from atrocious editing to lame special effects to casting a spell that makes their words not quite match up with their mouths. —Mike Fenn
Final Justice earns its place on this list through its popular MST3K treatment, as well as its sheer dogged determination to bore the viewer to death. Created and helmed by Greydon Clark, otherwise infamous for producing cult bad film Hobgoblins (also in the bottom 100), Final Justice features Joe Don Baker as an overweight, overlooked Southern cop. It also features Rossano Brazzi as a stereotypical Mafia don, along with a doldrum-inducing carnival scene and the world’s worst and longest buildup to a gunfight ever. The plot is an unsuccessful attempt to make JDB look cool and competent while attempting to capture a fugitive, battle a band of incompetent Mafiosi, and something something Texas pride. As a bonus, it’s partially filmed in Malta, though mostly that just leaves us wondering what Malta ever did to deserve this. —Aja Romano
A hideous nightmare of college movie cliches, softcore porn, and sub-American Pie jokes. Paris Hilton stars as a sorority bitch queen who has to take in a group of unsuitable pledges for “diversity” purposes. These misfit freshmen include a middle-aged nymphomaniac with a botched boob job, a fat girl who gets stuck in a toilet, and a South Asian racist caricature named Poo Poo. Almost every scene consists of unfunny gross-out humor, gratuitous nudity, or Paris Hilton delivering stilted dialogue without even vaguely attempting to act.
After making it through The Hottie and the Nottie with minimal discomfort, I had evidently lulled myself into a false sense of security. It seemed almost insulting for Pledge This! to have a “happy” ending of any kind, since it spent the previous 90 minutes trying to convince me that humanity is doomed and all college kids should be vented into space.
The only possible reason I can imagine anyone wanting to see this is if they were a teenage boy in 2006 who had no other access to images of naked women. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw
There’s a lot to love about Space Mutiny, though not appearing on that list is its nonsensical plot about an alien spaceship takeover, which somehow happens simultaneously with an insurrection of evil crew members (the titular mutiny). There’s the awkwardly blatant chemistry between the two leads, Reb Brown and Cisse Cameron, who fell in love while filming, got married, and are still together today. There’s set-chewing on all sides, most notably Actor’s Studio cofounder Cameron Mitchell, who can’t quite decide whether he’s playing a space commander or Santa Claus. When you’re not gawking at everyone’s giant ’80s hair, you can enjoy the hilarious faux-futuristic bumper car fights in which characters race each other around a warehouse in Zambonis.
Space Mutiny has the distinction of being one of the most popular MST3K treatments, due primarily to a famous riff in which the MST3K crew (now the Rifftrax crew) ascribe an increasingly ridiculous roster of nicknames to Reb Brown’s character, due to his gigantic musclebound manliness. But don’t just watch it for Flint Ironstag, Big McLargeHuge, Blast Hardcheese, or Thick McRunFast; watch it because this is actually, all told, a genuinely fun movie. And the actors are clearly having the time of their lives. Space Mutiny is less a terrible movie and more like a terrible movie’s batty, cheek-pinching uncle. —Aja Romano
Daniel der Zauberer
You’ve no idea how hard we tried to find a version of Daniel der Zauberer, widely considered the worst German movie ever made, with English subtitles. Evidently no studio considered it worth the effort to translate this cheapo grotesquerie about real-life pop singer Daniel Küblböck—who was voted the most annoying personality of 2003 in a tabloid TV channel poll and naturally stars as himself—becoming the target of multiple assassination plots.
Illegal streaming sites couldn’t help us either, and searching the anglicized title, Daniel the Wizard, brought up nothing but talk show clips of Daniel Radcliffe. So we watched a fair amount of the (high definition!) original on YouTube and had a hell of a time sussing out what this nightmarish stew of magic, ghosts, androgyny, murder, and Deutschland sucht den Superstar performances from Küblböck (third-place winner of that American Idol-style show’s first season) could possibly signify. All we can really tell you is that there are 12-year-olds on Vine with a better sense of composition. A sampling of what German-speaking commenters said:
“A film spewed out like shit.”
“A single-Smurf uprising, this film.”
“I had to stop after 25 minutes.”
“I find rather sad how many people had to work on it.”
“Daniel is the first person I would just shoot in the face on sight.”
In fairness, we’re pretty sure someone said that last thing about Charles Foster Kane, too. —Miles Klee
House of the Dead
If there’s one takeaway from House of the Dead, it’s that you should never continue listening to stories that begin, “It all started when I came here for a rave.” HotD opens with a truly inexplicable credit sequence featuring incomprehensible, blurry graphics designed like a Tron-ish take on a DOS game about killing zombies circa 1982.
The problem? House of the Dead was released in 2003. Directed by an indefatigable Uwe Boll, who can’t decide whether he’s homaging Resident Evil or Lake Placid, House of the Dead is as an attempt to serve as a prequel to Sega’s popular first-person shooter franchise of the same name. The film tries its hardest to be edgy and immediately comes off looking like that one drunk kid at the frat party who tried to dive off the roof into the pool and cracked his balls on the sidewalk instead.
One of HotD’s big mysteries is that multiple dude writers worked on the script, which means multiple dudes listened to lines like “I got me an island of cash right here” and “We’re gonna groove to some funky tunes all night long” and decided they sounded cool. The San Juan Islands aren’t exactly where you’d expect to find Spanish curses and zombie graveyards, much less zombies who swim, make no noise, run super-fast, and randomly turn into terrible clips from the actual House of the Dead video games. But no B-movie worth its salt ever let logic stop it from dedicating two-thirds of its run time to topless girls, sluggish action sequences, and non sequitur animated pop-up moments of zombies getting killed.
In terms of plot, HotD is basically Jurassic Park where the dinos are the undead skeleton crew from Pirates of the Caribbean and “man’s inexorable need to tamper with science” is “the college dude’s inexorable need to get laid at a party.” So, basically, it’s a generic copy of every other teen horror flick. —Aja Romano
Who’s Your Caddy?
When famous rapper C-Note—inexplicably portrayed by OutKast’s Big Boi—is turned down by a pre-conviction Jeffrey Jones for membership to the insanely racist Carolina Pines country club, he buys property extending onto the course’s 17th hole to stir things up. After making a music video on his property with Lil Wayne, his membership is granted—the stunt is just far too black, and Jones is forced to buckle. After that, there’s still 60 minutes of movie left for stuff like farting and Hummer golf carts on rims.
While farting is undeniably funny 100 percent of the time, the movie largely feels like white executives using a cynical formula to pull in a black audience by poorly rewriting Caddyshack. Pulling in $5 million at the box office, it ended up pulling in nobody at all. Except for Bill Clinton.
Unfortunately for Big Boi, the movie’s biggest problem is C-Note himself, a character whose sole purpose is to show that rappers can be class acts (which is, of course, treated as shocking), and that results in the character being excruciatingly boring. Maybe there was a different version of this script, one that made C-Note more fun—other characters seem to insinuate that he’s quite the partying ladies man, but he seems more like a wealthy schoolteacher who wandered in from an episode of Touched by an Angel. Lavell Crawford—Breaking Bad’s Huell—gets some time to shine, though, and Terry Crews proves, in a tragically brief appearance, that it’s impossible for him to not be awesome. —Joey Keeton
Invasion of the Neptune Men
I’ve often wondered how I’d feel about Plan 9 From Outer Space if Ed Wood hadn’t become such an iconic figure, and now Invasion of the Neptune Men has provided the answer. Since it comes to us from Japan, we don’t really know anything about the film’s director, or anybody involved whatsoever, and this provides an opportunity for a truly vacuum-sealed appraisal of the film… although “film” might not be the right word for Neptune Men.
It seems more like a rogue Japanese experiment, some half-mad attempt at creating, for reasons we’ll never know, the most obnoxious film of all time. It shamelessly combines an omnipresent group of nameless children that are inexplicably close to every plot development, a massive library of annoying sound effects, air battles with relentlessly looped footage that are confusing and seemingly never-ending, stock footage from a film released a year before it (and documentary footage from World War II, which results in a baffling shot of a Hitler banner exploding), and its Japanese dialogue track is dubbed over by American actors who are evidently being directed to just “finish their lines ASAP so everybody can get back to drinking.”
Even with these ingredients mixed in, there’s something great about the Neptunians, who look the offspring of upside-down blenders and early attempts at vibrators, and their metal-Nerf-dart mothership that has a goofy clown face on the front. It’s a rare film to run across in the wild, but it’s available with the MST3K treatment, which is probably the only way it should ever be viewed in the first place. —Joey Keeton
Incredible to consider that of all the lousy things comprising this sorry excuse for an inner-city streetball flick—the shameless product placement, the vile depiction of women as materialist skanks, the laughable ease with which the bad guys are vanquished, the softcore porno soundtrack—the camera work somehow stands out as the worst. Honestly, it’s like someone messing around on Final Cut for the very first time.
But if you don’t get whiplash from all the chopped-up zooming and gratuitous slo-mo (turns out layups are no less boring inside the Matrix), you’ll still have to contend with bizarre non-narrative exchanges like “I gotta go to the bathroom”/“Go pinch that loaf, dawg!” The cherry on top is a sadly competent performance from Mr. Entertainment himself, Wayne Brady, whose slick and conniving agent-turned-underground-basketball-kingpin is as irrelevant to the hackneyed plot as he is unintimidating. Be sure to stick around after the final victory, achieved before an ecstatic crowd of maybe 17 people, for the laziest “where are they now” sequence in film, courtesy of a minor character who gets voiceover privileges to spare the audience the trouble of reading and the director the headache of shooting an actual resolution.
In an alternate universe, Crossover could have been something on par with Step Up 2: The Streets, all clubby flash and cheap sentiment, but instead it’s a $6 million brick. —Miles Klee
Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas rocketed to the top of IMDb’s worst list as a result of its creator’s obnoxiousness.
Cameron, previously the star of Growing Pains and some of the Left Behind movies, made Saving Christmas as a way to share his evangelical views on Christmas. Mostly, that means a lot of sentimental fluff and pseudo-historical links between modern holiday traditions and the Bible.
Saving Christmas opened to universally negative reviews, but instead of accepting his fate, Cameron decided to fight back by getting his fans to post positive audience ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. For a while it worked, but it didn’t take long for trolls to show up and start posting comments like, “so bad my contacts jumped out of my eyes and into the fireplace.” Its abysmal IMDb rating followed soon after.
Sadly, we couldn’t find a copy to judge for ourselves, but even the trailer was nauseating enough. —Gavia Baker-Whitelaw
Screengrab via Saving Christmas