It’s bad movies galore as we encounter the Rottenest of the Rotten: 100 movies that scored less than 5% with the critics on the Tomatometer!
You’re going to see lots of 0% movies, and there’s even more out there, but the ones on this list all have at least 20 reviews. We wanted to make sure the movies we’re “vouching” for as the worst ever have inflicted a minimum threshold of agony on critics. And the 20-review entry applies for every other movie on this list, and that includes the usual suspects of garbage cinema, like the deep space train wreck Battlefield Earth, the box office turkey (turtle?) The Master of Disguise, Netflix’s lazy western The Ridiculous 6, and flaccid softcore Killing Me Softly (which also makes a dubious appearance in the 200 best and worst erotic movies).
You may also note a number of significant stinkers are from the past 20 years. It’s not just because Uwe Boll was employed during this time period. And, by the way, he’s actually beat by dubious directing duo Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg, who have four movies on the list. Instead, it’s the fact more reviews are being written and collected than ever before, so today’s disasters have a better chance of vaunting over 20 reviews. (And for movies that share the same score, more reviews means you’re placed higher within the ranking.)
But fret not: Plenty of yesteryear’s bombs are here. After all, the decade that produced Mac & Me has a lot to account for. Some of the classic trash featured includes the soul-sucking Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Speed 2: Cruise Control (see what happens when you throw Keanu overboard?), off-the-deep-end Jaws: The Revenge, and prime directive-violating RoboCop 3.
Critics Consensus:Speed 2 falls far short of its predecessor, thanks to laughable dialogue, thin characterization, unsurprisingly familiar plot devices, and action sequences that fail to generate any excitement.
Synopsis: Annie (Sandra Bullock) is looking forward to a Caribbean cruise with her cop boyfriend, Alex (Jason Patric), who purchased the... [More]
Critics Consensus:The Apparition fails to offer anything original, isn't particularly scary, and offers so little in the way of dramatic momentum that it's more likely to put you to sleep than thrill you.
Synopsis: Plagued by frightening occurrences in their home, Kelly (Ashley Greene) and Ben (Sebastian Stan) learn that a university's parapsychology experiment... [More]
Critics Consensus: Monotonously fast-paced to the point of exhaustion, Getaway offers a reminder of the dangers in attempting to speed past coherent editing, character development, sensible dialogue, and an interesting plot.
Synopsis: Though he used to race cars for a living, Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) is now pitted against the clock in... [More]
Critics Consensus: With its shallow characters, low budget special effects, and mindless fight scenes, Mortal Kombat - Annihilation offers minimal plot development and manages to underachieve the low bar set by its predecessor.
Synopsis: Every generation, a portal opens up between the Outerworld and Earth. Emperor Shao-Kahn (Brian Thompson), ruler of the mythical Outerworld,... [More]
Critics Consensus: Returning to their seemingly bottomless well of flatulence humor, racial stereotypes, and stale pop culture gags, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer have produced what is arguably their worst Movie yet.
Synopsis: During a fateful night, a group of impossibly attractive 20-somethings (Matt Lanter, Vanessa Minnillo, Kim Kardashian) must dodge a series... [More]
Critics Consensus: Rather than exciting audiences with a thrilling race against time, Shadow Conspiracy suggests there may be a secret cabal duping talented actors into selecting woefully deficient scripts.
Synopsis: Presidential aide Bobby Bishop (Charlie Sheen) runs into an old professor who tells him of a secret plot to assassinate... [More]
Critics Consensus: Despite its lush tropical scenery and attractive leads, Return to the Blue Lagoon is as ridiculous as its predecessor, and lacks the prurience and unintentional laughs that might make it a guilty pleasure.
Synopsis: When widow Sarah Hargrave (Lisa Pelikan) washes ashore on a tropical island with her daughter and adopted son, she learns... [More]
Critics Consensus: Every bit as lazily offensive as its cast and concept would suggest, The Ridiculous Six is standard couch fare for Adam Sandler fanatics and must-avoid viewing for film enthusiasts of every other persuasion.
Synopsis: White Knife, an orphan raised by Native Americans, discovers that five outlaws are actually his half-brothers. Together, they set out... [More]
With the Packers and Steelers squaring off in the Super Bowl, moviegoers avoided the multiplexes as the North American box office slumped to the third worst frame of the past two years. Of the two new releases that dared to compete against football, the collegiate thriller The Roommate fared well opening at number one by targeting young females but the older-skewing 3D action film Sanctum debuted poorly in second. The NFL championship game always commands the attention of the entire nation but this weekend’s Top 20 plunged to just $84.2M falling well below recent Super Bowl sessions from the past three years.
Teenage girls and young women, the demographic least affected by football, turned out in solid numbers for the college-set thriller The Roommate which debuted at number one with an estimated $15.6M. The PG-13 film about a freshman gal with a creepy obsession with her new living partner averaged a good $6,156 from 2,534 theaters and marked Sony’s eighth film over the past eleven years to bow on top over Super Bowl weekend. Most were suspense thrillers from the studio’s Screen Gems unit like Roommate which play to this dependable audience.
Produced for just $16M, The Roommate drew in its target audience with a relatable storyline and starpower from TV stars Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl) and Minka Kelly (Friday Night Lights). Studio research showed that 65% of the crowd was female and 61% was under 21. A targeted marketing campaign made sure that too much wasn’t spent on other demographic groups that would never come out anyway. Moviegoers polled by CinemaScore gave the pic a weak B- average grade.
The underwater survival actioner Sanctum sank in its opening weekend grossing just $9.2M, according to estimates, despite playing very wide in 2,787 locations including over 2,000 3D screens and 178 IMAX venues. Averaging a weak $3,310, the R-rated film failed to spark much interest with ticket buyers despite being heavily promoted as a project from James Cameron who was one of the executive producers. In fact, Sanctum opened just below the $9.3M debut of the Oscar-winning director’s 1989 underwater adventure The Abyss which had significantly lower ticket prices, no 3D surcharges, and 1,200 fewer theaters.
Universal and Relativity Media paid only $12M to acquire distribution rights (and paid for marketing) so the $30M-budgeted Sanctum should not turn into too problematic of a title financially. IMAX screens accounted for 17% of the gross, but overall moviegoers showed that paying a premium for this particular film was not worth it. The aquatic actioner suffered one of the worst openings for a live-action 3D film during the format’s current era and was about even with the two-day $6.3M bow of Gulliver’s Travels this past Christmas. According to studio research, females made up 53% of the audience and 65% was 30 and over so the film skewed much older than other titles. A poor C+ CinemaScore grade indicates a quick fade in the weeks to come. Reviews were mostly lackluster. Overseas, Sanctum debuted in second place in Australia with $1.6M and in fifth place in the U.K. with $1.5M.
With only one new release generating good results and most holdovers fading away, the Top 20 suffered troubling declines compared to recent Super Bowl weekends – 23% vs. 2010, 29% vs 2009, and 30% vs. 2008. The aftermath of last week’s massive blizzard also played a role as people in many top markets in the Midwest and Northeast were still digging themselves out of the latest round of winter snow.
The Natalie Portman-Ashton Kutcher romantic comedy No Strings Attached remained a popular item with audiences sliding only 37% in its third session to an estimated $8.4M. Paramount’s sex comedy has laughed up an impressive $51.8M in 17 days and is playing as effective counter-programming for women against all the football hoopla.
Stepping closer to the $100M mark, Oscar front-runner The King’s Speech ranked fourth with an estimated $8.3M enjoying the smallest drop in the top ten with its 25% dip. The Weinstein Co. has reached $84.1M and will join the century club before the February 27 awards.
The Green Hornet fell 46% to an estimated $6.1M placing fifth for the weekend giving Sony $87.2M to date for 2011’s top-grossing new release. Last week’s top performer The Rite suffered the worst drop of any film plunging 62% to an estimated $5.6M in its sophomore scare. Bad buzz and competition from a new fright flick contributed to the steep tumble. Warner Bros. has grossed $23.7M for its Anthony Hopkins supernatural thriller and should end up with $30-35M.
Jason Statham’s latest action platform The Mechanic plunged 53% to an estimated $5.4M in its second weekend. The CBS Films release has grossed $20.1M in ten days and should end with about $30M. Jumping the $150M mark this past week was Oscar contender True Grit which took in an estimated $4.8M, down 37%, for a cume to date of $155M for Paramount. Along with TRON: Legacy, Jeff Bridges has raked in a stellar $324M this winter from his pair of blockbuster hits.
Dropping 39% to ninth place was Vince Vaughn’s comedy The Dilemma with an estimated $3.4M bumping the total to $45.7M for Universal. Best Actress front-runner Natalie Portman rounded out the top ten with Fox Searchlight’s Black Swan which collected an estimated $3.4M, off 34%, for a $95.9M. Look for the ballerina thriller to cross the $100M mark by Valentine’s Day.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $70.2M which was down 26% from last year when Dear John knocked Avatar out of the top spot with a $30.5M opening; and off 27% from 2009’s Super Bowl frame when Taken opened at number one with $24.7M.
James Cameron loves high drama under the sea; his directorial credits include Piranha 2: The Spawning, The Abyss, and that little movie about an ocean liner that sank after hitting an iceberg. Cameron is the executive producer on Sanctum, and critics say the film maintains his flair for arresting visuals, but unfortunately the characters and plot are nothing particularly special. Sanctum is the story of a group of cave divers who become trapped after a tropical storm. They’re lost in a vast undersea cavern, short on supplies, and desperate to find a way out. The pundits say Sanctum has moments of tension and visual wonder, but it’s undercut by one-dimensional characters and remarkably middling dialogue. (Check out Five Favorite Films with Cameron, director Alister Grierson and writer Andrew Wight.)
It looks like the folks behind The Roommate forgot to list a “critics wanted” ad, since it wasn’t screened prior to release. Minka Kelly stars as a college student whose new roomie (Leighton Meester) becomes obsessed with her. Hey kids, stop scouring Craigslist for a second and guess that Tomaometer! (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we present a list of memorable movie stalkers.)
Also opening this week in limited release:
Into Eternity, a visually stunning documentary about the construction of a huge nuclear waste facility, is at 100 percent.
Cold Weather, a comic mystery about a would-be sleuth looking for his missing girlfriend, is at 79 percent.
Humans are social creatures, but we also need our privacy, and having it invaded is one of the more unpleasant things a person can be forced to deal with. Ironically, we sort of seem to love watching other people go through it — just ask Hollywood, where stalker movies have been raking in the dough for decades. This weekend brings us another entry in the genre: The Roommate, starring Leighton Meester as a college co-ed who develops a psychotic obsession with Minka Kelly, and it got us thinking about previous stalkers on the silver screen. From bunny boilers to former rappers, this week’s list has something for everyone who enjoys watching someone’s life infiltrated by a crazy person. It’s time for Total Recall!
Over the last 30 years or so, Americans have slowly lost their faith in face-to-face connections, bringing us to the point where something as small as letting a cable installer into your home can seem like a recklessly dangerous act — because you just never know when he’s going to turn out to be a rictus-grinned lunatic like the one Jim Carrey played in The Cable Guy. Getting the premium channels for free is nice and everything, but is it worth being stalked by a guy who’ll get you arrested, fired from your job, and kidnap your girlfriend? Most critics thought it was safer just to skip The Cable Guy completely, but it had its defenders — including Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader, who wrote, “It’s a fairly interesting effort — much more ambitious than most Carrey vehicles.”
To a generation of filmgoers, Cape Fear will always be that one kinda creepy Scorsese picture with De Niro and Nick Nolte — but as fine as the remake is, everyone really needs to see the seething 1962 original, which pits the ever-decent Gregory Peck against a skin-crawlingly brilliant Robert Mitchum. Peck plays the committed family man and contributing citizen; Mitchum plays the skeevy rapist who blames Peck for the eight years he spent in prison; the audience can’t turn away until the inexorably violent conclusion. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times wanted to dislike Cape Fear, but couldn’t: “Menace quivers in the picture like a sneaky electrical charge. And Mr. Mitchum plays the villain with the cheekiest, wickedest arrogance and the most relentless aura of sadism that he has ever managed to generate,” he wrote, following with the disclaimer “But this is really one of those shockers that provokes disgust and regret.”
Critics loathed The Crush (James Berardinelli joined the chorus of disapproval with his review, pointing out that “The story not only relies on the complete and unalterable stupidity of every character in the movie, but on the gullibility of those who watch it”), but audiences weren’t so quick to judge — particularly on home video, where this gleefully cheesy tale of a young magazine writer (Cary Elwes) and the unbalanced 14-year-old (Alicia Silverstone) who pursues him at all costs found its audience. Silverstone picked up a couple of MTV Movie Awards for her performance, and from there it was off to Aerosmith videos and Clueless fame (as well as Batman & Robin, but let’s not talk about that right now).
Thirteen years after he played a schlubby stalker in The King of Comedy, Robert De Niro did it again — with admittedly diminished critical results — for 1996’s The Fan. De Niro stars here as Gil Renard, a down-on-his-luck knife salesman whose irrational love of baseball morphs into an obsession with Bobby Rayburn (Wesley Snipes), an outfielder recently traded to Gil’s beloved San Francisco Giants. One thing leads to another, and a few absurd plot twists later, director Tony Scott gave audiences the inevitable home plate showdown. Critics mostly booed, but a few writers thought The Fan was a home run, including Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat of Spirituality and Practice, who called it a “mesmerizing film about the soul-killing dimensions of perfectionism.”
Between his early 1990s chart-topping run as the boxer-flashing rapper Marky Mark and the award-winning string of films that started with 1997’s Boogie Nights, Mark Wahlberg was just another struggling actor, albeit one whose brother was the angriest member of the New Kids on the Block. It was during this period that Wahlberg starred in Fear, a suburban dad’s nightmare about a psychotic punk who latches on to a naïve teenager (Reese Witherspoon) and then, when she breaks up with him, enlists his friends to take revenge on her entire family (including the dog). A minor breakout success for its two young stars, Fear earned Wahlberg an MTV Movie Award nomination for Best Villain, although most critics didn’t think much of it. Clint Morris offered a minority opinion for Film Threat, calling it “Corny but cool” and adding, “Wahlberg has presence.”
Hey, she warned him that she wasn’t going to be ignored — and when Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) didn’t listen, Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) made good on that promise by attempting suicide, murdering a defenseless bunny, kidnapping his daughter, and eventually attempting a little bathtub foul play. A deranged stalker classic of the 1980s, Fatal Attraction functioned as both a slick thriller and a cautionary morality tale for husbands entertaining the thought of stepping out on their wives — and more importantly, it was good cinema, as argued by critics like the Washington Post’s Hal Hinson, who wrote, “Fatal Attraction has an inescapable pull to it; it’s suffocatingly exciting.”
Drive a woman’s husband to suicide — and put her under enough stress in the process that she loses her baby and has to have a hysterectomy — and there’s simply no telling what she’ll do. Case in point: Rebecca De Mornay in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, 1992’s cheesetastic stalker hit about a grieving widow who poses as a nanny to infiltrate the home of the woman (Annabella Sciorra) who helped expose her obstetrician husband’s proclivity for inappropriate touching. While most critics weren’t particularly impressed with it, Cradle had its defenders, including Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader, who wrote, “Curtis Hanson’s direction and Amanda Silver’s screenplay are both models of no-flab craft and intelligence, and all the actors (who also include Ernie Hudson and Julianne Moore) are believable from the first frame to the last.”
A miserable failure at the box office during its theatrical run, 1983’s The King of Comedy is nevertheless one of the more prescient films of the decade — not only because of the unflinchingly honest way it deconstructs the relationship between celebrities and their fans, but because of its trenchant observations on celebrity culture in general. Hopeful comedian/psycho stalker Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) is a fairly lamentable human being, but in the reality TV era, his rise to fame doesn’t seem all that unusual — and now that we’ve been conditioned to expect the worst from our matinee idols for decades, the unctuous antics of his obsession (a never-better Jerry Lewis) are all too familiar. “It’s Martin Scorsese’s second least popular movie, after The Last Temptation of Christ,” observed Salon’s Joyce Millman, “which is a shame, because it’s Scorsese’s second greatest film, after Taxi Driver.”
Having Robin Williams stalk your family may not seem like such a bad time, but the unlucky clan that piqued his interest in One Hour Photo didn’t get the cuddly good-time Robin of Aladdin or Mrs. Doubtfire; no, they picked up a creepy weirdo who covered one of his apartment walls with pictures of them — and decided to take matters into his own hands when he discovered that their real life didn’t live up to the idyllic fantasy he’d painstakingly assembled. “It’s the mark of a good thriller when we never know quite when to relax,” wrote Jim Shelby of the Palo Alto Weekly, adding, “This movie has several witty and visually adept sequences which caught me completely off guard, and has me still thinking about them.”
Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut is an all-time stalker classic, about a late-night DJ (Eastwood) whose ill-advised fling with a fan (future Arrested Development matriarch Jessica Walter) has seriously unintended consequences — starting with her repeated calls into his show to request “Misty,” and concluding with some high-stakes stabby action in the final act. “Eastwood displays a vigorous talent for sequences of violence and tension,” wrote Time’s Jay Cocks, adding, “He has obviously seen Psycho and Repulsion more than once, but those are excellent texts and he has learned his lessons passing well.”
No surprises here — if any movie belongs on this list, it’s the 1992 hit from which The Roommate seems to have lifted most of its DNA. Starring Bridget Fonda as a software developer who needs a roommate after she tosses her cheating boyfriend (Steven Weber) out on his keister, and Jennifer Jason Leigh as the secretly nutso woman who moves in after answering her ad, Single White Female offered viewers plenty of sex, violence, and ludicrous plot twists — none of which were enough to impress most critics. Rob Thomas of Madison’s Capital Times was among those who enjoyed it, however, admitting, “This should be trash, but Fonda and Leigh’s performances keep things believably chilling.”
By February of 1991, Home Alone had been king of the box office for nearly three months — and then along came this nail-biting thriller about an abused wife (Julia Roberts) who meticulously fakes her own death to escape her mustachioed control freak of a husband (Patrick Bergin). Of course, she unwittingly leaves just enough loose ends behind to convince him that she isn’t really dead, thus setting in motion the murderous chain of events that turned Sleeping with the Enemy into a $174 million hit. Critics, however, weren’t as impressed as audiences; while filmgoers were shrieking into their popcorn, Roger Ebert joined his fellow scribes in dissent, saying, “The film begins as an unyielding look at a battered wife, and ends as another one of those thrillers where the villain toys with his victim and the audience.”