Sometimes Hollywood serves up some pretty indigestible fare. Some films, such as Howard the Duck (1986), are impossible to swallow—so terrible they become synonymous with “bad cinema.” (Who can forget Gary Larson’s The Far Side cartoon depicting “Hell’s Video Store,” its shelves stocked solely with copies of Ishtar (1987)?)
But not every bomb reaches such heights of notoriety. Here’s a list of movies that are every bit as bad—and leave “real men” with extra heartburn. They degrade the genres that “real men” love best.
10. Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)
All right, this utterly dreadful sci-fi schlock is, admittedly, no stranger to lists of worst movies ever. And justifiably so. Written, directed and produced by the world’s least talented filmmaker, Edward D. Wood, it’s a bijou of awfulness. What twists the knife in this celluloid sacrilege is the sight of Bela Lugosi, one of Hollywood’s greatest horror stars, shambling through what was to be his last appearance on the silver screen. Rather than try to sit through this sad excuse for a film, better to watch Tim Burton’s engaging biopic Ed Wood (1994), which tells the story behind the movie.
9. Evil Dead (2013)
What could be worse than mucking up science fiction cinema? Screwing with horror movies ought to earn serious scorn. Sam Raimi made three creative, imaginative, entertaining, scary, funny films about the cabin in the woods and the secret book that summoned unspeakably evil demons. This unwatchable reboot takes out the humor and scares and replaces them with gore and characters we couldn’t care less about. If Hollywood wants to make a mockery of horror, it should crank out more movies like the hilarious Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil (2010) or The Cabin in the Woods (2012). At least they are good for an honest laugh.
8. The Green Hornet (2011)
Hollywood’s high on superheroes. No less than two dozen new superhero films will come out in the next two years. This movie, however, proves that even the most ironclad concept can go horribly wrong. Honestly, what were they thinking? Comedian Seth Rogen as the iconic Green Hornet? A Korean pop star as the karate-wielding Kato? Not to mention wasting the talent of Christoph Waltz as a pathetic, bumbling bad guy. In 1974, Twentieth Century Fox strung together several episodes of the 1960s TV show with Van Williams and Bruce Lee and released them as a feature film. It’s a much better watch than this unfunny, uninteresting flop.
7. Casino Royale (1967)
James Bond is the greatest celluloid spy ever—except in this utterly senseless send-up of 007. The only thing this movie shares in common with Ian Fleming’s creation is the title of the book. Three separate directors were brought in to make three separate parts of the film—and they were told not to collaborate with one another. It was “psychedelic cinema” for the swinging ‘60s, they said. But it’s really just an incomprehensible mess. It’s only virtue—a brilliant score by Burt Bacharach—can’t begin to make up for this waste of celluloid. Far better to watch the 2006 remake, with Daniel Craig as Bond. At least it tracks with the plot of the novel.
6. Oh! What a Lovely War (1969)
“Psychedelic cinema” wasn’t the only lousy idea hatched in Hollywood during the heyday of the hippies. Here’s another one: Hey kids, let’s turn the war movie into a musical comedy! Who wouldn’t want to watch a send-up of 16 million soldiers dying in the muddy, rat-infested trenches of World War I? Audiences mostly. There are good war comedies worth watching, films like M*A*S*H (1970) and Kelly’s Heroes (1970). This isn’t one of them.
5. W. (2008)
Every red-blooded American likes a good movie about presidential leadership. That’s why almost no one was interested in Oliver Stone’s biopic of the Bush presidency. Want to see a president in a movie? Watch Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012).
4. Ice Station Zebra (1968)
It looks like a can’t-miss recipe for a keeps-you-on-edge-of-your seat action film. Take a first-class action director: John Sturges. Sign up proven box-office stars including Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine and Jim Brown. Stir it up with an engaging premise: the U.S. and Soviet military race to the remotest reaches of the Arctic to recover a spy satellite. Yet this concoction turned out to be one of the most boring action movies of all time. Ironic, because Sturges also directed The Magnificent Seven (1960), one of the best action movies ever made.
3. The Fifth Estate (2013)
Real men love espionage movies. But the tale of Julian Assange left them cold. Audiences seemed thoroughly uninterested in a film describing how the Wikileaks founder exposed some of the U.S. intelligence community’s mostly closely guarded secrets. For a 2013 espionage movie that delivers the goods, A Most Wanted Man is a far better choice.
2. Green Zone (2010)
Hollywood has made many bad movies about America’s longest war. This is one of the worst. It has Matt Damon. Unfortunately, it has him uncovering the “truth” about the invasion of Iraq. If you like your movies with an anti-American flavor, this one will suit your taste just fine. But if you want a more honest film about the military’s post-9/11 experience, go see The Hurt Locker (2008), Lone Survivor (2013) or Fort Bliss (2014).
1. Promised Land (2012)
Matt Damon scores again, savaging the thriller genre with a “politically correct” anti-fracking film. Even NPR acknowledged that the facts behind the film, ahem, were rather questionable. The only indisputable fact is that audiences didn’t seem much interested. Want to see a really good conspiracy film? The best ever made is Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (1959) with Cary Grant. Or, if you want something more progressive, try The Parallax View (1974) with Warren Beatty.