There is no reason to put out a list of really bad movies for Thanksgiving other than the fact that there are those who don’t like football (the ones who have plenty of free time to fill the days off with meaningless activities).
There is the added advantage that if you pop one of these films in the DVR after a hearty feast, you will fall asleep and not miss much.
Yet the best reason for a side of awful films with your cranberries and stuffing is the opportunity to compete with loved ones over who can really come up with the best list of the worst movies of all times.
This year the challenge is to name the worst films with the best actors. Here is a list of seven dreadful uses for celluloid that featured some of Hollywood’s most beloved stars. We will avoid the usual suspects (like Plan 9 from Outer Space and Ishtar) and go right into the really dark and forgotten corners of the film libraries that most studios would rather forget.
#7 Death Becomes Her (1992)
This film is like hitting for the cycle—not one star, but four (Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn, Bruce Willis, and Isabella Rossellini), all in one unwatchable flick. This movie is allegedly a black comedy about drinking an elixir from the Fountain of Youth. With reviewers using words like “horrible,” “sloppy,” and “bad,” you might guess the movie is no good. Yet, shockingly, it won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. Meryl Streep was nominated for a Golden Globe. The film even opened #1 at the box office. None of these achievements match the movie’s greatest accomplishment—bringing together so much talent and delivering so little.
#6 Caligula (1979)
We remember Peter O’Toole for Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Lion in Winter (1968), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969) and my personal all-time favorite—the sci-fi feature Phantoms (1998). We try to forget that he was in the only movie produced by the men’s nudie magazine Penthouse. Fortunately, he is killed off early in the film so he didn’t have to stick around for the worst of the debauchery. This cinematic disaster about Rome’s most infamous emperor did gross over $20 million, mostly because respectable adults could go to a porn movie while claiming they were really there for the art.
#5 Head (1968)
Okay, I cheated. The Monkees were not movie stars. But they did have a hit TV show and plenty of toe-tapping, best-selling records like “I’m a Believer.” Not sure this film had a plot. The purpose of the incompressible movie seemed to be to destroy the image of the group. It worked. The Monkees called it quits a few year later.
#4 The Conqueror (1956)
In the day, there was no more bankable a movie star than John Wayne. How to explain casting him in the lead role of a bio-pic about Genghis Khan? Let’s just not go there. If you like Mongols, better to watch the Netflix series. Another cheat, this movie has not been forgotten. The Conqueror routinely makes it on the list of all-time bad movies, but the real tragedy is that it was filmed in the desert near a nuclear test site. Several of the cast and crew contracted and died of cancer, including Wayne’s co-star, Susan Hayward. She died of brain cancer in 1975.
#3 Solaris (2002)
This is likely to get me in trouble. But, I thought the original 1972 Soviet sci-fi art film about contemplating the meaning of life and death on a space station was incredibly boring. Remaking the story with superstar George Clooney did nothing to make it better. If I was looking for the easy win on picking a bad Clooney movie I could have gone for the lay-up and pointed to Batman & Robin (1997). No way. It is not even the worst Batman film treatment. Best Clooney movie? Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000). Just felt like I had to throw that in there.
It is not even out yet and I already hate it. Only a brilliant, versatile actor like Johnny Depp could jumpstart the classic pirate movie. After making the super entertaining Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), it was all downhill. By Pirates 3, the franchise went off the cliff. Not sure how it could possibly get worse, but I’m confident the filmmakers will find a way.
#1 Mamma Mia! (2008)
Here is an idea. Take a hit Broadway musical and remake it as a movie with a bunch of film stars who can’t really sing. Really? Watch and cringe as Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, and Colin Firth are just awful. Think how hard that must have been—making three of the world’s most watchable movie stars make Abba sound like Tiny Tim.
Enjoy your turkeys.