Twelve film-lovers pick their most hated movies of all time

Twelve film-lovers pick their most hated movies of all time

Nick Broomfield, documentary-maker
This will earn me some enemies but I'd have to say Kill Bill - Volumes I and II. It's like watching a schoolboy's fantasy of violence and sex, which normally Quentin Tarantino would be wanking to alone in the confines of his bedroom while his mother is making his baked beans downstairs. Only this time we've got Harvey Weinstein behind him and it's on at a million screens. That's why I think all those male prepubescent film critics loved Kill Bill so much. It's acting out all their fantasies. I think Tarantino is very confused in his mixing of sex and violence. On that level he just feels like a young guy whose been let loose in the candy store, and there's suddenly all these violent bitches around that he can put in his movies, and have a lot of fun with. As they say in the business, Kill Bill should never have left the lab.

Andrew O'Hagan, novelist and former film critic
Given that most movies are bad, and that there are whole categories and sub-categories of badness - the sequel, the Madonna Movie, the Friday 13th Series, or "Movies Starring John Travolta Before Pulp Fiction" - it is almost impossible to choose a single film for worst movie of all time. But strangely, I do have a nomination and I believe it is actually the worst movie ever made. It is Boxing Helena (1993), directed by Jennifer Chambers Lynch and starring Julian Sands, Sherilyn Fenn, and Art Garfunkel. The director is David Lynch's daughter, and the film comes with the almost insane-making faults that the family connection might imply. All I can tell you is that Helena spends most of the movie with no arms and no legs, living in a special box, under the slightly obsessional care of the surgeon played by Julian Sands. It really is very bad indeed.

Michael Winner, film director
I found it impossible to watch Johnny Guitar with Joan Crawford. It came out to appalling reviews, but later became a sort of cult camp western among the Joan Crawford fan group. I'm not sure what year it was, I would guess mid-50s, but I walked out of my local Odeon - the only time I ever walked out of the cinema. It was just awful, unbelievably slow and nothing seemed to happen. Obviously the industry thought much the same because they didn't give her another western.

Julie Burchill, journalist
The one that comes to mind immediately is Swept Away. Not only does the story, script and direction seem to have been arranged by a committee of cretins, but even the lighting seems designed to make Madonna look as stringy, old and sexless as possible. If she ever needs grounds to divorce Posh Boy, this should be Exhibit A. If I was responsible for something this bad, I'd change my name, too. Look out especially for the dream sequence - priceless!

Alan Warner, novelist
When I was a kid in the mid-1970s, in the little provincial cinema in Oban that we used to go to, they still showed real B-movies, mostly from America. Destination Inner Space would be one of my chosen bad movies of all time. But at the time, it completely captivated and terrified me. It's about an underwater biological investigation team. It's all filmed in over-large swimming pools with that strange underwater light. They pick up a signal and find an alien spaceship where they foolishly pick up an egg. They take it back to the lab where it melts, and out comes this monster. Which is so obviously a man in a costume with enormous claws. In fact the entire film consists of chase sequences underwater. You can see the bubbles of his aqualung tank coming out the back of the monster's suit. At the time I thought it was amazing, but I was about eight or nine. Even though it would be amongst my worst movies ever, it had a strangely big effect on me. When you're a kid your view is very pure, and to be affected by stuff like is kind of sweet. In adulthood you go back and there's a huge melancholy to finding out what affected you as a child is actually trash.

I foolishly tried to get it on DVD several years ago, but no way. You have to get it off strange nerdy guys on VHS who taped it off American TV with all the commercials still on.

Peter Bradshaw, Guardian film critic
There are some films that are awful in an obvious way, like Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in Gigli. Being in the audience was like being in a crashing plane. There are other films like the British comedy Sex Lives of the Potato Men, which was dire. But it's so abject you don't feel like kicking it when it's down. The most insidiously awful type of film, however, is Arthouse Lite. A key example is The Piano by Jane Campion. It is middlebrow, pseudo-literary cinema, which is shallow and prissy and genteel. Those self-regarding pretty-pretty compositions of Holly Hunter on the beach, drove me up the wall. She's mute: which manages to be such a smug passive-aggressive idea. That's my thing about bad films. Honest dreck is fine. It's straight-to-video rubbish and I don't get upset about it, but I can get upset about middleweight nonsense.

Simon Allen, head of projection at the National Film Theatre
The worst film I've ever seen is Funny Games. It's an Austrian film; I can't remember who the director is. The whole thing is two young men torturing and murdering a family in a really drawn-out, gruesome way.

I was the projectionist; it was a preview and I knew nothing at all about it beforehand. There was a full house, of course - anything with extreme violence sells out. But it looked good, so I watched it, and it was one of those films where towards the end you begin to feel like you're not very well.

I've got nothing against violence if it's making a point or it's relevant to the story, but this seemed just to be for the sake of it. And it was so graphic and horrific that it was really quite sickening and I don't like showing films like that, really.

Nicholas Shakespeare, novelist
There are several kinds of badness. The enjoyably bad, like Showgirls. Then there are films that I get bored by when I'm meant to be enjoying them. For instance, Citizen Kane I've never got through. I feel a bit glum about it. It's rammed down your throat every year as the greatest film every made.

But real movie rage for me kicks in when I see a bad film in a cinema. It's somehow more difficult to leave a seat that you've paid for. You've made an act of faith by choosing to walk in there and the act of betrayal is that much deeper felt. When I saw Blue Velvet I felt I'd had food poisoning. It was pretentious, and manipulative and was trying to give psychotics a good name. All I felt was poor gas mask, poor Isabella Rossellini, poor Roy Orbison! It's incredibly difficult to do narrative, and what happened with Lynch is that he pretended he had a mastery of narrative, but he displayed the opposite. I remember leaving the cinema with my girlfriend and she said: "That was one of the best films I have ever seen." I realised in that moment that our relationship was doomed. It was one of those occasions in one's life when you simply cannot fake it. However much I loved her, I couldn't do it.

JG Ballard, novelist
Look Back in Anger is definitely one of the worst films I've ever seen. I walked out of that towards the end, it was so appalling. To remember it is to be traumatised all over again. It was self-indulgent, flatulent, adolescent and hammily acted by Richard Burton - utterly unconvincing. Part of the blame must lie with John Osborne. I didn't like the play, and the film showed up all its weaknesses.

And Kill Bill Volume I, which I rented the other day, is dreadful. It was scarcely a film at all - just a lot of cinematic posing by Tarantino, who has obviously completely run out of ideas. It's just a compendium of film cliches, which weren't wittily transposed or played upon. Dreadful. It's appalling to think there's a Volume II, and even conceivably a III and a IV somewhere in the echo chamber of Tarantino's imagination. It's a fast-forward experience if you want to save your sanity. I've got 60 years of film-going under my belt, and Kill Bill I is definitely on the all-time bad list.

Mark Kermode, film critic
Exorcist II is demonstrably the worst film ever made. It is a multi-million-dollar studio movie, directed by John Boorman and starring Richard Burton, but it is categorically, the stupidest, most inane, imbecilic movie I've ever seen. William Friedkin, the director of the original Exorcist, described it as the product of a demented mind. I think he's absolutely right. It took the greatest film ever made and trashed it in a way that was on one level farcically stupid and on another level absolutely unforgivable.

According to Boorman, he'd turned down the offer to direct The Exorcist itself. So having had the gall to turn down The Exorcist in the first place, he subsequently decided to make Exorcist II as a desire to heal the wounds of The Exorcist. He thought it was a nasty unpleasant film, and his sequel was an answer that would somehow unmake the damage.

What you get is this absolutely ridiculous story. Four years after Regan was possessed, she starts having dreams about her possession that enable her to cure autistic children. Meanwhile Richard Burton plays a priest who decides that Regan is the key to a group of super-good people being picked off one by one by the demon Pasuzu, before they develop their healing powers. In order to get Max von Sydow back into the picture, who of course was dead by the end of the first film, they construct a flashback sequence to his first encounter with the demon in Africa.

Most of this you see through the use of a synchronising machine with a flashing strobe light that allows Richard Burton to climb inside the head of Linda Blair. Here they fly to Africa on the wings of a locust where they witness Max von Sydow's first encounter with Pasuzu. This is a film that trashes a work of art. It's like someone deciding to do a Mona Lisa 2, but with a moustache. Everyone involved in this, apart from Linda Blair, should be ashamed for all eternity.

Simon Fanshawe, writer and broadcaster
Showgirls is collagen acting. It's a Vegas story about strippers clawing their way to the top. When Elizabeth Berkley pole danced I thought her lips were in danger of attaching to the pole like a sink plunger. She had all those lips but with none of the mobility of Linda Gray in Dallas. When Dusty died, Linda must have gone into at least 23 separate pouts. What was so ghastly about it was that it wasn't just trashy but offensive. It was written by that awful man, Joe Eszterhas. At the time he was hot, hot, hot. He wrote Flashdance, Basic Instinct, Jagged Edge. It's a bit like a car, gathering speed, and just winging out of control, starting to slalom on the ice until it explodes.

DBC Pierre, novelist
It has to be On Golden Pond. There's nothing worse. Hollywood being sentimental is bad enough, but when Hollywood imagines it's being particularly sensitive and insightful it's just awful. Somebody had the idea that to be really resonant and sensitive was simply to strip every possible element out of a story and make people speak very haltingly and have long pauses and stuff. I saw it in the cinema, and it was one of those films that was everywhere at the time. You couldn't escape the fucking thing. It was like a nightmare - if I went on a flight, it would be on the flight as well. I discounted it because I figured there was something that old people might see in it, which I didn't. So I still reserve the right to find it deeply touching in 40 years, because I've been wrong about things before. But I'm not holding my breath.

The GuardianTramp

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