Monday, April 20, 2009

The Worst Movies Ever: A New Survey

Okay, it's a survey of only five people -- or only five responses were used in the Troy Record's "Street Talk" column this morning. However, the responses to the standard question, "What is the worst movie you have ever watched?" are atypical enough to make the survey worth sharing. In part, it's a reminder that most people don't watch as many movies as we bloggers do, and that they must select their "worst" movies from a limited pool of experience that includes some movies we'd never have guessed were in the running. It's also yet another proof that there's no accounting for taste. In any event, here are the responses published today, in alphabetical order.

Kevin Cary, CPA, Latham: "Mr. Magoo. It was awful, I think Leslie Nielsen was in it."

Hilary Ferris, occupational therapist, Stephentown: "Terminator movies. I don't like Arnold. He's not a good actor. I don't like the concept of the movies."

Michele Gava, tech support, Schodack: "Kill Bill or Pulp Fiction. I don't like either one of them."

Tom Marsolais, assistant mechanic, Lathan: "I have a lot of favorite movies, but the worst was Lord of Flat Foot. I watched it when I was 18 in the drive-in."

[For the sake of arguments, I did a Google search, but as I suspected, there's no movie with that title, though whoever transcribed Mr. Marsolais's response had no reason to know that. As he seems to be a middle-aged man from his photo, I'm going to guess that he actually said The Lords of Flatbush.]

Finally, Lorraine Tidd, teaching assistant, East Greenbush: "Joy Ride. It is about a truck driver terrorizing people. It was an edge of your seat movie but it was very bloody."

It looks like Ms. Tidd doesn't even have the same standard of "worst" as her fellow respondents, That's the moral of the story, really. Some people's classics are others' "worst" films, and a movie can be the worst for someone not because she thinks it was poorly made but because it violated her sensitivity in some way. Even in this limited sample, there's nothing close to a consensus of standards that could define a "normal" taste in movies. Perhaps there'd be more agreement if they were asked to name the best films they'd seen, but I wouldn't take that for granted. Amid such diversity of opinion and taste, whose taste in movies can actually be called deviant? Nobody's, perhaps -- unless you like the label yourself.


Lolita said...

Best films would all be Lord of the Rings. ("Gosh, have you heard they wrote a book on that one now??" I avtually read a column in a magazine on that topic once...)
That person that named Tarantino films as the worst must me either mental, or totally isolated from the world of cinema!

Rev. Fred Phantom said...

People who say movies like the ones mentioned here are the worst movies they have ever seen, obviously are not "into" movies. My comeback to someone saying Pulp Fiction or even Lords of Flatbush are the worst movies they have ever seen would be "You haven't seen very many movies then."

BTW, Cannibal Mercenary is currently climbing the charts as my choice for worst movie of all time. Now THAT'S a bad movie.

hobbyfan said...

To each their own, or so it would seem. Nielsen's interpretation of Quincy Magoo got raked over the coals by advocates for the disabled, among others, upon the film's release, as memory serves.

A later Nielsen film, "Spy Hard", with Andy Griffith, is much, much worse. I'd also add "Howard the Duck", but that would be piling on.

Anonymous said...

I dunno, I liked Pulp Fiction, but Reservoir Dogs just sickened me. I haven't watched a Tarantino film since. I wouldn't say it's the worst or even badly made, I just find that, as I grow older, movies that rely on a high rate of violence or gore usually do so by sacrificing story, plot, script - all the things that make movies interesting to me.

I couldn't really say what the worst film was - since I have a habit of seeing bad films. The Ring would be in the running though. The premise was just stupid. Howard thd Duck is one of those movies that is so bad it's just good. C'mon - beastiality featuring Lea Thompson with a sentient duck? How can that be bad?

Samuel Wilson said...

Lolita: It wouldn't surprise me if that person doesn't even know who Tarantino is. I'm not so sure that the common horde would endorse Lord of the Rings as unanimously as you expect. There'd probably be votes for Star Wars or Titanic in there.

Hobby: Are you declaring Spy Hard the worst or merely citing it as a really bad film? Just curious.

Crhymethinc: You demonstrate that people can operate with more than one standard at the same time. Any sensible spectator has one rule for more "literary" movies and another for "bad" ones. More mundane moviegoers like the respondents to the Record survey apply a single standard to every film, and it often isn't a good standard.

Finally, Rev. Phantom knows whereof he speaks. He's been posing Cannibal Mercenary in installments at Midnight Confessions, with commentary. I've gotten as far as part five, and looking at that bit alone may convince you to agree with the Rev. Check it out at

hobbyfan said...

Spy Hard was a bad satire. Period. You know you're reaching when the producers bring in Hulk Hogan and Dr. Joyce Brothers for cameos in the same sequence! I'd go so far as to say that in trying to achieve camp, a la the 1966 model Batman, it fails badly.