Tomcats (2001, Directed by Gregory Poirier) English 3

Starring Jerry O’Connell, Shannon Elizabeth, Jake Busey, Horatio Sanz, Jaime Pressly

(3-Horrible Film)

Unfunny. Gross. Offensive.

Tomcats desperately wants to be There’s Something About Mary, an early Farrelly Brothers’ film that worked but instead more closely resembles Boat Trip, Cuba Gooding Jr.’s infamous stinker. Jerry O’Connell leads a cast of semi-famous people who never made it past the D-list (thanks in part, I’m sure to this film), as a cartoonist named Michael, who, together with a group of friends, makes a bet that the last man to stay unmarried gets a huge cash prize. Years later, with the pool of bachelors whittled down to two, a desperate Michael teams up with an embittered policewoman, Natalie (Elizabeth), to seduce his last opponent and make sure he wins that bet. The plot has potential, but the laughs aren’t there to distract us from how juvenile it all is. Plus, the level of misogyny is incredible.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(688)

Batman and Robin: So Terrible, it’s Amazing (1998, Directed by Joel Schumaker) English 3

Starring George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle

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(3-Horrible Film)

Campy. Goofy. Idiotic.

1998’s Batman and Robin is, simply put, a joke. They notoriously gave Bruce Wayne’s suit nipples, they chose for their lead villain, Mr. Freeze, played by a blue painted Arnold Schwarzenegger, spouting one bad ice-related pun after another (“let’s kick some ice”), and made Poison Ivy look like Divine from a John Waters movie (google it). I’d like to catalog for you, the film’s many shortcomings and harebrained moments, though it’s a Herculean task to try and catch all of them, but it’s also important to note and preface this with the truth, which is that I love this film. Definitely falls within the “so bad, it’s good” variety. I think it’s hilarious. I laughed out loud on more occasions during the length of this superhero flick than, let’s say, 95% of the straight-up comedies I’ve seen.

Technically the fourth entry in the pre-Christopher Nolan series of Batman films. It’s amazing how silly all of the Batman movies before Bale and Nolan seem now that I’ve seen their grittier, more realistic take on the material. Batman and Robin stars George Clooney as the billionaire playboy slash caped crusader. It’s incredible, and not enough is said about how Clooney was able to have a career after this film, let alone the Oscar-winning, lifetime achievement award receiving career he has had. Bat nipples should have been career ending. I will say that among the cast, who should all feel embarrassed, Clooney comes off the least foolish. He gives the role some gravitas, granted, masked behind layers of inanity, bad dialogue, and bat nipples (I’m going to keep coming back to bat nipples; they color the entire film). I would even go as far as saying that Clooney could make a great Bruce Wayne in a much better, more competent picture. Now, if you think I’m being over dramatic about bat nipples being potentially career-ending, take a look at the rest of the cast of then-stars. Chris O’Donnell returns as  Batman’s close ally, Robin. O’Donnell, who’d given a very strong performance six years earlier in Scent of a Woman (1992) with Al Pacino, never recovered from this dud. Neither did Alicia Silverstone, at the time of the film’s release, still riding the waves off of her early success in Clueless (1995). Here, she plays Barbara Wilson, grand-niece of Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred. She appears to be a nice, wholesome girl, but is later revealed to be a hardcore, action adventure heroine, and dons the ready-made Batgirl suit Alfred leaves her. Together, Batman (having trouble trusting his young sidekicks), Batgirl, and Robin take on Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Bane (3 on 3) who team up, rather improbably, to take over the world (or at least Gotham) with a telescope Mr. Freeze turned into a freeze gun. The villains are where the film really reveals its suckage. I’m going to address them one by one.

I’ve already referenced Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze, and you probably got the point, but not enough can be said about his puns:

Cop #1: Please show some mercy!

Mr. Freeze: Mercy? I’m afraid my condition has left me cold to your pleas of mercy.

See too, a scene where he sings along to the snow miser song from A Year Without Santa Claus (1974), while his henchman, who dress in fur coats and talk like they’re from the Bronx, provide backing vocals. Where does he get these guys? Honestly? He goes to New York and posts hiring notices? It’s insane. And they help him, why? Then again, Ted Bundy had followers. Perhaps, it’s one of those things that defy explanation. Like when Mr. Freeze zaps Robin with his freeze gun, and Robin’s cemented in a block of ice. The solution: Batman picks Robin up and puts him in hot water, and Robin’s perfectly fine. Science! What’s the point of Mr. Freeze’s gun if it doesn’t even kill anybody? It looks cool on an action figure?

Poison Ivy, as portrayed by Uma Thurman, is, against all odds, even worse. She escaped this travesty thanks to Tarantino casting her in his Kill Bill saga, otherwise, I’m certain this would have been career curtains. Let’s start with her “origin story.” The origin stories in the old Batman movies were the worst/most hilarious parts. She’s working in some kind of lab, minding her own business one minute. She opens a door, and all of a sudden, she’s in some weird underground cult room, complete with evil experiments. That’s it. All she did was open a door. The mad scientist in this new room goes, “how did you get in here? Now, I’ll have to kill you. You know too much.” What do you mean, “how did you get in here?” You didn’t even lock the door. His attempt to kill her somehow imbues her with the power to manipulate plants and toxins, and the sexy ability to kill men with a kiss. Almost lost amid Mr. Freeze’s bad puns are Poison Ivy’s equally lame lines: “They replaced my blood with aloe.” “Animal protectors of the status quo.” Worst of all: “My garden needs tending.” Smh. Uma’s performance is bad too. The dialogue is horrible and does her no favors, but her delivery only compounds the terribleness. She talks like a bad theater actress. And then there’s the striptease she does while wearing a gorilla costume. Has to be seen, to be believed. Yes, someone thought that was a good idea.

Bane, while equaling his compadres in stupidity, has far less screentime, thus leaves far less of an impression. Still, in his rare moments to shine, the filmmakers turn him into a Frankenstein figure; like a campy Frankenstein figure. He starts off as a scrawny child molester or something and is then given serum that makes him jacked. How to defeat him? Robin simply pulls the rather large tube from the back of Bane’s head and he disintegrates. So, so bad.

There isn’t much logic to Batman and Robin. Instead, there are pointless cameos from Elle MacPherson and Coolio. I’m sure the filmmakers were convinced their target audience wouldn’t notice (their target audience being 8 year-olds), and they were right. There was a solid 3 year period when I legitimately thought it was the greatest film ever made. Now, I see clearly. It’s in my exclusive top ten worst movies ever made list. So many poor choices, lapses of logic, head shaking moments, and bat nipples. Never forget bat nipples.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(604)

City on Fire (1979, Directed by Alvin Rakoff) English 3

Starring Barry Newman, Ava Gardner, Henry Fonda, Leslie Nielsen, James Franciscus, Susan Clark, Shelley Winters

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(3-Horrible Film)

Dull. Bemusing. Hack.

I love disasters movies, but The Birds is the only one that I consider great. There is a handful that I consider very good, another handful of mediocres, but, to this point, City on Fire is the first awful disaster film that I’ve seen. Some malcontent causes a fire at an oil refinery in the American mid-west that soon spreads and destroys the small town and the people in it. That’s a solid premise, and the cast includes Henry Fonda, Shelley Winters, and Ava Gardner. How could this film go so wrong? Where a film like The Poseidon Adventure demonstrated the strength of ensemble acting, City on Fire is bogged down in the flip-side. Too many characters, no character development. As a result, it’s tremendously hard to follow with no rooting interest whatsoever in any of the leads. Twenty minutes in, I just stopped caring.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(492)

Thumbelina (1994, Directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman) English 3

Voices of Jodi Benson, Carol Channing, Gilbert Gottfried, Charo, John Hurt, Joe Lynch

(3-Horrible Film)

Derivative. Third-rate. Unwatchable.

Walt Disney cast the mold over seventy years ago when he premiered Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the first full length animated feature. In front of an audience that included Shirley Temple, Clark Gable, and Marlene Dietrich among others, feature film animation was born, the model was set, the benchmark placed. From that point on, no American animated film veered from the path forged by Disney and his team until 1995’s Toy Story. We know the fundamentals: musical numbers, hand-drawn animation, cute animal sidekicks, villains, missing parents, and occasionally a nice princess story. These familiar trappings have been mined and will continue being mined as long as they yield the kind of results we saw as recently as 2013’s Frozen ($1.2 Billion earned). There are not many boring animated princess movies, but I am afraid Thumbelina proves an exception. Looking at the man responsible for this travesty, Don Bluth, a man whose credits include The Secret of NIMH, The Land Before Time, and Anastasia, offers very little insight into what went wrong. He once worked for Disney. He ought to have a pretty solid understanding of how to put together a good animated flick. This film beggars the mind.

The plot maybe had potential. A thumb-sized princess torn from her beloved fairy prince must traverse a harsh environment to make it back home. I could see a nice adventure springing from that setup, but I am using my imagination and not my memory because this film does nothing with it but meander. She gets help from a bird with a French accent named Jacquimo, and trouble from a beetle named Berkely Beetle (rolling my eyes) voiced by the same person who voiced Iago in Aladdin. Eventually, the fairy prince tracks her down, they get married, she gets wings, and they live happily ever after; cue the bad music.

Let’s go down the Disney checklist. Perhaps the Bluth team missed a step: bright and colorful animation (check), a fairy tale princess story (check, courtesy of Hans Christian Anderson), cute animals (check, this film has several), musical numbers (check-minus, the songs are horrible courtesy of Barry Manilow). So the concept at least has all the essentials of a Disney classic, but what’s missing is any discernible charm or magic associated with the best princess stories. Think of Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, and of course Snow White. You can even think of Bluth’s next stab at the animated princess story, Anastasia, which is vastly superior to this one. Thumbelina may not be the worst animated film ever-that distinction belongs to Troll in Central Park-but it’s a photo-finish.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(483)

Troll 2 (1990, Directed by Claudio Fragasso) English 1

Starring Michael Stephenson, George Hardy, Connie McFarland, Margo Prey

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(1-All-Time Bad Film)

Hilarious. Inept. Talentless.

A young boy tries to convince his family that the town they’re vacationing in is overrun with goblins. It’s important to note that there are no actual trolls in this picture (just one of its quirks). Well known as perhaps the worst film ever made, this “horror movie,” whose revelations include a character realizing that the town he’s in-Nilbog- is goblin spelled backward, is one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Its inanity in every aspect reaches legendary lows. As of today, I will crown this catastrophe the worst film of all-time.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(461)

Eegah (1962, Directed by Arch Hall Sr.) English 3

Starring Arch Hall Sr., Arch Hall Jr., Richard Kiel, Marilyn Manning, Ray Dennis Steckler

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(3-Horrible Film)

Inept. Unappealing. Bad.

“The Nephilim (giants) were in the earth in those days,” the narrator tells us, quoting the bible. From that line, meant to lend the film austerity, perhaps gravitas, we get Eegah, a sixties rock and roll picture with a giant caveman named Eegah (Kiel) running through it. Roxy Miller (Manning) discovers the prehistoric man driving idly one summer day. He doesn’t hurt her, and when she returns to town to tell her neighbors, they assume she’s crazy. Her father and lame-brained boyfriend (Arch Hall Sr. and Jr.) take her seriously enough to investigate. What ensues is basically a really pale version of King Kong. Eegah, so named because it’s the only thing he says, seems to care for Roxy, although unlike King Kong’s surprising tenderness, Eegah’s infatuation seems awfully assaultive. The technical aspects of this film are terrible. Sound and visuals conspire to make Eegah an all-time terrible movie. The soundtrack is emblematic of the film as a whole: so bad it’s good. My question throughout was where was Eegah for the thousand years in between his era and the time the main characters’ found him? No one else in all that time ever saw him? It’s not like he was frozen in a block of ice. He was barely even hiding. One of life’s unanswerable questions, I suppose.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(362)

 

Theodore Rex (1995, Directed by Jonathan R. Betuel) English 3

Starring Whoopi Goldberg, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Juliet Landau, Richard Roundtree, Bud Cort, George Newborn (voice), Carol Kane (Voice)

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(3-Horrible Film)

Witless. Joyless. Dumb.

In a futuristic society, dinosaurs still roam the Earth. Walking, talking dinosaurs that resemble humans in their behavior, and yet, they’re treated like second-class citizens by humans who still represent the majority. After a prominent dinosaur gets murdered, a friendly T-Rex type named Theodore wants to get to the bottom of it. He partners with wild-card police detective Coltrane (Goldberg) to catch the perpetrator. Does this film sound good to you? Best case scenario, how good could a film with that plot be? Well, this is not even best case scenario. Horrendous visuals and design of characters accentuate the ridiculous plot at every turn. On top of that, there may not exist a more witless, talentless script. Instead of dialogue and banter, we get fart sounds and weird voices. It’s embarrassing that three Oscar nominated actors appear in this. My feeling is that after Jurassic Park, studios thought you could just put dinosaurs in movies, and it would sell, regardless of quality.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(111)