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-


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-


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-



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-


City Limits (1985, Directed by Aaron Lipstadt) English 2

Starring John Stockwell, Kim Cattrall, Rae Dawn Chong, Darrell Larson, James Earl Jones

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(2-Atrocious Film)

Lousy. Amateurish. Indecipherable.

James Earl Jones’ narration starts. The picture fades in, and we see a post-apocalyptic world overrun with children and teenagers. The remaining population has sectioned itself off into biker gangs, living by a self-made code, mistrustful of strangers. When a big-league corporation tries to take over a nearly deserted city, two rival bike gangs that live there, team up and fight back. City Limits has all the elements of a cult-classic 1980s action flick. True, it’s a little bit derivative of Mad Max, but that’s no great crime. The crime is that this film is an atrocious bore, crudely done, with wasted talent in front of the camera, and no discernible talent behind the camera. The visuals are grimy, under lit in the extreme, the costumes look like the actors brought their own costumes, and the plot unfolds incomprehensibly. It’s astonishing how poorly executed this premise was. Calling this a B-Movie is an insult to a lot of great B- Movies.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Chairman of the Board (1998, Directed by Alex Zamm) English 2

Starring Carrot Top, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Raquel Welch, Larry Miller, Jack Warden, Estelle Harris

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(2-Atrocious Film)

Annoying. Infantile. Repellent.

This isn’t fair, or nice, but I strongly dislike Carrot Top. Before his demon clown personality even set in, and cast its stench upon this abysmal movie, I strongly disliked him. Before he opened his mouth, and said some lame joke involving some lame prop, I knew immediately that I did not want to see him on screen for another second, but I persevered, watching Chairman of the Board, wherein the “comedian” plays Edison, a dreamer, inventor, and surfer. After a chance encounter with a multimillionaire, Armand McMillian (Oscar nominee Jack Warden in the who cares stage of his career), Edison is left with the majority share of a major company, and uses his newfound power to push out his inventions. He also falls in love with his assistant, Natalie (Thorne-Smith). Carrot Top’s performance and personality justify my bigoted feelings about his appearance. This film is garbage besides him, and something less than garbage because of him.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959, Directed by Ed Wood) English 2

Starring Bella Lugosi, Vampira, Gregory Walcott, Duke Moore, Tom Keene, Paul Marco, Tor Johnson

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(2-Atrocious Film)

Incompetent. Silly. Confusing.

A U.F.O, grave robbing aliens that look like humans, and zombies that look like vampires fill the scattered narrative of Ed Wood’s infamous film, but basically it’s about evil invaders from a more advanced planet who want to wipe out humanity. Besides being amateurish and inept in several aspects of filmmaking, Plan 9 is also awfully hard to follow. There’s no discernible character development, introduction, or suspense to speak of, and only towards the end do we get a sense of character motivation. Ed Wood was just as woeful at script writing as he was at directing.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-