There are some movies I will never watch, such as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. That’s because I have learned a painful lesson: Some movies just aren’t worth it. If I strongly suspect a film of being terrible, I won’t waste my time on it. I don’t care to have truly horrific films burned into my memory forever.
Unfortunately, I didn’t always use my better judgment when deciding which films to see. When I was a young adult and I discovered the magical power of my local library system, I checked out dozens of films for free just because I could. Many of them turned out to be serious mistakes.
I’d like to get these regrets off my chest by sharing them with the whole world. Please don’t look up any of these films, especially the ones you’ve never heard of. Hopefully I can spare you the trouble of watching them by describing how utterly worthless they truly are. These movies are bad for many reasons. I love Mystery Science Theater 3000, and so it takes a lot for a movie to really unnerve me or make me wish I had never seen it.
I’m going to hold myself to just eight because writing about the other two would definitely go way past my tolerance level of awfulness. So prepare yourself for eight movies I deeply regret watching.
1. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Please spare yourself a lot of pain and avoid this film. I can’t fault it for being creatively constructed and telling an effective story, but this is quite honestly the most evil movie I’ve ever heard of. It’s not enough that the film has to show the main character killing people in brutal ways, but he actually records himself doing some of these acts so he can replay them later for his amusement. And the audience watches him watching himself commit those terrible crimes. It creeps me out on so many levels.
This movie is a twisted kind of love story in which people love violence and loathe themselves. Henry and his friend are two of the most self-destructive, irredeemable characters ever put to film. This movie subtly changed me. I felt drearier and less satisfied with life after seeing it. It took a long time to recover from this one. I would spare you the pain of this disturbing film, if possible. You are definitely better off without it.
2. Lethal Weapon
It’s not so much that I’m ashamed that I saw this movie, but I have simply never been so confused by a film as this one. Why do people like this movie? Why is it praised as a quintessential 1980s action film alongside Die Hard and Aliens? For heaven sake, the parody of this film is much more watchable and enjoyable than this black hole where no entertainment escapes. I just don’t get it. None of the action sequences left an impression on me. The scene of Mel Gibson trying to talk a suicidal man out of killing himself isn’t funny or dramatic. It’s just a cul-de-sac that wastes time and doesn’t move the story forward.
The thing that really turns me off from this film is the torture scene. That’s the only thing that really stuck in my mind from this mess of a film, and every time this film comes to mind, that’s all I can recall. The dialogue is laced with profanity for no reason, the banter falls flat and isn’t particularly creative or humorous. Basically, nothing about this film works for me. Gibson’s character is a buffoon, Danny Glover’s character is dreary, the villain only makes a couple of forgettable appearances before getting killed, and it doesn’t add up to anything close to a satisfying experience. I have no idea why people like this movie.
3. Lost in Space
I enjoyed seeing movies in theaters when I was growing up mainly because I would always go with family members. It was fun to experience the same film together and then have a lot to talk about afterwards. My older brother Michael and I went to see Lost in Space at a theater in 1998… and we were speechless afterwards. Oh, we had plenty to talk about, but it took a while to regain the ability to use our brains after this painful behemoth lurched to a merciful end.
Not every film on this list is on here because it’s absolutely disgusting. Some are here because they offend me so much for even existing. The filmmakers should have known better. I can’t even bring myself to describe the plot of this movie, it’s so insulting to the intelligence. I’ll just say that it wasn’t until 2005’s Batman Begins that I finally forgave Gary Oldman for his atrocious performance as Dr. Smith in this disaster. Christopher Nolan didn’t just save the Batman franchise with that ingenious reboot.
4. McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Move over Heaven’s Gate. This is the ultimate anti-western. During my freshman year of college, I took a Film Studies class to familiarize myself with filmmaking techniques and classic films, in case I ever wanted to try my hand in that industry. My professor was a good man, but his taste in films was much different than mine. For example, he absolutely loved director Robert Altman. I think he’s one of the most overrated filmmakers of all time. His record of “good” films is spotty, at best, and he made at least as many terrible films as good ones (Popeye and Quintet spring to mind immediately).
Which brings me to McCabe & Mrs. Miller. This western has less plot than Heaven’s Gate, more pointless characters than Unforgiven, and about as much character development as McClintock! I had trouble maintaining interest in the film just to get a good grade. Here’s the plot: A businessman in a dingy Old West town gets into trouble with a group of outlaws, and he gets killed in the end. That’s about it. In between, there’s Altman’s signature overlapping dialogue, which makes it difficult to understand what people are saying, and a countless number of useless details and side characters that go nowhere. McCabe & Mrs. Miller is not worth anyone’s time, and I’m sorry I had the misfortune of having to sit through it.
5. Repo Man
Yes, I’m one of those people who looked up this cult “classic” out of morbid curiosity. And after watching it, I was left with only morbid images and questions. Why does a car trunk have the ability to kill people? Why does the car fly in the end? Why is Harry Dean Stanton wasted in a supporting role? Why am I thinking about any of this in the first place?!
Nothing is particularly funny or noteworthy in this film. It just meanders for seemingly forever before coming to a tepid conclusion. It keeps bringing up ideas and forgetting about them, like the killer car at the start and Emilio Estevez trying to make it big in the repossession business. Both of those things seem like they should be the main focus of the film, but they keep getting pushed aside for pointless interludes. That’s what I get for trying to figure out why an obscure film is beloved by a small following. I imagine their mentality goes something like this: It makes no sense; it must be awesome!
I covered a lot of what made Seven both effective and unwatchable in my Dark Knight Movie Matchup. I’ll sum up my feelings about Seven like this: Do you remember the scene when the Joker kills Gambol and then tells the mob boss’ three henchmen to kill each other with a broken end of a pool cue? It was horrific to imagine what transpired immediately after that scene. Thankfully, though, the film cut away and we weren’t forced to watch the bloody battle. But Seven doesn’t cut away. It doesn’t just hint at grotesque things; it shows many of them.
The ending is so heartbreaking and gut-wrenching that I have simply never been able to bring myself to watch it again. And I never will. Some tragedies at least end with some hope, but this one offers none. Maybe some people actually enjoy a film like this, but I don’t. I feel like my time was wasted on a film that offered little entertainment or anything else of value.
7. Total Recall
I’ve only seen two Paul Verhoeven films: RoboCop and Total Recall. Despite its excessive violence, RoboCop is an effective action film with a good heart, funny jokes, and engrossing performances all around. Total Recall is just an Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle. Some parts of it are truly captivating, like when Schwarzenegger’s character gets in a fight with his friends in an alley, and when he takes off a malfunctioning mask. But for the most part the film consists of one-liners, unbelievable plot twists, and an exasperating number of times when the hero should have been killed.
I felt exhausted after watching this film, and not in a good way, like with Aliens. In that film, I felt incredibly rewarded for making it to the end and seeing some of the heroes safe and alive. Total Recall is just something to be endured. It goes on too long and leaves the audience breathless and nauseous. Not a good combination.
I swore off David Cronenberg films after this one. I almost included The Fly or Scanners on this list, but The Fly (1986) actually had good performances by Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis and a shockingly emotional climax, and I didn’t get past the first 10 minutes of Scanners (it was that disgusting), so I can’t really regret a movie I didn’t watch the whole way through.
Videodrome is another story, though. As far as I can remember, it’s about a man who agrees to show disturbing programs on his low-budget TV station. The only problem is that after watching the shows, he starts hallucinating, pulls a gun out of his stomach, and goes on a killing spree, which ends with him killing himself. If there is supposed to be some deep meaning or social satire in all of that, it’s completely lost on me because of the vapid performances by all the actors, the unnecessarily horrific imagery, and the complete lack of explanation for all the insanity. This movie is garbage, and I am ashamed I made it to the bitter end. I kept thinking that it had to get good at some point because I sort of enjoyed parts of The Fly, and I had heard that Cronenberg was a genius filmmaker. Well, he’s not, and Videodrome is a disgusting experience.
In case you’re interested, the other two films are Buckaroo Banzai and Unforgiven.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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