Before I begin, it is worth noting that certain films that you might expect to see here do not appear on my list. Such notable turkeys like Barb Wire, Green Lantern, Superman III, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Daredevil or Batman and Robin didn’t make my list…because they were too good.
Tom (is he Tom A or Tom 1?) and I couldn’t agree on the list so we’ll give you two entries for each number instead of two separate articles in a desperate shakedown for extra clicks.
My number 10 is Howard the Duck.
This could have merely been a guilty pleasure, with silliness and bad duck puns, and there are bits that had potential. But at some point writer/director Willard Huyck and co-writer Gloria Katz, (who previously collaborated on lost horror gem “Messiah of Evil,”) decided that what this movie needed was sex… and lots of it.
This entire movie has a lusty duck interacting with human females because nothing spices a movie up like the threat of bestiality. In fact, in the first three minutes we see a topless female duck. They lay eggs. Why does she have breasts?
I spent most of the movie cringing for the charming Lea Thompson, who gamely goes through this movie like a professional instead of mailing it in or setting a mysterious fire on the studio lot. At a certain point, if you are on a set, surrounded by little people in duck masks, you have to have had some concerns about the direction of your career.
Howard the Duck also introduces its villain roughly an hour into the film and the bad guy doesn’t do anything for another ten to fifteen minutes, so the movie goes from meandering to frenetic when he finally shows his poorly animated energy powers. This also requires Jeffrey Jones to act like an imbecile for the entire second half of the film.
Although I loved his cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy, no one should be kicking down the door for another Howard the Duck movie.
As stated in the intro, most comic book films take a turn for the worst at the production stage, when people who don’t respect the source material decide they know better than the people who actually liked the comic books.
No film more perfectly encapsulates this idea than Stallone’s Judge Dredd.
In the 90’s, the future Mr. Expendable was a box-office champ, cranking out blockbusters year after year. His name alone could propel a film to success, and as such, he had a lot of say over what happened in his movies.
So, while director Danny Cannon wanted to make the Judge Dredd he had grown up with and loved (He had actually designed a movie poster for the film while he was still a teenager), the movie he probably dreamed of making his entire life, Stallone decided he would rather make Demolition Man 2.
And that’s exactly what we got.
Stallone threw his weight around, demanding rewrites and changes to almost every aspect of the original script. The result was a Dredd that was almost nothing like the comics that fans wanted, and was surprisingly bad for the Stallone fans, too.
Instead of the perpetually helmeted Dredd of the comics, we got a Dredd that showed his face for most of the film. Instead of a working relationship with his longtime sidekick Hershey based on mutual respect, we got a love story, cause who doesn’t wanna see those two crazy kids get together? (Hint: No one.)
And instead of the ironic humor that the strip is known for, we got cheesy one liners, slapstick comedy, and Rob Schneider.
Also, for a film boasting today’s equivalent of the three original LOTR movies combined, the special effects in this film are surprisingly crappy, leading me to believe that the production budget was broken down along these lines:
A lot of potential was squandered with this one, especially with regards to Rico, the main villain. He could have been portrayed as a complex criminal, a man left jaded and broken by a flawed authoritarian system. Instead, he was played as a completely murderous psycho, leading to screaming matches galore and more ham than a Smithfield processing plant.
Ultimately, the film was critical and commercial kryptonite, and Danny Cannon vowed never to work with a big name Hollywood actor again – not that he would be offered a lot of chances anyway after this turd came out.
However, a valuable lesson was learned from it all: Producers of today’s comic films, at the very least, are smart enough not to cast actors big enough to demand a damn thing, lest they be replaced quicker than you can say Edward Norton.