Movies have the ability to transport us to a different time and place with wonderful cinematography, evocative set and costume design, interesting plots, and of course fine acting. They can educate or inspire, amuse or terrify — or simply provide an escape from our daily lives for a few hours. Good films, that is.
Then there are bad films. Really bad films. Poorly made films with ridiculous, Rube Goldberg-like plots that strain credulity and frustrate us as we try to follow along, made all the worse by horrifically bad acting and/or cheesy special effects or set design.
To identify the worst movies of all time, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the 22,407 movies in our database for which ratings were available from both IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator. We created an index using average IMDb ratings and Rotten Tomatoes audience scores and Tomatometer scores. Ties were broken based on the number of IMDb votes. (Casting information also comes from IMDb.)
The movies on this list fall into the really, really awful category. It turns out that the majority of them fall into the science fiction or horror categories. Good horror movies give us a brief, exhilarating scare. Science fiction films, when done right, with skill and imagination, can provide a provocative window into the future. (See the best sci-fi movie the year you were born.)
Unfortunately, the science fiction and horror films noted here feature silly plots, stiff acting, and cheap production values. Rampaging serial killers, large beasts, zombies, and nuclear weapons all figure prominently. Spoiler alert: Many characters will have died by the end of most of the films. Nevertheless, some have attained cult status and are celebrated because of their awfulness.
Not all the movies on this list started out as stinkers, it must be said. The Korean War epic “Inchon” had a stellar cast, but was roundly criticized by critics and ignored by audiences. Adam Sandler had a rare comedy bomb with “Going Overboard.” The worst movie on this list, a Turkish documentary, can only be charitably described as a vanity project for the country’s current leader. (These are the worst movies based on true events.)
But if you’re tired of only watching good films, take a break and revel in how bad movies can be.