January is where bad films go to die. This year, it hosts such future non-classics as Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and Texas Chainsaw 3-D, the latter of which managed to claim the No. 1 spot at the box office the week it debuted. If you don't believe that's an indicator of the awful state of the box office in the first weeks of the new year, maybe these terrible films that also managed to hit No. 1 in January will change your mind.
#3. Hide and Seek (2005)
13 percent on Rotten Tomatoes
This movie is a prime example of why you should be wary of any film that looks great on paper but also happens to be released in January. This one had Robert De Niro in the lead role and big time (at least big at that time) names like Dakota Fanning and Famke Janssen rounding out the cast of a psychological thriller blessed with a perfectly creepy and curiosity-arousing poster.
Even the tagline is kind of great. But damn was the movie awful. The big reveal was that De Niro's character has a split personality. The studio was so sure that twist was a winner that they shipped the movie without its final reel (a first) so no one could ruin the "surprise" ending. Unfortunately, audiences saw that contrived bullshit coming from a mile away, leaving the studio executives who mistakenly thought that wouldn't be the case as the only ones surprised.
And, just for the record, writing that legibly in human blood is damn near impossible.
A strong cast propelled the movie to the top spot at the box office the week it was released. Word of mouth about how objectively terrible it was sent it plummeting to the depths of anonymity where it belonged just as quickly.
#2. On Deadly Ground (1994)
0 percent on Rotten Tomatoes
Some movies are planned for a January release because everyone knows they're going to be terrible. On Deadly Ground is one of those movies. It's easy to see how people were tricked here. The cast includes legitimately good (or at least decent) actors like Michael Caine and Billy Bob Thornton, after all. Before either of those heavyweights found their way onscreen, though, viewers were informed that they'd be watching a "Seagal/Nasso Production of a Steven Seagal Film starring Steven Seagal."
Featuring music and choreography by Steven Seagal.
To make matters worse, the movie was a cheesy morality tale about the evils of an oil company that drills in Alaska. Sounds bad, we know, but that's just the beginning. In order to better fight the corporate evildoers, Seagal shacks up with an Eskimo tribe and learns to paint with all the colors of the wind. He even goes on a spirit quest where he rejects a "sexy Eskimo temptress," because how in the hell else are we going to take down Big Oil?
Eventually, the real Steve comes out and kills everyone, but it's cool -- the epilogue tells us he got away with it because the courts decided that he drowned that oil executive in a tub of crude in self-defense. Obviously.
"He was falling right toward me!"
#1. You Got Served (2004)
16 percent on Rotten Tomatoes
If you haven't seen this dance flick, you've likely at least seen one of the half a dozen parodies of it. Hard kids from the streets of LA compete in illicit dance battles instead of shooting each other, because that's totally an option in most crime-ridden neighborhoods. Unfortunately, D batteries to run that boombox don't grow on trees, so the dancers have to deal drugs to raise cash to keep their dance battles going.
Dealing drugs actually seems more ethical than whatever is going on here.
At one point, the "crew" the audience is supposed to like loses to a different crew because they unexpectedly have to dance at night. They redeem themselves in a final dance battle after declaring it to be "straight hood," meaning no rules. Except, we're assuming, the rule about no dancing at night. Inexplicably, this shit sandwich topped the box office the first week it opened, helped in no small part by the fact that it was released on Super Bowl weekend, when the only people who aren't glued to their television are those who love the art of dance.