6 True Stories Explaining Why Famously Bad Movies Sucked
No one sets out to make a bad movie. Even M. Night Shyamalan probably psyched himself up in the mirror over how awesome The Happening was going to be once he nailed that scene where the guy crawls underneath a lawnmower like a cat with zero survival instinct.
Twist: The movie sucked!
The point is that bad movies aren't intentionally shitty -- there's usually some mind-boggling behind-the-scenes catastrophe that would've turned Schindler's List into The Stupids, so pieces of shit like these never had a chance.
Speed 2 Gets Completely Rewritten To Match A Dream The Director Had During Production
Everybody loves the original Speed. It was like Die Hard, but with public transportation instead of an office building, and Sandra Bullock instead of the dad from Family Matters. Since it made a ton of money at the box office, the studio was quick to rush a sequel in production and strike while the "Keanu Reeves riding exploding vehicles" iron was hot.
The Moment It All Went Wrong:
Graham Yost, the guy who wrote the original Speed, had some ideas for a sequel -- one involving a plane that had to stay at a low altitude in the Andes, the other involving a boat with "Vietnam-era munitions that would explode if they came into contact with water." Both ideas maintained the same element of the original movie, in that they both involved vehicles that had to remain in motion because of some highly improbable set of circumstances. But Jan de Bont told him in no uncertain terms that his ideas were no longer welcome, because he (de Bont) had just had a billion-dollar nightmare.
"To be honest, my dreams haven't been the same since lions tried to tear off my head."
You see, de Bont had a dream about a runaway cruise ship, and rather than simply investing in some rubber sheets and moving on with his life, he became obsessed with it. The screenwriters were thus forced to write the script for Speed 2 " backward from that image," meaning everything in the movie had to lead up to an extended sequence of a cruise ship smashing into shore.
Keanu Reeves didn't like the cruise ship idea, possibly because it was terrible, so he declined to return. The studio, Fox, was absolutely furious (as was de Bont) and had him effectively blackballed in Hollywood over it. Because nothing but stratospheric stardom could have resulted from his cruise ship vision -- which caused the budget to balloon to 100 million dollars. The five-minute sequence of the ship crashing into shore that de Bont had glimpsed in his dreamworld wound up costing $25 million alone, which was almost as much as it cost to make the original film.
Visual representation of the producers looking at the box office.
To be fair, the original production probably saved a lot by paying Dennis Hopper in bull adrenaline and rattlesnake venom.
Masters Of The Universe Lost All Of Its Budget Halfway Through Filming
He-Man and the Masters Of The Universe were hugely popular in the 1980s, because the Reagan youth couldn't get enough of plastic Aryan supermen. Mattel, the toy company behind He-Man, soon began looking for a studio to produce a movie based on the popular franchise to delight their youthful fan base.
The Moment It All Went Wrong:
Apparently, Universal was interested. But rather than go with the studio behind Jaws and Back To The Future, Mattel decided to hitch their wagon to Cannon Films, the studio behind Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. For those who don't know, Cannon Films was a notoriously sketchy production company run by two producers whose love for filmmaking was eclipsed only by their love for dressing in matching outfits.
The deal they struck was that Mattel and Cannon would each pay half the budget, with Mattel ponying up the money for the first half. When the first half of the money ran out, Mattel looked to Cannon, who in turn refused to pay their half, forcing Mattel to fund the whole goddamn thing.
Of course, this led to the movie quickly running out of dough, and the production was shut down in the middle of shooting the big finale. The director had to shoot a new ending by himself so that the movie wouldn't finish abruptly in the middle of a scene, confusing a generation of kids who were already confused by the fact that the movie featured virtually no recognizable characters from the cartoon and largely took place in 1980s suburbia instead of the fantastical landscape of Eternia.
Exhibit A: Nobody knew who the fuck this character was.
This is why the final fight between He-Man and Skeletor suddenly teleports from a kick-ass castle to an alternate dimension that looks a garage draped in a black drop cloth with a single worklight. Mattel's precarious financial situation also led to the uneven tone of the movie. Initially, Mattel had very strict limitations on what the filmmakers were allowed to do with their characters. For instance, no one was allowed to kill anyone, which tends to rob action/adventure movies of most of their tension.
As soon as the toy company realized how screwed they were, however, they weren't so picky. The freaked-out Mattel execs approached the director, saying, "Have him kill people. Blood, guts, gore, sex, do whatever you have to. Just make sure this movie's a hit."
Super Mario Bros. Was Made By A Pair Of Directors Who Wanted To Make An R-Rated Cyberpunk Movie
As we have previously discussed, Super Mario Bros. is easily one of the most baffling films ever produced. Rather than follow any of the source material from the popular series of video games, the filmmakers instead chose to release a PG version of Blade Runner, which as you may have noticed is a movie that absolutely no one would enjoy. And no one did.
The Moment It All Went Wrong:
After winning the rights to make the film from Nintendo, a small studio hired Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel, the team behind Max Headroom, to direct. The problem was that Morton and Jankel didn't seem to want to make a Super Mario Bros. movie so much as they wanted to make an R-rated version of Max Headroom full of vague Super Mario references.
And now you can't unsee this.
For starters, their concept was that the video game we all know and love was actually a botched attempt at telling the real history of an alternate dimension. This real history, according to Morton, had been discovered by the Japanese, who had interpreted it into the Super Mario Bros. series of video games, but had gotten a bunch of details wrong in their translation. Basically, their movie would be what the games were supposed to be about, because that's the story all the eight-year-old Mario fans were dying to see.
Also, the directors felt that their Mario film should be for adults -- as in drugs, hookers, strippers, and street crime -- because they " didn't want to hold back." Versions of the script even had scenes lifted straight from Mad Max and Die Hard, featuring a wildly optimistic cameo of Bruce Willis as John McClane. They didn't even want Mario and Luigi to appear in their trademark costumes. This movie was made for no one.
The score should have been this on a loop.
When the studio execs (who it seems hadn't read any of the memos about strippers and drugs) finally visited the set and discovered that the people they'd hired to make their Mario movie were inexplicably churning out a sexed-up cyberpunk action movie, they naturally freaked out and brought in a new writer to overhaul the script, forbidding the directors to contact that writer in any way, lest they contaminate his mind with whatever dark magic had afflicted them. Since they already spent a ton of money on the sets and costumes, the best the new screenwriter could do was try to write as close a version of Super Mario Bros. as possible that still used all the insane artifacts from Morton and Jankel's neon fever dream.
Working on the film was reportedly so miserable that Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo, who played Mario and Luigi, coped with the situation by being constantly hammered, which lead to Leguizamo crashing the Mario Bros. plumbing van and breaking Bob Hoskins' fingers. (Leguizamo: "We were drinking too much because we were all miserable [...] And the door came flying out, smashed his fingers. Hoskins was cursing and Cockney rhyming.") This anecdote is semi-terrifying when you consider people wanted Hoskins to play Wolverine in the 1980s.
The Worst Movie Ever Was Made Because Of A Bet (Between An Oscar-Winning Screenwriter And His Idiot Friend)
A lot of people accuse Manos: The Hands Of Fate, which famously appeared on Mystery Science Theater 3000, of in fact being the worst movie of all time. It is so legendarily shitty that a recent Kickstarter campaign to restore the film to HD raised $25,000, which would've otherwise been wasted on greedy orphans.
Edgar Allen No.
The Moment It All Went Wrong:
If you're wondering who could make such a terrible movie, the answer is a fertilizer salesman named Harold Warren. Literally a shit peddler. Warren had somehow befriended Stirling Silliphant -- who, curiously, was the Oscar-winning screenwriter behind In The Heat Of The Night and The Poseidon Adventure, and not a Hogwarts professor.
Warren, bragging that making movies wasn't so hard, bet Silliphant that he could easily whip up a feature film on his own. Silliphant took the bet, and in what should have been the first of many red flags, Warren immediately began writing the screenplay on a napkin.
Then he wiped his ass with it.
After raising $19,000 from his friends and neighbors, Warren began production on his movie -- but unfortunately, he rented the wrong equipment, because he had no fucking idea what he was doing. Warren procured a 16mm camera that could only shoot 30 seconds of film at a time, making for painfully short takes. He also didn't rent any sound equipment, meaning that all of the dialogue had to be dubbed in later. Rather than pay for everyone to come back in and redo their lines, every single line of dialogue was recorded by three actors. Although Warren technically succeeded in making a feature film, we feel certain that Silliphant won the bet.
Whoopi Goldberg Gets Sued Into Making a Movie About A Dinosaur Cop
Theodore Rex was a $33 million movie starring police detective Whoopi Goldberg and her wisecracking dinosaur partner that you probably remember seeing dusty and unrented on the shelf of your local video store. There is no way this movie could have ever been good, but it might not have been utterly horrible had Goldberg not been required by law to make it.
"... How big of a jail cell are we talking?"
The Moment It All Went Wrong:
Goldberg had initially agreed to do the movie, but soon backed out, likely because she didn't want to spend the next several months of her life making dinosaur puns with a puppet made by whoever the exact opposite of Jim Henson was. (His name is Slim Benson, and he makes sock puppets out of used leggings from the thrift store.) Since the producers, T. Rex Productions, recognized that they didn't have a movie without the star power of Whoopi Goldberg, they were left with no choice but to sue her for violating a verbal agreement.
Whoopi was, by law, forced to do the movie. Understandably, when she first sat down with the producer she proclaimed: "Just for the record: I hate your guts ... Maybe in ten years, you and I can have a cup of coffee and laugh about this. But you've made my life a living hell and I hate your fucking guts." This is the exact on-set mood you want when creating a fantasy film about a crime-fighting dinosaur.
Things didn't improve once they got on set. Whoopi refused to address one producer as anything other than "motherfucker," and the first day of shooting found her screaming at the puppeteer controlling the dinosaur, which wasn't working properly. Not surprisingly, Theodore Rex never saw a theatrical release and was banished, unannounced, to the direct-to-video market, which is the Hollywood equivalent of being blasted into extinction by a giant meteor.
Street Fighter Was A Perfect Storm Of Cocaine, Hand Jobs, And Terminal Illness
Street Fighter was enjoying a period of extreme popularity in the early '90s, thanks to its colorful cast of characters and the fact that virtually every other game of its type at the time was unspeakably shitty. So naturally, when a film adaptation directed by Steven de Souza (the man who wrote Die Hard) was announced, expectations were high. Unfortunately, what we got was an incomprehensible two-hour G.I. Joe commercial that was universally hated.
"I em de real Americkan hearo."
The Moment It All Went Wrong:
DeSouza managed to convince the studio to pare the enormous cast of characters from the video game down to seven. Capcom, the makers of the Street Fighter games, initially agreed, but slowly began putting pressure on the director to include more of their characters, until the cast list ballooned from seven to 15. Casting all these new parts was so rushed that DeSouza cast Kylie Minogue as one of two female leads because he saw her in a magazine, on an airplane, as he was flying to Bangkok to shoot the film. This suggests that DeSouza had boarded his flight with the intention of hiring the first woman who spoke to him until he saw that particular magazine.
Playing the villainous M. Bison was legendary actor Raul Julia, which was a huge get that helped legitimize the film. The only problem was that Julia was dying of cancer and showed up to set looking visibly depleted, as if he had just returned from a visit to the future wherein he watched the finished version of Street Fighter. De Souza had to completely flip the filming schedule to allow Julia to regain weight from a recent surgery, which meant that they had zero time for any kind of rehearsal, resulting in fight sequences that look about as exciting as two brothers playing Street Fighter in their backyard.
"For you, the day Bison graced your theater was the most important day of your life. But for me, it was a paycheck."
Meanwhile, the star of the movie, Jean-Claude Van Damme, was recently divorced, and had elected to cope with this stress by staying as coked out of his mind as humanly possible. Van Damme constantly ruined takes because his brain was floating on a cloud of white powder somewhere near Jupiter, and when he wasn't doing that, he wouldn't show up on set at all, forcing DeSouza to pull together whatever actors weren't passed out on a beach somewhere to "make up some shit on the spot," improvising a bunch of fight scenes to cover lost time. Of course, off-the-cuff improvisation doesn't work quite as well in a martial arts film with minimal dialogue, so these thinly-choreographed battle sequences were somewhat less than thrilling.
Still other members of the cast were disappearing into Thai massage parlors, where they discovered they could purchase a "finishing move" for about ten dollars. According to one actor, "We were like cavemen. We were like Vikings. We went there and conquered." This is another way of saying that Street Fighter: The Movie was the video diary of a cocaine-and-hand-job vacation to Thailand that was inexplicably sold to disappointed children.
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