Behind The Scenes Reasons Bad Movies Sucked
We all remember that awful moment when half of America sat in stunned disbelief, asking ourselves questions like "How did this happen?" or "How can people be so vile?" or "How will we even survive the next few years?" Yes, we're talking about when we saw The Phantom Menace for the first time. (Why, what did you think we meant?)
Well, just like how every great movie owes its existence to a multitude of factors, the truly terrible ones have similarly complicated backstories. Because it's important to know our past so that we may not repeat it, here, once again, are the ridiculous causes of some of the most infamous crimes against cinema.
Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull -- George Lucas Wore Everyone Down
What can you say about this movie? At this point, it's been shit on more than Biff Tannen -- and rightfully so. It features trans-dimensional aliens, drops the bomb that Indy was a deadbeat dad, and gleefully reveals that the mythic treasure they spend the whole movie searching for is "knowledge." That's some Wizard Of Oz bullshit right there.
Archaeologists love it when their discoveries turn out to be abstract concepts.
What The Hell Happened:
You might think that the movie was the result of Steven Spielberg watching episodes of The X-Files and Even Stevens through an ether-soaked rag, but the real culprit seems to be George Lucas. The guy who invented Indiana Jones in the first place was also the guy ensuring that the fourth film would be a boulder-sized turd of suckage.
For starters, the reason there was such a long gap between The Last Crusade and Crystal Skull in the first place? Lucas insisted the movie had to be about aliens, which Harrison Ford and even noted alien groupie Spielberg objected to. At one point, they had a script by Frank "Shawshank Redemption" Darabont that everyone loved ... but Lucas vetoed it. (Darabont described him as "one of the most stubborn men I know.") Eventually, through Lucas' Force-like power of pure bullheadedness, he wore everybody down. Even though he didn't "believe in it," Spielberg agreed to include aliens out of friendship.
Neither was a friend of Cate Blanchett, though, or they wouldn't have given her that hairdo.
The one contentious moment that's become a focal point of fan rage over the years is the "nuke the fridge" scene, in which Indiana Jones survives an atomic blast by crawling inside of a refrigerator. The only worse lesson for children would be if Indy started playing with a loaded gun while bragging about how awesome crystal meth is.
Either way, meth was probably involved in this decision.
While Spielberg initially took the blame for scene, Lucas later admitted that it was his idea, and Spielberg was "trying to protect ." Like every moviegoer, Spielberg thought the logic of the moment made no sense. But instead of accepting that the director had some justifiable skepticism over a ridiculous plot point, Lucas returned with a six-inch-thick dossier making his case for the scientific feasibility of his idea. Presumably because filming the scene was way easier than going home and assembling a seven-inch-thick binder of random facts, Spielberg relented.
Guys, we're starting to think George Lucas may have lost his way.
Howard The Duck -- The Producers Wanted Howard To Be CGI, Had To Settle For Traumatized Children
Kids today eat up Iron Man flying majestically above New York City, or the Guardians of the Galaxy grooving to Motown on a kick-ass spaceship. But there was a time when going to see a Marvel movie meant bearing witness to an animatronic duck making lewd comments at Marty McFly's mom for 90 minutes. We're talking, of course, about the virtually unwatchable Howard The Duck.
If there's another movie that fits this description, please don't tell us.
What The Hell Happened:
The movie was originally supposed to feature a computer-animated lead interacting with live-action characters, more in the vein of something like Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Unfortunately, the producers forgot one little detail: It was the mid-'80s, and the technology to do that affordably didn't exist yet. The next idea was to make Howard a puppet, but that also fell through. Rather than simply put the adult-themed talking duck movie aside, the filmmakers went with plan C: using terrified kids.
See, to make a costumed Howard work, they needed something smaller than a little person: a child little person. First they hired three eight-year-olds, but had to fire them because they were "frightened" by the experience and "one of them even peed his pants while working in the costume."
He was just trying to make the drinking scenes more authentic.
Somehow, even a urine-soaked duck costume couldn't dissuade these Don-Quixote-like dumbasses from making this movie. They continued, hiring a 12-year-old. Which was old enough not to piss in the suit, but way younger than you'd expect, given how Howard spends most of the movie hitting on Lea Thompson ... oh, and almost has sex with her. Thompson seemed creeped out about the possibility, for some reason.
"I'll play a pedophile or a zoophile, but a pedophile zoophile is where I draw the line."
Luckily, the kid wasn't in the suit for the sex scene, because his "guardian was really against it." Again, yes, we'd all rather have been watching Iron Man.
Superman IV: The Quest For Peace -- The Studio Slashed The Budget In Half, Didn't Tell Anyone
Even after Superman III found Superman battling a disheveled, alcoholic version of himself in a city dump, the series somehow got worse. Superman IV: The Quest For Peace mixes the idealistic premise of Earth embracing world peace with the less-idealistic story about a Frankensteined male model in a loincloth trying to murder Superman.
This is the one instance in which we support Superman breaking the villain's neck.
What The Hell Happened:
Two words: Cannon Films. As in the same studio that made Chuck Norris a star and decided that Masters Of The Universe should be mainly set in Earth's suburbs. After landing the rights, the cheapo studio was able to convince Christopher Reeve to return by funding a drama he was trying to get off the ground and giving him story input (that's where the "Superman ridding the world of nuclear weapons" thing came from). They had their star, a novel concept for a superhero movie, and a decent budget of over $30 million. Surely, this would be a return to glory for the Man of Steel!
That's when Cannon realized they couldn't actually afford a $30 million movie and quietly slashed the budget in half. The actors started noticing that the props got shittier, chunks of the script were omitted, and special effects were cut or recycled. Christopher Reeve's six months of shooting the movie's all-important flying sequences were cut down to one.
"Trust us, Chris, it'll go much faster with the catapult."
Reeve also bemoaned the production of one of the central scenes of the movie, in which Superman marches to the United Nations to argue in favor of peace -- except instead of the New York, it was an industrial park in England, with few extras and (this is a direct quote from his autobiography) "a dozen pigeons thrown in for atmosphere."
If they wanted to convince us this was New York, they should have gone with rats.
Blair Witch 2 -- The Movie Was So Rushed That Footage Was Shot Weeks Before Release ... In The Director's Backyard
Recently, the world was treated to a Blair Witch Project sequel which added in the drones and Cloverfield-like monsters that the original must have forgotten to put in. But before all that, there was Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. While the title sounds like a problem that could easily be fixed with a reading light, the movie in fact centers on a group of (possibly murderous, maybe possessed) kids who are obsessed with the original movie -- before eventually eschewing camping for hanging out in the most '90s house imaginable.
It's like The Real World: Transylvania.
What The Hell Happened:
The studio insisted on churning out another Blair Witch Project movie as fast as possible, prompting the filmmaking team behind the original to turn down the sequel. So the studio turned to acclaimed documentarian Joe Berlinger -- but the movie wasn't going to be a faux documentary. They enlisted a guy who had only made documentaries to make a traditional sequel to a fake documentary.
He found out he wasn't doing the making-of on the last day of shooting.
Things got worse. Berlinger attempted to make a self-referential sequel, but after handing in his cut, the studio decided there needed to be some changes. For one thing, there wasn't enough senseless violence in it -- which is weird, seeing as the most intense thing to happen in the original is a guy standing in the corner of the room like a common public urinator.
The studio then forced Berlinger to include footage of the protagonists committing brutal murders, thus undoing its central ambiguity. These scenes were shot a mere five weeks before the movie hit theaters. How did they accomplish this? Well, according to the DVD commentary, Berlinger just shot them in his backyard.
Something tells us his fridge was out of ketchup for a month.
While the studio was shoehorning in gore to appeal to the masses, the director didn't have the "courage" to take his name off of it and left it as is, which was probably a mistake. Hell, the Witch probably should have gotten her agent to get her name off of this bullshit.
The Cat In The Hat -- Everyone Assumed Mike Myers' Filthy Jokes Would Get Cut
Most kids grow up reading Dr. Seuss books, so it's not surprising that Hollywood eventually decided to turn some of his quaint stories into movies -- albeit obnoxiously loud ones with color palettes seemingly culled from a child's Kool-Aid-filled vomit. After the success of Jim Carrey's How The Grinch Stole Christmas, the same producer took another famous comedian, slathered him in prosthetics, and threw together another movie based on a Dr. Seuss classic. The result was The Cat In The Hat, starring Mike Myers.
The most disturbing movie starring a white-faced Michael Myers since the original Halloween.
While the book is a simple morality tale about the perils of abdicating responsibility, the film's moral seems to be that we should go back to books and live theater, because movies are now ruined forever.
What The Hell Happened:
The oddest thing about Myers' performance is that the Cat is constantly making dirty jokes -- which we assume all had to be re-recorded without the sounds of Dr. Seuss spinning in his grave. The Cat introduces a wacky car with the acronym S.H.I.T. and makes jokes about getting a boner looking at a picture of the kid's mom. If Shrek slyly winked at the parents while the kids laughed obliviously, The Cat In The Hat shouted dirty words at their faces.
And made them stare at his boner hat.
Most insanely, the Cat in the Hat makes a "dirty ho" gag -- which is a little like making a Peter Rabbit movie wherein he's inexplicably shouting yo mama jokes to the camera.
The kids who saw this are now old enough to vote. Just sayin'.
So how did all of this happen? According to director Bo Welch, he filmed all of this insanity with the expectation that he'd have to make cuts. However, after their first screening for the ratings board, they were given a PG, which even Welch found "shocking." As for the "dirty ho" bit, several people on the production apparently wanted it "cut for taste," but Myers fought back, preserving his artistic right to sexualize gardening tools in a children's movie. Welch even had a bet that the joke wouldn't make it to the final cut. Unfortunately for a generation of trampled childhood innocence, he was wrong.
Then again, this movie was almost an Alien-esque Tim Allen vehicle featuring a guy who turns into a cat "like a werewolf," so maybe this whole endeavor was doomed from the beginning.
Nine Lives -- The Project Started As A Sophisticated Adult Movie Where The Cat Didn't Talk
The world of cinema recently endured Nine Lives, a family film starring the voice of Kevin Spacey as an adorable kitty cat. You know, for those who liked Garfield, but wanted it to be more like House Of Cards. The movie tells the story of a ruthless businessman who falls off a skyscraper, only to have his consciousness end up in his daughter's cat while his body is in a coma. It's exactly as awful as it sounds.
The movie's explanation for this is "He bought the cat from Christopher Walken." Which, OK, makes sense.
In the end, everyone learns a valuable lesson. Namely, never let your kid pick a movie for movie night ever again.
What The Hell Happened:
The idea for Nine Lives began with the French movie studio EuroCorp, whose CEO recruited screenwriters to write a picture about a guy whose consciousness was stuck inside of a cat. But surprisingly, he was "adamant" that it was not to be a kid's movie. The cat wasn't supposed to talk at all. He wanted it to be "introspective and sophisticated" and, most surprisingly, like a Woody Allen movie. Maybe he's only read the lost draft of Annie Hall, in which Alvy Singer is a Great Dane.
Unfortunately, after getting the green light for their story, management changed hands, and the screenwriters were forced to defend their ridiculous script to the new studio head -- like trying to recount a dream that had made sense while sleeping. Realizing that making a talking cat movie where the cat doesn't talk and the story is geared for adults didn't make sense, the script was rewritten for kids ... half-assedly, it seems. We're gonna go ahead and guess the movie's climax wouldn't involve Mr. Fuzzypants trying to stop his son from committing suicide if it had been intended as kiddie entertainment in the first place.
The Star Wars Holiday Special -- Fainting Actors, Han Solo's Creepy Secret, And Forgetting To Build An Important Set
If you're a Star Wars fan, or have ever celebrated a holiday, you were probably pretty offended by The Star Wars Holiday Special -- the now-legendary clusterfuck which sought to combine the characters of George Lucas' beloved space adventure with whatever 1970s celebrities weren't busy with Hollywood Squares that month. All to remind everyone that Star Wars was still a thing right before the Christmas shopping season.
May the Blatant Commercial Exploitation of Your Children Be With You
What The Hell Happened:
While George Lucas wasn't directly involved with the special, he did have some influence on the story. It was his idea to focus on Chewie returning to his home world of Kashyyyk, where his son is waiting for his deadbeat dad's annual visit. It was also his idea to have the show's opening feature the Wookie family squawking and growling with no subtitles whatsoever. Some of the writers understandably had concerns with that, but Lucas insisted "this is the story I want to tell." He also offered them some insights into his universe, according to one writer: "Lucas told us Han Solo was married to a Wookiee but that we couldn't mention that because it would be controversial." It seems Princess Leia is nothing but a beard.
He never said which Wookie, or that they ever got a divorce.
As for the filming of the special, that also seems to have been spectacularly half-assed. One writer took his child to the Cantina scene, only to find that the actors were passing out because someone forgot they needed to pump oxygen into their death trap costumes.
Being close to Bea Arthur was known to cause shortness of breath, too.
And when it came time for the show's finale, no one told the new director (the first one quit, for obvious reasons) that there was no set built for the climactic Life Day celebration ... and also, they had no money left. Which is why Kashyyyk suddenly goes from a forest planet to a Prince cover band's music video full of candles and dry ice.
But with slightly less backstage fucking.
And why were all the Wookie's wearing weird culty robes, you ask? Why make it look like Life Day's about to sharp left turn into ritual human sacrifice? Since the production had no money for a set, they also had no money for a bunch of Wookie costumes -- so they just stuck them all in robes and bought a crap-ton of Chewbacca Halloween masks. Throw in the fact that Carrie Fisher only agreed to do the show on the condition she got to sing, and it's a wonder Lucas didn't just burn down Skywalker Ranch for the insurance money at that point. Of course, all of this still doesn't explain why the there's a scene wherein Chewie's dad straps on an orgasm machine.
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