Worst Movies Ever Made

Scraping the Bottom of the Cinematic Barrel

CATEGORY: Fantasy

Ten of the Worst Box Office Flops Ever

51I64Byt3jL_cropDanny Dyer’s recent movie Run For Your Wife only managed to muster a box office take of just over six hundred quid in its brief and very misguided theatrical run, but since it looked like it only cost about five hundred quid to make the producers probably weren’t suicidal. Danny wasn’t too worried either, since he was pulling pints in the Queen Vic by then.

There are some movies, however, which have so much dosh poured into making them that if they flop they can completely ruin the careers of their directors and stars, and even in some instances bankrupt the studio that backed them – as was the case with the bloated 1980 western epic Heaven’s Gate. United Artists rolled the dice on this one and they came up snake eyes.

Heaven’s Gate director, Michael Cimino, was on a roll after the success of The Deer Hunter, but he basically pissed on his chips (as they say in Tinsel Town, well Vinnie Jones does) overspending by $30 million and shooting 220 hours of footage to come up with what was called “an unqualified disaster” by respected New York Times critic Vincent Canby. Astute Vince also compared Heaven’s Gate to “a forced four-hour walking tour of one’s own living room.”

51yHeIaUDYL_cropIronically the movie was later praised by the likes of Martin Scorsese, but by that time UA was no more and a reconstructed Michael Cimino had salvaged what little was left of his reputation to team up with fellow plastic surgery fan Mickey Rourke on Year of the Dragon and The Desperate Hours. Kelly Lynch was one of the stars of the latter and recently revealed that Cimino wanted her to look like a drag queen in the film. “I didn’t know at the time that Michael was kind of … interested in dressing like a woman,’ she said. If only UA had known earlier that they were basically giving a shitload of cash to a modern day Ed Wood!

Another film that dragged a big studio to the wall and lined up the firing squad was Cutthroat Island (1995), which effectively put an end to Carolco, the company behind Rambo, The Terminator and Total Recall. Production problems spiralled the cost of this Geena Davis pirate epic to an estimated $115 million and Carolco got jolly rogered. It certainly put Hollywood off pirate pictures for a while, until Disney wisely signed up Johnny Depp for Pirates of the Caribbean.

Speaking of Disney, they have also made more than their share of megaflops in their time, which I suppose is appropriate for a Mickey Mouse outfit. John Carter (2012) wasn’t exactly a terrible movie, but it would have needed to make more than $600 million at the box office to repay its bloated budget. Only 63 movies have done this in the history of moviemaking, and John Carter wasn’t even in the race.

The failure of John Carter followed hot on the heels of Disney dropping even more filthy lucre on Mars Needs Moms (2011), an animated feature that proved the biggest box office failure in the company’s entire history. Walt’s accountants will probably now steer well clear of films with Mars in the title, but if I was them I‘d be asking how an animated film can cost $150 million to make and distribute in the first place!

81rrnkpeLHL_SL1500_cropThe strange thing is, nobody really knows when a movie is going to bomb at the boxoffice any more than they do when it is going to be a massive success. Look at the way Spielberg nearly got fired from Jaws, and even the stars of that one, Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss, went to the preview screening thinking they were going to be witnessing a big budget disaster.

There’s also a famous story that when George Lucas showed his director mate Brian De Palma (Carrie) an early cut of Star Wars, De Palma told him it was bound to be a flop. Lucas became so convinced it would that he went on holiday to Hawaii with his good friend Steven Spielberg instead of attending the premiere.

The problem with blockbusters today is that it isn’t just the lolly that’s spent making them that disappears down the U-bend. You’ve got to add the many millions more spent on promoting them and all the tie-in tat flooding the market that nobody then wants to buy. Even George Lucas is not always on the money – remember Howard the Duck?

Nobody is surprised when a film that’s utter rubbish proves a loser at the box office, but sometimes even good movies can flop if they’re not marketed correctly. In many cases however these will recoup their losses on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download. A good case in point is 2012’s excellent and vastly underrated Dredd, which earned $41 million at the box office on a budget of $44 million, but earned so much money on home video that a sequel now seems likely.

Brad Pitt’s World War Z is another great example of a film that was expected to tank and duly did so, even though it wasn’t half as bad as we were all expecting. In the end, with home video sales factored in, it has gone on to earn a tasty $540 million against a production budget of $190 million, again prompting demands for a sequel.

What will be the biggest financial disaster of 2014? It’s a bit early to say, but Hollywood pundits are already predicting box office meltdown for the $150 million Jupiter Ascending, the new science fiction epic from the Wachowski Brothers, er I mean the Wachowski brother and sister.

Apart from the fact that their last movie, Cloud Atlas, ended up with red ink on the balance sheet, and their 2008 Speed Racer left skid marks in the underpants of Hollywood studio bosses, there are two further clues this might be a disaster… Firstly, the film was originally going to be released this July, and now it has been delayed until February of next year. Secondly, it stars Channing Tatum.

Similarly, great things are not predicted for the $125 million Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, produced by Michael Bay and directed by the guy who gave us Wrath of the Titans (2012) and Battle: Los Angeles (2011). It stars Megan Fox, presumably because Meryl Streep wasn’t available. If this turns out to be a good movie, the pizzas are on me. As far as I can see it could very well figure prominently on the list below if we update it in 2015.

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1.  Heaven’s Gate (1980); estimated loss:  $120,953,664

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2.  Mars Needs Moms (2011); estimated loss:  $130,503,621

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3.  The Lone Ranger (2013); est. loss:  $95,926,537—121,237,25

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4.  Speed Racer (2008); est. loss:  $73,027,117

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5.  The 13th Warrior (1999); estimated loss:  $97,896,514—182,838,584

 

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6.  The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002); estimated loss:  $96,448,014

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7.  Cutthroat Island (1995); estimated loss:  $88,741,339

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8.  R.I.P.D. (2013); estimated loss:  $90,837,890—114,837,890

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9.  John Carter (2012); estimated loss:  $108,610,950

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10.  47 Ronin (2014); estimated loss:  $149,518,762

Mac and Me (1988)

Mac and Me (1988)
Directed by: Stewart Raffill
Starring: Jade Calegory, Jonathan Ward, Lauren Stanley, Tina Caspary, Christine Ebersole, Vinnie Torrente, Martin West, Ivan J. Rado, Danny Cooksey, Laura Waterbury

Mac and Me Supermarket

People of Wal-Mart


In June 1982, Hollywood released three of the greatest movies ever made: John Carpenter’s The Thing, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, and Nicholas Meyer’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Sadly, all these movies were overshadowed by some cutesy-alien family film directed by Steven Spielberg called E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, which features a cutesy alien stuck on earth and forced to play with Henry Thomas and cutesy Drew Barrymore while chugging Coors beer, gorging on Reese’s Pieces, and watching romantic comedies featuring John Wayne. How adorable. So adorable that it made over 350 million dollars and also made the Hershey Company very happy, since audiences were brainwashed into buying heaps of Reese’s Pieces at their local supermarkets. Anyway, the jerkoffs at Orion Pictures, with dollar signs in their eyes, decided to make an ill-advised E.T. ripoff called Mac and Me that is absolutely terrible by any known measure, but what makes things worse is the constant and blatant product placements that betray a rather egregious cynicism. I know this is Hollywood, but come on – this thing literally plays like a 90 minute TV commercial.

Mac and Me starts off on some planet somewhere, populated by these… things. How to describe them? Take the puffy cheeks of a squirrel, add extra large dog ears, give it giant eyes like eggs cooked sunny side up. Now add a touch of progeria, some devil horns shaved down to the nubs, give them bodies of Amazing Live Sea Monkeys, remove their genitals, and you’re getting close to the abomination of nature that these creatures represent. The adult version of these alien life forms takes the cake – the dimwitted, wide-eyed facial expressions, the waddle-walk, the enlarged, protruding ears, the pot bellies – it’s like we stumbled into the backwoods hill country of Hick-Planet. The place looks like a barren lump of rock, but apparently full of water just under the surface, seen when daddy alien stabs a straw into the ground and starts sucking away like it’s a Big Gulp. But this alien family’s routine way of life (which seems limited to whistling, waddling, and sucking water through straws) is interrupted by a NASA spacecraft which effortlessly lands itself nearby and starts taking soil samples. Before you know it, the entire family is sucked up into the spacecraft’s vacuum attachment, triggering some kind of malfunction, and the thing blasts off into the sky, carrying our none-too-bright aliens back to Earth.

Mac and Me - Silly Putty

So the aliens are made out of silly putty. Sure, why not?

It’s about 6 minutes into the movie and already all credibility is shot. Where exactly is this planet located? Because it sure can’t be located in our solar system. Anything potentially habitable (notice that the planet has a nice blue sky) would be many light years away, unless NASA has secretly developed warp drive. I doubt it; these guys can’t even prevent a family of four alien simpletons from escaping their supposedly well-guarded base. The smallest one breaks out on his own, hiding away in the family vehicle consisting of single mother (and Sears employee) Janet Cruise (Christine Ebersole), her teenage son Mike (Jonathan Ward), and his little brother Eric (Jade Calegory), who is confined to a wheelchair. The trio just moved to California, supposedly after losing dad (we’re not sure how, but I’m guessing he died). The family has barely settled into their hillside suburban home (Hacienda Heights, if you were wondering) when the little alien stowaway starts in with the electromagnetic interference (radio controlled cars run without batteries, TVs turn on without being plugged in). The next day, Mac (that stands for “Mysterious Alien Creature”) takes a chainsaw to a few doors and trashes the family living room, turning it into a dusty garden complete with stones, sticks, straws, and a moose head. Mom freaks out, and Eric wheels himself after the creature, but his wheelchair breaks and he rolls down a hill, right off a cliff and into some water. Watch the scene below – it shouldn’t be funny, but it is:

In the meantime, Mac’s family is lost in the desert, and occasionally he communicates with them by whistling. Eric tells his mother about the bizarre creature that saved his ass and she calls in a shrink. Eric’s friend Debbie (Lauren Stanley) tells him that the grownups think he has “schizo-freakia.” Eric and Debbie then hatch a plan to catch Mac in the vacuum cleaner, which succeeds, but Mac is hurt, so they fix him up by feeding him Coke through a straw.

Mac and Me aliens love the taste of Coke.

Coke. The source of all life.

I should stop here and tell you that up to this point, Mac and Me is just plain, run-of-the-mill bad, a blatant ripoff of a much better film (which itself isn’t all that great to begin with). But here, around the halfway mark, the movie gets insulting. The constant shots of Mac sucking down a Coke are just the beginning – the real terror begins at McDonalds. But first we have to endure a really bizarre sequence where Mac takes off on a little toy ATV through the neighborhood, chased by at least 11 unleashed dogs. Forget the alien on the electric car for a sec – I’m supposed to believe that nobody in Hacienda Heights keeps their dogs indoors, on leashes, or gated? I mean, this isn’t Sochi we’re talking about here. This little bit of horseplay is intercut with a truly out-of-left-field sequence of Eric wheeling around with his jogging mother, while a sappy ballad from Bobby Caldwell plays, with lyrics like:

I can’t face the thought of you leaving / So take me along, I swear I’ll be strong … I want you to take me / ‘Cause I long to be able to see the things that you see
Know that whatever you do, I’ll follow you… Somebody must have sent you to me / What do I have you could possibly need / All I can give is my guarantee / We’ll be friends forever

Who is this song about? Eric and the alien? They barely know each other. And secondly, he’s hanging out with his mom. So is the song about the boy and his mother? Who knows? In the meantime, the dogs chased Mac the alien up a tree. Then the scene ends. (How did Mac get down?)

Mac and Me... Stuck in a Tree

Uh…. hello?! A little help up here!?

Later, government agents show up looking for the alien. Eric hides him by putting him inside a teddy bear suit and taking him to the local McDonalds. Now here’s where we get to the most laughable scene of Mac and Me. Picture a giant McDonalds full of extras dancing in every corner of the place, and filling the parking lot. This being the 80s, I get the impression that the creators of this movie really liked Fame, Breakin’, Footloose, Flashdance, etc. And wait till you see a little person in a teddy bear costume cutting it up on the counter of a McDonalds restaurant. There are no words for this:

Don’t you deserve a break today? Aren’t you lovin’ it?

Mac and Me dancing at McDonalds

That’s great and all, but am I going to get my quarter pounder with cheese anytime soon?

So Eric, Debbie, Mike, and Debbie’s sis (and McDonalds employee) Courtney (Tina Caspary) pile in a van to take Mac into the desert to see his family, feeding him Coke and Skittles on the way. (Taste the rainbow, kids!) The alien family is hiding out in a mine, and they are almost dead, but Mike soon revives them by feeding them… Coke through a straw! (Catch the wave, dudes!) Absurdity levels go critical as the group stops at a gas station, where the alien family escapes the van and heads to the local supermarket to stock up on Coca-Cola and watermelon. Cops show up (with itchy trigger fingers), Mac Daddy steals a gun from a security guard, shooting commences, a gas pump is hit, and the entire Stage Shop Mall explodes (presumably killing all the people inside it – I mean, look at all the cars parked in front!)

Now, Mac and Me gets all sappy, with Eric apparently killed in the explosion, even though (due to bad special effects) it looks like it didn’t even touch him. Everybody is lachrymose, and the whole thing is manipulative, but up until now, the film has just been a wacky comedy with silly alien hi-jinks. In other words, it hasn’t earned this sudden change of mood. Suddenly, the aliens walk out of the fire like demons arriving from a hell-portal, apparently unharmed by the explosion. They lay their hands on Eric and start their annoying whistling routine; Eric briefly rises in the air like Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters, and through some alien hocus-pocus is brought back to life. So you see? These ugly, obtuse, witless life forms may not possess any technology or sophistication, but they are in tune with the universe, ya dig? And that gives them power over life and death. So take that, California elites! Oh, by the way, nobody seems to notice or care that everybody inside the Stage Shop Mall is dead!

Mac and Me Oath of Citizenship

George W Bush takes the oath of office.

The final scene is the frosting on the cake of this infuriating piece of flotsam. The alien family are not only allowed to live on Earth (NASA doesn’t give them a ride back to their planet?) but they are allowed to take the oath of American citizenship, thus freeing them to purchase Big Macs and 2-liter bottles of Coke for the rest of their lives! Watching a family of extra-terrestrials, dressed in clothes in the manner that you might put a sweater on your dog, raising their appendages to take a oath that they probably don’t understand, then driving down the highway in a pink Cadillac, I finally realized secondary purpose of Mac and Me (the first one being a cash-grab, of course) – it’s propaganda, singing the praises of capitalism and the American way (where everybody can be successful enough to live dull lives in upper middle class Cali suburbs, suck down soda pop and candy, start work at fast food franchises, and graduate to sales representative at the local Sears outlet store). Worried about the Soviets? Forget it – everybody wants to be an American, even aliens from Bumfuck Planet. God bless the USA, the Coca Cola company, Mars Inc., Sears Holdings, and the McDonald’s Corporation!

- Bill Gordon

Buy Mac and Me on DVD

Mac and Me loves the taste of Skittles.

Now available in the lobby.

  • In the film, Christine Ebersole’s character works at Sears, and a chase scene partly takes place there. That reminds me, I better shop there before they go under.
  • Tina Caspary looks pretty good in a Mickey D’s uniform. If you watch the McDonalds scene, you’ll notice her serving drinks to the kids, but the cups are empty. You know this because one falls off the table and Lauren Stanley quickly retrieves it. There is clearly no liquid in it.
  • Ronald McDonald was played by actor Squire Fridell, but he’s listed in the cast as Ronald McDonald.
  • Jennifer Aniston is apparently in this movie as an extra. Good luck spotting her.
  • Actor Jade Calegory uses a wheelchair in real life.
  • Mac and Me was a box office failure (surprise!)
  • They missed an opportunity to replace the aliens with Grimace and his family, kidnapped from Grimace’s home planet. Hey, if you’re going to sell out, you should sell out big.
  • The falling wheelchair scene serves as a running joke between Paul Rudd and Conan O’Brien.
  • The filmmakers were so confident that the movie would be a success that they stuck a “We’ll Be Back” caption at the end. We’re sure a Mac and Me 2 will pop up right around the time Airplane III comes out.
  • Stewart Raffill’s next film was Mannequin 2: On the Move (surprise!)
Mac and Me Won't Be Back

Yeah, we’ll all be holding our collective breath in anticipation…

Adventures of Thunderstorm: The Return of Thor (2011)

Adventures of Thunderstorm: The Return of Thor (2011)
Directed by: Brett Kelly
Starring: Ray Besharah, Celine Filion, Jody Haucke, Emanuelle Carriere, Gabrielle Mackenzie, Randy Kimmett, Lenard A. Blackburn

Adventures of Thunderstorm: The Return of Thor

Dude, Dragon-Con is gonna rock this year!


A quick look at Canadian director Brett Kelly’s resume reveals such gems as Avenging Force: The Scarab, Jurassic Shark, Agent Beetle, and even a remake of that old chestnut Attack of the Giant Leeches. In other words, bottom of the barrel nonsense on shoestring budgets. So I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that Adventures of Thunderstorm: Return of Thor is bad, but I was surprised at how uniquely bad it is. It’s the kind of bad that actually has you wondering whether the movie is just one big joke, ineptly made on purpose (I figure that the production company – “Dudez Productions” – gets some kind of funding from the Canadian government, kinda like Cronenberg’s early films, but please don’t compare Kelly with Cronenberg… just.. don’t). Or maybe he’s not quite aware that it’s bad; maybe he earnestly is trying to make the best film he can. In which case: Yikes.

We know we are already in trouble at the beginning, when wave after wave of credits unfold in that Star Wars tradition, telling us about gods and Asgard and something called Ragnarok which will be brought about by a cult of humans who worship evil. These humans were driven underground but not defeated. Unfortunately, mankind had a falling out with the gods, so they can never directly interfere in the events of Earth, aka Midgard. This wall of text goes on for 3 minutes, with a narrator speaking them because remember – these kinds of films are made for those who can’t read. It rivals the opening credits roll in Uwe Boll’s Alone in the Dark.

Thunderstorm Return of Thor Credits

zzzzzzzzzz

After the opening titles and cast/crew listing (which takes place over some kind of screensaver), we see amateurish, slow motion shots of dudes getting out of a car and walking towards the camera, brandishing weapons. This seems to go on forever – not a good sign. We are soon introduced to Evan (Jody Haucke), who bursts into a museum (actually, just some kind of corner office) looking for an artifact called the “Dragon’s Cross.” He is supposed to be menacing in that Anton LaVey-way, but he looks more like that one weird guy from your high school drama class (you know, the one who’s way more into it than anyone else), and he’s about as threatening to boot. But the lines he delivers, and the way he delivers them are nothing short of hilarious.

  • It would be a shame to start shooting people… it’s bad for business, don’t you know!
  • After shooting a guy who says “Give me a minute” – “A minute….. who has that kind of time?

You get the idea.

Jody Haucke - Return of Thor

I just love theater!

Then we are transported to “Asgard”, which for some reason looks nothing like the Asgard of Marvel’s Thor movie. No, this Asgard looks like graphics from Castle Wolfenstein backed by streaks of purple light. Realistic, it isn’t. We witness a conversation between Thor and his dad (who kinda looks like John de Lancie). But we aren’t looking at two people speaking. We are looking at photographs superimposed over streaks of light, and the photos are made to shake back and forth while we hear narration between two horrible actors. At this point you may have noticed that the cheesy musical score practically drowns out all dialogue. Get used to it.

Asgard - Adventures of Thunderstorm

It’s almost as if you are actually there.

Now things get dumber. We are introduced to the movie’s “hero” – one Grant Farrel (Ray Besharah) who, along with his buddy Earl (Randy Kimmett) works on a super secret project to make a weaponized suit. Their laboratory is basically a closet with some red lighting and a computer. As for the “battle suit”, it looks like something stolen off a cosplaying guest at MegaCon. (Think of the silliest Batman suit merged with a stormtrooper’s uniform.) And yet our guys refer to it as a “kick-ass battlesuit.” How cute! Oh, the suit also comes with an accessory “battle staff” with insulated electronics. Farrel comments that “it looks like a hammer if you ask me!” Ha ha! By the way, I must mention again that this suit is a military prototype and absolutely not a costume picked up at the Spirit Halloween store in Ontario for $49.95.

Meanwhile, a college girl named Susan Green (Emanuelle Carriere) is abducted by the cult, which intends to use her as a vessel to bring back an evil being called “Hel” (played by Gabrielle Mackenzie, AKA Karin Landstad, hamming it up even more than Jody Haucke, if that’s even possible). The gods finally call upon Grant to take her and the cult on. Given a gift of cheesy lightning effects coming out of his hands, Earl gets the idea to put Grant in the suit. So now Grant Farrel is a reluctant super hero called Thunderstorm! Think of Iron Man mixed with Thor. OK, now take away Tony Stark’s personality and smarts while removing Thor’s strength and bravery. Add a wisecracking, awkward Canadian sidekick. There, now you’ve got Adventures of Thunderstorm: The Return of Thor.

There’s a sequence where Grant trains himself, which is basically scenes of the camera lingering on bad graphics while Earl stares intensely and writes shit down in his notepad. What can he do with this power? Level buildings? Fly? How about… cook a hot dog! Now that’s a useful power, eh?

Thunderstorm Hot Dog

I’d like that Montreal-Style, please.

Oh, there’s also a heroine called Detective Bronski (Celine Filion – not Celine Dion) who catches up with Grant. There’s a funny bit where the bad guys get away (stealing Grant’s hammer) but the detective says to Grant (while he’s wearing his battle suit) “You’re coming in for questioning.” Grant – who, remember, is now a super hero with the power of Thor – says “Which way?” Wow, he’s such a good super hero that he willingly goes to the police station!

The cackling Hel and her gang pay a visit to Earl and leave him for dead, but for some reason they leave the hammer there. Why bother to handicap our superhero in the first place if they were just gonna return it? In the meantime, Grant convinces Bronski to help him, although at this point I am wondering if Thor perhaps chose the wrong human. His only power seems to be that he shoots bolts (which miss their targets). He doesn’t fly, but he does drive pretty well (and his choice of electric car is very environment-friendly). He stumbles upon a dying Earl, who says “there was this lady… she looked like a renaissance fair reject…” which is a line that has me stumped because – does this prove that Brett Kelly is in on the joke, or not?

The ending proves just as stupid as everything else. Hel resurrects her “brother” who appears in the form of (a very horribly rendered) dragon.

Thunderstorm Thor Cheesy FX Dragon

The Desolation of the Audience

There’s scenes of Grant/Thunderstorm shooting at (and missing) the funny CGI dragon/screensaver thing intercut with a horribly-choreographed kung-fu battle between Celine Filion and Jody Haucke. To paraphrase MST3K, people compare this fight with the one between Neo and Smith in The Matrix. Yeah, you know, they say: “The Matrix was really good. This movie totally sucks.”

And how does Grant defeat the powers of Hel the Renaissance fair reject? Spoiler alert! He grabs the dragon’s cross out of her hands and… throws it on the floor! The cross goes poof, the dragon goes poof, and Gabrielle Mackenzie screams “No No No!” before she goes poof.

Wow, really? That’s how evil is defeated? Anyhow, Grant is transported to Asgard and Odin congratulates him. Oh, does this remind anybody of that crappy TV series Shazam? Remember that one… where Billy the kid is talked to by Hannah Barbera versions of the gods? Well Thunderstorm: Return of Thor is about on par with that (except without that creepy mentor guy).

kung fu Thunderstorm

Fight Choreography by Yuen Woo-ping’s Nephew’s College Roomate

Some funny bits of dialogue in this very Canadian production:

  • “Get a chick last night, huh? Get a little action, huh?” – Earl, in his super-Canadian accent. (Did “eh?” have a falling out?)
  • “Paramedics rushed him to emerge…” – said by a character early on. Do people really refer to the E.R. as “emerge?” Maybe just Canadians…
  • “Doughy Risa-Hell !! Doughy Risa-Hell!” – the silly chant performed to get “Hel” to appear
  • “Dressed like … a superhero! That’s right, folks! A superhero!” – spoken by an incredulous radio DJ as he reads the news. A superhero! Right here in Ottawa! Can you believe it, folks?
  • “He was so excited for me, ya know? When you’re a kid you dream of flying, or… invisibility or whatever?” – Grant’s heartfelt eulogy for his dead friend
  • “I am Hel, Goddess of the Underworld… future ruler of Asgard!”
    “Aww, hell no!”
    “Hel.. Yes!” – no comment needed
  • “There’s a thunderstorm coming” – Grants attempt at levity

Adventures of Thunderstorm: Return of Thor has it all: silly dialogue (constantly drowned out by a cheesy musical soundtrack), bad fight scenes, bad acting / over-acting all around, laughable “special” effects, a stupid looking suit/costume in the style of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, a distinct lack of sets, goofy use of slow-mo, ambient sound that makes it seem like the audio was recorded in a bathroom somewhere (yeah, the budget didn’t allow for ADR), and, uh, lots of shots of Ontario warehouses and office buildings.

The important question now is: Is Thunderstorm: Return of Thor at least better than Shazam! or Mighty Morphin Power Rangers? I don’t know, but to even arrive at a point where such a comparison must be made should tell you something about this zero-budget film. The good news, I think, is that I may have found the modern Canadian Ed Wood, and the cinematic dung heap of terrible movies has grown even larger, which means there’s plenty of fresh fodder for reviews. Plan 9 … that’s for tourists!

- Bill Gordon

Buy Adventures of Thunderstorm: Return of Thor on DVD
Watch Adventures of Thunderstorm: Return of Thor @ Amazon
Note: as of January 1, 2014, you can stream the movie on Netflix.

Thunderstorm: Return of Thor Cast

You! Have been chosen to drive us to Ren-Fest!

Also directed by Brett Kelly:

Avenging Force: The Scarab
Pirates: Quest for Snake Island
The Bonesetter

Adventures of  Thunderstorm: The Return of Thor

Brett, honey, please stop playing with your toys and get to bed!

KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978)

KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978) (TV Movie)
Director: Gordon Hessler
Starring: Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Anthony Zerbe, Deborah Ryan, Carmine Caridi, Terry Lester, John Dennis Johnston, John Lisbon Wood, Lisa Jane Persky, John Chappell, Richard Hein, Brion James

KISS Starchild Poses

Ain’t no particular sign I’m more compatible with
I just want your extra time and your…. Kiss


I was never a KISS fan. The problem is that I was too young – I was an 80s kid and KISS basically peaked in the 70s, having formed in January 1973, only a few months before my birth. In 1978, the band’s original lineup – Paul Stanley (vocals, rhythm guitar), Gene Simmons (vocals, bass guitar), Ace Frehley (lead guitar, vocals) and Peter Criss (drums, vocals) – were so popular that each member actually released their own solo album that year (all four albums were released on September 18, 1978 and accompanied by a marketing blitz, Frehley’s being the most successful). This was all part of a “two-pronged strategy”, the second part being a movie, which was to be a combination of Star Wars (naturally, since it was a massive hit in 1977) and A Hard Day’s Night. The problem, though, is that KISS is not The Beatles, and the filmmakers involved in creating their NBC TV movie – Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, were no George Lucas. Not even Phantom Menace-era Lucas.

Santa Claus – 1959 – José Elías Moreno

Santa Claus (1959)
Directed by: René Cardona
Starring: José Elías Moreno, Cesáreo Quezadas ‘Pulgarcito’, José Luis Aguirre ‘Trotsky’, Armando Arriola, Lupita Quezadas, Antonio Díaz Conde hijo, Nora Veryán,

Santa Claus 1959 - José Elías Moreno

The cleverly hidden cocaine keeps Santa going all night long.


There’s a movie that was made in 1959 about a big fat guy in a red suit named Santa Claus. Every year he brings presents to all the good little children around the world. So far so good, yes? Well, not if you’re talking about the Mexican Santa Claus movie, which was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (where they correctly observed that the film was “good old fashioned nightmare fuel”). Directed by René Cardona, a guy from Mexico City who also did some wrestling movies, Santa Claus 1959 concerns a slave-driving Santa (José Elías Moreno) who lives up in the sky and has a whole sweatshop army of little kids doing his work for him. I guess the Union of Elves went on strike.

The Apple – Catherine Mary Stewart, Vladek Sheybal

The Apple (1980)
Directed by: Menahem Golan
Starring: Catherine Mary Stewart, George Gilmour, Vladek Sheybal, Miriam Margolyes, Grace Kennedy, Allan Love, Joss Ackland, Ray Shell


One thing about bad movies is that every time I think I have seen the worst movie ever made, I come across something new that is so horrible, it reaches levels of badness I previously thought not possible. It becomes almost absurd, a Platonic ideal of awfulness – like the movie belongs in the dictionary definition or something. In a way, it has now made that movie a thing of wonder – something to cherish, even. The Apple is such a film. It is a film like, say, Zardoz, where somebody had a vision, and they gave everything they had to bring that vision to the screen, but didn’t realize that the vision was probably the result of bad sushi, and translating it to film should never have been attempted in the first place. And yet, paradoxically, I’m glad they did it because it elevates the movie into cult film status. Besides, what would I have to write about otherwise? And I’ll tell you something else – if you define “the worst movie ever made” to be something unwatchable, with zero value, then The Apple isn’t the worst movie. Not by a long shot. In fact, it may be one of the funniest movies ever made as far as entertainment value is concerned. I think its “badness” was unintentional (some might disagree), so that puts it on equal footing with movies like Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space, a movie that is also horrible, but hilarious anyway.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians – With Pia Zadora

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
Directed by: Nicholas Webster
Starring: John Call, Leonard Hicks, Vincent Beck, Bill McCutcheon, Victor Stiles, Donna Conforti, Chris Month, Pia Zadora, Leila Martin, Charles Renn, James Cahill, Ned Wertimer, Doris Rich

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

There’s some strange shit goin’ down at the pole tonight.


In the world of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Santa Claus is as real as you and me. He even gets interviewed on the news by some idiot freezing his ass off at the north pole but still manages to crack bad jokes. But earth kids aren’t the only ones watching Santa on the television – Martian children are doing it too!

Now, these Martian kids – they’re not very happy. They never laugh or play. Soon after they’re born, they are plugged into a machine that teaches them at blindingly fast speed. They have weird antennas on their heads. They’re kinda like The Borg, actually. Except goofier. But something’s wrong – they’re not eating.

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