Science fiction is a dream of our future, but the 10 worst sci-fi movies prove that it can unleash nightmares, too. Even the coolest ideas can collapse under the weight of bad acting, incompetent direction or, the worst sin of all, cheesy special effects. Here are some of the most forgettable futures from the past.
“Plan 9 From Outer Space” While some great sci-fi films go unnoticed, books, movies and plays have been written about this bad classic and its director, Ed Wood. Aliens and zombies are involved, but nobody watches this for the story; there’s so much more to see. Amateur actors, awful effects and one-take direction make for what many consider to be the worst movie ever made.
“Robot Monster” Plenty of bad monster movies have featured cheap costuming or visible zippers. But it’s hard to top an invading alien who wears a gorilla suit topped with an old timers diving helmet. The Z-grade production values of films like “Robot Monster” inspired Larry Blamire’s great 2004 B-movie spoof, “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.”
“Attack of the 50 Foot Woman” A spurned woman gets revenge when an alien gives her Godzilla-like height. A simple concept with simpler special effects surprisingly became a retro favorite and produced an iconic movie poster. Daryl Hannah starred in a 1993 remake that didn’t have nearly the charm of the 1958 original with Allison Hayes.
“Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” A 1964’s holiday alien-invasion movie regularly appears on lists of the worst films of all time. Martians decide to demoralize Earth’s children by kidnapping Santa. Now in the public domain, the film often appears on TV during the holiday season.
“They Saved Hitler’s Brain” The title pretty much sums up both the plot and the badness level of this 1964 gem. The nasty head Nazi is now just a head, preserved like a pickle in an oversized jar. Government agents battle a convoluted plot that’s not nearly as much fun as the film’s title.
“Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” By the 1970s, late night TV had brought the joy of bad sci-fi movies to millions of viewers. New filmmakers were inspired to create their own bad-movie delights like “Schlock,” “Rocky Horror” and this 1978 gem. A snazzy theme song and delightful title are its main contributions to world civilization.
“Troll 2” This 1990’s sequel to “Troll” had nothing to do with the first movie, containing no trolls and a ridiculous plot about man-eating vegetarian goblins. About 20 years later, child actor Michael Stephenson made a documentary about his experiences on the film, “Best Worst Movie.” It won several film festival awards, which was more than “Troll 2” ever accomplished.
“Mac and Me” Inspired by the boost “E.T.” gave to candy sales, McDonald’s restaurants decided to produce their own version based around fast food. Even young viewers were not fooled and “Mac and Me” quickly became a legend in both bad marketing and bad cinema. It won two 1988 Golden Raspberries or “Razzies,” annually awarded to the worst movies.
“Starship Troopers” You know you’re in trouble when delightful Denise Richards starts the film with a vomiting scene. Ludicrous big-bug mayhem makes mincemeat of an unremarkable cast and Robert Heinlein’s original novel. Giving director Paul Verhoeven a camera is like handing a hacksaw to Hannibal Lecter; the stars of his other films rarely fare any better.
“Battlefield Earth” L. Ron Hubbard’s sci-fi magnum opus seemed an ideal vehicle for fellow Scientologist John Travolta. Instead, it was a critical and commercial failure, eliminating a possible series and setting a new standard for bad science fiction. The film swept the Razzies for the first year of the new millennium.