50 Worst Films of the 90s: Part 2 (#40-#31)

Coming hot off the trail of my 100 Best Films of the 90s, I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer you this tasty smorgasbord of stinky crap the 90s strained out of its butt. In a ten year time period, Hollywood made quite possibly more garbage during this decade than any other.

From terrible video game adaptations to Dennis Rodman as an actor, these ten years were overflowing with so much celluloid diarrhea, I had a real hotdog of a time picking my fifty worst. But I tried.

Over the course of this series, I will be releasing ten entries at a time over a five week period. Welcome to the 50th through the 41st worst films the 1990s had to offer….

40. The Phantom

1996 / USA / dir. Simon Wincer / 100 minutes

cast: Billy Zane, Treat Williams, Kristy Swanson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, James Remar, Patrick McGoohan, Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa, David Proval

I loved this movie as a kid because purple is my favorite color. Seeing it recently I realize how awful it is. A guy in a purple leotard riding a white horse through the jungle. Talk about the stupidest camouflage. Anyone could see him from miles away, riding his stupid horse, dressed like a fucking grape. Besides that, this old-timey comic book adaptation is a real snooze, a lackluster mystery, a terrible villain (Treat Williams), a boring love interest (Kristy Swanson), not even Catherine Zeta-Douglas can save this heap of shit. I think Billy Zane is one of the more underrated actors of this 90s time period and I’m really surprised Titanic (a year after this) didn’t make him more a star. But here he’s just as bad as the painfully fake set pieces and wooden performances that surround him. It’s no fun. (Streaming on Amazon Prime, PlutoTV and Paramount+)

39. Color of Night

1994 / USA / dir. Richard Rush / 121 minutes ; 139 minutes (Director’s Cut)

cast: Bruce Willis, Jane March, Scott Bakula, Ruben Blades, Lesley Ann Warren, Brad Dourif, Lance Henriksen, Kevin J. O’Connor, Eriq La Salle, Kathleen Wilhoite, Shirley Knight

Whoever wrote this must have thought they had a Best Picture winner on their hands. That’s the only way to describe how shamelessly self-serious this noir-ish murder mystery from a psychoanalyst’s POV is. Bruce Willis is a psychologist whose taking a little vacation in L.A. after his patient throws herself out of a 40-story window during a bad session. There he meets his best friend, a psychiatrist (Scott Bakula) who just got rich off of a book he wrote and runs a group therapy session with people with all different conditions. It’s a real pu pu platter of head shrinker cliches and it makes so sense he’d treat a manic depressive and a compulsive eater in the same group. Does this want us to assume psychiatry is a one-size-fits-all for people with different issues? Anyway, someone from the group gets murdered and Bruce Willis has to figure out who and if they want to kill him. But who’s the killer? Characters speak to themselves in revealing internal monologues. These long, drawn-out sequences of Bogart-y word play and riddles are delivered by several characters, all the while pausing for gasps or laughter even though they’re the only ones listening to themselves. Enter a random, 19-ish girl (Jane March), who starts having insane, performative sex with Bruce Willis. Yuck. In the pool, in the shower, on the bed, on the kitchen table during dinner, all while a loud, booming, 37-piece orchestra scores it. These are some of the most elaborate, silly and anything but erotic sex scenes I’ve seen in a movie. Their gratuitousness earned the film an NC-17. The common theory here is that filmmakers realized the explicit sex scenes and Jane March‘s unbelievable comfortability with nudity were the only thing this goofy piece of shit had going for it. Well, that and a tremendously over-the-top Ruben Blades performance. Seriously, that shit makes Edward James Olmos‘ work in Zoot Suit look like Mads Mikkelsen‘s performance in anything. CHECK IT OUT, YOU FUCKIN’ DAFFODILS! ($3.99 rental on Amazon Prime)

38. On Deadly Ground

1994 / USA / dir. Steven Seagal / 102 minutes

cast: Steven Seagal, Michael Caine, Joan Chen, John C. McGinley, R. Lee Ermey, Shari Shattuck, Billy Bob Thornton, Mike Starr, Louise Fletcher, Michael Jai White

This was the beginning of the end for Steven Seagal, a well-intentioned (maybe) but extremely tone-deaf environmental thriller about a big oil company and its weasel-like CEO (played by Michael Caine), running an oil rig that threatens the Inuit (referred to in this as Eskimos, of course) population in Alaska. The problem is Michael Caine is such a cheap skate he doesn’t want to buy the proper equipment that will protect against a rig explosion, which would in turn, devastate the environment. Seagal is an ex-military top secret big dick McPatriot who is moonlighting as some supervisor or something (they never make it clear) for Michael Caine. When Seagal catches wind of the corporate fuckery, he puts on his best ass kicking boots and plans to…BLOW UP THE OIL RIG. Which would devastate the environment even more! WTF?!?! Besides not making any narrative sense, this is one of the more intensely violent Seagal flicks that has the gall to masquerade as an anti-violence eco thriller. “Violence is the last solution to use when all else fails” Seagal preaches while elaborately and viciously murdering bad guys trying to surrender and flee. It also attempts to be deep and avant-garde – Seagal goes on a Ayahuasca-fueled spiritual journey where he encounters a bear, half a dozen naked, dancing Inuit girls trying to tempt him with sex and an old grandma that whacks his chest with a musical instrument. This is an hour and three quarters of pure madness that ends with a three minute environmental speech delivered by Seagal to the Tribal council. ($2.99 rental on Amazon Prime)

37. Robocop 3

1993 / USA / dir. Fred Dekker / 104 minutes

cast: Robert John Burke, Nancy Allen, Rip Torn, Stephen Root, Bradley Whitford, CCH Pounder, Mako, Jill Hennessy, Daniel von Bargen

Hilarious in that it’s a big studio release pretending to be a piece of anti-capitalist filmmaking while it exists solely to sell action figures. Everything about Robocop 3 seems so incredibly disingenuous, as if it is parodying anti-capitalist sentiment itself. It also feels like it was made by someone who never saw the first two Robocop movies. First of all, we don’t even get to see Robocop, now played by a different actor, until 20 minutes into the movie! Then when he does show up, he has all these fucking accessories attached to him that never get explained. How does he suddenly have a jet pack rocket launcher? I’ll tell you why, because the action figure does! But the problems don’t stop there. The satire is no longer clever, there’s no real sense of danger and most notably, pre-established characters don’t act like they normally would. This is never more true than with Nancy Allen‘s character of Robocop’s partner. In the first two movies she’s this smart, hard-edged, well-rounded character and here she’s this incompetent dipshit that gets murdered half an hour into the movie. The only bright side of this movie is the cast, which is stacked with fantastic character actors (as you can see above) who don’t totally suck. (Watch for Free on YouTube )

36. I Know What You Did Last Summer

1997 / USA / dir. Jim Gillespie / 100 minutes

cast: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Bridgette Wilson, Johnny Galecki, Muse Watson, Anne Heche

I will never understand the appeal of I Know What You Did Last Summer to my generation and my older sister’s generation. It’s just such a non-movie, there’s literally nothing that distinguishes it as its own thing. No personality, no flair, no characters, no nothing. Just a flimsy plot that makes for an even flimsier story. As a result of drunk driving, four insufferable assholes who just graduated high school end up murdering a guy with their car. It’s also because of Ryan Phillippe‘s character’s general fuck boi attitude, who, by the way, delivers the only textured, credible performance of the entire bunch. Hewitt and Gellar are incredibly lackluster (surprising for Gellar) and Freddie Prinze, Jr. is simply awful. Anyway, after they kill the guy, they try to cover it up and just make a pact to forget about it. A year later, they begin receiving threatening notes claiming to know what they did last summer and people in the town including a Big Bang Theory cast member get murdered. I can’t stress enough how by the numbers the rest of the movie is. There’s no cool, elaborate kills, no interesting shot composition, no clever editing. It’s all just cut and dry, workman-like, it feels like watching corporate training. Most shocking however is how the film has a chance at the end to show the consequences of hit and run murdering someone, and they choose to let the characters get away with it. Both physically and morally. Their souls get wiped clean. They never have to admit they fucking hit and ran some guy. It’s actually morally repugnant. (Streaming on Paramount+)

35. Kull the Conquerer

1997 / USA / dir. John Nicolella / 95 minutes

cast: Kevin Sorbo, Tia Carrere, Thomas Ian Griffith, Litefoot, Harvey Fierstein

Man, Kevin Sorbo bored the shit out of me a kid. I remember when I was like 7 or 8, going over to my neighbor Jimmy’s house to play action figures and toy guns in his backyard. You know, like a couple of overly aggressive white males. I remember his family was always watching shit like Hercules and Xena: Warrior Princess and Merlin with Sam Neill, always low budget shitty sci-fi that was shot like a fucking Days of Our Lives episode. Sometimes, he’d want to watch with him so I’d have to put up with this stupid crap. Later on my dad took us both to see this movie in theaters when I we were about this age because it was PG-13 and Jimmy wanted to see it. It was a garbage pile of shit but both Jimmy and my dad really liked it. Years later, when I was in the early years of college I decided to give this bad boy another shot and I disliked it just as much. Kevin Sorbo bored the shit out of me. Even as an adult. ($3.99 rental on Amazon Prime)

34. The Stupids

1996 / USA / dir. John Landis / 94 minutes

cast: Tom Arnold, Jessica Lundy, Bug Hall, Alex McKenna, Christopher Lee, Mark Metcalf, Matt Keeslar, Frankie Faison, Robert Wise, Norman Jewison, Atom Egoyan, David Cronenberg, Costa-Gavras, Jenny McCarthy, Max Landis, Mick Garris

< click here

Many many years ago when I was 23, I was married to a widow who was pretty as could be

This widow had a grown-up daughter who had hair of red, my father fell in love with her and soon the two were wed

This made my dad my son-in-law and changed my very life, for my daughter was my mother, cause she was my father’s wife

To complicate the matter, even though it brought me joy, I soon became the father of a bouncing baby boy

My natal baby then became a brother-in-law to Dad, and so became my uncle though it made me very sad

For if he was my uncle then that also made him brother to the widow’s grown-up daughter, who of course was my stepmother

My father’s wife then had a son who kept them on the run, and he became my grandchild cause he was my daughter’s son

My wife is now my mother’s mother and it makes me blue, because although she is my wife, she’s my grandmother too

If my wife is my grandmother then I am her grandchild, and every time I think of it, it nearly drives me wild

This has got to be the strangest thing I ever saw, as husband of my grandmother, I am my own grandpa

I’m my own grandpa

I’m my own grandpa

It’s so funny, I know, but it really is so

I’m my own grandpa

($3.99 rental on Amazon Prime)

33. Airborne

1993 / USA / dir. Rob Bowman / 91 minutes

cast: Shane McDermott, Seth Green, Jack Black, Chris Conrad, Brittany Powell, Edie McClurg, Jacob Vargas

This movie makes absolutely no narrative sense. A California roller-blader, surfer beach douche, Mitchell (Shane McDermott) has to move to Cincinnati to be taken care of by his Aunt and Uncle, because his parents (both archeologists or some lame shit) have to move to Australia for work. The parents say Cincinnati will be a great learning experience for him and I’m watching at home like, “And Australia wouldn’t?!” Literally one of the best places for surfing, ever, and his asshole parents send him to Ohio instead. Once in Ohio he meets his cousin played by Seth Green, dressed like Doug’s sister, Judith, on the Nickelodeon show Doug. Long red hair, small round black glasses, black beret, leather jacket…he almost looks like a poodle in a shitty commercial for canine cologne. Seth Green‘s costume is among the most outrageous events of the film, which is saying a lot because it’s completely bananas the entire runtime. Anyway, at the new school Mitchell meets Jack Black (only legitimate funny part of this whole movie), a hot girl (Brittany Powell) and her overbearing brother (Chris Conrad – who looks like a 40 year old high school senior) that wants her to himself. He must fight for the right to date the sister in a no holds barred, extremely dangerous team roller blading challenge all throughout the town. I’m not kidding, this is the most dangerous and nerve-wracking roller-blading I’ve ever seen in a film, a movie where cops seemingly just don’t exist and townspeople never mention the rowdy gang of teenagers smashing through their shit on roller blades. This feels like a movie made by a martian that spent a week on Earth in Ohio and became obsessed with roller blading and California-isms. I’d recommend it for an ironic watch but it honestly might be too shitty. ($2.99 rental on YouTube)

32. An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn

1997 / USA / dir. Alan Smithee / 86 minutes

cast: Eric Idle, Ryan O’Neal, Sylvester Stallone, Whoopi Goldberg, Jackie Chan, Coolio, Chuck D, Richard Jeni, Sandra Bernhard, Harvey Weinstein, Stephen Tobolowsky, Robert Evans, Shane Black, Joe Eszterhas, Larry King, Billy Bob Thornton

Out of all the films here, this is the most painful to actually sit and watch. A remarkably stupid mockumentary satire on the whacky Hollywood elite by Showgirls and Basic Instinct writer Joe Eszterhas. Eric Idle plays a director actually named Alan Smithee which is supposed to be funny because Alan Smithee is the fake name the DGA allows directors to use if they are unhappy with their movie and don’t want to be credited. The movie is an buddy cop action movie starring Stallone, Whoopi and Jackie Chan, all have small but eye-rollingly dumb parts. Since the real Smithee can’t remove his name from the film since the fake name the DGA uses is his actual name, he kidnaps the film and everyone in Tinseltown goes crazy! Harvey Weinstein has a major part as a private investigator and it’s hard to imagine anyone more unnatural on camera, while Ryan O’Neal basically plays the real life version of Weinstein who “accidentally” sexually harasses, assaults or just acts creepy around every woman in the movie. What a goofball, this guy! Richard Jeni plays O’Neal‘s producing partner in an even more incompetent performance. Speaking of creeps, Robert Evans has a really unfunny cameo as himself, but at least he’s better than Coolio and Chuck D as Hughes Brothers stand-ins, The Brothers Brothers. Two up and coming, black sibling filmmakers whose last name is actually “Brothers.” Nothing about this is funny and there’s an unmistakable wave of misogyny running throughout this whole picture. Every female character, safe for Whoopi, is a gigantic bitch and “hilariously” labeled a “feminist”. “She must be some kind of uptight feminist bitch if she doesn’t let me fuck her” is a sentiment that unironically courses through this DOA turd. ($3.99 rental on Amazon Prime)

31. Double Team

1997 / USA / dir. Tsui Hark / 93 minutes

cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dennis Rodman, Paul Freeman, Mickey Rourke, Natcha Lindinger, Valeria Cavalli

WOW. Paging someone even more ridiculous than the muscles from Brussels, it’s the muthafuckin’ Worm! Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dennis Rodman are counter-terrorist agents in Croatia who must go undercover in jorts and parachute pants to stop Mickey Rourke from being bad. Van Damme is terrible in this but it can’t be overstated how glaringly awful Rodman is. Talk about someone with absolutely zero on-screen charisma, he looks like he’s just trying to get through to the next take the entire film. This movie is all over the place, with scenes randomly and sloppily thrown together. We never know who the fuck Van Damme and Rodman’s characters are and what they mean to each other because there’s absolutely zero character development. This is passion-less filmmaking. ($3.99 rental on Amazon)

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