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 between 1990 and 1999, Hollywood made quite possibly more garbage than any other decade.
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 did.
Over the course of this series, I will be releasing ten entries at a time over a five week period. Welcome to the TOP 10 WORST FILMS the 1990s had to offer….
10. The Boondock Saints
1999 / USA / dir. Troy Duffy / 108 minutes
cast: Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus, Willem Dafoe, David Della Rocco, Billy Connolly, David Ferry, Brian Mahoney, Ron Jeremy
Essentially Pulp Fiction for simpletons and college bros, The Boondock Saints is an overly stylized and cheaply made crime thriller about two proud boy Irish brothers, taking it upon themselves to violently punish criminals in their neighborhood. The only thing uglier than the characters’ never ironic self righteousness or the film’s repugnant Draconian social message, is the writer/director himself, Troy Duffy. The subject of a cringeworthy but definitely worthwhile early 2000s documentary, Overnight, about the production hell of The Boondock Saints, Troy Duffy is a certified piece of garbage. He’s incredibly selfish, has severe delusions of grandeur and is downright cruel to his friends. Harvey Weinstein apparently found Duffy at a bar in the mid to late 90s, read his script for Boondock Saints and decided to give him a bunch of money to make the movie, buy the bar so he’d own it and give his shitty garage band a record deal to produce a soundtrack to the movie. It all went to his head but it’s clear he was an insufferable asshole even before Weinstein waltzed into his life. The only nice thing I can say about this is that Billy Connolly and Willem Dafoe get to do some typical high quality character work, which is almost immediately obscured by the fact Dafoe plays one of the most offensively and also, inaccurately crafted self-loathing LGBTQIA characters in film history.
NOTE – Back to the deplorable Draconian social message vigilante stuff, normally I would think it unfair to slap any revenge movie with that accusation. However, in the documentary, Duffy gets into an argument with his mother and goes off on a wild tirade about the death penalty that more than hints at a desire to personally punish people with violence. Anyway, the more you know. (Streaming on Amazon Prime)
1997 / USA / dir. Kenneth Johnson / 97 minutes
cast: Shaquille O’Neal, Judd Nelson, Annabeth Gish, Richard Roundtree, Irma P. Hall, Johanna Ray, Charles Napier, John Hawkes
“Well, roll me in shit and dip me in bread crumbs!” Richard Roundtree says upon seeing Shaquille O’Neal, clad in 800 pounds of junkyard metal, firing hammer guns at people. In what is without question the most unnatural and wooden leading performance on this list (even worse than Dennis Rodman), Shaq plays a former army scientist/weapons designer for the U.S. military who resigns in disgust when Judd Nelson‘s misuse of his weapons leads to Annabeth Gish getting paralyzed. Shaq goes to live with his mother who is trying to open up a French and Soul Food fusion restaurant called “Black and Bleu”, where she’ll serve, I shit you not, hominy souffles. When word on the street spreads that Shaq‘s weapons are being used to commit a string of bank robberies, he knows he has to stop that twisted son of a bitch Judd Nelson. With the help of Richard Roundtree and Annabeth Gish, he becomes a low budget Iron Man and kick ass.
MVP Scene: I forget the specific particulars of why he has to do this, but the Shaq saves the day at the end by making a free throw. I promise you I’m not lying. ($2.99 rental on Amazon)
8. Jack Frost
1997 / USA / dir. Michael Cooney / 89 minutes
cast: Shannon Elizabeth, Scott MacDonald, Christopher Allport, Stephen Mendel, F. William Parker, Brian Leckner, Kelly Jean Peters, Rob LaBelle, Eilen Seeley, Zack Eginton
I guess the entire joke of this movie is that everything is so low budget and half-assed, nothing makes sense? Hilarious, Mr. Cooney. What isn’t really hilarious and completely left a bad taste in my mouth is the shower rape scene involving a carrot cock and a naked Shannon Elizabeth. It’s hard to tell what’s going on at first. The visual effects on the snowman killer are so lackluster, you think he’s just bear hugging her to death. But then she dies, and you notice the carrot is missing from Jack’s nose. “Was it as good for you as it was for me, baby?” Jack says with laugh. He plops the carrot back in his face and quips “Oh, I must remember to send flowers.” The rest of the film is less offensive but also less memorable. (Streaming on Amazon Prime)
7. Curse of the Puppet Master
1998 / USA / dir. David Decoteau / 78 minutes
cast: George Peck, Emily Harrison, Josh Green, Michael Guerin, Michael Sollenberger, Marc Newburger, Scott Boyer, Jason Dean Booher, Robert Donavan, Jason-Shane Scott
Maybe the biggest horror franchise of all time in terms of having the most installments (14 and counting!), but hardly the most imaginative. It’s only been a year since I tried to watch these all and I barely remember any of them. I remember 2 was slightly better than 1, 3 and 4 were bad but somewhat entertaining, 5 was a complete joyless mess and this one, 6, was so bad, it prompted me to stop watching the series all together. I guess I’ll never now if Retro Puppet Master (the seventh installment) was somehow worse, and you know what? I’m fine with that. These movies exist only because video stores in the 90s existed at a time when YouTube did not. The most interesting aspect of any one of these is the cover art and a stupid teenager with their mother’s Blockbuster card and R-Rated access isn’t going to give a shit. Anyway, all I remember about this one was a guy falling down and being really bored while I watched it.
FUN FACT:The Prince of the softest core gay porn, masquerading as psychological horror, David Decoteau, made a movie after this even worse – Final Stab, a wildly incoherent Scream rip-off that reaches a Neal Breen level of incompetence. (Free on TUBI)
6. Street Fighter
1994 / USA / dir. Steven de Souza / 102 minutes
cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Raul Julia, Ming-Na Wen, Damian Chapa, Kylie Minogue, Wes Studi, Byron Mann, Simon Callow, Roshan Seth, Andrew Bryniarski, Grand L. Bush, Robert Mammone, Miguel A. Nunez, Jr., Gregg Rainwater, Jay Tavare
“The day General Bison raided your village was the most important day of your life. To me, it was Tuesday.” gloats a very sick but still good Raul Julia as General Bison, the twisted colonialist villain of Street Fighter. It’s one of only two good lines in a movie overflowing with terrible dialogue. The other is “Quick! Change the channel!” which is advice anyone should heed if they catch this on USA network. The problem with Street Fighter, other than one lead so high on cocaine he’s barely present (Jean-Claude Van Damme) while the other lead is literally dying of cancer (Raul Julia), is it completely abandons the established reality of the video game. Characters are repurposed into other roles and alliances, retaining only their costume design from the game. The plot of this is basically that Jean-Claude Van Damme is a United Nations super hero or something and war criminal General Bison has kidnapped a bunch of fat tourists and will kill them if the U.N. doesn’t let him succeed from the U.S. There’s also Ken and Ryu, who are the leads of the video game but relegated to supporting heroes here, who go undercover in a prison to bust crime kingpin and Bison ally, Sagat (played bythe always wonderful Wes Studi), and then a news reporter, Chun-Li, whose village was destroyed by Bison and some big Hawaiian guy, E. Honda (Japanese in the game) who doesn’t feel pain. It all leads up to a hilariously rousing speech made by Van Damme about the war on Bison being cancelled. ($3.99 rental on Amazon Prime)
5. Highlander II: The Quickening
1991 / Argentina / France / UK / dir. Russel Mulcahy / 100 minutes
cast: Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Virginia Madsen, Michael Ironside, John C. McGinley, Phillip Brock, Rusty Schwimmer, Ed Trucco, Steven Grives, Jimmy Murray
If memory serves me correct, 96% of this movie is Sean Connery sitting on an airplane eating a shitty chicken entree and talking about his suit. Which makes no sense because he definitively died in the first one and they never explain why he’s back. Inexplicably cast as the Spaniard even though he’s the only Scottish person in the entire cast, in a movie about a Scottish hero (played by the French-accented Christopher Lambert) Like so many “films” on this list, it makes absolutely no sense. I did enjoy the Hamlet theater scene where Sean Connery transports into a theater production of Hamlet and plays pranks on the actors. (Streaming on Amazon Prime)
4. Jason Goes to Hell
1993 / USA / dir. Adam Marcus / 87 minutes
cast: Kane Hodder, John D. Lemay, Kari Keegan, Steven Williams, Richard Gant, Steven Culp, Erin Gray, Rusty Schwimmer, Leslie Jordan, Billy Green Bush, Julie Michaels, James Gleason
In a horror franchise that was never great and plunged to some of the darkest depths of useless and intellectually offensive horror, this is the absolute worst entry. A Friday the 13th movie so miscalculated in regards to what it thinks audiences want from these movies, that anything resembling Jason or a hockey mask gets exploded in the first five minutes. After J.V. gets blown to bits, the spirit of the legendary killer hops into the mortician who proceeds to eat his heart and murder a bunch of guards on his way out the door. He then ties a guy to a table and spreads shaving cream on his face while making out with him and the spirit transfers to him. And so on, and so on. John D. Lemay (the lead actor from the Friday the 13th television series) plays a new character here and he’s far and away the most hateable protagonist in this series, maybe in all of 90s horror. He’s an obnoxious creep and every time he opens his mouth you want to punch it. The character, not the actor, though Lemay‘s performance probably didn’t help. This one is also the most gratuitously violent by a country mile, there’s a scene where two people having sex get ripped in half by a street sign and you see every part of their body separating. Bring the kids! (Streaming on HBOMAX)
3. The Island of Dr. Moreau
1996 / USA / dir. John Frankenheimer, Richard Stanley / 96 minutes
cast: Marlon Brando, Val Kilmer, David Thewlis, Fairuza Balk, Marco Hofschneider, Temuera Morrison, Daniel Rigney, Nelson de la Rosa, Peter Elliot, Mark Dacascos, Ron Perelman
Doomed from the beginning, The Island of Dr. Moreau is maybe the most disastrous and bizarre film production in Hollywood history. Subject to numerous cast drop outs including Bruce Willis and Rob Delaney, Moreau eventually found it’s lead with a post-Batman Val Kilmer, who due to getting served divorce papers on set, decided to take a much smaller role. Eventually, they brought in the great David Thewlis for Val‘s original role and secured Fairuza Balk as the female lead and the dependably undependable Marlon Brando as some strange version of Dr. Moreau. Original director and neurotic Richard Stanley had a mental breakdown on set, got fired and then snuck onto the set disguised as an extra. After Stanley they brought in legendary old school director John Frankenheimer who couldn’t give less of a shit about the material. The result is a troubling movie, clear a few people on set cared but also clear most people were just trying to get it in the can. For god sakes, Marlon Brando was pitching producers on his character taking off a hat and revealing he had been a dolphin the whole time. ($1.99 rental on Amazon Prime)
2. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation
1997 / USA / dir. John R. Leonetti / 95 minutes
cast: Robin Shou, Talisa Soto, James Remar, Sandra Hess, Lynn ‘Red’ Williams, Brian Thompson, Reiner Schone, Musetta Vander, Irina Pantaeva, Deron McBee, Litefoot
This is what not giving a shit looks like. It’s so obvious nobody cared about this stupid sequel from any aspect not involving box office receipts. It makes SyFy original sharkodile or croctopus movies look like Steven Spielberg‘s Jaws. The fight choreography is all terribly photographed, the acting is either loud and insane (Shao Kahn, Sindel) or muted to the point of barely existing (Kitana, lol Cyrex). James Remar is an acting improvement over Christopher Lambert as Raiden though. (Streaming on HBOMAX)
1. Simon Sez
1999 / Belgium / Germany / USA / dir. Kevin Elders / 95 minutes
cast: Dennis Rodman, Dane Cook, Natalia Cigliuti, Emma Wiklund, John Pinette, Marie Dame, Ricky Harris, Filip Nikolic, Jerome Pradon, Xiong Xin-Xin
And here it is, the most shocking terrible movies of the 90s. Boring, obnoxious and for some reason set in Eastern Europe, the terribly uncharismatic Dennis Rodman plays a secret agent man. His partner is Dane Cook who is positioned as the comic relief in maybe the most painful to watch performance of the decade. His t-rex impersonation haunts my dreams twenty years after the fact. A fat monk played by the guy who got beat up for being fat on the Seinfeld finale, helps them infiltrate a bootleg cd ring or something stupid and Dennis Rodman falls in love with a female agent. It’s been seven years since I’ve seen this movie and I outright REFUSED to re-watch it for this article. I can’t in good conscience recommend it, even for an ironic watch. I’m warning you readers, stay away. Stay far away. You may think you want to know, but you don’t, and afterwards you won’t look at your reflection in the mirror the same way again. ($3.99 rental on Amazon Prime)