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10 Great Movies Made by Bad Directors

16 June 2016 | Features, Film Lists | by Fredrick Ochami

great movies by bad directors

What does it take to make a good film? For the directors on this list, a lot. Most of their films tend to tank, whether it’s financially or critically or both. They’ve all made some of the worst excuses for movies of all time (like Batman and Robin).

However, for all their flaws, they have still made one or more films that don’t suck (unlike directors like Uwe Boll, who only ever seem to make nausea-inducing movies). Some of these directors, in fact, have even made some great cult hits. So here are their best films, from the okay to the excellent.


10. Sixty Six – Paul Weiland

Sixty Six

In Sixty Six, a London boy’s bar mitzvah seems geared for disaster when it coincides with the final of the 1966 World Cup and his family increase their focus on their diminishing business. The film is funny, charming and even a little sad. What helps it to work is that it’s loosely based on Weiland’s own experiences. Sadly, this is his only good film.

Weiland is responsible for some of the most reprehensible films of all time, like Made of Honor, City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold (which essentially dashed Slicker’s chances of turning into a trilogy or more) and Leonard Part 6 (a despicable comedy that even made the star, Bill Cosby, warn people against spending their hard-earned money on it).


9. Cocaine Cowboys – Ulli Lommel

Ulli Lommel

The director has a lengthy career, from acting in ‘60s indie films and being part of Andy Warhol’s ‘The Factory’. However, his career as a director is filled with a few okay films and a lot of bad ones, most of them chaotic horror movies that feel fan-made.

His worst films include Zombie Nation (a film that, despite the ‘Nation’ in the title, only has about five zombies), Curse of the Zodiac (shaky camera simulator), Daniel – Der Zauberer (an experimental film so awful that the musician it’s based on, Daniel Küblböck, called it the worst movie of all time).

Lommel’s saving grace in his less-than-stellar career is Cocaine Cowboys, a documentary about Colombian drug lords in Miami during the early ‘80s and the resulting Miami drug war. The documentary uses interviews with most of the people involved, from drug smugglers to law enforcement, and tells a gritty tale of how Miami turned into a hotbed of violence in this period.


8. Die Hard 2 – Renny Harlin

die hard 2

Renny Harlin’s filmography is littered with fantastically bad films. There’s Driven (one of the worst car films of all time), Exorcist: The Beginning (based on characters by William Peter Blatty, who was humiliated after watching it), The Legend of Hercules (among the worst film adaptations of the mythical hero) and Cutthroat Island.

This last was a special kind of failure, as critics disliked it and audiences loathed it; it only made $10 million from its $98 million budget, giving it the Guinness World Record for the biggest box-office flop of all time. It also contributed to the tanking of its production company, Carolco, and ruined the careers of the two leads, Geena Davis and Matthew Modine.

But Harlin has made a few films that aren’t all bad. There’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Cliffhanger, The Long Kiss Goodnight and Die Hard 2: Die Harder. Of these, Die Hard 2 is arguably the best, though not by much. As most sequels to acclaimed films come, this is bigger, has more action and is more over-the-top than the original. But despite its excesses and plot holes, the film is still entertaining and Bruce Willis gave a great performance.


7. Red Dragon – Brett Ratner

Red Dragon (2002)

Brett Ratner is a divisive director. To some, he made Rush Hour (not counting the muddled sequel and the appalling third film). To others, he’s the guy who ruined Bryan Singer’s fantastic X-Men films with a messy and underwhelming third entry. He’s also taken part in the critically panned anthology films New York, I Love You and Movie 43 (probably the worst anthology film of all time).

Ratner’s saving grace is Red Dragon. When it comes to adaptations of Thomas Harris’s cannibal serial killer novels, nothing comes close to The Silence of the Lambs. And Ratner’s film isn’t even the best adaptation of the source novel; that honor goes to Michael Mann’s superb Manhunter. That said, Red Dragon is still a fine movie. The pacing is okay, the direction is good and Anthony Hopkins gives another stellar performance as Hannibal Lecter.


6. The Man from Snowy River – George T. Miller

The Man from Snowy River

Not to be confused with the Mad Max creator, George T. Miller is a director who started out okay, then descended into mediocrity and critical obscurity.

His first full-length film, The Man from Snowy River, is also his best. In the award-winning family film, Jim Craig goes to work at the Harrison cattle ranch before he can inherit his father’s station. What follows is a heartwarming coming-of-age tale with beautiful scenery and a great score.

After this movie, Miller went on to make some of the worst creations in the history of cinema. There’s The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter, Frozen Assets (which Roger Ebert claimed was so bad that just calling it the worst movie of the year would be a kindness), Les Patterson Saves the World (one of the worst Australian movies) and more.



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  • Ilija Malović

    Bad Lieutenant – Abel Ferrara

    • What about King of New York?

      • Jeroen Ledderhof

        Ms. 45 is also very good. Body Snatchers is underrated.

        • Agreed. I don’t think he’s a bad director at all.

    • Iván Solorio (SanS)

      Ferrara may have some bad films but most are truly underrated films and have more substance than people give him credit for.

  • Trex

    Embarrassing a copywriter can have so many typos. Fix The Sixth Sense write-up

  • Pedro Bento

    Joel Schumacher has a couple of good films.

    • Adrian

      Agree. I think both Phonebooth (yes, Colin Farrel manages not to ruin it) and Falling Down are pretty good movies.

      • Adam Michael Szymura

        Tigerland was also a good film.

        • Adrian


  • Event Horizon by Paul W.S. Anderson.

    • SJHoneywell

      That was exactly the movie I was going to suggest. Then again, I love P.W.S. Anderson’s Soldier a lot more than I should.

      • sailor monsoon

        Soldier isn’t great but it’s solid fun

      • I actually like that film as well.

    • CaseX

      Right?!? Watching it now, it almost feels like it was ghost directed by someone else.

      • That is a very underrated film although I did kinda like his take on The Three Musketeers as it was so ridiculous but kinda fun.

    • Iván Solorio (SanS)

      One of my favorite horror films.

  • Jacob Lyon Goddard

    The Village and The Happening where both better than Signs.

    • jason malinoski

      The trees and water agree with you.

  • Jose F Rios

    Sin City by the worst director ever: Robert Rodríguez.

    • sailor monsoon

      From dusk till dawn is aces so kick rocks!

      • Jose F Rios

        Still the worst director ever.

    • CaraLegal

      Why all that hate? Para de ser mongol.

  • Ozhan

    Uwe Boll’s The Rampage!

    btw you can’t say a director is bad, who has movies like unbreakable, the signs, the sixth sense, the village and the visit.

    • Stephen Thompson

      I think you can say a director is bad after watching the Village, The Visit, The Last Airbender, The Lady in the Water, The Happening, and After Earth.

  • Daniel J

    I wouldn’t say M Night Shyamalan is a bad director. He’s a bad writer. Unbreakable, Signs, and Sixth Sense are three very good and well directed movies

    • sailor monsoon

      M. Night shyamalan is the only director to get two great performances out of Bruce Willis.
      That alone is an accomplishment

      • D Train

        Tarantino got a good performance from Willis in Pulp Fiction, too. But that’s it.

        • Vincenzo Politi

          Bruce Willis gave great performances in 12 monkeys, Moonrise Kingdom, Sin City, Pulp Fiction, Looper, and many others. Stop bashing him!

          • jason malinoski

            I’m a fan, but he’s a mediocre actor. He usually just plays himself in every movie.

          • D Train

            He gave shitty performances in Bonfire of the Vanities, The Last Boyscout, Sin City (he was campy as fuck in that piece of shit “film”), the fucking GI Joe movie, Cop Out, Red, Planet Terror, Bandits, The Kid, Mercury Rising, Armageddon, Four Rooms, The Fifth Element, North, fucking Hudson Hawk, and dozens more, so stop defending him. He sucks.

          • Vincenzo Politi

            How about you stop trashing him? I liked his performances in Bonfire of Vanities, Sin City and The Fifth Element. I also liked him in Death Becomes Her, plus all the other movies mentioned in my previous comment. And he was amazing in the TV show Friends, where he played Rachel’s boyfriend who also happened to be the father of Ross’ girlfriends, LOL! Bruce Willis starred in some very bad movies too, but this does not mean he is a bad actor. Plus, he is also a singer who has recorded 3 albums and has been on tour a few times. And he is a stud. Perhaps you are just a bit jealous?

    • Dario Lima

      I agree. I think Shyamalan is a very talented director but a mediocre screenwriter. I wish he would stop writing his films and start working with better writers.

  • Alexander

    ‘Donnie Darko’ by Richard Kelly

  • Douglas Couto

    Shyamalan visionary

  • Jules F. Melo Borges

    Joel Schumacher is not Really bad, just very irregular.
    Not the same for Brett Ratner. Red Dragon is well adorned garbage. Just compare it with the infinitely superior Manhunter.

    • Red Rackham

      Manhunter is a snooze fest

      • sailor monsoon

        Said no one

        • Red Rackham

          Michael Mann’s films are a cure for insomnia. Collateral was okay though.

          • sailor monsoon

            Have you seen thief?

          • Red Rackham

            It’s on the list.

    • Vincenzo Politi

      I totally agree with you. Manhunter is far superior than that silliness entitled Red Dragon.

  • Wyatt W.B

    Good Will Hunting by Gus Van Sant.

    • Claudia Arango

      Then you obviously don’t know his filmography at all, he may have made some shitty films (I hate Last Days fo instance) but My Own Private Idaho, To Die For, Mlik, Drugstore Cowboy, Elephant are easily great films in so many levels, especially directing. And I personally like Paranoid Park though I understand if someone don´t like that one. But Gus Van Sant definitely doesn’t belong here.

  • Mortimer

    Terminator (1984) by James Cameron

    • Erik Stone

      Terminator 2? Aliens? Avatar is pretty cliche, but it’s very well directed.

  • sailor monsoon

    American graffiti.
    Shots fired

  • Saul

    A lot of these are super questionable. I guess that goes with the territory when creating listacles like this. Die Hard 2 is worse than the first movie and the third movie. if not for the last 2 tacked on movies it would be the worst Die Hard movie. M. Night made at least 3 good movies but had a losing streak. and I agree that his flaw isn’t the directing but the writing.

  • Adrian

    Agree with Sixth Sense, but a visit to the dentist – including a root canal fill, is more fun than Signs.

  • Stephus

    I don’t think shymalan is a bad director, however he stopped being honest with the stories he made and became a cliche of his own style.

  • Jason Siegel

    One of the reasons that Red Dragon was halfway-decent was that its screenplay was done by Ted Tally, who also wrote Silence Of The Lambs. All Brett Ratner had to do was paint-by-numbers………

  • Nicol’s Mun’z

    True Romance by Tony Scott, the alpha and omega of this whole issue

  • Marjan

    The Sixth Sense…, and Unbreakable…, and Signs…, and than come Village (wich is not so bad)… And he put Night Shyamalan on first place? Because his last movies? Then Alfred Hitchkok is a not genious director?

    • Mauri Franksson

      For me The Village is better than both Unbreakable and Signs. It is a
      great metaphore of post 9/11 America. And the inclusion of Shyamalan in this
      list is really bad clickbaiting on the author’s part.

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    I’ve not seen Cocaine Cowboys, but Lommel’s Tenderness of Wolves is a very fine serial killer chiller period piece. Also Falling Down is much, much better than The Lost Boys.

  • Aleksandar Šurbatović

    Joel Schumacher and Shyamalan bad directors?! Nope. It is about about your bad movie upbringing, dear. And bad taste ,too.

  • Rikum D4

    Dawn of the Dead and 300 (not so great) by Zack Snyder

  • Someone

    So Shyamalan is a bad director…Well…ok…

  • Daniele Concina

    The Rock is a great movie? That’s news to me…

  • Ted Wolf

    Dick Powell didn’t have director chops but he certainly was forward thinking. He was one of the first a list stars to embrace television going so far as to produce. He also was a big radio star.