If you’ve never heard of the Golden Raspberry Awards, commonly known as the Razzies, film culture has done you a disservice. Every year since the early 1980s, Razzies have been given out to celebrate not the best that film has to offer, like the Golden Globes or the Oscars; instead, they commemorate the “best” Worsts of the year.
With categories ranging from the Worst Picture to Worst Actor/Actress/Director, Worst Prequel/Remake/Rip-off/Sequel, and Worst Original Song, the Razzies keep things light and creative while bashing the generic, the half-hearted, and the ludicrous elements of the past year’s cinematic experimentations.
The Razzies team of judges even forms new categories every year or so to revel in the most studiously terrible facets of nominated films, and two such categories, to give you an example, are “Most Flatulent Teen-Targeted Movie” (given in 2002 to “Jackass: The Movie”) and “Worst Excuse for Family Entertainment” (awarded to “RV” in 2006).
Sure, some of the films that “win” Razzies are obvious flops, such as “Catwoman” with Halle Berry from 2004 or “Leonard Part 6” with Bill Crosby from 1987 (a film which Crosby himself disowned upon its release and which is furthermore crowned one of the worst films of all time). However, the Razzies also lay hefty judgment on films other critics and awards circuits highly praise. Regardless of whether the films below did well or truly failed, they all won the Razzie for Worst Picture for their respective years.
This list details the ten most well-known films to have won the Razzie for Worst Picture, and their notoriety, in part, comes from their appearance and “success” at the Razzies. In celebrating the best of the worst, the Razzies bring some comedic zing to Spring, and hopefully we’ll all be tuning in next March to see what films from 2018 make the cut.
10. Under the Cherry Moon
In 1986, Prince decided it was time for his film debut, so he worked with writer Becky Johnston to create “Under the Cherry Moon,” a black and white film about two gigolo brothers, Tracy and Tricky, who seduce rich women in France. Prince not only starred in this film, but he also directed it, and that should give you an idea of what to expect with “Under the Cherry Moon.”
This film is so full of itself and saucy that it’s relatively easy to see why it won this Razzie. Aside from the avid Prince fan, very few audience members likely had a real in-route to enjoy the film when it was released.
Critics didn’t take to the film all that well, giving it average scores around 30%, and the viewers who saw it rate it poorly, overall. As audiences vote with their dollars, most who saw “Under the Cherry Moon” boo’d it out of the water by watching it in theatres only once, for it only grossed just over $10M domestic, which is equivalent to its original budget.
Fortunately for Prince, the soundtrack of the film did better than the story or cinematography, and fortunately for Prince’s love interest in the story, Kristin Scott Thomas, a successful film career got its start.
Despite his passion, though, Prince’s film was torn apart by the Razzies, where it was awarded Worst Picture, Worst Actor and Director, Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Original Song. Jeez. Well, no matter what the Razzies say, put this film on your watch list for some classic 80s style and epic Prince jams. Enjoy it for all its cheesiness.
9. Can’t Stop the Music
Along the same lines as “Under the Cherry Moon,” “Can’t Stop the Music” formulates its plot around its soundtrack, and it celebrates the work of one band in particular: The Village People. With scenes full of beautiful young men and musical segments at gyms, pools, and more, “Can’t Stop the Music” is a queer reimagining of city-based brotherhood that’s dripping with sex and music.
“Can’t Stop the Music” relishes in disco culture while attempting to retell (loosely) the story of The Village People. Although the film attempts a plot that revolves around roommates Samantha (Valerie Perrine) and Jack (Steve Guttenberg) as they figure out how to get Jack’s music out there and sign him to a record label, there really is no story. The film is more structured around sexual encounters, pseudo-gay eroticism, and displaying The Village People’s songs than it is around that so-called plotline.
Ultimately, critics in 1980 hated this film, and they rarely rate it over 10% in reviews. In terms of the box office, it was termed a “colossal failure,” too, for only regaining around 1/10 of its original budget through ticket sales. “Can’t Stop the Music” is actually the first film to be officially awarded a Razzie, after years of private parties held in Hollywood by John J.B. Wilson established the trend of celebrating the worst in film. Therefore, it holds notoriety as the official First of the Worst in film.
Today, audiences can reclaim “Can’t Stop the Music” for its glorious shortcomings because it’s honestly so bad it’s hilarious. It also provides a peep at Caitlyn Jenner’s past life (as Bruce) from her film debut after becoming a famous athlete in the 1970s. LGBTQ audiences also reclaim “Can’t Stop the Music” as somewhat of a campy cult classic. After you experience all its innuendos, pelvic thrusts, and shower scenes, you’ll understand.
8. Wild Wild West
In this film remake of the 1960s television show “The Wild Wild West,” a fair amount remains true to the original. Smoldering cowboys with steampunk tools fight against the brutal villain Loveless, while gorgeous women fall at the protagonists’ feet. A train is the heroes’ main mode of transportation, and the American Western Frontier is their setting. The only problem is that “The Wild Wild West” should probably not have been remade as a film whatsoever.
Kevin Kline and Will Smith co-star in this 1999 film about the Reconstruction Era United States. The film’s goals, plot-wise, seem worthwhile and authentic. It focuses on two men, one white and one black, who go after a Southern war general who had been committing the mass murder of freed slaves and their allies despite the end of the Civil War. Unfortunately, the way this story gets expressed erases any of its value.
Will Smith himself has said that working on “Wild Wild West” was a time when he sacrificed artistry for fame. He admits that he jumped onboard with this film because he wanted to be a star, not because he wanted to tell an interesting or valuable story, and it’s true that “Wild Wild West” leaves a lot to be desired. In a story about backlash against racial hate crimes, it’s pretty stereotypical and exploitative of its actors and actresses of color. It even overtly relies on hip hop and R&B for its soundtrack.
“Wild Wild West” works off petty, basic humor, and audiences and critics of the time judged the film poorly for the same reasons. At the Razzies, this film actually won five out of the seven awards for which it was nominated, including Worst Screen Couple (Will Smith and Kevin Kline) and Worst Original Song, along with Worst Picture.
7. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
As arguably the worst Star Trek film of the entire franchise, “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” did fairly well in opening box office performance in 1989. The problem is that interest died off quickly, leaving the franchise in a bad spot and stuck with hopes for the next installment, which did relatively better at the box office but still couldn’t pull the franchise out of the mud. Ultimately, that sixth installment became the final Star Trek film to include the original cast.
What makes the fifth Star Trek installment, “The Final Frontier,” so uniquely bad in contrast with the rest of the franchise appears to be the fact that the Writers Guild of America went on strike in 1988 when the film was being produced. That, on top of the fact that William Shatner himself (the starring actor who plays Captain Jim Cook) was allowed to direct and write a majority of the film.
With the strike in place, revisions on Shatner’s script were delayed and then defensively reworked, and the other actors who Shatner wanted on his team were almost constantly distracted by other work.
In the end, the film was deemed lackluster or at least average by most reviewers and critics, and its box office performance reminds us that viewer appreciation didn’t have much endurance either. The opening for “The Final Frontier” seemed promising, but sustained viewings just weren’t in the cards for Shatner’s project.
Whether it was the film’s release during a different time of year than other Star Trek film predecessors (summer versus the trend of a Thanksgiving release), the writers strike, Shatner’s directing, or the film’s pedantic search for God, “The Final Frontier” bombed and won the Razzie for Worst Picture. Although, if you’re a fan of the Star Trek franchise, don’t give up on the fifth one because of this reputation! Give it a chance and decide for yourself.
Paul Verhoeven’s 1995 sex bomb “Showgirls” is a record holder at the Razzies. The year it was released, it was nominated for thirteen Golden Raspberry Awards, and that record number of nominations still stands. When it came down to the votes, though, “Showgirls” won seven Razzies, which was a record at the time, only to be defeated in 2008 by “I Know Who Killed Me” (eight “wins”), then “Jack and Jill” in 2012 (ten “wins”).
Critics universally despise “Showgirls” for its overt yet graphic problematic sexuality. The plot revolves around a young woman who rises in the ranks of sex work from stripper to showgirl in Las Vegas. The scenes get worse and worse as the film goes on, leading the viewer to wonder how something like this was ever okayed by a studio to produce.
Basically-nude breasts and slim female bodies abound, but the actual substance of the plot is truly misogynistic. Many famous actresses who were considered for the female leads turned their respective roles down for multiple reasons, but the most common was their being disgusted by the pure misogyny of the story and characters.
Ultimately, Elizabeth Berkley (known from the televisions series “Saved By the Bell”) and Gina Gershon won the starring roles of this horrendous excuse for a film. Given how many people hate this film, there are some who love to hate it or love/hate it, and the idiom “Showgirls-bad” appears in the film industry these days to describe a film like “Showgirls” that are absolute guilty pleasures, if enjoyed at all.