As fun as it is to talk about movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Gattaca, movie lovers can’t ignore the fact Hollywood loves release sci-fi flicks that are borderline unwatchable. For every Blade Runner, there are five movies on par with something like Battle Los Angeles. The good news is that the excellent sci-fi movies make the bad sci-fi movies worth it. After all, it’s pretty easy to avoid the bad ones.
A simple Google search will show that maybe AVP: Requiem isn’t worth the watch. If, for some reason, someone finds themselves tempted to watch the ten movies listed below, the author of this list has made it perfectly clear as to why that’s not such a bright idea. These ten movies are the worst mainstream sci-fi movies available to the general public.
There are a few things to note about this list. For one, there are countless straight-to-video sci-fi movies that are inexcusably bad. These movies will not be included on this list. This list solely focuses on movies that got some form of theatrical release.
Otherwise, the top 10 would consist of basically every movie produced by The Asylum. It’s pretty easy to figure out that Atlantic Rim isn’t worth a watch, so let’s focus on bigger movies instead. Second, this list could be comprised of over fifty movies.
From After Earth to The Adventures of Pluto Nash, bad sci-fi movies get released yearly. If a notably bad movie didn’t make the list, don’t fret. It was probably in the running. Finally, it took a lot to decide whether or not so-bad-it’s-good movies should be eligible. Due to the fact that they are genuinely bad movies, some cult classic disasters have been included. This list is a combination of subjective and objective quality.
With that in mind, some of them are worth a watch simply because they’re so bad they beg to be seen. For the most part though, people who skip out on these movies are making the right decision. They’re on this list because they’re horrible pieces of filmmaking. The fact that these ten movies “beat out” Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a testament to their (lack of) quality.
The only good thing about Skyline is that it brought us a surprisingly fun straight-to-video sequel that embraced B-movie charms. Beyond Skyline may have been nonsense from beginning to end, but it knew it was nonsense. Its predecessor, while definitely cheesy, isn’t half as fun. Rather, it’s a seemingly endless knockoff of Independence Day that somehow managed to get a wide release despite feeling like a SyFy original movie.
Okay, maybe the goofy sequel isn’t the only good thing about Skyline. It’s a surprisingly pretty movie considering its relatively small budget. As most everyone knows, decent special effects can only do so much for a movie. The Transformers movies have monster budgets and occasionally gorgeous setpieces but they’re insufferable. Skyline manages to be more insufferable than any of Michael Bay’s ridiculous Hasbro commercials. That’s saying something.
9. Jason X
Yes, you read that correctly. If you haven’t kept up with the Friday the 13th movies, you may not be aware that there’s an absolutely bonkers sci-fi sequel that takes Jason to the year 2455. Sci-fi horror movies are often huge successes.
Blending the two genres has brought us Alien, The Thing, The Fly, and the recently successful Annihilation. It doesn’t exactly work for this sucky slasher movie though. It features the usual Friday the 13th problems along with the fact that it feels like a bad fan film.
Some of the death scenes are neat, but that’s where the praise ends. The story makes no sense, the characters are cardboard, and the sci-fi setting is wasted. Slashers have always been a punching bag for critics, but Jason X deserves the negative attention. It’s too ridiculous for its own good.
Putting the Leprechaun in space didn’t work for that series and it sure as hell doesn’t work for this series. Let’s all be thankful the series returned to its regular mediocrity after this abomination.
There was a time in movie history where Shaq thought he could be a bankable action star. Thankfully, the past is the past. Sadly, that doesn’t erase movies like Steel. Some athletes can go on to be successful movie stars. Dwayne Johnson, for example, is one of the most successful actors in the world. Shaquille O’Neal isn’t quite as charming behind the camera though. In fact, of the numerous problems found within this sloppy movie, the acting might be the worst.
It’s campy, the jokes don’t land, and the dialogue is insufferable, but those issues could be forgiven if the people onscreen had some charm. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to give Shaq a pass since he’s not exactly a veteran actor, but even the supporting cast members phone in their performance.
Everyone knows that Annabeth Gish and Judd Nelson are phoning it in, so who are they trying to fool? Charismatic acting wouldn’t exactly save the movie, but it would certainly stop it from appearing on this particular list. With the bad acting, Steel is far worse than the usual missed opportunity.
7. Plan 9 from Outer Space
Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space actually has a fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but don’t let that fool you. The 67% score comes as a result of the enjoyment people get out of watching so much ineptitude jammed into such a short movie. It’s the very definition of so-bad-it’s-good, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve to be on this list.
While it’s definitely a fun movie to sit through, there’s no denying the fact that it is one of the worst movies ever hastily slapped together. Objectively, it might be the worst overall movie on this list. However, due to the fact that viewers are liable to enjoy the campiness and lack of polish, it narrowly avoids making its way into the top 5.
The problem is that this movie isn’t intentionally bad. Wood genuinely tried to make halfway decent movies. He just failed time and time again. He knew he wasn’t making Oscar contenders, but he wasn’t aiming for this level of awful. Plan 9 from Outer Space is an absolute trainwreck. The acting is wooden, the “special effects” are anything but special, and there isn’t a cohesive story to be found.
It’s rivaled only by The Room and Troll 2 in terms of how poorly made it is. Luckily, just like those movies, it’s somewhat enjoyable thanks to how ridiculous everything is. Unlike something like Rollerball which tries so hard to be an epic action blockbuster, this movie actually works as a fun 80-minute schlock-fest.
Its status as a cult movie doesn’t excuse the fact that it’s a horrible pile of rubbish though. Not everybody will be able to enjoy this movie’s obvious lack of quality. Ed Wood’s most noteworthy movie is so noteworthy because it’s terrible. Some people will get a kick out of it, but plenty of other people will stop the movie less than a half-hour in, and it’s hard to blame them.
6. Rollerball (2002)
The 1975 movie Rollerball offered brutal violence coupled with a surprisingly smart social commentary. The folks behind the 2002 remake intended to keep that commentary until they decided it would be better to focus on the nonsensical made-up sport instead.
They also planned to keep the gruesome blood and gore until they decided a PG-13 rating would appeal to a wider audience. Too bad these decisions didn’t help the quality of the movie. Rollerball barely managed to make a third of its budget, and that’s probably because it was crap.
Starring that dude from American Pie, LL Cool J, Jean Reno, and a ten-minute long night-vision scene, Rollerball is a disaster. The actors are uninterested, the action is disorienting, the editing is headache-inducing, and the plot is nonexistent.
There’s not a single thing in this movie that works. The movie is clearly aimed at teenagers, but it’s too out-of-touch to appeal to any type of viewer. It’s too violent for kids, too tame for teenagers, and too stupid for adults. Actually, it’s too stupid for everyone but that doesn’t work for this particular argument.
Let’s put it this way: Rollerball makes the Jason Statham Death Race movie look like sci-fi masterpiece. At least the Death Race movies know they’re stupid. Rollerball takes itself so seriously that it forgets to be fun. That would be okay if it had the social commentary of the original, but it tries to be this big action blockbuster only to fall incredibly short. Following its release, the series was rightfully put to rest. Good riddance.