The #1 movie in America is about genetically engineered guinea pigs working as secret agents for the U.S. government. And in honor of G-Force, may I present:
The Top Ten Movie Concepts So Preposterously Awful They Should Never Have Gotten Out of Development
10. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (Jonathan Mostow, 2003)
Terrible movie sequels that completely miss the point are nothing new, of course. But there’s something especially wrongheaded about this 12-years-later follow-up to James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, one of the most beloved action movies ever made. That film ended without resolution in the classical sense, but there was still a marked finality to it. So how do you continue the story? By invalidating everything that was won through blood and tears in the second film, and along the way crapping all over its theme about the ability of people to rise above whatever future fate has planned. Apparently the correct way to pitch a sequel is by leading with your flat-out contempt for fans of the original.
9. Trail of the Pink Panther (Blake Edwards, 1982)
With series star Peter Sellers dead at a young age, the only thing to do was quietly, respectfully retire his character and the franchise with it. Or, you could use outtake footage from the earlier movies and crudely edit them into a newly-shot narrative that features, among other things, 72-year-old David Niven looking like he’s about to drop dead on set. The fact that we’re here talking about this movie probably gives away which of those choices Blake Edwards went with.
8. Treasure Planet (Ron Clements & John Musker, 2002)
What makes this all the sadder is that Clements and Musker spent literally years trying to get their sci-fi adaptation of Treasure Island off the ground. But their dream project was perhaps the most ill-advised, unwatchable film released by Disney Animation in a decade where they made quite a few lousy insults to the legacy of Mickey Mouse & Co. But only Treasure Planet has so many unimaginably weird conceits – spaceships with masts, and open-air decks? – that it feels more like a nightmare you had while flipping between a pirate movie and Forbidden Planet one night on cable, than something that actually exists in the world, for anyone to watch at their leisure.
7. The Conqueror (Dick Powell, 1956)
Starring John Wayne as Genghis Khan.
6. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (Willam Shatner, 1989)
It’s not that there was a fifth Star Trek – a forgone conclusion – nor that they gave creative reigns to one of the series’ actors – that had worked out well twice with Leonard Nimoy in the driver’s seat – nor that the plot hinges around Spock’s surprise half-brother taking a Mad Max-style shithole planet hostage, and then stealing the Enterprise to go to the center of the galaxy to find the planet where God lives, a series of events so unhinged that Gene Roddenberry (no stranger to wigged-out narrative concepts) suggested that it was best to regard it all as apocryphal within the larger Star Trek canon. No, the idea that really makes me wonder how any studio executive possibly saw fit to give one red cent to this insanely bad film was that in the original draft, the one that got funding, the crew didn’t meet an evil alien pretending to be God; they met God Himself.
5. Psycho (Gus Van Sant, 1998)
-“Here’s my idea: I want to remake Hitchcock’s Psycho.”
-“Um, not to be rude, Gus, but everybody pretty much agrees that the original is just about perfect already.”
-“Yes, I know. You couldn’t improve upon it in any way. Which is why I’m going to remake it shot for shot.”
-“Brilliant! Here’s a barrel full of money. Come back when you run out.”
4. Jack (Francis Ford Coppola, 1996)
A heartwarming tale about a child whose body is growing up too fast, which means that we get to have Robin Williams play a fifth-grader. It’s charming and funny, and a sweet delight for the whole family. Oh, did we mention that Jack will probably be dead before his fifteenth birthday? Yeah, well, hopefully nobody in the audience will think of that.
3.The Baby Geniuses series (Bob Clark, 1999/2004)
Kathleen Turner (WHY?) and Christopher Lloyd play two evil scientists trying to unlock the secrets of infant communication, because all babies know everything there is to know about the universe, until they become verbal and the knowledge is lost. The smartest of all the babies escapes due to a comedy of errors-style mix-up with his long-lost twin, and leads a baby army to fight the scientists. Correctly perceiving that there was only one way to top all of this, the writers of SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2 made the villain a Nazi.
2.The Day the Clown Cried (Jerry Lewis, 1972)
And on the subject of Nazis: Jerry Lewis plays a clown thrown in a concentration camp, and given a job leading little Jewish children into the death chambers. Or something along those lines. I’m not one of the very elite company of viewers to have ever seen this never-released film, but I know that no combination of “Jerry Lewis”, “Clown”, and “Holocaust” can possibly end well.
1.Night of the Lepus (William F. Claxton, 1972)
The Lepus! A deadly foe if ever mankind has faced death from some monster unknown to nature! Giant, pulsating eyes staring out from the darkness, promising bloody vengeance on the human race! And what is the Lepus?
The bunny rabbit.
Yes, sir, in the “nature gone amok” craze of the early seventies, someone actually got the money to film a screenplay about rabbits used in a scientific experiment, accidentally released into the wild, where they grow to the size of Volkswagens and become carnivorous. To realise this effect, normal size rabbits were let loose on scale models, and had red paint splattered on their faces ( in once infamous scene, it was a thoroughly-embarassed stuntman in a rabbit suit). And not for one second does the film have any sense of humor about all of this: it is a Serious and Thoughtful look at Scientists Tampering in God’s Domain. It just happens to also be funnier than the killer rabbit scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Not only is this the worst idea for a film I’ve ever heard of, I have to assume that it’s the worst idea that will ever be thought up.