Despite its notoriety, "Manos" doesn't currently hold the oddly sought after #1 spot on the Internet Movie Database's Bottom 100, a position it once held for a with pride. Today, the honor goes to another MST3k alumnus: 1964's The Starfighters, a film that has the balls to lack stars, fighting and fighting amongst stars. While "Manos" draws more attention for its odd atmosphere and loopy, ham-fisted acting, The Starfighters hardly cobbles together enough material to be enjoyably ridiculed. It's just boring, almost impressively so. Most of the film's action dwells on planes performing aerial refueling maneuvers and watching future US Congressman Bob "Shut up, Fag" Dornan as he hits on a girl from Iowa who won't put out. The film's sole conflict falls on Dornan's fighter pilot's argument with his war hero father. The father wants his son to fly heavy bombers, while the son wants to fly jets. This is a potentially life changing argument in real life (much like aerial refueling), but on film feels like the dramatic equivalent of watching a couple decide between ordering pizza or Chinese food.
Most of the movies that dominate the Bottom 100 all have the same thing in common; they were made by film school drop outs for a couple hundred dollars and a lot of good will. The only reason anyone ever watches these movies is either by accident or because they've heard how bad they are. Online movie review database Rotten Tomatoes' countdown of their worst reviewed movies paints a different picture. These movies cost money--a lot of it, in fact. They also star real actors with accolades and everything. Movies like Battlefield Earth--the John Travolta adaptation of Scientology scribe L. Ron Hubbard's "successful" series of novels. These are movies with titles and faces that all seem familiar but you never got around to seeing them because they looked like gigantic turds.
The number one movie on the RT countdown cost $70 million to produce and made only $20 million in the box office. Starring Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is a different breed of bad than the types of movies that graced MST3k. Out of 105 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, none of them have a solitary positive thing to say about Ecks vs. Sever. Arizona Republic critic Bill Muller likens first (and only) time director Kaos (ugh) to a magician because "he took three minutes of dialogue, 30 seconds of plot and turned them into a 90-minute movie that feels five hours long."
Image © Channel 5
The movie feels like it comes out of the imagination of a caffeine-addled six year old. There's some talk about saving Ecks's family and a nano-assassination device, but then it's mostly WHOOOAAA BoOOOM and then it's like PSHHHHHHH, and then she's all AKAKAKAKAKAKAKK and then KARATE CHOP. Needless to say, the movie is mostly dominated by shots of Banderas running away from explosions and Liu appearing from smoke and awkwardly kicking people around.
Still, Ecks vs. Sever at least has a basic understanding of things like sound design or lighting-something that a movie "Manos" severely lacks. Which forces viewers to question which is worse, a movie attacking their sensibilities, like "Manos," their patience like The Starfighters, or their intelligence like Ecks vs. Sever. All three of these movies stretch the limits of good taste, but depending on what aspect of the film you're judging, any one of them could easily take the title of The Worst Movie. You know what? Just don't watch any of them.
Story by Kris King
Starpulse contributing writer