I have actually seen this week’s movie, Powder, before. In fact, I’ve seen it multiple times. When I was in college, back in 1963, the dorms had a closed circuit movie channel that came with your University subsidized cable subscription. They played different movies all week, but each week was the same for that month. So whatever was playing at 8PM on a Thursday at the beginning of October would play every Thursday at 8PM until November. (I know how months work!) For some reason, Powder just happened to be playing at the exact time every week for a month when I decided to watch a movie on the dorm movie channel. I’m still not sure how many times I’ve seen Powder, but it’s too many times. I remember telling myself at the time that even though it was a terrible movie, it was worth watching repeatedly because I would somehow get something out of it one day. That day has finally come. The prophecy was true!

Powder begins in a flashback with a woman being rushed to the hospital after being struck by lightning. She dies in childbirth and the baby has albinism so the father says “that is not my son” and he runs away. Cut to present day where the Sheriff of a small town has found Powder living in a basement, and even though Powder is just a bald-headed guy with extremely white skin (you’d think the color was painted on with cheap stage paint!) the Sheriff almost throws up basically, and then Mary Steenburgen is so impressed that he can read books by himself that she takes him to live in a state run home for background actors from some made for TV S.E. Hinton adaptation. It turns out that Powder has magnetic powers and also can read minds and his IQ test says he’s a genius (even though IQ tests are based mostly on cultural intelligence and he’s lived in a basement, but OK) and everyone hates him so much, except for Jeff Goldblum. That goes on for about two hours, all the superpowers and hatred, and then Powder tries to run away from the school because he almost kills a guy by kind of exploding his magnetic energy or something but is an accident and he brought him back to live using his hands as cardio paddles or whatever, but he runs away, and the cops are like “nooooooo,” but Powder needs to be free, and he runs into a field and gets hit by lightning and explodes.

The thing about this movie is that it’s bad, sure, but it’s almost not that bad. ALMOST. Mary Steenburgen is a good actress, and Jeff Goldblum is at the very least always amusing to watch. It’s like Jeff Goldblum is stuck in a permanent Jeff Goldblum impersonation. It’s got a little bit of that Hallmark-y “opening stupid people’s eyes about their own intolerance” thing going on, which is always kind of forced and overly blunt, but Hallmark is a multi-billion dollar corporation so what do we know about anything? I also find it a little hard to believe that everyone including full-grown adults would really be that disgusted and intolerant of someone who just had very white skin, but there is all kinds of hatred out there! What a world we live in! Although for as good of actors as Steenburgen and Goldblum are, this scene still makes me LOL.

Jeff Goldblum: What’s my motivation?
Director: You’ve just opened a new bottle of Herbal Essences.
Lance Henrikson: How about me?
Director: You’re having an orgasm, but the bad kind.
Mary Steenburgen: I’ll just think of something mildly amusing I heard earlier today.
Director: You’re a pro, Mary. I couldn’t do this movie without you.

But Powder gets very, almost unbearably bad, when you learn about the history of its director. Now, I do believe to some extent in the necessary separation of an artist from his work, and I would even be willing to extend the title of “artist” to the director of Powder for the sake of the argument, except that the “artist” in this case, Victor Salva, was convicted of child molestation. Not only that, but the 12-year-old boy who he molested (and videotaped himself in the act of molesting) was an actor in one of his previous projects. Yikes. Suddenly the movie takes on a whole new tone. It’s difficult NOT to read to much into that. The movie asks us to believe that Powder is a special, unique, wonderful, beautiful being who can’t share all his gifts with the world because they’re too afraid. But it’s not true that all differences should be celebrated. There are some people who are different and it’s not unfair to fear them. People like Victor Salva. And then there’s this scene:

Better change out of that tank top, Jimmy! WHAT IS THIS LINGERING ON A SUPPOSEDLY ADOLESCENT BOY’S NAKED BODY FOR NO REASON SCENE? We all have to go to jail now, sorry. Similarly, there’s a moment in which Jeff Goldblum discovers that Powder’s parents never touched him because they were scared of his powers, at which point Goldblum, who is with this teenage boy alone in an empty cafeteria, reaches out his hand and begins to caress Powder’s head. That would never happen unless the school was located outside the Lawsuit City limits.

It should, of course, be pointed out that Powder is played by Sean Patrick Flanery, star of Boondock Saints, and the upcoming Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day. Water always find its level, and a Worst Movie nominee always leads back to Boondock Saints.

Next week: Elizabethtown. As always, please leave your suggestions in the comments or in an email. And if you haven’t done so already, please consult the Official Rules.

Comments (48)
  1. kat  |   Posted on Oct 27th, 2008 +1

    I thought ‘firewall’ starring harrison ford and paul bettany is worthy of a submission to the worst movie of all time.

  2. K  |   Posted on Oct 27th, 2008 +1

    I will post this each week if I have to. The Telephone with Whoopi Goldberg. Did I mention twist ending? And murder most foul?

  3. frank  |   Posted on Oct 27th, 2008 0

    Dan In Real Life!
    Two words: Dane. Cook.

    btdub, that tank top scene equals waaaay creepy

  4. lance henricksen was really going for it in that scene.
    man, being an actor is nearly the silliest, most embarrassing profession ever.

  5. man, that boy scene is very disturbing. i never noticed it before. i like “why don’t you take a picture” at the end, cause that’s probably something that somebody said to victor salva once.

    • Powder is obviously just envious of that boy’s flowing, luxurious hair. and sexy time armpit hair. because, as the movie explains, powder has no hair since he’s all electrical, resulting in non-stop electrolysis. except for his eyelashes, which he obviously has.

      monster or not, at least Salva didn’t pull out all of Flanery’s eyelashes for his Art.

  6. ben  |   Posted on Oct 27th, 2008 0

    28 Days starring Sandra Bullock!!

  7. epicgrandeur  |   Posted on Oct 27th, 2008 -1

    TWMOAT is Ridley Scott’s jingoistic travesty, “Black Hawk Down.” It’s got it all — a fanbase that subsists entirely on Jagerbombs; vestiges of critical acclaim; horrific acting by major Hollywood names; blatant racism; Eric Bana; blatant racism; American flags; and a touch of blatant racism.

  8. Everyone should see Luc Besson’s The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. Also: no one should see it, ever.

    • Sally  |   Posted on Oct 29th, 2008 0

      I so agree about The Messenger. I was traumatized after watching it. Now, thank YOU for bringing it all back to mind! LOL

  9. Wow, that emotion scene is the funniest! I love it. The rest of the review is scary. Makes you feel a little sick.

  10. XTRMNTR  |   Posted on Oct 28th, 2008 -3

    Yeah, Powder is, was, and always will be horrendous, but ELIZABETHTOWN? Are you fucking kidding me? That movie is misunderstood and not even close to as bad as anything else you’ve covered. In fact, I quite like it. Overlong? Yes. Corny? Absolutely. But it’s got a lot of spunk and it’s just a frothy romcom, at it’s essence. Not the mention the fact that you’re reviewing it instead of STANLEY & IRIS????!!!!!????

    WHHHYYYYYYY????????

  11. Lost in Space.

  12. If you think that shirtless scene is bad, check out Salva’s “Jeepers Creepers II”, about a scary dude who swoops out of the air to abduct a bunch of high school football players, but not before they:

    - lounge around shirtless
    - get all sweaty, and
    - gather together to pull down their pants and PEE IN A CIRCLE.

    Also, Ray Wise as the hero, the father of a previous victim, driving around in a truck with an improvised ‘harpoon gun’. Revenge via phallic symbol!

  13. I am excited for Elizabethtown because it does indeed deserve to be nominated/reviewed. It fits this “Hunt” because it is trying to be a great movie, not a flaky romcom, which it is of the worst kind. Orlando Bloom is the worst. He builds a George-Clooney-in-Burn-After-Reading-dildo-machine but replaces the dildo with a knife to try and kill himself after somehow designing a shoe (that the entire company had to have approved, including Alec Baldwin) that loses the company $900 billion. So so bad.

    I again nominate ‘A Lot Like Love.’

  14. leah  |   Posted on Oct 28th, 2008 -1

    May it please the court, I nominate 21 Grams. WOST!

    • Sorry Leah. “21 Grams” is pretentious twaddle, but there are two words to sum up why that film is not TWMOAT, and those words are:
      Naomi Watts’ exposed breasts.

      Okay, 4 words.

  15. Gabe, you simply must see “Eye of the Beholder” starring Ewan McGregor and Ashley Judd.

  16. Whenever I get my shirt really sweaty, I take it off and get it a tiny little bit more wet than squeeze the sweat water all over my face and body.

    That’s what’s done.

  17. In middle school, I would throw up from anxiety every day before school. When Powder came out, I started throwing up twice a day.

    Also, I suggest “The Associate” with Dianne Weist and Whoopi Goldberg (as a man).

  18. And here this whole time I thought Powder was played by Campbell Scott. Oops. I never did see that movie cause of the whole molestation thing. I think molesters shouldn’t be allowed to live let alone create.

  19. Jason  |   Posted on Oct 28th, 2008 0

    Of course Powder is awful, but I can’t wait to read about Elizabethtown. Being from Louisville makes this movie so so painful to watch; in fact, it’s the only movie I’ve ever left the theater midway because of how awful it was. It aspires to be profound, but is the most most most cliche thing possible. I couldn’t imagine anyway in which these characters behave that would redeem the time I had already spent so I cut my losses. The scene at the hotel with the wedding or something was the worst.

  20. DawnD13  |   Posted on Oct 28th, 2008 0

    The. Absolute. Worst. Movie. Of. All. Time: Parents (with Randy Quaid & Mary Beth Hurt.) Godawful pointless sicko waste of celluloid! Period!

  21. Whenever I think of Powder, I can’t but think of Travolta guy-gets-weird-powers-and-felt-king-of-like-powder-but-totally-isn’t-we-swear crapfest Phenomenon. A movie so bad I just had to go make sure that A: it actually existed and B: hadn’t already been covered.

  22. sara  |   Posted on Oct 29th, 2008 -1

    Hurleyburly!!! It is sooooo bad, and Meg Ryan plays a prostitute!

  23. Jason – the only movie I EVER left during was Hamlet 2. God! What a shitfest that was.
    Powder grosses me out though. I know it’s an easy joke…. but…. guy with weird skin deficiency who watches boys after the gym…. THRILLERRRRRRRRRR

  24. Oh yeah, “Eye of the Beholder” is the worst piece of crap ever!! You guys could have a field day with that one!

  25. Licence to Wed! GAH! I was dragged to it and only sat though it because my movie-going buddy had recently survived cancer. Not sure life’s worth living if you’re spening your time/money in a theater watching Licence to Wed.

  26. Recovered memory because of this: crying as a kid during that explosion scene. Quite possibly because even as a kid I knew 2 hours of my life was just lost. Also, in that gym clip the white boy totally traveled TWICE.

    And, 1963? Related, my college dorm had the same setup and the only movie I remember watching over and over again because of it…Boondock Saints.

  27. I forgot to say, around the time of this movie another movie came out that was horrible,
    ‘Michael’ starring Travolta.

  28. Dungeons & Dragons with Thora Birch, Jeremy Irons and a Wayans deserves its horrible reputation.

    The Prince-helmed, Prince-fronted (!) black-and-white Under the Cherry Moon is one of my favorite awful movies.

    An obscure one I’ll offer up is Riders of the Storm, with Dennis Hopper. Watching that movie by myself felt like an assault of stupidity. A second viewing, inflicting it upon dear friends, was more doable. The plot’s too dumb to coherently describe in a short paragraph, but IMDB is your friend. This one is at least in my top ten worst.

    Rhinestone, with Sylvester Stallone being taught the country music ropes by Dolly Parton, was excruciating.

    The Dark Backward features an oppressively annoying performance from Bill Paxton (who finds the time to dive into an inviting pool of obese women) and has Judd Nelson playing the world’s worst post-apocalyptic stand-up comedian who grows a third arm out of his back. Yyyyyyyeah. Wayne Newton is his agent.

    Impulse has William Shatner playing a womanizing serial killer who wears a different amazingly stupid 70s outfil in every scene.

    House of the Dead, from notoriously terrible director Uwe Boll (and costarring Jürgen Prochnow) , isn’t just terrible; it’s groundbreakingly terrible. It doesn’t just have dumb fight scenes in which you don’t care about the outcome. It has dumb fight scenes in which you don’t care about the outcome and then suddenly the movie cuts to FOOTAGE FROM THE VIDEO GAME IT’S BASED ON. It also contains the following exchange:
    “You did all this to become immortal. Why?”
    “To live forever!”

  29. I wish that I had the testicular fortitude to sit through this entire movie.

    Also, if he’s super-white, then why didn’t he just seek out the Aryan Nation for protection?

  30. Meet Joe Black always makes me want to rip my hair out! It is the slowest and dullest form of torture…

  31. Tippet  |   Posted on Oct 31st, 2008 -1

    LAWNMOWER MAN. It kicks off with a chimp playing a first-person shooter, has Jeff Fahey looking like Jeffrey Lee Pierce, a woman getting her brain erased during virtual-sex and this evil virtual being who can turn your body into marbles. KIller climax, too.
    Total funhouse film.

  32. No way. Worse movie I ever saw was ” I love my wife” with Eliot Gould here is the summary from NYT : “This romantic comedy finds Richard Burrows (Elliot Gould) as a medical student in residence engaged to marry the pregnant Jody (Brenda Vaccaro). When Jody abstains from sex and her mother moves in with the newlyweds, Richard engages in a series of love affairs with the hospital nurses. He meets Helen Donnelly (Angel Tompkins), the wife of a baseball player (played by Dabney Coleman). The two initially plan to divorce their respective spouses before Richard decides to work things out with his wife after the birth of their son. Jody loses weight at a health spa and also loses her desire for Richard. ~ Dan Pavlides

  33. Linda Barrett  |   Posted on Nov 2nd, 2008 0

    You folks have seen nothing yet! There’s a real killer of a flick! It’s called The Creation of The Humanoids that dates Zardoz by twelve years! It is a complete disaster set in the future, (actually, it’s in the past-I gave away the ending because it’s that bad!)

  34. How has “Freejack” not made it on the list? Oscar(tm) winner Anthony Hopkins AND Emilio Estevez. And time travel and race cars.

  35. HAHAHA I hated Powder
    me and my friends were made to go to this weird retreat weekend
    and had to watch this I think all 10 of us cry because this movie was so bad
    I also fell asleep

  36. michael  |   Posted on Dec 17th, 2008 0

    Hahahaha all the pederast jokes aside, look at the basketball players.
    1) I’m pretty sure that guy is playing in his boxers
    2) Clearly nobody on the set has ever seen a basketball game before. Seriously, aside from the made shot they’re basically just running around hugging each other and occasionally dribbling.
    3) Again, all the pederast jokes aside…

  37. tim  |   Posted on Jan 15th, 2009 -1

    powder was so bad, that in middle school my best friend and i would rate things on the ‘powder’ scale. for instance, the godzilla remake with matthew broderick was rated powder x10.

  38. Anna  |   Posted on Mar 1st, 2009 0

    I seriously doubt that you saw this movie over and over when you were in college in 1963. It wasn’t made until thirty years later.

    • Anna, “1963″ was a joke.

      I know this thread is pretty much dead but what the hell. I saw this at the theater (!) in the year of its release (!) because a friend of a friend, who was like 15 years older than me and my friends (like, he was probably watching college cable in 1963) had seen it and was so moved by it that he INSISTED that my friend and all of her friends (e.g., me) go see it. And so we did and it was terrible. But there was one period of like four minutes when Powder was not on the screen anywhere and my friend Penny says “Where is he?” and I say “He went to the powder room.” Getting to tell that joke was the very very best thing about going to see this frigging movie.

  39. ‘It’s like Jeff Goldblum is stuck in a permanent Jeff Goldblum impersonation.’

    Hilarious…

  40. Sabotuer  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    I hated this movie. Powder is such a freakin whiner. The worst scene is when they are asking him about the IQ test and he’s like “boohoo you think I cheated, I’m gonna go touch myself now…” ugh shoot me in the face!

  41. I object! you guys didn’t understand anything if you claim that this is the worst movie ever. At least that cop stopped hunting when he felt the dear’s pain, but you people will never stop bullshittin’ even if a hundred disasters would come upon you. Of course, you all are critics, but start making a movie of your own, or at least a short-film and see how “easy” it is. Jeremy Reed a.k.a Powder is a complex character inside and outside, just like Edward Scissorhands. Both movies reflect the same idea. The fact that people with different abilities and higher sensitivity than anyone else are mistreated, laughed at, bullied and so on. People hardly accept them or don’t and if they do, it is only cause of their primitive curiosity or because they just want to use that person like a pair of fancy jeans and then throw it away (e.g: Edward was used to make the ladies hair look pretty). Powder is just a metaphor you don’t seem to understand. If you would see a person who is naive, vulnerable, which loves simplicity and has a great heart, the evil voice inside your head will say” why him and not me?” that’s when your ego comes in, the envy and all negative thoughts and you start making fun of that person with no reason. Why? Because he is gifted? Because God made him that way and he deserved to be that way? Because he has a special mission not just the ordinary one like having a job, wife and kids and car?What’s wrong with you people?!In these commments there’s more superficiality than one can imagine, so shut up. Firstly, understand and then judge. So what did you guys didn’t actually like? The simplicity of the plot, the crystal-clear message, that it’s not Star Wars or what?If you want an idiot movie go whatch ”Idiocracy”, because that’s how you’re gonna end up if you keep thinking that way! Amen!

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