It’s easy to romanticize the past. From the nagging perspective of the present, where life is at best a day-to-day struggle with frustrating obligations (and at worst, you know, Darfur), and our culture seems determined to implode under the weight of its own stupidity (or at least the weight of Octomom in the middle of her eighth month), the past takes on a golden hue. The world seems like a simpler place, with more deeply-rooted values, and all those old Gods walking the Earth, the ones we read about in the high school books. Obviously, all of that is total bullshit. The world has never been a better place than it is right at this moment. Despite the many obvious, horrible problems with human society, we’ve never been less racist, less homophobic, less generally happy as a whole than we are right now. We have better medical care and easier access to education than has existed in the whole of human history. Even on the less-fundamentally-survivalistically-important cultural side, things are still the best ever. More people are working harder to create great work than ever before. The world moves forward. Keep up.

But if you do attempt to harken back to the false glory of the good old days, DON’T CAST JOSH HARTNETT. Dude is, like, tha worst.

The Black Dahlia is based on the novel by Elmore LeonardJames Ellroy, which centers around a true crime unsolved mystery that occurred in Hollywood in 1947 when a young would-be actress was found gruesomely murdered. Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart play two Los Angeles detectives who become increasingly obsessed with the case. There’s some kind of love triangle between them and Aaron Eckhart’s girlfriend Scarlett Johansson. Then Josh Hartnett sleeps with Hillary Swank. Something else happens. Aaron Eckhart is murdered when he is trying to murder Scarlett Johansson’s ex-boyfriend who got out of jail. Something. There’s…a clown painting. Josh Hartnett moves in with Scarlett Johansson and she asks him to fix a broken bathroom tile which is how he finds a bunch of secret money, so he sleeps with Hillary Swank again. Then something happens and I don’t know. He’s in a house? There was a porno and the porno was made in this shitty house and it turns out that Hillary Swank’s mom killed the would-be actress because she’s an alcoholic? She shoots herself and then later Josh Hartnett confronts Hillary Swank and she has an Academy Award you know, for best acting? And he shoots her. Because something happened. He was like “did something happen?” and she’s like “yes,” and he shoots her for it. Then he goes back and Scarlett Johansson is always wearing a neglige because of World War II or whatever. The end.

It’s one of those rare movies that actually includes a scene that is perfectly representative of how the viewer is feeling.

“Watching The Black Dahlia is like slowly walking up a staircase to a door, but when you get to the door, you can’t even bear to open it. Instead, you sit down and break into tears, and someone rushes out as overly-dramatic music swells, and the person just asks ‘what happened?’ ‘WHAT HAPPENED?’ and you don’t say a word.” Exactly. Metaphors.

This is actually the second time that I have seen this movie, and I still do not understand it. I mean, there aren’t really any loose ends, it’s all tied up for you. I know who killed everyone who got killed, but it’s still like “huh?” What was that? Adults made that?

kd lang made that.

What?

Rose McGowan made that.

The Rose McGowan stamp of quality.

Why is Brian De Palma even considered an important director? He is, isn’t he? He’s always linked in my head with that old Team Coppola Goof Troupe. But he’s responsible for some really terrible movies. Look at the past 10 years alone:

Snake Eyes (1998)
Mission to Mars (2000)
Femme Fatale (2002)
The Black Dahlia (2006)
Redacted (2007)

Dude followed up Snake Eyes with Mission to Mars. Perfect. Hollywood needs to get its whoops-dar checked. Even his past triumphs aren’t very good. Scarface, despite what a large percentage of the hip hop community’s oversized t-shirts might suggest, is laughable. Get Ready to Meet My Little Friend. And the thing he’s most famous for is just an homage to Sergei Eisenstein.

We get it, Brian De Palma, you took Appreciating Film 101 in college. Cool zoomz, dude.

But let’s get off Brian De Palmas. The fact of the matter is that it’s almost not even his fault. The Hollywood obsession with trying to remake film noirs is one of its worst obsessions. The Good German, The Man Who Wasn’t There, all that shit is bad. And by otherwise very talented people who usually make good movies. Let it go, guys. Never look back.

In any case, The Black Dahlia is overly long, incredibly confusing, looks like it was filmed at the Universal Studios Theme Park, stars Josh Hartnett as a hard-boiled detective, features SNL-caliber “old timey” accents, and is absolutely no fun at all to watch.

It’s very bad. It should be left in the past to be forgotten, as we do with atrocities.

Next week: Bicentennial Man. How did that happen? Too close to What Dreams May Come! Spacing Out Horrible Robin Williams Movies FAIL. 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 (106)
  1. Chadams  |   Posted on Mar 9th, 2009 0

    I don’t know if this would qualify but “Boys & Girls” w/ Freddie Prinze Jr. was written by a 6-year old and directed by that kid’s 10-year old sibling, I think.

    It ought to win this whole non-race outright.

    • If we’re taking this to the Freddie Prinze level, then I have to vote for Down to You, also featuring the fine acting work of Julia Stiles and Selma Blair.

  2. I had no idea DePalma did Mission to Mars. You HAVE to do Mission to Mars. And Snake Eyes. And Face/Off. And National Treasure. Forget Robin Williams, Nicolas Cage is all the rage.

  3. Please consider two movies for the worst of all time:
    -Kazaam
    -Steel

    ftw

  4. xochitl  |   Posted on Mar 9th, 2009 +4

    Whoops, The Black Dahlia is based on the James Ellroy novel.

  5. daveshaw  |   Posted on Mar 9th, 2009 -9

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  6. hiho  |   Posted on Mar 9th, 2009 +1

    I will keep up my petition for MARGOT AT THE WEDDING.

    See: Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh cracking up about a friend getting raped, but in one of those movie, Family Stone, oh-we-are-cracking-up type things. Because that’s real life.

    • henrypootel  |   Posted on Mar 9th, 2009 +2

      And I’ll second, first, or whatever it again. It still hurts to think about that movie.

  7. Please do The Haunting of Molly Hartley. I have never seen more self tanner and bad acting on an actor then when I saw Chace Crawford in that train wreck of a movie.

  8. For some reason, I keep hearing the Benny HIll song whilst the hag shoots her brainz out.

  9. EJ  |   Posted on Mar 9th, 2009 +4

    Righteous Kill. 88 Minutes. Why?

  10. Ha, I agree with Bicentennial Man. As well as every Robin Williams movie (with the exception of Hook, because of nostalgia, of course).

    The Last Kiss is also incredibly bad.

  11. Running with Scissors, my usual weekly suggestion. It’s got it all: terribly unfunny “quirky” characters (including a dog food-eating elderly lady), a 30-something man having a sexual relationship with a 15 year old boy, cathartic screaming, a masterbatorium, a hilariously overwrought and pretentious epilogue , etc. It’s a potpourri of awful ideas.

    And I know it’s based on a book, which may be good for all I know, but the movie is awful. Besides, the guy’s written three(!) autobiographies. Nobody’s life is that interesting.

  12. Hey, we’ll always have scarface (see? casablanca reference i’m super funny. really funny).

  13. Spooky Ghost  |   Posted on Mar 9th, 2009 +8

    I like J.Hart’s clothes in the clip above. Not very period. Like they just forgot. Or had given up.
    What I really like to think is that they just left the cameras rolling when he was about to go home but he stopped at the door, realised the futility of his own existence,and wept.
    And then they added the score from L.A. Confidential later.

  14. I liked the Good German and the Man Who Wasn’t There. Was Johansson in both of those? She was definitely in TMWWT… She must have that noir look down.

  15. The Exorcism of Emily Rose was pretty awful.

  16. jawbreaker. its “darkly comic.”

  17. Also, the Man Who Wasn’t There is pretty good. You might have confused it with the Guttenberg flick. An easy mistake.

    • I have to second this. Please don’t drag The Man Who Wasn’t There into this hunt. That movie actually took film noir and did something different and fun.

      • studly roberts  |   Posted on Mar 9th, 2009 +5

        I’m going to hop on the The Man Who Wasn’t There Isn’t a Bad Movie bandwagon here.

        It wasn’t a particularly good movie, but it deserves much better company than Black Dahlia and The Good German.

        And I should know. Because I’m good at movies.

        • Wrong. The Man Who Wasn’t There is a good movie. But the sentiment is appreciated.
          A friend of mine got into a mild argument about it because i think he saw it as an incredibly faithful tribute, wheras i saw it as an incredibly loving subtle parody.
          It’s been so long since i’ve seen it now, but there was this one scene where i think he pulls out a cigarette all film noir like and serious, and then is asked to put it out because the smoke bothers that person. And before he puts it out, he looks around awkwardly not knowing what to do for a moment because when does that ever happen?
          Anyway, even if it wasn’t a subtle parody, i think it understood the thematic appeal of film noirs more than any other film noir redux.

  18. kat  |   Posted on Mar 9th, 2009 -2

    Try ‘The Jackal’ with Bruce Willis, a dose of Richard Gerbil, Sydney Poitier, and a cameo by Jack Black. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll swear that it’s the worst two hours of your life.

  19. Sometimes you feel so alone? Because you’re laughing so hard into your hoodie that you tell your friends you have to sneak out of the movie, but they are SO into it, and you go ride a ferris wheel like 8 times in a row, and then years later you see this post and LOL so hard your head hits the keyboard and thank you.

    Word up on the staircase scene. Anybody ever notice that kid is like THREE? Kid can probably shoot his own gun. And Alexi Sayles at the end on the staircase? Hilarity.

    But I live for Andy Garcia saying “yeaahhh, I gotem.”

  20. JTT  |   Posted on Mar 9th, 2009 +4

    “Then something happens and I don’t know.”

    You have a real knack for putting your readers right in the scene. And then making them shoot their drinks out of their noses.

    Also, please consider “Master of Disguise,” the Dana Carvey abomination. Truly mind-melting stupidity.

  21. raymond's mother  |   Posted on Mar 9th, 2009 +13

    I would like to join the people who’ve suggested The Last Kiss. It’s pretty much two hours of Zach Braff jerking off. I actually kind of liked him, until I saw that and realized how much I hate him. Everything he ever does is just him whining about beautiful girls that love him.

    • And also to Julie and Constantinople: we must never give up nominating The Last Kiss. It says something about this movie that the best part is when Zach Braff drives into a tree.

  22. Chris  |   Posted on Mar 9th, 2009 +1

    Dude, review “Paycheck”. Epic Ben Affleck FAIL.

  23. zach  |   Posted on Mar 9th, 2009 0

    Shame, because the novel is quite good. But the movie, while not the “worst of all time”, is like Josh Harnett’s acting….dull.

  24. rk  |   Posted on Mar 9th, 2009 +3

    I nominate In the Land of Women. In which Adam Brody is a failed porn screenwriter (oh my god) who goes to live with his grandmother so he can make out with Meg Ryan across the street, and also her daughter Kristen Stewart. Oh my god.

    You might also look at Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which would be an unpopular choice because it’s a classic that people love, but I’m pretty sure the people who love it haven’t actually seen it because it is a racist nonsensical piece of shit.

  25. zach  |   Posted on Mar 9th, 2009 +1

    I’ll give Brian De Palma a break for making Carrie and The Untouchables.

  26. Sebastian Paper  |   Posted on Mar 9th, 2009 -12

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  27. Julie  |   Posted on Mar 9th, 2009 0

    EVERY WEEK. “The Last Kiss” *cut and paste* repeat.

    • Second.
      Also, The Holiday.

      If you watch Bicentennial Man backwards it’s about a man who wants to become a robot because that’s cool as shit, so he becomes a robot. As he becomes more robotic his terrible acting is less of a problem (you know, because of how robots are.) Then they take him apart because he’s annoying and looks fake.
      Gabe, of course, will be watching it forward, a direction in which this movie makes no sense.

    • Robert  |   Posted on Mar 10th, 2009 +1

      I’m right with you Julie. I say it every week. I am convinced that The Last Kiss is the worst movie ever made. It’s revulsive and contrived.
      So far I feel like the Hunt’s been reviewing bad movies. The Last Kiss is different in an unexplanable way. . . God, it sucked.

  28. I am so happy you covered this movie, all though, no offense, I feel that you didn’t even express how fucking awful it is! I remember I went to see it in theaters and was dumbstruck. It’s somehow managed to take a spot in my brain as one of those “so-bad-it’s-good” movies because you (or I) can’t help but guffaw at this craziness. Seriously, the end is just a bizarre, diaper-pooping fever dream of awfulness.

    Best line (or at least the one I remember): “I always wanted to have sex with someone who looked like me.”

  29. HB  |   Posted on Mar 10th, 2009 -2

    “Cellular” is good old-fashioned bad movie fun. With Kim Basinger!

    I also loathe “Chasing Amy,” although not sure if you want to go down the long road of Kevin Smith films.

  30. Dan S  |   Posted on Mar 10th, 2009 +2

    Probably the worst part of this movie is the reveal at the end. It figures some epically bad acting from the woman who did it as she drinks and confesses and drinks and then shoots herself. It was like a live action Scooby Doo ending. “I would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for that meddling Hartnett!” Seriously. It’s like that.

  31. Josh Hartnett IS the worst. I actually defended Vin Diesel in a ridiculous drunken Diesel vs Hartnett argument the other night. You know shit is bad when you’re defending Vin Diesel.

    • Josh Hartnett is the worst. I feel like Wicker Park needs a nom, as well. He’s absolutely ass-trocious in it, and it totally misuses a legit actor in Rose Byrne. God, I fucking hate that movie. The only person who’s worse at fake-crying than Hartnett is Daniel Radcliffe, but when he was like 13.

  32. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  33. Please, Know1ng. I can tell ALREADY.

  34. dude  |   Posted on Mar 10th, 2009 +1

    dude clewis really has it in for shaquille oneal

  35. email   |   Posted on Mar 10th, 2009 0

    Pick Clerks 2! Saw it on tv this weekend– far, far worse than this movie.

  36. Alpha Dog, I beg of you.
    If you watch it backwards, you begin to realize that the kid who gets killed in the beginning is in quite the enviable position.

  37. Something. There’s…a clown painting. [?] And he shoots her. Because something happened. He was like “did something happen?” and she’s like “yes,” and he shoots her for it.
    LOL – this is how I would recap most movies if pressed

  38. A Good Woman. DONE.

    And I second The Land of Women, and also the Last Kiss. I watched that movie with my whole extended family on Easter Sunday because my mom though it was going to be a romantic comedy. Needless to say, it was one of the most awkward 2-hour periods ever.

  39. RobinRubbermaid  |   Posted on Mar 10th, 2009 0

    You want bad? You want Brian De Palma? Bonfire of the Vanities. Go.

  40. Barry  |   Posted on Mar 10th, 2009 0

    oooh…I suggest Inland Empire. That movie made my soul hurt, and I usually like David Lynch.

  41. Alex  |   Posted on Mar 10th, 2009 0

    Moulin Rouge. Awful.

  42. zaws!  |   Posted on Mar 10th, 2009 +2

    Vertical Limit!!
    it’s so god-fucking-damn awful that even the studio realized it, and just made up some fake critic to provide the fair share of fake praise this movie (and some other EXCELLENT films, like Mel Gibson’s The Patriot, and Rob Schneider’s The Animal (“Anothe winner!”), and Kevin Bacon’s Hollow Man…) clearly deserves
    Also: Chris O’Donnel
    Also: Bill Paxton
    :(

  43. Bill  |   Posted on Mar 10th, 2009 0

    You need to try “Against All Odds” with Jeff Bridges. If you can make any sense out of that movie or figure out why it is supposed to be considered entertaining… well, uh, you won’t, which is why it is one of the worst movies ever. I think it was supposed to be sexy but it isn’t (there isn’t any nudity!) and thrilling (there isn’t any thrills!) but it sucks all over the place. I hate it.

  44. root  |   Posted on Mar 10th, 2009 +2

    have you done Perfect Stranger yet, with halle berry and bruce willis? because, man.

    • edc  |   Posted on Mar 10th, 2009 +2

      ahh perfect stranger…
      where Halle is the real killer, but still gets scared searching willis’ home. even though shes alone. and doesn’t have to pretend shes investigating him.
      needed more balkie.

  45. edc  |   Posted on Mar 10th, 2009 0

    the avengers movie. because it hurts.

  46. courtney  |   Posted on Mar 11th, 2009 0

    Since you keep doing movies about white angst might I suggest ‘Friends with Money’ because it was also excruciatingly boring as hell. But I’ll keep suggesting ‘How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.’ And instead of knocking decent holiday romantic comedies like ‘Love Actually’ and ‘The Holiday’ take a look at that horrible rom-com ‘Catch and Release.’ That was so fucking painful.

  47. You are kidding yourself if you think this movie even approaches the land of evil presided over by the last Indiana Jones film, Southland Tales, and the Family Stone. Those movies even make Nicolas Cage and Robin Williams movies seem good.

    Stay focused, people: this is a hunt for TWMOAT, not just garden-variety bad movies.

  48. Elyse  |   Posted on Mar 11th, 2009 -12

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  49. VVVgum  |   Posted on Mar 11th, 2009 +2

    y’know, i actually liked this movie. but i DID see it in the middle of a 12 hour flight. so my judgement was impaired. and the inclusion of Oasis makes this a-ok with me.

  50. Ben  |   Posted on Mar 12th, 2009 +2

    Rachel Getting Married.

    It’s Oscar nominated, stars Anne Hathaway, and is all the fun of watching a slide show of somebody preparing for a wedding. A particularly whiny wedding. With singing. So much inappropriate singing.

    It’s bad is what I’m trying to say here.

  51. Ben  |   Posted on Mar 12th, 2009 -3

    Rachel Getting Married.

    It’s Oscar nominated, stars Anne Hathaway, and is all the fun of watching a slide show of somebody preparing for a wedding. A particularly whiny wedding. With singing. So much inappropriate singing.

    It’s bad is what I’m trying to say here.

  52. efguy  |   Posted on Mar 12th, 2009 -1

    I agree with Rachel Getting Married. I came so close to walking out on it it’s crazy. Also, review Tideland. It’s… uncomfortable.

  53. You know what, I don’t think you should review The Last Kiss anymore, at least not yet. There are at least 12 more movies about anthropomorphic robots and/or Robin Williams left totally untapped! Haha, just kidding. WMOAT Readers Against The Last Kiss 4 lyfe.

  54. You know what, I don’t think you should review The Last Kiss anymore, at least not yet. There are at least 12 more movies about anthropomorphic robots and/or Robin Williams left totally untapped! Haha, just kidding. WMOAT Readers Against The Last Kiss 4 lyfe.

  55. Fuck, double comment fail, I’m your girlfriend.

  56. I think the Room should be done as both the worst movie ever and the best movie ever,

  57. I nominate The Piano. There, I said it. I haaaate it.
    And second Moulin Rouge

  58. Color of Night  |   Posted on Mar 14th, 2009 0

    Color of night
    Lots of star power, pretentious seriousness, super-gratuitous sex scenes, laughably unlikely plot, this film has it all.
    Easily the worst Bruce Willis movie ever.

  59. pteranodon  |   Posted on Mar 14th, 2009 0

    the haunting of molly hartley is the worst

  60. Joe  |   Posted on Mar 14th, 2009 0

    I am surprised Highlander hasn’t shown up yet on the list. Sean Connery as an Egyptian Spanish Scotsman? It’s comparable to Zardoz. And there’s a delicious scene in there with frolicking down a beach screaming about having the “heart of a stag”.

    You need to do this.

  61. Mishy  |   Posted on Mar 14th, 2009 0

    I second or third that. When I watched Breakfast at Tiffanys I got very confused and paranoid thinking that someone purposely cut out all of the good parts of the movie and left only the racist bizarre parts.

  62. Wow. And to think I actually kind of wanted to see this movie when it came out. And then I totally forgot about it until now, probably because it is so terrible that everyone refuses to talk about it. And now I know all I need to know about it, and I don’t have to actually see it. Thanks, Video Gum!

  63. LN  |   Posted on Mar 15th, 2009 0

    I was so disappointed with The Black Dahlia. Loved the book. The movie is awful, pretentious and EVERY SINGLE ACTOR overacts. Definitely deserved a feature here.

  64. RM  |   Posted on Mar 15th, 2009 -1

    Reading this article made me realize how you only believe bad movies are made in the past 15. Or you just aren’t very movie-literate.

    There have been bad movies since the beginning.

  65. NAN  |   Posted on Mar 15th, 2009 +1

    Thank god I didn’t pay to see “Rachel Getting Married” It was auwful.BORING!!!
    I learned something tho,How to stack dishes in a in a dishwasher.THRILLING!!!!!
    A about ten minutes in ,I wantd to pour ANNE Hawaway a drink. WHAT A STINKER

  66. lauren  |   Posted on Mar 16th, 2009 0

    Rachel Getting Married or the Wackness

  67. Alone in the Dark
    Alone in the Dark
    Alone in the Dark
    Alone in the Dark
    Alone in the Dark
    Alone in the Dark
    Alone in the Dark
    Alone in the Dark
    Alone in the Dark
    Alone in the Dark
    Alone in the Dark

  68. jac  |   Posted on Mar 16th, 2009 +1

    whoever nominated gran torino, i second that. i don’t why that got such good review, it had the worst acting i have ever seen. clint eastwood may be a bad ass, but damn that was bad.

  69. jac  |   Posted on Mar 16th, 2009 -1

    whoever nominated gran torino, i second that. i don’t why that got such good review, it had the worst acting i have ever seen. clint eastwood may be a bad ass, but damn that was bad.

  70. kevin  |   Posted on Mar 17th, 2009 0

    Clan of the Cave Bear is handsdown the worst most of all time, tied with Ishtar.

  71. Paul  |   Posted on Mar 19th, 2009 +1

    Teenage Caveman was a real winner!! Starred Robert Vaughn as a caveman being hunted by the Gwadi beast. terrible flick

  72. Honestly, this movie is so bad that Gabe could have left his synopsis at merely, “There’s…a clown painting.”

  73. Unimpressed  |   Posted on Jul 29th, 2009 0

    I’d like to see you make a better movie. You’re obviously incredibly undereducated and lack any understanding whatsoever of film theory and the French new wave ‘style for styles sake’ movement. The whole basis of you’re argument against this film is that you don’t understand it. In future why don’t you just stick to the top 10 cliche american blockbusters in your local cinema. That or try out Ice Age 3.

  74. Zandi  |   Posted on Jul 29th, 2009 0

    Oh absolutely. I’ve been saying it for years. Who could possibly make a movie worse than clan of the cave bear? Im convinced its impossible.

  75. Opinion is cheap. But Mr. Gabe, thank you for digging and clawing way deeper into this and previous WMsOAT. It’s pretty unique to have these films examined at this level. I think your views are genuinely rounding out into valuable ideas. Pretty fucking funny too. Can’t wait for Bicentennial Man. Christ can’t believe I typed that.

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