When the critics run out of insults

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M Night Shyamalan's new film has been hammered by the critics this week, but how does it compare with cinema's all-time turkeys? Arifa Akbar selects her top 10 worst-reviewed movies of all time


Plan 9 from Outer Space (1953)



Dir. Ed Wood


Aliens use zombies against Earth!


Critic's view: "Unintentionally hilarious feast of tinfoil, cardboard and atrocious acting." Barbara Ellen, The Times.


Budget: $60,000


Box office: Unknown (it bombed).

The Life of Stuff (1997)

Dir. Simon Donald

An adaptation of Donald's own play set in a Glasgow gangland nightclub.

Critic's view: "The increasingly hysterical tone ensures whatever wit may have resided in the original play is well and truly crushed". Mail on Sunday.

Budget: £2m

Box office: 304 tickets sold.

Ishtar (1987)

Dir. Elaine May

Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman star as unsuccessful lounge singers who travel to Morocco for work but walk into a Cold War stand-off. A notorious flop with cult status, the comedy drew media attention for its snowballing budget.

Critic's view: "So bad it could almost have been deliberate. May's script is unfunny, and anything approximating a joke is wrung dry." Time Out

Budget: $55m

Box office: $14m

Swept away (2002)

Dir. Guy Ritchie

A bored 40-year-old wife (Madonna) is taken on a private cruise by her mega-rich husband only to find herself stranded on a deserted island with the ship's first mate after a shipwreck. You can guess the rest.

Critics' view: "A shipwreck." Rolling Stone "A vehicle for Madonna, who, as everyone but her husband knows, has the acting talent of a pickled egg." Fiona Sturges, The Independent

Budget: $10m.

Box office: $600,000 (in the US, straight to video in the UK).

The Last Airbender (2010)

Dir. M Night Shyamalan

A devastated Earth is divided into four warring factions, water, earth, fire and air. Two teenagers discover Aang, frozen, and release the last person with the power to, yep, bend air. He must restore balance and peace.

Critics' view: "An agonising experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented. The laws of chance suggest that something should have gone right. Not here." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times

"The best way to watch The Last Airbender is probably with your eyes closed." A O Scott, The New York Times.

Budget: $150m, plus $130m marketing.

Box office: $16m on first day (Twilight Eclipse took $93m).

Sex Lives of the Potato Men (2004)

Dir. Andy Humphries

The sex lives of of four potato delivery men in Birmingham. You don't want to know any more.

Critics' view: "Crude, desperately unfunny... The cinematic equivalent of untreated sewage." The Daily Telegraph

A masterclass in film-making ineptitude... It is one of the most nauseous films ever made. No one felt like lunch." James Christopher, The Times

Budget: £1.8m

Box office: £500,000 in its first week

The Hottie and The Nottie (2008)

Dir. Tom Putnam

Rom-com and Paris Hilton vehicle.

Critics' view: "About as funny as the anal rape scene in The War Zone." James Berardinelli, online critic.

"Toxic stuff." Anthony Quinn, The Independent

Budget: $9m

Box office: $1.6m

No Orchids for Mrs Blandish (1948)

Dir. St John Legh Clowes

Casual sex and brutality that somehow bypassed the censors made this British gangster film hugely controversial on release. With a cast including Sid James, it was set in New York, with the mostly British actors often struggling with their US accents (the American in the cast, Jack LaRue, affected a slight Italian accent).

Critics' view: "It has the morals of an alley cat and the sweetness of a sewer." The Observer

"The most sickening exhibition of brutality, perversion, sex and sadism ever to be shown on a cinema screen." The Monthly Film Bulletin

Budget: unknown.

Box office: dismal .

Gigli (1995)

Dir. Martin Brest

Ben Affleck is a low-ranking mobster charged with kidnapping the mentally-challenged, Baywatch-obsessed brother of a top federal prosecutor. Intended as a black comedy, it became a botched rom-com when financiers sought to cash-in on the real-life relationship between Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, but they lacked any chemistry.

Critic's view: "The least seductive interchange in the history of movie sex is when Ms Lopez parts her lovely legs on a bed and tells Mr Affleck, 'It's turkey time', explaining her invitation with the encouraging words, 'gobble, gobble'." John Walsh, The Independent

Budget: $54m

Box office: $7m

Battlefield Earth (2000)

Dir. Roger Christian

A dreadlocked "security chief" (John Travolta) lives in the year 3000, when Earth has been taken over by aliens, in this adaptation of Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard's 1982 novel.

Critic's view: "It ... supports only one message or creed – that you have wasted your time in entering the cinema." David Thomson, The Independent.

Budget: $44m.

Box office: $30m.

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