Hate-watching has become a television phenomenon. Generally, that term is used to describe regularly tuning into a show despite — or because of — the fact that it just makes you angry. Maybe you do so out of loyalty to a show you once loved. Or maybe you just enjoy observing how terrible TV can be.
So does this apply to movies as well? While it’s a different phenomenon altogether — since movies are a finite, two-hour experience as opposed to the ongoing narrative of a show — there definitely are films we find ourselves loving to hate-watch, too. This is a lot different than laughing at “so bad they’re good” movies. With something like The Room or Birdemic, it’s hard to feel any genuine rage during a viewing; those are just so terrible that they make us laugh.
The movies we’re talking about here aren’t necessarily the worst ever made. They’re the more mainstream Hollywood blockbusters that, for various reasons, fill us with rage. Yet at the same time, we don’t find ourselves turning the movie off and might not even be opposed to watching a second or third time in order to soak in the mediocrity.
1. Spider-Man 3
It’s still upsetting to think about Spider-Man 3, which tarnished what could have been a fabulous trilogy of superhero films. This was one of the early comic book movies to suffer from a problem that would later become more prevalent: trying to squeeze in way too much plot from the source material into one film.
But there are larger issues, such as Sam Raimi failing to nail the right tone during the Peter symbiote scenes. We can see what he was going for, but the result is just cringe-worthy — though perversely entertaining. Throw in a subplot about Mary Jane’s acting career and a baffling scene in which the butler comes out of nowhere to reveal information he clearly should have revealed a lot earlier, and you have a movie that still gets Spider-Man fans’ blood boiling.
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Roland Emmerich’s long career of blowing things up naturally led up to 2012, his most lovably hateable film. The end-of-the-world flick is packed with absolutely every disaster movie cliche in the book — from the cute dog we root for to get to safety to scenes of people flying planes through destruction while, for some reason, remaining weirdly close to the ground.
The dialogue is consistently awful, we don’t care about the characters, and the plot is as illogical as you would expect. The only thing that really made the movie work at the time was the special effects, which have not aged well and are now hilarious to look at. Catch the movie playing on cable, though, and you might just find yourself sticking around for longer than you expected.
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When Netflix released Bright in December 2017, critics declared it one of the worst movies of the year. You’ll start to understand why very quickly upon starting the film and seeing the logo for “Trigger Warning Entertainment.”
What follows is a film full of on-the-nose dialogue and mythology that seems to have been barely thought through. When screenwriter Max Landis was asked a perfectly reasonable question about the fictional world on Twitter — why does Shrek exist in a universe where orcs are real? — his response was a simple, “I don’t know,” emblematic of how little he seems to have considered any of the details of his own creation.
But 11 million people watched Bright within its first three days. As a result, it’s getting a sequel. With Netflix, hate-watching is easier than ever, and it really doesn’t matter to them whether anyone enjoyed the movie.
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4. Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones
One reason people sometimes hate-watch TV is that the show in question is one they used to love. Therefore, despite a dramatic decline in quality, they can’t tune out. Well, that’s how it felt watching the Star Wars prequels, the worst of which is easily Attack of the Clones.
The movie fails primarily because of the central relationship between Anakin and Padme. It’s so poorly executed as to be painful to watch, even though it’s meant to be a love story for the ages. Padme never even seems to be particularly into Anakin for most of the movie. Eventually, she suddenly decides she is, only we can’t tell through anything other than dialogue.
But it’s still a Star Wars movie, and one with enough good in it that even haters might find themselves re-watching it during yearly marathons. And now that lines such as “I don’t like sand” have become memes, hate-watching it has become even more fun.
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5. Seed of Chucky
There’s no mainstream horror series that went in a stranger direction than Child’s Play. After three Chucky sequels that were fairly straightforward and followed naturally from what came before, Don Mancini took a sharp turn with Bride of Chucky, which heavily emphasized the comedy and featured a Chucky that smokes weed and has sex. But that wasn’t even the lowest point. That would be the next installment, Seed of Chucky.
In this one, the protagonist, Chucky’s doll son Glen, is profoundly aggravating, as is the human plot involving Jennifer Tilly’s career. All the jokes — and there are a lot of them — are so unfunny that we actually feel second-hand embarrassment for everyone involved. Like Attack of the Clones, Chucky fans have a love-hate relationship with this one. It does deliver a few things we’d want in a Child’s Play movie, but all in all, it’s just a dreadful experience.
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6. Suicide Squad
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is a horrible movie that, worse than anything, is not very fun to watch. The next DC film, Suicide Squad, is just as bad quality wise. But hate-watching this one is actually not the worst experience in the world.
The David Ayer movie feels haphazardly produced, especially in the opening act, which rushes through a ridiculous amount of information by having a character just sit at a table and explain it. Half the script consists of the characters telling the audience over and over that they’re “the bad guys!” All of the jokes are complete duds and are at times actively offensive. And when the film attempts to reach an emotional climax at the end, it’s comical how unearned it is.
Still, Suicide Squad is kind of an entertaining movie to see and rip apart afterward as yet another example of the DC universe’s failings.
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7. The Transformers sequels
Why is the average person even still going to see the Transformers movies? Ever since Revenge of the Fallen, millions of fans come out of the theater each time complaining about everything from the plot inconsistencies to the racist side characters and the casual sexism. Yet those same people continue to return for the next one.
There is perhaps no better example of a series that a huge percentage of the audience is actively hate-watching. With the most recent entry, Transformers: The Last Knight, it became clearer than ever that reveling in the awfulness and laughing at the revelation that Harriet Tubman and Abraham Lincoln used to hang out with the Transformers is the only way to watch these movies and maintain one’s sanity.
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8. Gods of Egypt
Say what you will about Alex Proyas’ big-budget 2016 flop Gods of Egypt, but it’s never boring. All through the two-hour running time, Proyas is constantly introducing insane ideas that keep us entertained, either because they’re genuinely cool or because we can’t believe how dumb they are.
Probably the strangest decision is to use digital effects to make all of the gods a lot bigger than the humans. The resulting image of a god standing next to a human never looks right and is at times unintentionally funny — it’s no The Lord of the Rings.
Sure, none of the drama really works. But with a movie that features Geoffrey Rush fighting a giant space slug, how could you not keep watching?
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9. Fantastic Four (2015)
In the same way that Suicide Squad is an oddly entertaining watch because of how bad it is, so is the 2015 version of Fantastic Four. It’s what happens when a movie is created largely because the studio has the rights to a set of characters, not because there’s any passion for a particular idea.
To be fair, Josh Trank did seem to have an interesting concept for a more horror-leaning superhero film. But it’s difficult to find that in the final product, which suffered from a fatal case of studio interference. There are a consistent amount groan-worthy lines to keep viewers chuckling, from Sue Storm jokingly nicknaming her friend “Doctor Doom” to the closing scene explaining the origin of the name Fantastic Four with an exchange that is so horrible it literally sounds fake. Whenever Marvel Studios reboots Fantastic Four, they’ll have a hard time making audiences forget about this.
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10. Saw V & Saw 3D
Oftentimes, the reason viewers stick with a show that they occasionally hate is that the ups are so good as to make the downs worth suffering through. That’s something horror fans know quite well, especially with the Saw series.
After the main villain dies in Saw III, the Saw movies struggled to find a reason to continue. By the time we got to Saw V, a lot of fans were basically hate-watching as the series stumbled through passing the Jigsaw torch onto a new character, Hoffman, one of the absolute worst antagonists in recent horror history. There was just enough good there to keep fans tuned in, but enough bad to keep them complaining.
Saw V was followed up by the surprisingly awesome Saw VI, only to go right back downhill with the lackluster finale Saw 3D, which sends the franchise out on a sour note with one of the most predictable movie twists ever. With the recent reboot, Jigsaw, fans hoped things would get back on track, but unfortunately, most found themselves as annoyed as they were before.
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11. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
When you’re having an Indiana Jones marathon, what do you do when you reach Crystal Skull? The obvious answer would be to skip it, but there’s a decent enough amount of entertainment to be found in the fourth one that ignoring it entirely is inadvisable.
At the same time, so much of Crystal Skull is just mystifying, and even if it was kind of fun at the time, it sure hasn’t aged well. That’s partially due to the reliance on CGI, which now makes the movie seriously resemble a video game in many sequences. The introduction of aliens into the series was one of the weirdest choices ever made in a huge blockbuster franchise, and Indiana Jones’ son Mutt is a complete nothingburger of a character.
Fans can sometimes oversell how bad Crystal Skull is, and it definitely doesn’t ruin the franchise forever. It is bad, but not so bad that watching it and laughing at the dumb decisions while still enjoying the adventure isn’t worthwhile.
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12. The Mummy
Rebooting the Univeral monsters as part of a new cinematic universe of films wasn’t inherently a bad idea. But Universal dropped the ball with the opening act, The Mummy. There are so many issues, the most prominent being the franchise building. Most movies like this will include a few subtle references to a larger world. But here, a significant chunk of the film is spent with Russell Crowe essentially previewing Universal’s upcoming slate.
The tone is also a disaster. It tries to go for Marvel-style comedy, but every joke bombs and the transition from comedy back into serious horror is jarring. Really, the movie just doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. It could be more easily dismissed if it did not carry the name of such an iconic horror property. But that name lured an unfortunate number of people into the theater to hate-watch.
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13. Jaws: The Revenge
It’s hard to believe a franchise could fall so far. In the fourth Jaws film, The Revenge, Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) has died off screen, and so our protagonist is his wife, Ellen. She’s afraid of sharks, but apparently not so much that she doesn’t choose to live near a body of water. It becomes clear at this point that the family of the shark from Jaws is somehow holding a grudge against the Brodys and is seeking them out like this is a WWE feud. If that’s not enough stupidity for you, the movie implies Ellen is linked telepathically to the shark.
The creature behaves even less like a shark this time, letting out a roar at one point. And the ending involves the shark blowing up out of absolutely nowhere. The movie would just be flat out “so bad it’s good” if it didn’t carry the name Jaws. Because of how it tarnishes the name of one of the great movies, viewing it becomes a hate-watch.
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14. The Purge: Election Year
The first Purge movie was fairly disappointing, but Anarchy improved upon the concept and got us interested in more sequels. Then we had Election Year, the worst Purge yet. Weirdly, the movie reveals that the Purge universe looks a lot like modern-day America and is less of a dystopia than we pictured based on the fact that the government forces people to kill each other once a year. The plan becomes trying to elect a president who will outlaw the Purge, as if leaders who instituted a Purge-like murder ceremony would be easily removed from their positions with a peaceful election.
The over-the-top nature of the story clashes with actual shots of Congress and a race for 270 electoral votes. The movie tries to be socially relevant but while bashing us over the head with everything it’s trying to say. Not only that, but it treats the audience like they’re idiots. In one scene, a character explains to a U.S. senator running for president that she should try to win Florida. And she considers this to be a valuable insight, one she apparently had not considered.
The franchise is continuing on with another installment this year. But after Election Year, it looks like we’ll be hate-watching from here on out.
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15. Godzilla (1998)
With Godzilla (1998), Roland Emmerich had an opportunity to introduce the classic monster to American audiences who never watched the Japanese versions. But boy did he screw it up.
Right off the bat, it’s irritating that the monster looks and acts nothing like his Japanese counterpart. But even putting that aside, Emmerich takes a movie in which Godzilla is representative of Japan’s anxiety over nuclear weapons, and he turns it into just another one of his generic, brainless disaster flicks. We might as well just be watching Independence Day again.
The movie was so bad that years later, the Japanese films established that the monster featured in this one is a totally different monster who Americans mistakenly believe to be Godzilla. Yes, that’s canon.
Read more: The Best Worst Movies of All Time
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