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50 Terrible Movies Featuring Great Actors

Shanghai Surprise (1986) Sean Penn

The Terrible Film: An attempt to make an adventure-style comedy in the vein of Indiana Jones, but with pop-music stylings and starring then-newlyweds Sean Penn and Madonna. The film is exactly as bad as that sounds.

The Great Actor: Twice-Oscar winner Penn with a serious attitude towards method acting, social activism and invasive paparazzi.

When Bad Filmmaking Meets Brilliant Acting: Penn struggles to bring life to a character who – to be fair to him – is already nonexistent thanks to a goofy, vacant script that’s full of line clunkers and godawful puns.

Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992) Marlon Brando

The Terrible Film: Chronicling Columbus’ voyage to the New World in 1492, this film had major financial and production setbacks during filming which led to a massive falling out between father-and-son producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind.

The Great Actor: Arguably the highest acclaimed – as well as iconic – actor of the 20th century, winning two Oscars and receiving nominations for six more, and remembered for starring in On The Waterfront, The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, A Streetcar Named Desire and many more.

When Bad Filmmaking Meets Brilliant Acting: Generally considered to be Brando’s worst cinematic outing, clearly phoning in his small-role performance in exchange for a reported $5 million payout.

Trog (1970) Joan Crawford

The Terrible Film: A low-budget, snail-pace sci-fi film about a scientist that discovers a caveman – or troglodyte, if you will – still living in an English countryside.

The Great Actor: One-time Oscar winner, twice nominee, Crawford one of the biggest movie stars in 1930s Hollywood, as well as one of the most iconic screen sirens of all time.

When Bad Filmmaking Meets Brilliant Acting: Crawford retured from feature films after Trog. She later said of the film “If I weren’t a Christian Scientist, and I saw Trog advertised on a marquee across the street, I think I’d contemplate suicide”.

Inchon (1981) Laurence Olivier

The Terrible Film: Drama detailing the Battle of Inchon, a crucial event in the Korean War, which underperformed at the box office to such an extent that it was pulled out of cinemas and has never been released on VHS or DVD. It has since been referred to as one of the worst films of all time thanks to a terribly one-sided account of the battle.

The Great Actor: He has one Best Actor Oscar to his name, as well as an astonishing 12 nominations and two honorary awards. He is basically the quintessential thespian actor, setting a bar that no one else has met since.

When Bad Filmmaking Meets Brilliant Acting: When interviewed during the film’s production, Olivier “People ask me why I'm playing in this picture. The answer is simple. Money, dear boy. I'm like a vintage wine. You have to drink me quickly before I turn sour. I'm almost used up now and I can feel the end coming. That's why I'm taking money now. I've got nothing to leave my family but the money I can make from films. Nothing is beneath me if it pays well. I've earned the right to damn well grab whatever I can in the time I've got left." You have to admit, he has a point.

Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (2004) Jon Voight

The Terrible Film: A comedy that is often regarded as one of the worst movies of all time (it currently sits at the very bottom of IMDB’s Bottom 100). It tells the story of a group of super-intelligent babies that foil the evil schemes of an evil child-napper, played by...

The Great Actor: Oscar winner with a host of other award nominations to his name, as well as the star of such classic heavyweight films as Midnight Cowboy and Deliverance .

When Bad Filmmaking Meets Brilliant Acting: An all-too common mistake in believing that over-playing a Nazi-esque villain with a ridiculous accent is ok just because this is a film for kids. It’s not ok, Jon - the kids would have more fun watching you in Deliverance .

Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) Richard Burton

The Terrible Film: The sequel to the classic horror film, catching up with a now 16-year-old Regan, four years after her possession, was filmed from a script that was rewritten numerous times throughout production, resulting in a laughable mess.

The Great Actor: Legendary actor with seven Oscar nominations to his name and is generally considered to be one of the greatest thespian actors that has ever lived.

When Bad Filmmaking Meets Brilliant Acting: He's still as mesmerising as ever, even in such terrible surroundings.

Jaws: The Revenge (1987) Michael Caine

The Terrible Film: The fourth film in the Jaws franchise (although completely ignoring the continuity laid out in third film, Jaws 3D ), and a mess of plot holes and inconsistent storytelling, including a hastily reshot ending that makes no sense.

The Great Actor: Two-time Oscar winner and one of the most famous actors on the planet, thanks in no small part to an extensive career spanning 60 years and an instantly recognisable voice.

When Bad Filmmaking Meets Brilliant Acting: Sadly, reshoots for this film prevented Caine from picking up his Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Hannah And Her Sisters in person.

Later on, he famously said of the film “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific".

Sizzle Beach, USA (a.k.a. Malibu Hot Summer) (1981) Kevin Costner

The Terrible Film: A supposed comedy in which three young woman come to LA to explore its nightlife, meet Kevin Costner's horse rancher and... um... thats about it. Oh, apart from nudity. Nudity happens.

The Great Actor: Oscar winning director and actor, making his name throughout the '90s as an honourable Hollywood heartthrob in such films as Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, The Bodyguard and The Untouchables , before focusing on making more epic, awards-worhty films like Dances With Wolves, The Postman and Waterworld .

When Bad Filmmaking Meets Brilliant Acting: It should come as no surprise that, following his rise to stardom, Costner actually tried to buy the rights to this film so he could have it removed from all selling outlets. As it was, his fame meant that the film was released with the tagline “Hot sand! Hot bodies! Hot Costner!"

The Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000) Robert De Niro

The Terrible Film: The once-popular cartoon squirrel and moose are sucked out of the TV and into the real world when their arch-nemesis Fearless Leader hatches a plan to brainwash America and be voted in as the new President. So it's a film in which animated animals defeat a comedy Nazi-like dictator.

The Great Actor: Twice Oscar winner and five-time nominee, De Niro is generally regarded to be the best actor in the world and has starred in all manner of acclaimed films.

When Bad Filmmaking Meets Brilliant Acting: It’s tragically absurd and more than a little sad to see Travis Bickle resort to such depths but, at the very least, as Vanity Fair said at the time of release, it’s the first time an actor has performed a method interpretation of a cartoon character. So... well done?

Jack & Jill (2011) Al Pacino

The Terrible Film: Adam Sandler's fat suit 'comedy' in which he plays protagonist Jack AND his obnoxious, needy twin sister Jill. It's basically a film in which the title came first and then he worked backwards.

The Great Actor: One-time Oscar winner and a massive seven-time Oscar nominee, Pacino is the one of the greatest actors alive, and the star of The Godfather trilogy, Scarface, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon and a whole other CV of incredible performances.

When Bad Filmmaking Meets Brilliant Acting: The film broke the record for the number of Razzie nominations, earning a massive 10. However, despite universally awful reviews, critics were very favourable towards Pacino, calling his over-the-top portrayal of himself a genuinely funny send-up.