When I decided to do a worst working director feature, I was forced to rid myself of all the childhood sentimentality that once obscured my vision and put my film snobbery hat on. Killing Bambi wasn’t fun and it was bloody long as well… my (wonderful) editor’s thinking ‘has this kid gone to be with the monks or something?’ Watching and then researching so many movies (over the course of four weeks) so numbingly bad that I laughed at the unintentionally funny or switched off after the first act. Some of these movies have made me appreciate how the top critics plough through thousands of distasteful films to spare the money.
I also had to think that quite a few of the directors and movies undermentioned were seen on a lazy Sunday afternoon. You know, the one where you come back from church or football, have had the big dinner and everyone is deliberately keeping their brains switched off before they re-adventure into the corporate world and school the following morning. My point? I didn’t watch them in front of that monster screen in darkness. Anyone who watched The Dark Knight in IMAX or Avatar in 3D will understand what I’m saying. As a wannabe Ebert, I need to think about three key things:
1) How these movies would’ve have touched me when I left the cinema?
2) What feeling were instilled in me five minutes into the first act?
3) And what effect would paying a tenner for some of these movies have had on a slightly more moulded cinematic opinion at the time of cinematic release?
Below are some conclusions I came to. We at Vulture Hound have scoured the very depths of the seas in Hollywood to find you the worst of the worst. Artists with an unabashed taste for the mind numbing, bloated, stereo-typical and downright pointless. This is a list of some of the worst working directors in Hollywood. I had to leave out some notable names (Paul W.S Anderson, Jason Whistelle) because too many were of the same genre, which got annoying. Here are the men who have committed the most despicable crimes of cinema will have their wanted posters listed here.
(Remember, we watch these films and listen to all this music at VH so you don’t have to. Because we’re noble like that.)
- Steve Carr
As with quite a few “auteurs” on this list, Steve Carr seems fascinated by mediocre family comedies which have honest enough themes. But as my dear university lecturer droned into me: think about themes later, a storyteller has to be good first. Carr’s efforts include Daddy Day Care, Doctor Dolittle 2 and a segment in Movie 43 (boy, the less said about that, the better). All solid works which scream an obsession for the narratively simply, visually mediocre, and comically inept. They’re harmless efforts, I agree. But I’ve seen sixth form students come up with stuff more inventive, even throwing in a smidgen of intelligence and wit.
For Self-inflicting torture, watch Daddy Day Care
- Brian Levant
A friend of mine said he was terrible. I remembered a couple of his flicks from childhood and thought it was a harsh statement. So like any journalist I investigated and watched his box office hit the Flintstones and again. Fuck me, talk about perspective being everything? I mean, I certainly believe that children’s films can offer great cinema (just watch Enchanted or The Lego Movie) but as a director, even if you’re being forced to cater to a particular demographic, you have to make an attempt at originality somehow. His are the types of movies you can only watch on TV, which tells you all you need to know about the director. He’s formulaic and too cheesy, even for children. And anyone who makes Jackie Chan look silly is a criminal.
OK, so he’s not the worst you’ll ever find. But he did make the Terminator reboot pretty empty, which is a sin in its own case (that’s right Arnie, I’m on your side!). Joseph McGinty Nichol, started out as a record producer turned music video director, which may give reasons as to why his action set pieces are pretty sound, but watching through a couple of his films there’s an unmistakable blandness about the story and the characters. I mean, he hasn’t got any absolute stinkers, they’re just consistently below average.
For self-inflicting torture: watch This Means War
- M. Night Shylaman
Believe it or not, this man was once viewed as the next Spielberg. The self-proclaimed supernatural master has cinephiles everywhere asking the same question: where the hell did it all go wrong? Night’s career started off very brightly; his mainstream debut The Sixth Sense made him the youngest director to ever be nominated for an Oscar and he had strong critical returns in Unbreakable and Signs. However eyebrows were raised when The Village was released in 2004; the consensus being that the plot twists were starting to test the patience of even the most ardent practitioners in the suspense of disbelief. Being good at plot twists is fine, but not if it’s the only thing in your locker. And then there was that disaster in adapting the, very enjoyable, cult series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Shylaman’s current reputation as a filmmaker is so tarnished even Sony omitted his name from all marketing for Will Smith’s After Earth, in fear of his name being a turn off for audiences.
For self-inflicting torture: watch The Last Airbender
- Keenen Wayans
Mr Wayans graces this list for similar reasons as another African-American director. At a more childish age, I embraced vulgar and stereotypical movies about my race. However, as maturity (albeit delayed) hit me, I started to realise crudeness was the only thing the Wayan brother had going for him. As a black man growing up, you genuinely think setting up black jokes the way he does is funny. Gimmick-driven and consistently void of even remote depth, Wayans makes the list. An eyebrow must be raised at man whose debut film was Scary Movie.
Self-inflicting torture: watch Little Man
- Tyler Perry
This one might be a little surprising. Tyler Perry’s story is remarkable indeed: Molested and abused by his father during childhood, he started to write as an act of solace. Through sheer grit and determination he created a brand of stage plays on the African-American theatre circuit which has now made him a millionaire. Sounds like a guy you wanna love right? As inspirational as his story is, his famous character Madea reinforces all black stereotypes to the point of being offensive. While I can take the odd tongue-in-cheek joke about black people, when someone clearly shows some level of intelligence or range, it’s an insult to the works of Steve Mcqueen (12 Years a Slave), John Singleton (Boyz N the Hood), and Spike Lee (Malcolm X). He insists we only look at his films as mere entertainment (but if you’re on this website, chances are you’re looking for something deeper). He does touch on self-worthy themes and his franchises have a loyal fan base; but he presents caricatures of African Americans which result in them being seen as idiots in Hollywood. Interestingly enough, his success hasn’t transferred to this part of the Atlantic.
For self-inflicting torture: watch A Madea Christmas
- Jason Friedberg & Aaron Selzer
If you gave Kim Kardashian her silver screen debut, you deserve to be strapped in a straitjacket anytime a camera is near you. Responsible for calamities such as Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, Date Movie, and Meet the Spartans, the pair have indulged themselves in the spoof/parody niche (which is remarkably profitable according to Box Office Mojo) to the chagrin of every film purist to walk the earth. I refuse to discuss them any further.
For self-inflicting torture: watch Any of Them
- Michael Bay
Starting out as an intern for Lucasfilm, the man behind the Transformers franchise is one of the highest grossing directors of all time. That would suggest he does have an audience and, therefore, wields some artistic merit. Known for his feverish editing style, the LA born villain-of-cinema seems more interested in sun-soaked women and action set pieces, rather than the basics of storytelling (character development, coherent plot etc). Looking back at the first Transformers, it’s only now I realise this guy was effectively casting Megan Fox, Rosie Whiteley-Huntington and Nicola Peltz in fully clothed porn movies. I have never seen such a vitriolic reaction from critics of the higher echelons of cinema towards a director’s work; which was quite surprising because I thought the first Transformers film was pretty alright (how ironic that the cheapest movie in the franchise was the most critically acclaimed. Well, as it could possibly be).That being said, studios are certain of a box office return with Bay at the helm, so he’ll never be short of work.
For self-inflicting torture: watch Transformers: Age of Extinction
- Uwe Boll
Haha. Hahahaha. Where do I begin? In fact… that’s the point: I can’t begin. I can have a fun one can’t I? Filmmaking aside for just a sec. Google the name and see what comes up. Then challenge me to a boxing match.
For self-inflicting torture: watch Any of Them
If you’ve been affected by any of these directors or would like to highlight names which have offended you, please leave a comment.