There's a science to releasing movies, a time-tested methodology that studios have refined to maximize profits by premiering certain films at certain times of the year. Some months are traditionally great for date movies, others for family fare, and so on. The rules are constantly changing, but there's one release rule that seems pretty consistent through Hollywood's history - if a movie is being released in January, it's probably a big piece of crap.
Sure, there are some exceptions - Cloverfield did quite well with its January premiere last year - but, all in all, January is Hollywood's garbage dump month, the time of year where the studios toss out every misguided, misfired, mismanaged embarrassment they can't believe they ever greenlit and pray that everyone is either too fatigued by the holidays or is trying to hard to catch up on December's Oscar releases to even notice or care. Just look at what we've got coming up this month - Bride Wars, The Unborn, My Bloody Valentine 3D, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Underworld 3 (a prequel!)... it's pretty rough out there. To celebrate the movie industry's long history of beyond-appalling New Year premieres, here are ten of the WORST films ever released in the unholy movie-month of January. (February simply can't come quick enough.)
1. One Missed Call (January 4, 2008)
This one is almost too easy to pick on. It's widely considered to be one of the worst of 2008, many are citing it as the death of American Japanese horror remakes (which probably should've come three years ago), AND it scored the legendary 0% rating at RottenTomatoes.com. That means not ONE critic, not even those quote-spewing local affiliates, rose to Ed Burns' defense. We're sure there's some sort of "One Missed Call MISSED the mark" pun to be had here, but we're think that the dead horse is probably already dead.
2. Firestorm (January 9, 1998)
Can't remember Firestorm? It's about Howie Long - former NFL star and current Fox Football commentator - as a smokejumpin' fireman who plunges into a blazing forest fire to take down some escaped cons who've taken a bird-watcher hostage. That's right. They took an ornithologist hostage. Maybe your brain is actively suppressing any memories of Firestorm.
3. The Relic (January 10, 1997)
If you ask us, this is probably the movie that started Tom Sizemore's drug problem. Honestly, you'd have to self-mediate to get through this faux-Crichton mish-mash of CGI awfulness from the director of Timecop and End of Days.
4. Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (January 12, 1996)
The sheer existence of this movie is much, much scarier than its plotline. THIS is the movie that made sure that virtual reality would never be taken seriously as either a scientific concept or (especially) as a premise for a horror movie. Plus they couldn't get Jeff Fahey back for the role of Jobe. They couldn't get back JEFF FAHEY? Star of Darkman 3: Die, Darkman, Die? Wow.
5. Death Wish V: The Face of Death (January 14, 1994)
This movie made us angry on several levels. Mostly because Charles Bronson PROMISED that Death Wish 4 would be the absolute last and because, since everything about this movie was so half-assed, sloppily thrown-together, and lazy, we can only assume that the "Face of Death" was referring to Bronson's bored visage, which just seemed to scream to audiences, "Please... let me die...."
6. Elektra (January 14, 2005)
This movie made Daredevil look like The Dark Knight. That's right. Elektra made Daredevil - the movie with Ben Affleck as a blind, pill-popping Spider-Man-wannabe fighting a scenery-chewing Colin Farrell (who had his flamboyant level turned up high enough to make Joel Schumacher blush).... we're talking about THAT movie - look Oscar-worthy in comparison. After Jen Garner did him a favor like that, maybe that's why Ben popped the question.
7. Torque (January 16, 2004)
Torque is a multi-million-dollar movie that was apparently directed by a four-year-old playing with toy motorcycles. "Yay, now my motorcycle jumps on the train! Yay! Now my motorcycle upside down! Yay! Now my motorcycle eating my snack! YAY!" Torque proves that, in a world without physics, any idiot with a mediocre CGI budget and no common sense can be king.
8. The Gingerbread Man (January 23, 1998)
We're including this one for two reasons - 1). It's epically ineffective, dull, and disappointing, and 2). There's no reason it should've been, given the talent involved. This is a movie based on a John Grisham book, directed by Robert Altman (THE Robert Altman), and starring Kenneth Branagh (crazy miscast as a Southerner), and it represents probably the worst work all three have ever done.
9. Kung Pow: Enter the Fist (January 25, 2002)
There are some people - Woody Allen, Steve Martin, etc. - who are talented enough filmmakers and comedians that they can figure out ways to seamlessly either edit themselves into old movie footage or edit together such footage to create something wholly new and completely hilarious. And then there's Steve Oedekerk. 'Nuff said.
10. Eye of the Beholder (January 28, 1999)
Easily the worst thing that Ewan McGregor has ever done (and we're counting the Star Wars prequels). The director of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert brings us a serial killer movie so boring, pointless, and vague that you'll barely remember the "plot" even while you're watching the damn thing.
Code Name: The Cleaner (January 5, 2007); BloodRayne (January 6, 2005); White Noise (January 7, 2005); My Baby's Daddy (January 9, 2004); In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (January 11, 2007); Tuff Turf (January 11, 1985); Virus (January 15, 1999); Kangaroo Jack (January 17, 2003); Alone in the Dark (January 28, 2005); Car 54, Where Are You? (January 28, 1994); Hide and Seek (January 28, 2005)
And, now, since you occasionally can't help loving a movie that you know, deep down, is bad...
SEVEN HORRIBLE JANUARY-RELEASED MOVIES THAT WE SECRETLY LOVE:
1. Cabin Boy (January 7, 1994) - C'mon, it was produced by Tim Burton, has a great cast, and the David Letterman cameo is EPIC.
2. Leprechaun (January 8, 1993) - Forget Marley. THIS is the highlight of Jennifer Aniston's film career.
3. Warlock (January 11, 1989) - Who can't find it in their hearts to love Withnail & I's Richard E. Grant playing a lusty Scottish monster-fighter battling against Julian Sands with salt?
4. Angel (January 13, 1984) - Easily our favorite cheesy teen-turned-prostitute movie ever. That is, until we saw Paris Hilton's The Hottie and the Nottie.
5. Freejack (January 17, 1992) - A bizarrely watchable, goofy-as-hell sci-fi throwback with Anthony Hopkins, a smirking Mick Jagger, and Emilo Estevez. Plus it tells us that, when Rene Russo ages 20 years, she only gets one gray streak in her hair. That's awesome.
7. Phantoms (January 23, 1998) - Never before has a bad horror movie been solely redeemed by a single Kevin Smith one-liner. Yes, Ben Affleck is the bomb in Phantoms and, unbelievably, Peter O'Toole shows up too.