The Razzies are a celebration of the best of the worst Hollywood has to offer. Invented by movie veterans John J B Wilson and Mo Murphy, who felt cinema needed a bit more ridicule, the first ever Golden Raspberry Awards (later nicknamed the ‘Razzies’) were held in Wilson’s living room on March 31, 1981.
Created as an antidote to the Academy Awards, the Razzies now annually deals Hollywood awards for the worst films and performances of the year. Here are the movies that the Razzies declared to be the very worst of the 1980s, all of them ‘winners’ of the Worst Picture award.
Can’t Stop the Music (1980)
In 1980, John J B Wilson attended a double bill of Can’t Stop the Music and Xanadu, and was horrified at the low quality of both films. During his car ride home, he decided to create the Razzies and award the inaugural Worst Picture to Can’t Stop the Music.
Written by Allan Carr, who produced Grease and the flop Grease 2, Can’t Stop the Music is a pseudo-biography about and starring The Village People as themselves. Disco was far from cool in 1980, but changing tastes alone cannot be blamed for the movie’s disastrous reception, with critics having also targeted its terrible acting and smutty jokes.
Mommie Dearest (1981)
Starring Faye Dunaway, Mommie Dearest is a psychological drama based on actress Joan Crawford’s twisted relationship with her adopted daughter Christina Crawford. The real-life mother and daughter were not involved in making this film, which Christina denounced as “grotesque”.
Mommie Dearest’s over-the-top acting and baffling script have since cemented it as a camp classic, but Razzies creators Wilson and Murphy viewed it with particular disdain back in 1982, when they ‘awarded’ it five Razzies. It would later win the coveted Razzie for Worst Picture of the Decade.
Directed by Terence Young on an epic budget and starring Laurence Olivier as General Douglas MacArthur, Inchon should have been a home run. The film is based on the 1950 Battle of Inchon, where the United Nations and Republic of Korea Army launched a successful amphibious invasion in the fight against North Korea.
Despite its budget of $46 million, Inchon was riddled with errors, from cardboard-cut out planes with flying threads still visible to frequent footage of a digital watch that wouldn’t be invented for another 25 years. It was a critical and commercial disaster, and was never released on home video. It was the Razzies’ Worst Picture of 1983.
The Lonely Lady (1983)
The Lonely Lady, about a high school student who seduces her way through Hollywood in an attempt to get her screenwriting noticed, was critically reviled on release for the characters’ emotional whiplash and its graphic depiction of sadistic abuse. To this day, it has a 0% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Razzies lavished The Lonely Lady with 11 nominations, and it won in six categories. The movie’s leading lady Pia Zadora responded to her Razzie wins with good-natured defiance: “I would have hated to be nominated and not won.”
Highly controversial and critically scorned, Bolero is a 1984 romantic drama directed by John Derek and starring his wife, Bo Derek. Together, the pair made a long string of poorly reviewed movies, but Bolero was historically bad, depicting the exploits of a 23-year-old heiress who travels to Morocco and Spain while seeking to lose her virginity.
Due to its explicit bedroom scenes, Bolero struggled to find a distributor, so producers Cannon Films released it themselves, to little audience interest. Critics dismissed it as a soft porn flick, while the Razzies dealt it six awards, including Worst Picture and Worst Actress.
Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
Sylvester Stallone has been nominated for more Razzies than any other actor, receiving over 20 nominations across the decades. Rambo: First Blood Part II, which Stallone both wrote and starred in, took home the Razzies for Worst Picture, Worst Actor, Worst Screenplay and Worst Original Song (Peace in Our Life, by Stallone’s younger brother Frank).
Still, Stallone couldn’t be too disheartened: audiences loved Rambo 2, with the film selling 42 million cinema tickets in the US alone. Razzies creator Wilson himself listed the film as one of the ‘100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made.’
Howard the Duck (1986)
Among Marvel’s more embarrassing film adaptations, Howard the Duck was produced by none other than George Lucas. Originally intended as an animated film, it instead became a bizarre live action flop starring Back to the Future’s Lea Thompson.
The movie follows the adventures of Howard, who lives on Duckworld but accidentally takes a trip to Cleveland, Ohio, where he helps humankind with his martial arts abilities. The film was a flop, and won four Razzies including Worst Picture – an award it shared with…
Under the Cherry Moon (1986)
Prince’s directorial debut, Under the Cherry Moon is a romantic musical comedy about gigolos wooing an heiress on holiday in the French Riviera. Starring Prince as the male lead, Under the Cherry Moon also marked Kristin Scott Thomas’ first movie appearance.
Today, Scott Thomas admits she cannot look back at the film without cringing, and claims she took the role out of desperation. Under the Cherry Moon shared the 1987 Razzie Worst Picture award with Howard the Duck, though its music received critical acclaim, with the soundtrack album (named Parade) going platinum.
Leonard Part 6 (1987)
Spy parody films abound in Hollywood in the 80s, but few were quite so awful as Leonard Part 6. Directed by Paul Weiland, this movie starred the now-disgraced Bill Cosby, who wrote the film’s story but himself detested the finished product, telling the public to give it a miss.
“Even die-hard fans of ‘The Cosby Show’ will think twice about subjecting themselves to this witless and overinflated vanity production,” wrote Kyle Counts for the Hollywood Reporter. Fortunately, the film’s title is something of a misnomer: the movie itself pretends to be a sixth instalment of a franchise, but in reality no Leonard films preceded or followed it.
A huge box office success (once more proving that critics can’t harm a film’s profits), Cocktail is a romantic comedy that sees Tom Cruise as a business student-turned-bartender. It’s based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Heywood Gould, who used to be a bartender.
Cocktail’s withering reviews made Gould miserable: “I was not happy with the final product. It got so savaged by the critics… I literally couldn’t get out of bed for a day.” Gould’s work on the film earned him a Worst Screenplay award, while the film got Worst Picture.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier had epic ambitions for the much-loved franchise. Following Spock’s half-brother Sybok, who seeks a starship for a mission to discover the origins of the universe, Star Trek icon William Shatner directed, wrote and starred in the film, which was derided as directionless, dull and not scary enough on release.
Also starring Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols and George Takei, The Final Frontier soared to number one at the box office in its first week, but soon disappeared. Fans were disappointed, while the Razzies awarded it Worst Picture.