Both a harsh critic at times, and a staunch defender of diversity and creative choices in filmmaking, Roger Ebert is arguably the most esteemed and well-known film critic of all time. Though he sadly passed away in 2013 after a long battle with cancer, his film reviews live on in the public memory as a testament to his perceptive view of cinema and eloquent way of talking about it.

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One thing he was known for was not holding back when it came to his movie reviews. When Ebert thoroughly enjoyed and admired a film, he would say so enthusiastically. When he hated one, he would proclaim it loudly as he did for films like Pink Flamingos and Caligula. The critic wrote some of the worst movie reviews ever — not in terms of the quality of his writing, oh no, but in terms of how brutally he talked about the films he was reviewing. There are undeniably some films that he despised more than most, sometimes giving them his infamous lowest-possible rating: No stars and a thumbs down.

15 ‘Jaws: The Revenge’ (1987)

Directed by Joseph Sargent

Lorraine Gray and Michael Caine in Jaws: The Revenge
Image via Universal Pictures

The fourth and final film in the Jaws franchise and one of the worst sequels of all time, Jaws: The Revenge focuses on the recently widowed Ellen Brody, who goes to visit her son Michael after her other son Sean dies from a shark attack while on the job. During her visit, she strikes up a new romance, but things go awry when the group is terrorized by a great white shark out for revenge. How a shark is able to hold a grudge and set out on a quest for revenge was a mystery for all, including Roger Ebert.

This film interestingly ignores the events of the movie Jaws 3-D, and was one that Roger Ebert found to be not only a “bad movie, but also a stupid and incompetent one.” He also went further and claimed that it wasn’t a good thriller either, which is a deep cut for a Jaws movie. According to Ebert, though, viewers are better off watching a movie that doesn’t propose sharks are capable of thirsting for payback.

Jaws: The Revenge

Release Date
July 17, 1987

Director
Joseph Sargent

Cast
Lorraine Gary , Lance Guest , Mario Van Peebles , Michael Caine , Karen Young , Judith Barsi

Runtime
89

14 ‘Dirty Love’ (2005)

Directed by John Asher

In Dirty Love, Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg plays a woman who finds out her boyfriend is cheating. After breaking up, she steps back onto the dating scene to get back at her ex, all the while ignoring the one guy who might be right for her: her nerdy friend John. Though it’s supposed to be a comedy, some would call it one of the unfunniest films ever put on the silver screen.

This is a film that Roger Ebert particularly did not enjoy, having some very strong words for it in his review. He claimed that the film was so pitiful that “it [was] hopelessly incompetent” and said that he was unsure if anyone “involved [had] ever seen a movie, or [knew] what one is.” For anyone thinking about watching Dirty Love, it’s certain that Ebert would advise against it.

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13 ‘The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)’ (2011)

Directed by Tom Six

Laurence R. Harvey in 'The Human Centipede II', laughing maniacally
Image via IFC Midnight

One of the most infamously grotesque and disturbing horror movie franchises ever, the Human Centipede trilogy is certainly an entertaining talking point. The second installment, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence), follows a disturbed loner who sets out to create a 12-person human centipede. No one asked for the first film, no one asked for a sequel, but Tom Six delivered anyway.

From the get-go, Ebert calls the film in his review “an ugly, artless affront to human decency.” It’s certainly not hard to see why the critic had such contempt for the movie, since it has everything he usually hated: No heart, nothing of any real value to say, and gratuitous shock value. It’s certainly a cult classic that isn’t without it fans, but Ebert would have never called himself one of them.

The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)

Release Date
October 6, 2011

Director
Tom Six

Cast
Laurence R. Harvey , Ashlynn Yennie , Maddi Black , Kandace Caine , Dominic Borrelli , Lucas Hansen

Runtime
88

12 ‘North’ (1994)

Directed by Rob Reiner

NORTH, Elijah Wood as North, sung to by Dan Akroyd and Reba McEntire
Image via Columbia Pictures

Based on a novel by Alan Zweibel, North stars Elijah Wood as the title character, a young boy who is bright but severely neglected by his parents. He meets a man who encourages him to legally separate from them and search the world for a much better replacement, but North soon realizes that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

Roger Ebert reviews could get quite poetic with his use of words, so when he was particularly concise when expressing his distaste for a movie, one knew that things were serious. Judging by his review of North, it might be safe to argue that it’s one of the films he despised most. Simply put, he “hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it.” He even said he was insulted by the very thought that some people might like it, which is an extremely low blow.

North

Release Date
July 22, 1994

Runtime
87 minutes

11 ‘Freddy Got Fingered’ (2001)

Directed by Tom Green

In the black comedy Freddy Got Fingered, a struggling cartoon artist decides to fabricate something life-changing about his father for attention when his pitch for a cartoon gets rejected in Hollywood. The devious lie is that his father is molesting his younger brother Freddy, and it sets off an insane chain of events for the family. The movie has its fans, but for the most part, it’s usually considered one of the worst of all time.

Roger Ebert felt that the movie not only “doesn’t scrape the bottom of the barrel,” but that it doesn’t even “deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels.” Needless to say, the esteemed film critic absolutely hated this film about how an egregious lie tears apart a normal family. He didn’t find it funny, and general audiences tend to agree.

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10 ‘B.A.P.S.’ (1997)

Directed by Robert Townsend

An official image of Halle Berry and Natalie Desselle for BAPS
Image via New Line Cinema

In B.A.P.S., one of the campiest comedies of the ’90s, Oscar winner Halle Berry plays Nisi alongside Natalie Desselle’s Mickey, two stylish waitresses who dream of opening their own hair salon that doubles as a soul-food restaurant. To achieve these dreams, the two fly to L.A. for an audition but instead strike up a conveniently close friendship with an elderly millionaire.

Though it’s a film that fans of Berry thoroughly enjoy without any irony or shame, Roger Ebert found it less than satisfactory. He is quoted as saying that the film “doesn’t work” but would “bring us all together… in paralyzing boredom.” The general critical consensus aligns with his opinion, but with so many modern audiences still loving the movie for what it is, one can’t help but wonder if a re-evaluation is in order.

B.A.P.S.

Release Date
March 28, 1997

Director
Robert Townsend

Runtime
90

9 ‘Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo’ (2005)

Directed by Mike Bigelow

An official image of Rob Schneider for Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
Image via Sony Pictures Releasing 

In the somewhat-of-a-cult-classic comedy sequel Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, Rob Schneider plays the titular gigolo who resumes his career of prostitution when his former pimp returns to his life and requires his assistance. While Deuce attempts to figure out who is framing his friend for multiple murders, he encounters many ladies and obstacles along the way.

Though many fans of Rob Schneider love this wacky movie for what it has to offer, Ebert reviewed the film and called it “aggressively bad, as if it wants to cause suffering to the audience” and he went on to personally address the star, saying: “Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks.” There’s not much else one can add after a scathing review like that!

Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo

Release Date
August 12, 2005

Director
Mike Bigelow

Runtime
77

8 ‘Last Rites’ (1988)

Directed by Donald P. Bellisario

The film Last Rites is about a woman named Angela who turns to a priest for help after the brutal murder of her mobster lover at the hands of his furious wife, Zena. The priest becomes torn between his vows, Angela, and his sister, Zena. This may sound like an interesting and promising premise, but if critics like Ebert are to be believed, director Donald P. Bellisario couldn’t have squandered the concept’s potential more badly.

Last Rites received a scathing review from Roger Ebert, who proclaimed it “the worst film of 1988.” He also went on to imply that the people responsible for the movie were all “deficient in taste, judgment, reason, tact, morality and common sense”. He then made sure the masses knew that the film was overall “offensive to [his] intelligence.”

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7 ‘Caligula’ (1979)

Directed by Tinto Brass

Created by the founder of Penthouse magazine Bob Guccione, the erotic drama Caligula focuses on the infamous titular Roman Emperor, played by Malcolm McDowell. Also in the cast of this wild historical movie is the talented Helen Mirren, as well as the late Peter O’Toole. Some call this one of the most scandalous films ever made, others think that its infamy is blown a little out of proportion, but not many people think it’s a genuinely great movie.

Unfortunately for everyone involved in the project, Roger Ebert had nothing nice to say about it. He is quoted as saying the film is simply “sickening, utterly worthless, shameful trash” and that he was left feeling “disgusted and unspeakably depressed” after watching it. A noteworthy period drama this is definitely not, at least according to Ebert.

6 ‘She’s Out of Control’ (1989)

Directed by Stan Dragoti

In She’s Out of Control, Katie, the good-girl teenage daughter of a radio station manager, uses his business trip as a chance to change up her life and appearance, learning how to do so from her dad’s girlfriend, Janet. Despite a star-studded cast with the likes of Tony Danza and Matthew Perry, the movie was an all-around failure, and understandably so.

Roger Ebert called this film “bizzare,” “banal,” and many other negative things, particularly in relation to its depiction of young girls. He said the movie “sees adolescent girls as commodities to be protected from predatory males” but also notes that the predatory male in this film could very well be Katie’s father, who keeps looking at her inappropriately.

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5 ‘Mad Dog Time’ (1996)

Directed by Larry Bishop

In Mad Dog Time, a mob boss named Vic comes out of a stint in a mental hospital to find his business and affairs in a mess. As Vic tries to fix the issues, other mobsters are looking to remove him from the equation so that they can take over. Even a star-studded cast featuring the likes of Gabriel Byrne, Jeff Goldblum, and Kyle MacLachlan couldn’t save the film from being obliterated by critics.

In the simplest of terms, Roger Ebert said that this movie “does not improve on the sight of a blank screen viewed for the same length of time.” In other words, Mad Dog Time isn’t even worth watching as viewers could watch paint dry without noticing any difference. This review from Ebert is a burn that cuts extra deep.

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4 ‘The Devils’ (1971)

Directed by Ken Russell

the devils 19710
Image via Warner Bros.

Ken Russell‘s blasphemous and infamous religious drama The Devils is a biopic set in 17th-century France, where Father Urbain Grandier‘s protection of the city of Loudun from the corrupt Cardinal Richelieu is undermined by a sexually repressed nun who’s accused of witchcraft. Due to its sacrilegious religious imagery, intense sexual content, and graphic violence, the film faced great backlash upon release, as well as heavy censorship.

It may not be quite as taboo nowadays as it was back in the ’70s, but The Devils has lost none of the shock value that made Roger Ebert despise it. The critic was always a fan of using sarcasm to criticize movies he didn’t like, but his review of The Devils is a special case. Entirely composed of abundantly sarcastic “praise” for Russell’s film, it’s a witty way of him saying that he found it unbearably pretentious and morally reprehensible.

The Devils

Release Date
July 16, 1971

Director
Ken Russell

Runtime
111

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3 ‘Pink Flamingos’ (1972)

Directed by John Waters

Divine aiming a gun at something off-camera in Pink Flamingos.
Image via New Line Cinema

Director John Waters is nothing if not an acquired taste — and one that not many cinephiles are able to tap into, at that. Perhaps his most famous (or infamous) film is Pink Flamingos, a comedy about a notorious criminal who has given herself the title of “the filthiest person alive,” and has to defend it from a sleazy couple trying to humiliate her.

The comedy movie is so disturbing that it’s arguably more shocking than it is funny. In one of Roger Ebert’s worst reviews in terms of how harsh he was to a movie, the critic dismissively wrote that it was a film one is tempted to praise just to be able to say one was able to get through it. However, the critic said “it is a temptation [he could] resist.” He refused to give the movie a star rating, saying that stars did not apply in this case. In a resounding conclusion, he argued that Waters’s film “should be considered not as a film but as a fact, or perhaps as an object.”

Pink Flamingos

Release Date
March 17, 1972

Director
John Waters

Cast
Divine , David Lochary , Mary Vivian Pearce , Mink Stole

Runtime
93 minutes

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2 ‘I Spit on Your Grave’ (2010)

Directed by Steven R. Monroe

Two men threaten a frightened woman with a baseball bat in this still from I Spit on Your Grave (2010)
Image via Anchor Bay Entertainment

A better-known remake of the infamous horror thriller of the same name (which Ebert also gave a thumbs down, by the way), I Spit on Your Grave is about a writer who is brutalized during her cabin retreat. After her attackers leave her for dead, she comes back for brutal, gory revenge. It’s pure revenge fantasy that never pretends to be anything more, but that was even more reason for critics to find it incredibly distasteful.

The movie is so raw and unfiltered in its depiction of violence that the vast majority of viewers simply can’t take it – including Ebert. He hated the film’s despicable sense of morality (or lack thereof, rather), and outright said to I Spit on Your Grave in his review “I spit on your violence toward women.”

I Spit on Your Grave

Release Date
June 17, 2010

Director
Steven R. Monroe

Cast
Sarah Butler , Chad Lindberg , Daniel Franzese , Tracey Walter , Jeff Branson , Rodney Eastman

Runtime
107

1 ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (2003)

Directed by Marcus Nispel

Scene from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Including Jessica Biel as Erin (2003)
Image via New Line Cinema

The original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a seminal entry in horror, an essential watch for fans of the genre which has aged like fine wine. The movie was remade in 2003 as Marcus Nispel‘s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, about five friends on the road who find themselves stalked and hunted by a terrifying family of killers.

Although some fans of gruesome slashers don’t find this entry in the franchise to be all that bad, most critics and audience members thought it was abysmal in comparison to the original. Ebert didn’t like the original, but he despised this one even more. He called 2003’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre “vile, ugly and brutal” in his merciless review, emphasizing that he saw absolutely no reason to recommend that audiences check it out.

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NEXT:Critically Acclaimed Movies That Roger Ebert Disliked

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