- Rotten Tomatoes assigns low scores to some of the worst directors in cinema, including Dennis Dugan and Michael Bay.
- Some directors, like Ed Wood and Uwe Boll, have cult followings despite consistently receiving negative ratings.
- M. Night Shyamalan has a mixed record with some critically acclaimed films and others that receive unanimous negative reception.
The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes lives up to its name by assigning some truly Rotten scores to some of the worst directors in cinema, ranging from frequent Adam Sandler collaborator Dennis Dugan to blockbuster auteur Michael Bay. The website notably offers an aggregate score from both critics and audiences, leading to some differences between the two groups. Then, there are also times when both critics and audiences have equal Rotten Tomatoes ratings, sometimes even with a perfect score of 100%. But in the case of a Rob Zombie or M. Night Shyamalan, both sides tend to join forces for stamping their movies with a green mashed tomato.
However, it must be noted that the directors with the worst Rotten Tomatoes records haven’t directed entirely unwatchable movies. After all, notorious directors like Ed Wood, Uwe Boll, and James Nguyen continue to entertain legions of fans who regard even the worst of their movies as cult classics. However, their respective Rotten Tomatoes scorecards go on to show how they have been so consistent at delivering movies that are avidly hated by both the Rotten Tomatoes-certified critics and the masses. There’s something iconic to be found in this consistency itself as is exemplified by such notoriously infamous Razzie-nominated maestros.
Alfred Hitchcock and his mechanics of suspense have inspired many generations of filmmakers. James Nguyen is one of them. The Vietnamese director, best known for helming The Birds-inspired romantic thriller Birdemic: Shock and Terror and its equally panned sequels, has 2 movies that are Rotten on the Tomatometer. These include the first Birdemic and Birdemic 3: Sea Eagle. Notably, his other notorious thrillers like Birdemic 2: The Resurrection, Replica, and Julie & Jack have all raked in Rotten ratings based on audience scores even if they haven’t had any critical ratings. With Nguyen having made four Birdemic movies so far, the ratings definitely pose no hindrance to his legacy.
Widely celebrated as the best worst director, Ed Wood’s greatest films exemplify campy horror with an unintentional sense of zany humor. But still when compared to the other filmmakers regarded as the worst, Ed Wood surprisingly has had only 4 directorial ventures that have a Rotten score. These include notorious classics like the well-meaning but morally ominous commentary on sexuality Glen or Glenda and the sci-fi horror Bride of the Monster that came off as a poorly-made Frankenstein knock-off. Plan 9 From Outer Space, the sci-fi horror that became the very epitome of so-bad-it’s-good cinema is surprisingly certified Fresh with a score of 66%.
Jason Friedberg And Aaron Seltzer
Every movie in Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer’s career is notable for faring Rotten reviews from both critics and audiences alike. Considered some of the worst spoof movies, the duo’s works are rated as low as 4% (Vampires Suck) and 2% (Meet the Spartans). The Starving Games settled for 0% and so did their non-parody venture Best Night Ever. After writing Scary Movie, they embarked on a directorial career in the parody genre. Their credits include popular but heavily-panned parodies like Date Movie and Epic Movie. Also serving as executive producers and writers on each of these movies, they have a record of 7 Rotten-rated movies on Rotten Tomatoes.
M. Night Shyamalan
After debuting with the critically-panned sports comedy Wide Awake, M.Night Shyamalan emerged as a prominent new-age voice in the thriller and horror genres, with acclaimed hits like The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs. Apart from M.Night Shyamalan’s divisive plot twists, his future movies began drawing unanimously negative reception. No wonder he has a record of 9 Rotten credits on the Tomatometer. These include his failed live-action take on The Last Airbender, the unintentionally hilarious environmental horror The Happening, and the Will Smith-led sci-fi thriller After Earth. Only horrors like The Visit, Split and Knock at the Cabin have offered Shyamalan some respite from the Rotten ratings.
Musician and director Rob Zombie has had a diverse career in the horror genre with the hyperviolent B-movie inspired Firefly trilogy, two remakes of John Carpenter’s classic slasher Halloween and even an animated take on The Munsters. But somehow, all of Zombie’s movies have left critics with a bad taste. His Rotten Tomatoes scorecard rests with 9 Rotten movies. But Zombie does have his fair share of admirers among the audience as is evidenced from the audience scores for the first two Firefly installments, House of 1000 Corpses (65%) and The Devil’s Rejects (78%). The rest of his filmography continues to gain Rotten scores from critics and audiences.
A major chunk of the worst video game movies owes their existence to Uwe Boll, the director behind many certified Rotten game adaptations like Far Cry, BloodRayne, Postal, and In the Name of the King. He has a record of 9 Rotten movies on the Tomatometer, some rated as low as 3% (House of the Dead) and 1% (Alone in the Dark). A self-professed cinematic genius, Boll received criticism for making significant plot and style changes to his source material. Even his original works like Rampage, Seed, and Heart of America have garnered a similar response. Audiences have even had petitions to stop him from directing anymore (per Wired).
Starting out as an actor, Steven Brill transitioned to directing with a record of 11 Rotten movies on his Rotten Tomatoes record. These include his directorial debut, the summer camp comedy Heavyweights (that interestingly has a Fresh audience score of 77% as opposed to 29% by the critics). Brill has also masterminded some of the worst Adam Sandler movies, including the comedy star’s Netflix ventures like The Do Over, Hubie Halloween, and Sandy Wexler. Other Brill movies that drew such negative reception include the Elizabeth Banks-starrer aptly-titled Walk of Shame, the Owen Wilson-led coming-of-age comedy Drillbit Taylor, and a segment on the notorious anthology Movie 43.
Raja Gosnell started his career directing the third part of the Home Alone series, the first one to not feature lead Macaulay Culkin. Including Home Alone 3, Gosnell has had 11 Rotten movies on the review-aggregator. Basically, every single movie that he has directed faced the brunt of the green tomatoes. These include popular, but infamous comedies like the first Big Momma’s House, the two live-action Scooby-Doo movies, the first two Smurf movies and “talking dog” movies like Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Show Dogs. Still, Gosnell’s Rotten scores are mostly in the double digits with only the Dennis Quaid-led comedy Yours, Mine & Ours having a score of 6%.
Making a multi-million dollar career out of his love for explosions and over-the-top action, Michael Bay has directed some vastly popular but critically-panned action movies. He has a notable Rotten Tomatoes record of 13 Rotten movies even if some of these have fared well with the audiences. For instance, Transformers has a Rotten score of 57% while 85% of the audience finds it to be Fresh. The same can be said for the military action thriller 13 Hours which has an audience score of 82% as opposed to the critics’ score of 51%. Bad Boys, Pearl Harbor and Armageddon have had similar contrasts between the critics and audience scores.
Dennis Dugan is the undisputed king of worst directors on Rotten Tomatoes with a record of 14 Rotten movies to his name. Frequently directing Adam Sandler movies with low Rotten Tomatoes scores, Dugan helmed the well-received Sandler classic Happy Gilmore but then also directed Grown Ups, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan and many other notorious comedies. In fact, Dugan took home the 2012 Worst Director Razzie for directing both Just Go With It and Jack and Jill. Even when he’s not joining forces with Sandler, Dugan’s works earn a Rotten score, such as The Benchwarmers, National Security and Love, Weddings & Other Disasters.