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Most movie genres have seen their fair share of bad movies. From poorly acted dramas to romantic comedies that really don't elicit a chuckle, every genre has some painfully bad eggs in a movie lineup.
Science-fiction isn't much different in that sense, but what separates it from most other movie genres is the sheer number of bad films in this genre. Due to the expensive costs of special effects and the overall campy nature of sci-fi, the flicks that make it to the worst of the worst tend to be seriously bad.
The notoriety of the worst sci-fi movies of all time is so widespread, they're often viewed as comedies rather than what they were originally intended to be.
It takes a lot to be one of the worst movies in the genre's history. According to film critics, these dumpster fires are currently ranked at the bottom of the barrel. Would you giggle at these box office disasters?
Plan 9 From Outer Space
You just can't have a list of the worst sci-fi movies in history without mentioning Plan 9 From Outer Space. Its famous for being so bad, it's good—and for being a career-killer for at least one of the people who helped make it.
Piss-poor acting, special effects that could be outdone by a five-year-old, and writing that makes a bad acid trip look normal are what made this an instant classic. In its own messed up way, this is one of the movies that was a box office failure that later got redeemed due to the sheer hilariously bad quality of the film.
The Adventures of Pluto Nash
After Eddie Murphy spent years away from the white-hot spotlight he once had as the king of Hollywood, he decided to make a foray back into live action film through The Adventures of Pluto Nash.
This was initially supposed to be a fun family movie filled with hilarious jokes, but as the four percent score on Rotten Tomatoes suggests, it flopped. Bad comedy writing, jokes that fell flat, and action scenes sucked bad.
It ended up being one of the worst sci-fi movies of the 2000s, and also has the dubious honor of being one of the worst box office flops in history. The movie was so terrible, it almost buried Eddie Murphy's career—potentially forcing him to star in music videos.
Beginning of the End
The 1950s was a time that spawned many of the worst sci-fi movies ever made. Beginning of the End is a good example of why this is the case. The villain in this film is... Drumroll... Giant killer grasshoppers. Incidentally, said giant killer grasshoppers were played by about 200 real-life grasshoppers. During the filming, most of these grasshoppers ate one another. So, it wasn't even that good a movie for the stars involved.
Oh, boy. This has everything that you'd expect one of the worst sci-fi movies in recent history to have. It has a plot that was spawned by cult founder L. Ron Hubbard. It has a really badly done-up John Travolta in dreadlocks.
The acting is bad, the costumes are classic 90s camp, and the script is bad as can be. A three percent Rotten Tomatoes score doesn't lie; this is as terrible as it gets.
Battlefield Earth was so terrible, it picked up eight different Razzies during its nomination spree. That's a critically acclaimed disaster that would make Tommy Wiseau shake his head in shame.
They Saved Hitler's Brain
There's a certain phrase that's occasionally used called "ars gratia artis." It translates into "art for art's sake." It's a beautiful phrase that shows a deep appreciation for artwork in all its forms.
They Saved Hitler's Brain does not qualify as this. If anything, it was designed to be "turd gratia turdis," which is my shorthand for "shit for shit's sake."
The premise of this movie is exactly what you think it is. Nazi scientists severed Hitler's brain from his head and now he's trying to rise to power once more. The initial movie was panned so badly, it was shelved before it hit the theaters.
This film was originally shot by the famed Stanley Cortez. Some art students decided to add more footage to it, but somehow, they managed to stun critics by making it even worse.
It was released and universally panned as the worst of the worst. At a zero percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, it's also cemented its rating as one of the worst sci-fi movies ever made.
Mac and Me
After Stephen Spielberg showed the world that kids playing with aliens can be one of the most heartwarming things you can see on the silver screen, movie producers scrambled to create their own "alien buddy" movie.
Among the many E.T. knockoffs was this finely polished turd. I mean, just look at the movie cover! The movie itself is cute-bad, but still so awful it's unintentionally hilarious.
The entire story starts off when a single mother moves from Chicago to California for a store clerk position at Sears—because, that totally makes fiscal sense. Then, the plot of E.T happens, plus a point where people are dying of starvation but somehow get revived with Coca-Cola.
Godawful, hilariously bad writing is what makes this a golden piece of crap. You'll love it, and understand why it got a goose-egg rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Mars Needs Women
When it comes to genres that tend to have a bit of misogyny involved in them, it's hard to ignore science fiction. There's even a little bit of a tongue-in-cheek tendency to joke about women being used as fan-service props in fandoms.
Mars Needs Women is a perfect example of this trope, and honestly, it is totally what makes it one of the worst sci-fi movies ever made. The entire plot is about horny aliens that travel to Earth in order to find women to repopulate Mars with.
Anyone who's looking for a hilariously bad movie will fall in love with this poorly made classic. Oh, and the hunky alien guy who's a lead on film? Yeah, that's former Disney child star Tommy Kirk, and he was totally plastered during the making of this film.
Killers from Space
Killers from Space has a title that was destined to be a B-movie disaster, and it lived up to fate perfectly. This is one of the many, many Peter Graves movies to be called some of the worst sci-fi movies of the 60s.
Much like other films that Graves starred in, Killers from Space had a serious amount of campiness to it. That being said, it excelled at being a visual disaster.
The googly-eyed alien killers are just plain hilariously bad. Due to the epic fail that was the visual effects, Killers from Space excelled at being a total mess and still is lauded as one of the worst science fiction films ever made.
The Wild World of Batwoman
The Wild World of Batwoman remains one of the most obscure movies of its kind, and to a point, its origin story also happens to be the reason for that. You see, DC Comics had nothing to do with the making of this film.
This movie was made because a strip club went out of business. Strippers were out of work, and a casting director was in the area. The director saw them, things presumably happened, and The Wild World of Batwoman was born.
Alternatively called She Was a Hippie Vampire, this extremely poorly written movie is about as low-budget and cringe-inducing as you'd expect. The best part about it is that somewhere, out there, a casting director got laid. That's the only way this turd could have come about. Seriously.
That being said, it's one of the "best" worst sci-fi movies you'll see. Even MST3K got in on the campy fun.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
You know what's a cornerstone of every good sci-fi movie? Santa. Said no one ever. This botched holiday feature film is one that had to be thought up by someone who was either very drunk, very high, or an eight-year-old who really didn't understand what "sci-fi" means.
In it, Martians kidnap Santa Claus because they don't have holiday cheer. Santa wins them over by showing them how to celebrate Christmas, and somehow this leads Santa to ruling over the Martians.
Admittedly, the entire premise of this movie is adorable in its own weird way. Even so, it remains one of the worst sci-fi movies of its kind.