Movie Classics that Opened to Horrible Reviews by Critics!

Movie Classics that Opened to Horrible Reviews by Critics!

Here are a few movie classics that received bad reviews but nevertheless, became movie classics in their own regard to many movie fans. The films listed here were either slammed by Roger Ebert, Variety, NY Times, and Time or every one of them. This list includes The Shining, Psycho, Predator, The Exorcist, Halloween, Alien, Blade Runner, Fight Club, and Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back with their respective bad critic review. Tried to keep this movie list short so feel free to add additional suggestions to the comments below.

The Shining

"The crazier Nicholson gets, the more idiotic he looks. Shelley Duvall transforms the warm sympathetic wife of the book into a simpering, semi-retarded hysteric." - Variety

The Shining (1980)

Synopsis: A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Barry Dennen, Burnell Tucker, David Baxt, Manning Redwood, Joe Turkel, Derek Lyons, Scatman Crothers, Barry Nelson, Lia Beldam
Directors: Stanley Kubrick
Genres: Horror, Drama


"There is not an abundance of subtlety or the lately familiar Hitchcock bent toward significant and colorful scenery in this obviously low-budget job… The consequence in his denouement falls quite flat for us… The one thing we would note with disappointment is that, among the stuffed birds that adorn the motel office of Mr. Perkins, there are no significant bats." - NY Times

Psycho (1960)

AKA(s): Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho
Synopsis: A Phoenix secretary steals $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.
Cast: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Virginia Gregg, Vera Miles, Martin Balsam, Frank Albertson, Paul Jasmin, Patricia Hitchcock, Lee Kass, Vaughn Taylor
Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
Genres: Horror, Thriller, Mystery


"Predator is a slightly above-average actioner that tries to compensate for tissue-thin-plot with ever-more-grisly death sequences and impressive special effects." - Variety

Predator (1987)

AKA(s): Alien Hunter, Hunter, Primevil
Synopsis: A team of commandos on a mission in a Central American jungle find themselves hunted by an extra-terrestrial warrior.
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sven-Ole Thorsen, Peter Cullen, Henry Kingi, Kevin Peter Hall, R.G. Armstrong, William H. Burton Jr., Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham, Elpidia Carrillo
Directors: John McTiernan
Genres: Horror, Thriller, Sci-Fi, Action

The Exorcist

"A chunk of elegant occultist claptrap… a practically impossible film to sit through… It establishes a new low for grotesque special effects…" - NY Times

The Exorcist (1973)

AKA(s): The Exorcist: The Version You Haven't Seen Yet, The Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen, William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist
Synopsis: When a teenage girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.
Cast: Max von Sydow, Eileen Dietz, Linda Blair, Jason Miller, John Mahon, Ellen Burstyn, Rudolf Schündler, Mary Boylan, Donna Mitchell, Kitty Winn
Directors: William Friedkin
Genres: Horror


"Carpenter doesn’t seem to have had any life outside the movies: one can trace almost every idea on the screen to directors such as Hitchcock and Brian De Palma and to theVal Lewton productions. Maybe when a horror film is stripped of everything but dumb scariness--when it isn’t ashamed to revive the stalest device of the genre (the escaped lunatic)--it satisfies part of the audience in a more basic, childish way than sophisticated horror pictures do." -The New Yorker

Halloween (1978)

AKA(s): John Carpenter's Halloween, The Babysitter Murders
Synopsis: On Halloween night of 1963, 6-year old Michael Myers stabbed his sister to death. After sitting in a mental hospital for 15 years, Myers escapes and returns to Haddonfield to kill.
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, John Carpenter, Nancy Stephens, P.J. Soles, Nancy Kyes, Charles Cyphers, Tommy Lee Wallace, Jennifer Rhodes, Arthur Malet
Directors: John Carpenter
Genres: Horror, Thriller


"Technically slick and commercially singleminded, this film attempts to crossbreed the scare tactics of ‘Jaws’ with the sci-fi hardware of ‘Star Wars.’ The result is a cinematic bastard, and a pretty mean ba**ard at that. ‘Alien’ contains a couple of genuine jolts, a barrage of convincing special effects and enough gore to gross out children of all ages. What is missing is wit, imagination and the vaguest hint of human feeling." - Time

Alien (1979)

AKA(s): Alien: The Director's Cut, Star Beast
Synopsis: The commercial vessel Nostromo receives a distress call from an unexplored planet. After searching for survivors, the crew heads home only to realize that a deadly bioform has joined them.
Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Ian Holm, John Hurt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, Tom Skerritt, Yaphet Kotto, Eddie Powell, Bolaji Badejo, Helen Horton
Directors: Ridley Scott
Genres: Horror, Sci-Fi

Blade Runner

"He seems more concerned with creating his film worlds than populating them with plausible characters, and that’s the trouble this time. "Blade Runner" is a stunningly interesting visual achievement, but a failure as a story… The movie’s weakness, however, is that it allows the special effects technology to overwhelm its story… The obligatory love affair is pro forma, the villains are standard issue, and the climax is yet one more of those cliffhangers, with Ford dangling over an abyss by his fingertips. The movie has the same trouble as the replicants: Instead of flesh and blood, its dreams are of mechanical men." - Roger Ebert

Blade Runner (1982)

AKA(s): Dangerous Days
Synopsis: A blade runner must pursue and try to terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space and have returned to Earth to find their creator.
Cast: Harrison Ford, Sean Young, Joanna Cassidy, Rutger Hauer, Daryl Hannah, Dawna Lee Heising, Brion James, James Hong, Leo Gorcey Jr., Hy Pyke
Directors: Ridley Scott
Genres: Thriller, Sci-Fi

Fight Club

"With Fight Club he seems to be setting himself some kind of a test--how far over the top can he go? The movie is visceral and hard-edged, with levels of irony and commentary above and below the action. If it had all continued in the vein explored in the first act, it might have become a great film. But the second act is pandering and the third is trickery, and whatever Fincher thinks the message is, that’s not what most audience members will get. "Fight Club" is a thrill ride masquerading as philosophy--the kind of ride where some people puke and others can’t wait to get on again." - Roger Ebert

Fight Club (1999)

Synopsis: An insomniac office worker, looking for a way to change his life, crosses paths with a devil-may-care soap maker, forming an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more.
Cast: Michael Shamus Wiles, Helena Bonham Carter, Matt Winston, Christopher John Fields, Brad Pitt, David Andrews, Richmond Arquette, Tim DeZarn, Jared Leto, Ezra Buzzington
Directors: David Fincher
Genres: Drama

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

"The Empire Strikes Back is not a truly terrible movie. It’s a nice movie. It’s not, by any means, as nice as Star Wars. It’s not as fresh and funny and surprising and witty, but it is nice and inoffensive and, in a way that no one associated with it need be ashamed of, it’s also silly. Attending to it is a lot like reading the middle of a comic book. It is amusing in fitful patches but you’re likely to find more beauty, suspense, discipline, craft and art when watching a New York harbor pilot bring the Queen Elizabeth 2 into her Hudson River berth, which is what The Empire Strikes Back most reminds me of. It’s a big, expensive, time-consuming, essentially mechanical operation. The Empire Strikes Back is about as personal as a Christmas card from a bank." -NY Times

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

AKA(s): Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, The Empire Strikes Back, The Empire Strikes Back: StarWars II
Synopsis: After the rebels have been brutally overpowered by the Empire on their newly established base, Luke Skywalker takes advanced Jedi training with Master Yoda, while his friends are pursued by Darth Vader as part of his plan to capture Luke.
Cast: Frank Oz, Mac McDonald, Harrison Ford, Burnell Tucker, Julian Glover, John Ratzenberger, Kenny Baker, James Earl Jones, Carrie Fisher, Ian McDiarmid
Directors: Irvin Kershner
Genres: Sci-Fi, Action, Fantasy, Adventure


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