Benjamin is a former volunteer DJ at his local hospital radio station. He has been reviewing films online since 2004.
Another list then, Benjamin?
I often find that dialogue is an under-appreciated art-form. Some movies have such great dialogue that you can't help but quote them - I, for example, know every single word of Jules Winfield's "Ezekiel 25:17" monologue delivered with such power by Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction. Or for that matter, probably deliver the next line from any given line used in British cockney caper Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels. Not especially cool but hey, it's better than nothing.
The thing with dialogue is that it isn't necessarily a measure of a movie's overall quality - bad dialogue can ruin any decent film as the following list will hopefully prove. But bad dialogue, in its own way, can become quotable as well. Think of the numerous bad puns used in Batman & Robin (which frankly, could have had a Top 20 all on its own) or Tommy Wiseau's misguided opus The Room, a film which has since become a meme-generating masterpiece.
The following examples have been judged by three criteria: context, delivery and hilarity. Each criteria is given a mark out of ten, meaning a top score of thirty makes it among the worst lines ever written by human hand. The golden rule is that only one line can come from one film, to prevent Batman & Robin running away with it. Once again, this article contains spoilers as well as bad language and adult content. So, if you're braced and ready, we'll begin with...
- You're a godsend, a saviour! "No, I'm... I'm just a postman."
- Score = 20
Spoken by Irene March (played by Roberta Maxwell) and the Postman played by Kevin Costner in his overblown vanity project The Postman. The premise of the film is that Costner's unnamed drifter finds a bag of mail amid a post-apocalyptic future and then decides to somehow deliver the mail to give hope to the scattered remains of society. Naturally, it leads to him becoming a symbol of the good ol' US of A but there is no disguising the fact that the film is a sycophantic tribute to Costner's own belief in his abilities as an actor, director and symbol of the good ol' US of A. The faux-modesty in this line doesn't fool anybody and actually underlines just how stupid the film's premise is.
- In thirty seconds, you'll be dead. Then I'll blow this place up and be home in time for corn flakes!
- Score = 20
Spoken by Cohaagen played by Ronny Cox in the 1990 movie Total Recall. While Cox's villainous Cohaagen starts monologuing, he drops this unusual line as part of his threat to Arnie's hero. Not only does it make his speech sound hollow and meaningless but it makes him sound childish. I know breakfast is the most important meal of the day but why bring it up when you're about to kill a man? Odd, to say the least.
- You better hold on tight, spider monkey.
- Score = 20
Spoken by Edward Cullen played by Robert Pattinson in the movie Twilight. With his human love Bella clinging tightly to him as he leaps out onto a nearby tree, vampire Edward turns to her and utters this insane line. As a piece of advice, it's sound but I've never heard of any woman pleased that her man has compared her to a simian before. Literally anything would have been better than the phrase 'spider monkey' with the possible exceptions of 'bitch', 'shithead' or 'lunch'.
- You wanna kill me like a man? Or you wanna kill me like a sheep?
- Score = 20
Spoken by Vilain played by Jean Claude Van Damme in the movie The Expendables 2. Another example of the baddie undermining his own evil credentials. As the inevitable showdown with Stallone approaches, Van Damme's villain Vilain (in case there was any doubt) coughs this meaningless threat up. He does know that sheep aren't known for killing people, doesn't he? Maybe sheep in Belgium are all armed with AK-47s and grenades, I don't know. What was he going to suggest, rolling over a grate and grazing Stallone to death? I'm honestly baffled.
- It's time to show the Fire Nation that we believe in our beliefs as much as they believe in theirs.
- Score = 20
Spoken by Princess Yue played by Seychelle Gabriel in M. Night Shyamalan's wretched fantasy flop The Last Airbender. A line so awkwardly written that it took me a couple of attempts to get it right, this redundant piece of garbled dialogue is clumsily dropped into a speech supposedly trying to inspire other characters. Instead, it's a fatuous explanation of every religious war ever fought and symbolises ultimate failure. Good job, Princess! You're almost as annoying as Mario's Princess Peach.
- Oh no! Not the bees! Not the bees! AAAAAHHHHH! OH, THEY'RE IN MY EYES! MY EYES! AAAAAHHHHH! AAAAAAHHHHHH!
- Score = 20
Spoken by Edward Malus played with rampant enthusiasm by Nicholas Cage in the 2006 remake The Wicker Man. Another entry that is almost purely based on delivery rather than quality of writing, this deserved entry also serves as a reminder of the gulf in class between the terrifying original and this lame remake which has since become a cult classic due to its unintentional laughs. Give me the original any day.
- I thought Christmas only comes once a year.
- Score = 20
Spoken by James Bond played by Pierce Brosnan in the movie The World Is Not Enough. From the moment Denise Richards appears as nuclear scientist Christmas Jones, the entire audience understands that this sleazy 'joke' will arrive at some point and sure enough, it lands with all the grace of a bucket full of manure. Remember when Bond used to be genuinely witty, sexy and charming? The fact that things got this bad under Brosnan's tenure (not entirely his fault) illustrates how far the Bond franchise had fallen and makes me feel somewhat sad.
- The woman is all we want! The others must die! They ALL must die! We do not even want the woman!
- Score = 21
Spoken by the Master's wife played by an unidentified actress in the independent movie Manos: The Hands Of Fate. First of all, a quick history lesson: once upon a time in 1966, a used car salesman and local amateur dramatic volunteer made a wager with a screenwriter that anyone (namely him) could make a movie. Rounding up as many local theatre actors and enthusiasts as possible, he made this film - and probably lost the bet. It's a film that is so bad, the cast sneaked out of its own premier.
Widely regarded as one of the worst films ever made, this woeful effort from a bunch of wannabes and LCD droppers has become a cult hit in its own right by being laughably bad. This line, spoken by one of the Master's wives in a fit of apparent psychosis, not only contradicts itself within the space of a few seconds but also has the distinction of being funnier than John Reynolds as the baffling Torgo. If you dig crummy movies then seek it out and prepare to hit the motherload.
- Do you enjoy pain? "Pain don't hurt."
- Score = 21
Spoken by Doc (played by Kelly Lynch) and Dalton played by Patrick Swayze in the movie Road House. After getting beaten up by ne'er-do-wells at the club where he works, Dalton goes to hospital for treatment and immediately develops feelings for the beautiful Doc and attempts to impress her with possibly the dumbest thing ever said. Pain does hurt, that exactly what pain is! Was he really expecting to look good in front of this woman with that line because if I were her, I'd be testing his 'pain don't hurt' theory with that hammer they use to test reflexes and his testicles.
Number 11 - Joint entry
- Future events such as these will affect you in the future. OR But one thing's for sure - Inspector Clay is dead, murdered... and someone's responsible!
- Score = 21
I honestly couldn't split these two gems from Ed Wood's 1959 Plan 9 From Outer Space. The first line is spoken by the narrator Criswell at the start of the movie, serving as a warning to the audience that the film could actually happen in the future - something which is patently untrue the more you watch the film. Criswell's overblown delivery combines with the line's uneasy grasp of past, present and future tenses to make a line sublimely ridiculous. The second, spoken by Lt John Harper played by Duke Moore, is a handy explanation as to the dictionary definition of 'murder' but completely redundant when discussing the demise of his colleague with another officer. If you can get through the film without laughing at it, you're dead inside.
- I don't like sand. It's course and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here, everything is soft and smooth.
- Score = 22
Spoken by Anakin Skywalker played by Hayden Christensen in the movie Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones. Even die-hard fans of the franchise will concede that George Lucas, for all his skill as a film-maker, has never been a great exponent of dialogue with many example littering the numerous films made in his galaxy far far away. But this is the nadir, the very bottom of the deepest trench as Anakin clumsily explains why he prefers Naboo (and by extension, Princess Amidala) to his home-world of Tattooine. Why he needs to discuss sand blowing up his arse is anyone's guess. Badly delivered, badly written and unspeakably cheesy, this is one line to really get a bad feeling about.
- OK, cocksucker. Fuck with me and we'll see who shits on the sidewalk.
- Score = 22
Spoken by Warden Hennessey played by Joan Allen in the movie Death Race. Having been outwitted by the prisoners that she forces to compete in deadly televised motorsports (yeah, this isn't what you call a classic), the previously softly-spoken warden blurts out a string of expletives to form the above sentence. Unfortunately, it's about as coherent as a drowning man - it lacks any sort of menace or threat whatsoever and it genuinely breaks my heart to see such a veteran actress coerced into delivering it. Allen, and the audience, deserved much better.
- They're eating her! And then they're going to eat me! Oh my Godddddddddddd!
- Score = 23
Spoken by Arnold played by Darren Ewing in the otherwise forgettable movie Troll 2. With the entire town under siege from goblins with a hunger for people, Arnold is one such citizen who witnesses the devouring of a neighbour. But instead of running away or keeping a low profile, he instead decides to deliver the most pointless exposition ever used in a film before letting each and every one of the goblins know where he is by his extended cries. What a dufus. Frankly, he deserves to get eaten.
- Oh God, oh man! Oh God! Oh man! Oh God, oh man! Oh God, oh man...
- Score = 23
Spoken by Tim Madden played by Ryan O'Neil in the movie Tough Guys Don't Dance. Having been informed by a woman via letter that his wife is having an affair with her husband, Tim is thrown into a spiral of madness when the woman proposes killing them both. What makes this inane drivel even worse is that it was written and directed by that giant of American literature, Norman Mailer. This is like finding out Shakespeare first wrote the phrase "Whoever smelled it dealt it." O'Neil's delivery and the bizarre camerawork combine to make this one of the worst sequences in any movie for many a year.
- You are so beautiful it hurts. "It's your nose that hurts!" I think it's my heart.
- Score = 23
Spoken by Captain Rafe McCawley (played by Ben Affleck) and Nurse Evelyn Johnson played by Kate Beckinsale in the movie Pearl Harbor. Receiving treatment for a bump to the face, Captain McCawley falls hopelessly in love with the nurse and immediately drops the most bile-inducing chat-up line despite having an ice-pack over a nose-bleed. Any woman who heard that would have laughed so hard, nobody would have heard the Japanese flying overhead. It was a close call between this line or Josh Hartnett's proclaimation that World War II had only just started on the morning of the attack in 1941. But this romantic drivel was more entertaining, even if I was a little sick in my mouth when I heard it.
- Kenner, just in case we get killed, I wanted to tell you... you have the biggest dick I've ever seen on a man.
- Score = 23
Spoken by Johnny Murata played by Brandon Lee in the movie Showdown In Little Tokyo. Another B-movie classic and possibly the most bizarre potential final words that could ever be devised. As the Yakuza close in on their position and surrounded by all sides, Murata decides to compliment his partner Kenner's schlong at this particular moment. I mean, really? It begs the question of when Murata reached this conclusion - I don't recall a shower scene between the two - and what he was hoping to achieve by saying it. Was he hoping for a tender kiss between him and Kenner, who was played by Dolph Lundgren of all people? The possibilities seem endless...
- I'm exhausted. "Yeah, me too. But you know, I'm really wired. What do you say I take you home and eat your pussy?"
- Score = 24
Spoken by Cataline Stone (played by Jenny McShane) and Ben Carpenter played by John Barrowman in the timeless classic Shark Attack 3. Having just escaped from a possible Megalodon threatening the coast off Mexico, our two good-looking heroes disembark their vessel and say the above lines before the film glosses over to a torrid soft-core shower scene. Another example of writers having no idea how actual people talk, this dialogue is so ridiculous as well as contradictory that I couldn't help to include it here. The fact that Barrowman is openly gay in real life makes it sound even sillier.
- Garbage day!
- Score = 25
Spoken by Ricky Caldwell played by Eric Freeman in the movie Silent Night, Deadly Night 2. While I confess that the movie has somehow escaped my attention, I was intrigued by this quote which became funnier and sillier the more I watched it. Spoken by the hero of the first film who has turned evil for the sequel (as is so often the way), it feels like a knee-jerk reaction to seeing his neighbour take out the garbage. Why he suddenly feels the need to blow the poor man away with an enormous Magnum, scattering the rubbish everywhere, is a complete mystery. Frankly, the movie would have been better if he said absolutely nothing instead. Delivery also helps as Freeman tacks on a weirdly maniacal laugh afterwards that is straight out of amateur dramatics.
- I did not hit her, it's not true! It's bullshit! I did not hit her! I did not! Oh, hi Mark!
- Score = 26
Spoken by Johnny played by that unique creature Tommy Wiseau in the film The Room as well as James Franco playing Tommy Wiseau in the film The Disaster Artist. After being falsely accused of domestic violence by his girlfriend Lisa, Johnny storms off to the roof and bemoans her lies before suddenly perking up when he notices his best friend Mark also sitting up there. Where do I begin here? I'm almost certain that the line would be fine were it not for Wiseau's utterly alien delivery which struggles to understand intonation or even how to pronounce the final 'not'. His sudden happiness springs outta nowhere and you have to wonder why Mark, who couldn't help but overhear Johnny as he slams a water bottle down, never mentions something as serious as domestic abuse in their subsequent conversation. Mind you, if someone can announce they have breast cancer and nobody follows up on it, I probably shouldn't expect too much.
- I'm gonna take you to the bank, Senator Trent. To the blood bank!
- Score = 26
Spoken by Mason Storm played by Steven Seagal in the movie Hard To Kill. Picture the scene: you're working undercover and record incriminating dialogue spoken by a mystery figure. After getting ambushed by mobsters who leave you for dead, you then spend eight years in a coma before suddenly waking up and walking out of hospital (and don't worry about physiotherapy or muscle wastage because you're that damn tough!). Switching on the TV, you see a man speak which triggers your memories into realising who that mystery man was. And then, you mumble your way through the above threat which reads more like a joke than anything I've ever heard. I found this so funny and so badly delivered that it made beer come out of my nose, waking my flatmate up in the process. If there is a worse line in cinema, I have yet to hear it!
© 2019 Benjamin Cox
Tea Cake on December 16, 2019:
If you want some really bad lines you should sit down and watch "The Swarm" (or better still don't watch The Swarm, just go out and cut you lawn with a pair of nail clippers because it will be far more interesting!)
Poor old Michael Caine ends up with quite a lot of lame lines from this film, not least "The bees, the bees! What a lot of bees!" said in his default deadpan delivery