Lights, Camera, Awful – Could These Be The Worst WW2 Movies Ever Made?

Fury explodes onto screens Oct. 17. Images Courtesy of Sony Pictures.

Fury explodes onto screens Oct. 17. Images Courtesy of Sony Pictures.

HOLLYWOOD’S NEXT WORLD WAR TWO BLOCKBUSTER, Fury, is set to blast its way into theatres later this month. The film, which stars Brad Pitt and the increasingly eccentric Shia LaBeouf, follows the exploits of a battle-hardened Sherman tank crew as they repel a last-ditch Nazi counter attack in the final days of the war in Europe. The buzz over Fury has been building steadily since well before the movie’s first full length trailer was released last June. And while it remains to be seen if this latest big budget epic lives up to all the hype, even if it does disappoint it’s a safe bet that Fury will be eminently more watchable than these disastrous films about the Second World War.

Amazingly, the disaster that was’Pearl Harbor’ was among 2001’s top moneymakers.

Pearl Harbor

The Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay 2001 smash hit Pearl Harbor certainly looked snazzy on the big screen. It had vintage warplanes by the dozen, state-of-the-art CGI and more beautiful people than a Vanity Fair celebrity photo spread. But all of the eye candy in the world couldn’t hide how utterly abysmal this wartime romantic drama truly was. Despite the savage reviews and even the controversy the film provoked, Pearl Harbor was still one of the top box office moneymakers the year it came out, raking in more than $600 million. But if you’re looking for a solid film about the events of Dec. 7, 1941, do yourself a favour and watch Tora! Tora! Tora! instead.

The makers of the ‘Battle of the Bulge’ hoped audiences would willfully suspend their disbelief long enough to accept the fact that this desert scrub looked like the forests of Belgium in winter.

The Battle of the Bulge

Not even an all-star cast of Hollywood heavy-hitters like Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson and Robert Shaw could salvage this two-and-a-half hour train wreck about Hitler’s failed December 1944 Ardennes Offensive. Aside from a dreadful script, the movie is riddled with technical fouls that render it almost unwatchable to most history buffs. Most egregious of all is the picture’s climactic tank battle scene, which was filmed on a bright, sunny and entirely snowless Spanish prairie – a poor stand-in for the rugged woodlands of Belgium in winter. In fact, the filmmakers got it so wrong on so many counts, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who commanded the Allied armies in Europe during the war, emerged from private life to let the national media know just how much he hated The Battle of the Bulge. [1]

The Inglorious Bastards, 1978.

 Inglorious Bastards

You’ve heard of spaghetti westerns, but what about a spaghetti war film? That’s how some have described the entirely forgettable 1978 Italian-made Inglorious Bastards. Not to be confused with the similarly titled 2009 Quentin Tarantino Oscar-winning black comedy, the original is little more than a Dirty Dozen clone shot on a shoestring budget — and it shows. Click here to revel in the rottenness of it all.

‘They Saved Hitler’s Brain’ was actually two lousy movies blended together.

They Saved Hitler’s Brain

Suppose Adolf Hitler didn’t actually perish in his Berlin bunker. Instead, his loyal minions harvested his head and preserved it in a jar (fully conscious) in hopes of someday grafting it onto living body, thereby restoring the Third Reich. Such is the premise of this asinine 1968 sci-fi cult classic. Originally clocking in at just over an hour in length, the film’s distributor hired some L.A. university students to shoot an additional 20 minutes in order to get it to feature length. The new sequences, which look entirely different from the original scenes, were then ham-handedly edited into the final cut. The end result is two overlapping, really shitty movies. The fact that They Saved Hitler’s Brain even earned a 1.3/10 rating on is astounding — it deserves a 0.0. You could watch it here in its entirety, but then again life is too short to waste on crap like this.

All This and World War II

What do you get when you mix 88 minutes of vintage wartime newsreel footage with a collection of Beatles cover tunes from the likes of Elton John, Rod Stewart and the Bee Gees? The answer is All This and World War II. Not surprisingly, the 1976 ‘docu-musical’ from Twentieth Century Fox was both a box office flop and a critical disaster. It disappeared from theatres almost as soon as it was released. Check it out for yourself here.

Isla and a fellow SS she-wolf give the Nazi salute.

Isla: She Wolf of the SS

Considered by many to be the quintessential Nazi exploitation flick, this 1975 low-budget, soft-porn thriller tells the ludicrous tale of a nymphomaniac concentration camp commandant who subjects her female prisoners and Allied POWs to a series of bizarre S&M-themed experiments. Sadly, Isla was just one of a number of like-minded movies to come out of the 1960s and 70s. Others included Love Camp 7 and The Gestapo’s Last Orgy. It’s available complete and uncut here. But consider yourself warned: This film contains full-frontal stupidity.

Audiences that saw Jerry Lewis in ‘Which Way to the Front’ were likely asking “which way to the exit?”

Which Way to the Front?

This 1970 Second World War “comedy” by Jerry Lewis was so bad, after its release the famous American funnyman actually gave up making films for more than a decade. In it, Lewis plays Brendan Beyers III, a patriotic millionaire and 90 pound weakling who is passed over by army recruiters. Undeterred, he finances his own private army of misfits and rejects to infiltrate Nazi Occupied Europe and win the war for the Allies. Hilarity supposedly ensues, but the critics certainly disagreed. Almost all panned Which Way to the Front — even the French ones. Click here to judge for yourself.

Death Ship

A modern-day luxury cruise ship is rammed and sunk by a derelict wartime freighter. When the survivors scramble aboard the vintage hulk, they are horrified to discover that the vessel on which they find themselves stranded is home to the damned souls of fanatical Nazis and the walking corpses of their wartime captives. George Kennedy and Richard Crenna star in this forgotten 1980 Canadian-made horror. Here’s the trailer.

A crack team of killer sex-assassins are the stars of ‘Hustler Squad.’

Hustler Squad

When the Allied high command learns that Tojo’s top generals will be meeting to unwind at a Filipino brothel, a maverick intelligence officer trains a squad of foxy call girls to go in and assassinate the enemy big wigs. That’s Hustler Squad in a nutshell. The Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) ranks this 1976 B-movie, also known as The Dirty Half Dozen, as the worst World War Two film of all time… and for good reason. Here’s a radio ad.

3 comments for “Lights, Camera, Awful – Could These Be The Worst WW2 Movies Ever Made?

  1. 3 October, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Sometimes there are just no words to describe the absurdness of some of these movies that are released. Thanks to you I now know what to give wide berth to!

  2. Alex E
    3 October, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Some real shockers there – thanks for sharing! I know many people love it, but I’ve always thought Kelly’s Heroes is an awful movie. Unbelievable, tedious and not funny. The closing scene in which newly-liberated French villagers are waving Nazi flags sums up its imbecility!

  3. 4 October, 2014 at 9:12 am

    I’ve always enjoyed Kelly’s Heroes but I’ve enjoyed it for what it is, and that’s an amusing story about jaded characters who decide to take control of their destiny back from the powers which oppress them. The WWII backdrop is merely a vehicle for said oppressive powers: it’s the thing against which they are rebelling, but it could just as well have been a Wall Street movie, or a tale from a crumbling former mining town…

    Kelly’s Heroes as a war movie is awful! I won’t argue with that, but don’t have to because Kelly’s Heroes isn’t really a war movie.

    The problem occurs when you get movies like Pearl Harbor which pretend to be honest attempts at dramatising historical events. Now, that’s a bad war movie.

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