10 Not-so-‘Rotten’ Movies: Part II

Andrew Buckle,

In the second version of this feature – you can check out the first one here – we’re reflecting on the Tomatometer scores of 10 more movies that we enjoy and are asking the question – what if they (they being “many respectable critics”) got it wrong?

These 10 “rotten” movies – movies that below 60% of critics have given a positive rating to – get a thumbs up from us, and we recommend exploring the Fetch Movie Store or your favourite streaming service and giving them another go.


Den of Thieves (2018) – 42%

What is it about?

An elite unit of the LA County Sheriff’s Dept. and the state’s most successful bank robbery crew clash as the outlaws plan a seemingly impossible heist on the Federal Reserve Bank.

Where to Watch?

Buy or rent in the Movie Store.

Fresh Feature

Gerard Butler. Fairly comfortable calling this the biggest, most abrasive and most impactful performance in his career to date. Here Butler plays the hulking, violent, drunken, junk-food devouring dirtbag cop ‘Big Nick’ O’Brien. Living without much purpose outside of making a meal of any case he’s involved in, Nick’s pursuit of the crew becomes an obsession, pushing Butler into anti-villain territory and single-handedly elevating this grimy Heat rip-off into a cops & robbers blast.

Vacation (2015) – 27%

What is it about?

Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) takes his own family on a road trip to “Walley World” in order to spice things up with his wife and reconnect with his sons.

Where to Watch?

Buy or rent in the Movie Store.

Fresh Feature

A commitment to jokes at all times. While Vacation might not have the highest hit rate of success – but comedy is so subjective, who am I to say – what is downright impressive about this movie is the volume of jokes that it attempts. It serves no other purpose than to place the Griswold’s in many uncomfortable, embarrassing and disgusting situations, utilising a host of cameos (Chris Hemsworth‘s well-endowed faucet aficionado for one) and some odd, but well-timed recurring gags. There aren’t too many comedies that empty the clip as fast as this one, so this resurrection of the beloved Vacation franchise is underrated. Ed Helms isn’t Chevy Chase, but not even those classics could keep up with the chaos in this one.

The Black Dahlia (2006) – 32%

What is it about?

Two policemen see their personal and professional lives fall apart in the wake of the “Black Dahlia” murder investigation.

Where to Watch?

The Black Dahlia is currently unavailable for streaming.

Fresh Feature

Brian De Palma. A polarising auteur, to be sure. His tendencies as a filmmaker – he is a thick applier of the influential styles of filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchcock – have never been subtle. He pushes boundaries. It often feels like his films wouldn’t exist without his influences. Blow Out, a good film but can it ever escape the shadow of Blow Up and The Conversation? His films are provocative, and indulgent. There are some people out there who think some of his most popular films (such as Scarface) are absolute garbage, while at the same time find plenty to admire in his commercial flops. The Black Dahlia, an adaptation of James Ellroy’s novel (he wrote L.A. Confidential, another of his L.A. Quartet Series) is a complex and tragic crime thriller that is stuffed full of the visual brilliance one might expect from De Palma.

Event Horizon (1997) – 29%

What is it about?

Set in 2047, it follows a crew of astronauts sent on a rescue mission after a missing spaceship, the Event Horizon, spontaneously appears in orbit around Neptune.

Where to Watch?

Buy or rent in the Movie Store.

Fresh Feature

The unique and unexpected third act gross-ness. When space exploration sci-fi becomes the monstrous horror. The re-powered Event Horizon, which opened up a portal into a hell dimension during its mission, now carries a malevolent presence that preys on the fears of the newly occupying crew. The torment involves hallucinations of past traumas, and learning the shocking truth about the fate of the original crew. This film has built up a cult following over the years, who pine for a look at the original 130-minute cut, that was trimmed to just 96-minutes for theatrical release. The deleted footage now seems to be lost. But, do we really want to see where else director Paul W.S Anderson took this? The orgy of gratuity that pops up in the final act is truly a shocking development and makes this a masterpiece of body horror.

The Pelican Brief (1993) – 53%

What is it about?

A law student uncovers a conspiracy, putting herself and others in danger.

Where to Watch?

Buy or rent in the Movie Store.

Fresh Feature

Denzel and Julia. One of the lowest rated Grisham adaptations (below The Gingerbread Man, according to Rotten Tomatoes, yikes), but this walked so The Rainmaker and A Time to Kill (the cream of the crop for us) could run. Here we are, almost 30 years on, and the partnership of Denzel and Julia would still be money. Julia was just a few years removed from her breakout in Pretty Woman, Denzel had an Oscar nomination the year before (Malcolm X), and they were working with a filmmaking legend in Alan J. Pakula (All the President’s Men, Presumed Innocent). This movie had immense star power and is a gripping legal thriller end-to-end, so what gives?

To the Wonder (2012) – 47%

What is it about?

After falling in love in Paris, Marina and Neil come to Oklahoma, where problems arise. Their church’s Spanish-born pastor struggles with his faith, while Neil encounters a woman from his childhood.

Where to Watch?

Buy or rent in the Movie Store.

Fresh Feature

Say what you want about the Terrence Malick (we’ll admit, Song by Song was a tough watch) but the man is committed to his style. This was released on the back of The Tree of Life in 2010, which won the Palme d’or at Cannes. Longtime fans of the filmmaker, and maybe some new devotees, were enthralled by Tree. Malick, a reclusive filmmaker who often spends years concepting and shooting his movies, had a new film out already? Wow. It wasn’t very well received – more of the same old tricks, it was said – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t significant merit in between those many long slow walks through the tall grass.

Toys (1992) – 29%

What is it about?

When Lieutenant General Leland Zevo inherits a toymaking company and begins making war toys, his employees band together to stop him before he ruins the name of Zevo Toys forever.

Where to Watch?

Toys is currently unavailable for streaming.

Fresh Feature

They don’t make them like this anymore. There’s a unique pleasure in watching old ’90s trailers to see how they handle the tone of films to attract audiences. This film is WEIRD. Like being sucked into the strangest dream of your life. There’s something impressive about just how much Barry Levinson’s oddball non-family comedy about toymaking dances to the beat of it’s own aesthetic experimentation and gets absolutely bonkers performances from Robin Williams, Robin Wright, Joan Cusack, Sir Michael Gambon and LL Cool J.

The Exorcist III (1990) – 59%

What is it about?

A police Lieutenant uncovers more than he bargained for as his investigation of a series of murders, which have all the hallmarks of the deceased Gemini serial killer, leads him to question the patients of a psychiatric ward.

Where to Watch?

Rent on Prime Video.

Fresh Feature

This very solid sequel, which is set 17 years after the events in The Exorcist, is impressively directed by that film’s novelist and adaptive screenwriter, William Peter Blatty. His chilling mood-builder is a more restrained film, emphasising his eccentricities, leaning into the comedy and taking a more literary approach. It does contain one of the all-time great jump scares in cinema, the culmination of a sequence of spectacular camera motion, pacing and misdirection.

The Dressmaker (2015) – 58%

What is it about?

A glamorous woman returns to her small town in rural Australia. With her sewing machine and haute couture style, she transforms the women and exacts sweet revenge on those who did her wrong.

Where to Watch?

Buy or rent in the Movie Store.

Fresh Feature

Jocelyn Moorhouse (who directed the great Aussie film Proof) has crafted a strange and hyperactive film here. A huge hit at the local box office, this wasn’t just a film that your gran went and watched and then told all their friends about. This was watched, and loved, by everyone. Except critics? Kate Winslet – sporting a perfect Aussie accent – was likely a huge talent draw, but an outstanding local cast fill out a deep roster of unique and layered characters. One performer in particular, Liam Hemsworth, has never been better. This film has an impressive level of comic chaos, as well as some truly surprising narrative developments. It is a vibrant and exciting example of local filmmaking that should be celebrated.

In the Mouth of Madness (1994) – 57%

What is it about?

An insurance investigator, John Trent (Sam Neill), begins discovering that the impact a horror writer’s books have on his fans is more than inspirational.

Where to Watch?

Rent on Prime Video.

Fresh Feature

Reliable presence of the uncanny from John Carpenter, paying tribute to H.P. Lovecraft and joining The Thing and The Prince of Darkness as part of the unofficial “Apocalypse Trilogy”. It’s a sure bet to be privileged to an otherworldly experience when you push play on a Carpenter film and In the Mouth of Madness is an elite mind-bender. During his investigation Trent discovers something more sinister than anticipation-induced hysteria from Crane’s fans; his work isn’t fiction, it’s literal fact, and he’s currently writing the end of mankind. Sam Neill was an absolute King in the ’90s (see Event Horizon), working with adventurous filmmakers and playing characters that get mixed up in all kinds of gruesome and psychologically-scarring terrors.

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