This from Joe Queenan, via Megan McArdle, seems wrong:
To qualify as one of the worst films of all time, several strict requirements must be met. For starters, a truly awful movie must have started out with some expectation of not being awful. That is why making a horrific, cheapo motion picture that stars Hilton or Jessica Simpson is not really much of an accomplishment. Did anyone seriously expect a film called The Hottie and The Nottie not to suck? Two, an authentically bad movie has to be famous; it can’t simply be an obscure student film about a boy who eats live rodents to impress dead girls. Three, the film cannot be a deliberate attempt to make the worst movie ever, as this is cheating. Four, the film must feature real movie stars, not jocks, bozos, has-beens or fleetingly famous media fabrications like Hilton. Five, the film must generate a negative buzz long before it reaches cinemas; like the Black Plague or the Mongol invasions, it must be an impending disaster of which there has been abundant advance warning; it cannot simply appear out of nowhere. And it must, upon release, answer the question: could it possibly be as bad as everyone says it is? This is what separates Waterworld, a financial disaster but not an uncompromisingly dreadful film, and Ishtar, which has one or two amusing moments, from The Postman, Gigli and Heaven’s Gate, all of which are bona fide nightmares.
Six, to qualify as one of the worst movies ever made, a motion picture must induce a sense of dread in those who have seen it, a fear that they may one day be forced to watch the film again – and again – and again.
Like all good and decent MST3K fans, I consider the worst film ever made to be “Manos” The Hands of Fate, which violates four of these six rules. It started out with an expectation of being awful; its star/producer/writer/director had never performed any of those roles in a film before, and indeed made the movie because a friend bet him he could not successfully complete a film. The literal title is “Hands” The Hands of Fate, for God’s sake. It was completely obscure until MST3K mocked it in 1993, and it sure as hell didn’t feature real movie stars. Finally, it did not generate negative buzz long before it reached cinemas, as it barely reached cinemas, period. So on most of Queenan’s criteria, it fails. And yet I defy anyone who’s seen it – even in MST3K form – to tell me it isn’t the worst film ever made. It just has to be. If it’s humanly possible to make a film more inept, more excruciatingly painful than “Manos”, then the world is a far darker place than I’d imagined.