Total Recall (2012)

Weekend Roundtable: Erased from Memory

The plot of the movie Yesterday involves an alternate timeline where nobody remembers The Beatles. Let’s apply that premise to movies. Is there a particular movie you wish could be erased from memory so you’d never have to think about it again? What movie would the world be better off if it never existed?

Yes, I realize that Yesterday presents the loss of the Beatles’ music as a bad thing (and I’d even agree that it would be). Nevertheless, perhaps a little selective erasure could still work to the betterment of society in some respects.

David Krauss

Whenever anyone asks me about the worst movie I’ve ever seen, I don’t even have to hesitate before answering. Hands down, it’s All About Steve. This completely unfunny, cringe-inducing, so-bad-it-makes-you-want-to-kill-yourself 2009 romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, and Thomas Haden Church about a quirky female crossword constructer and her crazy obsession with a hunky TV news cameraman had me checking my watch after about 15 minutes and squirming in my seat for the next 85. Bullock’s character is so repulsive that even a last-ditch effort at redemption and an “inspiring” female empowerment message can’t salvage this godawful mess of a movie that just gets worse and worse as it goes along. I not only want my 99 minutes back, I want the Men in Black agents to come and erase the film from my memory… as well as the memories of any other poor unfortunate souls who had to suffer through it.

Jason Gorber

I’ve had my fair share of cinematic poison. Hell, Mektoub at Cannes should be burned. But for a film to be erased in a good way, so that its effect doesn’t fester as others follow along with its dreck, I’d have to nominate The Room. It’s not even good-bad; it’s just rabidly incompetent, and has engendered an entire generation to have something to laugh at rather than with. The Disaster Artist would have been wiped away too, which is a bit of a shame, but if it meant that people would pay to see films and celebrate as a community because they’re good instead of shit that would be excellent.

Then again, if that’s two on-the-nose, let’s remove Godard’s violently execrable Goodbye to Language from our collective servers as well for good measure. That one’s equally celebrated for equally egregious reasons.

M. Enois Duarte

With the Star Wars saga expanding in interesting and exciting directions, it’s high time we look back and admit that George Lucas’ The Phantom Menace is a pointless entry to the series. Outside of giving loyal fans a cool villain in Darth Maul and introducing the absurd concept of Midichlorians, this prequel ultimately adds nothing to the space opera’s mythos. In fact, twice when introducing the franchise to newbies, I skipped over big chunks of Episode I, except for the Tatooine sequences where Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan find Anakin Skywalker, the fight for Naboo with Padmé, and the pod race for some action. Honestly, the movie is forgettable, and I wish I could forget having wasting two days of my life waiting for the tickets, another entire day waiting in line, and two more hours sitting in a crowded, boisterous theater being sorely disappointed.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

Nothing of value would be lost if I woke up one morning and somehow forgot ever having suffered through Snuff.

No, it’s not because this infamous ’70s grindhouse flick is so gruelingly visceral. And nope, in no way does it document an actual murder. Snuff is a case of a distributor exploiting a panic-of-the-moment, cannily making a quick buck on a movie that would’ve been completely unreleasable otherwise. That’s not me being glib. Even though Allan Shackleton picked up the rights to Slaughter for just a few thousand bucks, he knew there was no chance of him making much of a profit from the movie as it was.

You see, back in the early ’70s, a couple of underground filmmakers headed down to Argentina to hammer out a Manson Family-esque murder cult flick on the cheap. Rather than revel in human sacrifices and its army of nubile, bloodthirsty female cultists, the near-entirety of Slaughter is instead a miasma of clunky melodrama and softcore frolicking. To reach something resembling a feature-length runtime, every single scene drags on two or three times longer than it reasonably should. The Argentine cast was dubbed over afterwards by sleepy, lifeless voice actors. A movie that’s ostensibly about a cult is far more fascinated by an arms dealer on the other side of the world and a flighty actress’ search for romance. While there is a body count, it’s pretty much always a single gunshot or a stabbing that’s barely in the frame.

Devoid of any tension, suspense, or anything approaching competency in any conceivable regard, Slaughter‘s greatest crime is just being really, really boring. I have no idea why sexploitation producer Allan Shackleton bothered picking up the movie at all, but given how truly unwatchable it is, it’s little surprise that he sat on it for years.

Then, all of a sudden, the urban legend about snuff films caught fire. People were in a panic that countless victims were being murdered on film for the entertainment of a cabal of wealthy degenerates. Such fear was baseless; even all these decades later, the existence of so much as a single snuff film has never been confirmed. (The likes of Faces of Death don’t count, as the non-simulated footage of people in that wasn’t filmed with commercial intent.)

But why let something as pesky as the truth get in the way of box office success? Shackleton rented a tiny insert studio for a day, shooting a five-minute coda in which the crew of Slaughter tortures and savagely murders its lead actress. Of course, no one was actually attacked, and the ostensible victim was played by a completely different actor. He renamed the film Snuff and even stripped out the credits and titles to make it seem that much more authentic. Even though Shackleton was prepared to stage fake protests and outrage as a publicity stunt, actual protestors showed up in force, condemning the film’s exploitation of women. As sloppy and unconvincing as the “murder” coda was, people were dead certain nonetheless that some poor woman had been brutally killed on camera.

Shackleton made a mint. I was bored stiff. I’m thankful to have been acquainted with the fascinating story behind Snuff. But the movie itself… ? Not worth remembering.

Josh Zyber

I’d joke that the 2012 remake of Total Recall starring Colin Farrell would be a brilliant candidate to erase from everyone’s memory, given that the movie is about a guy whose memory was erased. However, the world is already well ahead of me and it sure feels like everybody already has forgotten that the movie ever existed. It’s not much of a loss.

I’ve harped on my grievances with certain films (Forrest Gump, Prometheus, G.I Joe: The Rise of Cobra) often enough that I probably don’t need to do so again. It’s been about six years since I last ranted about A Good Day to Die Hard, though. Maybe you’d already forgotten about this one in the meantime, but sadly, I haven’t.

I love the Die Hard franchise. Even the oft-dismissed Die Hard 2 is a lot of fun for what it is (which is a dumbed-down retread of the first movie). Die Hard with a Vengeance I think is great. Live Free or Die Hard is probably the weakest of the first four, but was still a lot better than I expected going in.

When a fifth entry was announced, I was excited. The negative buzz surrounding its release worried me, but I figured it would probably still be about on part with Part 4. Nope. The fifth movie is a gigantic pile of garbage, the worst kind of lazy franchise cash-in. From its moronic plot, awful dialogue, incomprehensible shaky-cam action, and ugly teal photography, it’s evident that nobody who made the movie gave even the slightest shit about anything they were doing – least of all Bruce Willis, who sleepwalks through the return to his signature role.

A Good Day to Die Hard is so bad that I’m still angry thinking about it a half dozen years later. It sullies a franchise I love, forcing me to break the completist impulse that normally compels me to buy every movie in a series. I refuse to ever own this one. I wish I had never seen it. Moreover, I wish nobody had ever seen it and the franchise could get the decent send-off it deserves.

Your Turn

What move would you like, not just yourself, but the entire world to forget?


  1. Erik in Wisconsin

    Oddly enough, my wife and I watched A Good Day to Die Hard just last Friday. I was in the mood for something with action that I already was familiar with and didn’t have to think too hard about. No, it’s not my favorite Die Hard movie. The action is over the top (but then, aren’t they all) and the likelihood of him getting away with what they did in Russia is about zero. Nonetheless, it isn’t a movie that I wish never had existed. I reserve that honor for another Bruce Willis movie …


    Need I say more? (If you’ve never seen it, give it a watch. I dare you. In fact, I triple dog dare you. Ooops. Sorry. Minor breach of etiquette there.)

  2. Enter the Void. The narrative-free nearly three-hour ethereal mess contains “climactic” imagery that I’ll never be able to scrub from my memory. Asking for a movie to be erased from existence is asking a lot, but if I could just have that imagery wiped from my memory by means of some Eternal Sunshine process, I’d be perfectly content.

    • Jude Niro Abeyeratne

      It goes without saying that anything that comes from the cocaine-addled mind of Gaspar Noe needs to be seen as such – under the influence of certain substances. A tab of acid goes a long way in making Enter the Void a beautiful mess.

  3. Bolo

    I’ll go with ‘Death Proof’, more for the sake of Tarantino’s legacy than anything. Not that all his other films are amazing, but ‘Death Proof’ is far and away the one dragging down the average.

    • Josh Zyber

      I like Death Proof. Frankly, I like it a hell of a lot more than I liked Inglourious Basterds, which everyone else seems to love but I thought was awful.

    • Pedram

      Yeah I was also surprisingly disappointed with it too. I ended up liking Planet Terror more of the two, which I definitely didn’t expect to do.
      That and Jackie Brown are the two outliers for me on his otherwise brilliant filmmography.

        • Pedram

          Interesting. It seems to be a divisive movie. Maybe my expectations were too high.

          I liked most of the acting (except De Niro, who I felt was wasted on it), but otherwise I was wondering what the point was when I finished it.

          Tarantino describes it as a hang out movie, so I guess you need to like that kind of movie. Personally I like an interesting plot that keeps me engaged, and to me this film didn’t have it.

          • Bolo

            For me, ‘Jackie Brown’ is a romantic movie. The warmth that develops between Grier and Forster is what makes it great. I like the characterization of those two being at an age where they’re running out of chances to make their lives better in any significant way.

            The main plot is about Jackie digging her way out of prison time by selling out her boss. But Tarantino mostly just uses that as a frame on which to hang a lot of entertaining and touching character work.

        • Pedram

          Yeah I liked their romantic relationship aspect of it. I just wish they did more with it. Glad you liked it though.

  4. njscorpio

    I’d say the 2010 A Nightmare on Elm Street remake…which felt the need to change Freddy from some burned up child molester into a guy burned to death after being wrongly accused by vicious children. Great way to ruin a bad guy.

    • Julian

      This is not the first time you have expressed your hatred for BB2000 🙂 I wonder why it rubbed you the wrong way in the immense capacity it did. I’m a massive fan of the original (top-10 of all time for me), but I do not hate the follow-up. In fact, I’d say there are still some fun moments to be found: B.B. King is hilarious as a car salesman, James Brown hams it up excellently in the finale, ‘John The Revelator’, ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’, authentic Russian dialogue, et cetera. As far as belated sequels go, there are far worse.

      • Barsoom Bob

        Agree with you. Not that bad, and that is a hell of an all star band they assembled for the finale.
        Loved the Ghost Riders sequence.

      • It’s just that it’s such a huge disappointment after the perfect first movie. It’s the worst, laziest kind of sequel, where you take the script to the original movie, change the locations and the names of the antagonists, and voila! New Movie!

        Seriously, I wouldn’t really call it a sequel. It’s just a bland, soulless imitation of the first movie.

        Yes, the music is still great, and each individual performance is worth watching as a music video. But, the movie itself is an abomination.

  5. EM

    I wish Trolls World Tour didnʼt exist—or werenʼt coming into existence. The movie isnʼt due out till April next year, but take it from a guy whoʼs seen Toy Story 4 4⁤½ times: This Trolls sequelʼs trailer is utterly obnoxious, and all who are to blame should be sentenced to many years of hard labor for crimes against humanity (and…er…trollkind).

    The Angry Birds Movie 2 doesnʼt get off the hook, either.

  6. photogdave

    Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Bad script, bad direction, bad acting, bad F/X…bad idea.
    A near-perfect trilogy ruined by a sequence of bad decisions with the rotten cherry on the top of Shia LeBeouf.
    Even if the 5th movie turns out to be a masterpiece, Crystal Skull will always stick out like a mangled CG-monkey thumb.
    If it could be erased by from our memories then the series could be redeemed…

  7. Elizabeth

    I’m picking Michael Bay’s trash-terpiece robot porn, Transformers with the hope that erasing it would also erase all 4 of the awful sequels. Bay directed this live action version of an 80’s cartoon with all the maturity of a 10 year old boy. And the final sequel in the series was so awful that the Queen of England should rescind Anthony Hopkins’ knighthood for appearing in it.

    • Pedram

      While I liked the first one, I can’t defend any of the sequels. They almost prevented me from seeing the latest entry Bumblebee, which was actually good.
      Unfortunately they seemed to have prevented a lot of others from seeing it, which might have been their greatest sin since producer Lorenzo said they’re now more likely to go back to the “Bayhem” style going forward.

  8. Plissken99


    No better candidate to be erased from memory than this ludicrously bad franchise. I said when it came out that vampires are ruined for a good decade.. 11 years later the genre has still not recovered.

  9. Opinionhaver

    Josh and I don’t ALWAYS disagree, but on that 5th Die Hard we’ve never agreed more. However, I think another interesting premise for this roundtable, in keeping with the spirit of Yesterday, is “What is the one movie that must absolutely be remembered?” I often think if I were to place only one film in a time capsule to represent the art for future generations/alien visitors/etc. it would have to be Raiders of the Lost Ark…simply because it exhibits all the reasons why we pay to see moving pictures.

    • Pedram

      I that’s too bad. actually thought it was fun. Definitely liked it more than Terminator 3, and even the fourth film.
      Let’s see what they can do with the latest film now that James Cameron is more closely involved.

  10. Pedram

    I’m surprised it wasn’t mentioned already, but the first movie that popped into my mind was THE LAST JEDI.
    You may like it, and I don’t want to argue with you if you do, but there are a LOT of people like myself who felt like it did much more damage to the beloved series than the prequels ever did.
    I’m really hoping JJ can restore a lot of the lost good will with episode 9 (without just basically remaking a previous entry again).

  11. Shannon Nutt

    Alien 3 is my pick. Yes, it was well-directed, but it ruined the Alien franchise – and it’s never been able to recover.

    • Jon

      I’d argue Alien:Resurrection did way more harm. Since when have the aliens belonged in a wacky French art film?

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