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The hottest cinematic messes

Now The Canyons is out – we chart the top 10 hot messes on film


Lindsay Lohan stars as the actress girlfriend of a calculating movie producer in this tawdry picture about toxic Hollywood Z-listers, and allegations of her shambolically unreliable behaviour on-set caused a media field day. With the first UK screenings of the film, directed by Paul Schrader from a script by Bret Easton Ellis, happening this weekend at London's Hackney Picturehouse, we've gathered together some of our other fave cinematic hot messes - films with disastrous production backgrounds, walking car-crashes of characters, or that are just so plain bad you can't tear your eyes away.


W. E. (2001)

Inspired by the scandalous romance of Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne for his lover, the cringeworthy attempts at stylistic edginess of Madonna's extravagant turkey include the American divorcee (played by Andrea Riseborough) jiving with an African tribesman to "Pretty Vacant" by the Sex Pistols.Terrible: yes. Entertaining: absolutely.


THE ROOM (2003)

Dubbed by many the "Citizen Kane of bad movies", Tommy Wiseau's disaster (which he made in earnestness but later tried to pass off as black comedy) was a pitiful flop that's become a cult fave. Turning on the melodramatic love woes of a run-of-the-mill banker and his fiancee, it's a stew of stilted dialogue and inexplicable weirdness.



Another film that often gets a nod among worst-ever films is this exploitation docudrama from cross-dresser Ed Wood, starring Bela Lugosi and Wood's then-girlfriend Dolores Fuller, about a police inspector who seeks insight from a psychiatrist after discovering a transvestite's suicide. While riotously inept, it was also groundbreaking in dealing with LGBT issues at a time most media was intensely hostile. Its production was later chronicled by Tim Burton in Ed Wood.




Danish provocateur Lars Von Trier's controversial film wooed some critics, and left others accusing him of a stylistic hodge-podge riddled with misogyny. From its ludicrously over-the-top opening with Handel aria to its witchcraft element and THAT scene with genitalia and rusty scissors, it reinforced that - love him or hate him - each new film of his ignites a "must see" perverse fascination. Expect nothing less from his upcoming Nymphomaniac.



Faye Dunaway plays Hollywood actress Joan Crawford as a hard-drinking control freak prone to violent tantrums in this hysteria-laced, critically panned melodramatic horror from director Frank Perry. Based on the tell-all memoir of the screen legend's long-suffering adopted daughter Christina, it's become a cult favourite.


Faye Dunaway had already delved into obsessive screen neurosis playing a pill-popping, nerve-frayed former fashion model who reflects in flashbacks on her mental disintegration in this stunning-looking gem from director Jerry Schatzberg. While the film turned out great, the production was rumoured to be less than a walk in the park, with Dunaway's reputation for diva antics at its height.


Also notoriously trying to direct was Dennis Hopper in this cynical, Berlin-set downfall tale by Roland Klick, in which the Hollywood actor plays the violently unpredictable manager of a synth-playing Berlin wannabe rock star. Made in Hopper's most coke-unhinged period, it was his last film before rehab, and his performance is one of half-incoherent, deranged frenzy (he was so addled he could only shoot for short stints each day).


Our favourite on-screen freak-out comes courtesy of Isabelle Adjani in this '80s cult gem - also set in Berlin - from director Andrzej Zulawski, in which domestic unease escalates into supernatural horror. Amping up the deranged hysteria, Adjani plays a woman in the midst of a mutually manic divorce from her spy husband (Sam Neill), and in its most famed scene puts her all into a fit defiling the walls of an underground pass with supermarket goods.

MOEBIUS (2013)

Always far from cautionary when it comes to taste, South Korean provocateur Kim Ki-duk takes bizarre extremity off the charts in this grotesque Freudian ballet, which had a hard time with the censors securing release in his own country. With next-to-no dialogue, its sustained hysterical outpouring plays out like a nightmarescape amid castration and incest after a wife takes out her anguish at her husband's infidelity on her son. It's also a laugh a minute (really).