As anyone who suffered through Catwoman can attest, even a great
body can’t make up for a lousy script. In fact, some of the best
bodybuilders have appeared in some of the worst movies.

Most such
flicks are quite forgettable, but some can’t really be dismissed so
easily. We sifted through the trash for those that are so awful they’re
enjoyable, in a Mystery Science Theater 3000 sort of way. With our
all-time bottom 10 muscle movies, you’re in for either a really good or
a really bad time–depending on your sense of humor.


Red Sonja (1985)

A sword-and-sandal flick starring surreal Amazonian Brigitte
Nielsen and featuring post-Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger (as
Conanlite Kalidor) may have seemed like a good idea two decades ago
except for two problems: a nonsensical script and a lead actress who
shows less emotion than a brass bra.

* Best/worst line (by Red Sonja): "No man may have me, unless he’s beaten me in a fair fight."


Double Trouble (1992)

No list of the worst muscle movies would be complete without David
and Peter Paul, the Barbarian Brothers. In this slapstick comedy devoid
of comedy, the bodybuilding twins team up to pursue a diamond thief.

* Best/worst lines (Paul to Paul): "No way." "Yes way." "No way." "Yes way." "No way."


Aces: Iron Eagle III (1992)

Two-time Ms. Olympia Rachel McLish costars with Louis Gossett Jr.
in this ridiculously implausible tale of World War II veterans battling
the forces of a Nazi war criminal who’s also a Peruvian cocaine kingpin
(now that’s a bad guy!). Boxer Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini and martial arts
legend Sonny Chiba join the fight.

* Best/worst scene: Octogenarian vets flying WWII dust-buckets defeat top gunners in state-of-the-art fighter jets!


Beretta’s Island (1994)

How could there be an Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu
movie you’ve never heard of? First, this was a no-budget
straight-to-video flick produced and financed by Columbu. Second,
Schwarzenegger–then the biggest box-office star in the world–did his
best pal a huge favor and made a cameo. Columbu, under the code name
Beretta, tracks his friend’s killer back to his home country of

* Best/worst names: Franco Columbu plays Franco Armando. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Bloody Pit of Horror (1965)

Mr. Universe Mickey Hargitay stars in this Italian trash-classic as
the owner of a castle visited by seminude female models. So far so
good, but things take a turn for the weird when he becomes possessed by
the castle’s previous owner and begins torturing his guests.

* Best/worst advertising line: "Never before so much paralyzing terror as in this hair-raising orgy of sadism!"


Return to Frogtown (1993)

In an unrequested sequel, Lou Ferrigno stars as a
rocket-pack-propelled Texas Ranger captured by Zar Frogmeister and his
minions of mutant frog people. As far as we know, this was not based on
a true story.

* Best/worst scene: A nightclub performance by a frog band, backed by (eat the) fly girls.


Hercules in New York (1970)

This curious clunker marked the debut of Arnold Schwarzenegger
(originally billed as Arnold Strong), who plays the son of Zeus on
spring break in the Big Apple. It has something to do with gangsters
and wrestling promoters, and Schwarzenegger’s voice is hilariously
dubbed (the original audio is also on the DVD), but it’s all just an
excuse to see California’s current governor in vintage 1970 condition.

* Best/worst line: "Bucks? Doe? What is all this zoological talk about male and female animals?"


Voodoo Swamp (1968)

So wretched it wasn’t released on its own, the not-quite-finished
mess is an extra feature on the DVD of the similarly no-budget Blood of
the Zombie (1961). In this supernatural tale set in backwater
Louisiana, Mr. Universe Bill Pearl plays a zombie henchman. You know a
film is in trouble when a zombie is the liveliest character.

* Best/worst scene: Two people boat through a swamp on a craft they
had machine-gunned full of bullet holes in the previous scene.


Jail Bait (1954)

While the other movies here are so shoddy they could’ve been
directed by the infamously inept Ed Wood, this one actually was. In
Wood’s take on film noir, a crook tries to hide his identity via
plastic surgery. Making his big-screen debut, Steve Reeves is miscast
as a cop tracking the bad guy.

* Best/worst line: "This afternoon we had a long telephone conversation earlier in the day."


The Loves of Hercules (1960)

Mickey Hargitay starred in a string of awful Italian movies (see
#6), but this was the worst and, thus, the best. Hargitay is Hercules,
and his real-life wife, Jayne Mansfield, plays his girlfriend and an
evil queen. Somehow it eludes Herc that both women are the same person
in different wigs. The erotic fun includes talking trees, a Cyclops and
a three-headed dragon.

* Best/worst scene: Mansfield is tied up spread-eagle, and Hargitay frees her with a neat toss of an ax.

By Greg Merritt