The Dumbest Movie Explosions Ever

"Things going boom" has been bedrock of Hollywood blockbusters for decades. One could argue that without giant fireballs, Michael Bay would be making four-minute short films about robots stepping in dog poop. But not all explosions are created equal. Some have the budget heft of major studios who want to set the world on fire. Others are thrown together at the last minute on movie sets funded by rich dentists looking to break into the biz.

That doesn't mean these low-rent fireworks fizzle. Often, the dumber the explosion, the better. If you've got a hundred bucks, a box of firecrackers, and a director who cut his teeth in 1970s adult flicks, chances are you're going to make something unforgettable, whether you meant to or not.

Jaws 4

If Jaws was one of the greatest movies of all time, helping to launch the summer blockbuster as a concept, and Jaws 2 was a retread, and Jaws 3-D a gimmick, then Jaws 4 was just a straight-up crash grab. When Michael Caine was asked a few years back if he'd seen the movie, which he missed accepting an Oscar to star in, he said, "No. But I've seen the house it bought for my mum. It's fantastic!'"

Clearly, artistic ambitions were kept to a minimum here. How else to explain a plot in which a vengeful shark uses telepathy to track down the family that killed its, um, mother? Brother? Second cousin? And as bananas as the movie is as a whole, nothing really compares to the disjointed ending, in which the killer shark roars, yes roars, at widow Ellen Brody, before exploding in a burst of low-budget wizardry straight from the playbook of some kid who got a camcorder for Christmas.

Between the editing style, which could best be described as epilepsy-esque, and an exploding toy shark apparently purchased at a SeaWorld gift shop at the last minute, it's hard to tell what's even happening. Why does the shark explode, you ask? If your guess is because it was stabbed with a wooden stake, you'd not understand how science works, but you'd also be right.

Troll 3

Troll 3 has the unique distinction of being the only Troll movie to have no trolls in it, which is really a bold move when you think about it. In fact, this straight-to-video classic has exactly zero connections to the first two Troll movies, making this a must-not-watch for all the Troll-heads out there. That may be why it's been called, at various times, The Crawlers, Creepers, and Contamination .7, just to really confuse you.

What this movie does have, in an era in which our new president seems hell bent on dismantling the EPA, is a rock solid argument for the agency's importance. Troll 3 tells the story of heroic EPA agents who investigate murderous, mutant tree roots with a taste for blood. Basically, it's tentacle porn without the porn. It's an important story, and one that was severely overlooked by all the award shows, from the Oscars to the Razzies. It also has, perhaps, the worst helicopter crash in movie history.

You have to wonder what exactly the filmmakers spent money on (ahem, cocaine), because it ain't up there on the screen. Even the toy helicopter used for the crash didn't explode. Instead, they had to cut to footage of an explosion, from what we assume to be a much better movie, which isn't much of an assumption because movies cannot get worse than this. Frankly, it's impressive we didn't see a guy holding the helicopter as it crashed into the ground. You know they did that for two takes, and then had a big meeting around the cocaine table to figure out if they could afford fishing wire.


For those of us who always thought the problem with the Frankenstein story was that he didn't accept cash for hand jobs, Frankenhooker is here to save the day! The age-old story of a med school dropout who brings his dead girlfriend back to life using the parts of dead hookers, this black comedy has a substantial cult following. Between the hokey humor, overt sex, and campy acting by Penthouse Pet and star Patty Mullen, there really is a lot to like, if you're the type to dig your horror flicks with more boobs than blood.

Granted, not everyone was a fan. When the film was unable to land an R rating, thus dooming it to direct-to-video purgatory, the filmmakers were understandably upset. A representative from the MPAA apparently shared the news with a healthy dose of attitude, telling the team behind the film, "Congratulations, you are the first film rated 'S' for sh*t."

Thankfully, you can't keep a good movie about homicidal hookers down. If for no other reason, the inventive ways the movie deals out the death card make it a must-see movie. Where else can you see a serial killer murder his prey using exploding crack? And if that's not enough, there's another type of killer crack to enjoy, one that does in a sleazy Lothario in the clip above. When the bar bum goes under the table to make sure our Frankenhooker really does have all the right parts in all the right places, as she claims, things take a turn for the macabre. He soon finds himself being devoured by her electrified cooch, before exploding in the worst cut to animated fire this side of a G.I. Joe cartoon.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 2

When Silent Night, Deadly Night was released in 1984, parents groups threw the hissy fit heard 'round the world, picketing the movie until it was driven from theaters a week into its run. The powers that be behind the movie weren't happy and immediately started strategizing how they could make some money off of their yuletide flop. They approached Lee Harry to reedit the thing and pass it off as a sequel, which is so lazy, it makes the Friday the 13th franchise look like Oscar bait. Thankfully, Harry convinced them to scrape together enough money to allow him to shoot some new footage, shifting the story from the first flick's serial killing Santa to his younger brother. And, oh boy, did he shoot some new footage.

Perhaps the most dapper serial killer in movie history, with his floppy hair and snazzy blue sweater, Ricky Caldwell knows how to do two things: giggle to himself in a manner that suggests he should take some acting lessons, and kill people for no reason whatsoever. His shooting rampage in broad daylight in the middle of a quiet, Anytown, USA street, is pure WTF majesty. It even spawned a famous Internet meme, from the moment Ricky gloriously shoots some random dude trying to take out the trash and yells, "Garbage Day!" This scene could be used as exhibit A if overacting was ever put on trial.

But, though the film operated on a budget somewhere between nothing and nothing, the filmmakers managed to squeeze in a car explosion with real fire and everything. During Ricky's gallivant around town, a driver makes the unfortunate choice to head down the block the killer's currently cackling on. This leads the snickering psycho to shoot at the car over and over again, missing far too much for a guy who prides himself on his murdering ability. The driver then swerves onto a ramp that is conveniently set up right next to our baddie (because, y'know, ramps were everywhere in the suburbs back in the '80s) and flips over, before landing perfectly on its wheels again. So what does this now thoroughly confused driver do? Floor it out of there while blasting some newly released Joshua Tree? Nope: he dies in an awkwardly edited explosion that must have cost the majority of this movie's budget, because we all remember that cars in the '80s would explode if you even looked at them funny. Bingo!

Lovely But Deadly

No one wants movie explosions to make sense. If things only blew up when they were supposed to, Jaws would still be out there eating tourists, and the modern action movie would be 99 percent people standing around spouting catchphrases at each other. Just look back to Lovely But Deadly, the 1981 cult movie about a cheerleader who teams up with her karate class to go undercover at a high school and bust the drug ring that killed her brother. Suffice it to say, this was not based on a true story.

This is a movie that features teenage cheerleaders with ninja-like karate skills taking on mobsters who look like they'd rather be in bed. This is a movie that sees our ninja-like lead face off against drug-dealing goons in full fencing regalia. This is a movie that has a scene in which a drug dealer is forced to choke down his own stash while our hero, the titular Lovely, rubs his throat and tells him she used to do the same thing to an old possum who needed to take his medicine. This is a movie that puts the bat in "batsh*t crazy."

But perhaps its most glorious moment is its climatic boat chase, a scene that has everything you'd want but would be afraid to ask for. Low-speed motorboats that look like they were rented by the hour? Check. Overweight cop killers in '70s disco attire? Check. But what really makes this one for the ages is the explosion, which seems to be set off when two boats bump into each other. No one shoots a gas can here. There is no bomb. They don't even bump engines. They tap each other's front tips and, well, kabloomy.

Halloween II

Look, Halloween II is a good movie. Maybe not the out and out classic of the first Halloween, but it gets the job done. Still, even something that's not a complete mess can make some mistakes along the way.

Dr. Sam Loomis spots a teenager wearing an outfit identical to Michael Meyers. Why? Just a big fan of the first movie? And isn't he a bit old to be out trick-or-treating? Come to think of it, where are this kid's friends? Man, is he just a complete loser?

Sadly, we'll never know. As this dweeb goofily walked across the street that cool fall evening, Loomis opens fire. A cop car swerves and hits the poor kid, who started the night with dreams of Butterfingers in his head and ends it with a groin full of fender. The car, dragging the goofy teen with no friends, rams into a parked van. And then, well, they all explode. The car. The van. The virgin teen with no life.

Was the guy made out of TNT? Was he doused in alcohol and just happened to light a match as he was hit? Did the cop car's front bumper have storage in it, and inside that storage, they put a bomb they had just found on another case and were heading back to the precinct to put in the evidence locker? Someone better be getting sued for this.

Race With The Devil

Race With The Devil is the Peter Fonda vehicle about a road trippin' group of friends who stumble upon a Satan worshiping cult and then hash out their differences through a wicked case of road rage. It's sort of a hybrid between Rosemary's Baby and Easy Rider, and if that doesn't kind of sound like a cool movie, then maybe you just don't understand what cool movies are. This movie has it all: dead dogs, creepy old people, and proof that you don't need a chainsaw to be a crazy Texas killer. It also has the most inexplicable car explosion ever seen.

Maybe it was dark magic that made that pickup truck explode into a fireball after a light tap. All it did was take a right turn. What this explosion needs is some serious fan fiction, a story about the gates of hell opening and swallowing it whole, because that is about the only reason that that truck would go up in flames after a minor fender bender.

Rambo: First Blood Part II

The first Rambo movie, First Blood, was a somewhat grounded take on the plight soldiers found themselves in after returning from the Vietnam War. Its sequel, Rambo: First Blood Part II, was not. Our PTSD-stricken hero, John Rambo, now found himself out of prison and sent back to 'Nam to win the war once and for all. He was there to free some POWs or something, but who are we kidding. Rocky won the goddamned Cold War! The least Rambo could do was put a W on the books for Vietnam.

Sure, the movie earned a 30 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth watching. If you like pecs or biceps or abdominals, chances are you'll dig what this movie has to offer. And if you like over the top kills, just remember this movie comes from a guy who made a movie called Over the Top. (It's about arm wrestling. You should watch that, too.)

The movie's best kill earns it a spot on this list, when John Rambo murders ruthless Vietnamese solider Lieutenant Tay with one of his exploding arrows. A regular arrow would have probably done the job, but how boring would that have been? If you're going to go back into a geopolitical quagmire of a war, one that probably should never have been fought, and kill cartoonish bad guys meant to represent the worst stereotypes of our foes, you are going to want to do it in style. This is a kill that lives right on the border of badass and buffoonish, kind of like Stallone's whole career when you think about it.

Death Wish 4

Death Wish 4 was poorly conceived propaganda trying to cash in on Ronald Reagan's War on Drugs. Born out of a time when people felt the "inner cities" were spiraling out of control, this franchise gave angry old white men a hero to call their own. Pulling a Liam Neeson decades before it was fashionable, film legend Charles Bronson played Paul Kersey, an old man action hero with a very specific set of skills. Those skills were to kill, kill, kill anyone who might even remotely seem like a bad guy, and ask questions later, or never.

After three semi-competent Death Wish movies, this fourth installment saw a substantially reduced budget, and boy does it show. Numerous deaths here are ridiculous and unwarranted, but the piece de resistance of Kersey's bloodlust is the above clip, in which Old Man Bronson pretends to be a waiter or busboy or something, before leaving a bottle of wine rigged with explosive at the table full of mobsters. Is that Danny Trejo playing a young, Italian goon? And why does Kersey make up a whole backstory for his waiter character, as opposed to just getting the hell out of there? And why does Trejo react as if he's just been sprayed with acid when Kersey splashes some water on him?

But no matter how inane any particular detail is, nothing can compare to the special effect the filmmakers employed to make the bomb go boom. First, they cut to a shot of two wax dummies, dressed up like the mobsters, and then to a cartoon effect of fire. What the what? If they were going to just animate the explosion, why did they have the mannequins in the first place? Is this honestly the best they could do? Like, grown professionals who did this for a living watched that and said, "Yup, I think we got it. What's next?"

Death Wish 5

If Death Wish 4 has one of the worst explosions in the history of movies, then Death Wish 5 must have one that's even worse. Still, the sheer balls to the walls insanity of this clip speaks to a level of unintentional genius that is rare to witness in the arts.

Death Wish 5 was an attempt to reboot the series. Cannon Films was landing on tough times and needed a hit. Charles Bronson, now in his seventies, wanted the characters to be more sympathetic. Maybe this is why, for the first time in series history, there was no rape scene. So, kudos for that? Oh, also, Bronson wasn't on speaking terms with the producer of the film during the shoot.

Out of this stew of dysfunction came a glorious scene. Look, Paul Kersey kills bad guys. Freddie "Flakes" Garrity, played by Robert Joy, is a bad guy. It was just a matter of time before he would get offed in this movie. The question is, why did Kersey decide that a remote controlled soccer ball would be the best way to do it? And why did he make a quip about Freddie's dandruff before blowing him up? Sure, Freddie's head exploded when the bomb went off, along with whatever dandruff he may have had, but why was that the key element that Kersey decided he wanted to highlight in Freddie's last moments? Also, what was Freddie wearing? Some sort of discarded extra costume from the set of Star Trek?

This was the last Death Wish film, although it seems like they were just hitting their stride.