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VIDEO : BAD-IDEA FILMS YOU LOVE TO HATE.

Byline: Robert Bianco Special to the Daily News

The best bad movies start with a bad idea. And let's face it: ``The Hunchback of Notre Dame'' (1996, Disney; $26.99) was a bad idea. It doesn't matter that it did well at the box office (though not by Disney cartoon standards) or that it's beautifully animated. It was still a bad idea.

In fact, ``Hunchback'' passes the crucial test of bad-idea filmmaking: The first time someone told you Disney was making a movie of ``The Hunchback of Notre Dame,'' you probably asked ``why?'' Why did someone think we wanted to see Quasimodo as a stuffed toy?

So, in honor of ``Hunchback,'' here are 10 bad-idea classics. (Feel free to substitute some bad ideas of your own.)

Howard the Duck: (1986, Universal; $14.99) The people who told George Lucas that ``Star Wars'' was a bad idea were wrong - which may explain why he ignored the naysayers and went ahead with ``Howard.'' This time, though, he should have listened.

Born Yesterday: (1993, Touchstone; $19.99) Remakes of cherished films are always bad ideas. At best, they're unnecessary; at worst, like the Melanie Griffith-Don Johnson ``Born Yesterday,'' they're unwatchable. But then, Griffith is her own bad-idea film festival - just show it with ``Milk Money'' (kid buys a prostitute for dad).

1776: (1972, Columbia TriStar; $19.95) This musical version of the signing of the Declaration of Independence was a bad idea that turned out to be a good idea - before it turned back into a bad idea. On stage, it was thrilling; transferred to a more realistic medium, it simply looked silly. Never have the Founding Fathers dance in a movie. It's a bad idea.

Rapa Nui: (1993, Warner; $19.99) ``Rapa Nuts'' is more like it. Imagine ``Lord of the Flies'' and ``Hercules Unchained'' grafted onto a 17th-century Easter Island ecological fable, then try to imagine why anyone thought there was an audience for that. When the Island King starts ruminating about the size of the statue's hats, you may think you're hallucinating.

The Jazz Singer: (1980, Republic; $14.98) Did the people who came up with this idea ever see Al Jolson act or hear Neil Diamond sing? If they did, what made them want to combine the two?

Exit to Eden: (1994, HBO; $19.99) Somewhere in production, the filmmakers apparently realized that attempting to make a movie out of Anne Rice's novel about S&M fantasies was a bad idea. Unfortunately, so was chucking the main story for a tired comic subplot. It's like getting two bad ideas for the price of one.

The Conqueror: (1956, Universal; $14.99) John Wayne as Genghis Khan. You don't have to go any further than that.

Mohammed: Messenger of God: (1977, currently unavailable) For those who collect bad-idea videos, ``Mohammed'' is the missing Holy Grail. Making a movie about the founder of Islam might have been a good idea if Islam didn't forbid images of the Prophet. Muslims were offended, non-Muslims were by and large uninterested, and those few people who went anyway were stupefied.

Stop, or My Mom Will Shoot: (1992, Universal; $19.98) So far, it's been a bad idea to cast Sylvester Stallone in a comedy. It's an even worse idea to give a comedy a title that screams ``bad idea.'' They should have just called it ``Stop.''

The Scarlet Letter: (1995, Hollywood; $19.99) When it comes to bad ideas, it's hard to top Demi Moore (the voice of Esmeralda in ``The Hunchback'') as Hester Prynne in a movie made by people who had no regard for the book or its moral point. You get the feeling the filmmakers really didn't want to see ``The Scarlet Letter'' on screen. Neither did anyone else.

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Photo: The first time someone told you Disney was making a movie of ``The Hunchback of Notre Dame,'' you probably asked ``why?'' Why did someone think we wanted to see Quasimodo as a stuffed toy?
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Video Recording Review
Date:Mar 7, 1997
Words:664
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