For a time in the 1960s and 1970s, certain low-budget filmmakers briefly abandoned the horror and softcore porn genres to make extremely cheap kids’ films like The Magic Land Of Mother Goose and The Wonderful Land Of Oz. Why? Because an economic opportunity had presented itself. Theaters were running special kids-only matinees, and they needed product. So the schlockmeisters churned out fairy-tale films as quickly and economically as possible. Something similar may be happening in the 2010s on Netflix. Poor quality CGI children’s films, many of them pale knockoffs of more famous Disney titles, are currently flooding the mega-popular streaming service. But even here, in the very lowest echelons of show business, certain works still manage to stand out from the crowd for their brazen, all-encompassing incompetence. New York writer Brian Feldman discusses one such abomination in an article called “The Nightmare World Of Leo The Lion, Netflix’s Worst Movie.” That’s a bold claim, but Feldman does what he can to explain why an obscure, Italian-made Lion King wannabe from 2013 deserves to be called the worst of the worst.
“The streaming-video market is propped up by garbage,” Feldman admits, but Leo The Lion is something special. The film, the story of a vegetarian lion who escorts a group of animals to a lake filled with milk, is already a cult sensation of sorts on Tumblr, where users contribute to an ever-growing thread about the film’s many inconsistencies, mistakes, and baffling details. The strangest aspect of the film may be that the dubbed dialogue and songs do not match up with the subtitles at all. Feldman’s theory is that the subtitles are a literal translation of the original Italian script, while the dubbing has been more localized.
But the problems of Leo The Lion hardly begin or end with its subtitles. Visually, says Feldman, the film is an absolute mess, looking like “a video game whose textures never load correctly.” Nothing here makes sense. Monkeys wear rasta hats. A zebra breastfeeds a leopard. A chameleon quotes Hamlet. It’s all just random nonsense, thrown together for an undiscriminating audience by people who didn’t give a damn. “Netflix lures you in with big-name titles every month,” Feldman concludes, “but it keeps you around with D-grade trash.”