“It was a dark and stormy night” is an often-mocked and parodied phrase written by English novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton in the opening sentence of his 1830 novel Paul Clifford. The phrase is considered to represent “the archetypal example of a florid, melodramatic style of fiction writing,” also known as purple prose. The phrase comes from the original opening sentence of Paul Clifford:
It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
HAR! That’s awful!
The annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest was formed in 1982. The contest, sponsored by the English Department at San Jose State University, recognizes the worst examples of “dark and stormy night”
writing. It challenges entrants to compose “the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.”
Bulwer-Lytton wasn’t a total flop. He was quite successful actually, his novel Paul Clifford notwithstanding. He coined the phrases “the great unwashed”, “pursuit of the almighty dollar”, “the pen is mightier than the sword”, as well as well-received novels like The Last Days of Pompeii. (source)
Speaking of bad, if a dark and stormy night stands for the worst opening line tot he worst novel, then Plan 9 From Oter Space by Ed Wood stands as the worst movie ever. It is the benchmark for the worst of the worst all other movies are compared against.
Debuting in 1959 and sinking into obscurity almost as quickly, Wikipedia says “For years the film played on television in relative obscurity, until 1980, when authors Michael Medved and Harry Medved dubbed Plan 9 from Outer Space the “worst movie ever made”. Wood was posthumously awarded the Medveds’ Golden Turkey Award as the worst director ever.”
The movie The Great Gatsby based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic book was released this weekend. And like the four other Great Gatsby movies before it, it seems to have flopped. Movie Critic Rex Reed says,
“Is it any wonder, in all the slobber and confusion, that the acting is so bad? With the phoniest set of performances this side of an Ed Wood flick, you might as well be watching Plan 9 From Outer Space.”
Hopefully nothing you do will be deemed the worst ever!