Horror is an odd genre—and perhaps one of the most subjective. One person’s classic is another’s trash. What is a magnificent gorefest to you might be torture porn with no redeeming values to someone else. That said, there are some films that, even as we enjoy them, we have to admit are just badly constructed by all meaningful measures. Horror is blessed with a ton of guilty pleasures and Halloween offers an awesome opportunity to revisit ten of them. These films might not scare you but they may horrify you for all the wrong reasons. So here you go. Enjoy.
Troll II is the reigning king of “so bad it’s good” horror. It’s one of those movies that people have learned every word to, and they still stand in line to recite them in a movie theater full of similarly obsessed fans. And for good reason; though clearly wretched by conventional wisdom it’s a riot. The plot involves a bunch of vegetarian goblins turning people into plant matter and then eating them (not trolls—the movie was originally supposed to be called Goblins but it was renamed to cash in on the modest success of the film Troll). It’s further confused by the fact that the goblins can look like redneck humans a lot of the time. Oh, and they’re led by a super-over the top Goblin Queen played to campy perfection by Deborah Reed, clearly having the time of her life.
Death Bed: The Bed That Eats
Essentially a student film created by Michigan native George Barry in the early ’70s, Death Bed was destined to float in movie limbo for eternity after Barry spent a decade trying to sell it to no avail. But that would have been a crime because there’s so much to love here. Don’t get us wrong—it’s not good. Not by any means. But it’s certainly enjoyable. Story: A group of teens find a bed, and then some of them get eaten by it. It doesn’t have a mouth—rather, they kinda sink into the mattress and then are dissolved in acid (bed stomach acid?). A weird twist of fate saw Death Bed, first of all, get distribution when a bootleg of the movie started popping up in Europe and then, later, achieve some publicity when Patton Oswalt started talking about the film during stand-up sets. There’s just no predicting how a movie will generate traction.
Night of the Lepus
This 1972 sci-fi horror is just fucking hilarious. There’s no getting away from it. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with the basic premise—of giant rabbits on the rampage. There’s some charm there. But the fact that they just used regular rabbits, who sorta sniffed around the place, doing rabbity things—it’s gold. Giant or not, these furry delights just looked like they wanted a cuddle.
Killer Klowns From Outer Space
This one might be a little unfair, simply because it was intended as a parody/comedy. But still, in this era when clowns are essentially terrorizing communities, when the IT movie has reignited fears of Pennywise, it’s almost refreshing to see these plodding, gormless, space clowns grunting and chuckling around a 1988 set. Not scary and not clever. But silly fun. Even better—the SyFy Channel is working on a sequel.
If you learn nothing else from this movie, it’s to never drink booze if you don’t recognize the name on the label. In this case, Tenafly Viper. Actually, make that two things: Never play “piggy in the middle” with another man’s schlong. You probably shouldn’t need telling that. The 1987 movie Street Trash looks like it was made based on a dare for $50, and yet this writer can watch it time and time again. The story goes, a group of homeless people find this bottle of Tenafly Viper and drink it. They promptly melt. One guy melts into the toilet and, honestly, flushes himself away. That’s a real scene, that real actors acted, and a real director directed.
Rest easy, peeps. Snuff isn’t really a snuff film. What it is is a weirdly semi-successful marketing ploy. Exploitation filmmakers Michael and Roberta Findlay made a really, really, really terrible movie, initially called The Slaughter, about a Manson-esque cult with motorbikes. Producer and distributor Allan Shackleton got his grubby mitts on it and realized that it was too bad to market. So he had a porn-making friend film a bit that would be tagged on at the end, which implied that the crew behind The Slaughter got over-excited and killed a woman on set, for real. It was all staged– of course. But the legend of the film, aided by that provocative title, was passed around and earned it mass protests outside of Times Square screenings. The truth is, the story is far more interesting than the actual movie.
Freddy Vs Jason
In one corner, knife-gloved dream demon Freddy Krueger. In the other, hockey-loving muscular zombie Jason Voorhees. The idea, to pit two giants of slasher horror against each other was highly anticipated but, I think if we’re honest, we knew that we wouldn’t be getting Citizen Kane out of it. But that said, there’s a lot of fun to be had here. Freddy is at his wisecracking best, and some of the kills are super-imaginative. And hey, it’s a shit-load better than Alien Vs. Predator.
Probably this writer’s favorite movie on this list, Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive, based on his short story “Trucks,” is universally despised and yet it’s frickin’ awesome. From the AC/DC soundtrack to the kid getting steamroller-ed early on, to Yeardley “Lisa in The Simpsons” Smith as an obnoxious newly-wed and Emilio Estevez as the sullen gas pumper—the action is non-stop. The story, of machines (mostly big-rig trucks) that come to life when a comet passes over the Earth, is stupid, but who cares? Let yourself get carried away with it.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre:
The Next Generation
There are quite a few movies in the Texas Chainsaw franchise that qualify as bad, with 2013’s Texas Chainsaw 3D as a particularly solid example. But 1994’s The Next Generation is the one that, as horrible as it is based on plot and execution, is undeniably fun to watch. Not least because it stars—get this—Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey. Just two years later, Zellweger would be told “you complete me” by Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire and her world would be changed forever. Similarly, McConaughey’s career was just getting started when he was hobbling around with a mechanical leg alongside Leatherface. Some things you just have to see to believe.
The Monster Club
This 1981 anthology film stars Vincent Price as the Monster Club guide and John Carradine as an author looking to be inspired. Price takes him to the club, where we are treated to the sight of a stripper removing her clothes, then skin and flesh, leaving a dancing skeleton, while a monster’s eyes literally pop out. It’s a campy riot, as Price tells Carradine three stories (hence the anthology aspect). The best is the last: A movie director looking for a suitable set in the English countryside happens upon a community of cannibalistic ghouls. There’s also great live music in the club, provided by Night, The Pretty Things, B.A. Robertson, and The Viewers. It’s dumb, but tons of fun.