It’s that time of year again, folks. Yes, that irrepressible sadness achieved by horror fans once Halloween comes to a close and all of the spooky fun has been had. Parties attended, candy collected, and now it’s time to go back to your boring, non-spooky existence.
Or is it?
Plenty of websites will give you lists of the best movies out there guaranteed to shock and horrify you. This list will not give you any of those. The following is a list of five horror films that might incite a different reaction in you. This list contains the best of the worst, the most unintentionally hilarious ‘horror’ films ever put to the silver screen. There’s always been something fascinating about movies that set out to scare and end up creating joy in their sheer ineptitude, and for some reason horror seems to be a genre full of these types of movies.
Bear in mind, however, that everyone’s taste is subjective, and what might be considered irredeemably awful to one moviegoer is god-tier cinema to another. None of the movies on this list are meant to offend anybody who likes them, and in fact, I encourage you to seek them out. Sometimes a good, old fashioned spooky laugh can be just what you need to cure the post-Halloween blues.
5. The Wicker Man (2006)
A remake of what was once called “the Citizen Kane of horror films” is already a tough one to get right. No matter how much heart and soul you put into your final product, fans of the original are always going to come at you with their grievances with your remake. Despite this, sometimes you get a remake that not only seems to have been made by people who didn’t care about the original, but seems to have no regard for movies as a concept.
The Wicker Man is based on the 1976 film of the same name, which is most notable for having starred Christopher Lee, who often cited the part as his favorite of all of the roles he’d played. The original is beloved by critics and horror fans everywhere, coming in as number one on quite a few ‘best of’ horror lists. For those who love 70s British horror, its must-see.
It’s intriguing, then, that the remake has somewhat overshadowed the original due to its infamy. It’s hard to pin down exactly what makes this movie so enjoyably terrible. Maybe it’s the fact that Nicolas Cage seems to be constantly shouting; Maybe it’s the weird obsession that the movie seems to have with bees and honey; Maybe it’s the weird matriarchal cult that comes across just a tad bit sexist in hindsight. Whatever the reason, The Wicker Man remains a classic of so-bad-it’s-good horror.
Choice Quote: “How’d it get burned? HOW’D IT GET BURNED?”
4. Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
Most who know about this movie know about it due to it’s being spotlighted in 1993 on Mystery Science Theater 3000. However, even without the commentary from the crew of the satellite of love, this movie is still one kicker of a beautifully bad movie.
What do you get when you combine a barely-experienced crew and actors, endless scenes of characters aimlessly driving around, polygamist Satanic cult members, and random insert scenes that have little-to-nothing to do with the plot? Well, you get Manos: The Hands of Fate, a 1966 minimal-budget horror film about a family on a vacation who encounter a cult. That’s really about all there is to it. The editing is poor, the acting is wooden. At one point a random pair of teenagers making out in a car and being caught by a police officer interrupts the plot, as if to say to the audience, “We realize there’s not much else interesting happening here, so here’s some eye candy while you wait for something to actually happen.”
According to Wikipedia, the whole thing started when director, producer, and star Harold P. Warren made a bet with a friend that it would be easy to make a horror movie. From that, we got Manos. Oh, and there are a few random scenes where the wives of the movie’s villain The Master get into catfights, seemingly for no reason other than the director wanted to show some women fighting. Take that as you will.
Choice Quote: “Enough! Enough of this stupid bickering! The child must die! If you persist in this foolishness, your usefulness will come to an end!”
3. Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)
Ed Wood is an interesting director for many reason. For more information about what an enigma that man was, check out Tim Burton’s 1994 biopic. But Wood’s 1959 science fiction-horror feature Plan 9 From Outer Space was cited by Seinfeld as one of the worst movies ever made, and continues to amuse to this day. In a deceptively simple plot, this early feature of the zombie genre (pre-Night of the Living Dead, even!) follows an alien invasion in which the alien’s main goal seems to be the reanimation of dead bodies. Thus, the deceased rise from their graves to pursue the living, referred to not as zombies, but as ‘ghouls’ by the characters.
One notable feature of the film is the fact that frequent collaborator and friend of Ed Wood, Bela Lugosi, has a part in the film. However, halfway through production, Lugosi tragically died, and in the meanwhile Wood brought in a stand-in to hold Lugosi’s place for the scenes with him that they hadn’t shot yet. This results in Lugosi’s stand-in (Tom Mason, by name) attempting to hide the fact that he was not, in fact, Bela Lugosi, by wearing a rather ridiculous-looking Dracula cape and holding it over half of his face. It’s as silly as it sounds.
In addition, the movie features some truly hilarious special effects, including a shot of a UFO flying over California that’s very obviously a paper plate, and a plot that seems to combine The Day the Earth Stood Still and White Zombie into one hilarious package.
Choice Quote: “And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.”
2. Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010)
Birdemic is inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, but upon an initial viewing, the parallels fall flat when compared to the movie’s many technical faults. The atrocious CGI is overshadowed only by the wooden acting and the flat plot. The film follows a software salesman and his Victoria’s Secret model girlfriend who suddenly find their town under attack by killer birds that, get this… spit acid and explode into flames when they touch the ground.
If this doesn’t sound good enough for you, just look at those birds. No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. They don’t remotely blend with the background at all. It looks more like they’ve been merely copy-pasted into the frame than animated whatsoever. One has to watch them in motion to truly appreciate how awkward they move. It’s very obvious that they’ve not been rendered properly, and instead of the fluid motion traditionally associated with computer-generated effects, the bird’s wings flap jerkily, and spin around in a strange 360 degree motion. The movie has been compared to good-bad predecessors such as Plan 9 because of it’s strange and awkward tone, and in fact has been called “the best worst film [of] 2010.”
Choice Quote: “And many have died from starvation, due to the difficulty of finding enough food, such as seals.”
1. Troll 2 (1990)
You’ve seen the clip on YouTube. A young man in glasses stares, horrified, while a fly crawls leisurely across his face. “They’re eating her…” he intones, ominously, “and then they’re going to eat me. Oh my GOOOOOOOOD!” But Troll 2 is more than just one viral video of bad acting. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find yourself what I believe to be the best bad horror movie there is.
There’s a lot to dissect here. First of all, the name Troll 2 is misleading. The movie is not actually related in any way to the 1986 fantasy film Troll. The movie was actually an unrelated Italian film called Goblins, but when it was released in America, the studio thought it better to attach the film to a previously released property. Most of the conflict on the set came from most of the crew being Italian and not having a very firm grasp of the English language, and that includes the screenwriter, whose clunky dialogue is a staple of this film’s notoriety. According to many of the American actors in this movie, they offered many times to try to make the dialogue sound more natural and a little less like it’d just gotten run through Google Translate, but the director, Claudio Fragasso, shot that one down.
This movie contains many things, but nowhere among those things are any trolls. Yes, you heard me correctly. The movie called Troll 2 contains no actual trolls. The creatures seen above are referred to as goblins throughout the whole thing. The town they live in is even called Nilbog. (No prizes to those among you who can tell in two seconds what ‘Nilbog’ spells backwards. Seems these goblins learned their disguise tactics from Son of Dracula.)
And that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of this mess of a film, which also contains an erotic corn on the cob-eating scene. Yes, really. It must be seen to be believed.
And that concludes the list! Hopefully those of you out there who like a more low-key Halloween got to enjoy some classics of the horror genre, but as a connoisseur of cult cinema, I felt as though it was necessary to spotlight some more unconventional Halloween favorites. So pop one or more of these into your DVD slot or look them up on Netflix, and be prepared to laugh. You might even forget that it’s November.