We’ve all had the crushing experience of having a blast watching a movie, only to check it out on Rotten Tomatoes and find that big green splat that says “Well actually, this movie you love is bad“. You scream, you throw your phone, you yell “What do you know anyway?!” Or maybe you just put your phone down and move on because at the end of the day, reviews are just someone else’s opinion, and one of the best parts about discussing movies with other people is that you’re hardly ever going to have the exact same feelings towards a movie as someone else.
However, I am a firm believer that you can find something to love about every movie, and in the following list I’m going to tell you what I have found to love in each of these poorly received “ugly ducklings.”
10. Chernobyl Diaries (2012)
A group of friends traveling around Europe follow their tour guide into the city of Pripyat, a ghost town that was formerly home to families of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant workers. Once they make their way inside the gates of Pripyat, things start to get a bit…nuclear. While I agree with the complaint that this movie can drag at times, one thing that can’t be mentioned enough is the fact that Jesse McCartney is really good in this. Maybe I’m the only person on earth who thinks this, and maybe I think this because my childhood bedroom was plastered with posters of his face, but I truly believe he gives a great performance. My only complaint in the Jesse McCartney territory is that he’s way underutilized because he is my something to love in this movie.
9. Truth or Dare (2017)
Not to be confused with Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare (2018) starring Lucy Hale where a group of teens get trapped playing a haunted game of truth or dare. No, this Truth or Dare came out one year prior to that and is about a different group of teens who get trapped playing a different haunted game of truth or dare. Two things that I love about this movie are the performances by Harvey Guillén (What We do in the Shadows) and Heather freaking Langenkamp (A Nightmare on Elm Street). They are both equally fantastic in their very different roles and they are always fun to watch. If poor reviews scare you away from this movie, you’ll also never have the opportunity to hear such lines as “Eat Tyler’s burnt flesh,” or “Donna Boone our friends are dying.” Plus the final scene is so absurdly gory. There’s really something for everyone in this ugly duckling of a movie.
8. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
In a drastic tonal shift from its predecessor, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a super gory black comedy about a family of cannibals terrorizing a young woman in a radio studio. Some people were turned off by this installment primarily because it was so dramatically different from the original, but in my opinion, that’s exactly what the movie needed. Make no mistake, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) is one of my favorite movies ever made, and I think the filmmakers understood that if they tried duplicating that for the sequel, it would never live up to people’s lofty expectations. So instead, they made a really goofy, bloody, and all-around nasty movie that is a genuine blast to watch. What can I say, I think Chop Top (Bill Moseley) is an unreasonably fun character. Definitely not everybody’s cup of tea, but worthy of love nonetheless.
7. The Boy (2016)
Say it with me everybody: it’s Brahms!! Brahms is the titular boy, even though he is actually a doll, that a young woman named Greta (Lauren Cohan) is hired to take care of while his family is away. I love this little doll boy so much. It is so fucking weird, and I could laugh forever watching Greta try to treat this little porcelain asshole like a real human boy. I was also so delighted by the final act of this movie that I got up from the couch and cheered the first time I watched it.
6. Clown (2014)
This movie is about a clown. More specifically, it’s about a man who puts on a clown suit for his son’s birthday party and becomes unable to take it off as he transforms into a demonic, cannibalistic clown. It’s my understanding that a lot of the distaste for this movie comes from the fact that the victims are children, and I’m not going to argue that! Nobody likes to watch children getting mauled, but let’s see what we can find to love in this movie. Personally, I’m a big fan of the premise, I think there’s something really scary and gross about this nasty clown costume getting fused to this man’s skin, and the gore is really top-notch. I also love the use of color in this movie, so if cool visuals are your thing, give this one a chance!
5. Maximum Overdrive (1986)
In Maximum Overdrive, a radioactive comet causes all machines to go foul and they begin to turn on the humans that created them. An eclectic group of people find themselves trapped at a rest stop, surrounded by literal monster trucks as they try and find a way to defeat them. The thing I love the most about it is that it is the first and only film directed by Stephen King himself, and boy did he direct it with gumption. Other things to love in this movie include performances from Emilio Estevez (The Breakfast Club) and Yeardley Smith (The Simpsons), rouge watermelons, a murderous vending machine, and oh yeah, a soundtrack entirely composed by AC/DC. In the years since its release, King has called this a “moron movie,” and while that may be true, it is a very lovable moron.
4. Tammy and the T-Rex (1994)
In Tammy and the T-Rex, a mad scientist type implants the brain of a teenage boy, Michael (Paul Walker) into the body of, you guessed it, a T-Rex. Well, actually, it’s the body of a robot T-Rex, so a more appropriate title would be Tammy and the Robot. The T-Rex’s girlfriend Tammy (Denise Richards) with the help of her friend Byron (Theo Forsett) then try to find a new body for Michael‘s brain to inhabit. This movie is unbelievably campy and fun and worthy of so much love. Denise Richards (The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) gives 110% to the role of Tammy and she is a real joy in this movie. If that’s not enough for you, there’s a freaking dinosaur (robot) stomping around mauling teens at a pool party. What more could you want?
3. Final Destination (2000)
In this classic teen scream, a group of friends narrowly avoids firey death after Alex (Devon Sawa) has a premonition of the plane they are on exploding. When the plane does explode, death itself comes to pick them off one by one in increasingly convoluted, Rube Goldberg-esque ways. I’m honestly a little surprised that this movie was reviewed so poorly because there’s a lot to love in it. I love Devon Sawa, I love death being the villain in a movie, and I love the fact that the love interest’s name is Clear and not Claire like I thought it was the first three times I watched it. The kills are so creative and I’m such a fan of normal, everyday things being made scary. There’s a reason they made approximately 100 of these movies. They’re a lot of fun.
2. Stage Fright (2014)
I stumbled upon this movie one day when I was home sick from high school, and the next morning I had convinced myself it was one big fever dream. Stage Fright centers on a teenage girl, Camilla (Allie MacDonald) who works at a theatre camp in the hopes of following in her late mother’s footsteps as a successful stage actress. This summer, the camp has decided to put on a production of the very musical Camilla‘s mother was performing in when she was murdered which leads to campers being slaughtered by a masked killer who sings screamo music. It feels important to mention that Stage Fright is a horror musical, and also features the likes of Meat Loaf (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and Minnie Driver (The Phantom of the Opera). I could probably watch this movie every day. There is too much in it to love.
(One of the incredible songs included in this movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CMUPU21CgE)
1. Jennifer’s Body (2009)
It is beyond my understanding why every person on the planet doesn’t love this movie. Jennifer’s Body is about the disintegrating friendship between Anita “Needy” (Amanda Seyfried) and Jennifer (Megan Fox) after a terrifying event results in Jennifer becoming a succubus, needing to feed on young men in order to survive. With a script by Diablo Cody (Juno) and an absolutely stacked cast, this movie is equal parts frightening, funny, and heartfelt and is so much more than what it seems on the surface. Jennifer’s Body takes a really thoughtful approach on the more traditional rape-revenge story in what may be an unexpected way. Plus, the soundtrack is really top tier and sounds like it was ripped straight from my middle school iPod nano.
What low rated movie are you captain of the defense squad for? Let us know what your favorite ugly duckling movies are over on Twitter, in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit. and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club!