HORROR MOVIES INFORMED FANS SHOULD AVOIDby Zachar_Laskewicz | created - 25 May 2013 | updated - 09 Feb 2014 | Public
I have enormous respect for the horror genre and the possibilities it offers film-makers and other creative artists. When film-makers use it for pure exploitation, follow expected rules and don't make use of the liminal space of limitless choices available (instead presenting the same old trash with a set of new faces), it gets on my nerves. These are often the high budget and extremely problematic films that receive passive or direct funding from the Catholic church to reinforce certain dubious aspects of Christianity rather than questioning them. When there are big actors and lots of money involved you can be sure that money, religion and politics is playing a role. And then there's films that just concede to the formula; by presenting a domestic situation which is disturbed, overcome despite whatever horrors encountered, but the 'nuclear families' remain intact (e.g. Poltergeist, Amityville Horror etc.); problematic dogma which goes against the possibilities low-budget horror efforts can and often do offer. Horror films that leave you feeling good haven't really been to places they should have gone; they're supposed to rip apart all those safe ideas you have about how reality works and leave you at very least disquieted and questioning. Very often this is the only way interesting directors can do this. Unfortunately Hollywood doesn't like this one bit and does its best to suppress horror as it should be. These are the films that, for reasons I'll describe, didn't deserve to reach the list of EXCEPTIONALLY STRANGE HORROR CULT CLASSICS. I'd like to note that this list is not intended to include 'bad' horror movies as such for films that belong in this category are often precisely the films worth seeing. This is a list for the films that tow the line, sell out, remake already questionable films or attempt to cash in on meaningless ideas, including gore spectacles that have no use other than to present unpleasant violence. You disagree? Tell me why; or tell me more films you think should be included.
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1. How Awful About Allan (1970 TV Movie)
PG | 73 min | Thriller
After an eight-month stay in a mental hospital, a tormented man comes home to live with his sister; but a mysterious boarder may be trying to kill him.
If you ever thought Anthony Perkins was a good actor who never received his full potential, have your illusions shattered by this tiresome film which had great potential and starred another well-known actress, Julie Harris, who does her best to make this very boring addition to the suspense-horror genre live up to its potential, which thanks to the extremely bad acting of leaden-like and uninteresting Perkins, it completely fails to do.
2. Ghost Story (1981)
R | 110 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller
Two generations of men find themselves haunted by the presence of a spectral woman. When the son of one of the elderly men returns to his hometown after his brother's mysterious death, they attempt to unravel her story.
Votes: 7,024 | Gross: $23.37M
Disappointing Disney adaptation of Straub's extremely complex, interesting and horrific novel of the same name. The appearance of the magnificently nasty Alice Krige as Straub's mythical expression of ultimate evil cannot save this bomb which, aside from the slightly better 'Something Wicked This Way Comes', was Disney's primary venture into the horror arena. Neither can Fred Astaire as a member of the Chowder society, the tool used by Straub as the catalyst for the unravelling of the complex narrative; in this adaptation the Chowder Society becomes the film's ultimate purpose rather than its exposition, and many of the plot elements become incoherent. Making Ghost Story was a difficult venture which Disney certainly shouldn't have attempted.
3. The Stuff (1985)
R | 87 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi
A delicious, mysterious goo that oozes from the earth is marketed as the newest dessert sensation, but the tasty treat rots more than teeth when zombie-like snackers who only want to consume more of the strange substance at any cost begin infesting the world.
This film is so bad you'd think it was purposely made so to make it popular among the growing 'bad' horror film collection. And it does have some amusing moments, particularly in the advertising of the 'The Stuff' (you just can't get enough), an ice-cream like substance whose origin is never really explained and somehow gets through the food registration agency without being banned. At the beginning of the film is discovered in a pit somewhere; it is found to be delicious tasting and before you know it is in the shelves and in the stomachs of most Americans who find it completely irresistable. Apparently, however, it lives and bursts out of people every now and then to form a conglomorate of completely white and moving slime. It seems to have a message about how industrial espionage can allow such products to be marketed, i.e. ones which are dangerous and kill people, but seeing that the awful actor who plays an industrial spy is actually the hero, that theme seems to go down the drain somewhere. The acting is just terrible. Danny Aiello, a dubious actor at best, takes a cameo part that lasts about five seconds. If he was supposed to pull this dreck out of this awful pit of slime, he certainly doesn't succeed.
4. Sleepwalkers (1992)
R | 91 min | Horror
A mother-and-son team of strange supernatural creatures move to a small town to seek out a young virgin to feed on.
Votes: 18,985 | Gross: $30.52M
A truly tiresome adaptation of a Stephen King story that is boring, doesn't make much sense, has terrible special effects and make-up and tries to make incest seem shocking in circumstances in which it is completely irrelevant. If you want to see interesting adaptations of Stephen King short stories, watch 'The Langoliers' or 'Night Flyer'. Avoid this one; it's almost as much a waste of time as 'Thinner'.
5. Army of Darkness (1992)
R | 81 min | Comedy, Horror
A man is accidentally transported to 1300 A.D., where he must battle an army of the dead and retrieve the Necronomicon so he can return home.
Votes: 154,857 | Gross: $11.50M
Evil Dead, Sam Raimi's classic, set a new tone for truly nightmarish horror of proportions that until its release were unknown. It sequel, Evil Dead 2, though not nearly as good, did its bit for B-grade horror comedies. This pointless end to the series, which literally begins where the second film ends, its primary protagonist is transported to another dimension we can only assume from which the original 'Evil' is supposed to have come. We can only assume it's another dimension because of its ridiculous dungeons and dragons authenticity; a ridiculous Americanised depiction of the Middle-Ages. If this was successful in doing anything, it was practically decimating the career of Bruce Campbell who has since then been primarily demoted to TV movies or cameo films in horror films of already questionable quality (like 'The Woods').
6. Haunted (1995)
R | 108 min | Drama, Horror
A skeptical professor visits a remote British estate to debunk allegations of psychic phenomena, but soon finds himself haunted by a ghost from his own past.
James Herbert, a British horror writer of low-repute, died recently, to my great surprise. Very few of his books were made into films, and after seeing this film you'll discover why. I've read some really bad horror novels in my time but I must confess that James Herbert was consistently the worst, each painful encounter another set of cliches clearly intended to earn him easy cash. Why they bothered making this film surprises me; so much money was spent on bringing to life such a predictable story whose 'shocking' surprise of spirits tormented to eternal ghosthood because of their shocking childhood incestuous experiences, is a true waste of time. Surprisingly, the other book that was made into film was actually quite good and made my 'Exceptionally Strange Horror Cult Classics List': the Survivor, an atmospheric film directed by David Hemmings and set in Australia (although it had a cast of largely non-Australian actors). The BBC also made 'The Secret of Crickly Hall' into a TV-series. The book is just so bad I don't know why they bothered, but it'll inevitably be better than the reading experience. There is no way it could be as bad as this piece of cinematic garbage.
7. Thinner (1996)
R | 93 min | Fantasy, Horror
An obese attorney is cursed by a gypsy to rapidly and uncontrollably lose weight.
Votes: 26,122 | Gross: $15.17M
This filmisation of a Stephen King short-story goes to show that not everything written by the master of horror story-telling means block-buster gold. There are actually quite a few Stephen King stinkers, but this must be one of the least interesting.
8. Apt Pupil (1998)
R | 111 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
A boy blackmails his neighbor after suspecting him to be a Nazi war criminal.
Votes: 33,997 | Gross: $8.84M
This goes to prove that combining the work of successful writers for the box-office like Stephen King with great actors does not necessarily result in a film worthy of a second glance. This film is so stupid and unconvincing I found it embarrassing watching it.
9. Cherry Falls (2000)
R | 92 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
In the small town of Cherry Falls, a psychotic murderer is killing off the virgins of the local high school.
I never liked Carpenter's 'Halloween', a film which although not the original slasher film of all time, the one which set the tone with its ridiculous tenacity over evil-like forces; Donald Pleasance's well-known spooky and repetitive warnings of the escape of Myers neither haunted nor even interested me; even then I found it a pointless experience. But it was then imaginately made, well-filmed and with music Carpenter himself composed, it became a classic and an unfortunate formula on which every film after it was based on and/or compared to. Of all those sequels and imitations, this well-budgeted horror thriller is a truly painful addition to a sub-genre of horror, slasher horror films which involve the pointless and glib slaughtering of promiscuous girls. If the highly interesting 'Scream' series was successful in adding something to what was rapidly running out of any steam it had left, this film buries it six-feet under. The very premise of this clunker, namely that its virgins who are being murdered this time rather than sluts, meaning its cast are eager to rid themselves of the virginity which is endangering them, is embarrissing to watch (and also painfully indicative of what its title is referring to). You're welcome to sit through this overlong exploration of violent and pointless murders to discover its over-complex and ridiculous ending, but I can assure you you that unless you're a die-hard fan of this unfortunate sub-genre, it's an experience you'll regret.
10. The Amityville Horror (2005)
R | 90 min | Horror
Newlyweds are terrorized by demonic forces after moving into a large house that was the site of a grisly mass murder a year before.
Votes: 100,975 | Gross: $65.23M
The film they made originally whose only claim to the realm of horrordom was its possible connections to real goings-on in an actually existing haunted house, was actually spooky, under-played and a great vehicle for Margot Kidder. The sequel, Amityville 2, the possession, was horrific as well for its time when a whole family was polished off by shotgun in a scene which was truly disturbing. This film, a true piece of contemporary horror trash, is more of a remake of the second film than the first, and is a vile collection of every stereotype you could imagine. I really wish I hadn't wasted my time and money on this stinker.
11. Dead & Breakfast (2004)
R | 88 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror
A night at a local bed and breakfast turns into a bloody supernatural fight to the death.
This truly lame attempt to cash in on the horror comic scam is badly acted, unimaginatively designed and edited with an in action country and western score that is excruciating. Add to that the almost unbearably stupid and unlikable set of characters, this 'horror comedy' is neither funny nor horrific. Waste your time on something more memorable like 'Creepshow' which after all this time still remains both humorous and truly horrific.
12. Hostel (2005)
R | 94 min | Horror
Three backpackers head to a Slovak city that promises to meet their hedonistic expectations, with no idea of the hell that awaits them.
Votes: 162,033 | Gross: $47.33M
This truly unpleasant, unbelievable, badly-acted and badly directed piece of gore porn hadn't been recommended by Quentin Tarantino I would never have had the misfortune to have seen it. Eli Roth, an actor whose ventures into direction saw films of already dubious quality like 'Cabin Fever' and the more recent 'Aftershock' was responsible for this film. If this film did achieve something, apart from making me feel sick AND bored, it was to stop listening to anything that comes out of the mouth of Quentin Tarantino. If he truly thinks this unpleasant, pointlessly characterised, badly developed film with stupid special effects and ridiculous plot developments is deserving of attention then one can only assume he was  paid a lot of money,  is an idiot and whose violent and sexist epics are undeserving of the attention they received or  that he is in love with Eli Roth. I'd go for reason two.
13. Room of Death (2007)
Not Rated | 115 min | Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Two unemployed computer technicians discover 2 million euros next to a dead body in a field of windmills.
Don't get me wrong; this is a good French gothic horror film. But what disturbs me is the typically French way it represents homosexuality. There are two young girls, trapped in a horrific situation with a dead body that is rotting. One of the girls gets away; she becomes a straight detective - the other, who doesn't, becomes a psychotic murderer and, you guessed it, a lesbian. The deliberate contrast between the pair, the independent heterosexual who brings up two children and has an affair with her attractive co-detective, with the psychotic lesbian animal-stuffer who kidnaps and murders children with her masculine lesbian lover 'who doesn't leaver her', is painful. This is horrific and there are very worthy scenes in it; but if you want to understand why so many hundreds are in Paris objecting to the concept of gay marriage, you should see atrocious representations of homosexuality like in this particular piece of anti-gay trash.
14. Drag Me to Hell (2009)
PG-13 | 99 min | Horror, Thriller
A loan officer who evicts an old woman from her home finds herself the recipient of a supernatural curse. Desperate, she turns to a seer to try and save her soul, while evil forces work to push her to a breaking point.
Votes: 180,255 | Gross: $42.10M
Raimi should have known better when he agreed to direct this frankly racist and other boring horror movie that offers nothing new but some pretty suspect ideas about race, primitivism, ignorance, magic and ritual. Any film which has the Latin servant woman suddently turning into the heroine, the only character considering to be 'closest to god' (because she comes from a Catholic country which still forbids abortions even to victims of incest) is guaranteed to be based on flimsy concepts; this one is a true waste of time. Does nothing for gypsies either and seemed to me to present a lot of dangerous stereotypes, even when those stereotypes were positive ones. It's hard to believe that the director of the 'the Evil Dead' could move on to this; but considering he went on to make Spider-Man, you realise that the actual quality of the films he makes no longer matters. He sold out long ago.
15. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010)
R | 99 min | Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
A young girl sent to live with her father and his new girlfriend believes that she has released creatures from a sealed ash pit in the basement of her new home.
Votes: 45,194 | Gross: $24.04M
If the truth be told I haven't found one horror film by this well-known and now well-financed Spanish director all that horrifying; they're all beautifully shot and are well-acted. This one, however, I found particularly dreadful.
16. The Haunting (1999)
PG-13 | 113 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery
When Eleanor, Theo, and Luke decide to take part in a sleep study at a huge mansion they get more than they bargained for when Dr. Marrow tells them of the house's ghostly past.
Votes: 68,200 | Gross: $91.41M
This film shows you how you can take all the potential out of a really frightening concept and by replacing them with inept, superficial and meaningless symbols that hang together like like thet contents of a drag queen's closet, remove any sense of myster, ambiguity or even suspense that could create a sense of dread. This truly awful piece of crap, basically a racy and jazzed up version which pays an occasional gesture towards theoriginal story by Shirley Jackson, replaces anything scary with dynamic special effects, all pathetically digitcally created and completely unconvincing, and worse of all it treats its audience like a collection of retards, providing each of the actors with 'new' plot devices to make sense of the way the house deals with its inhabitants. You can't compare it to the original; the genuine and desperate pain of the character played by Juie Harris whose misery becomes subsumed; in this version for no good reason she finds a meaning for being there, to help the childrfen, for some reason trapped in the cherubs which keep showing fear for the actual 'monster', an introduction which again for no good reason has been added to the plot to make it simpler to understand. But if it does make sense, it is one that is so painful, embarrassing and ridiculous that no impressive piece of special effect or loud orchestral score could ever hide. Some remakes are really bad; but when they're this bad, when they try so hard to provide the original story with some sort of new meaning but in doing so simplify and reduce it of any of the original intentions of the source, you really wonder what set of idiots could create this dreadful massacre of material that shouldn't have been tampered with at all. Ugh.
17. One Missed Call (2008)
PG-13 | 87 min | Horror, Mystery
Several people start receiving voice-mails from their future selves - messages which include the date, time, and some of the details of their deaths.
Votes: 29,949 | Gross: $26.88M
18. Chain Letter (2009)
R | 96 min | Horror
A maniac murders teens when they refuse to forward chain mail.
Votes: 4,864 | Gross: $0.14M
It's hard to believe that anyone could be kept interested for the entire length of this droll. It's a collection of contemporary horror film cliches; a really lame attempt to combine leatherface figurines (draped in bandages) with an equally ludicrous modern day - but still somehow ancient - cult that hates technology and kills off anyone who, for no reason really worthy wanting to find out about, get sent the chain letters that they naturally ignore. Furthermore, it begins with the same sort of hype in the form of news reports which began (the actually far more intersting film) 'The Thaw' warmomg the world through a montage of news reports and flashy Matrix-inspired (an equaly awful film) flashing of letters and numbers . . . and metal chains with bar codes? Brad Dourif looks equally unhealthy and tired as Val Kilmer did in the Thaw but at least that was provocative, the characters were interesting and the lectures actually had some relevance to what would follow. Also, Kilmer's role is equally short but his actions are surprising; the comparative subtedtly of this piece of total crap is like bashing your head against a brick wall. This is one of the stupidest and most unintersting films since 'One Missed Call', which was also a sad Hollywood attempt to do what the Japanese managed to pull off, i.e. make technology somehow threatening in a way that justifies and disquiets you; makes you think and therefore a worthwhile use of your time. This film is just loud, ridiculously violent, unpleasantly so but you care so little for the characters that die (largely because they appear to be doing things that to any other idiot would be obviously the wrong ones). I cheered when the lame and uninteresting heroine was ripped in two by her parents as they drove in different directions; at least it stopped this senseless rubbish.
19. Devil (2010)
PG-13 | 80 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
A group of people are trapped in an elevator and the Devil is mysteriously amongst them.
Votes: 123,993 | Gross: $33.58M
Dynamic soundtrack - wide-screen cinematic effects as a group of people become inextricably trapped together in an elevator. With Night Shalyman's direction and really sleek production you'd think this wouldn't be an insult to the intelligence would you? This racist piece of horror garbage is not actually a bad film; it's just so painfully stupid when you hear the obligatory Latin American character telling his childhood tale about the devil who is always around us and attempting to set us against one another; as a result the characters trapped in the lift, who all turn out to have something going against them, are made use of by the 'devil' who must spring from body to body as they are killed off. If this was done with any subtlety it could have actually been an interesting exploration of characters. Shalyman turns it into a high budget riotisation of Catholicism which Hollywood evidently approves of.
21. The Rite (2011)
PG-13 | 114 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery
American seminary student Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donaghue) travels to Italy to take an exorcism course.
Votes: 87,098 | Gross: $33.05M
This is high-budget, great actor Hollywood hoo-hah of the absolute worst kind: dangerous propaganda which purports that people suffering from illnesses like Schizophrenia which can lead them to psychotic behaviour, are actually - wait for it - possessed by demons. This exorcist clone may not sound particularly different or interesting; but it's message is far more dangerous because the 'doubter' who is sent to learn about exorcism in Rome, coming from a funeral home and used to both death and mental instability, initially stands up for the to be exorcised patients as clear paranoid schizophrenics. Convincing portrayals by Anthony Hopkins and its setting in Italy, combined with the painful journey the exorcist in training makes, you come out of it with the feeling that you really have witnessed something convincing of the existence of true evil. When your gut is moved by what happens in such a stylish fashion on the screen to 'believe' just as the priest who would never become an exorcist, finally does become one, but everything objective you know about mental illness tells you how dangerous and detrimental such beliefs can be, you really do know that you've been manipulated by an incredibly expensive and stylishly produced piece of propaganda for the Catholic church which forbids abortion and birth control and would have you believe that mental illness is caused by demons. I despised what this film was saying and felt literally sick that it moved me like it did.
22. Apartment 1303 3D (2012)
R | 85 min | Horror
A modern ghost story which turns a love/hate relationship between mother and daughter into a tale of horror. Some rentals are too good to be true.
This particular waste of time promised more; interesting spectral characters from the past who remain stuck in an apartment creating victims. That no explanation is really given for why they are there at all, and why they take to killing people who dare moves in, makes this one of the most pointless horror films I've seen in a long time. Not only is it not scary, but it has no resolution. I'm into ambiguous conclusions in horror films if they give you food for thought. This one just ends inexplicably. Maybe everyone got bored and refused to do anymore acting and the editor did his best with what was left. The characters are also extremely unlikable and unbelievable. A failure on all counts.
23. Evil Dead (2013)
R | 91 min | Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods.
Votes: 149,383 | Gross: $54.24M
There are so many reasons to dislike this forgettable remake that I'm not going to even try and list them all. Let's just say that this high-budget, high on gore and publicity trash deserves to be forgotten by making all the mistakes a remake can and then some. Particularly shaky are the plot changes which include the way the evil is evoked and changing the whole idea of the plot from a fun-filled weekend in the woods to a highly tension-filled and unpleasant drug recovery action which makes the whole sense of impending and inexplecable horror from the woods completely unnecessary. Watching this makes you long for the days when film-makers were forced by budget restrictions to make use of every other medium to make their film interesting. I left half way through out of boredom and disappointment; I watched the original again and was truly frightened even though it doesn't have any 'gore' to speak of, making scenes like the pencil in the ankle truly shocking.
24. Darkness Falls (2003)
PG-13 | 86 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery
A vengeful spirit has taken the form of the Tooth Fairy to exact vengeance on the town that lynched her 150 years earlier. Her only opposition is the only child, now grown up, who has survived her before.
Votes: 29,245 | Gross: $32.55M
25. Spiders 3D (2013)
PG-13 | 89 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy
After a Soviet space station crashes into a New York City subway tunnel, a species of venomous spiders is discovered, and soon they mutate to gigantic proportions and wreak havoc on the city.
I recently had the misfortune to watch this unfortunate collection of painful Hollywood stereotypes. New York is endangered by a ridiculously un-spiderlike collection of ravenous genetically altered insects that for some unknown reason behave like bees or ants in forming nests and having a queen. It's scientific basis is extremely dubious and the three character all-American family unit who survives this crass rubbish are so painfully unoriginal you long for the spiders to consume them as well. Why would people waste money to go and see rubbish like this? Perhaps because it was filmed in 3-D? No wonder I don't bother going to the cinema anymore.