Losing yourself in the plight of the super model skinny actress running blindly (and almost inevitably half-naked) from an unknown terror down Elm Street while you and your loved ones are in actuality wrapped snug in a blanket at home, is a favored activity best practiced at Halloween. There’s no other time during the year — with the exception of the occasional Friday the 13th — when it’s acceptable for perfectly rational adults to suspend common sense for several hours in what can only be deemed as the worst horror flicks of all time.
I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent individual, and yet, on many occasions I’ll indulge in the seasonal pressure to terrorize myself with films that friends and family promise will haunt me for the next several weeks. Then my natural sarcasm kicks in, acting as a protective layer coating my amygdala (the fear-inducing portion of the brain) and rather feel any type of fear as Jason slashes yet another B-movie neck, I laugh with glee at the obvious ridiculousness of the situation she got herself into. I mean, how in the world did she think hiding in the abandoned farmhouse would be a good idea? He’s always in the farmhouse. Always.
Classics like The Exorcist and The Shining aside, the same rules apply to all new scary movies. Searching the basement when the power has gone out, even if you have a flashlight, is a bad plan of action. Never split up when you have the benefit of numbers on your side, especially in the desert, near a forest or in any abandoned town. If you think you’ve killed the big baddie, you haven’t, ever. If your friends start exhibiting signs of a fascination with blood, spontaneously start hissing at you or rapidly begin growing more hair, run. Or get a gun, whatever. Girls, you will never outrun the killer, especially if you’ve been drinking or just had sex; you will trip and most likely be eaten as a precursor to the real buffet at the frat party. And last, but not least, if your child (particularly toe-headed blondies) speak to you in someone else’s voice, save yourself the grief and the money spent on a crucifix, holy water and a bible, and instead just leave town, immediately.
But that’s the appeal of scary movies I suppose. The suspension of reality for a couple hours allowing you the chance to escape the horrors of the office for the horrors of an entirely new reality, albeit unbelievable, but an escape nonetheless. So, without further ado, because all human beings love lists, I present to you the worst horror films of all time, in no particular order because let’s be honest, bad is bad no matter how you look at it:
Prom Night (2008)
Loosely based on the 1980 flick by the same name (starring infamous 80s horror actress Jamie Lee Curtis — really, is there any pre-90s scary movie in which she doesn’t make an appearance?), the 2008 version of Prom Night left me feeling jipped that I had spent $8.50 and two hours of my life I would never get back in that movie theater. Classically blonde-haired, blue-eyed, innocent girl-next-door Donna Keppel’s prom night — “The best night of our life, guys!” — is twisted when her stalker from years past returns (with a huge knife of course) to sweep Donna off her feet by killing her friends and stealing her from her family in a dramatic final scene to the movie in which she hides in the closet to avoid confronting her killer (she obviously did not read the aforementioned rules). Blood, gore and violence reign supreme turning the stomachs of audience members at the obsession of this man, while only causing me to giggle at the idiocy of the teens who too often go off alone, run while female from the killer and in general break every single rule of survival in the book, as if we didn’t warn them.
Scream 1-3 and I (Still/Will Always) Know What You Did Last Summer (1997-)
These six — soon to be seven when Scream 4 is released next year — popular 90s horror flicks are so terrible they get to be lumped in one category. Big names covered in buckets of blood. By all means, a good plan on the part of the filmmakers. (Who doesn’t want to see popular teen stars who spent the majority of their careers in mind-numbingly predictable romantic comedies for once covered in blood?) So what went wrong? For some reason, they just didn’t know when to stop. Okay, so you pushed the killer into a lake and he drowned. All right, now we’ve electrocuted him and watched him go out as a flaming pile of killer goo. Now, they’ve pushed him off a building, he tripped over his shoelace, fell into a wood chipper, was doused in fuel and set aflame. And yet somehow, he always came back. Was he of the superhuman persuasion? Was his thirst for vengeance really that intense? Were his killers actually that inept in their attempts to thwart him? No, no and definitely no.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
You all knew it was coming. No truly terrible scary movie list would be complete without The Blair Witch Project. Starting off with a truly awful premise of stalking the legendary Blair Witch, the group of kids venture a little too far into the woods (see: going off into abandoned areas on your own) and spend the next 81 minutes alternating between shooting the camera at their feet or their terrified faces — “Michael? Michael?! Where’s Michael?!” You’d think three film students would know how to correctly operate a video camera to insure that their audiences don’t constantly feel as if they’re riding a Tilt-a-Whirl, but no dice.
Like Pinocchio, Chucky just wants to be a real boy. Unlike Pinnochio his nose does not grow when he lies, — “Hi! I’m Chucky and I’m your friend ‘til the end!” — and he doesn’t plan on obtaining his goal of retaining a flesh and blood body by wishing upon a star. Unfortunately his plan of possession has been done again, and again, and again, and again. We all know it now, in fact we’ve been beaten over the head with it on multiple occasions. Sparking fear into the hearts of little boys everywhere, Chucky fails in his attempts to take over Andy’s body and merely succeeds in inspiring fear of dolls and redheads alike. As a redhead, I feel a special kind of frustration for this particular bad guy and his prospective victims for creating prejudice against me and my Irish brethren (though Carrot Top has to take his fair due as well), and for failing to realize that it’s a doll and in general easily much smaller and less weighty than the typical adult.
On principle I refuse to be frightened by a movie that a) Makes me feel more motion sickness than the common roller coaster, and b) Features a monster that not once makes a legitimate appearance in a city it’s supposedly terrorizing. Featuring a small group partying it up to celebrate Rob’s last night in the country (ironically he’s moving to Japan), the story follows the actions of the small group as they try to save the female interest in a relationship that most likely has the shelf life of a banana. The tagline, “Something has found us,” sums it all up. Something. We’re led to believe this creature is of Godzilla proportions and planning to take out New York City in a big way. But for all we know it’s an earthquake and the people involved (who again, do not know how to hold a camera) are just seriously overreacting. I found myself rooting for the invisible big bad by the end of the movie, hoping beyond all belief that he would take out these people who, simply put, comport themselves outside the bounds of common sense.
Disclaimer: This list is by no way the end-all-be-all of truly terrible, poorly-written, ridiculously-acted, all around bad horror flicks, but it is the list of movies I’m most likely to watch when I have a yen to check my sanity at the door, subject myself to the mind-numbing stupidity of the half-clothed sorority girl romping around the woods in her bra and panties, and realize that as bad as I think I have it, at least there’s not an invisible killer stalking me each day. And believe me, occasionally, it happens.
For a bit of real terror, check out this story about the feasibility of a real-life zombie pandemic (as if we didn’t have enough problems all ready): National Geographic News.