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Sunday, July 10, 2011

34 of the Worst & Most Disappointing Slasher Movies


The slasher sub genre has its fair share of average, mediocre and just plain awful movies. This list contains 34 stalk and kill pictures that I think fit that criteria for whatever reason. Some are undeniable crap, others are enjoyable enough, but fall short in some areas and then there's some that are just plain contemptible. All images were taken from google images.

SAVAGE WEEKEND 1976 aka THE UPSTATE MURDERS aka THE KILLER BEHIND THE MASK


This salaciously sleazy movie from a director mostly known for helming episodes of DALLAS isn't so much a slasher movie then it is a Southern Fried horror along the lines of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) and the supremely stupid PSYCHO FROM TEXAS (1974-80), even though the locale is upstate New York. The atmosphere has that Kentucky Fried Chicken feel about it. There's a lot more sex than sadism and what little savagery there is is mostly left offscreen. The films inclusion here is mainly for its fright masked killer which later became a staple of the sub genre and the fact that this is an all around awful movie--a proto slasher if you will, and one of the worst. This exploitation trash from Cannon had William Sanderson (FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE), David Gale (RE-ANIMATOR), a very young Yancy Butler and a recurring role by an intrusive boom mike among its cast. The plot is about four friends who take vacation at a secluded woodland area to watch a boat being built. And that's it...cue LOTS of sex and diddling, some violence during the last reel and a cameo by a chainsaw. Some of the sex was cut out of the R version (some of this edited footage appears in the trailer), but scenes of a horny woman gleefully playing with a cows udders perfectly sums up the gutter trash deviancy one can look forward to should they wish to watch this absurd garbage.

PROM NIGHT 1980


Four children accidentally kill a fifth and pledge to keep what they've done a secret. Years later the four teens receive threatening phone calls prior to the title festivity. Riding the coattails of HALLOWEEN including snatching that films starlet, Jaime Lee Curtis, PROM NIGHT has a few elements that should equate to a bonafide knife wielding winner. There's more than a few red herrings, a Giallo-ish approach to the material, a promising plot and at least two good sequences. Where the flick falters are the near constant directorial hiccups. The movie rarely MOVES. Imitating thick molasses, Paul Lynch's perplexingly popular minor horror hit is stale and frequently pedestrian in execution. Without the participation of Curtis, it's likely this curdled Canadian flick would never have attained its cult reputation. The films popularity is about as surprising as the killers reveal at the end, which IS a surprise. A disco dance scene and a head rolling across a stage are memorable moments. In 2008, a Nickelodeon level remake was unleashed to theaters and was pretty much ignored by the ravenous horror cognoscenti. The director of the original, Paul Lynch, also made the massive misfire that is HUMONGOUS (1981) and the indescribably inanimate SAVAGE PLANET (2007), a (then) Sci Fi Channel original about grizzly bears composited onscreen swiping off computer generated noggins whose stumps spew computer generated blood.

NEW YEAR'S EVIL 1980


An egomaniacal radio DJ named Blaze ("The 1st Lady of Rock!") plans to ring in the New Year with a special multi time zone live nationwide countdown, but a psycho using a voice distortion device who refers to himself as "Eeeeveeelll!" phones in that he plans to claim a new victim per each time zone. There's not much gore, not many victims and a killer who uses modest disguises instead of a mask, but what this Cannon production does have is good performances and plenty of atmosphere especially of LA's Sunset Strip. There's a few heavy New Wave rock numbers, a brief stopover in a disco (what is it with early slashers and their disco/rock connection?) and some choice suspense (including a great scene involving Blaze and a descending elevator), but hardcore horror lovers will likely not be interested in watching this ball drop. The director of such flotsam and jetsam as NINE DEATHS OF THE NINJA (1985) and DEMONWARP (1988) is far more restrained here although the movie does succumb to camp on a few occasions. Prior to being raped by a giant maggot, Taaffe O'Connell plays an ill fated nurse, Eeeveeelll's first victim of the new year. It's actually quite good, but this marginal slasher barely registers as one and will likely only be accepted by those more open to a 'Stalk and Kill' movie that doesn't conform to the conventions of the sub genre.

THE BOOGEYMAN 1980


A brother and sister catch their mother in the middle of sex with her abusive boyfriend. After tying up the boy, the sister frees her brother who soundly takes a knife and stabs the boyfriend to death. Two decades later, the siblings are still haunted by the event and revisit their old house. The mirror in their mothers room is smashed after the girl believes to see something coming after her. This action apparently releases the vengeful spirit of the abusive man the brother butchered years before. Little in Uli Lommel's movie makes sense. It has a pseudo interesting story, but ideas seemingly culled from bigger and more widely known slasher and devil movies like THE EXORCIST (1973), HALLOWEEN (1978) and THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979) keep this modestly budgeted spooker from taking on a life of its own. It's also rife with unexplained and irritatingly obtuse contrivances. Lommel's minor league cult item (if it even qualifies as one) was followed by an intolerably idiotic sequel which consisted of "flashbacks" from part one that take up over half the films running time(!) and some of the most cartoonishly nonsensical death scenes ever. The one with the scissors is pretty nasty, though. Another barely registering sequel followed in 1994 and it, too, trots out "flashback footage". Thankfully, "The Boogeyman" stayed in the closet or under the bed from here on out, the 2005 version notwithstanding.

GRADUATION DAY 1981


A killer wearing a fencing mask cuts down members of a track team after one of the teams best runners dies from a heart attack after a race. This barely standard slasher marathon gets winded quickly and peters out before the race is finished. The substandard gore effects don't help, but the cast almost makes up for everything else. There's Christopher George, Michael Pataki, Linnea Quigley and even Vanna White. This was also one of a handful of slashers that borrowed heavily from the Italian giallos including the use of those famous black gloves. It also echoes the layout of another slasher that occupies this list--PROM NIGHT. GRADUATION DAY is just as dull and ponderous only there's no actor or actress fresh off of HALLOWEEN to enliven the proceedings. We do get an intrusively jarring 7-8 minute long rock song from some band called Felony, a disco theme, roller rinks, nudity, the use of a stopwatch heralding the murders and a couple creative kills for those who have managed to stay awake.

HOME SWEET HOME 1981


This Thanksgiving turkey is the only such holiday themed slasher so far to be made. Aside from a few creative and energetic kills, this out of date bird is cheap meat all around peppered with rotten acting and frequently dull as dishwater. Jake Steinfeld, fitness guru, 'Body By Jake' plays the musclebound escaped mental patient who cartoonishly cackles and kills a number of people for no discernible reason. With no plot and no point, the incessantly annoying giggle of the killer and clown make up caked KISS kid do little but wish that someone would put a stranglehold on both Jake and the movie successfully putting it out of its misery. Don Edmonds (director of the first two ILSA movies) was a producer on this mess and also handled similar duties on another deadly dull killer flick called TERROR ON TOUR (1980). Among the many scenes of unintended hilarity include Jake leaping into frame crushing a guy under the hood of his car and gleefully road raging over an old woman crossing the street while he appears to have a seizure from laughing so much. Many of the deaths involve a car in some way and Jake's increasingly irritating cackle is the best dialog the script has to offer.

DON'T GO IN THE WOODS 1981 aka DON'T GO IN THE WOODS...ALONE


This unholy staple of the drive in and video store days is one of the most uproariously funny "comedies" you're likely to come across and probably the most well known of the "DON'T" movies. If you can stomach the atrocious post synced acting you'll be rewarded with an incredible amount of low rent, but occasionally creative kill scenes perpetrated by a rotund mountain man who looks like a HILLS HAVE EYES reject. The unbelievable soundtrack is compiled of what sounds like assorted burps and farts run through a synthesizer. Allegedly there was a script but you would never know it by the glaring absence of a plot. Four hikers are out vacationing in the wilderness while a crazed and frazzle haired guy wearing a fur sack and beads kills a couple dozen unnamed victims including a wheelchair bound(?) camper who doesn't let mountains and rough terrain keep him from getting around. Keeping up with who the main characters is an exercise in futility considering the film cuts away every couple minutes for a new sketch comedy kill scene. The shots of the woods and surrounding terrain are the only good thing about this cheapjack flick that's a goldmine for bad movie hecklers. If you don't fall into that category, DON'T WATCH THIS MOVIE.

HUMONGOUS 1981


Absolutely atrocious backwoods Canadian horror from the makers of the terminally overrated PROM NIGHT. Boring in the extreme, the plot utilizes that oft explored device of a terrible past deed and the resulting reckoning some years later. In this case, it's a young woman raped at a party who later gives birth to a deformed child (for no other reason than the script deems so) and eventually leads a hermetic life on an island with a pack of dogs and her mongoloid progeny. A group of obnoxious and vapid teenagers on a boating excursion end up shipwrecked on the island where they meet the 'Humongous' and die one by one till the inevitable "death by fire" conclusion finally ends the viewers pain. Possessing a modicum of promise, the anemic, annoying performances and bland script quickly derail the movie. HUMONGOUS is enormously disappointing. It frequently gets a bad rap for being (a bad movie for one thing) poorly lit, but versions that aired on HBO in the mid 1980s didn't suffer from this problem. Paul Lynch's movie is remotely similar to the far superior RITUALS from 1976. Watch that movie instead. Reportedly, a DVD company is threatening to release HUMONGOUS on disc. That should at least satisfy the five or six fans of the film.

STUDENT BODIES 1981


The first spoof of the slasher boom was a bit early in the game and got killed off almost as quickly as it debuted. This "Allen Smithee" film has a cult following, strange as that may seem considering how plotless and disjointedly spiritless the whole affair really is. This is the kind of picture that found its niche late night on cable and STUDENT BODIES definitely attended class their. Veritably chuckle free, viewers would be better off rewatching one of the slasher movies that inspired this mostly uninspired 'stalk and slash' mishmash. If anything, "Smithee's" movie gave other filmmakers similar ideas and other horror comedies followed with wildly varying results including the likes of New World Pictures SATURDAY THE 14TH (1981), PANDEMONIUM (1982) and WACKO (1982) from Greydon Clark. All of these save for SATURDAY THE 14TH (which isn't too far ahead of them) have slipped into the realm of obscurity with barely a candlelight of a fan base that remembers them. Horror comedies continued with fumbling examples such as FULL MOON HIGH (1981), NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CLASS REUNION (1982) and the much later REPOSSESSED (1992). The saddest thing about this bomb is that it was from Paramount in what amounted to a blatant attempt to parody the explosion of slasher movies they were responsible for, ultimately becoming both embarrassed and ashamed of over the years.

PANDEMONIUM 1982 aka THURSDAY THE 12TH


Apparently not giving a damn that the slasher spoof STUDENT BODIES (1981) failed to kill its audience with laughter, here's yet another movie cut from the same mold, but fashioned using the AIRPLANE (1980) template to create its own brand of "slashstick" humor. Directed by Alfred (ALICE, SWEET ALICE) Sole, this occasionally funny and irreverently goofy spoof was originally titled THURSDAY THE 12TH before losing that more appropriate moniker to this single word tag which also fits considering the sheer amount of rapid fire gags that pound the viewer into submission. If even half of the jokes were funny, it might be a pleasurable tap-out, but the majority are strained and woefully unfunny, but there's enough guffaws to warrant a peek. A good cast and Pee Wee Herman fans take note! Both he and Tom Smothers play Canadian Mounties attempting to capture a killer stalking a cheerleading camp. The jokes come fast and furious only most of them sputter quickly. Worth seeing for the cast, but it could have been better.

HOSPITAL MASSACRE 1982 aka X-RAY


Hilariously over the top slasher hokum has Barbi Benton as a woman stalked by a madman still fuming over her Valentine's Day rejection some 20 years earlier. She ends up in a hospital for an exam and told to stick around for additional tests for reasons never revealed. She just goes along with it and her childhood stalker dons a doctors outfit and kills everyone in the hospital to get at her. This was yet more crude Cannon fodder boasting an hilariously bombastic musical score and a batshit performance by Chip Lucia as the deranged murderer. There's some decent gore and Barbi Benton provides a few scenes of overt cheesecake while the camera lingers slowly over her lovely frame that adds to the whole tasteless package. Fans of BLOODY BIRTHDAY will get a kick out of the opening sequence wherein Billy Jacoby gets suitably incensed when the little girl refuses his Valentine advances. Miles away from being a good movie, this hospital set trash is a lot of campy fun. Visiting Hours are over if you're expecting plausibility and good taste.

MORTUARY 1983


The spirited participation of Christopher George and his wife, Lynda Day do little to make this Edward L. Montoro production tolerable. A girl is haunted by her fathers murder and she believes a group of black robed cultists are somehow responsible, or is it a young Bill Paxton who plays the creepy son of the town mortician? You won't care as rigormortis will have set in long before the movie ends. No gore, but a couple eerie scenes keep this corpse from flatlining too soon. An embalming tool is the killers weapon of choice. The trailer is the best thing about the movie and oddly enough, it has no scenes from the film itself. What it does have is Michael Berryman covering a grave before being pulled below the cold earth. It's a great trailer typical of the deceptive tactics used by the notorious Edward L. Montoro.

THE FINAL TERROR 1983 aka CAMPSITE MASSACRE aka BUMP IN THE NIGHT


The cast, the cinematography and the dense, ominous forest locations are the major saving grace for this late blooming entry in the 'Slasher/Survival In the Woods' sub genre. Andrew Davis may have went on to major league directorial status, but his quaint trip into the slasher wilderness holds a good deal of promise but is undone by a narrative that barely registers as a slasher movie with relatively few kills and even less bloody violence. The film begins with a level of brutality that the remainder fails to capitalize on. The plot is simplicity in that a group of young adults (no teens this time) head off on a weekend trip only to run afoul of a feral and unfriendly forest dweller. The gore is minimal and the cast play it safe by sticking together! If only the characters had forgotten they were in a movie and simply wandered off on their own we might have seen more than a few death scenes and some featuring the creative zeal of the opening murder set piece. Relatively tame by standards even then, THE FINAL TERROR boasts early roles for Rachel Ward and Darryl Hannah. If Hannah's SPLASH (1983) and Ward's THORN BIRDS (1983) hadn't been a hit, it's possible this tepid terror tale would have remained on some shelf a good deal longer. It tries to be both DELIVERANCE (1970) and FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980), but fails at both. The slasher machinations overpower the factor of survival amongst the elements, but likewise malfunctions in that area, too, forsaking the 'Blood and Butter' the sub genre is known for.

GIRLS NITE OUT 1984


A killer decked out in a big bear suit with steak knives in place of the paws stalks and kills a group of loud and abrasive Ohio college kids on an annual scavenger hunt. This lifeless and abundantly stupid horrible hokum takes the slasher device of the "masked killer" to all new heights of "originality" by dressing up in the least imposing costume imaginable save for one minor accoutrement that recalls NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET from the same year. A hazing prank is the modus operandi of our intrepid killer whose identity is bear-ly avoidable for those paying attention. Striving to be an amalgamation of ANIMAL HOUSE (1978), PROM NIGHT (1980) and FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980), this college bound slasher fails to make the grade and flunks out quickly. If you love 60s tunes, you might get a modest kick out of having this play in the background while you do more productive activities. A few recognizable thespians populate the cast, but fail to enliven this mess and Hal Holbrook as a security guard looks just as disinterested as viewers are likely to be.

THE PREY 1984


Yet another 'killer in the woods' movie, this one was released in 1984, but feels like it was made a few years earlier. It's not as bad as a lot of reviewers say it is, but a middling example among other better movies. The acting is, for the most part, one step up from porn level, which makes sense considering the director made a career out of them. The leaden pace also does the production no favors, but the editing is extraordinarily good. The numerous shots of nature and her denizens aid in creating suspense and a palpable sense of dread unlike the negative stigma most others attribute to their inclusion. But this suspense means little when the fractured script never gives the opportunity to learn about its characters and much of the dialog in this post looped low budgeter is terribly inconsequential. Then there's a few extraneous exchanges that come off as padding such as when the forest ranger tells a joke to a deer! The plot such as it is has six campers stalked and killed by an enormous and deformed gypsy with a misshapen and bulbous head, badly burned in a fire back in 1948 skulking about looking for a mate. Far from the worst movie on this list, it could have been a lot better.

NAIL GUN MASSACRE 1985


This no budget non wonder aspires to be the next slasher stand up with its nail gun brandishing killer decked out in camouflage and a motorcycle helmet avenging the rape of a young woman by a group of construction workers. Terry Lofton's flick fails to nail it, though, and tries to make up for shortcomings by shoveling a high body count and a heavy quotient of sex and nudity in the audiences face in an attempt to keep things lively. The Kreugeresque quips are infantile and fired off as quickly as the masked killers nail gun. Rife with bad acting, lame dialog and cheap gore, bad movie buffs will have a field day with this cheaply made blunder. This example of 'Do It Yourself' filmmaking was becoming increasingly popular at the time and NAIL GUN MASSACRE has a bone-headed air about it that will be appreciated by those who love what's at the bottom of the barrel as much as what sits on top.

KILLER PARTY 1986


William Fruet made a career out of directing movies that rarely ever reached the potential they strove for and this PARTY pooper is no exception. This thoroughly bizarre movie has multiple personality disorder--it can't make up its mind if it wants to an ANIMAL HOUSE style fraternity flick, a slasher film, or a demonic possession movie. The beginning also has a few false starts with an annoying film within a film within a film framework. RETURN TO HORROR HIGH (1987) built its entire running time around this sort of aggravating trickery and narrowly missed being placed on this list. The script is a free-for-all of muddled ideas looking for all the world like it was made by a bunch of filmmakers suffering from ADD. The plot concerns a frat party held in an old house where a hazing prank went horribly wrong 20 years before. The killer wears a diving outfit(?) and commits a few bloodless murders before this bewildering balderdash shifts gears into EXORCIST territory without the assist of Mercedes McCambridge on vocals. I was unlucky enough to see this crap in a mostly empty theater. Thank goodness I was only eleven and didn't pay for the ticket. Fruet's flick is easily the most nonsensical movie featured on this list.

CRAZY FAT ETHEL 2 1987


After VIDEO VIOLENCE (1987) showed there was a market for cheaply made movies filmed with a standard video camera, many others followed suit. One such example was this shot on video shit heap, a sequel to 1975's CRIMINALLY INSANE. In an effort to save a few bucks on a budget that likely consisted solely of purchasing a cache of blank videocassettes, a good chunk of footage from the earlier movie is edited into the film. The mixing of two entirely different film types makes for a bizarre experience and one that I will avoid referring to as surreal so as to not give this 62 minute home movie an unwarranted air of pseudo respectability. The overweight Ethel (again played by Priscilla Alden) is released from an asylum after the budget is slashed (the sanitariums budget, not the movie--the movie has no budget to slash), so she ends up in a halfway house where certain individuals threaten to come between her and a hero sandwich. As the first picture proved with its ketchup special effects, Ethel loved food much more than people. The ending showed the portly porker had resorted to cannibalism to get rid of the rotten stench of corpses building up in her grandmother's house. This sequel does away with the cannibal conceit and focuses on the blubbery misdeeds of the lead lard ass. Alden played a similar character in DEATH NURSE 1 and 2.

SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 1987


The sequel to one of the most notorious slasher movies of all time is also one of the absolute worst and most fun cinematic travesties to ever grace the silver screen. This raucously funny sequel didn't stay in theaters long enough to cause a stink with outraged citizens, it just stinks, period. With over half the films 90 minute running made up of scenes from part 1, the other half is new footage featuring the overzealous performance of Eric Freeman, the very embodiment of a ham and cheese sandwich. We get some cool kills such as death by umbrella and death by jumper cables. Then there's the infamous neighborhood massacre on "Garbage Day!" wherein our intrepid killer Kringle blows away a group of suburbanites with a Paul Kersey Special. The stage is then set for a showdown with the now crippled Mother Superior, the real villain of the first movie. With stunningly awful dialog and performances, wholly implausible situations and outrageous gore, this horribly hokey Christmas horror is the perfect gift for that special bad movie lover in your life.

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 8: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN 1988


Painfully bad FRIDAY flick brazenly carries a deceptive bit of false advertising in its title. It should have been JASON OF THE SEA, or even CRUISE INTO TERROR (wait, that ones been used before) for crying out loud. The bulk of the movie sees Jason whacking and hacking a group of interchangeable caricatures aboard a college cruise excursion before finally landing in New York City about thirty minutes before the movie ends. The number of kills was hyped to high heaven before the film was released and even with a hip marketing campaign, the only thing Jason took was a box office beating. The ending defies credibility when Jason, whose head now resembles a rotten cantaloupe, is drowned in toxic waste water and somehow manages to metamorphose into a small boy. This being from 1989, (in a medieval and deeply British tone) "It was a dark time!" for horror movies where nearly everything was worthless filler and the genre directors appeared to be in competition to see who could fashion the most dispensable, non-essential horror movie using other peoples money.

NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER 1988


While he dabbled in humor in ELM STREET 3, The K man had audiences rolling in the aisles by the time the huge hit that was THE DREAM MASTER rolled around in 1988. The sight of Krueger's resurrection being due to a dog pissing on him speaks volumes about the state of horror at this time. I saw it in the theater and the laughs outnumbered gasps if there were any of the latter to begin with. This was the beginning of the end for horror at least for nearly a decade when darkness fell over the genre replacing sheer terror with one liners. NIGHTMARE 5 took things a bit more seriously, but the damage was done by this point. Part 4 continues the tradition of killing off the survivors of a previous movie while spending more time with the creation of elaborate set pieces more outlandish than the last. Renny Harlin became a hotshot Hollywood director whose career fizzled fast after the monumental disaster that was CUTTHROAT ISLAND in 1995. It would a few more years before the long standing notion that "Pirate movies are poison" would be dispelled.

SHOCKER 1989


Yet another pointless horror movie from the pathetic period between the late 80s and the early 90s and yet another one poised for potential franchise status that thankfully never saw fruition. Craven once more dives into the 'DEADLY trend' he helped mutilate into comedy gold with an "all new" slasher that likes to tell jokes. Instead of creating an "original" character, Craven and Co. jump on the 'Electric Chair Charred Serial Killer From Beyond the Grave' bandwagon that started with HORROR SHOW (1989), a sub genre that featured other fried eggs such as PRISON (1988), THE CHAIR (1988) and GUILTY AS CHARGED (1991). Craven made a career out of ripping himself off and he does that here with Horace Pinker, a wisecracking serial killer who no doubt looked up to Freddy Krueger. Dreams as plot device is trotted out again (not that the original NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET was all that original, anyways. Remember Joseph Rubin's DREAMSCAPE?) and when our witty madman comes back, he's "electric" and also possesses peoples bodies. Around this time, Craven was apparently on the same wavelength as Tobe Hooper directing bewilderingly loopy offal like THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2 (1985) and DEADLY FRIEND (1986).

HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS 1989


One of the dumbest sequels of all time, this major league bomb of the highest order nearly sank an increasingly damaged hull to a once profitable franchise. French director Dominique Othenin Girard apparently thought it would be a good idea to get so creatively altruistic, that his "vision" at that time can now be compared to Obama's "vision" of America and our downward spiraling economy. The series reached a new low after Myers is arrested(!!!), cuffed and jailed by Haddonfield police who can't even be bothered to remove his mask. The "Curse of Thorn" is introduced here (really?) and Girard's collateral damage continues with the intro of "The Man In Black" who bails Michael out of jail with the help of high powered weapons. The Akkad's must have been under a "curse" when this script was greenlit. In all fairness, the film begins strong, but without LifeCall, HALLOWEEN 5 has "fallen and can't get up!" The plot is virtually non-existent with Myers seeking out little Jaime whom last we saw, was dramatically simulating the closing moments of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 5. The photography is strikingly Gothic in places, even if the atmosphere of the title holiday is conspicuous by its absence. Girard had just finished a semi erotic demonic horror film called NIGHT ANGEL (1989) about Lilith (Adam's first wife according to myth) planning to unleash hell on Earth via her posing on the cover of a high class fashion magazine! Girard also helmed OMEN 4: THE AWAKENING (1991), a subtitle that acts as an allusion for producers to not make anymore OMEN sequels.

FREDDY'S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE 1991


The NIGHTMARE continued with even more elaborate use of the funny business and added big stars and even a 3D finale to the mix. Freddy Krueger was no longer scary and had become the horror kingdoms biggest punchline. Not to mention the veritable list of pretenders to the dream stalkers "throne" which by this point, was a euphemism for a toilet. The plot here is nothing that hasn't been done in previous entries, but has a twist or two among the miasma of mediocrity. The sight of the K meister raddin' on a skateboard from part 5 is nothing compared to horrors biggest funnyman digitized within a Nintendo game. These are not the things nightmares are made of. While DREAM WARRIORS is to blame for the pop culture iconization of the character, the inclusion of big names reached an apex here and thankfully ended with this one, too. Wes Craven would take back the series with the next and last official film that finally aborted the shenanigans and tried to tap into the horror aspects of the first movie. Ever the entrepreneur, Craven once more attempted to mine the series for more gold with the similar MY SOUL TO TAKE from 2010.

DR. GIGGLES 1992


You'll need a doctor after suffering through this cinematic malady about the demented son of a psychopathic physician taking up his fathers "practice" after escaping an asylum and heading back to his hometown for revenge. Shades of HALLOWEEN and Freddy Krueger's stand up routine abound as Universal tried one mo' tyme to get a profitable serial killer franchise off the ground. The kills are suitably gruesome and Larry Drake makes for a greasy sadist, but this is yet another example of lazy 90s horror with the fear factor replaced by a 90 minute running gag of impeccable comic timing. The decade still had a few more slasher personalities to ruin before the dawn of the new Millennium including dentists and ice cream men. DR. GIGGLES isn't funny, he's just foul.

LEPRECHAUN 1993


This first of a brain cell melting series of movies is further proof that the horror genre in the late 80s through the mid 90s was a serious waste of film stock. Jennifer Aniston's debut here isn't a good enough reason to suffer through this abysmal franchise fart. The astoundingly popular series proved to be a "Lucky Charm" for Warwick Davis, a diminutive actor who played the title creature whom searches for his stolen gold and quips like Freddie Krueger near the end of his stand up days. A portion of the population enjoyed this crud resulting in at least five sequels one of which sent the pint sized slasher where no leprechaun has gone before. The second torturously bad entry has our green avenger seeking a bride, the third sends the Lucky One to Vegas, the fourth into space and the fifth and sixth films saw the little Green Ghoul mix it up with rappers of all things. Anyone conceiving of further sequels, or that current bane of the filmworld--the remake, should be condemned to the "wearing of the green shoes". Incidentally, there was a similar movie entitled RUMPELSTILTSKIN (1995) that mercifully never garnered a franchise of its own.

HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS 1995


This cumbersome, seriously troubled sequel stoops to a new low by having Michael Myers as some sort of Druidic assassin and other mumbo jumbo crap such as continuing with 'The Curse of (This Cinematic) Thorn (In My Side)'. THE CURSE OF JOE CHAPPELLE is a more proper title as this dismal direction that was taken nearly sank yet another once prosperous franchise desperately in need of a new set of tires to pull itself from the mud of ridiculous script ideas. The chaos continued towards the end of production when sequences were discarded, or reshot. The result was less than impressive and reshoots were ordered by studio meddling, a sure sign your movie is either shit, or in trouble. Sadly, Donald Pleasence died which complicated this mess further. At least from here there was nowhere else to go but up. Meanwhile, director Chappelle failed to endear himself to horror fans with the equally problematic HELLRAISER: BLOODLINE (1996) (or PINHEAD IN SPACE where he took over the directors chair for effects ace Kevin Yagher), PHANTOMS (1998) and THE SKULLS 2 (2002).

I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER 1997


Jennifer Love Hewitt's breasts star in this worthless, forgettable movie that begat two more examples of slasher pap. If it hadn't been for SCREAM (1996), a movie that was "hip" because of its self referential mockery of the critically panned slasher sub genre, this refuse likely wouldn't have been made. Since then, there's been a revival of the 'Stalk and Kill' sub genre and oddly enough, good critical notices have been more prominent than they ever were in the 1980s. Supposedly set in North Carolina, the filmmakers attempt to put both the mountains and the ocean on the same side of the state. Revisiting PROM NIGHT's plot device of a group of friends covering up a murder, this egregious waste of time has a group of friends accidentally run over a man and attempt to hide the deed by dumping the corpse in the sea. Cue the tall Gorton's Fish Stick Captain with a rusty hook hand exacting revenge on the overbearing teens. Hewitt's breasts maintain the viewers attention while she stands there in a low cut shirt bellowing in her best theatrical voice for her gentleman stalker to come and get her.

BLACK CHRISTMAS 2006


Totally tasteless and unnecessary remake of one of the horror genres scariest movies. What makes this thoroughly offensive remake even more perplexing is that the original movies director was the Executive Producer here. The story retains the characters, but gives certain ones an Extreme Makeover. An air of mean spiritedness is seared into nearly every scene, yet the over the top repugnance is a strangely compelling quality that makes BAD CHRISTMAS a guilty pleasure even if it is ludicrously overwrought from start to finish. The film is so outrageous, one can't help but admire director Morgan for his audacity. Morgan also exhibited a good amount of concern for remaking one of the most respected horror movies of all time as well as the original being the best picture dealing with yuletide terror. It's far from a good movie and wears its awfulness like a badge of (dis)honor, but BAD CHRISTMAS manages to cram in cannibalism, incest and a level of ocular trauma that would make Fulci proudly rise from the grave. It did modest business despite controversy attracted by religious groups protesting the film be banned for its subject matter and Christmas Day release date. It wasn't the type of furor greeted SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984), but it was warming to see a trashy product embrace its indecency with such relish.

HALLOWEEN 2007


Easily one of the worst horror movies of all time. Rob Zombie was chosen by HALLOWEEN (his words, mind you) to be the guiding hand behind this horrible excuse of a remake. The Z'ster fills this garbage can with his patented fifth grade dialog that sounds nothing like what people in the real world would say. If I had a dime for every time a character said "Fuck", I'd have enough money to do my own remake of HALLOWEEN. Robbie Z deems it a priority to show us WHY Michael Myers is evil and also to warn the audience that if your kid comes from a home where the father of the trailer pokes fun and shouts expletives at him, he'll grow up to be a knife wielding hobo with a chip on his shoulder. For whatever reason, the director is hellbent on forcing his audience to identify with the most bland, yet inherently savage characters his mind can muster. It all amounts to what can be described as an unofficial sequel to HOUSE OF ONE TOO MANY CORPSES (2000) and the slightly better THE DEVIL'S HAND-ME-DOWNS (2003). The way Zombie writes him, Myers could easily be a long lost cousin to the Firefly clan. When his initial shitty version failed to impress producers, reshoots were ordered which resulted in a less shitty version. Both equally atrocious versions featured actors who should have known better, but probably needed the money.

HALLOWEEN 2 2010


Universally derided among horror circles, but marginally better than the previous travesty, this big screen wart picks up __ years after the first movie. The underscore is "fill in your own year" since both sloppily made versions (directors and theatrical) fail to match a timeline for their events. Whereas the Robster 'Pearl Harbor'ed' the horror genre with amateur hour the first time around, he settles for a mere swift kick to the nuts for round two. Zombie has a keen visual eye, but he's unable to marry those visuals to a cohesive storyline with believable dialog--three words you'll not find in a RZ movie--cohesive, believable and dialog. This time out we get more Sherri Moon Zombie, white horses(??), an even worse performance by Malcolm McDowall, quadruple usage of the word "Fuck" including a laugh inducing, record breaking number during the opening sequence and another chance to wedge in (this time a cover version) 'Love Hurts' one mo' tyme. Zomb's walking cucumber is even more hobo-ish this time out; so much in fact that one expects to see Myers carrying a knife in one hand and a can in the other. Amazingly, producers are still giving the Z man money to make more Z grade movies. The former White Zombie frontman recently helmed his masterpiece, a 30 second Woolite commercial that was bereft of Sherri Moon Zombie, the word "Fuck" and his patented otherworldy dialog exchanges. Currently, RZ is working on LORDS OF SALEM, a movie about witches who will no doubt indulge in the usage of the word "Fuck", feature a trailer park some way or other and find room for Sherri Moon Zombie.

NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2010


Lifeless and thoroughly useless remake of one of Wes Craven's best loved movies and one of horrors most defining icons of the genre. There's lots of flash and it's a remarkably polished product, but lacks substance and a soul. The one liners are kept to a minimum to "make Freddy evil again", at least that's what the makers were hoping for. Several famous shots from the original are redone here, but eschewing the artistry of live effects for the flaccid use of Cumbersomely Generated Imagery. This senseless redo is, like many movies these days, impeccably mounted, but lacks much of what makes movies an immersive experience. For a film titled NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, there's scarcely anything remotely frightening visualized here. The make up for Krueger gives the impression one of the Crawlers from THE DESCENT (2005) has learned to walk, gained the capacity for speech and currently haunts the dreams of blandly written teenagers populating badly conceived remakes of much better older movies.

HATCHET 2006


Those who stated this was the "return to oldschool American horror" must have watched a different movie entirely as this resembled nothing at all like early 80s slasher pictures. This amalgamation of the lovably inept cult slasher MADMAN (1981) and other backwoods thrill killers transplants the action to the Louisiana swamps, but trees is trees whether on a mountain or in the bayou. In its defense, Adam Green's movie does have some judiciously splashy gore and some nicely dressed and lit sets, but that's it. The characters are wholly unlikable and familiar faces of the genre are trotted out to sweeten the deal, but nothing can be done to sour milk except to pour it out before the smell worsens and it did with HATCHET 2.

HATCHET 2 2010


Again, film loving lunatics raved about this follow up despite making what barely constitutes a pittance for its (extremely) limited theatrical release. The sequel ignores details from the previous outing and ends up being possibly the most slapdash, sloppily put together sequel of the last few years. Fan fave Danielle Harris stars and provides some laughs with her intermittently disappearing accent. The gore is once more the showcase, but everything around it is ambitiously pathetic. HATCHET 2 follows the current trend of turd hugging 'part 2's' such as CABIN FEVER 2: SPRING FEVER (2010) and 2001 MANIACS: FIELD OF SCREAMS (2010).


20 comments:

The Ninja Squid said...

I've got to admit, I love Dream Master and New Years Evil. *Whew* I feel better just saying it...

Aaron said...

EPIC POST!

SAVAGE WEEKEND is terrible indeed, but the number of times the boom mic appears is pretty amazing. Great nudity as well.

HOME SWEET HOME is one of the worst slashers I've ever seen. The film gets points for the simple fact that its killer is high on PCP the whole time. I actually enjoy TERROR ON TOUR quite a bit because of the music aspect, but it's just as poor quality-wise as this one is.

HUMONGOUS - I actually dig that one! It has a small cult following, so at least I know I'm not alone in liking the movie. I for one will be buying the DVD even though it comes attached with a horror host gimmick.

STUDENT BODIES - Hilarious and ahead of its time. I dunno... I thought the comedy resembled the early Zucker Bros. stuff, which I'm a fan of.

JASON TAKES MANHATTAN - Aside from JASON GOES TO HELL, the worst of the franchise in my opinion.

I have a soft spot for ANOES4, HALLOWEEN 5, FREDDY'S DEAD. SHOCKER I could do without, but there are some hilarious moments in it.

HALLOWEEN 6 - Awful, and the Producer's Cut is pretty bad too.

HATCHET - Thank you! Totally agree this film being on the list. I didn't mind the sequel that much, though... at least it was a little better on the production side of things.

Great post, V5! Although I would put SLAUGHTER HIGH on the list, personally.

Pax Romano said...

Terrific post, and I was especially pleased to see the Rob Zombie films taken to task, as well as the piss-poor remake of "A Nightmare on Elm Street".

Agreed with almost every movie you chose but "Prom Night"; one of my guilty pleasures.

Finally, the phrase, "ravenous horror cognoscenti" is nothing short of snarky brilliance.

Dave S said...

Your site is always on my daily "to check" list, and this is a great piece. I'm still waiting to see New Year's Evil, and I very much agree with your take on the 2 Zombie Halloween flicks. Keep 'em coming (the posts that is, not Zombie's Halloween flicks).

Paul Westwood said...

I feel blessed that I've never seen any of these movies - I prefer the 70s/80s Horror movies and keep it that way.

A hero never dies said...

Can't disagree on any of your picks here Brian, I do particularly loathe some of the more recent ones, the Elm st and Halloween remakes especially. Not because they are remakes but because they are unbelievably terrible! Great post.

The Film Connoisseur said...

Awesome post Bri, I agree with a lot of your choices:

- Prom Night for example, I never got why it was so popular. To me it was boring as hell.

- Dont go in the Woods...Alone looked like it was shot on toilet paper, only watchable for a few good kills, like the sleeping bag kil, other than that...boring!

-Silent Night Deadly Night 2, what a waste of celluloid...it just showed scenes from the first one...what a cheap move.

I love the Nightmare on Elm Street films, so I defend those, agree part 4 was responsible for turning freddy into a funny character...but I didnt mind this, it made these movies fun, in fact, their still fun in my book. I liked part 6 because it took us deeper into Freddy's past. We got to see him before he became the Dream Demon, as a husband and a father, we got to meet his daughter...his step father...and the dream demons that gave him his power. I loved going into that, and the remake took us even further, but I can see why some might not like that one.

Agree on Halloween 2: a film taken from its director. Though to me it was even more painful to watch than the first one. The first one had decent editing...not so on this sequel. I think the second one suffered from production woes...the weinsteins didnt make it easy for Zombie to make this one. It was not smooth sailing.

I would have included one film on this list: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME. To light, too unscary, and too much of a rip off of Friday the 13th.

Great list man!

Shaun [The Celluloid Highway] said...

Wonderful post Brian, it must have been a hell of a task reducing your list to only 34!

venoms5 said...

@ Ninja Squid: I quite like NEW YEARS EVIL myself, some great stuff in there, it's just mildly disappointing. It seems to lose its way towards the end then gets better again. I first saw it on Elvira's Movie Macabre when I was a kid and didn't like it at the time, but the elevator scene always stood out to me and the killer using that voice distortion device, too.

@ Aaron: I flirted with putting SLAUGHTER HIGH on here. The list was initially 26 like the other one, but it grew and I had to stop somewhere. For me PANDEMONIUM shows off that Zucker Bros. style a lot more than STUDENT BODIES, so you may like that one, too. It's pretty funny, just hit and miss.

@ Pax: Thanks for the kind remarks! PROM NIGHT is one movie I still can't understand what people see in it, although there are bits and pieces I did like about it.

@ Dave: That's very kind of you to say, Dave. I'm glad you like the site! NEW YEARS EVIL is actually pretty good. I was torn between putting it on here and leaving it off. It's disappointing in some ways but it's def one of the better movies on the list.

venoms5 said...

@ Paul: There's some good stuff in some of these and some I could do without that's for sure.

@ Martin: I agree wholeheartedly. Where the older movies were usually lacking in a budget and time, the newer movies are lacking a soul.

@ Fran: DON'T GO IN THE WOODS I actually like now. i hated it as a kid, but now, it's hilariously bad and according to the 60 making of on the disc, it was intentional. Fitfully stupid movie, though, ever how you look at it. I remember coming back from the beach in '87 with my grandparents and seeing a theater marquee for SNDN2 and tried to get them to stop and drop me off, but they wouldn't, of course. I like HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME. It is slow in places, but overall I thought it was quite well made.

@ Shaun: Yes, it was terribly difficult, Shaun! It was originally going to be 26 like the other list, but it kept growing and I had to stop the madness somewhere!

Thanks for everyone's feedback and their own thoughts on the films!

Amanda H. said...

Wow, you forgot about in "Savage Weekend" the branding. Well, there's a lot of crap in it so yeah.

Jason Takes Manhattan, pfft. More like Jason Takes Over Tickenham Studios. And if I remember correctly, he gets 'killed' when somebody flushes toxic waste down the sewer. WAT.

JR said...

I also count myself as a fan of Student Bodies.

Talking? During horsehead bookends?

Humor is subjective, so I can understand others not finding it funny. It's definitely one I prefer to watch with a few beers in me, so maybe that's telling...

Maynard Morrissey said...

OMG fantastic post, you outdone yourself!!!

Savage Weekend - quite enjoyable, but nothing special

Prom Night - one of the most overrated slashers of all time.

New Year's Evil - oh, I really did enjoy that one!

Graduation Day - great kills, the rest is meh.

Don't Go In The Woods - ok, kills, some nice comedy, but overall pretty dumb.

Humongous - absolutely horrible.

Hospital Massacre - it has its moments!

Mortuary - decent but forgettable.

The Final Terror - incrdibly illogical and boring.

The Prey - boring and cheesy. At least the ending was cool.

Nail Gun Massacre - HORRIBLE!!!!!

Killer Party - I'm in the minority of really liking this one.

Silent Night Deadly Night 2: love it for its kills, its cheesiness and, of course for "Garbage Day!" :-)

Friday The 13th 8 - stupid and pointless.

Nightmare 4 - Quite entertaining.

Shocker - disaster, one of Craven's worst.

Halloween 5 - one of the very first horror movies I ever seen. Loved it back then and I still love it.

Freddy's Dead - quite ok, but nothing special.

Leprechaun - hilarious

Halloween 6 - disappointing.

I know What You Did - terrific slasher, love it!!

Black Christmas remake - I'm in the minority of really loving this hilarious remake.

Halloween remake - the first half ids awesome, the second half just terrible.

Halloween 2 - piece of shit.

ANOES remake: pointless and unnecessary.

Hatchet - great!

Hatchet 2 - not so great.

J. Astro said...

Beauty of a list, m'man. Although I harbor a strong fondness for many of the films that made your critical cut, I could not (in a court of law) vouch for 'em all in terms of quality.

OFFERINGS should have totally been on here. Silly, lame-ass killer -and- shameless HALLOWEEN rip-off music. ;)

venoms5 said...

@ Amanda H: I saw FRIDAY 8 in the theater and was thoroughly underwhelmed by it. The makers were hyping it to high heaven in Fangoria. I was hoping it would have an ending that would redeem the bizarre final moments of part 7, but this one was even more dumbfounding then the previous movies ending.

@ JR: I've seen STUDENT BODIES twice and just didn't find it all that humorous. But then it's one of those movies that people either love it or hate it.

@ Maynard: Thanks for the concise shortened version! NEW YEARS EVIL was the only movie I struggled with in putting it on here. I do like a lot of the movies on here, but the 'guilty pleasure' kind of like. The BC remake is one such picture. It's horribly tasteless and I hold the original in high regard. It's just a jarring polar opposite and the '06 version seems intentionally bad throughout much of the movie even if it is rather fun.

@ J: The list was originally smaller at 26 and I kept thinking of other ones and it would have kept growing if I hadn't gotten tired of adding to it. There's a good number of potential bad ones I haven't seen. OFFERINGS I kept passing in the video store back in the day, but the back of the box sounded good, though. Some slashers I intended to throw (up) on here were SLAUGHTER HIGH, HELL HIGH, RETURN TO HORROR HIGH, SPLATTER UNIVERSITY and CUTTING CLASS. Maybe a dreaded sequel is in the works?

Maynard Morrissey said...

Hehe yeah, you're right: New Year's Evil is definitely a guilty pleasure.

Dunno why I enjoyed the BC remake so much. Thought it was a hilariously amusing splatterfest.
I admit that it has not much to do with the original; would have been better if they gave it a different title, f.e. 'Bloody Xmas'

venoms5 said...

I do like the BC remake, just that it's incredibly tasteless and nothing compared to the original, but a fun guilty pleasure.

Kaijinu said...

Whoa, a lot of these titles actually fall under four stars for my case. some half of five, some three...some...yeah, the rest probably belonged to obscurity hell...

venoms5 said...

Well I do like a lot of the movies on here they either fall short here and there or some others like Rob Z's HALLOWEEN which I absolutely loath. I could have added a handful more so maybe there'll be a sequel!

TheBrotherhood said...

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