Scare Classics and Busts

October has come and gone in a flash, but while trick or treating is over, there’s still plenty to watch on television for folks who want to keep the scares going. It doesn’t have to be Halloween for you to enjoy a good scare or even a good laugh. There are lots of movies circulating around on Netflix and Hulu to keep everyone occupied until then. Cozying up with popcorn to rewatch “The Human Centipede” might have the more faint of heart up all night because they can’t stop thinking about the gorefest they just watched — that’s where the “bad” horror films come in with their accidental comedy. When referring to “bad” horror films this can be categorized in two ways, horror films that are meant to be bad (or they’re made so badly that they’re humorous)  and those that are just badly made. This small list compiles some of the best and some of the worst horror films to date:

 

For viewers who prefer to laugh a bit during “spooky season” there’s quite a variety of poorly made horror films to have fun with. Here are a few classic busts for everyone:

  1. “Tusk” (2014)

Directed by Kevin Smith, “Tusk” revolves around a snarky Los Angeles podcaster who makes his living off of mocking people who embarrass themselves online. One story leads the protagonist, Wallace Bryton, into the hands of a serial killer who decides to make him his next test subject. The test? Fitting Wallace into the body of a walrus. This movie begins with unlikable characters and ends with unlikeable characters. Wallace, being someone who cheats on his girlfriend constantly and mocks people for a living, gains little sympathy from anyone. The audience receives a poor storyline about a demented man saved by a walrus whose goal is to reanimate said walrus in order to be killed by it. Needless to say, the plot collapses in on itself and only provides a weak motivation for the body horror that ensues. While “Tusk” isn’t the worst horror film of all time, it  is ridiculously pointless and the characters seem dislikable enough for audiences’ only discomfort to be from the bloody mess that comes from Wallace’s amputations. While Smith may not have intended “Tusk” to be the horror film of the century (or perhaps at all), what makes this list worthy is the fact that it almost seems like a satirical version of body horror such as that in “The Human Centipede”.

 2. “Troll” (1986)

“Troll” follows the story of the Potter family as their daughter Wendy is captured by a troll who then steals her identity and declares a war between humans and mythical creatures. This film can’t be taken seriously for several reasons, it’s highly unlikely that an audience can follow along without getting a few chuckles from the fact that the main character’s name is Harry Potter Jr. The film opens like a classic fairytale, with scenes of nature and dreamy lights to set the romantic and almost nostalgic mood for anyone who grew up reading these fairytales, but essentially collapses from there. What sounds like an overall decent premise falls apart since the majority of the film is focused on the Potter family’s inability to register the situation they’re in. The audience is really just watching an entire family make fools of themselves, all set to 80’s music. In fact, the troll doesn’t get nearly as much screen time as the dad falling down the stairs does. This film is great for laughs, but it was more than likely never intended to scare anyone. This film falls under comedic horror and stays strictly in the comedy department, though it does get bonus points for making an awfully horrendous villan.

3. “Leprechaun” (1993)

A trademark comedic horror film, “Leprechaun,”directed by Mark Jones, is best remembered for its insanely odd sequels. The first film is decent enough to not make an audience fall asleep as the leprechaun wreaks havoc by granting wishes that go horribly wrong for all, but the films that were produced afterwards seem to be a cry for help. “Leprechaun” was followed by 5 sequels, each much more ridiculous than the one before. If watching a leprechaun ruin peoples’ lives on Earth  wasn’t satisfying enough, perhaps watching it happen in space will interest the audience more. Just thinking about “Leprechaun 4: In Space” (1997), “Leprechaun in the Hood” (2000), and “Leprechaun: Back to da Hood” (2003) is enough to make anyone laugh, and begs the question: what was Mark Jones thinking?

 

For fans of everything spooky( those who appreciate the guts and gore along with a well made plot), these are a select few gems that can keep the thrills and shivers going well past Halloween, maybe even until Christmas:

  1. “Children of the Corn” (1984)

A cult classic that actually deals with cults, “Children of the Corn” stars Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton; they play a couple whose car stops in the cornfields of Nebraska, where they seek help in a town filled with only children. Nothing sounds more terrifying than a cult of satanist children who follow the law of “He Who Walks Behind the Rows,” and while there’s no bloodfest or extremely frightening jump scares, “Children of the Corn” is disturbing nonetheless. Isaac, the cult’s leader, follows the mandate of their demonic god in sacrificing all adults to gain its favor, and if that’s not enough, the children of the town, all named after biblical figures, are forced to give themselves up as sacrifices once they turn nineteen. It’s a must watch for any horror fans looking to see a classic thriller.

2. “Hide and Seek” (2005)

“Hide and Seek” takes psychological horror to a whole new level as Dr. David Callaway tries to figure out not only what lead his wife to suicide, but also what’s coming after his daughter, Emily. While it isn’t your classic monster movie, “Hide and Seek” plays with the concept of mystery as Emily makes a friend named Charlie in their new home. Callaway’s paranoia can be felt easily as Charlie’s presence is hidden from him until the very end of the film. Charlie’s practical jokes turn into  crimes, causing Calloway to be suspicious of anyone who gets near his daughter. “Hide and Seek” not only gets accolades for its creepy premise of “imaginary friends” who kill, but also for the plot twist at the end. Though it has five alternate endings, they all have the same idea in mind, that not all monsters look like “The Thing,” some actually look very human. For fans who enjoyed Scott Derrickson’s “Sinister,” this film will give you the same thrills filled with mystery and jumpscares.

3. “Carrie” (1976)

Another cult classic, “Carrie” is the story of a shy and socially awkward teenage girl who suffers at the hands of aggressive bullies and her fanatically religious mother. Carrie is gifted with telekinesis, and while dealing with her everyday abuse she is also tasked with learning how to deal with and control her newly discovered powers. What follows is the slaughter of an entire school because of a badly played prank on Carrie. The film is based off of Stephen King’s novel of the same name. Standing the test of time, “Carrie” is a well made horror film that sets the audience up to sympathize with Carrie, who suffers through public humiliation by sociopathic bullies during menstruation while also dealing with an abusive mother who categorizes everything as a sin. This all eventually culminates in a bloodbath that’s definitely not for the weak of heart. While this film is already frightening and increasingly difficult to watch toward the end, what makes it all the more spine-chilling is that King wrote the book about a girl from his school who was just as peculiar and as heavily mocked as Carrie. Definitely a “coming-of-age” gone wrong.

 

Netflix-surfing can definitely bring some good and bad regardless of what genre you’re in the mood for, but who said the “hallow-days” need to end just yet? Sit back, grab some snacks, and enjoy.

 

Julyssa Sandoval is a third year English major. They can be reached at julyssas@uci.edu