Let’s face it: a lot of movies are forgettable these days. The film medium is such a modern luxury, it’s easy for both moviegoers to take it for granted and for filmmakers to take their abilities even more for granted. The worst horror movies are no exception. If it isn’t a shameless slasher or Exorcist ripoff, then it’s just a boring mess replete with jump scares and loud noises.
That’s not to say making a horror film is easy. There are many variables to consider in the process – creative vision, story structure, whether or not the shark is working, etc. Every film faces the risk of failure. It’s the nature of the beast, but when there’s no effort put into it (or too much effort put into the wrong places), the results can be equally horrid and spectacular at the same time.
The following list is for those who have nothing else to do, but want to watch any (and I mean, any) horror movie. Said films are either unintentionally funny or shamelessly clumsy in their execution. Think of this as a scat scale from a solid nugget to outright cinematic diarrhea. There are some diamonds to dig out of this turd pile, but by number five, it’s all sewage. Tread lightly.
If you’re a fan of MST3K, you’ll be more than familiar with this one. After a meteorite lands near a small Wisconsin town, residents are terrorized by a horde of giant spiders and it’s up to a few brave souls to save the day.
Giant Spider Invasion is a great stinker with its ridiculous special effects and TMI portrayal of life in backdoor America. There’s plenty of back braces and Buds with this one. Cheesy as it is, the film makes up for its faults with an all-star cast which includes Alan Hale (aka The Skipper from Gilligan’s Island), Barbara Hale, Robert Easton, and Leslie Parrish. Even without the MST3K crew, Giant Spider Invasion is still a fun and equally ridiculous watch, especially for those with a phobia of spiders.
Watch if: You’re a former MST3K junkie wanting to reminisce on the good ol’ days. Avoid if: You have a fear of giant animatronic spiders.
9. Up From The Depths (1979)
This uniquely clumsy film may be the most hilarious Jaws ripoff of all time. Just Google an image of the shark monster thing. It looks like a cross between a shark, an Iron Clad submarine from the Civil War, and an island of floating garbage seen in those Save the Environment commercials.
Among other problems with the film is the sound. Something – or someone – screwed up the audio somewhere in the movie making process, leaving the cast to dub over their own lines with hilarious results. Every scene (especially those with Kedric Wolfe) is so exceptionally awful that there’s something slightly charming about them. The film is all laughs until Sharkbearpig shows up – then the movie goes to Hell. Fun fact: This is one of the late, great R. Lee Ermey’s first films before Full Metal Jacket (1987).
Watch if: You like laughter with your horror movie. Avoid if: You want a better Jaws ripoff like Piranha (1976).
8. ThanksKilling (2009)
ThanksKilling follows the general premise of college coeds going on a road trip, only to be tormented by a homicidal maniac – in this case, a trash-talking Thanksgiving turkey. The film comes complete with terrible stereotypes (the geek, the hick, the jerky jock, the valley girl, etc.) and a shitty rubber turkey that kills people.
Horrid as it is, it’s comedic gold. I can’t recommend it more highly for anyone wanting a laugh in a horror film. The acting is bad, the story is bad, the soundtrack is bad, but at least everyone’s trying to have fun, and that makes it watchable.
Watch if: You hate Thanksgiving. Avoid if: You love Thanksgiving.
7. Monsturd (2003)
What Toxic Avenger was to Troma Films, I guess Monsturd is for the Kings of Horror channel on YouTube. The story is simple: a serial killer (conveniently named Jack Schmidt) is doused in radioactive waste, which turns him into a creature made of bodily excretions, and he proceeds to go on a brown rampage.
The cinematography is decent, but the horrid acting and equally hideous soundtrack hint at the creators’ awareness that this was a steaming pile of – well, you know. You have to hand it to them, though. It’s original.
Watch if: You’re interested in unique monsters (even those made of scat). Avoid if: You’re not impressed with actors in rubber poo suits.
6. Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010)
Coming out in the same era as The Room (2003) and Double Down (2005), this movie almost has it all when it comes to being entertainingly bad. A couple in California (played by Alan Bagh and Whitney Moore) start dating and having a good time until a horde of 3D-rendered birds shows up. The catalyst to their rampage? Global warming.
As with other bad movies of the age, Birdemic has become a cult classic which spawned a sequel and even boosted careers of some of those involved. Some might consider it a modern take on Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963) but with not-so-subtle hints of a global warming awareness message. Instead of informing the audience of the major crisis of our generation, Birdemic produces laughter from beginning to end, no matter what the filmmakers want to accomplish.
Watch if: You believe in giving indie filmmakers a chance. Avoid if: You’re triggered by the prospect of global warming causing damage to the environment
5. House of the Dead (2003)
It’s a Uwe Boll movie. The end. For anyone unfamiliar with this idiot, Uwe Boll is a German-based film director who makes one cash grab after the next. If not video game adaptations, then exploitation flicks which include topics such as Auschwitz (2011) and Darfur (2009) – no joke there.
So it’s fitting that Uwe Boll serves as Anubis at this point on this list to the Underworld. Based on the 1996 arcade game (somehow), House of the Dead follows a troupe of college kids who end up on an island with zombies and demons and stuff. The only plus to this film is that it stars the great Jurgen Prochnow in it, but with no substance in plot or character, Prochnow’s efforts prove fruitless. Plenty of gore, plenty of tit shots, plenty of cheap gags, then the credits. That’s House of the Dead – and any Uwe Boll movie – in a nutshell.
No worst horror movie list is complete without a one about the long dead Carcharadon Megalodon, which everyone from cryptozoologists to producers at National Geographic seems hellbent on resurrecting.
After the extinct 50-foot shark appears in a lake, it’s up to a few bikini-clad coeds to stop it. As with Monsturd, the cinematography makes it seem as if the filmmakers knew what they were doing. Afterward, Jurassic Shark descends into a bore which elicits laughs amid long bouts of snoring.
Watch if: You have a thing for the lead actresses being in swimsuits through 90% of the movie. Avoid if: You’re looking for an actual shark and not another 3D-rendered Megalodon.
3. Hobgoblins (1988)
Another MST3K entry and one of the more difficult ones to endure. If anyone remembers that episode, even the hosts had to leave the movie mid-scene. Hobgoblins follows a bunch of college students facing a gaggle of space hobgoblins that use their victims’ inner-fantasies to lure them into traps — I guess.
This crap pile has an obvious Gremlins-tone to it, but the hobgoblins themselves look worse than the Muppets. As for the acting and story, it’s clear the creators were trying to keep the 80s alive with the flashiness of the clothing and the over-use of an electric piano. Without a snort of cocaine though, the viewer faces an onslaught of color and noise (which is why the 80s sucked for those couldn’t afford a gram of yayo).
Watch if: Your head is stuck in the 80s. Avoid if: You actually remember the 80s.
2. Zombie Lake (1981)
Among the first Nazi zombie movies out there, Zombie Lake takes an interesting premise – dead Nazis at the bottom of a French lake turning into zombies – and kills it with terrible music, terrible acting (even in French), and an overly uninteresting execution.
We also have a Nazi zombie who reunites with his daughter and shares a deep enough connection that he won’t harm her – a major no-no in any zombie film. Plus, when the best you can do for make-up is a crappy water resistant green foundation, it leaves us wondering when the real zombies will show up. Stick with killing Nazi zombies on Xbox and stay away from this dud.
Watch if: You want to see an early movie about Nazi zombies. Avoid if: You want a better Nazi zombie movie like Shock Waves (1977).
1. A*P*E* (1976)
Also known as King Kong’s Great Counterattack, this is South Korea’s take on King Kong for which all viewers suffer. A giant ape – or more accurately, a man in a half-assed monkey costume – goes on a rampage through the South Korean countryside. Oh, and the film also has surprise appearances (and I mean surprise appearances, because they come absolutely out of nowhere) by a giant shark and a giant snake, which I’m sure are just everyday things in the Korean Peninsula.
We also have an army of toy helicopters and tanks which attack the monkey in one repeated shot after the next. There are so many sins committed in this atrocity that one viewing will ruin your weekend. It did mine. Trying to sit through this one and coming out alive is quite similar to coming out alive from a Russian roulette match. There’s a 50/50 chance the viewer will walk away, but he/she will be messed up for life.
Watch if: You’re a fan of movies inspired by King Kong. Avoid if: You want a semi-decent movie.