In just a few short days, it will be Halloween. As is customary at this time of the year, you've been bombarded with horror movies on your TV and at your local cineplex—old classics like "Nightmare on Elm Street" and "The Exorcist" have been playing non-stop on AMC, and new hits like "Sinister" and "Paranormal Activity 4" are dominating the box office lists. You might even have started reading lists of scary movies you Need To See Before You Die, whether for their cinematic merit (like "The Shining"), or because they'll get you in the Halloween mood (like, uh, "Halloween").
This is not one of those lists.
I'm not interested in how many scares per minute (and someone trademark horror-reference.com and SPM, stat) each movie has, or how well it sets a mood, or how frightening its premise is. I don't care if it can deliver a good story with a high body count. I don't want to think about why human beings love seeing other human beings killed on screen. There are plenty of lists and essays for that.
I want a list of the funniest, most lovable pieces of crap horror movies. The most ridiculous, over-the-top, so-bad-they're-good flicks. The ones that feature evil German doctors sewing a girl's mouth to a Japanese dude's anus, a murderous leprechaun in the hood, and Nic Cage in a prominent role. Unfortunately, lists like that did not exist. So this is what I came up with.
(Three disclaimers: 1. This is heavily slanted toward movies that have come out in the last 15 years, because I first watched them all on HBO at 2 in the morning, not at a drive-in during the 1960s like every other movie critic. 2. "The Toxic Avenger" and other gross-out "B" movies unfortunately didn't make the cut. We're looking for movies that actually tried to scare people, only to fail miserably. 3. Which takes off comedies in the guise of horror movies, like "Shaun of the Dead" and "Ghostbusters.")
Probably the only movie on the list with genuinely scary moments, "Hostel" nevertheless is so over-the-top in its violence that even the most squeamish among you will find yourselves laughing during its torture scenes. Clipping fingers and pulling eyeballs in a Soviet Bloc country would normally be scary, but the film's looow budget makes even the most brutally smashed fingers look like Play-Doh filled with ketchup. Plus the acting is porno-quality.
If you decide to catch this one with friends, here's a good test to find out who's a bad person: Who laughed when Kana jumped in front of the train? (I do every single time.)
9. "Halloween Resurrection"
Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks star (seriously) in a take on the Halloween series that has college kids spending the night in Michael Myers' childhood home for a web reality show. Yes, it sucks. Yes, you should see it at least once: I mentioned Busta Rhymes stars, right?
8. "The Human Centipede"
By now, even grandmothers probably know this plot: Crazy German doctor has two tourists knock on his door after a tire goes flat, doctor decides to use them for an "unspeakable" medical experiment, doctor finds third tourist to carry out said plan, and doctor sews them all together, mouth-to-anus, creating a "human centipede" as his pet.
What makes "The Human Centipede" so funny is the sheer number of horror movie cliches in its first act—a broken down car, no phone signal, a victim who can't seem to figure out how to run out of a house—only to be followed by a second act that is so messed up, so wrong, that it makes you forgot you were just watching a seemingly normal horror movie. To me, the most lasting legacy from this film will be the disturbing image of Dr. Heiter happily training the centipede how to walk while classical music plays in the background. Well, that and the countless arguments with pre-med friends who claimed the whole surgery was "100% possible." (No fucking way.)
7. "Jason X"
In 2010, "Friday the 13th's" Jason is cryogenically frozen by the U.S. government, which wants to study his "rapid cellular regeneration." Stored next to Ted Williams' frozen head at Alcor (presumably), he's forgotten about for centuries, only to be found and woken up in 2455 while aboard a space ship. All things considered, he takes this journey to the future pretty well, finding the time to go on a murderous rampage through the vessel. Cue a lot of deaths, lot of sexy young people doin' it, a lot of the same old slasher movie conventions—but this time in space!
It should go without saying that this movie is really, really dumb, and its crowning touch is the creation of "Uber Jason," a cyborg Jason who is even more powerful than the already immortal and all-powerful regular Jason. You have to think the film's writers, while in hour 18 of the coke binge that is responsible for this script, saw "The Terminator" playing on TV in the background and said, "Screw it. We'll take it."