Zombies are the middle children of the otherworldly family. Vampires are the oldest brother who gets to have a room in the attic, all tripped out with a disco ball and shag carpet. Werewolves are the youngest, the babies, always getting pinched and told they're cute. With all that attention stolen away from the middle child zombie, no wonder she shuffles off grumbling, "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha."

- Kevin James Breaux

Friday, March 13, 2015

"Rants & Ravings About Horror - Week 10: “Watching Bad Horror Films”

Week 10: “Watching Bad Horror Films”

If you’re like me then you’re a horror fan who has seen your fair share of bad horror films.  Now, I’m not talking about bad horror films that entertain you and you watch because they’re “so bad they’re good” (i.e. Plan 9 From Outer Space).  And I’m not talking about films you thought were going to be good because the trailer was good but turned out bad (i.e. The Pyramid).  No, I’m talking about watching the trailer for a film or reading about a film and knowing beforehand that it was always going to be bad no matter what.  I’m talking about a film like C.H.U.D. 2: Bud the Chud (1989) or The Lawnmower Man 2: Job’s War (1996) or House of the Dead 2 (2005) or The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1994) (yes, I use the original theatrical release title because that’s how I originally saw the film).  These are films with trailers so bad and a synopsis so bad that they shouldn’t have even been made much less watched.  But they are were and some even have a small cult following.

Having reviewed many horror films over the years I’ve watched more bad films than good ones at this point and many of them I’ve never seen a trailer so I’ve had to rely on poster images and synopsis to go by.  Films with titles like Airplane Vs. Volcano (2014) and Blood Valley: Seed’s Revenge (2014) and The Bell Witch Haunting (2013) and Paranormal Asylum (2013) and Don’t Go in the Woods (2010) and 13/13/13 (2013) you know going in that they’re going to be pretty bad and if not bad then completely ludicrous.  I mean, you can’t really (honestly) have high hopes for a film called Sharknado (2013), but we watch these films anyways regardless of how bad we know they’re going to be.

I enjoy bad horror films.  I actually enjoyed some parts of Airplane Vs. Volcano and I chuckle at Sharknado.  I’ve probably even seen Plan 9 From Outer Space more times than I should have but it’s a great movie to just have playing in the background when you just want to chill out, drink a beer, and relax.  I don’t think I can relax at home drinking a beer and watching Martyrs (2008).  It just isn’t happening.  Have you ever tried a night with your significant other and asking him/her to sit down and watch Hostel (2005)?  I’m sure it never goes over well, but if you said let’s watch Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014), they probably replied with they’ll get the popcorn and candy. 

When you want to watch to good comedy horror you pull out Shaun of the Dead (2004) not Day of the Dead 2: Contagium (2005) (which is funny for all the wrong reasons) but if you want stupid comedy you always pull out Army of Darkness (1992), which has many drinking games associated with it.  Why do some people love the horrendous Jason X (2001), when there is a Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) and a Jason Goes to Hell (1993) right before it?  Does anyone even remember Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) over A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)?  Both are considered the worst of the series but we’ve all probably seen them more times than we’d like to admit.  How about any one of the Hellraiser sequels after Part 3 or the Jaws sequels after the first one?  We’ve all seen them and we all consider them bad despite having seen them more than several times. 

Sometimes bad films have good moments which is why we watch them and continue to go back to them from time to time to not only remind us how bad they were but how awesome that one moment in each of them can out shine all the other bad parts contained within.  I don’t know about you but I liked Super Freddy in Freddy’s Dead and Jason knocking a man’s head off with one punch in Jason Takes Manhattan was worth a film that’s all on a boat in a water way that’s somehow connected to New York City.  Sharknado 2 is well worth watching Tara Reid get her hand bitten off and replaced by a buzz saw as is watching Ian Ziering getting swallowed by a shark and surviving.  Jason beating some female campers trapped in a sleeping bag against a tree and not dying (you have to see it to believe it) is one of the funniest moments in the film as is watching director David Cronenberg die in the opening of Jason X.  Watching Gerrit Graham in C.H.U.D. 2 is like watching him reprise his Beef character from Phantom of the Paradise (1974), only dead.  And in terms of the Jaws sequels – I just like watching people get eaten by a great white shark and not realize that they should’ve closed the beach before it was too late plus Michael Cain does ham it up pretty good in Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

There is no denying that all these films are bad films.  They’re even worse horror films as they don’t even try to horrify, terrorize, or even bother with a coherent story (most of the time) and are mainly played for laughs anyways.  Most of the time they know they’re bad and are in on the joke (i.e. Jason X and Sharknado).
The real travesty is those horror films trying to be good but fall flat on their ass.  For one reason or another they just don’t click with an audience and, unfortunately, are easily forgotten.  Child’s Play 3 (1991) and Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985) and Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996) and The Thing (2011) and Pulse (2006) and One Missed Call (2008) and They (2002) and Carnival of Souls (1998) and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1962) and An American Werewolf in Paris (1997) and Prom Night (2008) and way to many more to mention but you get the picture.

Now personally I enjoyed some of these films that I just mentioned but for the most part the majority of horror fans (and audiences in general) has either ignored these films or forgot they even existed.  There is nothing bad about watching bad horror movies or even liking them.  I for one need the bad films for all my drinking parties because watching a good horror film is just not the same and if I want to enjoy a horror film with my girl it most certainly won’t be The Descent (2005) because she hates horror films but will more likely be Army of Darkness (because she loves Bruce Campbell but then again who doesn’t) or the latest Sharknado (which is how I originally watched the first two).

Don’t be afraid of bad horror films.  Embrace them just like the Syfy Channel does!

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