The first decade of the new millennium has come to an end, and that means it is now time for film sites all over the web to begin posting their various retrospectives and lists recalling the decade that was. I generally as a rule dislike such lists because they are always so subjective. Then I said screw it and took it upon myself to do one of my own naming the ten worst horror movies of the past decade. Besides, people love bitching on the Internet about lists like this, and who am I to deny readers yet another excuse to get into pointless flame wars over personal opinions.
Of course, this list is just my personal opinion which is not legally binding … unless Proposition 304 passes. And we all pray that it will.
I set two rules when putting this list together: Only horror movies that received fairly wide theatrical releases in the United States were eligible, and no direct-to-DVD or made-for-cable films were allowed. Otherwise, I would have had a list full of cheap garbage from Thailand or it would have consisted of six Ulli Lommel serial killer flicks, two Sci-Fi Channel turds, and some no-budget pieces of crap Lionsgate and The Asylum dumped onto DVD. I chose to focus my attention on the more deserving big screen bombs, the horrors that only horrified in the sense that major Hollywood studios spent millions making and marketing them. I spent weeks looking back upon the Hollywood horrors released to multiplexes from 2000-2009, often reevaluating my own opinions on many a film until I finally narrowed the list down to what I felt were the ten most deserving of the distinction of being labeled the worst horror movies of the past ten years.
THE TEN WORST HORROR MOVIES OF THE DECADE
You can go NUMBER 10 directly on the NEXT Page
Before diving headfirst into the worst list, it is time to unveil the HONORABLE MENTIONS. You might be wondering what constitutes an honorable mention when listing the worst horror movies? These are the fright flicks that definitely deserved to be ranked amongst the decade’s worst but I just could not bring myself to put them on the list because their undeniable badness proved a laugh riot. The following four honorable mentions are granted a stay of execution for being so bad they’re funny.
THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD
A motion picture that will live in infamy. The movie that effectively introduced the movie-watching world to a mad German named Uwe Boll and we’ve never been the same since. Trash talking before the release about how his film was going to kick Resident Evil‘s ass – way to set the bar high there, Uwe; trash talking Internet fanboys after the release for decrying his magnum opus as an incompetent and incoherent debacle that has only the faintest ties to the plotless video game on which it is based. At least it’s lively, something that cannot be said of a few other Boll-infused snoozers. This deliriously insane mess verges so sharply into Edward D. Wood, Jr., territory on so many occasions House of the Dead may very well be Plan 9 from Outer Space for the 21st Century. Boll tried putting out a “funny version” of this film that wasn’t even 1/100th as intentionally funny as his crowning achievement was unintentionally so.
I KNOW WHO KILLED ME
Four words: non-religious identical twin stigmata. A high concept movie in the sense that everyone involved with the making of it had to have been high. In Lindsay Lohan’s case, that’s a given. What’s everyone else’s excuse? This level of jaw-dropping WTF-ness requires serious effort. You simply cannot make a movie that achieves the levels of badness that this surreal schlock does without having started out with loftier goals and without question I Know Who Killed Me was clearly a Herculean effort on the part of its makers. A perfect storm of cinema gone wrong: a tabloid fodder actress trying to change her on-screen image even though it’s her off-screen image that needs changing and an off-the-charts preposterous screenplay that not even a director created by Dr. Frankenstein from the parts of Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, Lamberto Bava, Tod Browning, and Brian De Palma could make into a workable film. Simply has to be seen to be believed!
Mark Wahlberg giving the best performance in the history of cinema by an actor behaving like a man suffering from a concussion not actually playing a character suffering from a concussion; Zooey Deschanel doing the most uncanny impression of a perpetually startled lemur you will ever see; philosophical arguments in defense of the hot dog; people trying to outrun and even outsmart the wind. A loopy ecological thriller about pissed-off plants that cause people to commit suicide in the most preposterous manner possible; to think when the decade began M. Night Shyamalan was being compared to the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg.
THE WICKER MAN
If you need me to tell you why then you either haven’t seen the remake of The Wicker Man or you haven’t watched this highlight video.
This leads us to a very special DISHONORABLE MENTION. This one did not quite make the final cut but it remains worthy of special consideration. If for any reason any of the following ten worst horror movies of the decade are unable to fulfill their obligations as one of the ten worst horror movies of the past ten years, this first runner-up will be asked to step in and complete the list.
Vampires. Cyberpunk. Anime aesthetics. Kung fu. Gun fu. Flaming sword fights. Milla Jovovich in spandex. What’s not to love? EVERYTHING! What was meant to be a visual tour-de-force ended up being an unwatchable mess made all the more intolerable by its insufferably smug look-how-cool-I-am attitude. Of all the movies listed here that I saw in a theater, Kurt Wimmer’s masturbatory case study in putting style over all the stuff that makes a movie watchable was the only one that led to the most walkouts – over two thirds of the audience were long gone before the closing credits rolled. So why isn’t Ultraviolet one of the top ten instead of a runner-up? Ultimately, that characters are these mutant vampires called “hemophages” was more an excuse to explain why everyone fights with superhuman abilities than it adds a horrorific vibe to this Skittles-colored world of tomorrow. Therefore, a dishonorable mention is in the cards. Rest assured, though, Ultraviolet is one of the worst films of the past decade of any genre.
This brings us to the reason you are reading this in the first place. In compiling my list I chose not to bother with a numerical countdown. Personally, I see no point in trying to put these dreadful little films in some sort of numbered list except when it comes to my choice for the single worst horror movie of the decade. Nine horrible horrors presented in no particular order leading to the one cinematic abomination that stands above and beyond all others in terms of epic fail. Without further ado…
THE TEN WORST HORROR MOVIES OF THE DECADE
The list starts on the NEXT Page
A screenplay so indecipherable Dan Brown could pen a new novel about the world’s greatest screenwriter setting off on a mystery quest to piece together the clues trying to make sense of it all. A film so confounding Uwe Boll had to add an opening text crawl longer than the closing credits of some movies explaining what the hell was going and this text still marked the first, last, and only time Alone in the Dark bordered on coherent. So illogical a film even Dragon Wars could make fun of how nonsensical it was – that’s saying something.
Christian Slater’s character kept telling us in dialogue and voiceover that he was searching for answers. Anyone that watches Uwe Boll’s second shot at botching a video game movie will sympathize because they too will be looking for answers that will never come. Where as House of the Dead had an Ed Wood vibe in its favor, Alone in the Dark was more like the worst movie Bruno Mattei never made. You would expect even a truly bad movie boasting monsters from another dimension, zombies, centipede-like parasites, sand worms, paranormal commando units, Christian Slater doing Matrix-style kung fu, and Stephen Dorf getting blown to kingdom come would still find a way to be entertaining to some degree, but Dr. Boll manages to bore even as he piles convolution on top of convolution on top of convolution and not even Tara Reid comically miscast as an allegedly brilliant anthropologist who cannot even correctly pronounce “New Foundland” could salvage it.
A harmonic convergence of everything wrong with the horror remake mentality that swept Hollywood the past decade; everything creepy and moody and atmospheric that made the original work was scuttled in favor of a PG-13 rating, lame digital ghosts that primarily kill by throwing victims through windows, the addition of an unrequited love story between a female cast member and one of the ghosts, and a cast comprised almost entirely of good-looking uncharismatic actors under the age of 30 that talk like uncharismatic actors over the age of 40. Where was this youth-dominated island anyway – off the coast of Logan’s Run?
All you can do is watch and shake your head in disgust. Is there anyone that watches John Carpenter’s original and says to themself, “If only this movie had a wisecracking black guy?” Has anyone ever watched John Carpenter’s original and thought, “Forget the ghost pirates; I want to watch a woman fall in the water and fight for her life to break free from the seaweed that entangles her?” Do you think if Debra Hill had lived to see this remake she would have leaned over to Carpenter and told him how that ghost hand coming out of the sink was so much cooler than anything he did in his version? Sadly, the producers of this remake seemed to think so.
Hey, horror comedies need love too. Or in this case, hate, scorn, ridicule, and disdain. I suppose I could have just as easily flipped a coin and put Scary Movie 3 here. Scary Movie 2 gets the nod because I can attest to having seen it in a packed dollar theater that sat in stone cold silence for 80-minutes and for the sad fact that this sequel pretty much marked the moment the Wayans Brothers finally stopped giving a damn.
Scary Movie 2 was such a last-minute rush job to get a sequel into theaters to make a quick summer movie buck that you could forgive the Wayans somewhat if not for the fact that they’ve spent the decade since punishing audiences with White Chicks, Little Man, and other alleged comedies that have even prompted TheOnion.com to do a spoof story asking if America is prepared for another Wayans Brothers movie.
The art of the spoof movie officially died with Scary Movie 2 and its special brand of lazy movie spoofings and piss, puke, and poo jokes that would soon give rise to Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the duo that spent the second half of the decade gifting mankind with Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, and Disaster Movie.
What’s more frightening for a teenage babysitter who might as well have been alone in the house she pays so little attention to the kid she’s babysitting? Being terrorized by a maniac in the house crank calling her or a Foley artist out of control? The Foley artist had to have been the true maniac of the remake of When a Stranger Calls given a cat jumps out to the sound of three-ton pieces of steel clanging together, a refrigerator ice-maker rumbles likes an earthquake, the simple sound of birds fluttering blare at unnaturally loud octaves, and so on. The booms generated by even the most mundane things are so loud and so frequent you halfway expect the Jurassic Park T-Rex to walk into the scene. Reacting to all this alone on the screen for 85% of the film is Camille Belle with her vacant stare and child-like simplicity that might lead you to suspect that she’s the one really in need of a babysitter.
The cliche-o-rama script trots out the cat-jumping-out scare twice, adds a thunderstorm raging outside, includes the old car that won’t start routine, and still finds room to toss in a completely pointless dream sequence for good measure. Pretty pathetic that the opening five minutes of Scream made for a better remake of When a Stranger Calls than the actual 90-minute remake.
It takes a certain degree of filmmaking genius to make a movie based on a video game that only has one single plot point – a space station on Mars opens a portal to hell unleashing monstrous hellbeasts – and then completely changes that one and only plot point – a Martian chromosome that turns naughty people into monsters and good-hearted people into Wolverine. Even more amazing when you consider the film version of the grand daddy of all first-person shooter video games languished in development hell for so many years that by the time it finally made its way to the big screen it was long past being relevant. Doom cost $70 million dollars to make but looks more like an expensive Sci-Fi Channel original movie, and it plays like one too.
Doom should have been a relentless, non-stop, heart-pounding action horrorfest about a lone soldier battling demons within the cramped confines of a Martian space station. Instead all we got was boring Aliens rip-off #769 with monsters that pale in comparison to their game counterparts and a script sprinkled with theological conceits that might have been interesting in the hands of a less brain dead movie, and, no, the fact that it was R-rated does not salvage it. The only person frightened by Doom was The Rock; he got so scared off appearing in R-rated action movies after this epic fail he ran screaming to Disney begging to put on pink tutus in family comedies. It takes a certain degree of filmmaking genius to make a movie based on a first-person shooter video game and end that film with a fist fight.
Christmas, 2006: Religious groups are up in arms that Hollywood would dare open a slasher movie on Christmas day. They weren’t nearly as offended as most horror movie fans were after viewing the rancid remake of Black Christmas. Forget a lump of coal, Santa just took a big ol’ dump in our stockings**. As appealing as watching the “Two Girls, One Cup” episode of “Iron Chef”, Black Christmas is the only film on this list that truly came across as a motion picture made with a sense of absolute contempt for its viewers. As ugly as it was insulting to your intelligence, and yet I know there are gore-hounds out there that will defend this as a solid slasher flick. To you I say that tells me I could dangle my car keys in front of your face for an hour-and-a-half and you would be just as easily entertained so long as I was dripping in blood while doing so.
Movies like Black Christmas are the reason why the horror genre gets a bad rap, why many non-genre directors will go out of their way to keep their movies from being labeled as horror, why horror movie fans get labeled as being nothing but a bunch of bloodthirsty malcontents, and why slasher films are generally perceived as being one step up from pornography in terms of social value. The 1974 original practically gave birth to the slasher movie. The 2006 remake kind of makes you wish the original had never been made because of it.
** If Paul WS Anderson had written that line it would have been “Fuck with Santa and we’ll see who shits in the stocking.”
If Black Christmas represents the sort of slasher movie that gives slasher movies a bad name then Premonition represents the kind of supernatural thriller that gives supernatural thrillers a bad name. Sandra Bullock finds herself stuck in a boring, confusing, frustrating, and monumentally stupid Groundhog Day-style supernatural thriller tailored for the Lifetime Network crowd about a fishwife awakening each morning to find it is a different day of the week before or after the Wednesday on which her husband is killed in a car crash. Is she having premonitions? Is she going insane? Is she time traveling? Is it all because she’s spiritually empty inside and possibly demonic forces are toying with her? Is it that she’s lost her faith in everything and is receiving a second chance at spiritual redemption by being given this opportunity to save her husband and their troubled marriage? Or is it all just a lethargically directed slice of pseudo-spiritual claptrap suffering from major delusions of being a mind-bending “Twilight Zone”-ish thriller that only succeeds in aggravating viewers with its irrationality before leaving the audience feeling cheated.
I could spend a week of dissecting everything wrong about a movie like this that works so hard at being twisty it even outsmarts itself periodically, and I nearly did in my spoiler-filled review of Premonition here. Go back and give my review a read if you truly want to know why Premonition earned its spot on this list.
The sequel that fucked more fans than Gene Simmons and Wilt Chamberlain combined. We finally got our R-rated Aliens vs. Predator flick yet all the action was either filmed too dark, too tight, or edited too rapidly to actually comprehend what the hell was going on. All I could discern from the final battle between the Predator and the Predalien hybrid was a whole bunch of dreadlocks whipping around while fists flew; could have just as easily been two really ugly Rastafarian chicks having a catfight in the rain for all I knew. Requiem was a perfect subtitle for this sequel; Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem was just that: a requiem for two once great franchises reduced to the level of a glorified Sci-Fi Channel production.
On Earth everyone can hear you scream, “Am I really watching teenagers getting chased through their high school by an Alien?” You can’t even blame all the problems on the studio gutting the film before its release because the gaping gaps in logic are still there. If that Predator is trying to remove all evidence of the Aliens then why is it the moment he’s spotted by a human he not only kills the guy, he leaves his skinned body hanging upside down from a tree for everyone to find? Maybe the Predator just realized nobody would notice since this was clearly the least observant town on the planet: a spaceship crashes in the woods and nobody sees or hears a thing, that spaceship is blown up in a mini-nuclear explosion and nobody saw or heard that either. You want to know the real reason why AVP-R is on this list? Because it actually made us reevaluate whether we had been too hard on Paul WS Anderson.
You have no idea how badly I wanted to put Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake on this list. You cannot believe how much I wanted to. But I couldn’t. At least there are people out there that will defend Zombie’s remake. It never ceases to amaze me when I read or hear someone do so, but there they are, these fans that insist Zombie not only made a good movie, they’ll even argue he bested the original. My mind is blown every single time I come across these people, some of whom are even friends of mine that I know are not just mindless gore-hounds or hardcore Rob Zombie fans. But do you know anyone that actually likes Halloween: Resurrection? I sure as hell don’t. I’ve never met anyone that gives the film a pass.
More importantly, Halloween: Resurrection was the sequel that successfully did what druid cults failed to do two times over: kill the Halloween franchise so dead that producers decided there was no recourse but to start over with a straight-up remake of a horror masterpiece. Bitch and moan about Rob Zombie’s remake all you want – and I want to; without Michael Myers getting un-decapitated and then murdering Jamie Lee Curtis’ iconic character in the most unceremonious manner possible before setting off to terrorize reality internet show contestants and getting his ass handed to him by Busta Rhymes, chances are slim Rob Zombie would have been given the opportunity to skull-fuck a classic. Sure, we might have gotten more lame stabs at milking the dehydrated cow that is this franchise, like perhaps maybe Halloween vs. Hellraiser or Halloween 8: Trek or Treat with Michael Myers in space terrorizing a starship, and while they may have sucked too, odds are outright remaking John Carpenter’s classic would never have been in the cards. Who am I kidding? Platinum Dunes would have gotten their mitts on the franchise sooner or later for a reboot.
Nine down, one to go.
But before I reveal my overall choice for the decade’s biggest debacle, for every good or great horror movie that came along there were at least three that helped stink up the silver screen. Any number of which could have found their way on the ten worst list. Let’s take a moment to reflect upon some of the scary stinkers that stunk up theaters over the course of the past ten years.
Ah, the memories… So many bad memories.
And now it is time for my pick for the single worst horror movie of the past decade. I am sure it will be a controversial choice for some. I am sure there will be many that nod their head in total agreement. I thought about this list long and hard but I did not have to think too hard about this choice. Who really went into The Fog remake or Halloween: Resurrection anticipating a good movie? How could anyone you really have high expectations for Doom or When a Stranger Calls? Who actually went into any of the previous nine selections with lofty expectations (save for AVP-R, you poor misguided fanboys)? The more I thought about it the motion picture I selected for the worst horror movie of the past decade came with high expectations. It came with a mega-budget. It came with mega-hype. Its failure to deliver cannot be blamed on studio interference or lack of budget or any other excuse the previous nine choices could argue for why they turned out so bad.
My choice for the single worst horror movie of the first decade of the 21st century is…
I know Van Helsing has its defenders – denial runs deeps. Van Helsing should have been a runaway blockbuster, a guaranteed franchise, a home run for horror and non-horror fans alike. We should all be collecting Van Helsing action figures, model kits, novels, comic books, you name it. By now we should be anxiously anticipating the release of Van Helsing 3. Hugh Jackman as Van Helsing from Bram Stoker’s Dracula reinvented as a swashbuckling Indiana Jones/Solomon Kane/Blade/James Bond Victorian Era globetrotting adventurer hunting down creatures based on the classic Universal Monsters; a $160 million wet dream guaranteed to excite the inner child of every monster movie fan reduced to a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing. That idiot: Stephen Sommers. As soulless a summer blockbuster as you’ll ever see, Sommers killed the franchise right out of the gate, did nothing to boost interest or sales in the old Universal monster movies (one of the main reasons Universal backed the film), and the plan to keep the film sets and recycle them for a proposed NBC spin-off television series to be called “Transylvania”, NBC put a stake through the heart of that idea two weeks after the stench of Van Helsing began permeating theaters. One of the best premises for a blockbuster movie of the past ten years squandered unforgivably in a wretched bomb that beats you down with one empty exercise in excessive CGI after another failing at every turn to give you one single reason why should care about anything going on before your eyes let alone generate any thrills or chills, all the while stripping iconic characters of everything and anything that made them so, often refusing to play by its own rules in a plot that never rises above the level of third-rate Saturday morning cartoon gibberish. Garth Franklin of Dark Horizons wrote in his review what may have been the most astute line summarizing what went wrong with Van Helsing: “Sommers is like a kid who’s just discovered masturbation, he just cannot control himself and has to keep doing things bigger, wilder and ultimately dumber – long past the point of reason or madness.” If you ever want to truly understand just how miserably Van Helsing failed just watch a Hellboy movie.
Still not convinced? Then here are ten more reasons why Van Helsing is the worst horror movie of the past ten years.
Van Helsing’s first name is now Gabriel instead of Abraham. Sure, Abraham was a good enough name for one of our greatest Presidents and the patriarch of the Jews and Arabs, but to Sommers it was all about what sounded cool to him and Abraham just didn’t have a good enough ring to it despite being the name of the character from Bram Stoker’s novel that he based the whole god damn movie around. It’s cool though because Gabriel Van Helsing turns out to be the earthly amnesiac incarnation of the angel Gabriel. Say what?
Dracula’s offspring are born dead – not undead, actually dead. Dracula keeps his born yet unborn offspring stuffed in wasp sacks hanging around his castle until he can find the correct electrical wattage needed to bring them to life. Or would that be to make them undead? The wrong wattage either fails to reanimate them or reanimates them for only a short period of time after which they begin bursting into piles of goo like the Martians’ heads at end of Mars Attacks. Dracula commissioned the construction of Frankenstein’s Monster because the energy used to bring him to life is the perfect voltage for giving his gazillion kids life – or would that be undeath? If Dracula ever gets his hands on Frankenstein’s Monster he’s going to use the power supply contained in Frank’s Ultraman “Color Timer” of a mechanical heart to revive all of his babies that look like winged frogs with an uncanny resemblance to Dingbat from the old “Batman” cartoon series and unleash them upon mankind. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the basis for the film’s very plot.
Comprehend for a moment that Richard Roxburgh was doing all this appallingly bad overacting as the worst Dracula in recent screen memory while Stephen Sommers sat in the director’s chair nodding his head in approval. Sommers’ version of Count Dracula really is like a lame version of a vampire villain from the 1960’s Batman live-action series, while the Brides of Dracula all played by supermodels that do more silly posing than the “Power Rangers”. Multiple brides and a million kids … I never realized Dracula was Mormon.
Frankenstein’s Monster suffers from some serious mood swings depending on Stephen Sommers own mood that particular scene. “I just want to live!” “You must destroy me!” “I want to live!” “Destroy me!” “Live!” Can we get Frank some Zoloft?
The full moon causes one to transform into a werewolf yet the first werewolf seen in the movie attacks in broad daylight. If clouds cover the moon then the werewolf will turn back into a human only to turn back into a werewolf as soon as the full moon is exposed again. Using Stephen Sommers laws of lycanthropy it must really suck to be a werewolf because unless it’s a 100% clear sky you’re going to be constantly changing back and forth at a moment’s notice. On the bright side, according to Stephen Sommers version of the lunar cycle, there’s a full moon every 48 hours.
Vampires can run around in broad daylight as long as there are clouds blocking the sun. The moment the clouds move allowing the sunlight to break-thru the vampires must flee back to their castle in a matter of seconds. Fortunately, these vampires seem to be able to do about Mach 3 when flying away to escape the light of day.
A point is made to tell us that werewolves are not fast enough to catch Transylvanian horses. Mere moments later, werewolves are shown successfully outrunning Transylvanian horses.
Everyone swings from a rope at some point in this movie. Even Frankenstein’s monster comes swinging in at one point. Tarzan flicks have less rope swinging than Van Helsing. You get the sense that if Stephen Sommers ever made a movie based on Dragon’s Lair it would be two-and-a-half hours of Dirk the Daring swinging across those flaming ropes.
Stake through the heart, decapitation, sunlight, holy water, fire, and all those other ways we’ve been told for ages were how you kill Dracula are all crap. According to Stephen Sommers, the one and only way to kill Dracula is the bite of a werewolf. Why exactly is never explained, but then we’re also never given a really good explanation as to why Dracula spends so much time cavorting around with the very creatures that can kill him with a single bite. Apparently he isn’t afraid of one of his werewolf minions turning on him and biting him because he’s developed a werewolf anti-venom. He keeps that lycan antidote in a syringe stashed inside of a glass orb filled with acid up in a far off hard to reach tower of his castle – you know, for convenience. Van Helsing then quite conveniently gets transformed into a werewolf bigger than Sasquatch for the climactic CGI sumo wrestling contest with “Beast Wars” Dracula. At no time during this struggle does Drac ever attempt to fly at Mach 3 up to the tower to get his life-saving serum nor does he bother ordering one of his Oompah Loompahs dressed like Jawas on their way to a Quiet Riot concert to go fetch it for him.
And finally, after having spent the past two hours watching Kate Beckinsale barely escape encounters with werewolves and vampires, narrowly survive all manner of leaps and falls and multi-story rope swinging, what finally leads to the death of her character? Beckinsale is killed when werewolf Van Helsing in an uncontrollable frenzy tackles her onto a psychiatrist’s couch. I do believe this marks the first time in cinematic history that getting sacked on a sofa killed a major character in a motion picture. Let me repeat this one last time just to put the exclamation point on why Van Helsing is the worst horror movie of the past decade:
KATE BECKINSALE DIES BECAUSE A WEREWOLF TACKLED HER ONTO A CUSHIONED LOVESEAT!
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Discuss your picks for the worst in the comments section below!
Horror Movies to Be Thankful for on Thanksgiving
After you’ve gorged on your Thanksgiving feast and the L-tryptophan is kicking in, you’re probably thinking about parking your carcass on the couch and watching movie after movie. But not just any movie – this is a holiday, so naturally you want to celebrate on-topic and gobble some gore.
We’ve got you covered with this curated list of choices from a 25-item menu of Native American-themed thrillers and chillers.
Death Curse of Tartu (1966)
A group of students on an archaeology assignment in the Everglades decide to throw a dance party one night. The spot they choose happens to be the burial site of an ancient Seminole shaman named Tartu. He returns from the dead to take his revenge on those who desecrated his grave site.
A Seminole Vietnam vet (Chris Robinson) goes on the warpath when a leather goods merchant (Alex Rocco) tries to grab his pet snake Stanley to turn him into a belt. A William Grefe cult classic!
Set on the Nebraska prairie in the immediate aftermath of World War I, the story follows the spiritual clash between the daughters of a recently deceased shaman and a gang of ex-aviators. Christina Raines, Scott Glenn and Keith Carradine star in this largely unknown, bizarre body-count thriller.
Shadow of the Hawk (1976)
A Canadian Indian (Jan-Michael Vincent) and a newswoman (Marilyn Hassett) join his grandfather (Chief Dan George) on a tribal walk among evil spirits.
The Manitou (1978)
A psychic (Tony Curtis) recruits a witch doctor (Michael Ansara) to get a 400-year-old Indian medicine man off his girlfriend’s (Susan Strasberg) back…. literally. The demonic Native American spirit is a tumor trying to reincarnate.
When a dispute occurs between a logging operation and a nearby Native American tribe, Dr. Robert Verne (Robert Foxworth) and his wife, Maggie (Talia Shire), are sent in to mediate. Chief John Hawks (Armand Assante) becomes enraged when Robert captures a bear cub for testing, but he’s not as angry as the mutant grizzly mom! George Clutesi plays an Original Person who believes the monster is the personification of the god Katahdin and is there to protect the land.
A policeman (Nick Mancuso), his girlfriend (Kathryn Harrold) and a scientist (David Warner) track vampire bats on a Maski tribe reservation. Abner Tasupi (George Clutesi) is the shaman who helps them.
A New York cop (Albert Finney) investigates a series of brutal deaths that resemble animal attacks. His hunt leads him to Native American high worker Eddie Holt (Edward James Olmos) to see if there’s any connection between the killings and old myths and legends from the area. Finney’s character refers to as “the Crazy Horse of the Seventies… the only one of our local militants left alive who’s not making money off of Levi’s commercials.”
Hapless college science students go on a dig around a sacred burial ground for artifacts. Unfortunately, one of them becomes possessed by the evil spirit of Black Claw… and that means only one thing: Now he must slaughter all of his friends.
Eyes of Fire (1983)
Almost lynched in 1750, a preacher (Dennis Lipscomb) leads his followers (Guy Boyd, Rebecca Stanley) west to a valley whose dirt holds a devil of Indian origin.
Pyrokinetic protagonist Charlie McGee (Drew Barrymore) is in trouble when an evil Native American named Rainbird (George C. Scott) wants to kill her because he is convinced her death would give him special power to take to the mystical other world of his ancestors.
Poltergeist 2: The Other Side (1986)
The Freeling family have a new house, but their troubles with supernatural forces are not over. Whoops, looks like it’s another haunted Native American resting place!
Creepshow 2 (1987)
In the anthology film’s first vignette, “Old Chief Wood’nhead,” thugs who terrorize small-store grocers played by Dorothy Lamour and George Kennedy are attacked in kind by the general store’s wooden Indian.
Pet Sematary (1989)
After moving to an idyllic home in the countryside, life seems perfect for the Creed family…but not for long. Louis and Rachel Creed and their two young children settle into a house that sits next door to a pet cemetery – built on an ancient Indian burial ground.
Capt. John Boyd (Guy Pearce) is sent to investigate reports of missing persons at Fort Spencer, a remote Army outpost on the Western frontier. After arriving at his new post, Boyd and his regiment aid a wounded frontiersman, F.W. Colghoun (Robert Carlyle), who recounts a horrifying tale of a wagon train murdered by its supposed guide — a vicious U.S. Army colonel gone rogue… and who’s developed a taste for human flesh.
Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)
In 18th century France, the Chevalier de Fronsac and his Native American friend Mani (Mark Dascosos) of the Micmac tribe are sent by the King to the Gevaudan province to investigate the killings of hundreds by a mysterious beast.
The Wendigo (2001)
Director Larry Fessenden movie uses the Native American Wendigo legend to tell an eerie and hallucinogenic tale about a family trapped in the woods with a dark force.
“Masters of Horror: Deer Woman” (2005)
A burned-out cop believes that a recent string of murders prove that the killer might be a deer-like creature in the form of a beautiful woman (Cinthia Moura) come to life from a local Native American folklore legend.
A 12-year-old boy and his mother become the targets of two warring werewolf packs, each with different intentions and motives. Based on the folk legend from Utah about the spirits of murdered Indians returning to seek revenge upon those who disrespect the land.
The Burrowers (2008)
A search party – played by Clancy Brown, William Mapother and Doug Hutchison – sets out to find and recover a family of settlers that has mysteriously vanished from their home. Expecting the offenders to be a band of fierce natives, the group prepares for a routine battle. But they soon discover that the real enemy stalks them from below.
The Dead Can’t Dance (2010)
Three Native Americans discover they are immune to a zombie virus in this whacky indie comedy.
After thugs brutalize a deaf-mute woman (Amanda Adrienne), the spirit of an Apache warrior takes over her lifeless body and sets out on a bloodthirsty quest for revenge.
Volcano Zombies (2014)
Danny Trejo as a Native American who warns campers about the legendary and very angry lava-laden “volcano zombies.”
The Darkness (2016)
Peter Taylor (Kevin Bacon), his wife and their two children return to Los Angeles after a fun-filled vacation to the Grand Canyon. Strange events soon start to plague the family, and the Taylors learn that Michael brought back some mysterious rocks that he discovered inside an ancient Native American cave.
After one of her tribe sets an American soldiers’ camp ablaze, a young female Mohawk finds herself pursued by a ruthless band of renegades bent on revenge. Fleeing deep into the woods, Mohawk youths Oak and Calvin confront the bloodthirsty Colonel Holt and his soldiers. As the Americans seem to close in from all sides, the trio must summon every resource both real and supernatural as the brutal attack escalates. Mohawk is a dark, political drama with horror undertones. “While set 203 years ago, Mohawk is unfortunately a timeless story,” says director Ted Geoghegan. “It’s about marginalized people being decimated simply because they exist and scared white men who fail to realize that their racism and bigotry will place them on the wrong side of history.“
Three 1970’s Horrors That Remind Us Why We Enjoy Getting Mental at the Movies
Crazy is always creepy in horror movies, and it usually comes in two forms: insane escapees or the sane among the crazies.
It’s one storytelling technique when a mental patient escapes and enters our own ordered, peaceful world. It’s quite another when a film drops us in the middle of an asylum to cope with crazy people who, in those movies, always seem to want to stab us.
First off, let me say the mentally ill are one of the most misunderstood and scapegoated minorities in movie history. Other stereotypes have disappeared from the silver screen over the years, but it’s still convenient to blame a killing rampage on an escaped mental patient. We’ll just chalk this up to lazy writing and move on.
Yes, “mentally ill” has become shorthand for “bloodthirsty and lacking in social etiquette.” Kudos to “American Horror Story’s” second season, subtitled “Asylum,” for adding some subtlety to that convention. Seventies horror movies, though, were riddled with stereotypes, enough so that when we travel back to that groovy and dangerous time, we can merrily ignore them and enjoy the scare.
Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) is a fairly standard who-is-the-killer flick that turns terrifying in the last 20 minutes, when all hell breaks loose and the inmates, quite literally, take over the asylum. There is a nice, icy buildup throughout.
The populace of a small town are suspiciously nervous when a local mansion that had once been a mental institution goes up for sale. Mary Woronov (Eating Raoul) plays it numbingly cool throughout, until the climax, adding punch to the big reveals.
Also known by Night of the Dark Full Moon and Death House, this film is directed by Theodore Gershuny and written by Gershuny, Jeffrey Konvitz and Ira Teller. It’s always a good sign for consistency of vision when the director is also a writer.
I don’t know a lot of people raving about this film. It’s certainly not perfect, but a solid effort in that ’70s B-movie category, seriously creepy, and worth watching. Recommended.
Asylum (1972) has everything I enjoy about well-done, early ’70s horror: a fairly simple premise, creepy sets, and solid acting. The anthology setup works well here, stringing four Robert Bloch stories together. Peter Cushing and Herbert Lom show up along with Britt Ekland and Barbara Parkins.
The effects are not at all bad. Hope you view a cut of this movie that shows a stagehand rather obviously moving a prop in the “Frozen Fear” segment because those kinds of mistakes are fun to see.
Directed by Roy Ward Baker, Asylum delivers like any of the Amicus horror movies: similar to Hammer in that you know you will be entertained. Recommended for classic pre-slasher horror movie fans.
Then there’s Don’t Look in the Basement (1973). I was smart enough to see this in a theater when it came out… but dumb enough to bring a date. What a terrible first date movie!
On the other hand, Don’t Look in the Basement is a very creepy horror film due to several elements that come together beautifully:
– First, it has that grainy, cheap look to it like many early ’70s B-movies that, for me, adds to the mood. That look tells me positively this is not a big studio production. “Oh, this is one of THOSE movies,” says my head. “Anything can happen!” Tension builds.
– Second, it has an obviousness to it that can be unnerving when filmed correctly. Hitchcock used to do this well: We in the audience know the danger, but the hero on screen is completely clueless. We know from the minute the blonde nurse accepts her new job she shouldn’t be there — heck, we knew she shouldn’t even have come into the house!
– Third, most all of the characters may be insane, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own distinct stories, personalities and phobias. Crazy is not random. As Grant Morrison wrote in Batman: Arkham Asylum, the thoughts of the insane are not unpatterned. Each person has his or her own complex view of reality, no matter how wrong that perception might be.
There’s also a good deal of blood. And a surprise reveal. Don’t Look in the Basement has been recognized as a B-movie classic, and I enthusiastically recommend it here.
Three 1972 to 1973 horror movies and all three recommended! You may or may not disagree, and if so, I want to hear why! What are your favorite asylum flicks? Comment below or on social media.
Gary Scott Beatty’s graphic novel Wounds is available on Amazon and Comixology. Is madness a way to survive the zombie apocalypse? The strangest zombie story ever written, Wounds throws us into a world where nothing is beyond doubt, except a father’s concern for his wife and daughter. If you enjoy that “What th-?” factor in graphic novels, you’ll enjoy Wounds. For more from Gary Scott Beatty, visit him on Twitter and Facebook.
Fearsome Fates: Top 10 Deaths from the Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise
How can you escape death when all it does is wait for you to fall asleep? This question of human vulnerability led the late filmmaker Wes Craven on a journey that culminated in one of cinema’s most deleterious and recognizable horror film icons: Freddy Krueger. The man in the Christmas sweater and dirty brown hat is every bit as important to the horror genre as Darth Vader is to science fiction.
What ultimately separated the Elm Street ventures from other macabre movie franchises like Friday the 13th and Halloween was the creativity with which Krueger disposed of his victims, and the fantasy-based elements of the kids’ extravagant nightmares. The gimmick of dying in the dream world equating to death in reality spelled doom for those trying to outrun Krueger’s wrath.
After nine feature films and a calamitous television series that is best left buried in the past, the Elm Street series was more hit than miss.
With that in mind, here are the Fearsome Fates: Top 10 Deaths from the Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise.
10. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (Carlos)
“Nice hearing from you, Carlos” – Only Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) was worse in the Elm Street saga than Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991). However, the lackluster sixth installment of the franchise gives fans one very memorable, bone-chilling death sequence. Carlos (Ricky Dean Logan) is attacked by Freddy and the youth has his ears cleansed courtesy of a monstrous Q-tip. Carlos is deaf and loses his hearing aid in the scuffle. Carlos manages to retrieve it only to have the hearing aid meld with his head and ear.
Everything Carlos hears is amplified thanks to Freddy’s torturous hearing aid. Krueger pulls out a chalkboard and then scrapes his sharp claws across it to create an unbearably loud symphony of screeching, which results in Carlos’ head exploding. Freddy blows the kid’s mind, literally.
9. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (Taryn)
“Let’s get high” – Director Chuck Russell and writer Frank Darabont’s much-needed assistance on the Elm Street series marked the beginnings of much more creative carnage, in terms of Freddy’s surreal means of disposing of his victims. While trying to join Kristen (Patricia Arquette) in the dream world, young Taryn (Jennifer Rubin) is separated from her fellow Dream Warriors. With her punk-rock hairdo and knives, the former junkie does battle with Krueger.
Just as Taryn thinks she has gained the upper hand, Freddy turns the tables on her. Krueger reveals that all of his fingers have been replaced with drug-filled syringes. Taryn gasps when she finds tiny little mouths have replaced her drug scars. Freddy injects all of the needles into her arm and pumps her full of the fatal cocktail. Taryn’s screams, as Freddy smirks, “What a rush.”
8. A Nightmare on Elm Street (Glen)
“I’m your boyfriend now, Nancy” – Johnny Depp made his acting debut in the original Nightmare (1984), but his character of Glen didn’t fair too well. Skeptical of the existence of child killer Fred Krueger, Glen comes to the same grisly fate as the other children of Elm Street even though his stalwart girlfriend Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) implores that he doesn’t go to sleep. Glen welcomes his nightly slumber anyway.
Freddy’s glove emerges from the youth’s mattress, latches onto Glen, and pulls him into the bed. Blood explodes from the hole and cascades like a violent waterfall. In uncut footage from the scene, the bed even spits Glen back up with his body slathered in blood.
Wes Craven felt the scene was scarier and more effective without knowing what Glen’s corpse looked like, and it certainly makes one of the following scenes, which occurs between Lt. Thompson (John Saxon) and his officer, much more eerie as they discuss the crime scene’s gruesome atmosphere.
7. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (Greta)
“Bon appetit, bitch” – Greta (Erika Anderson) is an aspiring model who watches her weight. When Greta’s mom throws a dinner party the teenager has absolutely no appetite, because her friend Dan Jordan (Danny Hassel) has been killed in an accident. Greta falls asleep during the dinner and Freddy takes full advantage. Krueger shows up in a chef’s hat and proceeds to force feed Greta, in a monstrous-looking high chair.
Greta tries to spit out the pulsating food, but Freddy continues to shove it down her throat. With each passing bite, Greta’s jowls grow more grotesque. Engorged, Greta falls into Freddy’s arms and she eventually chokes to death. This could easily have been No. 1 on our list, if the scene had not been butchered by censors.
The horrifying truth revealed in Stephen Hopkins’ director’s cut: Freddy is feeding Greta to herself! Greta’s stomach has been cut open and Freddy is scooping up her insides and forcing them down the teen’s throat. It’s a chilling and nauseating death sequence, in what is sadly one of the weaker installments of the franchise.
6. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (Debbie)
“You can check in, but you can’t check out” – What happens when you team the winsome actress Brooke Theiss with special effects artist “Screaming Mad” George – aka Joji Tani? You get one of the most bizarre death sequences in Nightmare history. Poor Debbie (Theiss), a fitness guru, is really only afraid of one little thing – cockroaches. Naturally, Freddy turns Debbie’s worst fear against her.
While working out, Deb dozes off. She seems to still be in her home gym when Freddy suddenly appears. In a test of strength, Freddy grabs the bar, loaded with weight Deb is trying to bench press, and slowly forces it down toward her. Deb loses the fight and her elbows bend and crack open, under the immense pressure. Her arms are quickly replaced by the legs of a cockroach.
Deb slowly continues her bizarre metamorphosis, until she becomes an oversized bug. Trapped in a roach motel, Deb watches in horror, as Freddy smashes the trap in his hand. Deb’s bug-like guts, and the innards of the roach motel, spew out as Krueger cackles in triumph.
5. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (Dan)
“Better not dream and drive” – In the tradition of surviving Elm Street children making it to the sequel, Dread Central presents for your approval Dan Jordan (Danny Hassel). After the events of The Dream Master, Alice (Lisa Wilcox) and her boyfriend Dan are expecting a little bundle of joy. But before they can celebrate the baby’s birth, the couple must endure the wrath of Freddy Krueger once more. Surprisingly, Alice begins dreaming while she is awake. While working a shift at the Crave Inn, Alice comes face to face with both Freddy and his mother, Amanda Kruger (Beatrice Boepple).
Frightened, Alice calls Dan and begs him to join her immediately. Dan ditches his friends at a high school swim party, jumps in his truck and races to his love. Dan falls asleep on route and is confronted by Freddy. The two engage in a high speed race down a busy highway, while Krueger drives like a bat out of hell. Freddy violently shifts gears and Dan is thrown through the windshield.
Frantic to get to Alice, Dan absconds with a motorcycle parked out front of the school gym. But the teen is still asleep and now at the mercy of Freddy’s demonic cycle. The bike begins to merge with Dan and the two become a weird cyborg/motorcycle concoction. Sadly, the nightmare and reality ends when Dan crashes just yards shy of reaching Alice. Like so many other horror film sequences, this one was mercilessly chopped by the ratings board.
4. A Nightmare on Elm Street (Tina)
“Tina, watch this” – Filmmaker Wes Craven’s original Nightmare remains the seminal work that spewed into a cavalcade of money-making sequels, merchandise and a brief series on television. And while the first Elm Street venture is much darker than many of the other films in the series, its first death scene did not lack creativity. Tina (Amanda Wyss) is having bad dreams. After a particularly scary nightmare, Tina, not wanting to be alone while her mother is out of town, invites her best friend Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) and her beau Glen (Johnny Depp) to spend the night.
Tina’s boyfriend Rod (Nick Corri, aka Jsu Garcia) shows up unannounced and takes her mind off those pesky dreams with a sexual romp. However, the hours following take a dark and ominous turn when the lovers fall asleep. Freddy returns to Tina’s nightmare but this time he does away with her. The sequence is one of pure fantasy and horrific brutality. Tina’s stomach is sliced opened. Blood spews and the teen screams for Rod’s help, as she is helplessly dragged up the walls and across the ceiling of her mother’s bedroom.
Rod is forced to watch, as his girlfriend is gutted like a fish and tossed around the room. Sadly, what is transpiring in Tina’s nightmare is happening in reality, too. Tina is slain and Rod is arrested, leaving it to Nancy to figure out how to stop Freddy before there’s no one left to sleep.
3. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (Joey)
“How’s this for a wet dream?” – After defeating Freddy in Dream Warriors, the three remaining Elm Street children quickly succumb to Krueger’s revenge. After Kincaid (Ken Sagoes) puts up a valiant, but ultimately useless effort, Freddy moves onto Joey (Rodney Eastman). Joey’s weakness has always been women and while he watches MTV from his waterbed, Joey doses off.
He seems to wake up, as his bed begins to violently thrash about. Joey pulls back his comforter to see the sexy and quite naked Hope Marie Carlton. Enamored, Joey watches as Hope swims away into the unseen depths of the waterbed. Suddenly, Freddy comes exploding through the clear mattress.
He grabs Joey and cackles. The pair wrestle, but the best Joey can do is scream for fellow dream warrior Kristen (Tuesday Knight). Freddy slices and dices, as Joey vanishes and the water in his bed turns blood red. It’s one of the most creative deaths in the series and it comes with a great zinger.
2. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (Jennifer)
“Welcome to prime time, bitch!” – Mental patient Jennifer (Penelope Sudrow) cons the orderly Max (Laurence Fishburne) into letting her watch a little T.V. after hours. Jennifer dreams of going to Hollywood and becoming an actress, but this time her nightmare man awaits.
The television screen is static, so Jennifer changes the channels. Without any success, she hits the T.V. A pair of mechanized Freddy arms bursts free from the side of the hanging television set and snatches up the frightened girl.
Krueger’s head then emerges from the top of T.V. He smiles and barks at her, “This is it, Jennifer – your big break in T.V.” After Jennifer screams some more, Mr. K utters that now most famous line, “Welcome to prime time, bitch,” as he slams her head into the television screen. Max returns to find Jennifer’s corpse hanging head-first from the T.V.
1. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (Phillip)
“He was wide awake, all the way down” – Phillip (Bradley Gregg) is just another of the tortured teens incarcerated in Nightmare 3. Sadly, audiences do not have the chance to discover Phillip’s dream power, because he is immediately snuffed out by the guy in the dirty red and green sweater.
Phillip does exhibit an artistic talent for carving puppets, not to mention a proclivity for sleepwalking. Freddy exploits both. In Phillip’s nightmare, Freddy comes to life in the vessel of one of his unfinished puppets. Phillip watches in horror, as Kruger grows to his natural life-size form. Freddy then slashes open Phillip’s arms and legs, pulls out his bloody veins and transforms the boy into one grotesquely deformed puppet.
Krueger directs Phillip, as a puppet master would guide his marionette, and sends the teen hurling off the top of the mental hospital. The other kids watch as their friend plummets to his death, and the method suggests not murder but suicide.
Which deaths were your favorites? Were there any that didn’t make our list you’d like to have seen included? Sound off on social media!
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